When I was kid I had one of those sets of blocks, large, plain wood blocks: cubes, cylindars, arches. I would spend hours building impossible structures. Asymetrical, precarously balanced cantilevard towers. Order courting chas.
I was remembering this as I worked the other day–,how many of my paintings are like that. Shapes and pieces that don’t quite fit together, puzzles that have no finished shape. Order courting chaos.
It certainly had to do with how arranging scraps of trash on a table brought me back into making art. Maybe I should name all of my paintings: Rosebud.
I wrote this 9 years ago… could not say better what I’ve been feeling these past days and weeks.
The Great Disaster we’re all a part of isn’t the one in the headlines. It’s not a sudden catastrophe. A day of horror. An explosion on a street. Planes hurtling into high rises. It’s long and drawn out, incident after incident, law after law, arrest after arrest, murder after murder–none of which are the Great Disaster, but each are a part of it. More like a movement of techtonic plates–every tremor, every seismic event, is but the visible part of an imperceptable change of the landscape, of the shape of a continent. More like the melting of the Greenland icepack… we see the calving of the icebergs, spectacular as they are, but not the rising of the oceans–which doesn’t happen in an hour or a day.
I’m speaking of the end of this civilzation… of all that’s been built on and dependent on the delusional autopoietic machinery of capitalism and the nation states that it created to serve it.
We can feel it cumulatively… feel that everything is changing, the world as we have believed it be is already no more, but then… it looks not that much different than yesterday, or the day before, and we go about our lives, oblivious of the escalator of extinction we’re all riding together.
lnevitable as growing old… noticable only when we look back a decade, or two or three, and see in a mirror, the marks of death written across our every feature.
There are so many artists who live and work like this– with maybe a few who notice and enjoy what we do, maybe buy some of our art. But we know it’s as if it doesn’t exist out there, in the “Art World,” where artists with connections, make these enormouse and costly technologically complex– and often, wonderful– works.
We don’t exist for them. But we matter… or so we tell ourselves. By believing in what we do for it’s own sake. Like taking care of a friend, or neighbor, matters.. .because they matter. For their own sake.
It’s a desparate, end-of-the-world thing, ya know. To assert that a person, a work one does… matters, has value–for it’s own sake. Not for what anyone can get for it.
I came to live in the ruins
of my body
it would not answer--whispered
a passing fancy
a storm that would not stay the night
Ringlets of featheres, curtains of ash
water washing trails of lumbering beasts
thirsty as owls for blood
White -- or dappled as ponies
on a shield of swords --
their hooves burst
I am ashamed
of their bones, how they poke
through the flesh, memories
fresh as wounds, fields
strewn with stones
white as milk
as the lost teeth of childhood dreams.
We know that color isn’t an attribute of an object, though our senses make it appear so. Color is but one feature our organism has evolved to help us negotiate our way through life. But it’s not color alone that is a deceptive representation. It’s everything. Our senses are useful in helping us survive. We perceive what we need, but it’s all appearance… sound or vision. Even touch. We learn how the physical world is organized, it’s more basic reality, by moving beyond our senses. Those shadowy images of single atoms electron microscopy has given us… are translations. We aren’t seeing actual atoms, which are always in motion, unless… at Kelvin zero. Nothing is as it appears to us.
I guess the Buddhists… and Hindus, are right. It’s all Maya, an illusion, though we are welcome to draw different conclusions about what that means–for our ability to understand reality, about our place in this world. Still… it’s good to remind ourselves: Nothing is what it appears to be. Least of all–those images of our faces and bodies we so love.
What is real… though we have no access to what matters, but through our bodies, our senses… is never reducible to what we know by those senses.
I look at this old cat… 90 in human years… how she looks back at me. And we both know. Beyond words.
She teaches me.
We are so lost in this world of illusions. So lost.
I was six months old and Roosevelt said it was a day of infamy, then Truman dropped a tiny sun on Hiroshima and General Ike took off his uniform, put on his civies and gave a speech about the Military Industrial Complex, and threw the hat that Dickie missed but Kennedy caught and lit a fire in Vietnam giving Nixon a 2nd chance to give his famous two handed 4 finger sign of victory before Ford could say the long nightmare was over, and Carter walked down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House and visited Three Mile Island and hostages in Iran gave the White House to Reagan who began the Great Unraveling and reminded us every day how defenseless we were against the now tens of thousands of Suns-of fusion bombs waiting their signal in silos and submarines for Bush One with crooked smile and crooked son under his arm, who would have to wait for Clinton to tuck his cock back in his pants to take his turn at looking so awful that America would even elect a black man who wasn’t really and had a great smile and wore that suit like he owned it when he shook hands with Trump and smiled his great smile, thinking of the millions he would get for doing such a bang up job for his real friends after he left the white house to the wrecking ball with Orange hair… who fragmented into deadly shrapnel as it left the White House for a bowl of oatmeal with frozen lips and rockets burst over Whuhan in the shape of a giant virus and mighty winds and fire swept across the land to the drip drip drip of melting glaciers and rising seas and everyone looked up looked up looked up, and said–see? See?See?…. nothing to see! And pretty soon, there wasn’t! Happy New Year
was always right around the corner
-- a 50's drugstore --
milkshakes for a quarter -- black
coffee in thick white mugs --
white boys in duck tails
pouring Crown Cola
over black girls in white dresses --
newsreels just couldn't do it justice -- even
colorized years later --
the shock of red -- how
you never saw their faces
in the same light again -- how
every year the price went up -- how
the trouble was never quite
the endless rewinds
the multiplication of names
on marble walls
A meme on Facebook, how <… the sole purpose of homework, is to condition children into accepting, that unpaid overtime and ridiculous hours, and even not being able to escape work at in your own home, are normal things to expect in the future>
So many variants of that. Like forcing people to conform to fixed hours when their brains and bodies do not and will not ever adjust to working fixed hours… and when these people try–in order to live, they are pushed to going manic, into disabling depression, or near suicidal panic attacks.
I was never able–over 60 years of trying to support myself, and a family, able to stay on one job much over a year. The one time I worked, as a radiographic transcriptionist, for two and a half years–it pushed to being “flordily manic” (my therapist’s words)… and a year of my life… lost … or… on and on. And we are given pills to ‘fix’ us…and the Pharmaceuticals LOVE this, and get very very rich, and mental difference becomes a medical condition, a name in Big Book–that’s a lot like those books of Spells in films about witches and warlocks.
People are not sick, they… we… live in a sick system. What we see, in so much of mental and emotional illness– is not individual sickness, but individuals expressing the symptoms of this sick, capitalist hell.
That’s my whole fucking life. From 3rd grade till I retired and could live on Social Security.
For a long time I looked for the specific source, or sources of what looked and felt like PTS”D” … I don’t think there was any specific source now. I think what I wrote above… explains it all.
I printed out 43 pages of posts from my old blog: Jacobrussellsbarkingdog.blogspot.com. 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.