Let the Negative Space Inform the Positive
When leaps across a perceived transition or great divide may simply be about framing the step in a new way.
Nothing. Absolutely nada. Zilch. That is what has been on tap in the writing realms of late.
The boys of summer came and went. The leaves radiated golden hues, only to flutter themselves into damp piles we bribed children to collect into the wee hours of the first freeze. And now, with stick season firmly upon us, the words remain hidden beneath the waves of thought, ensconced by the travails of thinking itself.
So much to say, yet no thrust. So little to say, yet so impatient. The pages littered by letters and fragmented sentences interlaced with an occasional lucky gem of prose. A filing cabinet of beginnings with no ends, middles with no tides.
Does it ever get easier, this lack of flow? Is there any way to make the stop, stop, to halt its time but continue forward? Is there any chance that the autumn leaves remain glued to their trees with technicolor vibrancy straight through until spring?
Mick would have told me to stop looking for it, this positive space we are so attached to, this constant creation and motion we depend on to measure our success and define our viability. He would have written to me to focus on the space around it, and then over an umpteenth late afternoon black coffee, would have leaned over in his infamous British drawl and said, “Darling, let the negative space inform the positive.”
Let the negative space inform the positive.
The black, the white, the gaps, the nothing. The blank void, the deduced bare and bankrupt. The unproductive and empty in name. The space between the branches, the gaps that create the sticks.
Let the dark and idle create the bright and active, the obstruction inspire the pie(ea)ce. Allow the aggravating stillness of the transition engender the next move. Permit the air between the bare branches breed the new bloom. As I type I see Mick’s inspiration enhancing the exposure of the thoughts that dwell inside my mind.
Why this is so hard to remember whilst staring down the seemingly vapid tunnel of negative space, I do not know. It is quite literally, black and white, after all. Yet time and time again we grasp for the thing we want without realizing that without the interludes and chasms, it is not really there.
Mick, on the other hand, reveled in its presence, using his camera to master the art of capturing souls migrating between everything and nothing, nothing and their true essence. He blurred the lines between background and foreground, dark and light, enveloping four dimensional energy in a two dimensional form.
I had the great luck to be on all sides of his lens, most getting to know myself and his genius as his subject on a frozen twelve hour shoot in the absolute depths of the season of sticks. I have to wonder if congealing in the barren February streets of New York was the crux of his plan, filling it with a series of shots of the space between, and in thus doing, infusing an innate belief in the power that this same frustrating space holds for the expanse ahead. Interviews of his subjects reveal that my sentiment was not unique. Mick Rock saw through me that day, through and into the crevices of deepest thoughts and nascent corners of my soul, capturing a choreography of apertures that define where and who I am today. Perceived as blocked, but in reality, continuously unblocking.
As I sat down in front of the blank page this morning, the birds outside reveled between the arid branches they call home, and for the first time in a while I did not yearn for the space to be filled or this transition to become a simple leap. Instead, I studied the negative space between, humming to songwriter Darius Rucker and his own drawl, “Robin robin in the tree, won’t you come down here and rescue me, cause there’s someplace else I gotta see ….you’ve gotta capture me to set me free.”
"Let the negative space inform the positive." I needed that. I love it. Thank you.