Sunday, July 30, 2006

When Reading can be Bad for You

I felt terrible after the last post about the amount of time I spend TV gazing, so I thought I'd try to catch up on the Listener; this is a weekly NZ magazine that started out as a radio program guide some 75 years ago; now it covers just about anything under the Kiwi sun and beyond, and is the only magazine whose subscription we have not let lapse for over 10 years. (Yip, that includes Fiberarts and Handwoven...)

First off, it doesn't pay to pile up and then catch up on weekly magazines. With the world changing as rapidly as it does, even news from a week ago is history; when you pile them up for five months, even the recipes are out of season. And I don't want to know about movies I missed, or never came to Nelson.

Secondly, I get a bit sad when I read book reviews. It was only about two years ago that I realized I would most probably never read all the books that interest me, or ones I should read to remain a well-informed member of the global society. This was about the same time I hit a nine-month spell of picking up bad fiction. Uggh.

But most importantly, for me, for now, I sunk further into the Word World after an evening of semi-serious reading, and woke up this morning almost sea sick from the swirls of words. So for me, for now, maybe TV gazing, or magazine gazing without reading, is not such a bad thing.


I still remain a hopeless book buyer, however, and today, I picked up 'A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage and the Quest for the Colour of Desire' by Amy Bulter Greenfield from Black Swan, a division of Random House. My favorite bookstore in Nelson, Page and Blackmore, has a little bit more info about it, and Amazon says the title is the same in the US except for Colour/Color. Perhaps of interest to some?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

What I Learned about How I Work from a Reality TV Show about American Motorcycle Builders

When I was choosing my domain name, I had a few I liked. was one, because I liked the idea of me living outside the busy world and weaving (instead of meditating) in relative silence in my cave-like studio, (relative because looms can be noisy, and I often listen to music or books-on-tapes CDs,) and finding enlightenment. was another, after the lovely tree in the middle of our overgrown garden; it was the first tree we bought when we moved into our house, and regardless of its surrounds, it blooms cheerfully every spring, and some years also in the autumn, though the branches don't weep but grow upwards in all directions. was hard to drop, because I am a slow weaver, plus I am a Slow Food sympathizer. To improve my weaving, at one point I deliberately slowed down my pace at every stage to make sure I was putting in the highest quality I possibly could into my work. In the end, I chose to remind myself what I am supposed to be doing every day; to motivate myself to weave conscientiously, consistently and constantly.

The slowness of my weaving frustrates me at times, and my laziness irritates me. Working with a right arm prone to pain hasn't helped, but at the best of times, it takes a while from inception of an idea, to refinement, to selection of colors and material, to sampling, to the actual weaving, and the finish. The inception to refinement is particularly slow. I am new to this kind of creative process, and I don't understand how mine works.

It took a very unlikely event, one of Ben's TV shows, to help me understand a little. I usually have my ear plugs in during this show and read, while Ben ooohs and aaahs, and I honestly can't remember what made me watched it last Thursday. It's called American Chopper, and it's a reality TV of an Orange Country father-and-two (?)-sons team who build custom-made motorcycles. Simply put, the father is portrayed as the bossy dad/mechanic, and the eldest son as the temperamental artist with an amazing ability to transform vision into a bike. In this episode, the father complained that the son stood around doing nothing and wasted valuable time, whilst the son rebutted he was deigning, and in fact, he was trying out ideas (in this case different lines adorning the fuel tank), stepping back to see if they worked, and refining the lines.

The way the father sees his son is how I usually see myself as a worker. I pace too much, gaze at nothing for far too long, and waste an awfully lot of time. But on Thursday I understood and sympathized with the son. I realized sometimes when I think I'm being lazy, in fact, I am still designing, albeit unconsciously. And I should allow enough gestation/meditation so I understand the design better and come up with the most satisfying design.

At least that's the story this week and I'm sticking to it.


Now, I challenge you to use the words 'adorn' and 'fuel tank' in one sentence.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A World Without Words

Sorry, it's been a while. I have two reasons; I pondered this one train of thought for over six weeks, but the harder I tried, the more tedious and uninteresting it became, so I needed to give it a rest; the other reason is, I have been weaving. And I noticed when I am in full weaver mode, as I have been, it is jolly tiresome to try to think with words.

I count and count and recount warps; measure warps; thread them through heddles and reeds; fringe the woven shawl; wash; press; and photograph. I have images rush through my head, and I capture them on whatever piece of paper at hand, with color blotches (crayons, pencils, pastels, whatever is the quickest), yarn samples, lines/squiggles (I can't draw), and a few words (most of which read like gibberish after a few weeks). And I spend days seeing yarns, textiles, images and colors, immersed in a world without words, where translating thoughts into words is disruptive, and the lovely images fly away while I'm looking for the right word.

This has been an unlikely transition for me. Since around age seven, I've wanted to be a writer, a poet, then a linguist, so I've had an amicable relationship with words, and believed congition was possible only through words. Then I became fascinated with Philosophy and the first dead man I read was Descartes, so I've been examining my life ever since. I have to plan, analyze, evaluate, summarize and review elements of my life meticulously, in words, before I can move on. I talk to myself often, but it's not as much talking TO myself as it is talking BY myself, tidying up my thoughts, and rehearsing in case someone asks me what I think.

When I decided to become a weaver, I needed to think differently, and I came to realize I needed to shut out the constant flow of words in my head. It took me a good part of five years to train myself, and up to now, this has been the hardest thing about learning to weave, and it's still on-going.

I love to weave and I love to write. I now know I can shut out words from my head, but it took a while to come back to the Word World, and now I'm afraid I'm stuck here before I can return to colorful side. Wish me luck.

And what do you know, this relates to THAT other train of thought.