Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Only to those who are likewise

I am a stranger to myself
And therefore a stranger to others
Friend only to those who are also strangers to themselves
Who accept the pain of change
In whose eyes the contortions of metamorphosis bend

I am alone with myself,
And therefore alone around others
Brother only to those who are also alone
The face in the crowd facing the crowd
Peering out from within, out and about then home again
Gone but not forgotten from themselves

I am sad with myself
And therefore sad with others,
Happy only with those who likewise touch bottom
Mad laughter interrupts their contemplations
Slap-sticks punctuate their darkness like bottle rockets,
Dazzling the wearied minds of the mindful

I am angry at myself
And therefore angry with others
At peace only with those who are likewise pissed at the droppings of herd animals.
The field disappoints with migration patterns of happy campers moo-ing toward oblivion
Released from guilt only by democracy

I stare into the mirror
And therefore see only myself
But also those who likewise embrace reflections
Gathering storms obscure the eye and sharpen the mind
Doubts burn the gut as knotted brows condense truth like tears
And this I see when they appear

Shitty low-wage end game

When you're 18 years old and you have a shitty low-wage job with no benefits, you figure it's your responsibility to get a better one. When you're 28 years old and you have a shitty low-wage job with no benefits, it's time to start a revolution... because there no way that's your fault. When you're 38 with a shitty low-wage job with no benefits, you're too ashamed to even talk about it, but you will gladly vote for whatever welfare-state-ism promises some relief. And when you retire from that shitty low-wage job with no benefits, the government will go belly up and leave you sitting on a bench in Florida with all your possessions in a shopping cart. 

So by all means, let's waste whatever time we have left focusing on an the rhetoric dribbling from the lips of politicians. At the end of the day, that mad troupe of acrobats and circus clowns won't be around to help any of us. They never did and they never could. Utopian dreams exist in the eternal present to distract us from what lies ahead. Politicians and smart-money cash in daily, while we imagine a future paradise underwritten by the absent father figure who passes us on his way to the bank, with our futures in his pockets. Dream on.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shake The Weary Muzzle

Cut you slack, for all your aching, there are no songs for bodies breaking.
The animal strain of animal gain, as animal games
Like parlor tricks when guests arrive, the weak too strong to long survive,
Nor procreate their hearts and minds in little ones for buying time.
All the rest is death and dying, earthen clods of friends and foe,
And lovers lost touch long ago.
Blurring spots behind the lids of eyes squeezed tight,
Where nothing's wrong, and nothing's right.

Gaming tables, knuckles pound, in for the kill and double down.
Wolf eyes glowing, hot breath blowing, nostrils flare in brief palpations,
Sensing subtle variations, of tundras frozen long ago, of memories we cannot know.
Drag down prey and monster pots, death and dying, warm and hot,
Dragged home in bankrolled bloodied clots, to huddled humans on the spot.
Dead weight collapses on dried leaves, the shaking, wearied muzzle heaves.
Exhaustion howls, the wind and rain, the world begins to shrink again
To black hole point, ceased conscious mind, the empty sleep of cow eyed calm.

Rise and fall in repetition, reborn daily dead condition.
Endless night, endless day, endless give and take away.
Warm sun the fur, the animal rises, another day with no surprises,
Interval sets of daily stress, the keen knife edge scrapes clean the mind,
Re-tunes the soul, clears recollections, the self is wiped in all directions.
Blank to what it cannot see, so forced to be what it must be.
The will submits, the world demands, shifting gravities force the hand,
As nature calls, the will commands,
To do this all again today, to hunt, to kill, to seek out prey.

Death, not glory, that is this story.
Fade to black, fade to black,
As before, I take it back.
No music there, and no respite, just howl the moon and sleep till noon,
As this will all be over soon.
Look up, look down, walk there, turn 'round,
Be still, then move, then pounce, then kill, then feed, don't weep, relax, then sleep
No more music, no more games,
All your days are all the same

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I recently watched a youtube video of an 18 foot great white shark that was slowly circling an 18 foot fishing boat. It was a modern fishing boat, with all the fancy amenities required for sport fishing. It had radios, sonar, and a shiny chrome throttle that theoretically would speed one away from deadly predators.

The passengers leaned over the edge to get a closer look, and to marvel at the shark's arrival. "Why do you think he's circling the boat", on passenger asks. "How big is it", asks another. "What kind of shark is that", asks a third. Everyone is talking at the same time. Great interest ensued, and everyone was clearly excited.

Nobody said, "Let's get the fuck out of here".

There  they were, miles out in the ocean in an 18 foot piece of fiberglass, probably ¼ of an inch thick, and only 10 feet away from the deadliest predator on the planet. Yet they had no concern for their safety. Perhaps it was thrilling to be close to something so convincingly powerful. But in the end the shark was simply a special effect… it wasn't real… it was an tourist spectacle… something to relate back to memories of hapless animals existing subservient to humans… humans who protect themselves not with teeth, but with clever boats with shiny chrome handles.

But what happens when the motor won't start? What happens when the shiny chrome handle get's stuck? What happens when that ¼ inch of high-tech fiberglass hull somehow cracks, and the blue-green seawater… once so beautiful… starts to stream into around your feet, dark and cold then? What happens when the pit in your stomach arrives, and the adrenaline hits your bloodstream. Will you ask what the shark is doing there then?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


As I sat reading, a muted television flickered over my left shoulder. I glance over and notice a commercial that shows a tank running over a car on a suburban street. I laugh out loud in amazement at such an awesome sight. The car is crushed, the tank rolls down the street. The next commercial appears without interruption… such that with no visual break or discontinuity of consciousness,  I then see a montage of military images. Jet fighters peel off in formation, a tank rolls up a beach… a landing craft door falls open to reveal the low-angle shot of soldiers running in formation through knee-deep water.

And so it goes, endless. No rest for the weary mind. Transfixed and seduced by the (as Robert Hughes says) the stupidly compelling medium of television.

What struck me in that moment was that I was both amazed by the visual pyrotechnics but also bored by them, with time between amazement and boredom being measure in seconds. One can imagine that in the early years of modernity, the time between amazement and boredom might be measured in a generation. Perhaps what the father found fantastic, the son found commonplace. Post WWII America, with it's accelerating material wealth and consumer culture, brought rates of change that reduced the amazement/boredom cycle to a few years… and then to the year to year changes of car models or the latest fashions. Digital technology has driven this cycle down further, where hardware is obsolete even as you buy it, and software updates itself online immediately upon installation.

We have arrived at a-temporailty. There seems to be no before and after. The temporal sequences are compressed into a timelessness. The theory of parallel universes… so popular in science fiction but implausible in our minds… seems to live daily in the realities of the simpler realities of computers, cell phones, TV commercials, and which pants to buy.

And whereas we can still plant an acorn in the ground and take a step back and take time to watch it grow… to observe causality… to observe nature… to feel the underlying truth to existence… we cannot step back and observe such natural breaks in the ceaseless flow of images and information that make up the tweaked world of manmade existence.

The reasons for this collapse of time and space into the dense black-hole of a-temporal disconnect is probably multi-faceted, but one reason I can think of lies somewhere near the needs of business to increase revenue. The formula might once have been to "sell more", but this logic has changed to "sell more often", or "sell all the time"… or maybe even "selling IS time"…. or "time is selling".

In the end, the old maxim "time is money" is realized in this digital, post-modern world, wherein the superconductive properties of new media have eliminated all resistance in the conduit between the seller and the buyer.

In electrical connections, resistance to the flow of electric current in a piece of wire is an upper limit on the wire itself, beyond which it overheats and the circuit melts down. Electrical systems are forced to employ circuit breakers to protect systems from physical damage. The holy grail of engineering becomes the discovery of materials immune to resistance. Such "superconductive" materials have no limit on their ability to move current.

In new media, the resistance on the conduit is time, which is an upper limit on the capacity of human beings to comprehend information-flows into their mind. If more information is pushed than can be consumed, the system doesn't so much break down, as become worthless. After all, you can always deploy advertising on 10,000 websites, and air television commercials at 4am on a school-night, but if nobody is able to consume them, the effort is a waste.

The limits on new media is the time required by the consumer of information. The holy grail for new media then becomes a superconductive consciousness... one where there is no limit. The old limit was the need to comprehend, which requires time. To take comprehension out of the equation, simply remove time. Compress time and space… future and past…  into an eternal present moment, where no awareness or comprehension is possible, and you have a superconductive consciousness, with no upper limit on what it can consume.

This present moment of consumption has a history, but one that has no distance in the past… an eternal past. This moment has a future, but a future whose features are indistinguishable, in as much as it exists with zero distance from the past. It too is an eternal future. If we consider that the awareness of time is based on an awareness of a before and after point, then the absence of such markers produces the awesome spectacle of timelessness.

So a question arises. How does the human mind exist in timelessness? What are the effects of timeless on consciousness? A million years of evolution have given rise to what we call our conscious mind… a million years of cause and effect, of before and after, of time and space, and time enough between points A and B to consider how they relate to each other, and us to them. Time enough to be aware, to feel, to judge, to understand. What happens when that time and space are collapsed? What becomes of the human when their is not time to be human? We are still here… staring into the TV… staring into the computer. But what are we in those moments?

When I stare at the TV commercials and have a reaction of both amazement and boredom…. where the time between them is so brief as to be negligible… so brief as to call into question that there is even a time lag. Perhaps they are not even separated by seconds. Perhaps my assignment of a brief time lapse is simply my applying conventional notions of time and space to phenomenon outside of time and space. Maybe I need to consider that my awareness of the TV commercial has no before and after… that instead of having two states of awareness… that is.. a state of awareness followed by a state of boredom… perhaps I only have one state. This single state collapses two things into one… it collapses the before and after. It is the atomic unification of "been there and done that". It is the negation of the varieties of life. How it is that I am living and breathing in such moments is a shocking reminder that life drives on in my body, same as it ever was… but that the life of the mind blanks out upon directing ones gaze at the cultural vanishing point of the TV set, or the internet, or whatever next thing comes out of that nexus.

And yet even as the sun sets daily on human intelligence, the undeniable beauty of it's sinking into the sea arrests the attention of onlookers. Celestial bodies are beyond reproach… as is television… as are all forms of mass hysteria.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Right-Wing Christian Mothers

Are right wing, conservative women sexually aroused by thoughts of armed conflict?

Are christian moms of the religious right turned on by the thought of US Troops invading other countries?

Should christian moms dress in dominatrix leather with their breasts protruding be the ones to lead naked Spartan-like marines into battle with nothing but their boots and machine guns?

Should right-wing christian moms lead a solemn procession outside of the city, and beat Obama to death with their placentas?

Should christian moms bath in the blood of infidels and feed on their flesh, while repealing welfare benefits to generations of lazy minorities?

Should right-wing conservative christian moms lead their husbands by their testicles to a secret clearing where they give birth, and watch the children eat the fathers?

Should right-wing christian dads present themselves to the world as flayed spirits in the service of procreation... going where they must to rape and loot and kill... and lay the spoils of war at the pudgy toes of right wing christian moms?

Should right wing christian moms spread their legs as evidence of their divinity... the all seeing eye.

The shell casings of US Marines dance off the tarmac at foreign airports as fire-fights rage for christian moms to squeeze a pillow between their thighs.

Right wing christian mothers of the world... you russian dolls... buried ten layers deep in social sanction... made women... untouchable... moralizing, blood slurping makers of insanity. Shut the fuck up.
Onward christian mothers, marching on to war,  does the cross of Jesus, making up for having been whores.

Then silence fell over the face of deep irrelevance, where right-wing christian mothers slumber through their endless nights.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What I Will

I will write now from the seat of my own authority… my mind.
I will not merge with a paradigm. I will not express myself by way of conformance to a paradigm. I will not measure my humanity relative to the mechanisms created for that purpose. My soul is above all such machines. The mind is fabulous beyond any invention of man or men. That such a thing as the mind can be viewed only as the tool by which one conforms themselves to the blunt instrumentalities of society… that is the death of human potential at the core.

Kneel before this machine if you must, if you will, if you fear the sensation of floating free. If a tether comforts you, if consensus convinces you, if the cubbyhole orders your world forever… then kneel before the machine. But don't take your children with you. Don't tell your friends. Don't spread your disease on facebook, or the water-cooler. Keep it to yourself. Make it your personal shame.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Building a deck

The future of adverstising past

 Isn't it interesting how graphic designers (who no doubt employ digital imaging exclusively) must still symboliz meaning through old technology? I photographed (digitally captured on an iPhone) the following advertising from the side of a parking garage in Atlanta. 
Notice the camera around the neck of the woman in the ad. It's basically a Pentax K1000, complete with it's circa 1982 neck strap. Also notice the small graphic to the left of her shoulder. It's based on a rangefinder camera from the 1970s.

I think the explanation for these choices is not that advertisers are using retro-themes, but rather, that film cameras have a fixed nature and appearance, whereas digital technologies are slippery-sloped toward no particular appearance. Therefore, they present no fixed, physical appearance through which they can be symbolized. It's similar to how E-readers and word-processing icons continue to feature images of books, or pencil points, or old-school metal type... despite the absence of these physical aspects in the digital domain.

What conclusion can be drawn from this? Probably this... that the material aspects of pre-digital technologies is a comfort to the human mind, in that it presents stable, tangible, and visceral things. Given that we're all human beings, physically existing in time and space, complete with fingertips, tasetbuds, eyballs, etc... such physicality connects us strongly to such objects. The non-objecthood of digital substitutes alienates us.

Digital technology exists to simulate physical objects and processes (cameras, books, sketchpads), but the simulation cannot (by it's nature) accomodate materiality. The object and process exists only virtually. The interface is generalized into mouse clicks and touch screen taps. The paradox of the computer is that its material design functions only for it to simulate anything, but that it cannot physically be the thing it simulates.

It's no wonder advertisers show the woman in the picture with an old school camera. How else can you signify photography? If she were holding an iPhone, you wouldn't know what she was up to. Was she taking a picture, listening to music, texting, downloading emails, etc. She could be doing anything. I'm sure in the future that ads will feature iPhones... but in the future, people won't be doing anything in particular. They'll being doing it all, or rather, the digital device will be doing it for them. That's so much easier.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Being put up with

Why is it that women are always credited with "putting up" with their husbands? What's so damn great about that?

Here's a metaphor... Imagine you are going for a very long car ride where you have the radio playing the entire time. Now imagine your wife is sitting in the passenger seat "PUTTING UP" with the music. Wouldn't you rather she "SING ALONG" with the music. Her "putting up" with it implies she is (at least) indifferent to it… and very likely dislikes it… but endures it in order to achieve some other benefit

This "other benefit" might be something like "being taken for a car ride". She "puts up" with the music in order to be driven around. But at any point in this process, the driver sheepishly admits he doesn't understand why she puts up with his music, as if being "put up with" represents proof of love, when in fact, being "put up with" is really the location of alienation…. where the music represents the medium of exchange through which one thing is traded for another. In essence… she puts up with him for the ride. But why does he put up with that?

A question the driver might ask is… "Why am I driving around with someone who doesn't value what I value?" Another question the driver might ask (but never does) is… "Why doesn't she ever thank me… for putting up with her putting up with me?" After all, being "put up with" can be kind-of insulting. Imagine you prepare a meal for someone, hoping to give them something delicious… but as they eat  they tell you… "I can put up with this, but only to derive nourishment, because I don't like the way it tastes".

When I was a child, I would want my mother's attention when I performed some activity. I would say, "Mom, watch me"… and she would say, "I see you". But she never actually looked at me very often. Her attention was elsewhere. She "PUT UP" with my constant badgering, and in so doing I eventually came to understand that my activity was not really of interest to her. Yet my urge remained to be actively seen and desired. As a consequence, I continued to insist that my mother look at me, but at some level I felt guilty that I was so needy. When you feel guilty for being who you are, and when you begin to doubt the meaning of what you're doing…. and when you place your sense of self in the hands of those who simply "put up with you"… and when you desire the love of this parental judge… then being "put up with" becomes equivalent to being loved.

And let's presume we carry this archetypical pattern throughout our lives, in which case we feel pointless as individuals, but loved by those who "put up" with us (i.e., don't care)… and this indifferent lover derives something from us unconnected to what we care about… and we love them for not particularly caring, because we feel rather pointless.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Romantic Delusions

Something occurred to me just now about a situation I have experienced many times. The situation is that of NOT having strong emotional reactions to art objects, and the fear that I have perhaps NEVER had appropriately strong reactions. There is a presumption that such strong reactions form the rationale for the existence of art objects at all, and that artists (if nothing else) should be the one group that has such things. So when a so-called artist reveals the dirty little secret of not strongly feeling anything, it is as if you are excommunicating yourself from the company of artists.

So that is the situation… and that is the problem.

What occurred to me today is this so-called problem is due NOT to the nature of art, but to a particularly modern view of what art is. I suppose it begins with the Romantic movement in art, whereby strong emotions and aesthetic reactions were seen as authentic, whereas the rationalism of Classicism was seen as stifling and dead. The Romantic view shifts the emphasis inward, whereby art is validated by reference to the internal, subjective, and non-rational aspects of the artist, rather than those aspects of art that are rational, externalized, and objective.

I am not arguing for or against reason or emotion… Classicism vs. Romanticism. Such dichotomies always seem ridiculous, though history is full of battles fought over the supremacy of one, at the expense of the other. In as much as human beings are composed of reason and emotion… and more generally… of many ranges of experience… such dichotomy battles simply leave people divided against their own nature, and sow the seeds for the inevitable reaction in the other direction. And this is how history plays out, as one side or the other seeks to dominate… seeks to assert one side of the coin over the other. It's an inherently unresolvable approach, producing the tensions that seem to provide the motive force for all social energy.

So I suppose we live in the long shadow cast by Romantic ideals. I suppose some would argue this. After all, the official period of Romanticism is long over, and the 20th century is full of abstraction-ism seemingly free of any emotive qualities. Also, conceptual art often suffers from a near total lack of emotional impact, in as much as those artists strive to operate from an emotionally detached point of view. And so this line of reasoning wants to conclude that these are things are "classical" in nature, in as much as they emanate from thought, rather than emotion. Such parallels are mostly superficial. Though they cut out the emotive aspect of the artist, they are not really rational and objective in the way classical art is considered to be. After all, the conceptual artist validates their analytic product NOT by an external reference, but to their own internal state. The modern view is not "WHAT IT MEANS", but "WHAT IT MEANS TO ME". These two may be identical in some instances, but having "TO ME" be part of the definition of meaning leaves the door open to the dominance of subjectivity.

At any rate… that is whole long idea in it's own right.  And it concerns the artist as maker. But what of the artist as viewer of art, which is the initial problem? When we view art, why are we worried that we are not having appropriately strong emotional reactions?

I think (again) that it goes back to the Romantic presumption that art is equivalent to "aesthetic experience", and that such experience is naturally subjective, emotional, and non-rational. If so, then the only meaningful aspect of viewing art is that some psychological experience should occur wherein we are immediately made aware (emotionally) of the full impact of the art object. But this is only a theory.

Let's call this the Romantic Theory of Viewing Art, and think of it as the natural counterpart to the aforementioned Romantic Theory of Making Art. If the art object is made by artists who are mostly concerned with their own internal processes, then the art object begins to drift (to some degree) from the common visual language of the culture. It becomes less communicable to others thereby. The viewer begins to be less concerned with "understanding" the art object, since such "understanding" would require a common basis in visual communication. The viewer is then forced (to varying degrees) to "interpret" these incommunicable aspects, but such interpretation involves one NOT in understanding artistic intent (which again, is not possible without a visual language for communicating)… but interpreting in terms of what THEY (the viewer) take something to mean. In this way, subjective construction of art leads to subjective viewing of art.

So this is the crux of my idea… that we judge ourselves harshly because we don't think we are having the "correct" reaction to art, which needs to be a strong emotion... an aesthetic response of the highest order. But all of this is built on a modern presumption about what art is, both in the making and in the viewing.

As an aside, there are a few further interesting correlations one can draw.

If we take Abstract Expressionism to be the height of the Romantic view of subjective, non-ration art in the 20th century, then we clearly see the drift between the MAKER and the VIEWER…. and how the two sides cannot connect to each other. The maker of such art presumes no intent that could be grasped by the viewer, and the viewer interprets in ways unknowable to the artist. The artwork is understood to be a non-rational form of cathartic expression by the artist, whereas the viewer treats the apprehension of the object as the basis of eliciting subjective reactions.

If we contrast a drip painting with a simple math formula, we have (probably) the two extremes of human reception. If we view the formula "2+2", there is no way to view it other than as intended. On the other hand, if we view a drip painting, there is no way to view it as intended, and so we are forced either to disregard it, or to supply our own meaning totally.

This emphasis on subjective reaction seems to underwrite forms of post-modern skepticism, whereby we presume that the author of a text is not in control of it's content. After all, each reader will construct meaning based on his own personal consciousness. The author cannot "insist" that the text mean this or that. This is actually more extreme than the case with drip paintings. After all, drip paintings clearly don't have external referents, whereas language is made from such references. But philosophers have gotten around the obvious meaningfulness of language by (a) resorting to skeptical argument generally, and (b) investing decades in a complex web of structuralist/deconstructionist logic. When you question things long enough while ignoring the answers at each turn, things turn very cloudy very quickly, and the fog of confusion that ensues will seem totally natural.

At any rate… such is the world we live in. The idolizing of self, the mistrust of reason, the resulting confusion, the seeking of answers in pure subjective reaction, or perhaps in public consensus.

It's interesting to note that the rise of Romanticism correlates (historically) with the modern age… with the individualism of modern democratic societies. The political philosophies that created this modern age were born of prior Enlightenment Era attitudes of reason. But the freedoms they unleashed led to a generations that only wanted to deal with the subjective. Again, this is the inevitable pendulum swing of history, whereby the Enlightenment "over emphasis" on reason left new generations of thinkers feeling starved for something more human. And so they cast aside the mindfulness of their forbearers.

I'm not attacking this pendulum swing as being wrong. It's really just inevitable, and unfortunate. But what is worse (it seems to me) is that we continue to live in the shadow of that casting-off of mindful approaches, and are asked to experience ourselves ONLY as self indulgent. This is shown most clearly in the world in general, whereby society takes on increasingly complex economic forms, so as to allow us to generate sufficient disposable income, so that we can afford a lifestyle of materialistic purchases of consumer goods, so that we will be contented from cradle to grave, wrapped forever in feel-good products and services. For those who feel like something real is missing in all of this, such a system is NOT protecting our humanity… but is actually destroying it.

Of course, mindful approaches are not cast off totally. After all, the complex economic system is nothing if not rational. The production of products, the exchange of money, and the accumulation and management of wealth all require vastly rational processes, and people to carry them out. So one half of life is regimented under the control of business logic, and the other is a dream of total subjective freedom, wherein we sit in front of the TV and dream, or go on vacation and consume tourist fantasies.

As a person who is inclined to understand things… ALL things… by both THINKING and FEELING about them as appropriate… it's frustrating to consider that (in the world of art) I am required to only FEEL artworks. If I walk through a museum or gallery and do not stand in full Romantic rapture before a work of art, wherein I channel pure aesthetic response… then I am considered to be artistically stunted… emotionally close off, etc. Apparently, art has been consigned to the world of fantasy…. like TV programming, or tourism, or web-sites. It's somewhere you go to enjoy your own self. When you seek for understanding… for a view of the world… for a grasp of the real… you are confronted only with mirror… with a smooth surface where the mind slides right off…. of a waiter asking if they can take your order.

I don't buy it. The long shadow of Romanticism… my indulgent self stripped of intellect… left exposed to gurgle to a mindless crowd all murmuring their own irrelevant responses… everyone desperate to feel, incapable of knowing, and in the end simply expending vast energies on artifice, generating nothing but heat, the waste product of animal existence.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wooden Structure

Imagine you have a wooden structure the size and shape of a shoebox, and that you nailed this structure to a white wall. Over the course of the day you observe light from an adjacent window illuminating the structure, which casts a variety of shadows as the sun moves across the sky. Then someone enters the room and places a baseball inside the structure. Then someone enters the room and attaches a light fixture to the top of the structure so that a bulb can shine down on the baseball at all times.

What conclusions can be drawn from this?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Janis Ian

 I felt mildly self-conscious drawing during the Janis Ian show last night (4/25/13)... but the guy behind me must have fired off 3,000 digital pics with his huge camera. Each time he fired the camera you heard the chick-chick sound of the shutter. I'm sure it didn't bother him, in the same way that a screaming toddler never bothers mom on the train.

I wonder why he would want 3,000 pics of Janis Ian... when one would do. She didn't move much... did no flying leaps of amplifiers... she didn't fly across the stage on wire apparatus... she never slide across the stage on her back... and she didn't kneel down and do a guitar god manuever. She just stood there and sang and played. But this guy had to take 3,000 pictures none-the-less. Everyone snickers when considering that uncivilized people think the camera will steal their soul. Yet the civilized shutterbugs think the opposite, that the camera will capture to soul of another person, or a moment, or perhaps the meaning of their life. And this meaning must surely exister "OVER THERE"... at some external point they can aim their unblinking technological eye at... and passively absorb.

Janis Ian

Diana Jones

The Audience

Monday, March 4, 2013

Google Votes

I Googled some phrases

work sucks                     873,000
vacations suck                   2,480

women suck                   903,000
men suck                        763,000

life sucks                     3,340,000
death sucks                       46,100

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blues culture

The culture of the blues involves a strange duality. At the core are "authentic" black people whose musical pedigrees and correctness-to-form are monitored and extolled by a largely white connoisseur class, who keep the music alive in much the same spirit that the British have when they express fascination with African bushmen. It is much more disturbing than racism. It is connoisseur's presumption of cultural authority, whereby they dictate the terms of critical evaluation and the conditions under which the blues are produced and consumed. It is the oppression of deny others their own identity.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rhetorical Solids

Conceptual art is an institutionalized system of promotion and trade. Period.

Objects traded within that system are called art simply because nobody wants to call them what they really are. Commodities, things, rhetorical solids.

Rhetorical Solids.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Robert Hughes... where did you go?

Robert Hughes was a critical genius, which he made evident in his use of plain language to weave elegant and complex relations between things. He was a writer first, a content expert second… or should I say… a content expert by way of being a writer. He was committed to language as the tool by which to condense complex meanings from observation. That is the essence of poetry, and Hughes was surely a poet of critical thought. The content experts of academia don't (as professional practice) condense complexity from observation. Instead, they explode complexity by reworking existing academic formulations. They don't go back to nature, they don't judge the point at which bone grinds on earth, and they do not grasp the nature of things in themselves. That is for men like Hughes. That is why he is great, and that is why he is so often marginalized and parodied by those who want to locate themselves within the privileges of academia or the art world.

What I appreciate most about Hughes, is that despite however negative his assessment of the current scene gets, he is not cynical about the prospects for art. He is simply strong enough to accept that the entire scene may be missing the larger meanings of art, both historically and personally. Perhaps history will judge him to have missed the point of the current postmodern malaise. Time will tell. But Hughes doesn't hedge his bets, he doesn't waffle on his judgements. That takes courage, commitment, belief, judgement. Balls.

The emperor of culture is indeed naked. But knowing that is not enough. If one then follows that observation with endless railings against the cultural hegemony that underwrites the yes-man-ism of the emperors courtesans, then one is falling into a counter-punching relationship with a social power that has no historical or moral authority. Calling out such bankruptcy, and throwing some punches at it is necessary. But to engage in an perpetual analysis of the emperor's nudity is to (unwittingly, and by implication) sanction it and give it relevance. I don't know where to draw that line. It isn't always obvious, and the persistence of said nudity seems to require endless rebuttal arguments, lest our silence be confused with acceptance.

But the talking does need to end at some point. This is difficult for the critic, I suppose, whose very purpose is to carry on discourse. But for artists themselves, the critical engagement can end. The emperor and his cultural context can be called out, critiqued, and rejected. An opening can be clawed out thusly… an opportunity for an alternative. But nature abhors these vacuums, so unless one is ready to fill that space with something else, that big pile of bullshit will just slough back down and burry these efforts.

We fill that space with positive proposals, with new theories, by championing things that make sense, and by making art that makes sense. Hughes is inspirational on this point. At the end of his critical writings, or at the end of his video segments, when he looks into the camera and summarizes so clearly, and draws us into the confidence that rational men share… one can feel very primed to break free from all the troubling errors of the world. Hughes is already there. He passes judgement, turns away from the camera, and is done. We should be as brave.

The significance of Hughes is not simply what he says, but the way he says it, and the quality of the man behind these things. If the medium is the message, then Hughes was truly a message unto himself, the literal embodiment of the courage to draw the conclusion, and to move on. He is bigger than all the wrong ideas he sees so clearly. He is bigger even than his own opinions, great as they are, tied to his character, yet like all living things, they tremble in the cold light of day. His content and his medium are one. But whereas the content of any man's life must end, the lessons of his medium (his character) go on.

The sadness of the critic, so isolated in time, is that his course may be run whence he has so clearly understood these things. The endgame outlasts their prime, rendering them easy targets to the new breed eager to make their reputations by picking the bones of the old. But such derivative musings soon fade, leaving the world hungry for something real... and maybe the spirit of Hughes can reincarnate in the form of someone with intelligence, wit, and honesty. We shall see, I hope.

But the artist only moves forward, and must, else surrender the field to the very thing Hughes revealed. If the artist wants to honor the idealism of Hughes and react against the bullshit of cultural hegemons, then they must act like a man. They must have the courage to construct something, to assert it, and then step back and let it breath. Like Hughes himself… know it, say it, and then be still.