Posted: 31 Oct 2010 08:23 PM PDT
Entered into life July 16th 1979 -
Escaped into life July 27th 2010
When Chris set up this Online Arts Journal just a little over a year ago, he dedicated it to his late mother, the artist Rosalind Al-Aswad.
Shocked by his untimely death, his bereft family and followers feel that an appropriate way to honor Chris's vision is to keep his beloved journal going. Escape into Life is now also dedicated to Chris, its inspiring and charismatic founder. It is his legacy and also, we hope, his enduring monument.
In the last incomplete essay that Chris wrote before his passing, he explored his dream of blending visual and litereray arts through this online journal. Though unfinished and almost in note form, Chris's distinctive voice shines through. It is reproduced below, incomplete as it was found.
When Visual Art Becomes Poetry
The complex inter-relationship between literary art and visual art is like an enigma to me.
Nocturne by Michael Cheval
Essays by Chris Al-Aswad
Chris published his writing online under his pen name Lethe Bashar. Lethe Bashar is also the lead character he used in the Novel of Life. Chris wrote the Novel of Life as a "recording", a fictional history of his adolescence, to have a more comprehensive understanding of the past. He wrote 22 chapters in all. A continuance of the Novel of Life is Las Vegas, a graphic novel completed with 61 chapters. He also was writing The Book of Innocence, better known as The Blog of Innocence. These were chapters of his "present" life as it happened beginning in the year 2008. Chris intended to publish four volumes of essays online but he only published the two below.
Taking Off the Mask – Essays Volume I
Sentimental Education: Essays in Art – Volume II
More of Chris's writing can be found in his Collected Essays.
Poems by Chris Al-Aswad
The Pleasures are Fleeting
the pleasures are fleeting,
on some days you're wondering
if they even exist
but in the slow station
of all our lives, a moment of being
comes and goes, lingers for awhile
out of a plateau, pleasures rise
this wondrous hot spring
fills you with momentary delight
and even the thoughts you are thinking
echo with reason and brilliance
and even the coffee tastes incredibly rich
so you want more of the experience
and less of the waiting, I suggest
a simple remedy, I suggest
breathing, maybe taking a break with me
on the pier, we'll sit and listen to
the waves crash
The Swan of my Youth
I awoke in the middle of a summer night,
Anxious child beating in my heart
the anxious child beating in my heart is you furious whirling child of discontent and love you disentangle with grace never losing touch with unmistakable anguish you fall belatedly to the bottom of the world
Read more of Chris's poetry in Collected Poems , and in his e-book Purposeless Solitude – Selected Poems by Lethe Bashar
Podcasts by Chris Al-Aswad
In addition to his Blog of Innocence podcast, Chris started a YouTube channel in 2008 to explore and share what he had learned through his life experiences. Among the topics he wanted to talk about were poetry, philosophy and writing. In the video below, Chris talks about the characters in Dead Souls, a Russian novel by Nikolai Gogol.
The following is an excerpt Chris wrote in his own handwriting, from Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth.
From all of us who follow and love Escape into Life, thank you Chris, for everything.
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