Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Older skin happier heart

My friend Heinz sent me this quote from Walt Whitman. Something to aspire to, no matter how difficult. The thing about living is you just get to get up each morning and start all over again. This one will get cut out and put on the wall, it is an inspiration to live as this suggests. I will fail horribly at it daily, but also just by aspiring to its ideas, will make this small corner of the world a slightly better place for myself and all beings around me.

Walt Whitman's - advice for poets and Americans..."This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful and uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint in your body."

And in the meantime, I am reveling in wearing pigtails, inspired by the crooked braids of my horse Sky. I am not young on the outside any more, the Scandinavian skin protected from sun for most of my years is aging and I see it as I look at pictures of myself. An uncomfortble feeling, but one of resignation really. But when I am not looking at a picture of myself, I feel what makes me uniquely me, and I will always feel that, no matter how old I get. I wouldn't trade this knowledge for one moment as a 20 year old or a 30 year old 40 year old. Nor would I trade my life now where I aspire more to recreate land and help animals and paint more for myself than another which means I live hand to mouth - but I prefer it to the driven frenzy and unbalanced life of the 30's and early 40's where I was always trying to achieve something that was supposed to make me a better illustrator, or a more well known illustrator or an award winning illustrator or an accepted illustrator. Making 70 paintings in 2 weeks once...I prefer my perculating pace I have now. When the muse hits, I go. But sometimes the muse is the garden or the land or the sheep. Slowing down.


ESB said...

great photo-you look very girlish..i love wearing my hair in braids, too. also love the whitman passage..it sort of reminds me of this famous passage of rilke's (forgive me for taking up so much space):

Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough) they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn't pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open windows and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.

--Rainer Maria Rilke

ps--have you listened to the new neil yet?

Farmgirl Susan said...

Beautiful post. Beautiful you. Beautiful life.

Judy Wise said...

Another keeper. Thank you so much for the inspiration. Walt was my favorite poet in college (I was an English major) and I haven't returned often enough to him. This post reminds me of why I had the good instincts at that young age to be drawn to his ideas. Your writing gives me sustenance.

penelope said...

I wish I was where you are. sigh...

lgaumond said...

Thank you for your blog. I found the link to it from Drawn! I read every entry you wrote and cried jealous tears. You are living the life I want for myself. You write beautifully, your paintings are inspiring and serene and your photographs are gorgeous. Someday I hope to live my dream as you are. Enjoy and keep posting so I can live vicariously through your writing.

andrea said...

I was just sent your way by Susan -- I must explore your art more. So far I really like what I see! Scrolling down I noticed your large square painting in progress. I just brought home 2 - 48" x 48" canvases yesterday. Don't you love it when they're just waiting for paint? Such promise!

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~