...all this feels strange and untrue…
In the Snow Patrol video for ”Open Your Eyes” below:
…the viewer’s P.O.V. is that of a driver racing through Paris at dawn, recklessly running red lights and generally cruising through the streets (sometimes the wrong way down one-ways) without ever once stopping — except at the very end. Legend has it that director Claude Lelouch (A Man and a Woman), who licensed the film to Snow Patrol, shot it in one take without getting a permit, and was arrested after its first screening.
I adore Paris. I adore dawn. This time of year feels like the dawn of the year, the advent of spring. The New Orleans Mardi Gras was adopted from the carnival, the festival, in Paris.
Yes, it's Mardi Gras today.
I witness that thought, “I should be in New Orleans” (it appears to have an annoying perky voice) squeaking, grating. In contrasting to inspiration, which has the quality of a light breeze: a "still, small voice."
“All this feels strange and untrue.” (”When you argue with reality you lose - but only 100 percent of the time,” I hear Katie purr.) So no I should not be in New Orleans evidenced by the simple fact that I am not in New Orleans. Rather I am in San Jose. The geisha like purple magnolias, white and pink plum blossoms, dripping branches of cherry blossoms and lavender bushes are blooming. And I'm here writing this.
New Orleans isn't a matter of if. Simply when. Possibly it's the next full moon. The video project inspiration is gelling with a working title, ”Rhyme and No Reason.” Rather than a quick trip to Nola, it appears I will be languidly getting to know this earthy, gritty voodoo mistress of a city and its peopling while entertaining with tea at my parlour in a shotgun in Marigny (Law of Attraction at work here ;-) he, he, that's kind of an inside joke.)
Tom Piazza, a New Orleans music writer, says that in New Orleans they “participate in life as it unfolds.” Life is “lived to the hilt.” (That's not the exclusive domain of a single day like Mardi Gras.)
“The French Quarter is the last quarter of Bohemia [in the USA] - a place in love with life,” wrote Tom Williams,
later changing his name to Tennessee after a bus deposited yet another
soul passionate for the literary and the arts. Historian Louis Powell says Nola
became the literary capital of the South in the 1920s and 30s because it was “where you
could expatriate without going to Paris.”
I can feel it's time to be utterly reckless this Dawn. I have a smoky rouge stationary box collaged with vintage postcards of Paris scribbled: “Paris… en flanant.” In French, flanant means to roam aimlessly, to hang out deeply, to sashay, to slowly lounge, to wander like a pilgrim, like a lover, that is:
“The lover knows much more about absolute good and universal beauty than any logician or theologian, unless the latter, too be lovers in disguise.” - George Santayana, The Life of Reason
So I will be in New Orleans… en flanant, shortly, and not a moment too soon or a moment too late. I mentioned that my fortune cookie the other day after the hot and sour soup and tea were cleared away read: "Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” At the same neighborhood dumpling nook, yesterday's cookie reads: "Do what you can with what you have, where you are.” Eternal fortune cookie advice for every instant of life, eh?
Still I can feel it's time to be utterly reckless this Dawn. And not only in my imagination. I have a whimsical way of living in the imaginal and arriving at the same lessons, yet sometimes you know it's a go in the real world. I wrote this piece, 'What is Your Genius?' in mid-December inspired by a desire to accompany Wyatt across the country on his way to Nola. It was looking like he could not make it in one shot, and he was kicking the idea of heading to San Diego and cutting across the country from there.
The whole thing intrigued me as a soul, as a writer, and I mentioned I wanted to tag along. On Dec 6th, he emails from the Palo Alto library:
Have you ever traversed this fine country of ours without reservations?
What a fine question. Without reservations? Have I done anything without reservation? A
cruise through this world without hesitating, without reservation and
gleefully greeting the rising sun in its full glory. Yes, it's high
time to live life to the depths.
And open my eyes.
"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." - Henry Miller
Bonus: From the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple: "In Carnival the World erupts in cascading delight. Bodies give themselves to the revel and in so doing open their spirits to the sweet touch of revelation. Masked faces twist in the abandonment of self. Behind the great mask of Carnival, the small masks worn in the everyday world disappear. Sacred time touches all action, as clocks round their regular twelve, twelve, twelve with unnoticed precision. The Carnival, the Revel is ever Now.
A primary attribute of Carnival is release. This release is definitely not from the World. The World, together with all the marvelous experiences it offers, is a part of liberation. The release is from a vile smallness to a more complete awareness of our ways and states of being.
There is no growth; we are ever complete. What increases is awareness, the ability to focus one's attention and to appreciate that in the final, formal elegance of maya (illusion) the ultimate beauty of spirit is revealed."
On Afrocentric Voodoo: "Within the voodoo society, there are no accidents. Practitioners believe that nothing and no event has a life of its own. That is why "vous deux", you two, you too. The universe is all one. Each thing affects something else... Music and dance are key elements to Voodoo ceremonies. Ceremonies were often termed by whites "Night Dancing" or "Voodoo Dancing". This dancing is not simply a prelude to sexual frenzy, as it has often been portrayed. The dance is an expression of spirituality, of connection with divinity and the spirit world."
images Yemaya (illustration source), a santeria mother goddess also venerated in the eclectic blend of New Orleans hoodoo/voodoo (santeria is prevalent in Cuba where my family originates) ; Steve Moga's photo of 'bead house', in Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans, taken January 26, 2006