• What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who only has eyes, if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he is a poet, or even, if he is a boxer, just his muscles? Far from it: at the same time he is also a political being, constantly aware of the heartbreaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How could it be possible to feel no interest in other people, and with a cool indifference to detach yourself from the very life which they bring to you so abundantly? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war. Pablo Picasso

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Tangled Up In Blue

I mutter, rummaging through my supplies cabinet, wondering where I stashed my bluing. The water is running in the tub already, and I go back to check on it several times before I think to look in the chest where I have been storing some Craft supplies and find it there, both bottles.

I drizzle in the bluing, stirring the tub. Clear, a tinted clear, sky blue, spattered with deeper stars of color, stir, stir, stir, a little more, and finally it is a sweet summersky infinity, and I step in, and run the water cold, with a soft, “I pour cool water…” on my breath, balancing the heat until things are perfect.

And I float. The tub is better than the old one, still imperfect, but I can duck my head under without too much trouble and wriggling. Once, to the left, and as always I get water up my nose, that weird itch-tickle of it, and I snort and go back to floating.

I drift.

As I drift, letting the water soothe me, letting the blue bath cleanse me, I think of many things. I find myself thinking of Richard Feynman’s experiments with the sensory deprivation tank, dropping acid and sinking into the body-temperature water, wondering what it would be like to just… go somewhere quiet, into the dark, where all the noise of the world was deliberately shut away, and just be, float in the cosmos. Even without the psychedelic, it seemed so appealing, so gentle.

I had heard that some people had trouble with it, felt that the lack of sensation was upsetting, and I could not imagine why. Just to be alone-all-one in the waters was a thing that I could only conceive of as a blessing. A quiet world, for a little while. I wondered what thoughts I might have, what imaginings I might accomplish, if everything else was quiet for a little while.

I drift.

I think about the idea I have toyed with before – Set as an autistic god (not a god of autism, but himself the thing). The etymology of word “autism” suggests the notion that it is a form of pathological self-absorption, and that is one of the ways Himself was seen – a selfish and solitary god, one prone to inexplicable sulks and rages. His isolation, his lack of adherence to the social norms of his people, his callousness are the myths best known, the character best seen. But the strength forged from his separateness, his difference, is a strength that can be brought to bear against A/pep, and he is ever-willing to do so, ever willing to take that differing character, join with the other powers, and drive back that which would unravel the world. Even if he is trouble, even if he is at times hated, he is also a beloved brother, one who transforms, one who sets challenges to which the others rise.

I dunk my head to the right. Three full immersions, at least, for a cleansing.

I float in the water, relaxed, energised. These old traditional magics, these basic rituals, are comfortable and soothing and felt familiar even when they were new to me. The blue bath is one of the routines of generations, and perhaps I feel that, the way I feel it in the reconstructionist ritual, in other things. I think about that feeling of falling in love with a piece of the world, with its magic, and becoming one with it, making it mine, taking it into me, becoming its carrier, this interpenetration of being. I tried to write about it in my Pagan Bloggers column, and who knows, maybe I succeeded. I don’t know how to say it. I don’t know how to communicate it out, this sense of bathing in the deeps of a thing until its essence is mine and I am its essence.

Do allistics do that? They talk about autistic obsessions and resulting expertise in all of those little analytical pieces… never about being the avatar of experiential knowledge about license plates, or throwing oneself into some music and moving with/of/through/within it, or any of those other things that get smirked at and called “obsessions”. It’s all talkety-talkety words words words not being what you love and loving what you embody. Words are sometimes the easy part, the superficial part, but they don’t express what it is to soak in it and to soak it in.

I shift, I brace myself, I hold my breath, I dunk my head straight back.

I float.

Eventually, I turn the knob with my feet, and the blue water starts draining, the surface tension pulling me down like I’m being gently shrink-wrapped in purity. I wallow in that sensation for a while, feeling it wrap itself around me as the excess slips away like water will do given its chance.

Everything is transitory, and yet it remains.

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