"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 5 - 10: First Week of PSP

Sunday - We crowded in the lobby to meet Milos, our tour guide of intrepid energy and unexhaustable knowledge. For the next three hours most of us followed him throughout Prague from the Old Town Square to the Jewish Synagogue and museum, to the Cubist Museum, and elsewhere. I say most of us, because frequently a few of us would get lost from the group, parting ways as some narrow turn while trying to purchase water or coffee or find a bathroom. If we were lucky, we'd somehow navigate the corridors of streets to discover Milos far in the distance standing on a statue divulging his passion for Prague. In the photo he poses on the legs of a baby at the Cubist Museum. The graffiti is a picture of John Lennon's wall, the first unformal memorial for John Lennon in the world after he was shot. Artists continually add layers to the images and words on the wall. It is nearly a block long.
Monday - Workshops met for the first time. The school building is just off Jan Palacha Square, with a broad panorama view of the Palackeho Most (bridge) and the treed Vltava river walk. Jan was a student who set himself on fire in Jan. 16, 1969 to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. He was the first of many students who had signed a suicide pact. However, as he burned, he told them not to follow the pact due to the intense pain he felt. A month later a second student set himself on fire, and two months after that a third student did the same. The photo shows the view from my classroom across Prague.
Tuesday - We attended two lectures today on mythology and current day archetypes in the Czech culture. I wandered the city to find the Memorial to the victims of Communism, a surreal iron sculpture of a man disintegrating in repeated images of himself. This evening, Alison Deming and Michael Waters read very inspiring poetry and essay full of heart, nature and science. Returning to the dorm after the reading, I worked on a new poem until 2 am.
Wednesday - Workshops meet. This afternoon I jumped on a bus and visited the hometown of Pilsner Urquell Beer, named Pilsn. We toured the Pilsn brewery and drank unpasteurized beer directly from a barrel stored deeply underground in 29 kilometers of tunnels that maintain a temperature of 2-4 degrees C.
Thursday - Intense yoga in the morning. We viewed the classic recent cult film Otik this afternoon about a childless couple who carve a tree stump into a baby. As they care for it like a child, it comes alive. However, it has a voracious and unsatisfiable appetite. They feed it, but it grows and begins to eat their neighbors. Finally it eats even its parents, who are unable to kill their child (with a chainsaw) when it attacts . An old woman hoeing cabbage finally must murder the monster as the fairy tale depicts. This evening we listen to faculty readings.
Friday - Workshops meet. I wander the city for hours as I've done everyday, gradually learning how to connect the cobblestone squares and streets. Friday night was student readings, an opportunity to cheer for each other. Afterwards, I drank the best mojito of my life. This weekend I hope to get alot of writing done in cafes around the city and visit a few museums.