Thinking of last things…

#477 ArtFinder seated figure.JPG

I’ve been thinking about dying. Listening to myself breath, with more than usual effort.  Listening–thinking about dying–I ask myself–if it were only to begin something–what would I like to do before I die?

I feel inside this question, another one, in hiding. Another question wrapped in the first

What is it I have wanted, and not found?

What has been missing for me, that it took me so long to begin doing what I have felt was my real calling, and which, even now–the lack, speaks back to me, but this time in a form I’m beginning to recognize.

If only there had been someone to listen…
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What if we were to make together, a circle (or circles) of Elders and Mentors for artists–poets? — certainly not an organization, not quite a movement–though that would come closer–especially for creative fields that don’t now have this as a more natural part of their development (I’m thinking of dancers, or musicians–poets sometimes find this). But for these too–I can imagine such a mentoring. I ask myself: what would it be? What do I feel, might have made my life … more true?

What would these mentors, do?

Listen!

That’s what comes to mind, and everything else shapes itself around that. Listen. Not teach. To encourage, yes, but out of a deep listening that hears what the younger artist may not yet hear themselves. Mentors who would be there for the artist to speak to — from the heart–to tell about what they want to do, hope for themselves, what they are perhaps least sure of–or most anxious about how they will be received in the world.

Listen!

Not judge.

Not advise.

Not teach.

Not pretend to know better than the younger artist, what they want for themselves. To listen in confidence to the their most daring ideas, what they are most confident–or most anxious– about.

Listen!

To them talk about their work In the conviction that in being heard, we hear most clearly–our own voice, see most clearly our own, deepest vision. And return, more ready to present the gift that is ours alone–whether created alone, or in collaboration, the gift that is ours to leave the world on our parting.

Imagination Shall Make us Free

Surreal, Death, Desert, Dark, Prison
from 2014, on my old blog

Friday, December 19, 2014
Imagination Shall Make Us Free!

In a Facebook post, Nyle Fort, wrote of the difficulty of seeing past the neoliberal simulacra to find what is real. Maybe it helps to see this, not as binary opposites, but different *kinds* of real. In the way a fictional character is real, *as* a fictional character– which nonetheless has real generative effects.
The spectacle, too, is real, but a reality whose generative effects impair both thought and perception in such a way that we cannot see past the simulacra, or imagine, while in its thrall, another kind of reality. That suggests to me, that the way to another reality–one we can inhabit in the fullness of our human being–is not like breaking through a curtain to something that lies there, already existing, on the other side, but in the very power of imagination on which the illusion depends, that our hope lies in knowing that that power is immeasurably greater than what has been drawn on by the oppressive system holding us hostage. Like in the Faerie Queene–the flames surrounding Busirane’s castle, real enough to burn Scudamore–because he believes they are the wrong kind of real, a reality over which he has no power, while Britomart walks through them unscathed. It’s our collective belief in the simulacra that makes it ‘real’ — that is, gives it power to generate effects–in that way, challenging collective beliefs is the very essence of the work of the imagination.
We do not dance as relief from fighting oppression; we dance, because out of the dance, come the flames of passion that will burn the citadels of our oppressors. We do not sing or paint or rap or create stories to escape from one illusion to another–but TO IMAGINE THE REAL WE DESIRE, THAT WE MIGHT CREATE IT AND MAKE IT SO!

Only in being useless, does it have infinite value.

#461 afterwords

I deplore the use of false comparisons to scold or draw attention to this or that problem, versus another, perceived to be of lesser importance. These all presume some zero-sum equivalence, where there are insufficient resources, material, economic or social, to attack both, when, if this is so, it is only because this presumes a status quo of capitalist, political conditions, where the the application of resources to ANY given problem, will result in withholding resources from another–maintaining an equilibrium of injustice.
All these–“why are you asking to give to x, and not y?” in that larger context, are false equivalences, and if that logic applied to anything, it would be, ‘why are you asking to devote resources to x, when the only thing that’s going to matter in not so distant future, is climate change?”
The real question for any problem, is how do we apply our resources in such a way that it will address the root causes for all these problems–overcoming and replacing the entire capitalist political/ecomomic/social/military/colonialist system? How do we CHANGE the role played by each and any of the specific problems, in that system?.
Understanding the importance of the arts and its products–other than in terms of use-value, and propaganda, is particularly vulnerable. It is precisely in their HAVING no use value, that they confirm meaning our lives in our otherwise doomed and absurd world.

Nothing lasts but change

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For generations, artists in the Euro-American traditions, like ancient Greek heroes, accepted the idea of posterity–the hope for an enduring place in history and myth, that they, and their work, might defy mutability–hope for a kind secular immortality; artists and poets might die, but art and poetry was forever.   On the brink of collective human suicide–and even if we should survive our human-made catastrophes, it will be but for a blink of the universal eye–who can believe in such a thing, now?

I’ve been thinking about this for some time. My work will never achieve an enduring status, and even if it did–what posterity…?  when, in a few generations, there will no humans left on the planet? And in the immensity of time, before the sun consumes the inner planets as a red giant, who can maintain the illusion of a lasting memory, of a lasting anything? What then, can take the place of that old fantasy–dead as the gods who belonged to that vanished world? What, but change itself? Like Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Seed. Rather than imagining, how works of art might endure, think of them in terms of what they do, as themselves, agents of change–which they are. As works of art and poetry have always been… done?

Lubricants to slide us another step into a future we can only know when we get there. The only past worth saving, is what will remain as we break the chains that bind us to it, the past that will survive, because it changes with us in a future we create together.

 

#133 Subpoena Dog

Stuff on the web is forever. I lost the files with most of the photos of work made before 2016. Typing up journal entries from our Wells Fargo trial, there was mention of a paining I did soon after: the broken nosed 3 foot (My Master’s Voice RCA dog that I used as a model at the Ox. I stuck torn up pieces of the subpoena’s from the trial to that piece, and called it Subpoena Dog. I gave it as a gift, so couldn’t take another photo of it… but when I Googled, Subpoena Dog Willard Art–there it was! #133, from March, 2013. 32×22, Acrylic on Masonite–the rough side.
#133+Subpoena+Dog.jpg

#86 When the Morning Stars…

…Threw Down their Spears
40″ x 24″ Cardboard, string, dirt, wood, acrylic on Masonite. Another early piece, from December of 2012. This was a leap forward in gaining confidence in what I was doing.
#86 When the Morning StarsView more work at Saatchi Art, and on my web portfolio: ART BY WILLARD For photos on this blog, click MY ART on the right panel and scroll down.