Mucking about means, according to the OED, to “waste time, loiter, be idle.” I often find myself not only creating neologisms but also shaping re-configured definitions for words. Thus, for me, mucking about connotes a state in which I am engaging in activities that are detached from my primary creative acts of writing and making music but are not disassociated from them, never entirely disconnected. One of these muckings lately has been taking place in my humble patio garden. Here, literally, I get mucky as I dig around in the soil, usually with my hands, and plant things – this season so far – a heliotrope tree whose flowers emerge as shiny green marbles, some herbs including a scrumptious chocolate mint, a few strawberry plants, one sweet tomato vine and a couple of flowers such as the one depicted above – the crazy golden gazania with its pointed and crisped-in petals.
Another thing I attempt regularly, in stints between my regular composing hours, is the snapping of decent pictures, some of which I leave in their raw state as with the flower, and others I upload to Photoshop where I fiddle with them for 30 minutes or so, adding effects to their layers until they satisfy some aesthetic hunger in me. The picture below represents one such mucking. I call it Two Radioactive Girls and a Pale one. Mucking around with these photos not only gives me another outlet for my need to create, it also frees my mind from my more serious forms of making for awhile, allowing me to design a piece of slight art that doesn’t have any kind of imagined end in my mind and is all about process.
I have also made icky sculptures, goopy paintings and ghastly sound recordings as well as wordings that simply play with aurality and are later discarded. These are all muckings. Even a walk can be a mucking as one kicks through dried leaves or splashes in puddles and, in that loosened space, feels the freedom to be “thoughtless” – an impossible state of course. One soon finds out that regardless of how empty one felt, or how pointless the muckings-about seemed, renewed visions emerge from these dream-lacuna zones and the mucking becomes the compost that produces the blooms.