Inner Sanctum– Critical Breakdown

Using a Canon PowerShot, I snapped this photo in a bamboo forest at my place. Although I have a DSLR, I prefer the smaller, pocket camera for it’s practicality. Admittedly, I could generate a much higher quality photo with a better camera, but I have come to grips with feasibility.  It is much easier to carry a pocket camera around as I work in the garden and traipse through the dense, damp forests.
That said….
This photo, for me, is all about the dark mood created by the criss-crossing bamboo, almost like a net that is being woven. It felt so protective to me. I allowed the spot of green to be centered to reflect that I am at the center of this protected weave. I personally don’t have a big problem with centering focal points if the situation warrants. So often I find purposeful off-center placement to be trite, unless there is a specific reason for it.
As far as processing, this image varies little from the original, save for the nuances. I actually worked more on it that I like to, adding some light to the break in the trees while darkening the surroundings and altering the color tone just enough to show life. I used to alter color a lot, but as I’ve grown, I try to only alter it enough to reflect what I saw rather than what the camera captured. The sky is a problem area, and if I had better PhotoShop skills, I probably could have corrected it. Or perhaps the original image was simply lacking. It is a difficult contrast to nail, especially for a pocket camera with little manual control. Also, the forest was very dark, being late in the day and on the shaded side of the mountain. I needed to underexpose as much as I could so that I could handhold, although I think I rested the camera on a stump of some sort.

Inner Sanctum

As far as reading my verse, I use the end of each line for a sort of pause. I like to use alliteration and rhyme, and my style has changed greatly since I first decided to sit down and collect my poems for this blog. I attempt to put in a lyrical quality, so that there is a sing-song bounce to the reading.  Speaking of which, it is probably best to read poetry aloud. For me, my brain is always humming, so silently reading someone else’s words clashes with my own thoughts. Saying the lines out loud allows for more mental clarity.

I choose words that I hope ring true to the reader. I dislike using words with a hackneyed quality, and have found that cliches are under nearly every turn of phrase (there you go). And so, I turn to a thesaurus to come up with acceptable substitutes, words that I already have in my arsenal yet are hidden to me because of the mass debasement of our daily language. Let’s face it, we don’t stretch our lingual skills nearly enough in our every day. BUT, I don’t want to use words simply for pompousness. I really want the casual reader to connect with me. Topic-wise, I think that the reader has probably felt many of the emotions that I describe, but may not have been aware. Like I’ve mentioned in my ‘About Me’ page, communing with nature has truly brought my emotional experiences to the forefront.

This particular piece is as inspired by the above photo as the picture was inspired by my thinking… for this particular set, I worked on them simultaneously, one leading to the other and back again. Additionally, each of my days seems to be dominated by a particular thought, perhaps instigated by a conversation, a dream, a story on the internet or whatnot. This poem is about coming to the realization that I MUST create an inner sanctuary to protect my fragile, nubile thoughts; that the noise of constant pop-political-culture is hazardous to my creation; that the violent words and actions of what we call discourse today shown on 24-hour news channels is indeed a cancer, a poison as I say, to our spirit. This culture that I am bracing myself against has Disney-fied all of our thinking, has turned us into quasi-robots that only repeat back what someone else has already said. And more often than not, the person who said it has some interest that is unknown to us. Most likely, he or she is trying to sell us something, some product of mass delusion.


The inner sanctum
is where I gird adverse
to the ugly and the unkind
where I fortress
averse to the snares of poisoned cultures
that immerse in the putrefied
and rapt in the commercial


In the second stanza, I talk about what it is like to be free of this cultural prison of vapidity. Here, I am not a checked-box, I am not a Democrat or a Republican, a Red or a Blue, a this or a that. These are false choices, but we often feel compelled to choose ONE side so that everyone knows we are not on the OTHER side. But in my sanctuary, I am none of these. I am free of language– meaning, my thoughts are outside of the limitations of language, indeed, and especially, the language that is used to control us, to manipulate us; this language that turned us all into consumers instead of humans.


Within these walls is a haven
to roam amid the infinite
and profound ideas
unbound by fallacy, notions
of identity and country
free from language
and the words employed to define me
as unworthy
free from being sold and sold to
told to


In the last part, I talk about a womb. Figuratively, I mean a place of nourishment, a place of maternal safety, and yes, like in the photo, a natural place– think Mother Earth and her protective belly. The mother feeds her baby and I will need all of the nourishment I can receive to fill the void. I say ‘void of original thought’ because, as I mentioned prior, when I look around me, all I see is a regurgitation of others’ ideas– whether it is in music, art, speech– all you have to do is look at your FaceBook feed to see that hardly does anyone post any original thought, but simply reposts sayings and slogans proffered by the (hidden, yet ubiquitous) corporate state. I don’t think I’m being too harsh here. I use myself as a prime example. As I sit to write or create a new piece, the words that most often come to my head are lyrics to songs, commercial jingles, or witticisms based in pop-cultural references. It is not that there are no new thoughts to be had. On the contrary. It is that our brains have been systematically wiped of free-thought and filled with fluff that is not so good and not so good for us. And so, I build and maintain my inner sanctum, the place inside my head that is free of the commercial, free of the jumble that clutters our minds that prevents us from original thinking.
Harbored in this womb
I will nourish what hunger
I once felt, the void
of original thought I will replenish
and flourish,
building a refuge to run with an abandon
never before known to me
allowed to me
and I will tend wholly
to the integrity
of the
inner sanctum.

Both the poem and the photo were difficult for me to finalize. Each seemed at once lacking in some clarity– and how apt given that the photo is so obscured!– while also overworked. That tends to happen to me the longer I work on my art. And overwrought obscurity is not something I was hoping for. I have tried to bring the concept back, full-circle, so to speak. Construct the inner sanctum, BE in the inner sanctum, and still tend and build larger the inner sanctum. Both photo and poem describe a work in progress– constantly needing to build and maintain, always showing gaps that need shoring up.

Okay, here is where I leave it up to you, if any of you are out there! PLEASE comment or critique or ask any question that you like. Did what I say make sense? Did the poem and/or the photo relate to my explanation? Can anyone relate to this very personal experience?  Thanks in advance for any and all feedback.

Loving More every day,


7 thoughts on “Inner Sanctum– Critical Breakdown

  1. Jason, this is a wonderful idea! I’ve always known that there a thousand ways to interpret a poem, but I’d always wondered what the poet’s intent was in writing his verse. So, being an avid reader of your blog, this is something I enjoy.

    All of it made sense, Jason. And I can relate to it well.

    I’ve always felt estranged from my community, culturally. My way of thinking and what I find artistically pleasing in life are different from the mainstream here, and it becomes such a hassle finding my place among these “snares of poisoned cultures.”

    This is where my “Inner Sanctum” comes in. I am able to escape this everyday stress, when I am back in my room alone with my words. Safe. Free.

    In retrospect, I think I interpreted your poem differently, but they are a bit similar.

    I always enjoy reading you, Jason. I’ve become quite the fan. 🙂

    • Rigel, your feedback on this is simply awesome. I had posted this for someone who told me that they didn’t know how to read poetry. I had hoped I could open up a new way of sharing with people with this sort of Critical Breakdown.

      Sometimes I read my work and think, how could someone NOT get it? and other times I worry that no one will ever get it…but in reading your comment, I know that you got it.

      Having left the US for Brazil 2 years ago, I am having to constantly adjust my critical view of the world– I don’t want to offend anyone at my old home or new, yet some things need to be spoken. As I see it, our modern culture of disconnect is destructive to artistic souls. I have to create a toxic-free zone in my head that does not get sucked into the drivel…

      Anyway, thanks yet again for your feedback. I will try to do another Breakdown, since I actually enjoyed writing it. Thanks for being a fan 🙂
      ~peace, Jason

      • We’re pretty similar on that regard. Not a lot of the people can get my poetry. I’ve been told that I have to “dumb it down” a bit for people, so they’ll like it. I’ve tried to, but have been unsuccessful. 😛

        I’ve resigned myself to simply finding people who have the same artistic taste as me. I get along well with you, so I must be on the right track. 🙂

        It’s always a pleasure leaving you feedback.

        • No, dumbing it down will never do…and yes, I guess it is a matter of finding the right people. Other artists, likely. I’ve come across so many blogs of material written a in stream of (un)couscious(ness) with little or no skill. I won’t belittle anyone’s attempts, but really, I want to read something that gets me thinking. No, I insist, please don’t dumb it down. ~ J

          • Indeed. I enjoy the ones that get take me somewhere else without me having to put in too much effort to get into it. And I decided not to try dumbing it down after the first few failed attempts. 🙂

  2. It is lovely to see inside your head and the motivational factors behind what you write. I thank you for the insight cos I’m often left wondering and whilst i understand it is important to allow this space free of writer’s input, I for one love it. I still had my own reaction and thoughts.

    • That’s an awesome comment, thanks so much! I often have a similar feeling when reading others’ work– we writers and artists sometimes believe that our thoughts are obvious in our pieces, but that is often not the case.

      AND it’s great to know that you still had your own reactions and thoughts. I’m so glad we made that connection 🙂

      ~peace, Jason

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