Brainstorming this, because I need to work on it:

I’m really tired, but I don’t feel like going to bed or taking medication…and I have work tomorrow.  I have also been bouncing around an idea of a story about someone who believes they’re functionally immortal, but on a dying planet.  (or otherwise, a planet going through one of its near-death experiences/mass extinctions.)

This then calls in tension between the desire for unending life and the idea of not clinging to temporary things (as clinging causes suffering and rebirth — not seen as a good thing).  The former, I’ve read as Daoist; the latter is classically Buddhist.  The former brings conflict and life; the latter brings peace and a lack of life as we know it.

I am not sure I would be able to work this into my previous story:  if I did, the character in question would be about the fifth main character (I have traditionally had characters I can shorthand as psychic, lover, demented, parental, all interacting:  yes, I can make them more complex; at the time I first conceived them, though, I was a teen)…but I guess that keeps things…interesting?  I’d like to keep at least two of these characters female, meaning the one who feels immortal (in a mortal world) would likely be such, in addition to the main (though the latter is complicated…though now that I look at this, there are only two clearly male characters here).

Also, I keep having flashes of concern about worldwide famine, which ties into the story I’m thinking about, but which I don’t want to write about in a serious manner (talk about scary and depressing).  On top of this, I’m dealing with multiple generations…though what I mean by that is hard to explain.

What I have found is that I’ve entered the story about 2/3 of the way in, as I thought of it at the time.  But I don’t know how I’ll resolve it…in fact, I don’t know what the central conflict is, yet, to resolve (or maybe I knew at one time, and forgot).  Making peace with death?  Growing tough in order to survive?  Growing together in order to survive?  Dealing with mental illness?  Accepting non-quotidian brain functioning?  Maybe I should just write and see what shows up.

The famine kicks in at a very late (potential) point in the game, and at this point I don’t know if I’m dealing with echoes of past lives, or telepathic beings, or if any of the psychic phenomena are key to solving any of this (more than key to ending and surviving it).

They aren’t “ghosts;” at least in a Western sense, I know what ghosts are, and they aren’t the same things as spirits; rather, they’re interdimensional echoes caused by powerful trauma.  Thus, when you hear coughing at the ruins in Pompeii, it’s possible you’re actually hearing the psychic (traumatic) imprint of coughing reaching you from the past, in the moment in which it happened.  It just has to cross (I need a new word for this) the time barrier, not time and space.

If we’re looking at remnants of the workings of past lives in present entities, such as beings who appear to be outside spirits but are actually personifications of who “you” used to be (given that we don’t remain the same between lives), that’s different.  And if we’re dealing with beings who reside on Earth (apparently) but who only give evidence of their existence in the thoughts of those whose minds function in an abnormal manner, that’s something else.

I should really get to reading some of my material on Daoism, here — I’m sure it would help, though I know I can only learn so much from books.  At one time I was directed toward an elder teaching ba gua about 30 minutes’ drive away (a Chinese internal martial art); I have not met her yet, and to be honest, I’m kind of scared to.  I don’t even know if she’s still alive.

I did find another author who caught my attention the other day at work:  Kenzaburo Oe.

It has been an extremely long time since I have read any fiction (which makes it hard to translate this out into fiction), but one of this author’s books literally found its way into my hand recently…and I have wanted to read more material from Japanese authors, aside from Yukio Mishima (I believe I have read at least one or more of his works, but I can’t recall which — or if what I read was poetry or prose; it had to have been a lifetime ago), and Haruki Murakami (who I just don’t jive with).

Why Japanese?  It’s the East Asian culture I have most familiarity with; not a nationalistic thing.  I figure it’s as good a place as anywhere to gain some solid footing, and then from that place, branch out.  Although I’m fairly certain my main character is not Japanese.  It’s just been so long since I’ve read any good fiction, that I need to start with something I can grasp and which has some semblance of cultural relevance or utility for me on a larger scale.

And…I’m being told to get to bed…

Process notes 11-20-14

I’ve got some time to write, right now — not long, but I’m feeling the need to pause after having finished the inking on my Indra’s Net piece.

I’m still going on the rajas/tamas watercolors, and up next are the Indra’s Net watercolors.  Hopefully, my white Calligraphy ink will work in place of white gouache, where it comes to the shine of the jewels.  It was tougher than I thought to extend the net out to the horizon…

Anyhow, on process; I was looking through my notes and found myself…not inspired by many of the visualizations I’d come up with.  Granted, I’d come up with them relatively quickly.  I think that this is because the images reflect the text too closely, so that it’s basically like restating the text, rather than developing or furthering it.  As my teacher said, why state again what’s already been stated?

This project is supposed to be primarily visual, so it doesn’t seem right to keep the images in second place as they can too easily become.  What I thought of doing the other day…was to read my text — which is somewhere around 7 half-size pages, now — and draw what came to mind after having done so.  I think this is a more lively option than attempting to illustrate my text.

I’m also thinking of taking things in a more Hindu direction — not iconographically, so much, but philosophically.  But my philosophy probably isn’t exactly Hindu — I just don’t know because I haven’t studied enough.  What I’m fairly certain of is that I’m having input from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Daoism, and along the way I’m also encountering problems in representation which were also encountered in Islam and Christianity (not to mention the others).  The biggest problem I’ve run across, is how to represent the Divine inclusively, so as not to have the viewer take things too literally.

I was attempting to draft out an interpenetration sketch (what other people might [???] call Mind [the Masculine Divine] existing external to the physicality of Space-Time [the Feminine Divine] and repeating at every point and moment in Space-Time) and realized that what I really wanted to do was a sketch of the planet and moon, from space.

There really isn’t a great need for me to be literal and draw Mind being present at all points and all times, or to draw a boundary with the color of the oceans in one point on one side, and repeat that color in the planet or in space…though that’s something I’ve thought of.  I suppose a fractal might work, as well.  If I had a repeating mathematical pattern that continued down to the smallest unit, it might illustrate interpenetration.

But, the term interpenetration is new to me, this time around.  I have an idea of what it means (the whole is to the part as the part is to the whole?  the All is in you as you are in the All?), but I don’t think I could confidently explain it (without a lot of thought), if asked.  It came up with the term interdependence in an article I read.  Interdependence, I have a solid concept of.  Interpenetration seems more…arcane?  Of course, though, there’s a lot that’s arcane within Buddhism…

What I’m attempting to do is synthesize some personal knowledge of the Divine, in the process either drawing on or finding applicable at least three or four systems.  I suppose it doesn’t help that Daoism is seeming to echo Buddhism on a lot of fronts.  However, that probably stems from a specific historical moment (when Buddhism and Daoism were competing for followers and using each others’ doctrines to do so).

And, of course, I have my own historical/cultural backdrop to this, which includes a good deal of nature imagery, which further aligns me with Daoism.  So, of course, we’re looking at Ch’an and Zen (which were both profoundly influenced by Daoism), and Huayan schools, here.

And…that’s where it starts getting creepy close.  🙂  At the very least, I know Ch’an and Huayan existed at the same time and place along with Daoism.  Huayan’s Avatamsaka Sutra was recommended for study, and Ch’an or possibly both Ch’an and Zen (they’re related) were recommended for practice.

At that point I start wondering whether whatever exists of me now used to exist then and there, and I picked up some friends/teachers/other students from there who are still with me?  Not to freak myself out too much, but I’ve definitely considered that this might have been true, and I am the type to have actually taken bodhisattva vows — I can get pretty ardent.  That, in turn, would explain some of this life and the spirits around me.

So I wrote that, and it just felt wrong.  And feelings are really the only way I can tell truth from fiction, in cases like this.  Okay, maybe I’m…not a bodhisattva.  But then, the question underlying all of this is, what am I?  What is my ultimate identity, or is there no ultimate identity because identity arises from causes and conditions?

In any case…I can describe who I am rather than seeking a shoe to fit into.  It isn’t that I don’t know myself; it’s that I don’t know my context.

I should really get going at this point…