"Colors Before the Sunrise" Poem / Song / Vispo in Poetry Format. The PDF of this poem can be found here: http://sites.google.com/site/stokastika2/colorsbeforesunriseSONGPOEM.pdf.
Image displays a typical state of pre-sunrise (dusk, so they call it?!) at the Bahia de Los Angeles, Mexico. Image taken toward the end of March of 2010.
A quick effort toward VISPO for the song-poem "Colors Before the Sunrise."
The end of March seems far off (it's now the end of April). I was in a state of a massive, tangled knot from winter quarter of 2010. I was intellectual roadkill that needed a giant restoration project. But Jules swept me away to his and Duke's place to the Bahia de Los Angeles for a good 8-9 days. It was a much needed calibration. Just crossing the border from the United States into Mexico, venturing into brand new territory for myself (south of San Quintin) opened up my eyes, loosened me up, and brought me into a state of establishing new inner-outer perspectives. The people of Mexico barely had any resources and they made the most of what they had. I noticed that people were more attached to each other simply because they truly needed each other's help... whereas in the United States... it seems like visceral attachment to others has been largely replaced by technology, and so there is not much need to communicate and collaborate with others. We commune with machines instead. For about a week or so I was thankful for some clean water and a flushing toilet. I was surrounded by a land of unfinished and abandoned projects... which kind of felt like my mind... externalized.... Quite soon I started realizing that things in the United States are a bit too easy for our own good and once we get in our habits, it's sooo easy for our minds to take for granted what we have and not realize that we have what we need....
So Jules gave me the best possible present... that even my parents haven't given me for so long.... He swept me away into a foreign land full of empty, serene landscapes and depravity/scarcity of human resources.... His presence allowed my inner self to unravel and untangle a little bit... and re-prioritize.... I largely focused on taking photographs in RAW format (man, I'm officially professional now... well... almost...) and downloading music and photography software... which took me a couple of days (even internet was a scarce resource!). I became a sensual, visual creature, visually absorbing the landscape, ignoring the Spanish (I actually enjoy being in a foreign country where I don't know what the hxll anyone is saying, so I view humans as chattering monkeys and end up only visually processing the landscapes). So I took lots of photographs and soaked up the landscape as much as possible--which was a strange ecosystem indeed. Bahia de Los Angeles is a desert right by an inland Sea of Cortez (hence in my poem "desert's ocean"), which totally threw me off because you don't get these kinds of ecosystems in California (or combinatory ecosystems--desert and ocean right next to each other?!!).
Also when I was down in Bahia de Los Angeles, I figured out how to use my new SANSA mp3 player, and retroactively, I'm quite happy I purchased it. The new versions of the IPOD shuffles are appallingly bad (way too small, no control of audio on the device, forcing you to wear ear buds which hurt my ears in an ergonomic sense). I went on fantastic jogs along the beach and through the salt marsh, even one jog from the LA Bay dumpster site all the way down the hill back to Duke and Jule's house. The final jogs I took were toward the south end of LA Bay toward Larry and Lois' house. There was a lot less traffic (quite a bumpy dirt road!) and the last structures I passed were open-ended houses where squid fishermen were staying... and even a micro squid processing plant. And it was these jogs where the poem/song started formulating. The idea of "Colors Before the Sunrise" came to me in my half-sleep I think on the 4th day of the trip. I told Jules and he liked the title. Then during my last two jogs along the bumpy dirt road, out by the cordone cactus and the spindly cirios and other interesting vegetation structures I was listening to a song entitled "The Passenger" by Iggy Pop (to be honest, I was attracted to the initial melody but I had no affinity with the vocals) . And through this happy backdrop melody (with a few minor chords), I began to formulate my song/poem. It took two jogs along the same road to get the main bulk of the poem worked out (plus a few ideas in my car drive home, back to Riverside and Santa Barbara to start spring quarter). On the last day at the Bahia de Los Angeles, I woke up extremely early in order to have the opportunity to take photographs of the sunrise (which I was procrastinating to do) and last minute images of Duke's neighbor's yard (Carolina's?), which is where the above photograph came from....
I suppose I had been sitting on this song/poem for a while because of my personal epiphanies on how to channel my energy in this society. After my initial experiences in approaching "literary journals" with my poetry and short stories, I had become increasingly frustrated. I talked to Barry Spacks about facing my "string of rejections" with poetry and short stories, and not only that, how literary journals are now failing to respond to the input of work. What a complete waste of my time, waste of my life to endlessly send off pieces of writing to literary journals, only to receive thousands of rejections, and more "no responses." Barry Spacks commented that "things are starting to slip"--that the sacredity of human transactions is vanishing as we interact as if we are in a plasma state as a pinball machine only found at the center of the sun. The Rejected Life is the only life that most writers know nowadays. Barry told me that if he were stranded in the desert for seven days without any food or water... he would crawl to the nearest computer and his death words would be to write a very polite rejection letter to all the people in the world he never had the time to respond to (given that he were an editor of a literary journal), wishing them well, hoping that one day their poetry and short stories would finally find a home. This was so visually striking to me, I hope one day to make a short film featuring Barry and the Rejected Writer Life. Good advice for all his students... in the form of a flick!
After that conversation, which was about a couple weeks ago... how Barry said this society was "slipping" whether it was about even providing a nice or even RUDE rejection letter... it was that moment where I just completely gave up on the idea of submitting my poetry to places (except every once in a while to particular people and specific circumstances). My poetry is published here on this blog. What more could I possibly want? Literary journals are not my venue, not my audience. What is the chance that any literary journal editor would understand the fusion of science, art, creative writing, and human-environmental change? 0.000001%. Sorry, it's a nearly stone-solid truth. Most "creative writers" don't have much comprehension of science, let alone incorporate science into their writing or processing of everyday life. So, whatever. What a waste to deal with people who don't even know how to diagnose your validity and contribution to society.
The other problem is that anyone can be a poet or a writer. Little ten-year old kids can write poems and short stories, let alone little old ladies on their 20th year of retirement who have nothing else to do but sit on their porch and write the 5 billionth poem on the metaphorical representation of sunsets in their lives. Writing is analog. Linear.... But combining writing and art requires one to think spatially-temporally... non-linearly... in essence... right brain left handed. And just through this thought, I am eliminating 90% of the population of storytellers, which consist of linear-thinking, left-brained people who express themselves in writing. And then to combine words with images to tell a story with a consistent set of characters, settings, and plots?! I think I am eliminating 50% of the remaining right brained people. And then for this story to make a contribution to society and the environment? Basically, there is close to no one left. I have no competitition. My Biologically Incorrect Cartoons are so unique that they stick out like an eyesore. And if I want to write a poem... it's gotta be in cartoon format. I can dump most of the rest of my artwork into cartoons. I have my own niche and close to no one having the ability to compete. I just have to keep chugging along and cranking out as many cartoons as possible, while simultaneously building a compilation of emails of people who I know will appreciate the cartoons and can provide editorial advice in the process of making my first few hundred cartoons (before expanding to a subscribed email list service).
Plus, through all the pressures of my Ph.D. committee meeting in February of last quarter... combined with an overstimulating environmental history course with Dr. Peter Alagona, Terra and Buz became fully resurrected into my mind... except this time, it was a near-completely visual format (rather than a long manuscript). I came to grips with the notion that the Question Reality manuscript was not a failure. My Question Reality manuscript will never die. It is the fundamental baseline for all else to grow with my cartoons. I will give interested folks a piece of my mind in mentally digestible cartoons (a little bit every day), that will create a continuum of experience form the QR manuscript to my acquired knowledge as of today....
The other thing I noticed in the publishing world is that to approach a publisher (for writing), you need a literary agent. But to approach a publisher of independent or alternative cartoons? You directly submit to the editor and publisher. It goes to show there aren't that many in the pool of storytelling through cartoons. Bless my right brain... take good care of it, and give it a work out every day! Nevertheless, writing is always a part of the creative process, I will still have to write to even evolve my cartoons and films! It's just that in order to make my WRITING financially viable, I am going to have to prove to people that I am unique and that I'm going to have to EARN MY RIGHT TO WRITE through multi-media arts (cartoons, music, film) before I return to the pursuit of writing... safely... with a little bit of financial compensation....
And after a week of panicking before my Ph.D. committee meeting, I established my own SI Units for cartooning. Fine Point Black Sharpie. White Computer Paper. Portable Scanning Machine. Photoshopping the Fine Details. Black and White and One Shade of Gray and Occasionally a Gaussian Blur Effect with Lighter Lines to establish a Hierarchy of Lines. My cartoons are evolving to higher quality... and slightly different proportions... just like how Calvin and Hobbes evolved. Barry has been very supportive and I send him lots of my cartoons "fresh off the press." We agreed that once a narrative has become apparent to the reader with my cartoons... and/or once I reach about 200 cartoons, we will choose 12 of the best cartoons and approach the Santa Barbara Independent to start a weekly run... which would be so exciting (Barry knows two editors and I know two editors, one editor overlaps)! Barry recommended I check out the "independent" magazine scene, with"Village Voice" being the top (in New York?). He said that incorporating the themes of science into cartoons in a very satirical, but mentally digestible way... is unique and a very valuable pursuit, especially in these times, eh?!! Ya... Science should be culture. But American "culture" is so divorced from science. We have become a user-friendly-push-button-gossip-about-your-neighbor's-clothes type of society... and it's rare for conversations to go much deeper than the shallow schmoozing... even at a university donating charity event loaded with nerdy professors (which I witnessed LAST weekend).
So, here I am, bitterly Blog-publishing this poem that expresses my "inner soul" at a given point in space and time, which separate from standards of society--is a beautiful thing to pursue, self-expression--except that society has destroyed the enjoyment of self-expression through the persistent psychological devastation of Rejection Letters (or No Response, better yet), only to redirect my thoughts toward the abandonment of efforts toward being rejected 5 million times in attempt to publish poetry and short stories through the traditional BS avant garde avenues (though Barry said it would be a grand idea for me to start a science-art multi-media literary journal, scientific research exploration through multi-media arts--so the door is not completely closed!). And then I am again redirected toward the positive route of cartooning about science, politics, and human-environmental change through my charming little innocent kids, Terra and Buz.
I didn't expect all this information to come out on this blog, but stream-of-conscious venting is all for the better for my own clarity of thought. I am going to have to now condition myself... mentally divorce the PROCESS OF WRITING POETRY AND SHORT STORIES from the PROCESS OF PUBLISHING. I have to convince myself that none of my ideas are in final form (or an audience magnet) unless they take shape of a cartoon (or a cartoon-driven poem-short-story), a piece of music or performance slam poetry, or a film. It's amazing to think that my mind can construct any story format--ranging from scientific articles to poetry to short stories to photographs to cartoons to paintings to pieces of music to film to websites to whatever the next new medium is--but I'm starting to feel the pressures of establishing a unique niche in society--the need to be perceived by society as a "needed storyteller" that needs about $20,000 a year in order to have health insurance and a roof over my head to continue storytelling. Certain doors are "closing" (but not completely) right now but other doors are opening full-wide open. Creative survival is a matter of desperation. As one of my recent cartoons discussed my need to avoid the MacDonald's hamburger flipping treadmill that close to everyone else is pursuing, whether in a science lab or at MacDonald's.
I have more to write about with my positive experiences in the Bahia de Los Angeles... plus LOTS of PHOTOGRAPHS! This poem was just an introduction.