Monday, February 22, 2010

Journal Entry, April 23, 1861:

This morning, I am riding with my uncle, cousins, and brothers, into Fredericksburg; what a perfect parade we make; swift horses with gallant gentlemen carrying fiddles and falchions. Word has come to the Wilderness that the War has started. History will record that this war started on April 12, 1861, but like all time, all life; we can never find its beginning, and shall never see its end. It seems to me that this conflict has always been here. Yes, it has escalated since our Mercer Cavalry formed two years ago, but it was always here, as my family, my land, my world has always been here. Last night as I lay awake in bed, I pondered these times, and all times past. People always say that this present “time” results from another “time” past, but I wondered if that can be so. What if the past results from what we do in this present time? As our horse hooves kick up dust on the plank road, it fades off behind us, into the past. Eventually, the dust disappears; settles, like the past, into forgotten memory. That dust does not spur my horse on; how could the past drive our life in this present moment. How could the past determine the future, unless I allow it to do so?

I always feel as though I am the only true presence in this world, and every thing, every one else is an illusion. Surely, they must feel the same as I. I am certain that, as I ride the miles before me, I will meet many a man and woman that will explain these riddles to me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Changing Water

Journal Entry, February 11, 1861:

I rode into town yesterday and all of the gossip in Fredericksburg is about the changes coming to this country. A new government is going to change our life. The North is going to change the South. The left is going to change the right. The top is going to change the bottom. That is simply politics, and politics never changes. That was true 150 years ago, and will be true in another 150 years. Opposites need each other to exist at all. Logically, there is no left without a right, no white without black, no inside without an outside.

But life; yes, life is changing; everything is changing, constantly. Perhaps people don’t notice, or care, or they resist it, but they cannot stop it. Whether life seems problematic or perfect, it is fluid like that creek bordering our farm, that winding Wilderness Run. Even now, mostly frozen, it appears still and unchanging, but below the surface it runs. At times it runs clear and at times it runs muddy, always changing; always an afternoon’s pleasure for a boy sitting there watching it run. As a child, I watched that water and wondered where it started and where it would end, if it ever ends.

I was a student of this world. Now, if there is war, I will be forced to leave my Wilderness and venture out beyond my world, beyond my idea of this world. Does a student become a soldier, or perhaps I shall become a pilgrim searching for something logical in a nonsensical land beyond this one. Yes, life is constantly changing; I cannot find where it started or where it could ever end.


The water, I had drawn
from the well on Sunday,
rose in a steam cloud
from the kitchen kettle
and drifted dreamlike
out the open window
into the winter sky.

I held my head back
and drank it in deeply
from the spring rain.

This water quenched

my summer thirst
and a joy of recognition
welled up in me.

It rolled down my cheek
as a tear, dropping to the ground
where it joined a fallen leaf
from the autumn tree.

The leaf and the water merged
into the soil to become
the budding oak beside the well
where I had drawn water
on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Note about Journal Entries.

“Every picture tells a story, don’t it.”, said Mr. Stewart.

Sometimes I need to justify to myself why I spend so much time writing a journal when I could simply make art for art’s sake; ''l'art pour l'art'', as Gautier called it. I suppose, like him, I take pleasure in telling a story; journal entries are my narrative and my art recalls elements of the story. Each art piece then becomes a collection of symbols, not unlike the cave paintings at Lascaux or the pictographs scattered across North America nearly 12,000 years ago. The finished combination of symbols does not directly tell the story or explain; it points in a direction and the viewer decides what the narrative should be, based on their own interpretation of layer upon layer of symbols. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts; an infinite combination of stories; each personal to that viewer, so for 6 billion people, there are 6 billion stories of 6 billion worlds. All in each and each in all.