I finished this page that it feels like I’ve been working on for weeks, this morning. I’m not happy with it. I think that the tendency to underrate, even under-value, one’s own work in the arts, is a common problem. Nonetheless, much of this work feels like a waste of time. Could anyone actually learn tai chi from these diagrams and these poems. Today’s two new moves are Push (which I called Retreat to the Mountain Camp for a Rematch, and I don’t know why, or which move this actually is), and False Close, which were the subject of my sonnets back on days 144 and 145 of this year.
When I combine them into a single poem of two verses, does it make sense in the context of the drawings? I don’t know. I find that I can’t read them, or look at the pictures, with much in the way of objectivity. Do they fit?
Push/Retreat to the Mountain Camp
When the strike is delivered to the throat,
Step back with the left foot, withdraw the hands,
And cross your wrists to block. Don’t act by rote,
but mind your foe’s fists! Your safety demands
that your hands sweep down your front and your groin,
as your mass rests in your right leg alone.
Uncross your arms: and be sure they adjoin
empty spaces, and not your center zone.
Step with your left foot, but push with your right!
and plant your hands on your foe as seems best,
for though you should be reluctant to fight,
it’s good that any attack is addressed.
Push body forward, transferring through hand
Springing force coil’d where right foot touches land.
Withdraw the left foot and pull back both hands.
For now, keep your weight latent on the right.
Hands protect the face; beware shifting sands
underfoot, for now. Keep open a slight
distance between arms and line of the chest.
Fill this ‘balloon’ with chi for your defense.
Yet remember that left foot! Stand light, lest
you brace too heavily: be as a fence,
able to let the windy words blow by,
but strong and sure to keep the bulls away.
Yet stand softly, for your hands must deny
any strike that comes. For now, this is play —
imagine the foe coming from behind,
step back left and twist: defeat what you find.
This is the problem with the “work in the middle”. One might as well call it the “work in the muddle.” When one is in the middle of a piece of work, such as the making of the drawings or the making of the poems… or better/worse yet, the integration of the two — it’s hard to sort out one’s emotional response from the actual “making” of the thing, or the “making of the happening” of the thing. Layers of importance get confused with one another.
The great artists of the past have opined that in these circumstances, one should just keep going. It’s better to judge a body of work at the end, than it is to judge it when it’s only halfway done.