July 9th, 2002

The gentleman is always properly dressed

Street Shaman

Saturday night, Paul fell into what I can only describe as a kind of weird shamanistic state. Apparently, it started because he had seen a skunk outside of muzzie’s apartment just before we left to head back to the northern parts of the city. As we headed towards the highway, he shared that he had only ever seen skunks when he was in something of an altered state. The sightings he had in the past, he related, happened most often after he had dropped acid. Saturday, the substance of choice was significantly more mundane, but enough to inspire his sharing a recurring dream he’s had about the corruption of his spirit. Based on the details of the dream, it’s unclear if he thinks the ill-humor stems from external sources or if it is some aspect of his self that is sullying him.

He asked if I had ever had a dream like it, and I told him about my encounter with the divine. I also remembered a piece of that dream that I didn’t share with you here. Shortly after I fell to weeping, I looked up to find that Shiva was no longer physically manifested in front of me. I found myself on one knee, dressed in the livery of an officer of Napoleon’s army, and tasked with leading my troops against Wellington in order to appease Shiva. I lost. In the weeks that followed, this part of the dream replayed itself. I attempted new tactics, changed troop placement, and otherwise did everything in my power to win the battle, to no avail. I failed, and with each failure I felt myself falling further from my task. Side Note: I also remember sharing this dream with Mary Tess years ago. She pointed out that pleasing Shiva was a near-impossible task. That certainly played out.

I’ve read that Shiva and Kali are often symbolic of the need to live your earthly existence to its fullest. I’ve been a long way off from that. It is curious to me how this is all coming back now. Timing? Body memory? I don’t know...

Paul acted as advisor and council while we were talking about all of this. His priest-like state was weird enough to be unnerving.
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The gentleman is always properly dressed

A cool guy named Mark

While I was wandering around in Maine with So and Sean, we stopped at the art supplies store that services Maine College of Art. After being impressed by the enormous easel that greets you as you enter the door and trying to figure out if I was even remotely as cool as some of the people who were wandering around shopping, I found my way to a section that had various implements for working clay. I picked up a clay hook and it just felt good to have in my hand. I haven’t used any of these tools since I took the one class back in college, but it felt right.

I remembered quite suddenly how much I loved doing raku pieces. There was something that was incredibly satisfying about the utter chaos of the technique, and our methods were more haphazard than most. The forms were glazed with whatever was available, fired in a low-tech kiln, and then placed in a bucket filled with something flammable as they cooled. Every piece was an explosion of color that had only been partially planned.

Of course, I haven’t shared that I was horrible at wheel-thrown forms (I never made it past the "thick bowl" stage of the art), and my hand-built work was mostly uninspired. Still, it was so incredible to work something so tangible with my hands. It grounded me and made me feel like I really did have a connection to things and to the world. It was the one thing that I let myself do without obsessing over the outcome and worrying about being judged. I did it just for the sake of doing it, and the professor seemed not only to recognize that, but actually encouraged it. Can't for the life of me remember his full name, though he's the "Mark" referenced in the title. I remember that he claimed to be a dada-ist (a term I still don't fully understand) and that he had pieces on display at galleries around the city.

Interestingly, of the four years I spent at BC, the year that I took the ceramics course was my most enjoyable. I’ll not credit it wholly with the quality of my experience since this was also the year of my greatest academic experimentation (Revelation in Hindu Scripture being most notable), and the time when I developed most of the friendships that I had in school. It’s notable that it was also the one year that I held myself out of a committed relationship. It was lonely, to be sure, but my college relationships were incredibly stifling.

Ok, now I’m getting tangential. Nothing to see here, folks...