Saturday, October 18, 2008
This year… or year and a half, has been about assessment - assessing my life… trying to find reason to it. I have not given you, the ether, a report on my condition, as of late – Let me summarize by saying it has been a year of loss and challenge… beginning with the Summer of 2007 I learned that my cancer had begun to grow again and it required a fourth surgery to remove five tumors. Not long after, on Thanksgiving of 2007 my mother died… I won’t go into details. Then on December 17th 2007, I had my fourth cancer surgery with Chuck by my side. In the Spring of 2008 I was deeply depressed and grieving. I received good news though in March… my cancer was, for the first time ever, below any detectable levels. The first time a possibility of a cure has ever been seriously mentioned in the twelve years of fighting it. Chuck went to Banff to make work. I went to New York to heal and do the same. During that time my personal life underwent an unexpected change and again I found myself living with uncertainty and grief. This time has caused me to look inward and once again take an accounting… make an assessment of the things I value and what choices should be precipitated through this evaluation.
More recently someone described to me his current existential crisis. It reminded me of my own major journey into that darkness in 1996 when I was first diagnosed with cancer. All I could see then was a black infinity… and nothing… “a million years from now is only 30 seconds away” was my most conscious and persistent thought. What did anything mean? How was there any purpose to the things I was doing? I would sit in the class I was teaching and stare at the floor… It was all-pointless… meaningless. I carried with me an anger for humanity’s stupidity. I remember someone telling me they believed me an angry feminist and who hated all men. They didn’t understand… I was just angry that life had lost its flavor.
Slowly I began to climb out from that darkness. It was a place where I had just been barely clinging to the walls. As part of that climb, I consciously chose that which would be important to me. I needed a system to determine the value of those “things.” I decided I to develop a “metaphysical” frame … That system began with: Lane ends when Lane ends -- but there is an interconnectedness among people. I am part. You are part. This is my god. What I say and do now telegraphs to the future… It is carried forward like the mutation in mitochondrial DNA – a marker influencing future thought. My individuality may no longer exist, but my thought, and to some degree my mind, continues in that it is embedded in any thought, any life, which contains a residue of my thinking. Each of us has influence on others in this way. It is both conversely rhizomatic and linear.
As a consequence of this understanding of meaning and its transmission to the future and conceivably infinity, I began to become more aware of the individual’s responsibility for signification … First I became aware of it in my work as an artist, and then in my life “acts” and how I impact others. This understanding of things gradually gained influence over my life and my thinking. It now provides a foundation of logic as to how I make decisions; choices; etc. It is an ethic that I apply with lesser and greater consistency depending on my own clarity and personal discipline. It guides me and provides a measure for the choices I make. As a result there are times and choices I regret.
There are those I know, well respect and love who believe that to regret is waste… but I understand regret as a kind of grief – an acknowledgement of a loss due sometimes to mistakes or perhaps failed choices … and it is only through loss, the experience of grief, that the full value of “things” can become clear against a non-hierarchal background. Sometimes that loss may be as simples as a particular sense of the self.
Valuing and evaluating my enacting of signification with a recognition that all signification is transmitted to the larger culture allows me to determine if I am “saying” what I mean, … being who I want to imagine myself to be… rather than intuitively creating myself – this process of measure and the taking of responsibility allows me to actively and consciously … with an awake mind … create myself.