Strange Attractions: Mind Your Plate

Do not seek the truth. Only cease to cherish opinions. (Zen saying)

"Mind your own plate," was one of dad's dinnertime retorts whenever my sister or I might be overly concerned about which one of us had more meatloaf or less dessert. Take from what there is, eat what you need, and trust that the next guy will do the same. There's plenty to go around. You can't presume to know what the other guy needs. So mind your own plate.

I mind my own plate. This helps to see the world as well as to be in it without being reactive or distressed by circumstances beyond my control. I live in this world; I don't own it.

I mind my plate when I take a look at graffiti. I even minded my plate when I created Strange Attractions. This is a book about graffiti in my world. Writers come along, spray their pieces and their tags and what have you, and leave me (and everyone else) to deal with it. So I do. I find the effect of the stuff on my world is something beautiful, something worth sharing. So I photograph graffiti and I write about it. I offer this in my book, which is meant to be a part of a dialogue about creativity.

Creativity, as the poet John Keats pointed out in his day, requires closing your mouth that your mind might open. He called this "negative capability," the living in uncertainty--not insecurity or ambivalence. This is about not knowing, of being open to all possiblities, of abandoning a predisposition to a specific outcome, of letting life be. Being creative requires minding your plate and thereby finding the universe on your plate. The less you know, the more you can admit into your open and clear mind.

It's magic.
I like this kind of dialogue. I like interaction that is open. This kind of conversation seeks points of connection by listening and getting to know new ideas, like new friends, without judgment. This is not about being overly concerned about being right. You can't be open to new ideas if you're holed up in a bunker. (more)


  1. i really needed to read this post you wrote. it completes my learning on this subject. about being silent. about not invading. about truth. and about the way to be.

  2. "What is the first business of one who studies philosophy? To part with self-conceit. For it is impossible for any one to begin to learn what he thinks that he already knows." - Epictitus

    I agree with your philosophies... and although I sometimes question graffiti (actually, I question tagging more... graffiti art can sometimes be powerful and beautiful,) I reminded myself of something I want to share with you... a photo I took of some graffiti at St. Paul's Cathedral in London...

    ...or the big version...

    Although it's "tagging", it was in a stairwell and not on the artwork or in an area that was designated to be "as is", and therefore, I was taken to grab a photo...

    It was literally carved into the rock of the pillar... and therefore I wondered... was this done over time... or done in one day?

  3. Celestine,
    Thanks for stopping by. You have two great blogs. Thanks for leaving a comment and making a connection. I look forward to reading more when School Day No. 2 is settled down.

    Double Decker Bus Guy,
    Wow. That's some photo. What was the pillar made of? Just shows you back in the day people took their time to do things! Technically, this is a tag, isn't it? You know, when I find old books or pictures, I'm always searching them front and back and inside out for inscriptions, notes, comments. I guess I'm looking for graffiti. Perhaps the offence of tagging is that the tagger wants to damage what most others agree on some level is already beautiful? The egocentric nature of the act is troubling. It can lead to some great work though (and some stupid junk, too). Thanks for all of this food for thought.

  4. Anonymous8:47 PM

    It's quite the head game, isn't it? An artist puts a piece up for all to see. The piece shouts "Look at me!" So what do you do? You look. And the you get smacked upside the head for looking.


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