Friday, March 13, 2009

big big big big good good good

the world feels big today, like it does sometimes when the sun's hanging out and your shoes are off and you kind of want to put your clothes on but feel better in your slightly smelly old pajamas.

there also seem to be a lot of good things. i feel like there have been a lot of good/bad, gweird, etc. things happening since this year started, and i haven't really said much about them. so i'm gonna do a bit of that now.

today these are things on my mind:

impending spring adulations and then summer bike rides and swims.

new internet excitement: StumbleUpon & GoogleReader (Em yr so right, GR is addicting!) this week i started this thing where i have folder called "Lookbook" on my internet's kind of a catchall for random websites i find, but it seems to be a good way of tracking what the inside of my head looks like on any given day. it's weird how small things like a new film or a sentence you read or the way someone eats a hotdog can affect your state of mind, and i'm kind of interested in tracking that stuff right now.

in the folder so far: anatomical street art , C.H.U.N.K. 666 bike club, Roadside America, the wikipedia site for "Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers", freegans, 10 best treehouses.

i hadn't been feeling it for a while, but today I'm feeling that cracked open like an egg feeling i get sometimes, when all the good yolky parts of life dump out from behind that too solid wall tend to like hiding behind. i'm feeling like this most likely because of another good thing:

i finished my cover letter for the Youth Farm and Market Project! it took me so long. i kept getting REALLY anxious about it, because i'm didn't feel perfectly qualified for position. i also don't like lying or bullshitting too much or trying to make myself look really awesome in cover letters, because i always think about how if i were the person reading it, regardless of the person's experience i wouldn't want to work with them because their writing style makes them appear arrogant and big headed. guess my way of thinking doesn't really work well in the business world. you're not really supposed to be sincere if you want to get ahead. maybe that's why i don't want to get ahead. i spent a bunch of time last night reading all these really painfully depressing cover letter samples, which made me feel super inadequate. yadayada, got over that, realized i just had to sound excited (which i am!) and banged the thing out and sent it on its way. if they like me, they like me, if they don't they don't. but i was feeling extremely stilted about i just COULD NOT write the stupid thing. it reminded me of when i'd get roadblocked by a paper at 4 am when i was still at smith, and would just sit there agonizing over one sentence for hours. it's kind of ridiculous that i worried about it so much...the position i applied for is basically just watering, weeding and mowing their lawns and gardens. really, it was the listed qualifications that made me all nervous: they want someone with "farming/gardening experience" and "experience working with youth" so i got my panties all in a knot about how i haven't worked with kids enough or worked on a farm. but seriously, anybody can water plants. and i'm good with kids, even if i haven't worked in a school. so i have calmed down and am zenlike about it. :D j/k. but now that i've sent it off it i'm sure they'll like it.

Youth Farm & Market Project is really interesting. you should read more about them:

i'm trying to STOP doing that "i can't do it" or "it's so much effort" thing i do, because it's really getting in the way of life.

anyway...other good things. i'm taking a bunch of classes at the experimental college of the twin cities and i'm really starting to get excited about the coursework. over the past few weeks i have been fretting that my interest in filmmaking is just a bourgeoisie pursuit and i start to criticize myself for being interested in it because it can be so elitist and disconnected from the people living down in the streets. i have this internal battle frequently, but this time i was feeling particularly nihilistic about it. and to be honest, some of my fears are founded: filmmaking sometimes does remove you from lived experience, since you are always telling a story about a moment that no longer exists. and as always when those little voices come nagging, i have been wondering if i should be devoting my life to something that isn't hands on work in the community. as you can tell i've been on a pessimistic kick for the past month. so, however unconsciously, i've been sort of searching for a rationalization, something to give me certainty that it is possible to make art, and make films that DO help the community, that don't set up this whole "elite artsy filmmaker" vs. "average people" kind of dynamic. and i'm happy to say that this week has been FULL of reassurance in that respect. on monday we had this huge discussion about appearance vs. reality and documentary film, which ended up turning into a discussion about memory and time, and yes, the meaning of life. it was one of those conversations that make the world shrink up into the little room you happen to be in and your mind flips and leaps from all the new discoveries. it also made me feel much better about the purpose of recording the world around you, no matter how badly or amateurly. i'll probably post a little more about that later. anyway, for the time being, suffice to say it was an eye opening night that sparked my enthusiasm for films and my determination to make them.

part of the reason i worry about the value of making films so often is that i rarely find films that seem accessible and poetic at the same time. it seems like the more poetic, the more distance between average people. and the more accessible, the more "unreal" and un-lifelike they seem. i've been thinking a lot about trying to make films that don't try to create some idealized picture of the world, but also speak to the part of us (a part that, i think, is in everyone no matter how buried) that needs to not just know about the world in some abstract sense (Politics, War, Injustice, Struggle, Death - capitalized, big, remote!) but craves human interaction, human stories, intangibles. i want to see how the bigness of the world connects with the small parts and i want to see not just the happy, not just the sad, but the happy-sad parts of life. but how to strike a balance!? that question plagues me. and as is typical with me, i spend so much time worrying about the QUESTION that i don't produce anything, good or bad.

anyway, it seems to me that documentary films have the possibility of offering us the most "realistic" (because a film can only ever be "realistic"; it can never depict what is "real") sort of film possible. but those films never really seem to inspire me the way narrative films do. at least that's the secret opinion i had harbored until i started taking this documentary class with EXCO. but this week we watched a series of films that made me realize that documentaries, if they can be called that, CAN speak to both big systems (politics, society) and small ones (poetics, emotions, individual worlds).

i have been thinking about the purpose of art a lot too - is art necessary to live? a lot of times i don't think so. especially, lately, i have been tempted into thinking art is really selfish, and that it's basically only possible to produce it when you have a certain level of comfort. i mean, when you're worried about putting food on your table, who the hell has time to think about why we're here or big questions like that?! it's absurd! but then i think, well, isn't that a bad thing? when you have to worry about getting food for your kids or finding a job, it still affects your mind, how you feel, and how you see life. you heart and all the gushy parts may get hardened, but blood still flows through them and you still feel them, no matter how dimly. maybe inner city kids don't think about needing to let all that out, but they have a lot to let out regardless. everybody does. it's just that we're taught that other things are more important than probing the depths of your inner world, and in an immediate, life or death kind of sense, it's true. food, stability, survival - those things ARE more important than where our minds go. and especially here in the U.S, we're taught that art, which is basically a way of looking around at the world and trying to make sense of it in, isn't essential to life. that only those with time and money deserve to think about how they feel or how the world makes them think about things. and isn't that wrong? but how do you address the very real, very immediate issues of survival AND address the emotional world at the same time? how to strike a balance? and more specifically, how to take those ideas out into the city, into the community, and really MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN. because if i've figured anything out in this bizarre, gweird, impossibly strange year, it's that i've spent so much of my life thinking and talking and planning what i want to do that i haven't really done anything. i mean nothing concrete. i haven't dug my fingers in. i'm not saying that it's not possible to, because i know that it is. i'm saying that i haven't done it. but the question remains: how to take all that intangible mush and make it into something that will really affect people's lives?

i don't have an answer, but i got a glimpse of what it might be last night when we watched this experimental documentary called "Roswell" by Bill Brown. and in this documentary by Agnes Varda I am watching as we speak. both films ... well i can't totally describe them, because you kind of have to see them, but they feel like documents that capture fleeting things, but at the same time state plainly that the world itself is fleeting. does that make sense? they aren't lofty, they aren't hard to understand or completely inaccessible, they don't try to bludgeon anyone into thinking something, they just *are*. in reality, i know you can never hope to "affect people's lives" because there are so many different types of people, with so many different structures of thought at play inside each one. but i think i *can* hope to produce work that is sincere, and in doing so, will reach some people. and hopefully affect them in unseen ways. or maybe even tangible ways. in the end i've sort of made my peace with the idea of art vs. life - i think you can positively affect your community no matter what kind of work you do. you just have to constantly be aware that you are IN that community, and as such, offer yourself and your world to it.

i know that it's unproductive to think that you have everything figured out, because like the trudging of the seconds and minutes our minds are constantly in flux. but i do feel like, for the time being, i know what i think about things. and what i think is simple, and plain. i want to be a good person, and i want to give a part of myself to the community that surrounds me. i want to offer what i have to the world. i want to turn inward and pull from my gut, but always keep my hand reached out. because it seems to me that that's the most any of us can do. i don't want to be famous, or important, or big, or the most intelligent, or the most successful. i just want to try and exist as sincerely as possible. it sounds small, but so few people do it.

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