June 13, 2007

"the space in between...."

Like with so many things that are artistic in nature, a single moment can carry my mind in a million directions, but they're all fruit from the same tree.

This is a record of such a moment in my mind. It probably won't flow. The thoughts come as they please. But, in the end, they're all connected.

So, a few weeks ago, I was at a club here in L.A., and I met someone.

She was a vision.

We didn't talk much at all.

Which is unfortunate, because, if we had, I would have asked her, "did you feel that?"

Because when I wrapped my arms around her on the dance floor, and she put her hands on my side, a spark jumped.

Not one of those static electricity "I just dragged my feet across a wool rug and shocked the shit out of my fingers on a metal doorknob" sparks.

It's one of those kind of sparks like when, back in college, I ran into an ex-girlfriend in a computer lab, and I just put my hand on her shoulder.... and every inch of skin on my body remembered an entire relationship in an instant.

Those slender hands from my dance partner were like a pair of jumper cables giving a little "God is here" boost to my stalled out soul.

Now, don't get me wrong - it's not like I was unhappy with my life just before this whispered moment of divine shock therapy. Quite the contrary. My movie just got accepted into an international festival. My brother finally came home from Iraq with all of his fingers & toes and in his right mind. Business is picking up. My writing is accelerating. It's nearly summer.

My life is filled with joy.

No, the spark between myself and my dancefloor companion was literally just a way for the Divine to speak to me directly and say "all of that energy that your gathering through your good mood is supposed to go right here - in the space between."

And that is what has had my mind and soul trembling with excitement ever since.

"the space between".

In those old movies from the '30's, where the mad scientist is about to resurrect the monster, you always see the two round electrodes, full of energetic potential - but it's when they're brought together, that the lightning arcs and brings life to the monster.

Space.

The distance between two things is where creation happens.

I'm a filmmaker.

People like me are all supposed to know about Sergei Eisenstein: an early Russian film scholar who is the father of modern day editing & film montage. In one of his more famous experiments, Eisenstein filmed a shot of a renowned actor looking down, then cut it next to a shot of a baby, then a shot of the actor looking down again, then a shot of a plate of food, then a shot of the actor again, then, finally, a shot of a dead animal. When he showed this little film, people heaped tremendous praise on the actor - "he's so amazing! With just the slightest look, he can convey love for a child, hunger for a meal, or even disgust over a corpse!"

Of course, it was all the exact same shot of the actor's face in all three instances, and Eisenstein's specific direction to the actor was to be expressionless.

In each case, by placing these two separate images next to each other, a brand new, THIRD thing was created.

The space gave birth to a feeling.

Which is why Leon Tolstoy said that the first thing you, as an artist, must master before anything else if you intend to write the great novel (or, for that matter, poem or speech or screenplay), before theme or plot or character, is transitions.

It's why the editor Walter Murch always takes a still image from every shot of the movie he's cutting, and lines them all up on a wall in the order he receives them, regardless of story order - by laying unrelated images next to each other, he finds inspiration to cut in ways he would never have seen otherwise.

It's why any musician worth his or her salt will tell you that the action happens in the space between the beats.

Space.

Scientists say that, what we thought was just trillions upon trillions of square light years of emptiness between the stars and planets is actually filled with.... something. It doesn't reflect light or give off radiation, so it can't be detected directly. But because heavenly bodies move in a certain way as a result of gravitational forces where there aren't other heavenly bodies to exert said gravitational forces, they know that something else MUST be out there, filling the space.

There are some who interpret quantum physics theories that all solid matter is really just energy vibrating at specific contradictory frequencies that prevent, for instance, my fingertips from passing through this keyboard like a phantom, as proof that the entire universe is really just one single presence, folding into relationship with itself to create all that is.

As they say "nature abhors a vacuum". Which is why the universe is always looking to fill in the spaces with new things.

An empty canvas. A blank page.

Creation only occurs in contrast.

Now, don't get it twisted - "contrast" does not always mean "conflict", because "harmony" is about the space created between two complementary frequencies.

But space requires boundaries. We have to make room to define the space.

The fence of a playground.

The rules of a game.

Three act structure.

Iambic Pentameter.

A dancefloor.

Two pairs of lips.

I have a friend up in Santa Barbara who's, for lack of a better term, a medium. She used to have a giant open space in the wall above her living room, and she refused to decorate it or populate it with artwork or anything of that nature. She wanted to physically manifest space in her life to make room for new spiritual things to arrive, like prosperity, or new revelations.

I'm told that the term "feng shui" literally means "wind-water" and, according to Wikepedia, it's cultural shorthand for a verse in the "Book of Burial" that reads:

"The qi that rides the wind stops at the boundary of water."

Ultimately, I don't have a specific point I'm trying to make here or a big summation to wrap it all up. Not everything gets tied up with a neat bow. I'm just exploring.

But, as long time readers of my blog know - if it's important to be MORE (spiritually, transcendentally), then you've got to give it room.

"The Art of Allowing" says that, sometimes, we spend so much time praying for the things that we want, we never give the universe the time to actually deliver. It's like being in a restaurant, and constantly placing orders without letting the staff actually cook and bring your food.

I'm not entirely sure what Space really means. I'm just sure that it's presence matters.

And as for me, the space between me and her reminded me that I am a Creator, not just of words like these, or films, or pieces of art.

First and foremost, I am here to create my life.

Next time, I'll just ask her.
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