Remembering the Blogosphere

I printed out 43 pages of posts from my old blog: And that only from July to Sep, 2007, and a few older journal entries. On art, poetry, book reviews, politics. They’ve held up well, and the writing is strong. I have another 200 pages, maybe more.

What does one do with this kind of thing? No one would be interested in publishing them–unless you’re an academic of note, or have a name from some other field. In 2007, the blogosphere was still alive. I corresponded with some interesting people. That was about the time when newspapers ditched their book reviews. For a while, the blogs made up for it. We exchanged recommendations for new books, wrote reviews. Across disciplines. Levi Paul Bryant, of Larval Subjects, is the only one I’m still in touch with. There were some great science blogs, too–like Cosmic Variance, until they got bought out and they magazined the life out of it.

People leave 3 word comments here now.. every once in awhile. But there’s no exchange of ideas. An intellectual wasteland.

Now we’ve got Facebook. Thankful for Neil Patrick Doherty’s Poetry Hedge School. Closest thing to what we had with blogs, but about all that’s left.

I’m going to keep up with this project… wherever it takes me.

Overstory. Richard Powers

Image result for public doman photos Redwoods

A novel, where a character dies and revives — listening to voices no one else can hear. Where another is a parpalegic who spends his life coding and living in a cyber dream world, and yet another is married to silence at the death of his family. There is one on the autistic spectrum, who spends his life studying why people do what they do, and a scientist who is almost deaf, who goes years before anyone hears what she has learned. Yet another, felled by a stroke, who can manage only a slngle word at a time–and those, mostly unintelligible.

Whether fiction, or philosophy–or work of art–the one question that links auther, thinker, artist– to their work, the question that hovers over the work, informs everything else one might ask about it:

why did they do this?

What was the unspeakable, imageless, aporia of thought that formed the need and provocation to make this thing?


On p. 383, Ray–the character who has been stroked speechless–is thinking –while his wife reads to him from Anna Karenina:

<To be human is to confiuse a satifying story with a meaningful one, and to mistake life for something huge with two legs. No: life is mobilized on a vastly larger scale,  and the world is failing precisely because no novel can make the contest for the world seem as compleeing as the struggles between a few lost people. >

Try again. Fail again. Fail better

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 that our lives have meaning in our otherwise doomed and absurd world.

Intersections: Imagining the Real

When we see something in the distance, or out of the corner of the eye, or in fading light–the mind will offer an identity or name for what we think we see, but one that proves false on drawing nearer: it’s that intersection that I’m after–the instant between where you think you know what you are seeing, when the imagined image is replaced by an object with a name, with a received place in external reality.  In a work of art, that would be the power to suggest, to raise the question–but to resist capture by withholding the answer–that the viewer remain at an intersection between what is out there , and the hidden desire that is source of the art’s affective power.
In refusing to ‘represent,’ (to point to something else, something ‘out there,’ the work becomes a mirror reflecting back on ourselves, on a struggle we have not been aware of, until, agitated by being unable to find what the art is pointing to–a disturbance that may help open us to what we have been struggling NOT to see.
I think that happens with any work of art; even most explicitly representational work is always a distortion–and it’s in the distortion that we can see ourselves. Those brought up with, and open to experiencing art, will find this in any style or genre.
Non-representational art merely places this at the center, by erasing the distractions.

Nothing lasts but change


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.


The Language of Art

I was going over a Lifeprint ASL lesson, and was stopped cold with an imaginary question… I mean, question that only an act of imagination would answer.
I heard a voice when I read when I was a kid–maybe because i learned to read sitting on my aunts lap when she read to me–it was not my voice, it was the voice of the book.
Someone who has never heard, learns to read English (or other spoken language) as a second language. Reading, at first–for a native signer, would be translation from sign–until they were fluent readers.
This is what I was trying to imagine–what form do the written words take, when you have never heard them? Deaf readers achieve a reading, and writing fluency well beyond any that it’s like, when one is first learning to read a second language–it’s not translation. But what then is the relation to signing?
This is a startling thought… that there must really be comprehension that is meta-language–meaning, that finds itself in word, or signs, but is not identical with word or sign. A primacy of meaning before language.

Why does this seem so incredible to me?

Does this suggest that there is a language beyond language,  that underlies all other forms of communication: I think of how animals communicate. I think of music: dancing… of all the arts.



11″ x 11″ Acrylic, Ink. Brush and pen.
A tribute to graffiti artists–whose art is mated to destroying the value of property. The capitalist, Gallriest-Gatekeepers, and their non-profit mural arts sidekicks, try to defang them, prettify them, sell them to investors, but they slip out the door of the Great Western Art Narrative, to appear again on walls above the street–nameless as ninja warriors.
Paint this over fascist Rizzo’s face on 9th Street!
View more work at SaatchieArt, and on my web portfolio here ART BY WILLARD For photos on this blog, click MY ART on the right panel and scroll down.


11″ x 15″ Watercolor, ink.

Artists as diverse as Pollock, Klee, Rauschenberg and Piranesi in his Prison etchings–as well as most two dimensional art before the Renaissance– use a dispersed visual field, rather than focal point composition. This is characteristic of most of my work, as well. In focal point composition, there are one or more fixed points, or centers, which invite the eye to radiate out, placing the rest of the field in relation to each specific point of view. In a dispersed field, there are no fixed points, but rather a network of pathways, like organic rhizomes, inviting the viewer to wander freely through the visual field.

#785.JPGView more work at SaatchieArt,
on ArtFinder, and
on my web portfolio here ART BY WILLARD
For photos on this blog, click MY ART on the right panel and scroll down.

#778, and Judging Value in Ones Own Work

#778 follows the text. 22″ x 26″ Acrylic on stretched canvas.

Subjectivity in judging art. How does one judge one’s own work?

I see ‘the viewer,’ not as singular, but as a collective–a whole cultural constellation filtered through each individual, so while each sees as an individual, we also see through the eyes and mind lent to us by their culture, in a particular historical moment.

Subjectivity is complex and inclusive, which means it’s possible to develop our capacity to make judgements, which, while not being “objective,’ are much larger than what one usually means by “subjective.” Such judgements are not fixed verdicts–as they change (or rather, what they point to changes), as culture changes, but good critics–rare as they are–know this.

John Berger. Hubert Damisch.

My question speaks to this. In assessing the value of one’s work, doesn’t there cling to our judgement, a remnant of belief (trust, would be a better word)… that we are able to discern a value that is not so limited, that is not chopped and diced into disconnected individual ‘subjectivities,’ the way we are taught to see ourselves in late capitalism, value and meaning that is inclusive, an emergent vision of some part of what it means to be human in the world?

#778.JPGView more work at SaatchieArt,
on ArtFinder, and
on my web portfolio here ART BY WILLARD
For photos on this blog, click MY ART on the right panel and scroll down.