Self Sabotage

Sent on Sep 26, 2018

I just learned about a 17th century European spiritual and cultural movement called Rosicrucianism that found a resurgence in one of my hometowns (Oceanside, California) in the early 1900s. (I have more than one hometown because I moved a lot as a kid, but in my hierarchy of hometowns, Oceanside is at the top). The international headquarters in Oceanside is called Mount Ecclesia and is "noted for its singular architecture and the preservation of nature grounds and gardens, offering a unique meditative walking experience. Accommodation and vegetarian meals are also provided during the winter and summer school activities." Yves Klein studied with this sect via the mail lol.

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I once had a weird coincidental back-to-back reading experience in which two different pieces described a 15th century portrait of a Flemish woman. First, Patti Smith wrote about it twice in her book, Woolgathering:

Above my desk is a small portrait—Flemish, fifteenth-century. It never fails, when I gaze upon it, to produce a shudder, followed by a curious rush of warmth, recognition. Perhaps it is the serenity of expression or perhaps the head-covering—a fragile habit framing the face like the folding wings of a large, diaphanous moth.

She then repeats it later in the book about another Flemish portrait she sees:

I tried to focus on a portrait behind the brass cash register. Flemish fifteenth-century. I had seen it somewhere before, perhaps in the hall of a local guild.

Patti is a very sentimental writer. OK, then I read True Stories by Sophie Calle right after. In Sophie's story called "The Dutch Portrait" she also writes about a 15th century Flemish portrait:

...a fifteenth century Flemish painting entitled 'Luce de Montfort,' which portrayed a young woman in a pink bodice, her face slightly turned to show her left profile while her eyes looked straight at you, her features framed by a white, starched linen coif.

I don't know what to do with this information but I know it's weird and maybe means something. In an effort to not forget this experience, I am collecting as many Flemish portraits as I can in my casual online searches. They're all in my are.na channel called Flemish Hats.

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I'm working on a very long poem / short story titled Self Sabotage, here is how it starts:

She was born as no one and now she is no one and now she is not doing anything. Eating, sleeping, nothing, just like everyone else.

I would show you her photo but she doesn’t have a face and I forgot what it looks like. I haven’t bothered to look at her sad features through a glass half-full in a while. She keeps her face in her pocket for moments when people expect to see it. It reminds her of the other faces, the ones who made her and then left her.

She is an abandoned child, and she is an abandoned adult.

Like the two children, a brother and a sister, who saw a cross on the side of the highway, a memorial for a man who died there. On it was the same name as their father’s and they realized, Oh, that’s where he went. And then they laughed.

Something’s not right.

Her laugh turns into a sob then back into a laugh. Again. Once, as she watched Vine compilations on YouTube. Once, while she tried to eat lasagna with a cloth napkin draped over her head. Once, as she listened to a program about molested children, through her headphones: “You are not alone.”

But she is alone, everyone else in the office went to lunch.

Ok that's it for now, thanks for listening. If you want to read all of this poem/story let me know and I'll send it to you. You can even tell me you hate it.

:0)

Cortney