Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lear's Daughters

Turning your back on things and people in order to test their loyalty is a ridiculous waste of a gamble. Don't you nearly always lose?
Likewise, friendship, love and fidelity endure despite behaviour- if we love something- we love it- without expectation- we usually know where the thorns are, hidden or not.
As Wally used to say in "Leave it to Beaver," when asked by Ward what it was he saw in his friend Eddie Haskell: "Gee, Dad, I know Eddie's a creep, but some one's gotta be his friend."

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Chairman Listens

Save us from the salesmen. I used to be one- I know. What differentiates a salesman from everyone else is that the sale is more important than the thing sold, its inherent quality or even whether there is a need for it. Our society is being destroyed by car salesmen, for instance. Auto makers are salesmen. They sell a dream- the esteem of owning a machine that is a more powerful and attenuated version of ourselves.
As resources become more scarce- as living spaces become more crowded- the car should become a means to an end, a tool, a utilitarian, functional conveyance. Maybe we could make them slower, lighter, more energy inefficient. An automobile designed for practicality, inexpensiveness, and maximum efficiency would look nothing like what we have today. Of course, we would lose the pride of ownership in our vehicles- but this is probably what must happen to continue to sustain our need to get from point A to point B.

Another feature of a revolution in personal transportation systems would be the dramatic shift in geopolitical power. The problems in the Middle East would suddenly become uninteresting to the developed world.

Short term transitional habits could include the imposition of a National 55 MPH speed limit- followed by engineering cars that would not be able to exceed this speed; Pricing automobiles at a rate such that it would be desirable and cost-effective to keep and maintain them for twenty years, or more; returning to an environment where the States emphasized the "privilege" aspect of licensing as opposed to the "right" of it. This could be accomplished by more stringent licensing requirements designed to reduce the number of drivers in private vehicles.

The bad news is that public transportation in much of America is simply never going to work, at least not in the next 50 to 100 years. Living and working patterns have developed in such a dispersed way so as to make mass-transit impractical for the economy to continue to function. As soon as we acknowledge this and put our efforts toward making private transportation more efficient, the sooner we can begin to solve some of our major transportation problems- In the meantime we keep letting the salesmen tell us the lies we want to hear.

Oh, wait a minute, this was a rant. Sorry.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How to Fly

One of the best things about sleeping is dreaming. One of the best dreams is the flying dream. It happens, for me, several times a month. Usually I am only a few feet above the ground- (I can dunk a basketball in these dreams) and I often think, "gee, this is really easy, I need to remember these principles when I wake up." Trying as hard as I could, as a child, I tried to levitate and fly while awake- but,..well, you know the story.
When I was using drugs on a daily basis (a long time ago,) I wrote a lot of "poetry." I once wrote a poem that consisted of the entire contents of my desk drawer. I was awed by the sheer artistic genius of this inspiration. The next day, when I had sobered up, I thought- "what is this rubbish?"
There are some religions, I think, that regard life as a vacation from our innate divinity- a time when we get to forget that we are gods and to play in this sensory-realm, a world that is otherwise unavailable to us. Although I don't believe this, per Se, I like the idea. Subconsciousness is a marvelous swimming hole- full of authentic fishes- and, not a few, monsters.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sex and Death

Despite the provocation of the title of this entry- I believe that most transformative art, if not all, deals somehow with one or both of these subjects. Even a pot of flowers- we are looking at both sex and death-
I stumbled across Jonathan Miller's BBC series on atheism- a true revelation which comes at a time when reading Nassim Taleb's book, Fooled By Randomness. It is clear to me that, in a way, both of these men are dealing with the very same subject- the human ape's hardwired fear of annihilation.
Where does art fit in? Perhaps sprung from the very same fear?
Let the chips fall- do they ever fall far from the tree?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Imperfect Understanding

Preserve us from the curse of certainty- otherwise there will be no art or poetry. Many practitioners want a lever long enough and a place to stand, yet are surprised when the world doesn't move. Even more surprised are those who find the lever falling like water through their fingers.
In the war of certainty all sides bear the stain. No one escapes the wrath of history, especially not the poets or artists. They are the Guevaras and the Trotsky's, the Molotovs and the Marats, at the end of the revolution, they are expendable.
Hope presents itself as a thickening around the ears and eyes, a mist through which reality and place is only understood imperfectly, if at all. Luck will only confirm a few of the fortunate's experience. The rest will know that the fix is in- their worst suspicions will be justified.
In times like these, it is good to remember the last words of Timothy Leary: "...yeah, why not?"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to Cough

Yes, Lavinia, sometimes drawing a breath is the most courageous act concievable. A hand of sticks will do when nothing else is available- like Billy Pilgrim's coat in winter, however, it is a badge of shame, worn with honor.
An aquaintance is slipping through the world without attempting to pin down the specifics, instead allowing the current to define this real moment, wherever it is and whatever it may contain- he is maddening to those around him who simply want to sleep, without the odd disturbance of this fabulistic sonambulist.
From St. Giroux: "I stick my head into the womb and make faces at the unborn"- Naomi Poems- Corpse and Beans- Bill Knot(?).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Windy City

Out walking before the sun this morning and the wind is blowing. My little doggy doesn't like this- and wants to head for home. But, there is a crackle in the air- negative charged ions, or something- that makes me unbearably happy to be alive- this moment is special.
Yesterday was Sunday- and, as I have said before- I often draw from the Sunday Times while I have my coffee. While I try not to "copy" images directly- but to use them as a source of inspiration- I came across this photo of the CEO of a large home loan company- seemingly listening to something- something that we can't hear or see. Priceless.
And then, there was this great picture of one of my favorites: Marian McPartland. I used to watch her on TV on Sundays when I was a kid- I always found her fascinating- Happy Birthday, Ms. McPartland!
Things pouring out, things growing, things looking and seeing and old broads-

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Eliot Spitzer, We Hardly Knew Ye

O.K., so this post has nothing to do with Eliot Spitzer, I just couldn't think of anything else to title it. I'm back to about 98.5% my self, today. This is the first day I don't feel like going right back to bed. Now I'm left to deal with all of the broken dishes that have hit the ground in this failed juggling act that is my life.
One good thing is that I really feel like drawing, again, after two weeks of pushing it to try and make it happen; it's starting to flow, once again.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

While I Was Out

Apologies to my small audience who check in regularly. In twenty years of sickness and health, I have never experienced a case of flu quite as devastating as this last one. But, I'm on the mend (I hope) and moving forward!
I watched the Fritz Lang film M, whilst in the throes of a fever-state and I saw what a brilliant-gem-like quality the film truly has, made all the more delicious by its so un-pc subject matter. The only way it could be better is if the killer gets away with it.
We are living in a time of great colliding oppositions- like galaxies crashing into one another- ideas fight for the right to subsume each other's borders and, in the end, no one is sure who, if anyone, has won and who has lost.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Near Death Experience and Other Light-Hearted Comedies

I am in the middle-passage of a case of the Flu. I know how and why people die from this- they give up. I was trying to figure out how to describe my physical state- I mean the sensation of it. I came home on Monday at about three in the afternoon and went to bed. I immediately entered a state of semi-consciousness where I stayed for about a day- but I didn't dream- (not that I know of, anyway.) Instead it seemed as if I was fully conscious of myself within myself. The outer self was as a great cavern of discomfort- every motion was only at the result of some massive effort- successive waves of arctic wind followed by desert wind followed by arctic wind, rolled through it. And I was alone in this cavern- I remember myself thinking, "hey, I can think.....that must mean that I'm still alive."
So far, I've survivied the worst part and look forward to a return to my fully functional status (whatever that was/is.) But this gave me an idea that perhaps in the future, there will be people who gather around the idea of sponsoring events that allow the participants to enter a state of near death. Oh, wait, that's a Siggur Ros concert.
(I really like Siggur Ros.)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Naval Aviation: an Operetta

A couple of announcements: First- I made a new Print-On-Demand book called "19-Handed Monster and Other Dumbass Operas- available from along with the book of sketchbook drawings I entitled "Amphiboly." I have priced both books at what it costs to print them, without a mark-up, simply because, for what they are (a vanity project, clear and simple,) they are hideously expensive; the paper back version of the painting book will probably cost you $35 bucks to order, ship and pay tax on- (yikes!) But, if you are family or friend- although I would love to give you all one for free- my budget is extremely tight, these days- so,......
And, second, I will be participating in the semi-annual Brewery ArtWalk- coming up April 5th and 6th. If you are on my mailing list you will be getting an announcement card in the next couple of weeks. If you aren't on my list, send me an email and I will make sure you get a wonderful announcement, suitable for framing (in a very small frame.)

Another news flash: I will be showing in a solo show at the San Luis Obispo Art Center in April and May- details to follow.

In my John Dewey reading today, I came across a passage that crystallized something for me:
"The difference between external and intrinsic operations runs through all the affairs of life. One student studies to pass and examination, to get a promotion. To another, the means, the activity of learning, is completely at one with what results from it. The consequence, the illumination, the learning, is at one with the results from it. Means and end coalesce,....
..., Being "good" for the sake of avoiding penalty, whether it be going to jail or going to hell, makes conduct unlovely.,.... A large part of popular revulsion against utilitarianism in moral theory is because of its exaggeration of sheer calculation."

A new idea came to me on my walk, this morning- what about evolving the Dumbass Opera paintings into a series of pieces that feature expressionist/absurdist imagery of naval aviation?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

1000 Words for Fear

I started scanning and uploading my sketchbooks to my website in March of last year- that makes this the 1-year anniversary for this practice. If you have the time and patience to wade through these things (there are over 850 pages, there,) to what conclusions might you come, if any?
Are these art? I don't know. Are they illustration? I don't think so. Do they tell a story? Perhaps. I hope so.
I sometimes draw while I watch TV- this morning I was watching Solaris (for the second time this week) - The Russian version- not the one with George Clooney, although I have heard it was bad- I wonder what those critics would think of the Tarkovsky film? I think that this film is about exhaustion, boredom, futility and coping with our intrinsic fear of annihilation. Oh, and it moves verrrrrrrry slowly- you must learn to be patient to watch this. Lots of long takes and medium close-ups of actors doing monologues. This could be a play- or an opera. Let's do it.
At any rate, it is great fun to draw and watch- so many times, these days, I feel like I can't afford the luxury of just sitting and watching a movie on TV- but drawing and watching- or watching and drawing is a very good compromise, I think.