Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rules for ghosts

1) Ghosts exist in a separate dimension from the physical world, thus encounters between the dimensions are rare and difficult to comprehend. A good explanation is done by Carl Sagan, where he tries to describe the 4th dimension.

2) Ghost take up roughly the same space as when they were living, but can grow larger (slightly) and can shrink (significantly).

3) Ghosts perceive the entire cross-section of light and sound.

4) It is very difficult and rare for a ghost to influence the physical world: it can pretty much only be done on a quantum level, but with enough effort, these quantum fluctuations that ghosts influence can have physical results.

5) Ghosts are fields of potential energy that has not found a catalyst to release into kinetic energy. As the kinetic energy is released, the ghost dissipates into the Universe.

Listening to: Nine Inch Nails - 4 Ghosts I
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Reluctant Ghost Back Story - The Bakery

I was late again, but in no hurry. Spring was finally here for real - winter would not be creeping back as it so often does in late March - and I was taking the scenic route on my walk to work. It was already warm this morning, and was supposed to get up into the seventies by this afternoon. Two fat robins sliced through the air right in front of me: an argument over territory, no doubt. I could already smell the aroma of burnt bread in the breeze. After a couple of quick detours down some wooded avenues, I headed directly for the bakery.

I loved the old screen door, looked forward to it every time I came here. The old red and green paint was peeling, and the ancient screen was a little rusty and bulged a little here and there from the times it had been walked into.

The first thing you notice when you step foot into the bakery is the noise of the fans. Several of them, placed in strategic locations throughout the bakery, going at full speed, trying to circulate the hot dry air of the oven with the cooler air from outside. And that's the second thing you notice: the heat. It feels almost like walking into a wall; it will stop some people in their tracks. I liked that - standing behind the counter, watching customers get backed up and walk into each other on the hot days.

"You're late," the owner, Rick, said to me. This has pretty much replaced "Hi" as his standard greeting to me.

"I know, " I replied, quickly slinking back behind the counter. I took an apron from the rack and tied it behind my back as I walked back to the dough station. Some of the loaves have already proofed, and I shift them to the oven and get started shaping the sourdough and cutting the english muffins. It's hot already, and I get to pull the bread from the oven once the loaves have all been made. The last one in in the morning gets to pull from the oven, that's the rule. I end up in front of theoven a lot.

I talk with the other bakers about what we all did the previous night. They are friendly enough to me, but I sense an undercurrent of resentment sometimes, becuase of my lateness, I suspect. Today, they're not upset with me and we have a good time back there with the dough. Soon enough, everything is rolled out and shaped and all that's left is the proofing, so I go up front. I take the big wooden paddle with the long handle and start shoving in the raw loaves.

Within seconds I'm sweating, and before long beads are pouring off of me, some hanging on the end of my nose, which is so gaddamn annoying. These times in front of the oven I vegetate; thinking is a useless endeavor. Just pull out the dark loaves, scoot in the light ones. Waves of hot, dry air billow out into my face, catching small tendrils of my hair and levitating them into the air along side my face, eventually sticking to my drentched cheeks and forehead. And during these times my consciousness would wander aimlessly until it wound up where it always did. The dark thoughts.

I don't think there was ever a day I stood in front of that oven that I didn't think about crawling into it. Just curling up in its toastiness, this warm womb from which I pull the stuff of life. Some days my thoughts were realistic, thinking about the physical process of my body burning, the pain and screaming, the torture, and then, finally, the release. But mostly these were romantic thoughts that ignored the ugly facts of self-immolation; the muddled logic of the suicidal.

One time I held my hand against the metal body of the oven, just to see how long I could stand it before the primitive instictual brain would overrule my willpower and force me to remove it. Quite a while, it turned out. It hurt instantly. The pain only grew in intensity, and was a more different kind than the shallow smarting of scrapping a knee or hitting your thumb with a hammer. This must be, I thought, why hell is full of fire.

I looked to the ceiling, trying to ignore my hand. Ancient beams were exposed, so old that gaps had formed between the grains in the wood. I think the parts between the beams is plaster or something; it has grown dark over the years from the smoke particles given off from the little crumbs of bread that fall to the floor of the oven and bake down to little bits of carbon.

At last I could stand no more and removed my hand. It was a bright red and almost alien-looking. I looked up from my hand and saw Rick was looking at me in disbelief. I ran to sink in the back and turned on the cold water full blast, testing it with my unburnt hand until the hot water from washing the dishes had cleared the pipes. I stuck my hand unter the ruhing stream of cool water. Just the force of the water stung, and I turned the knob counter-clockwise until the stream was gentle. The relief was immediate, almost magical. I pulled my hand out of the water and the pain returned instantaneously. My entire right hand was a throbbing agony. I hadn't even had the sense to try this with my other hand - the one I don't write with. Fuck.

I placed it back under the water. The cool water was as good as morphine, as far as I was concerned. Rick came back and asked to look at my burn. I reluctantly removed it from the water and showed him, after a few more seconds of savoring the relief. There were already large blisters forming. Rick ran to the freezer and came back with some ice. He wrapped it into my hand and told me to go home and rest. He added that I should probably go to the doctor. I just stared at him. He stared back at me, and for a long time we jsut stood there silent.

"Are you OK?" I could tell he wanted to ask, but he said nothing more. I could hear the other workers gathering behind him, asking what had happened. I left by the back door so I wouldn't have to face them.

Listening to: Atmosphere - Smart Went Crazy
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Materialists v. The Sensualists

I had an interesting debate the other day - one I've had in the past several times, and one that I find I'm constantly changing sides on. I know artists, a couple of them, who are quite talented, but simply unable to make a living at it because of how they view the media they are gifted in.

Their problem, if it is indeed a "problem", is this: they hold art - the process and result of their creativity and patience - in such sacred regard that once a piece is done, so much of their personality, so much of their soul, so much of their "selves" went into its creation that to simply sell it seems to them like a sort of prostitution, some sort of profanity. I suppose that in a way they view their pieces the way someone might view their children, and I guess the comparison between patiently raising a child and carefully making a clay teapot is more than superficial.

The counter-argument I have used myself goes something like this: it is really all how the artist views him- or herself, and the general attitude that many artists seem to share about money, which is negative, for he most part. Many artists will divide the world in twain, partisianizing humanity into materialists and sensualists. They view the majority of humanity as being interested in chasing profits and financial advantage, and they view the dollars that these people are endlessly chasing as dirty by association.

Gone are the days of patrons who will lavish artists with the means to spend all their days creating art without having to worry where their next meal is coming from. Some artists I have spoken with get a dreamy look in their eyes when referring to the Renaissance era, conveniently ignoring the fact that often the artists from this period they admire so much often had little choice as to what they would be painting or sculpting. Other artists take an opposite tack, romanticizing the lives of the starving artists who eschewed worldly comfort for the sake of remaining true to their artistic vision. I think both of these viewpoints are mistaken, both in the way they unquestioningly accept the fact that money is bad, and in the way they view the nature of the transaction.

First, money is neither good nor bad. It is an inanimate object (one it took a certain amount of artistic talent to design and mint, I might add); it is what money is used for, as well as what one does to obtain it, that is either good or bad - which leads to my second point: I would suggest that instead of looking at the selling of a painting or sculpture or whatever as a mere financial exchange, take the viewpoint that you are exchanging your work that will bring happiness to other people for a small donation to enable you the security to continue the work of making the world a better place.

Of course, and underlying (and fastidiously ignored) secondary argument of the artist who will not sell their work is the artist's fear of rejection or failure, with which I can certainly sympathize. It takes a very real bravery to put your soul into a work and then to place it out in the world for all to see. And judge. And criticize. I think all artists, hell, anyone, can relate to this. Artists will usually form communities to offer support to each other is the face of this legitimate insecurity, but all too often these groups will devolve into dens of bitterness that legitimize the fear rather than combat it.

Well, these are my half-formed thoughts on the subject. I just kind of wanted to get them down to help me figure out all sides concerned. Thanks for everything.