THE KNIFE AND FORKED ROAD

A few people have been marginally baffled about my progress towards roads and forks and knife edges recently: If you remember, when I came back from France I wrote the following, which I am now going to explain, hopefully in the process enlightening some of its murky depths. I wrote that,

“As winter comes after fall and summer, spring, so here has winter come to my body. It is a hibernating time. I’ll be on hiatus from big long open gashing for a little while, during which time I will be walking down a white gravel path away from the ripe fruits and flowers of a rotting garden [...] I had become too comfortable in my colorful ease, too easy watching the flowers bloom without planting any new buds. Round on the inward road now.”

"The Head of Medusa" by Pieter Pauwel Rubens c. 1617, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

I realize that it may be narcissistic to even continue talking about it, but feel that I cannot move on in the direction I would like to go without sharing this. Perhaps the best way to express the reality of what is going on, is to share with you some great correspondence my friend Scott and I have been having. Scott comments on my blog voraciously, and is a fantastic writer in his own right. Other commenters have asked him if he has his own blog (which could be taken one of two ways?) but which we will give the benefit of the doubt to, if only for the reason that he is a brilliant writer, particularly regarding the wrung rag of Fashion. He has reenergized the industry for me, simply on a level of seeing it as one would a piece of art hanging in a gallery. It is certainly a different experience when one is the canvas upon which the art is being spread, when you are the Thing being Hung from tentative strings to a solid block of Wall. Fashion as art and expression, experimentation: This is what Scott believes we should all seek to enjoy from the industry.

As fashion week begins this morning, I am soon going to share with you a piece of writing that Scott has written for the Big Long Open Gash, about the Eternal Circle of “fashions” exploring how breaking into new territory, expanding the circle, as you might see it, takes immense power and craft. To nudge those boundaries of circularity further into an unwritten future, to have the courage to write the future yourself; these are bold things to undertake in any industry or life moment. Fashion is one of those webs that both encourages and hungers for the nudging more than most: For better or worse. But first, our letters. You may see the circumstances that led up to my choice to go down a left sloping road; why I have chosen to involve myself wholly in a new industry; how I have come to the conclusion of committing myself to the craft of Craft itself.

So we began: “Thank you for your welcome back. France was violently illuminating, but calmly so, thanks to the peace of nature and family within which I was brought back to the beginning of time…. the birth of life… the meaning of it all. I have had some kind of insight into my own path and reality, and it all came about from a series of fortunate (some might have thought them unfortunate) events: Namely, the comments of an individual who slammed me against my own mirror and shattered my very reflection. This is what he wrote (maybe you’ll understand my movements away from the shallowness of the fashion & modeling world better because of this)”

Intermission: I was going to save the reputation of this particular commenter by refraining from posting his words here. But, I think they illumine some truth regarding my old world, and my newly formed duck-egg blue one. He requested I keep his comment from being published in the comments, but he and I know how powerful his words were to break me out of an old, dirty place. I am completely confident that his slaying, stabbing, piercing, whipping and beating were totally necessary to stop me from doing something totally disgusting. Namely, becoming incestuously introverted.

“Brilliant writer? My fat arse! I haven’t encountered a poop-heap of pretentious would-be literary drivel like this since my undergraduate uni Creative Writing tutes. Go direct to the library, read some decent stuff by people who really do know their craft, and keep on reading until you understand the difference between the undisciplined gush you’re currently inflicting on anyone unfortunate enough to happen upon this blog and actually waste time reading any of it, and genuine literary quality. At the moment, you haven’t a clue. What we have here is the spoiled fruit of constant positive reinforcement and a privileged upbringing in sad combination with a Dannii Minogue complex. Pay some dues, learn something of the craft you aspire to, and come back in 10 years little girl.”

We began our illuminating dialogue like this, with his fierce words of hatred. I might add that this is the only destructive criticism I have ever experienced on my blog. It was very timely, and ultimately, a positive moment for both of us. Quite amazing really. Continuing on, I wrote:

“Brutal, huh? I received this on my birthday too, no exaggeration to say I was flabbergasted and yet pinprickled with the pierce point of a light. I saw where I had been moving, that is, nowhere but my own version of a narcissus pond. I saw that to really BE a model, to even entertain the possibility of wholeheartedly moving down that road, one has to become to a very large and deep degree, selfish and narcissistic. It’s part of the job requirement. You can’t succeed, at least in the beginning, unless you’re wholly focused on what you’re eating, what you look like, how you’re presenting yourself to the world and so on.

The point is, I saw these two clear cut paths in front of me, like a country road splitting out like a serpents tongue. On the right was modeling and all that it promises: It was full of red and pink and orange flowers, fruits, lots of blooms and perfume and things just ripe for the picking. If I would only walk in and reach for it… it seemed to lure me… Intoxicating, for sure.

On the other side, to the left, was a very simple road, a white gravel path lined with young trees full of green spring leaves. The path curved and was lit with beautiful light coming through the trees. It looked sparse and monastic in comparison to the other Eden of Paradise. However, somehow I knew that this path was the kind of path that, if I walked down it, I would find seeds on the floor to plant my own garden of Paradise, and I would see it from the beginning to the end of blooming. There might be scary things down there, but there also might be unimaginable new adventures!!! What creatures would I meet; and who else had walked this path? It seems well trodden, safe, and inviting of adventurers.

I realized if I went towards what was a sensory extravaganza, a phenomenal and whimsical feast to the senses, on the right, I could follow the different scents all I wanted. I could maybe reach that big juicy fruit in time, but in time for what? It’s all going to decay right before my very eyes isn’t it? It’s all going to rot very soon after I’ve touched it, eaten it, that is if I ever get there in time. Who’s to say that this is not an illusion? Eve has already learnt not to taste that goddamn apple. There are worms in there, so close, ready to eat those juicy, pungent, fecund and so-nearly-rotting goods.

You’ve probably already realized which path is which world, in my minds eye – and that my perception of modeling is based very much on the lures that the industry uses to tempt you to bite a fruit that is just about rotting, not to mention that fact that someone else is also chasing the same scent, wanting to bite it before you do. In fact, there are billions of fruit flies and honey bees hovering all over it. It’s not worth the risk. The stench of the rot would stay with me, on my psyche, indelibly. Then, the fear comes!! How am I to get back to the other side now? Won’t the creatures, so alive and so pure and free, won’t they smell the undeniable rotting-flesh still lingering on my skin? They’ll know where I’ve come from, and they won’t have a bar of it. Who’s to say that I won’t taint that road with the mess I could be carrying on my feet? Narcissism and Hunger and Ruthless Pride?

No, I decided to resist the very easy temptation of becoming “a Model Writer”, which I realize may already be a path fractionally-trodden down on my behalf. The number of people who have encouraged me to do the modeling, to make the money, and then write – now seems like such a deft trick of the egotistical, materialistic culture that we live in. I resisted the temptation of a potentially quick ‘bite-of-the-fruit’ and realized I would not get lasting satisfaction from that bite, nor two, nor any at all. I couldn’t risk becoming more of a model, because I know it has already left it’s mark on me, and I intend to wash my hands of that mark. It’s a curse to the psyche of the writer, to think too much of one’s exterior, to place too much importance on the mirror. If there’s one thing my mother told me, when I was in the throes of a terrible and paranoid anorexia, many years ago, thirsting to write, flailing to write, suffocating for a voice – she said, “The world is out there. It’s not in the mirror, or in here” (pointing to my head) “It’s out there.”

It has stuck with me ever since, and it was a seed in itself, something that has now sprouted, over the last two years, into a giant serpentine flowering stalk of a slippery green root, full of natural force and push, full of life essence. It wants to go down the most exciting road, the road with nothing at all apparently there yet; but which holds the absolute promise of everything I could possibly imagine.

So my friend. That’s the unfurling of the paths before me, the burgeoning of the tree that my life is becoming. As one moves towards the light more and more (as hokey as it sounds, that is what we all crave, and naturally, what we do) – there is a choice to be made at that point where the first green stalk becomes supportive of branches. One thing I learnt in France was that there is an incredible philosophy living in trees; a way of looking at life that is so symbolically like the branching of our lives with all their decisions – sometimes channels open themselves, or limbs are cut off, without our knowing what or why or how that severing happened. Sometimes a route you’d previously thought was open, like a branch moving toward a place from the trunk of a tree, is inexplicably severed. Does the tree know why? Does the tree understand the concept of the chainsaw, or that man needs a house, and materials to make his house with? Does the tree understand that nobody chops or breaks or snaps tree branches unless they feel they really have to? Even children have to snap that twig, have to axe that branch. The tree doesn’t understand that (and the point is, it doesn’t have to.) The just keeps on growing, or grows in new directions. Such is life.

I will stop here, because there is infinitely more I could say about the Philosophy of Trees, the colors of the Eden garden about to rot away, and the excitations/ vibrations that emanate from the other path. It is the path you have just walked down yourself, I feel, in writing about the circle of fashion. You allow an understanding, a breadth and a depth, which so many are blind to (including me when on rants about the surface facade of what I see mirrored all around me.) You have given me an understanding that I was blind to, and many people are – we all live in our own little microcosms. Thank you for showing me another facet of the diamond.

As for creating something truly unknown – you’ve got something happening there. I think the trick is allowing for the elseways direction to occur. Let it grind, let it burn, let it be uncomfortable. See what happens…”

William Blake: Antaeus Setting Down Dante and Virgil in the Last Circle of Hell. (1920) Pen and Watercolor

Thank you Scott, and thank you Branding Iron of Malice. You shook me from a dangerous path, towards one wholly healthful and true to form. Scott’s writing will follow in my next post. Welcome to Paper Castle Walls, new friend!

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5 Comments

  1. Jocelyn
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Have you ever read ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein? It was the first book that ever made me weep (as a four year old…), and seventeen years later, its mark is still on my mind.

    • Posted September 13, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      No I haven’t read it… Sounds lovely though. I will add it to my Amazon wish list! Thank you…

  2. petrina
    Posted September 15, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    i love the rawness. the tree philosophy. and the one who takes those ranting words and can see what you saw. i won’t puff your ego–but i needed to hear that today… “Does the tree understand that nobody chops or breaks or snaps tree branches unless they feel they really have to…The tree doesn’t understand that (and the point is, it doesn’t have to.) The just keeps on growing, or grows in new directions. Such is life.”

    and your mum’s words…lets just say apples don’t fall far from their tree.

  3. Twix
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    amazing

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] trees. Yes, I have found myself wandering back over the territory of the right-hand road, which once appeared like a huge vibrant colourful flower garden, buzzing with perfume and butterflies, and which, further down the road now, has segued into dark forest with black gunk seeping through [...]

  2. [...] trees. Yes, I have found myself wandering back over the territory of the right-hand road, which once appeared like a huge vibrant colourful flower garden, buzzing with perfume and butterflies, and which, further down the road now, has segued into dark forest with black gunk seeping through [...]

  3. By DEVASTATINGLY INTENSE: YOGA AND MEDITATION on May 5, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    [...] how much energy is created from simple time out. I always picture it like a flowering, or like being a plant. When we just sit, legs crossed, hips raised on a cushion or pillow beneath us, hands on knees, arms [...]

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