This is a model of how to do it: find the cracks in the crumbling capitalist wall and fill them.
This is a model of how to do it: find the cracks in the crumbling capitalist wall and fill them.
Think about how it would change the world, if we were to understand, and treat, music, dance, poetry, the arts, not as cost-deficit sidelines, to be cut from schools to make way for serious subjects, but as the reason and purpose for everything else we do!
We need to raise food, because we need food to give us pleasure, and to make art! We need shelter and housing, so we have places we can make music. We need medicine, to stay healthy so we can dance and make poetry!
Make life for pleasure, for deep pleasure, and it will change the world.
(#433 Acrylic on canvas Dance!)
I’ve been reading John Berger’s Understanding a Photograph. He writes in the essay, Appearances: that …
In every act of looking there is an expectation of meaning. This expectation should be distinguished from a desire for an explanation. The one who looks may explain afterward: but, prior to any explanation, there is the expectation of what appearances themselves may be about to reveal.
Revelations do not come easily. Appearances are so complex that only the search which is inherent in the act of looking can draw a reading out of the underlying coherence If, for the sake of a temporary clarification, one artificially separates appearances from vision (and we have seen that in fact this is impossible), one might say that in appearances everything that can be read is already there but undifferentiated. It is the search, with its choices which differentiates. And the seen, the revealed, is the child of both appearances and the search.
Another way of making this relation clearer would be to say that appearances in themselves are oracular. Like oracles they go beyond, they insinuate further than the discrete phenomena they present, and yet their insinuations are rarely sufficient to make any more comprehensive reading indisputable. The precise meaning of an oracular statement depends upon the quest or need of the one who listens to it. Everyone listens to an oracle alone, even when in company.
“Everyone listens to an oracle alone, even when in company” When I read that, I asked myself, “isn’t this precisely how one sees… a painting?
My calling… my vocation, as a poet and artist, began at a moment like that—an oracular vision–11 or 12 years old. Forsythia blossoms after rain, when the sun came out from clouds and turned the drops of water on the petals into prisms. Everything I’ve done since, has in some way, been connected to the effort to understand that moment.
“The modality of the visible” … the expectation of meaning in what is seen – is this what I look for as I work on an abstract piece – the expectation of meaning, but one disconnected from any narrative or ideological sense–a meaning that hovers above explanation, and untouched by it?
My novel, Ari Figue’s Cat… https://www.amazon.com/Ari-Figues-Cat-Jacob-Russell/dp/1940830060 the motive for writing it; this is its central theme.
What I look for as I work—as I arrange pieces of trash, draw lines on a page, brush color on a canvas. Why I prefer abstract work. Representative art, when it seizes me, is always like this. Rousseau’s Sleeping Gypsy.
The enigma. The expectation of meaning—that defies explanation. Iconography, represented figures… are a distraction. Though a master can so charge the most meticulously rendered images with that oracular sense, that all our efforts to explain are exhausted… and we are left with what we see, and that alone. Jan Van Eyke’s Arnolfi wedding portrait.
I work on a piece until I have that sense… in looking at it, in seeing it: the feeling that it means something. I have no idea what, or how to explain it. It’s enough, if I capture that feeling, an enigma. Beyond words.
We long for a vision … a way out of this fucking capitalist hell.
We don’t know what it is… but if, in seeing this, we can believe that it exists…beyond words, beyond explanation.. but there for us to find and create… I will have done my part.
Walking thoughts… ideas come to mind, walking here and there and back: to the el, the wine store, to the Fresh Grocer. Sometimes they kick off something that comes back to me. A couple days ago, I was thinking about artists—not ART, artists. About making a living (or at least, paying for art materials), in a capitalist system, when one is a confirmed, convicted, solidarity-convinced anti-capitalist. And it occurred to me, that one could look at the problems through the lens of class—that the structures and machinery of class reproduce themselves on particular strata, and this seemed particularly helpful to me in understanding what artists deal with.
The connecting point in these thoughts, was meritocracy—how, because class is not like castes, frozen across generations for all time, but somewhat permeable, it’s easy to ignore how class, in itself, is as unchanging as an South Asian caste system. That individuals are able to climb the ladder, does nothing to overthrow the range of beliefs that justify class inequalities for those who benefit from them, or to offer serious challenge to the ideologies that use those beliefs.
What beliefs? The ‘natural’ superiority of men… (white men), is way up there at the top: patriarchy and Euro-Anglo-American racism–used to excuse, what otherwise would make what capitalism, colonialism, slavery, have done, and continue to do, to the mass humanity, intolerable. What does that have to do with, meritocracy? With art? With the capitalist class system?
Capitalism creates, maintains, and perpetuates inequality. All the way back to the Adam Smith, this has been acknowledged, and because it so flies in the face of the most minimally developed sense of justice, is addressed in all the ideological variants that would defend and promote capitalism. For Adam Smith—it was the Invisible Hand, which, (grossly misused since) would correct the worst abuses, and prevent capitalism from becoming what it has, in face, become. But nothing has been more useful, or done greater violence, the social Darwinism and eugenics. Here was the perfect foil, the perfect answer, to justify belief in the inferiority of the masses, and if an individual here and there, rose up and proved themselves superior to their birth—the genetic mythology perfectly accounted for it, and supported those who would protect the superior races and individuals, while justifying their suppression, and attempts to control, or better, if they proved less than useful and docile–eradicate the untermenchen.
How perfectly the Art World recapitulates this! With its gallery to investor pipeline, a gatekeeper system, meant to identify the Elite, and (hopefully) erase from memory, if not from life itself all the outsiders! Women! Blacks! Colonials! A Patriarchal system (where are the women from how many generations past?) Where are non-Euro artists and their work, but as appropriated by the (even if late-acknowledged) Masters? There is such thing, as ART, let alone, an “Art WORLD!” … if it is not as varied and multiple as there are worlds and peoples! If it doesn’t crash through and DESTROY the gatekeepers and their system!
Those were my walking thoughts… how, I asked myself. .how is it possible, for anyone who calls THEMSELVES an artist—to accept this system? To define their idea of ‘success’ by it’s terms? To not throw themselves into the struggle to create—to IMAGINE… as artists do.. a new and better world?
If you surrender to the machinery of capitalism, if you surrender your art-and making art, to the machinery of commodification, you will become a traitor–to your art, and to yourself.
This is what I hear…
You may deny this, but if you truly don’t know, don’t understand this, in the core of your being, it can only be because you have already betrayed, not only your art, but your humanity.
But we need money… To have what we need, to live, to make our art. How? How then do we live?
That’s the question you have to ask… but only if you ask it, not state it as a declaration, an excuse, a rationalization, as a confession of defeat–if you truly ask, cracks will open in the prison of the matrix, and that will be a beginning.
A beginning. That is the only hope we have. All we can ever do. Begin. And begin again.
Every election under capitalism is of course conducted on a terrain of ideological distortion, but there are degrees. One the one hand, one could think of the kind of ideological distortion that narrows the range of acceptable debate artificially, but that presents the issues more or less fairly within those artificial parameters. An election conducted […]
I feel like I should come up with a name for these. I find a lot in them–and enjoy looking at them. There’s a dynamic tension, things pulling apart, and a lot of detail. Abstract drawing. Decay of the capitalist state? I’m not sure what it is I’m after in making them. Letting accidents guide my my pen.
As I walked to the super market, I wondered what would happen if I were arrested, sentence to years or life (which wouldn’t be that long for me) in prison? I kept thinking about Murphy Cat and Merlin. Who would take care of them? And if I were to be released in a few years… would they know me? Would they be angry with me? Would they think that I’d abandoned them?
Of such thoughts are daydreams made in a Fascist State.
I think… these are going to be terrible times. Many of us won’t survive. If we are serious about resistance–about what it is we’re fighting, we have to accept that, as any soldier who goes into battle has to accept what may come. As the soldier finds courage and strength in mutual care of their comrades, so too, we need to draw strength from our comrades–by caring and supporting them, by being willing to lay our lives on the line that some us, at least, will survive. That some of us may live through these day or years to take up the never finished task, of making a humanly habitable world for all.
22″ x 20″ Black acrylic, white gouache, watercolor, pen and ink on 140 lb cold press Fabriano paper .
I’m turning to the idea of titles that simple reflect my mood, or extraneous thoughts at the time; these may or may not be descriptive of the work. In this case, the title appears in the painting, but so does ‘Train Wreck,’ ‘Sing,’ and several letters and numbers. As long as Trump is in the White House, and until we have a real revolution — I might name all my pieces, “Smash the State.”