I did more work on this and ruined it. This is my attempt to save it.
11×14 pen & Ink, watercolor.
Time for sleep.
I’ve been gearing up to turning 80. A turning point… each year is fraught… how much longer? Not… how much longer before I die, but before I’m no longer able to function in a way that makes life worth the effort… and it does take effort. More each year. Just to do the shit need to do to stay alive… and functioning.I’m way ahead of the game, for the most part–to look at me now (if it’s not too cold)… I could be on track for 100 + .. but the warning signs are multiplying, in my body… in the world around me. I don’t think I want to see what it will look like in another 20 years.. or 10.Not just turning 80.. but this sense of being so close to the end of human life on this planet… or any other.The rest… is silence.
Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens: Reportage
by László Krasznahorkai, Ottilie Mulzet (Translation)
Jacob Russell‘s reviewFeb 15, 2021 · edit
I have just come to the last page of Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s Destruction and sorrow beneath the Heavens. What does it mean, to say that This is a great book? It left me in tears, with the feeling that all books… poems… works of art, are the same… the same, by their very difference. This is a book to read as you set out to write a poem, or make a painting, at the end of the world… a poem no one will survive to read a painting, no one will survive to see.
This is not a report of traveling through Southeast China. This is not about searching for the lost classical culture of Imperial China. This is a fable. An extended fable. A journey through labyrinth of questions, that are all the same question–all leading to … bird songs, tea…emptyness, and back to the beginning.
“A way a one a last a loved along the riverrun.”
There is always a way out of Suzhou… and before us, in the thick fog, supposedly there is somewhere: Jinhuashan.
Little by little, I’m reclaiming my given name.
‘Jacob Russell’ is retired.
My earliest memory of name switching–3 years old. Lived in a little, two story, two bedroom house with my maternal grandmother, Lorain (Gramma Rein… who I watched die of a stroke, age 12, alone in our family cottage at Bass Lake) with my aunt, Carolyn–not yet 16. Murdered by her husband, in 1965… I washed the blood from the basement floor at the bottom of the stairs where she fell after he stabbed her 23 times… and my uncle Will–who was only 16. I did not like being called “Little Will.”
My middle name, Russell, was my father’s first name. I guess they figured I wouldn’t like being “Little Russell” and better, so they called me ‘Rusty.’ That was my name through childhood, and in my family–and to my summer friends. At school, (which was my prison…I lived only for the summer with my real friends) I tried Willard, briefly. By Jr. High, I accepted Russell. I took on “Jacob Russell” when I began submitting poetry and stories–in my early 40’s. That stuck for another 30 years, until I went to SMS for the first time… I needed a Faerie name.
The last time I saw my childhood friend, we were watching a kid catch strange little fish off the quay in Ludington… gobys. That name is forever linked to his memory, who died shortly before I went to SMS. My friend from age 3… inseparable friend, 6 months younger, and fearless protector while I was still in Chicago. I didn’t know it then… but I was in love him. He comes to me in dreams. That name is forever.
When I began to make art again, and thought how I would sign it–I had gotten news that my uncle Will had Altzheimers. He had been the big brother I never had, an artist and mentor. Introduced me to Kafka and Whitman and Alan Watts. Willard was also the name of my grandfather, who died 2 weeks before I was born. I will sign my art, “Willard.”
Have signed almost 1200 pieces of Art, since… Willard
“Willard” … so, 6 months short of 80… it’s all right to be, Willard now…
but you can call me Goby. 🙂
24×18 Oil over acrylic ground on canvas. Have been playing with this technique, and beginning to get what I wanted. I think this is going to be a series. … of shrouds. This has since been reworked, as Shroud in a Sea of Blood and Fire — see the post above.
I finally got a couple hours of sleep.
The rage has dissolved into tears, and the tears into grim resolve. It’s time to wipe the tears, to do what must be done… and then… to laugh, a laughter sadder than tears.
Do I bother to draw water to drink? Do I prepare food to break the fast? This pen, and these brushes? Is there any reason to pick them up, to make marks on this paper?
How many times I’ve wondered–what was it like, in Germany, 1933?
I think about the people who voted for … I will not write that name, or let it pass my lips… the ‘good Germans’
I will not be a ‘Good German.’ I will not be a ‘Good German.’
No more, the prattle of the ‘realists.’ No more talk of following those who ‘get things done.’ There is no longer any reality worth living, but that which we take up and create for ourselves.
Love, Solidarity, Imagination…RESISTANCE!
What I think I’m seeing, is a stage where political power has become uncoupled from the economics that created it, a point where general prosperity, and the wealth it generates, is no longer an incentive for the ruling Class, but just the opposite. Why? –because they think they’ve already won the class war, and with that, would come a decrease in centralized power. A more democratic society. It makes more sense, appears less complicated, to jack up the State machinery of control by force.
Like ok… we can add billions to our wealth, doing nothing to provide for the general welfare–so why bother? We’ve already won the Class War. Now it’s just a matter of stomping out resistance from lower classes.
I think that’s where we are now.
Not since 2012 have I made fewer that 8 new pieces in a month… hope this will be coming to to an end.
Like, I shouldn’t complain. It’s only sent me to ER once. Just makes walking… (and sitting)… kinda unpleasant .
Yeah, I’ve seen Youtubes of 85 year olds who work out 7 hours a day with body builder bodies… but who the fuck want’s to work out 7 hours a day! Jebus Fuck a Duck dudes! Get a LIFE!
For 79… I remind myself every day, how lucky I am, to be in the condition I am (never forgetting that I can lose all that in a minute)… but for now…
I can walk 10 miles in a day–even with the sciatica (though I’d rather catch a bus). I cook my own meals–no Moms Meals delivery pre-Nursing home fare– I can remember where I put my fucking keys hours or days after –IF I WAS AWARE of what I was doing at the time and not fumbling with packages and trying to get in the fucking door!
I can code switch from Sam Johnson Formal English, to Standard (the dialect of Power), to much preferred mixed demotic … and mostly know which is most appropriate, though I care fucking less…. since my mother is long gone and can’t hear me.
This is what it means to going on 80 for me.
Is Trump the heir to the messianic movements that swept across Europe in the 18th Century?
Some of the followers of Sabbatai Zvi, self proclaimed Messiah, and Yaakov Frank, believed that by performing evil with a pure heart, they could redeem it–breaking the dark shells that had trapped the divine light. There was a contagious frenzy of orgies, and sexual excess toward the end of these movements.
Have Trump’s followers elevated him to a similar role? Do they believe–that his grouping and rapes and pedophilia are not evil FOR HIM, because he has the power to do these things with a ‘pure heart?’
I’m curious — have there been a sexual orgies, among his more fervent evangelical believers–claiming similar justifications? Are they waiting for Trump to invite them to join him in some mass orgiastic finale? Is that what the rally in Tulsa is really about? Cause it sounds almost like something out of the same book–no masks, no protection, a mass gathering in a pandemic. A collective acceptance of imminent death can release people from inhibitions, and drive them to sexual excess. There is a powerfully erotic undercurrent in Trump’s call for his faithful to abandon all caution– feeding, perhaps, more than his insatiable ego.