Sunday, December 25, 2011


Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

Abe Lincoln
I have nothing to say. Almost.

We all got together to go someplace and then decided not to go there. So we went someplace else.

Trombones and trumpets playing with a pipe organ. Everything is tubes.

I have a large bowl of coins sitting on my desk.

Don't display relics.

Air vibrates through the tubes and makes sound.

I lost my watch. Almost.

When I accidentally knock over the bowl, the coins spill on the floor and then I have to pick them all up and put them back into the bowl, one by one.

Don't display ruins.

Our blood vibrates through our bodies tubes.

Where did we all go, I wonder?

A pipe organ is all tubes. Think of that.

I don't collect pennies, almost.

I used to carry a card in my wallet that said "Keep you big mouth shut"

When something costs $9.98 it's easier to give her a $10 bill than to count out 98 cents if there are people in line behind you. You get 2 pennies in change to put into your bowl.

Maybe we went dancing. I don't remember.

I pick them all up, all the thoughts, ideas, facts, figures, hopes, dreams, fears, regrets and put them back into the bowl, one by one.

Don't display errors.

At the bottom of the ocean there are creatures who live in tubes.

Most of the coins are pennies.

No, I think we all went home.

I found my watch. It was also on the floor.

Yes. I think we all came home, one by one.

Display love.

The Vagabond
Posted by DB at 10:41 AM 2 comments

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mailing the leaves

Dana Bate

A few years ago an actress friend of mine, Lily Knight, moved from New York City to Los Angeles. She wrote that one of the things she missed was seeing the beautiful colors of the Fall foliage season. So I thought it would be nice if I collected some of the beautiful leaves and sent them to her.

I avoided the blanket of colors on the Lion's Park lawn, as tempting as it was, and left the leaves that were still on the trees. I went instead to the only patch of wilderness I know of here in Bristol Borough. It starts from the banks of the Delaware River and runs alongside a marsh land, all of it protected by the Nature Conservancy. There isn't much to it but it's big enough to have a hiking trail through it and it's lush with plants and trees.

I entered near the river at the edge of Lion's Park and soon found myself surrounded by tree limbs and large bushes of many varieties reaching out their branches to greet me with their colorful wares. I soon filled my bag with what I was looking for but kept walking. There are occasional lookouts where one can stop and view the marsh beyond, see the birds playing and listen to them.

The whole journey took about a half an hour but it was a pleasant walk in the forest. Back home I stuffed the leaves in a plastic bag. put it in a box and mailed it to Lily. A bit of Pennsylvania Autumn was on it's way to sunny Southern California.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Light The Lights

Do we stand in our own light wherever we go,
And fight our own shadows forever?

Edward Bulwer-Lytton
"I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see."
(Robert Louis Stevenson)

Years ago I knew a photographer who told me one day that she had mounted an exhibit of her pictures at a photography gallery in lower Manhattan, and that they were self portraits. I thought that was intriguing so I went down to see it.

It was a nice big gallery with some beautiful pictures. In one large room there were films and videos. One of the videos consisted of people cavorting around in very active and suggestive ways. But the video screen was very small. I went over to it to see what they were doing and as soon as I stepped up to the screen the image changed to a very lonely scene. I shrugged and walked away, and as soon as I did the original scene returned. So I stepped back and again the video changed to the lonely scene. It seems there was a switch which would change the video whenever anyone came close to the screen.

In another room there was a very large print of a photo taken with a camera obscura. That's a technique in which one frame of film is exposed over a period of time. In this case the film was in a box with a pin point lens using ambient light. And what the artist had done was to set up nine chairs in a row and put a model in each one of them. Every ten minutes, from one end or the other one of the models would get up and leave. At the end of ninety minutes the only model remaining was the one in the center. The resulting photograph showed her, very clearly, and those on either side of her gradually becoming transparent as your eye moved along the surface of the picture.

Finally I found my friend's self portraits. What she had done was to go all over the city on a sunny day and take pictures of her shadow, on the sidewalks, on the grass, up against a wall and so on.

I could have said "Hm" and left the exhibit simply having spent an entertaining two hours. But those three exhibits, the changing videos, the slowly disappearing models and the shadows, all pointed toward the same thing and I had to think about it.

There's an existential carpet there. But is it a magic carpet, does it fly or is it only to sweep confusing hair balls of thinking under. "Cogito ergo sum." I once knew a philosopher who paraphrased that Cartesian axiom by saying, I think therefore I am, I think. Carefully setting under the carpet for today the possibility that I may not exist in the form in which I think I do, is the fact that I am a thinking creature irrefutable evidence that I exist? It can be a fearful thing to face one's own thinking if it is honestly and conscientiously done. Where do my thoughts come from? Are they a product of the passionate love affair between imagination and reason, are they the product of some phylogenic process, are they the intellectual merchandise of some tyrannical brain seeding, are they (heaven forbid) mental weeds which grow out of nature's chaos to fill a vacuum? How many of the thoughts that twirl and bounce around in my head like a bunch of lottery balls can I claim to be my own. The fewer of those there are the more transparent I have become and the earlier I have quit the scene.

What is the reluctance we have for facing the clear light of reality? Is it fear, indifference or ignorance? It doesn't hurt to turn one's attention to ideas and experiences greater than one's own. It shouldn't hurt to explore the open fields and mountain tops of one's own thinking. Why then do we habitually look away from the light and define ourselves by our own shadows when we could let ourselves be defined by the brightness that is hiding in us like a prehistoric creature in a cave?

I grew up in a threadbare family; no father, a difficult and demanding mother, a brother and sister who were a whole decade and more older than I. I suffered a great lack of the feelings and experiences of a family life. Hence I tried to make a family out of whatever theatre company I was with. I tried thinking of them as my fathers and mothers, my sisters and brothers and, eventually, my sons and daughters. Of course it didn't work. They all had families somewhere, and other lives. When I retired it was my destiny to live alone and lonely. But it was also the time to start learning about, understanding and appreciating myself. The party is going on, the games are being played and the crowd may be fun to be with, but you won't find yourself there. You will find yourself in the vast, bright, mysterious, secret and sacred cathedral of your own mind.

DB - The Vagabond