Hello World, you're tuned into the Daughter of Godcast, and I am Dan Kelly, water rabbit, spiritual vagabond, energy artist, wilds man. Lit below by the flickering light of mild revelation, an uncanny visage passing on the oral history of the making of an aspiring cult classic, Daughter of God. This is episode 007, Treasure.
Daughter of God like most endeavors in the arts has three major enabling components - gumption, gear and gas. I've talked about two so far. First, there's gumption. A vision, a yearning to create. In episode 001 I had my "I can do that" moment at Palm Springs Shorts Festival, which was really just an acknowledgment of, I want to do that. And how. Then in 006, I gave a whiskered recollection of pre-digital media and how earnest desire called forth affordable gear for movie making. Finally I needed gas. What keeps human metabolism roaring, vehicles rolling, lights shining and batteries charged? Money.
If you're worn out from that gear geek out in Episode 006 and you'd prefer the executive summary of my innovative funding technique, then here's the only two words you need. First the T word. Trust. And now the F word. Fund. See you next week. You may now switch off your podcasting device.
Ah, you're still listening? You must be down with nuance.
Horatio Alger had nothing on my dad. Starting from not much, he bootstrapped himself and his little family into upper/middle class lower/upper class strata by getting a couple of degrees and then steadily climbing the ladder at a conglomerate. He was intelligent, ambitious and... white. He put my three older brothers through college. When I was 13, we moved to a house in New Canaan, CT with two staircases and a pool. We had been summering at a lake front cottage in Northern Michigan, eventually this became several cottages to handle the grand kids and extended family. Stock portfolios, real estate investments. Opportunity.
I don't know whether my brothers aspired to repeat or eclipse our father's success, but the traditional booster rockets were at the ready if *I* wanted to try. I too had a treasure chest of funds for college, but ONLY for college.
I didn't fuck up all that much in high school, aside from barely squeaking by grade wise 'cause I was just so damned bored. I stayed out of jail, only drove wasted when I absolutely had to, didn't get anyone pregnant and was generally pretty easy going and gregarious.
I had dreams, but they didn't involve another 4 years of institutional education. I planned to backpack across Europe. I was 18 in 1981, and had been raking in the bucks running a house painting business in ritzy Fairfield County with 3 pals, Dirk, Dave and Brad. But at the end of my senior year, as all my friends prepared to go off to college, I got scared. My father revealed his laughable master plan for me - to get a degree in Petroleum Engineering "so you can retire when your 30." Theoretically at Marietta College in Ohio, the only college that had accepted me, likely because I had flippantly checked the Native American box on the application. My grandmother often kidded that we had Cherokee blood, but that's a pretty ubiquitous myth among the European invaders.
I caved. I blew my budget for plane tickets and Eurail pass on a stereo, which is how recorded music was heard back in the early eighties. That meant a tuner/amplifier, tape deck, turn table and speakers. The analog media of the day was vinyl, 33 rpm records with actual grooves that a needle followed and bounced up and down on, creating an electrical signal that was boosted by the amplifier and sent to the speakers. I bought a stack of those too, with music by artists like Steely Dan, The Tubes and Holst. I hauled it all to dismal Marietta, Ohio, on the border of the state with the highest unsolved murder rate, West Virginia.
Marietta was doomed from the start, mostly because the ratio of guys to girls was 3 to 1. Dating, my favorite sport? Not happening. I took up rowing instead, our freshman 4 and 8 boats ruled. I made some friends there too, Bruce, Damian, Tim, Chris, Dave, Rene... Academics predictably bored me silly, and eventually I failed out with gusto. So my college treasure chest remained mostly untapped.
Meanwhile, compound interest.
Fast forward to the 90s, living in Northern Michigan and freshly unemployed, having quit Computerland to launch my own Macintosh based media design and production company. Slightly ahead of my time, offering media design in Northern Michigan at the inception of the internet. Most every local - WTF is media design?
The first couple of years I wasn't quite profitable. My father proposed that he incorporate my company. He could provide solid cash flow and take any losses as a tax write off. At least until the world caught up with my genius.
Prostitution? Kind of.
I never felt truly seen by my Dad. The idea of being in partnership was anathema. Learning how to soar was theoretically my priority, yet kinda impractical tethered to safety and zero risk. Somehow, I did want to please my father and enjoy his respect. Lots of dichotomy in play. My operating assumption was that before too long I'd be kicking ass financially just like I had with my house painting business. He'd feel proud and I'd buy him out.
Prostitution is an extreme word, so here's my working definition. Disregarding our mysterious power in an effort to facilitate conventional outcomes. Sure there might be profit, even pleasure, but without passion any slight gains would require beaucoup effort. An over emphasis on certainty. Acquiescing to the illusion of limitation.
In retrospect, of course my plan was whacked. First, the rigor of the market is kind of important for shaping effective profit strategy. Second, the projects I found post incorporation were interesting and lucrative but forever divergent from my bliss. I was cloistered in an impoverished simulation of life. So third, wild profitability and chronic frustration are incompatible, at least for me.
To this day, I am not sure what my father's motivation was. The tax write off premise was plausible, but I wonder now if he didn't secretly doubt my viability. Was this corporate welfare scheme really just his way of keeping me from failing miserably? Was he trying to create a safe sandbox for me to play in, like... for the rest of my life? Or was he trying to provide an environment where I could cultivate my unique vision and blossom?
I'm pretty sure was afraid for me. I was beyond category, but for him that just meant, misfit. He didn't know what I was and I since I didn't know myself, I wasn't ready to teach him. Just like Daughter of God, my life has been a gentle release, coming into my fullness gradually. Starting with groping in the dark. What are we even groping for? What do we really want?
For me, fun. Exhilaration. I had some of that, even after I volunteered to make sense to my father, and take on the identity of a walking tax deduction. And a dollup of conventionally defined success.
I won state arts grants to deploy hands-on museum exhibits experienced by 100ks of visitors, wrote a detailed software specification for a literacy game inspired by ergonomics expert Lillian Malt, developer of the Maltron keyboard, provided CHI design for testing applications distributed by Harper Collins, coded an interactive yearbook for a private school customized to each student and on and on. Also painted and sculpted and schemed - off the books.
A decade passed.
This was a much longer gaff than my year as a petroleum engineer undergrad. 10 years masquerading as responsible, conventional, comprehensible. Such a safe and silly choice.
And I did have a choice, I'd already made great money, even legally, as a entrepreneur dude at 18. I'd been both free agent and salary man ever since doing everything from freelance dog food delivery to selling Apple computers. I made livings, I could survive. C'mon, I'm white and male after all, piece of cake...
Except I'm actually a freak. I can't support most of what the dominant culture represents. I'm not a consumer, I am a creator. Or at least, I yearned to be. My perception then was that the world didn't feel welcoming to my unique offering. I shared my father's fear, I was afraid of what I was.
So choosing to be an walking contradiction, I hung in suspended animation until 2001.
9/11 and the Iraq war were catalysts. I could see the national sham so clearly, and was ready to be, to do... truth. Each step into activism felt empowering, essential. I was getting in alignment. My participation in the Traverse 8 helped me to understand what mattered, who I was.
When my Dad told me I was making life miserable for my mother and him, the clouds parted. So he didn't know me, fine. I didn't know me either. Now the roller coaster was starting to roll, and he didn't want to ride with me. So what? Who CAN take that journey with us?
Only I could feel how my life was blooming, how my cosmic sleeper cell had suddenly been activated. The beautiful, painful moment when my parents' opinion didn't matter, once and for all, ever again. Why seek elsewhere for what flows freely with every breath? As Dorothy said, there's no place like home, the home of our own bodies, our own presence.
I was done being a deduction. Prostitution was my gateway crime. Moving up to theft. Remember the treasure chest? For college?
I stole it and went on the lam. Metaphorically speaking.
This is a parable, maybe a koan. The treasure was mine all along, I had direct access, I could write checks! For acceptable expenses, in approved ways. For college. Not for motorcycles, for instance. I was bringing the house down playing the part of the acceptable son.
Show's over. Take a bow. Applause!
Before going into exile on the Florida art show tour, I bought a big, black, motorcycle, a BMW GS1150, and strapped it into the trailer with all the paintings. For doing crimes. I didn't tell a single soul.
I also bought a black full body armored riding suit and black full face Shoei helmet. Black as interstellar space, which would prove telling later. My first iteration of a super hero costume, just like Bruce Willis's SECURITY hoodie in Unbreakable.
There's a lot to parse here. More hilarity.
Scion of wealth and privilege engages in fantasy of rebellion and freedom without fear of consequences. That's one perspective.
Though not very flattering or fun, and as I've said, I love feeling wonderful and having fun. There's certainly many other more uplifting and incidentally accurate executive summaries. Why do many of us judge ourselves as lacking, fucked up and unworthy? What's that all about?
The dominant culture of the USA provides constant training in self loathing. Asserting that there is such a thing as right and wrong and we knows which is which. To judge and punish. That external authority is more valid than what we might feel. Our systems of self governance don't work because we despise the collective WE. Most Americans are stupid, how often do you hear that? Isn't that the same thing as saying I am stupid? Aren't you and I people? What's stupid really mean? That everyone's brains are sub par? Maybe it just means that we've been trained to look outside ourselves for a feeling of worthiness.
I know I was.
My family's mores were a fun house reflection of the dominant culture. For instance, go to college. College is the ticket to acceptance and traction in American culture. What you need to make good. A demonstration that you're willing and able to sustain the system.
A system that sucks, 'cause it's suicidal.
A system that sucks. That doesn't mean we suck, or that any adventure that involves humans will always and forever suck. It just means that what we've chosen to believe makes us feel terrible - impotent, angry, frustrated, fearful. Thus we have lots and lots of problems, because we expect to, we make them.
In the first paragraph of episode 001, You hear me rail against jet flying, right? How many listeners did I loose right out of the gate, by dissing that very American symbol of pleasure and discovery, flying in jets? I mean, how could going to Hawaii or Paris be bad?
Why do we crave a week or two of adventure in an exotic place? Because everyday life isn't exotic, entrancing, exhilarating? Why not? Why not choose a more enlivening everyday life that we don't feel the need to vacation from? Our everyday choices matter. The government and the corporations aren't fucking up the planet or dropping bombs elsewhere, it's us, you and me. It's what we think and feel and then do daily that decides everything. The government and corporations are just extensions of our mundane personal choices. We are the government and the corporations, WE are Keanu Reeves, we are Keanu Reeves.
My friend Kent posted a great meme on FB. A guy at a United Nations podium asks a crowd of people, who wants change? And they all raise their hands. Then the guy asks, who wants to change, and nobody raises their hands. Right, but of course we want to change! We want to be Steve Austin, better stronger faster. We thrill at American Ninja Warrior woman Jessie Graff and Yes I Can people. What would you need to give up, let go of and totally forget about to be super human and then super super human? What keeps YOU from really living?
Ok, NOW how many more listeners did I just loose? Yay! Only the supple survive. If you're still listening, congratulations.
So I took the treasure and by deciding to use it for an education that wasn't about supporting the dominant culture or the current system, I STOLE it. I decided to fund the movie of finding out who I am and discovering, activating a world where I can thrive. All of me. Where my thriving coincides with a thriving global life support system, with the awakening of imagination and autonomy of human beings, of plant beings, of ocean beings.
Am I a criminal, really? As far as the USA FBI is concerned, I'm still a sex offender, maybe even a terrorist. I did a FOIA to the FBI, btw and they denied having any records on me. After Canada refused entry because of those records. After I saw them with my own eyes. I celebrate being hassled by the FBI, I must be on the right track.
What will my next crime be? I'm a wanna be indigenous person with no documented tribal affiliation, tho I'm pretty sure I am native to earth proper. I'm also a self confessed prostitute (reformed) and a flat out thief. I'm a prophet, a guru, I'm the wizard of oz. I'm trouble. I'm the Millenium Falcon silhoutted against a blazing star, blasters blazing. Do you really want to watch a movie made by the likes of me?
Feels good to not fit in to an insane system, to be the seed of something else. Slipping into the next most auspicious reality with every smile. Ready for another secret about this movie? Yeah yeah, so we're the audience for Daughter of God, big whoop. Or because we're the audience, we're actually part of the story now too. ZZZZ, wheeee!
What if this gentle release is about learning to navigate the alternate timelines together? What if Daughter of God is a path to establishing a more just and enlivening human presence on earth? I am not saying it is, but what if what I'm not saying actually is what's happening? Would that be worth stealing $50,000 for?
Thanks for listening. We all grooving together, and I'm glad. This has been episode 007 of Daughter of Godcast with me Dan Kelly writer Director telling the stories about the making of the narrative featurette Daughter of God, she is coming. I'm ready to welcome another 49,900 listeners and I'm counting on you folks to bring that about. So If your experiencing miraculous healing, dreaming lucid dreams or just having fun please, please share, like, retweet, love, heart, hug.