At The Regatta

In the series At The Regatta,
I am thinking about the physical exchange
of energy between the world and me;
the direct accumulated consequences
of repetitive natural physical forces.

Specifically, I am thinking about
the way that I incompletely sense,
selectively accumulate, and
finally struggle to fully comprehend
the forces of wind and water and light
that have acted over a timespan
of many years.

This series is built upon long term physical action in the setting of boats upon the water. I want to express the slight desperation of continual questing through the raggedness of literal wear and tear. One influence during the creation of this series has been Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby Dick. The awesome forces of nature embodied in the sea and in the white whale connect directly to my At The Regatta; Melville’s grand global scale is translated to my personal sized purview. The translation of scale from the global to the personal is an important liminal state in all of my works. I try to keep one foot on either side of this threshold. “Adumbrate nature. Walk a given path you are as much its fact as any other. You stand a scale far smaller than trees. A mountain makes you as literal as a pebble. Look hard for what it is you want to see.” (from The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975–2005) This is taken from a poem written for painter Susan Rothenberg, but more on Rothenberg later.
This series is built upon long term physical action in the setting of boats upon the water. I want to express the slight desperation of continual questing through the raggedness of literal wear and tear. One influence during the creation of this series has been Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby Dick. The awesome forces of nature embodied in the sea and in the white whale connect directly to my At The Regatta; Melville’s grand global scale is translated to my personal sized purview. The translation of scale from the global to the personal is an important liminal state in all of my works. I try to keep one foot on either side of this threshold. “Adumbrate nature. Walk a given path you are as much its fact as any other. You stand a scale far smaller than trees. A mountain makes you as literal as a pebble. Look hard for what it is you want to see.” (from The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975–2005) This is taken from a poem written for painter Susan Rothenberg, but more on Rothenberg later.

At The Regatta Statement (continued)
In thinking about the 19th century novel Moby Dick, it is Melville’s heavy dichotomy between the characters Ishmael and Ahab that leaves me, the reader, in a precarious but deadlocked balance. This melodramatic polarization between the active and the contemplative is like walking on a tightrope with a heavy weight in each hand; a plunge into the dark abyss on either side is waiting should the balance be disturbed.

Ahab, (the active) cries “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! And since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!”
This raging physicality is set against the one-who-would-be-called-Ishmael (the contemplative) who intellectually strives to comprehend the whole of nature by describing everything from the exacting measurements of whalebones, through the minute details of processing spermaceti to a whole chapter devoted to an attempt at classification of all whales “a rabble of uncertain, fugitive half-fabulous whales of which I know only by name and not experience.”

I, on the other hand, am looking for a much lighter metaphor, an airier threshold; one with much less gravity involved and not quite so grand a scale. Somewhere between the quest for the active physical accomplishment and the quest for the contemplative intellectual understanding is the threshold where I would like the larger works in the At The Regatta series to be positioned.




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