I wonder what I really mean when I say, “well I’m just not sure why I like this painting so much, I just do.” Do I take myself at face value, and assume that there is some essential Geoff-attracting quality that the painter has instilled in his canvas that I am unable to put my finger on, or is what I’m really trying to say merely that I’m afraid that the reasons I like this painting may sound silly, insignificant, or wholly personal to me and the wonderful collection of experiences that I like to call ‘reality’? Maybe a part of me is afraid you won’t like this painting (which is irrational, because I didn’t paint it, why should I care if you like it?) Or perhaps that your perceptions of me as an artist/editor/critic might be colored by the fact that I think this painting is “rockin’-awesome.” Can I use the term rockin’-awesome in a blog post? I’m totally going to.
The painting is Kandinsky’s “Several Circles”, and it has a marvelous habit of making me smile, making me reflect, and tossing the warm-fuzzy and wholly figurative blanket of old comforts over my shoulders, all—pretty much—at the same time.
Really, I think my life is just made up of circles. I don’t know if that’s any deep profound insight or just that I feel like most of the other editors here have much cooler blog posts that you should go read (right now.) But seriously—circles. I have desires, passions, aversions, comforts, discomforts, etc. . . And as I swim through the comfortable deepness of Kandinsky’s canvas I can’t help but feel like I bump up against one or two of them every now and again. Each one its own circle. Sometimes they overlap, forming new patterns and colors and even new ideas or perspectives. Sometimes they float off and stand apart, willing me to forget they’re there, or begging me to swim out to spend a little time within them. There are bright pink circles that somehow remind me of the flavor of bubble-gum as a kid (which is actually a really odd flavor, if you think about it.) and there are those occasional dark spots that aren’t so much a circle as the lack-of-a-circle, though even they are surrounded by interesting lights or colors. Maybe they’re just waiting to be filled?
So why on earth am I writing about circles? What do they have to do with a literary journal? I wish I were more sure of what “the point” was supposed to be (do circles have points? If they don’t maybe I don’t have to either!) But I guess it may be this: I don’t think it’s possible to change one thing on a canvas—re-color one circle, perhaps move one around—without changing the entire work (or work in progress.) I believe that to be the same with life, or at least with my life, which will always feel a little bit like swimming through Kandinsky’s circles. When I spend some time in the poetry circle, or any of the writing circles, when I spend some time examining them and living in them and attempting to create something through them, I invariably change them, perhaps even expand them. Sometimes I probably even mess with the colors a little bit or even puncture one end and send the poor little circle fluttering around like a deflating birthday balloon. And I have also seen very clearly in my (very) fledgling writer’s experience, that as I expand one area, others follow suit.
Even that’s a little abstract. How about this: everything is connected. I cannot seek to become a better poet without also becoming a better essayist. And as I attempt to more finely tune my faculties for succinct expression in a personal essay, I may learn a thing or two about fiction, and the stories that we all tell, academically or otherwise. Even right now, I’m working at least a little bit at expanding the poor little neglected “blog” circle.
And perhaps that’s why I’m so glad that there are so many extraordinarily talented visual artists contributing to Touchstones. If this entry isn’t example enough, well. . . sometimes even those of us who fixate on words for a living don’t really do a good job of using them toward even our own desired effects. I could spend a lifetime honing my craft until I were a master of composition, drafting, revising, editing, typesetting, you name it, but words themselves are really such a small part of Language (with a capital L.) I am so excited for this upcoming publication of Touchstones, and hope that you are as well. I’m excited for the colors and the lines and the shades and shadows. I’m excited for the compositions and the experiments and the risks and perhaps just a little bit excited for the words, too. So very many circles.