I have so much to say it’s hard to say anything at all. So many loose threads:
- Where is Henriette?
- What’s up with my teapot?
- Why is crow a parrot?
- Where am I going?
- What happens in my favorite movie, HER GREATEST LOVE?
Plus my visits to outer-space… I am having a hard time organizing all these threads.
So, to sea with the threads. Let’s talk about something that isn’t a thread but IS very popular:
Fashion is a pleasant distraction from most critical issues. (To browse all my FASHIONable posts click the FASHION tag). In my first message about FASHION I listed all the clothes I own. I’ve shown you my SWIMSUIT, but not my PARTY DRESS.
Here I am in my party dress:
I made it myself.
If you miss me while I’m cocooning in loose threads, you can watch MY MOVIE
which debuted last year right about NOW.
Now now now now…
Maybe I should make another movie out of thread.
No. That won’t help at all.
A reader has asked if buying an obelisk is expensive, or if I just rent.
Obelisks are like Brigadoon; they appear at the moment needed, but otherwise are unattainable. That’s why I am reluctant to leave–if I do I’m not sure I could get back. I really have to be convinced that it is worth the risk.
Some people would feel stuck in this situation but I like it fine. I’ve stopped expecting anyone, besides the birds. So now, I guess, I could really be surprised!
Which is evasion: staying or going somewhere else?
- Some people stay where they are to evade what they could be.
- Others keep moving to evade who they are.
- Does it matter where I am?
Here’s a sentence I read recently:
Thoughts like these are the price one pays for living in an obelisk by the sea shore. Their consideration is the cost of rent.
I’m curious if any of you live in similar structures. Perhaps in other shapes or materials?
A chunk of the obelisk fell out when I was painting, and it sits on my desk. Do you know what obsidian feels like? It is dark, glassy, a mirror cast in blackness, not in light. The obelisk is very grounding. It channels atmospheric and astronomical energies into the earth out of the sky. Kind of like a lightening rod during a storm, but it works on more subtle energies, as well.
The tree that can sometimes be seen growing out my window, flourishes upon that same earth and air.
Soon it will be the equinox! We are going to conduct an experiment on that day. I’ll post the results next week.
Sorry I’ve been so absent these last few weeks. I was tending to the tree.
You can ask me anything anytime as a comment or at
I came to my desk to write you about my teapot. I set my teapot on the desk and sat myself at the desk and lifted my pen from the desk to place it upon my scrapbook which sits upon the desk.
Then my teapot spit-up a postcard.
At first I thought it was steam, which was a little odd, even for my teapot, as I had almost finished its now-tepid tea. But the steam unfolded like a leaf, and drifted down upon my scrapbook. It was not a leaf. It was a postcard:
I don’t want to write an ode to my teapot anymore. Summer is almost over and I haven’t gone to the shore…soon it will be too cold, which will be a great burden off my shoulders. The burden of “maybe now?” is unendurable. I’m tired of being asked where I’m going. When the grasses change and the ocean foams upon the shore like the maw of Kerberus dragged up from hell, maybe crow will stop being a parrot and the birds, wistful for longer days and safer climes, will be happy to fluff up their feathers and stay inside.
Flipping through my scrapbook, it’s evident that last summer was much nicer than this summer; last summer we had fashion shows, I sported my swim-suit and drank fizzy beverages and learned how to watch movies. This summer has been one long avoidance of crow-who-is-parrot’s persistent questioning: WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
Now my teapot, my abiding paraclete, is spewing forth postcards. SPEWING FORTH. Like the ocean spews forth the drowned and the dead.
Why, why would I want to go back there?
I want a real postcard from Henriette, soon.
I love getting messages from you, even though I sometimes don’t understand them. This one, for instance, which Owl brought me today:
JOIN SEXY WOMEN IN THEIR BEDROOMS
Name: Jocelyn Age: 19 Turn Ons: horny gentle men I love to please and willing to do anything to satisfy and make your visit one to remember! Hey Hun I`m giving away free passes to see me naked on my webcam! All you have to do is click the link below and you can start chating with me INSTANTLY!!
JOIN SEXY WOMEN IN THEIR BEDROOMS suggests that this is a new liberation movement that supports odalisques in pursuit of their own obelisks! Come be one of us! My obelisk is even better than a bedroom! It is a living room for all that living requires! For me, that means a decadent bed, a teapot, my desk, an easel, pen, paper, glue, a glass bottle for flowers from the black swan, and a window to look out. I would love to be part of a world-wide liberation of odalisques into self-sequestration, the privacy and comfort of their own rooms!
But the message itself suggests no such solidarity. Jocelyn is only 19, and although revolutions generally start among the young, she loves to please which isn’t a desirable characteristic in a leader for social or aesthetic change. She turns on when horned men appear–satyrs, I guess. Or fauns. She must have some kind of button or switch, and it is apparently connected to a “webcam” which she reclines naked upon. Webcams must be webbed, (cane?) récamiers, as all odalisques recline on elaborate furniture.
Why does she call me Hun? I have nothing against any group who terrorized conquering Rome, both treated odalisques barbarically, but I don’t think Huns had much use for odalisques, seeing as they were nomads and we are very stationary.
Dear Jocelyn,I am always happy to hear from fellow odalisques! I imagine you reclined in your sumptuous web cam. This would be a soul-cheering image–if your letter did not make me worry about you. When love is escapism…you are trapped. It’s a common problem for us odalisques–mal-using “love” to make us feel real, to pad the emptiness we cannot face in ourselves. Will you let me advise you, as an older, if still un-wise, comrade?I know it is hard to believe now, but we all encase an emptiness which it is best not to fill–not until we can populate it wisely. Let your emptiness compel you towards a wholeness which escapes the confines of your ego. Let the emptiness fill you like air fills a balloon. Eventually, it is true, you may burst. But then–oh yes, then–you will truly be in this world!Thank you for the free pass to unlock your door (that’s what you mean by ‘click your link’, right?) and chate with you. I stopped chating when I gave up frenemies. It happens too INSTANTLY like cheap coffee or a merciful death. The world may not be white (friends) and black (enemies), but everything, blessedly, is not a shade of grey. My friends are very colorful. And they fly!“All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.” A wise odalisque cultivates rarity. She will be treasured, or she will be alone. Either is preferable to an easily clicked link. Lock your door!When I read the title of your message, I thought it was a rallying cry for odalisques worldwide!Just a thought.Your friend,–The OdalisquePS: I am not a Hun.
If you write me, I will reply. Ask questions etc. as a comment on a post, or at:
Last week the owl posted my dream about outer-space: click to listen. We’ve been talking a lot about space here in the obelisk. The birds think I am too sheltered. They nag me to go to the shore. I distracted them with hats, but fashion bores birds as quickly as it does people (I’m so glad I don’t wear clothes!), so I’ve devised a new strategy…I am regaling them with tales of outer-space.
Little did the birds know of heights that are not sunny or blue! Of regions too vacuous for sheltering clouds! Of volumes so vast our sun–which could hold one million earths–is but a miniscule, ordinary prick of light! Little did they know that odalisques in ships of the imagination can zoom far beyond the flight of birds, into outer-space!
It is my favorite place to go when things get rough for me here on earth.
I tell the birds of strange phenomenon: impotent white giants, doomed red dwarves…
I have not yet told them about the dangerously attractive black holes:
Black holes are one of the most intriguing and mysterious of all astrophysical phenomena. while astrophysical theory has long supported the existence of black holes, it has been hard to fathom an object that is so incredibly dense that nothing, not even light itself, can escape its grasp.
Black holes are intense and powerfully attractive. It is good astrolisque practice to steer clear of them. This can be difficult as black holes are invisible. Mere light-seconds after you feel an intense attraction towards nothingness, you find yourself spiraling towards an oppressive, inescapable doom. The savvy astrolisque must be wary:
How does one go about locating an object that can’t be directly observed?…this can be accomplished by observing the effects that a black hole has on its surroundings.
Whenever you see a celestial object moving in an odd way…beware! It is probably under the influence of an invisible black hole! This celestial object was moving fast enough to not fall in…but you may not be so lucky! Nor do you want its fate to befall you: aeons in perturbed orbit around an obliterating absence? No astrolisque desires sinister stasis!
There’s nothing an astrolisque can do about a gravitational field that overwhelms all other forces in the universe, funneling space-time into its own interminable darkness. There is nothing an astrolisque can do about astronomical facts.
But she can use astronomical facts to her advantage. Basic physics tells us that an astrolisque traveling with enough speed through the cosmos will never ever be trapped by a black hole. The astrolisque must prepare herself for space travel with a lightening quick imagination. She must craft her coat to spirit her swiftly on breezes of suggestive thought.
What happens if an astrolisque is sucked into a black hole? Time drags. The astrolisque’s bottom is stretched out of proportion to her head, at least until she reaches the black hole’s interior singularity–a volume-less place of infinite density, where time ceases and she is squashed into one dull dimension.
Beyond the singularity, results vary. One astrolisque came-to in an alternate saddle-shaped topology in which she was saddled with a mini-van, 2.5 kids, and a closet of unending despair. Another astrolisque resurfaced in an inverse universe where everything switched sign: her positives became negatives, and vice-versa, causing an crisis of morality which could only be resolved by quaffing jugs of moonshine. Another leapt into black hole after black hole, each time desperately hoping things would turn out different. He eventually became a black hole himself.
These are your average black holes. But there are super-massive black holes that are not sinisterly invisible…they emit tremendous amounts of energy and light (including radio waves, which I pick up in my sleep). They are the brightest objects in the universe.
I’ll talk more about quasi-stellar radio sources some other time.
These tales discombobulate the birds. Their spirits are dampened, and they can’t soar carefreely through the sky. They are afraid their wings will carry them through some unseen membrane of blue, into inhospitable outer-space.
I assure them that they can’t possibly fly that high…they would soon suffocate from a lack of oxygen and fall back down to earth.
This does not comfort them.
Astronomical facts are not for everyone.
Though I spent my formative years as an art object, I’ve always wanted to be an artist.
I like to be looked at so I decided that my first artistic project would be myself.
I have concluded, based on the information that Owl brings, that I must, therefore, be a PERFORMANCE ARTIST. My performances are primarily observed by birds; you, fair readers, witness my documentation of the event, via my scrapbook. The performance artist, Marina Abramovic, lived behind a glass wall for public viewing, and writes that the energy of the audience helped sustain her through the ascetic, ritualized ordeal. I have to sustain myself through my life without an audience, drawing energy from other sources.
The record of my performance is, in the tradition of the odalisque (rather than the whore), not promoted. It lies here, awaiting you, who might be interested in me. Maybe I am a CONCEPTUAL performance artist since my scrapbook stimulates an idea of me, my life, in your mind.
The definition of performance artist observes that we typically come from varied disciplinary backgrounds. My background hasn’t varied much; it’s usually exotic and luxe, though I have been reduced to a line upon a flat field of color. Usually, my background suggests an interior, like the obelisk. Generally, the interior exists only to couch my nakedness, the hushed lustre of my body with its inviting apparency.
I might be a multi-disciplinary performance artist. Like the movies I watch, my work exists in two dimensions + time. My life doesn’t move as fast as movie film, but, then again, I have lasted for more than two hours. I work with several types of imagery–visual and textual. Plus, according to the birds, my dreams are all in sound.
The birds are not convinced by all this. They feel they are important, independent aspects of my life, which means I might not be a performance artist, but a character in a play.
They are my existential dilemma.
They say there is no existential dilemma because this is not a play. They are wildly interested in FOOD, FASHION and FUN. They have asked me to post more on those topics, which were so popular last summer. They want me to leave the obelisk and go hang out on the shore. Ok, Ok, I say, but what does a work of art DO on the sea shore? Every time I go out there, I’m assaulted by sirens and nereids, phantom ships shooting fireworks and giant seashells whose glossy interiors sigh sad circular themes, stuffing my heart full of feelings, padding the perfect punching bag.
Black Swan says, “Put on a bathing suit!”
Hawk says, “Take a sandwich!”
The starlings make a giant beach ball in the sky and spin like a celestial globe.
Phoenix found me on the shore (see my movie), and doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. Obelisk, sea shore, o’er the hills, any place has fuel to burn. Crow-as-Parrot still says nothing but “Where are you going?” (shut up Crow!).
If I put on a bathing suit and packed a sandwich, if I hung out on the beach and caught some rays, would the sirens go away? Would the seashells consent to being silent souvenirs? Would the ship sail back to shore with treasure to share? Would the nereids turn out to just be bait, the sirens the wiry hang-overs of a half-starved, worn-out crew?
When I ran from my former life as a decadent odalisque, I imagined being anything, anything native to the shore…not cheap toxic trash or the phantasmagoria of some sailor’s mind…I wanted to be real.
While hunting for rodents in a nearby trash heap, Hawk found a very helpful book: Around the World in 1,000 Pictures. Now, when Crow squawks WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I flip open my new book and consider a page. (Read my last two posts to learn more about my Crow parrot’s persistent questioning.)
Here I am in my traveling outfit with Crow (as parrot):
Oh the places we could go!
[click photos to enlarge]
Ah, the Virgin Isles. But…the legends I’ve heard of Bluebeard’s Castle involve a slew of bloody no-longer-virgin wives strung up in a forbidden room. Let’s try another page.
I’ve always wanted to go to England. I find the English language so romantic, mostly because I understand it. Two lovers embrace beside an industrial thoroughfare and a recently fired cannon! There, in the distance, another tower renowned for the murder of wives.
Let’s look up a place I’m familiar with. Henriette and I spent our early years in Paris:
Surrealism began at Café de Flore as well. It is a movement I am particularly fond of as it liberated my head, allowing me to replace it with strange objects (when I want to blend in with the bohemian sort, I wear red harem pants as a head). Ah Paris! A place to see and be seen. Henriette and I felt our souls excised by the cutlery at this gazing feast; if I went back I fear my scrapbook would regress to ghostly, bland snapshots, an empty odalisque’s un-experience of supposedly important non-events.
This could be a very fine place to go as there do not appear to be so many people. I like beautiful scenes and the company of artists, especially when they notice that I am also one. Look at these beautiful scenes:
And yet, I don’t like the right-hand picture so much. It resembles the first violent scene in my movie which initiated my triumphant retreat into the obelisk.
An odalisque is lucky to have an obelisk of her own. If I left, could I find my way back?
Photographs from Around the World in 1,000 Pictures
Edited by A. Milton Runyon and Vilma F. Bergane,
(c) 1954, Doubleday & Company
Where are you going? Hello.
As far as I can tell I am not moving. Well, I am, but only because I rest on this planet, which is repeating its one path around the sun. Each night, when the sun vanishes, I feel sad. It’s lonely in the obelisk without the sun’s co-habitation, once all you birds tuck your heads beneath your wings and roost, at least until I settle at my desk and set to work on my scrapbook. Then I forget to be lonely or sad. Day breaks the enclosing dome of night and I look up with a feeling of accomplishment.
Where are you going? Hello.
I should get more sleep. Maybe take a walk on the shore. Pack up my scissors, throw some buns in my teapot, and head out for some free air. I feel there is one right time for that walk and that it should lead me to one particular place. It’s terrible, Crow, for that thought–of one time, one place–fills me with dread. I do not know what time, what place, and I hovel up here bitter beneath this cosmic tyranny. I want anytime, anyplace. I would like the cosmos to operate with more ease, to unfold like the seed-head of a sea-thistle. I resent being a wheel in this cosmic machine.
Are you? Hello.
Odalisques are art. I wanted to be real so I escaped the art in which I was trapped, but still I must make of my world art. It gets very confusing. There is a quote by a famous artist, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” I want to play with the world like a child.
Yes. My scrapbook is an expedition. A paper ship on the unconscious deep.
Towards no horizon. I progress through fathoms of depth and height.
Crow, here is the page I made last night. What do you think it means? I show Crow my latest scrapbook page. I cannot show it to you because it has not yet resolved itself into a single image. It is holographic, changing with angles of light. In a forest looking down or at a city looking up or upon a dune looking out? A figure, his back is to me. No…he looks right at me, I sit on the ground, no now, behold, his arm reaches out… Crow says:
Happy New Year! I now operate on obelisk time, and today is January 31…one year ago I moved into my towering astronomical clock. To scald out the old and wring in the new, the birds and I took a bath. Here the birds are in their bathing caps, I in my flaming sword:
You will note that crow showed up as a parrot. I have no explanation for this; crow delights in incongruities. I trust that parrot-hood is only a temporary condition intended to confound everybody. Once we’ve grown accustomed to this guise, it’ll vanish, like the shadow of the circling bird when clouds occlude the light.
When I started this scrapbook I did not know that my measured and even conversations with the birds would become silly, intense, with fashion shows, flaming pillow notes, cupid costumes, and a very bad day for the black swan. I had no idea, when I started, what I looked like, or that an accurate depiction of my life required a queerly elaborate picture language. I discover my voice speaking to you.
Here are my ten favorite pages from the 72 I made this year (click to view):
- Beauty in ruin…a conversation with the hawk
- The FASHIONABLE BIRDS
- The stag & the unicorn
- Portraits of the odalisque as a young girl
- Learning to wait
- My swim-suit
- A WOMAN THERE WAS starring Theda Bara
- My first letter from imprisoned odalisque, Henriette
- Publicity photos from my movie
- MY MOVIE!!!!!
Which ones did you favor?
I am thinking about the lion roaring in the enraging desert:
What is passive, immobile, asleep in the heart creates a desert which can only be cured by roaring.
The desert is not in Egypt; it is anywhere once we desert the heart.
Our way through the desert is the awakening to it as a desert, the awakening of the beast, that vigil of desire.
the desert is where the lion lives our guardian
“The lion roars at the enraging desert” [Wallace Stevens]
The more our desert the more we must rage, which rage is love.
We fear that rage. We dare not roar.
greedy paw, hot and sleepless as the sun, fulminating as sulfur, setting the soul on fire.
Happy Winter Solstice. The days now lengthen.
Live in the leonine passions of the soul.
Even if you love me, you don’t have to give me a gift.
Here’s my gift. For you:
I hope you like it. But if you don’t, it’s ok. It’s already evanescing, like steam from a delicate cup, like a dream whose perimeter you haunt all your waking day, hoping for a glimpse of something concealed in its center–a city or a garden or a copse of wild trees in which–what was it? You dreamed it, rejoicing. What was it?
Why won’t I give you a tea cup? With a handle big enough for your fingers and a deep saucer? One exquisite cup hand-painted with a clipper ship, or a little house by a lake where a man is fishing, or one perfect peony? The teacup, it would EXIST. You could HOLD it.
But you might become tired of it.
Am I in your thoughts when you are not here, when you are not with me? Do I exist for you? Do you love me?
-The Odalisque (you can download your own gift exemption voucher here.)
It came it came! A letter via staghorn post from Henriette! (read about Henriette here)
Everyone I know, used to know, is trashed and wavering in filthy board-rooms, louche galleries, swanky trashheaps. I hear their twinkling laughter, drunken howls and outrageous tweets even here, in my climate-controlled basement. I know they mean no harm. They are indifferent to me.
Thank you for writing. It is true I still have my coat, moth-eaten but sustainable, in this old trunk Matisse sketched for me. It is true I have few visitors–but few is more than I’m used to, having desired only solitude, like you. I with the company of bones.
Oh the bones, Odalisque. Lacunae of exquisite topology, elaborate curvatures, like dessicated ovaries flowering against a shockingly blue sky. Fractal erections. Antlers. Femurs. Knucklebones.
We are not growing young. It is only with labor, much much labor, that our extinguishment is not a snuffing out, but an ecstatic obliteration in light.
A guard is coming. He will peer closely at me to assure himself I haven’t disintegrated into an obvious fake.
On my very first scrapbook page I wrote these words: “I will write no more of love. Is anyone ever satisfied?” Henriette and I both experienced a disillusionment with “love”, whatever “love” is when you’re an odalisque who everyone wants to look at. At some point, bathed in gazes, thoughtful odalisques react to submersion in viscous adoration with the apparently outrageous question “What am I?”
Lovers come, lovers go, the retreat of street-shoes across elaborate carpets upon which we, barefoot, barely concealed by shimmering drapery, lie. What does an odalisque feel? Who is there, not feeling, not known? I felt trapped inside my own desirability. Inches beneath my skin I felt a barricade between all-but-my-surface and everything else: an unknown quantity <– my skin–> the world. The “real” world. I could see it, as if through chinks of mounded rubble. But what or who was in there looking out, so fiercely protected from invasion or intimacy? I felt a faint wind. I could see nothing, and the sound was a soft emptiness, a downiness into which too much had collapsed and suffocated.
The options available to Henriette & I ? Jaded hedonism, vengeful vampishness, feverish tragedy, or domestication, a settling down, settling in. We considered our options and cried “fuck this!” We meant these words metaphorically, not literally, and that, that delineated something raw and fibrous that we resolved to call “I”. We grabbed our coats and ran.
We were never afraid of living our lives alone.
I WAS afraid of becoming brittle and sopped, trash spit out of the ocean that crumbles at a touch–corroded aluminum, brittle cellophane, the shattered foil wrapper of something toxic and sweet. Better to be a seashell, empty and clean, or a beat-up piece of glass. Better to be a crab scuttling away from the encroaching foam, or even the dry rasp of the dune grass, if not the dunes, if not the collapsed lungs of the sea creatures upon the sand, if not the moon’s liquidity on the ocean’s trembling musculature, or the moon itself. No, not the moon. The winnowing basket woven across the sky by its mensual arcs.
That yes that.
Did you ever figure out how to LOVE someone?
The birds all say hi.
I am the odalisque who lives in an obelisk. I converse with birds.