The Ideal doesn’t exist except as a concept. It points to an absence, to nothing in the world we inhabit. If one attends to the material world, our relationships to it, and to one another, we will be confronted in every waking second with the aporia of an ever changing realty, one that needs no “ideal” hovering over it to fill us with wonder and the mystery (and the misery) of existence.
The concept of the Ideal is partner to that of Immutability–the longing for that which does not change. Without that–without the longing for immutability, the Ideal, and the idea of perfection, has no meaning. This is where Modernism parts from the Romantic. That is the metaphysics behind the aesthetic.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?.
Why is it so hard to find committed, radical/anarchist artists–committed, both to making art, AND to working together to find ways to make art outside the capitalist, gatekeeper, gallery to investor system? Cause no one can do this alone.
One of the factors in what makes me so discouraged, and depressed in my efforts to make art.
It can’t be just talk. It has to be action–discovering, creating through action. It has to begin with saying: we can’t do this anymore! We can’t work within the system anymore! Enough!
And then–looking at what we CAN do–and doing it!
Though the material and social problems involved are unique to each medium and form–this is something that should be addressed by artists of all kinds–dancers, theater people, poets, musicians –together, as a collectivist work.
Such freedom as we have, arises out of the generative power of imagination and dreams, which change the shape of our interactive world to make room for us to act out decisions made before we are aware we have made them. Everything in this movement is indirection. We are able to choose to follow a path, only as we are able to imagine it into existence. These are words which describe how that feels to me.
In the morning, I think–I’ve come to the end of what I budgeted for wine this month. I think I’ll not buy any more until the next Social Security deposit–or until I sell another painting, but by some time in the afternoon, this resolve undergoes a change, I can feel it happen: I will finish a painting I like, and want a glass of wine for a reward. I begin to prepare dinner, and think, how good it would be to have a glass of wine with this marinara–and I go to the wine & spirit store, and buy that nice, inexpensive Tisdale Pinot Noir that I like.
What is an addiction, but our body partnering with the source of the addiction to hinder our ability to imagine ourselves without it, as in mourning the loss of one we have deeply loved, we are for a time–even for a lifetime–unable to imagine our lives without them? Imagination is of the body, our body inescapably hooked into the world.
I can, to some degree, give myself to imagining–but always indirectly, by doing something else. Writing a poem, making a painting, the making, what I am doing– choosing pigments and brushing color on the canvas–becomes that ‘something else,’ as I work. When this happens, when I finish–what I’ve made becomes a wonderment, something I had not known I had imagined until it is there before me. The opposite of perfectly completing a task I’ve planned out from the beginning–unless the planning, all along, has itself been the foil. If the painting doesn’t surprise me when I finish it–it feels like a failure. I feel like a failure. As though I had betrayed a job I’d been entrusted do.
“Free will,” as most commonly expressed, is an illusion. I think most of us, most of the time, are but instruments of the machines we have made and set in motion to act in our place, and those who appear to have the most power, are the least free, unconscious servants of the Machinery of Money and Death.