Art as an altered state

Making art for me… is not unlike a slow moving, constrained–but not entirely contolled–mystical experience. I’ve always known this, but not always… how to put this? … consciously. Only recently has it seemed to flow together as one thing, aware that this is what I’m doing when I say, I’m making art.

This is the story of LSD told by a concerned yet hopeful father, organic chemist Albert Hofmann. He traces LSD’s path from a promising psychiatric research medicine to a recreational drug sparking hysteria and prohibition. We follow Dr. Hofmann’s trek across Mexico to discover sacred plants related to LSD, and listen in as he corresponds with other notable figures about his remarkable discovery. Underlying it all is Dr. Hofmann’s powerful conclusion that mystical experience may be our planet’s best hope for survival. Whether induced by LSD, meditation, or arising spontaneously, such experiences help us to comprehend;the wonder, the mystery of the divine in the microcosm of the atom, in the macrocosm of the spiral nebula, in the seeds of plants, in the body and soul of people. More than sixty years after the birth of Albert Hofmann’s problem child, his vision of its true potential is more relevant, and more needed, than ever.

LSD My Problem Child: Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science


LSD My Problem Child: Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science

Remembering Rosebud

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.

#757 Watercolor, ink 9×12.

What more is there to say?

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.

A revolutionary idea…

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.

Almost like… a revolutionary idea.

And then they woke up…

Shared from a post on FB

If you’re lucky in this life, a window
    appears on a battlefield
Between two armies. And when the
    soldiers look into the window
They don’t see their enemies, they see
    themselves as children
And they stop fighting and go home
    and go to sleep.
When they wake up, the land is well again.
     -- Carmen Penny (4th grader, Houston, Texas)

Goby’s Journal… on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

All human suffering is equal… and individual, and personal.

But not all human suffering is equal in the media.

Yemen. At the hands of the bloody most awful self-absorbed murderous clans on the planet–the Saudi Royal Familty.

But it don’t matter. Because what matters, is what’s always mattered in the history books. Power. The struggle between dominant powers. Never…. what a partnership of those dominant powers do (the USA, and the Saudis)

We see the suffering…and herosim of resistors–in Ukraine, but not Yemen. Not Gaza.

Because this is a tug-a-war between the Great Powers… or, more acurately, between the internal Masters within each of them.

Fuck all of them. The billionaires. The Oligarches. The presidents, the dicatators, the CEOs… all of them. All the fucking “Leaders.”

Tear them up… their images, like Sinead O Connor.

And then… themselves

Know your enemy!


Purim Spiel

from the Beloit Poetry Journal: 1990    

 Purim Spiel --a poem of hope
The elder, alter older -
a tree
alone with its thoughts

Of kings, of Isaac snatched
by the ram's horn

the thorn 
burning for Rivka by the well

Between them wide as an ocean
white wake foaming

a cormorant with flaming tail

Fuming from the waves
its signature of white on blue
a warrant sent 

Against the world

    but wait!

the story changes...
Back track

the firebird on its flume
red tongue panting like a dog
In heat. Esther. Queen
of Persia prancing for her idle king

A worshiper of things
he lays his power down
upon her ceding haunch

And she, she rollicks in her duty
rolls his Majesty
about the gilded room

Until a tree 
grows in his mind    the Alter
Elder is at stake 

its point 

Can touch the heart and 
stop it

Cold, a twitching stick 
with eyes wide

As oceans, as the 

desert city
on the desert's edge    He sees.

Taking in at last

the Jews dancing
for their lives
their purled queen 

the sequined 
Rider blossoming like snow
like the bloom of the dark

crocus below
The bruise under that white 

skin, a king's passion
pressed against her breast
the alter

Of his lust, her love
but not for him - the world

Lays itself before her
renews the pledge    To her

As with each morning
clouds mount 
the skies and ancient trees
will come again to crown gray mountains with new green.

Jacob Russell