sum 2

Second sum of daily notes, in the run-up to Silence: 2014, a cross-border artistic witness. See the Soulographie site (souographie dot org) for the day-to-day.


Are we still enough? Is our silence active and activist (meaning, are we busy making stillness and space)?


Silence: December 2014.


Artists worldwide to practice silence through the month as they will, in different ways, to deepen global contemplative capacity cross-culturally, and demonstrate mass solidarity.


Starting off with local heroes, Deer Tick –


Choir of Angels

Sing choir of angels
Sing through the night
I’ll be still
I’ll be quiet

They took my body
They robbed me blind
There’s no turning back now
No use in crying

Every lonely road is behind me
That led me through the changes I don’t feel
And I lost sight of flesh and bone
Little I knew, I was going home

Sing choir of angels
Sing me to sleep
Sing soft and sweet
I’m yours to keep

I fought their battles
and I gave my life
For peace and quiet
For pain and strife

Now every lonely road is behind me
That led me through the changes I don’t feel
And I lost sight of flesh and bone
Little I knew I was going home




From Nouwen again – what’s needed for contemplative prayer are: reading, silence, and guidance. Our December event isn’t religious, in premise… but art, religion, physics, etc. often hold a mirror to each other, so some religious forms sometimes help model or orient practical thinking.


By “reading,” Nouwen definitely means reading of scripture – but in opening out to secular practice, I wonder if reading could be understood first as a relationship to words (and the body, the territory of the word, which relates to silence in ways we talked about last week), and then as a relationship to breathing. God breathing into a human is literally a way of speaking in the “first person” – breath is a name.


Guidance is crucial too. The guide could be a historical figure or even a type – but a personal intelligence. A living guide would be great, and as we move through the year, let’s be looking to and with each other for wisdom, encouragement, and practical know-how. Especially folks who are doing 31 days, but also folks who are doing only five minutes – clarity of intention and execution will come, in part, through ample discourse in the run-up.




Back from a Tenderloin Opera Company meeting… We get together on Fridays to write scenes and songs towards an annual opera. We write collectively… We’re gearing up to do a song at the upcoming Homeless Memorial. Here’s the text so far:


See, hear, speak no evil

My karma contains three people

Moe, Larry, and Curly. I

See them anytime my heart desires

Keep the home fires burning, surely I

Find a light in comedy


Yeah, that’s what I’ll do

Find light

Find a light and turn it on


Find myself on a right foundation

Learning and hearing God’s words

I am an artist and melodies beat inside

A heart that will be heard


Homelessness led me to Jerry Springer

Issues on the way, way out

I sought a door, a key, my son and daughter

Finally understand what it’s all about


With love you can survive

I know what to do:

Find light

Find a light and turn it on





The Lord and experience

Get up in front


Oasis, learning

Different each year

If you want to simmer that stew first bring it to a boil

Freedom Bells don’t just ring, they toil

We’ve got poems spilling across the floor

And time


Find light

Find a light and turn it on




Time with silence lives predictively, in the sense that it is alive, full of waiting… leaning into – something. But it can also be practice in finding future (swaying out of balance from the present, so as to locomote) without expectation (leaning into dark). This promotes freedom from anger; more room for compassion.




More from Shamrock  Tea (Ciaran Carson, Granta Press)


“I am reminded, now, of Leonardo’s advice to painters: You should fix your eyes, he says, on certain walls stained with damp. You will see in these the likenesses of divine landscaped, adorned with mountains, ruins, rocks, extensive plains; and you will see there battles and strange figures engaged in violent actions. For in such walls the same thing happens as in the sound of church bells, in whose reverberations you may find every word imaginable.”


[Our December may be an occasion during which to live in accident rather than intent…or a chance to move deliberately through a landscape of accident/ruing rather than through a landscape of – our deliberations, which can be delimited – the wall itself, whereas accident allows us to penetrate the wall with poetry… all in silence, all in seeing, with fixed eyes.]




From Acts: Paul says – “… He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him.’” (17:26-28)


But we may recognize our family feel in the lacks we share; we’re missing certain senses that allow us to see spirit directly. We have to “feel around” for that which has but us into bodies, and that into which we move when the bodies go. The intentional practice of silence can improve our ability to feel around. We recognize, in the practice of silence, a limit to speech and listening, and may yield to the awareness that we are been spoken and being listened to. Very closely. Silence is intimacy.




Last note from Shamrock (then back to Anne Carson) –


“Maeterlinck and I spent much of the first day dipping through the standard Lives, and then began a random search which soon revealed the truly idiosyncratic nature of the system. The category of Angelology looked most promising: when we went to the relevant location, we immediately came upon a book which seemed readily assignable to that domain: Gustave Fechner’s Comparative Anatomy of the Angels, first published in Leipzig in 1825. Briefly, Fechner follows the curve of evolution of the animal kingdom, from amoeba to man and then, by extrapolation, attempts to construct the ideal form of a still higher being, an angel. He concludes that such a being must be spherical, having evolved from a brain that had become too luminous for its body, which it subsequently abandoned, since it perceived universal gravitation in the same way as human being perceive light. The angels also communicate by means of light, since they lack vocal equipment.”


Looking to find our spherical natures in silence.

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