‘i caught a glimpse, now it haunts me’ –the knife

The past couple of months have been a little thin on the ground here at alexandrapspaulding.wordpress.com with good and bad reason. At the end of Nov 2009 I underwent knee surgery to repair my ICL.  What they didn’t know before they went in was how fucked my ICL has gotten.  It’s March now and I still don’t walk completely correctly and various other parts of my body are still suffering.  Make no mistake, surgery is a violation of sorts, I allowed someone to cut into my body and not in a fun sexy times kind of way, but in a way that I believed to be restorative and helpful.  I am in more pain now than I was before the surgery but I have to keep up the belief that it will get better, but it’s discouraging and depressing.  I have spent more days since enveloped in a blackness that I can’t shake.

As for my PhD, when I got back to the States to have the surgery done I was a shell of the person I was at the beginning of the year.  Strung out, exhausted and this close to breaking in two.  I just wanted to quit and be done.  To be honest, I don’t think that completing a PhD proves that I am smarter or better than anyone at anything, even within my own field.  I think it proves that I have the stamina to swim upstream against the constant downstream of shite, the shite of research, of how the research rules your whole life, and how I had put it ahead of me, and I simply wanted to quit.  I was and am now in the headspace where I had to know that I could walk away if I wanted to and it free of regret.   This isn’t all I am just a simple part and I needed to put it into context.  I feel in some way that for all the positive things that come forth from this, it’s brought and incredible amount of pain and suffering to my life and I didn’t know if I wanted to deal with that anymore.

Wait! Stop! But…!  What about all the time you have spent doing it, what would you tell people about that, how would you explain quitting?  Very simply I suppose, because I can and I want to.  It’s not a slight to all of the people who have supported me thus far, without them and you I wouldn’t be here.  Rather it’s about having the ability to say: ‘thank you, now respectfully fuck off’.  I am not actually going to say it but knowing I am ok with saying it makes it okay to keep going forward. Now I am going forward because I want to get this done, I want to move on and move forward.  This is no longer the picture I want to be defining me, but I didn’t know that 3 months ago because everything was so twisted.

So why am I back and what is that I am back to being about?  It’s not that simple to explain, but I will try.  I am back because I believe in the ineffable and the magical moment that happens when you push people into the rabbit hole you created.  I am back because I am fucking good at this: I am a good artist, I am good researcher, and I have my swagger back.  It’s silly to say but it’s all about confidence and standing up and taking the punch whether or not it was deserved.  I am back to standing up and taking the punches because I saw something that made me believe in it all over again.

The last couple of weeks have been kind of interesting weather.  Hot, cold sometimes in the same day, even the same hour.  Last week was warm temperature wise, I mean I was running about in short sleeves letting the sun kiss the skin a bit, but there was still all this snow on the ground, a bit of a paradox.  I happened to be driving home and it was the middle of the afternoon, right before the left hand turn onto our street is a little creek set back in the woods.  The sun was streaming through the clouds, the sky was blue, the windows were down and the air had all the promise of spring summer nights, but as I was passing this creek set back in the woods there was mist hanging over the water.  Thick in some sports almost like cotton wool suspended in mid air, it was phenomenon all to itself.  It was isolated and viewed out of the corner of one’s eye as you pass by, so quickly you would think you made it up.  It was fucking magical and I suddenly got it all over again, suddenly I fell back in love with being bowled over.  It was so amazing I turned around and parked there on the side of the road just looking, looking at the mist hang almost solidly in some areas and being worn thin in others and it made realize something.  Not for nothing, but all my ineffable experiences come from the nature place, the work I make is about the replication the desire to best the thing that occurs simply because it does.  I know that phenomenon I viewed was based on air/water/ground temp and it has a scientific explanation, but who gives a fuck? You forget and you look past it because it takes your breath away.  You look closer because it’s happening then and there without viable explanations and contexts; you look because you can’t look away.  (By you I mean me)

Thus far I have avoided asking the questions about the natural occurrence and what that means within the research and I wonder if I have undersold my entire context by negating this fact.  No matter the bullshit I spin and the books I read at the end of the day I am trying to replicate the magical thing that I saw in my bedroom as a kid or in the woods, I am trying to harness the NATURAL phenomenon.

It’s all coming together, or it’s all coming BACK together I suppose.  I have gone so far into the exploration of the natural self: meditation and yoga that I sort of forgot about the NATURALLY occurring phenomenon that exists every day in front of me but because I have my head usually so far up my own ass I miss it.  Before my surgery I went to a Gregory Crewdson talk at the Albright Knox Art Gallery.  I was curious because in my undergrad like any other photo major I waxed Crewdson hard.  It was beautiful, lush, cinematic, and magical.  I sort of lost desire for his work but then I went to this talk and while he may be a bit of a weak public speaker he said two words that basically hit it out of the park for me: ‘magic hour’.  A descriptive term used to describe that time of dusk when the light is slipping away and the shadows begin to fall.  This term the ‘magic hour’ describes the thing I am looking for perfectly, and since I need to start banging out this lexicon that will defiantly make the cut.

That’s the thing; I lost sight of the magic hour. Even though I spent two months in bed basically starting at the wall watching time pass, watching the magic hour happen EVERYDAY I didn’t see it because I didn’t want too or I couldn’t see it.  I lost sight of the magic, the whole reason I am here in the first place, but finding it again does bring up the question of the natural occurrence and why I haven’t been engaged with it.  A lot of what I am doing currently for research is to cull through my archives and I don’t mention it at all, how problematic is that, what did I leave out and was this omission major or minor?

So yeah, it’s nice to be back and it’s nice to be engaged/engaging with the pulse of it.  As the days pass especially the next ten or so I intend on more entries and more questions.  When you go through the archives the thing that comes up, are the gaps in my knowledge and the questions that need to be asked: again or for the first time.

Foremost I will need to assess my research questions, over the next few days I intend to do this in a variety of ways, utilizing my blog and social networking sites to see what and how people view what I am talking about, but also the questions I asked five years ago aren’t the same questions I am trying to answer, rather they were the starting point.

So yeah, I am back kids, I am back.

Gregory Crewdson. Image courtsey of Luhring Augustine Gallery


2 Responses to “‘i caught a glimpse, now it haunts me’ –the knife”

  1. 1 Evelyn Killaby
    March 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Yes! This is the ‘lust for life’ and it’s one of those special moments that happens all too infrequently. You’re so right to let the experiences of beautiful phenomena fuel your drive! After all, isn’t that fundamental in what we all hope that art can be? The unattainable, painfully beautiful nature of the world that surrounds us — it needs more exposure. And I think the science behind the phenomenon makes it all the more magical. That you could possibly explain something that seems incomprehensible is a form of sorcery in and of itself.

    (Good job.)

  2. 2 Alexandra Spaulding
    March 16, 2010 at 2:41 am

    Thanks Eve. I appreciate the words. I need to keep turning this over in my head because I feel as if I negated the idea of the natural phenomenon and the influence it has on art and mine in general. It’s almost like I needed to be hit in the head with it to see what I was missing.

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