First Person: Aging as an Art Form

By Al Winslow
Wednesday December 10, 2008 - 07:21:00 PM
Al Winslow talks in Tamm’s video piece, Moment of Conciousness.
Curtis Tamm
Al Winslow talks in Tamm’s video piece, Moment of Conciousness.

If you engage the world, by 50 or so something changes. 

A poet said something like: 

You seek and keep on seeking 

Until you return to where you started 

And see it for the first time. 

And you start writing newspaper stories, of all things, about the undercurrents of things. 

And you have conversations with bright University of California students. 

Curtis Tamm, a maker of avant-garde films, asked: “Are you afraid of getting old?” 

“I’m afraid of not doing it right,” I said. 

Generally, I talk about levels of perception and Curtis talks about levels of growth. I’m 66 and he’s 21. 

“Do you remember the moment you became conscious?” I asked, meaning the moment an infant becomes aware it is in a world. 

“Lately, every year I think I have become conscious,” he said. 

I talk about writing in freestanding modules with internal connections, and he talks about the failure of conventional movies as an art form. “The narrative form is dead.” Film has to come at you all at once, he seemed to be saying. 

We found neither of us eats much, because eating is annoying. 

We talk about how women have about twice as many information receptors in their heads as men and whether this accounts for “women’s intuition.” 

We think the brain is able to rewire itself. 

Curtis called me at dawn to get me to talk on film. At a faraway spot, he set up avant-garde-looking filming equipment and aimed it at an elevated BART track. The morning rush hour provided a steady supply of passing BART trains. 

I talked for about an hour while he moved stuff around. 

The resulting film shows me talking about things like taking LSD, while the image of a BART train speeds through my head.