from The Margins: “Authenticity Obsession, or Conceptualism as Minstrel Show”

Ken Chen’s, essay.

I read this, at first, racing through out of excietment for what I was finding… but had to stop. To begin again, more slowly. Some–much of this was painful, in a multiplicity of ways–where do I come from, afterall, if not from the colonizers? It took me almost two hours. I need to read this again.


From Whitman to Ferlingetti, a word to the Defenders of the Indefensible

When an artist’s ‘flaws’ are more than personal, but go to the very heart of the social and political miliue that we support with every penny we spend, we get no pass to excuse the person because of “the times,” or because their faults are endemic to the system. Doing so is but a way to excuse ourselves from our own complicity, and from making action to overthrow and replace this racist, misogistist empire of money and death, the centerpiece of our lives and our art.

A response to CA Conrad’s Harriet Essay on Whitman

CA Conrad wrote an important essay on Harriet. One that no one should ignore, or dismiss, or shy away from because it offends. It has pushed my own thinking on art, poetry, revolution, and I would ask that anyone reading this… take a deep breath, step back, and let it work on you—in the context of our received notions of where we have come from.

I have always thought that the strongest works of the imagination were more and other than the intentions of their makers, or of the interpretative constraints of their times. I haven’t changed those beliefs. But Conrad’s challenge is not about that. Defenses of Whitman—that he was a man of his times, that he wrote equally strong passages sympathetic to slaves (if not of native peoples)—are beside the point. What I heard in his essay was an echo of something that has been on my mind for some time.

We want to ignore, or explain away, the complicity of our cultural heritage—I mean, white, Euro-American art, poetry, music, theater, how it has served, directly and indirectly, the Masters of our history. And their wars, their slave holding, their misogyny—kings and empire, and after, the economic empires of colonizing capitalism.

It isn’t enough … or maybe, it’s not yet time, to save what has been passed down, what we (as artists… of all forms), are meant to follow, to renew, to challenge even as we stand on the shoulders of those who we must acknowledge—that we are their heirs. But what, and how much, of what they have left us?

The analogy that comes to mind… the German children and grandchildren of the Nazis. We are the children and grandchildren—and more than that, the brothers and sisters of genocide, of this whole monstrous empire of money and death, and what we have been given—our aesthetic heritage– to build on—is infected beyond our… if not, of future generations… ability to purge and cleanse.

We cannot cannot cannot build a new world, and nothing less will do if we as a species—if life on this planet is to survive– than to build a new world, and we cannot do that but on the ashes and ruins of the old.

This is Conrad’s hard truth.

There may come a time when we will be able to look back, read Whitman for what even he had no inkling of what was there, to find and celebrate again that lightning of imaginative truth, the light of which illuminates the truth neither person nor historical time were able to see. I do not despair of the power of imagination—that whatever come forth from that sublime flash, will endure, and be worthy of our appreciation generation to generation. Whitman, too.

But we are not in that place where we can rescue what flashed through him—not before we are ready to confront the truth of the contamination of Empire and the myth of race and the destiny of State.

I stand with you, Conrad. For your courage, and your truth.

And hope for the day, when we have remade this world—when we will again be able to recite Whitman… and all our failed poets, artists… as we may be remembered… for all our failings.

An artist’s manifesto


Up from the basement studio–preparing a block for a woodcut, and began a painting that will be 20 in my Pavement series. I may do this to the end of my days. I see years of possibilities in this–and the metaphor of broken foundations is exactly where my head has been. Who knows what may grow out of the cracks–what we can build from the rubble.
All our high culture (especially “high culture”)–white Euro-American, grew in the service of kingship, empire, and from there–slavery, war, capitalist economic colonialism and expansion to the end of life on the planet. What is there to do, but renounce it–all of it. Build a new world from the ruins.

On Reading Anti-Oedipus… again…

Dr. Rinaldi's Horror Cabinet


I’ve been re-reading Anti-Oedipus again (is one ever finished reading this work? – that is to say, Shall we ever come to the end of our writing?) . A passage I came across seems to suddenly jut its ugly head up out of the pages, one in which that duplex figure of Deleuzeguattari seem to become almost utterly angry, ready to cry out to the world: Freud, you are wrong: the Oedipus triangle – Father, Mother, Son do not reside in the psyches of modern humans. Then as if coming upon a truth they’d only just now registered in the midst of their struggle with Freud’s familial romance they insert an offhand dismissal: “The family is by nature eccentric, decentered.” This bit of news sits there between two vast metonymic onrushes of the eccentricity of the family with its brothers in the military; a cousin out of work, bankrupt, or a victim of a…

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Review: Ari Figue’s Cat

A Library Things review of Ari Figue’s Cat.
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

24449754When I was offered this book to review I was genuinely excited. Any novel by a visual artist is likely to discard a lot of the tropes that professional novelists have bound themselves to and which frankly just get in the way of a modern take on literature. I first recalled Hebdemeros by Giorgio de Chirico and the novels of Alasdair Gray and Jan Cremer. I waited patiently and when the book finally arrived I started it almost immediately.
Russel does indeed provide a different take on the novel – abstract and fragmented the chapters, if chapters they be, do not narrate a story of any traditional mode. Impressions, memories, false and true, interior, visual description and musings on the nature of reality and perception drip through the book like Pollocks sprawling canvases and fragments like the cubist paintings of Braque.
Ari Figue’s Cat puts a marker in the ground for contemporary writers. I’l be revisiting soon.
papalaz | May 29, 2015 |

To be honest, I’m equally pleased with the two who didn’t “get it.” They got what I didn’t want to do.
Not everyone is going to like this book. 🙂

(reworked) #355 Missing pavement block, 2nd Street

#355 12x17cm

12×17 cm watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper. Pavement Series 19

Reworked this a bit. I was standing there, gazing at this… the missing block of sidewalke,  and noticed the guy selling photos near by. I explained what I was doing… how beautiful that missing pavement block, the patterns of stones and cig butts… I think he thought I was an hallucinating homeless dude. I told him, I saw this in color… like, ya know?

Tell us, Chris Hedges, What will be the course of this Revolution?

Chris Hedges on Salon

Question is… can we do the revolution, like digging under the foundation, and as the Empire collapses, a little here, a little there, replace it with what we’ve been working to build together, like the ship of Theseus, piece by piece, plank by plank–and at last, transformed into something unimaginable until it emerges, whole and free of the empire of money and death that had engendered it? Or must it come from a bloodbath, where force will replace force, and the boot of Authority emerge, unchanged, but with new names, and new victims, and our new masters?

Which will it be? And do we even have a choice?

Grey Walter: The Non-intentional Consciousness

There is so much to think about here–in how we interpret legal intention, the least of it.

Dr. Rinaldi's Horror Cabinet


Grey Walter was another of the marginal figures in the Macy Conferences and pioneer of the cybernetic field, but he is best known for his biomedical engineering and the development of electroencephalography (EEG) and in his engineering of modern technology work on radar.1 But as Johnston observes he was known for one other astounding thing. –

He also developed a method of measuring what is called the readiness potential in human subjects, which permits an observer to predict a subject’s response about a half to one second before the subject is aware of any intention to act. As Walter J. Freeman notes, this cerebral phenomenon can be interpreted as evidence “that intentional actions are initiated before awareness of such actions emerges, and that consciousness is involved in judging the values of actions rather than in the execution of them.” (ibid. 47) The notion the our conscious mind is non-intentional rather than intentional…

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