Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The art of losing...

I don't care who wins the World Cup, I'm not interested in competition for competition's sake, I'm interested in the souls of nations and how they manifest in relation to one another in various global forums. The Olympics always feel a bit tepid and white washed to me, political summits are only interesting for the group photos and the faux pas that occur, but the World Cup is visceral. It is by far my favorite international event.

When you put countries as different as Germany and Brazil together something elemental is going to break. We know what happened today, but I'd like you to imagine a different biochemical Brazil in which they were feeling good, inspired, musical.

But first a quick word on stereotyping. A country has a collective aura. It's nuanced and traceable from topography to art to politics to childrearing to the notes in its national anthem. The stereotypes come out of these cultural cues, shallow mirrors.

OK so whereas Germany is a well oiled machine that has striven for generations to extract emotion from process, Brazil is a country that has thrived on blurring the line between passion and action. The danger of living through your heart is that it is the most fickle of muscles. If it doesn't want to play because it is broken, because it's stars are crossed (or in traction), it likely cannot muster the will. The danger of circumventing the heart and perfecting process is the risk of coming off a bit robotic.

The romantic can imagine a different day in which team Brazil, though heartbroken, finds the spark - in the tear of a fan, in the troubles of the country, in a handwritten note from Neymar, wherever. The "music" of the collective, the deep Brazilian rhythm of the team clicks in, blurring the complexities of life into a focused fluid passion expressed in graceful athletic physicality that defies robot logic and wins not through the number of goals but through the transcendent choreography of overcoming the blues.

Of course there's probably more power in witnessing such a crushing loss in a world that's all about winning. So thank you for that Brazil.  Sports like Art creates safe experiences that remind the soul of its boundaries.

On a side note, I've been listening to alternating Kraftwerk and Tropicalia tracks back to back as I write this. As much as I want the Brazilian rhythms to move me, I find myself more engaged and emotionally challenged by the Krautrock. I'm sure there's a good explanation for this, but it will have to wait until the next time I remember I have an ancient blog hovering out there in the ethers...

Monday, May 19, 2014

California problems...

I'm not a huge fan of brain chatter, but it is a defining characteristic of my mental process. Consciousness, for me, is generally an uncontrolled atom smasher where words, images, emotions, and ideas collide, fragment, and re-combine to form new models, enthusiasms, and horrors for navigating and comprehending the external world.

As you silence the mind and get in touch with the cosmos, a psychic state I have tasted many times, you aren't left with much to do besides smile like an idiot or scream like a howler monkey. Seriously, that vacuum is so... blah. And what's worse is that that's really what most of the universe is, an empty existential vessel for nothing.

 So you see Mr. Bukowski, we actually are constantly at risk of being eaten up by nothing. These trivialities - my brain chatter, someone's trivialities, another's terror, another's death - are where the love we all seek has to manifest, at least until we all forget about being the life of the party and embrace a collective cosmic catatonia.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

If you live long enough...

... all of your big ideas will be executed for you. Case in point, my Virtual Zoo project, an attempt to offset the sadness of zoos, now playing at a mall in Dubai near you. Of course the executions you witness don't always work out the way you might want them to. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Creativity: Saul Bass's take...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Because I said so...

Though most sympathetic nervous systems will bristle battery acid right along with Wolfie's in the sheer lameness of this power crush posture, Sarah and I do love the phrase "too many notes" and are prone to use it in the constructive sense - as in: this shit needs an edit.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tension and no release...

Art is a psychological coping mechanism, a decision to turn away from overwhelming and unpleasant sources to vague reflections and impressions. You could say the same about language. And civilization. And puppies. It's sublime. I'm very intrigued by the sub-category of artists who are attempting to turn their boats around and chug upstream back to that thing they rowed merrily away from.

Iannis Xenakis "Metastasis" conducted by Hans Rosbaud 1955,
film by babylonianman.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Advantage Disaster...

"Our imagination of disaster is dangerously more fertile than our imagination of the ordinary."

- Adam Gopnik

"Philosophy is largely about dumping the assumptions you've drifted into, backing carefully out of the shallows of the conceptual shit creek, and into the deep ocean of the open mind."

- Gary Cox

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

When a new thing jarringly reminds you of an old one...

So 12 Years a Slave is an excellent film, I won't review it now, maybe later, I have thoughts, but I wanted to get this one small thought out tonight while it's fresh...

Anyone else notice the similarity between the recurring string theme in Hans Zimmer's soundtrack and the song "To Build a Home" by Cinematic Orchestra? It was a distraction for me, since that song has been used extensively in various media to signify longing emotions for several years now.  Generally speaking, I wanted less musical/emotional guidance from the film, so a refrain which has such a recognizable history was almost as disruptive as the horrible aftershave from two seats over. On the other hand, the sawing bass strings in the soundtrack are genius.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mory and Anta take theirs black...

A day in which the hypnotic magical otherness of Mambéty's Touki Bouki wrestles with the coffee skin treatments of a Russian transplant awakening in the bowels of Texas.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Irene's orchid...

Zuzu's petals never had it so rough. Thanks Logan & Sons.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summertime sadness...

One of the clearest differences between depression and melancholy is that depression is an emotional state of resignation, whereas melancholy is not. When we feel depressed we feel unmotivated, unable to complete even the simplest task and unable to see any way forward. It is a pessimistic state that involves pain. By contrast, melancholy is not such a debilitating mood, rather it involves the pleasure of reflection and contemplation of things we love and long for, so that the hope of having them adds a touch of sweetness that makes melancholy bearable (while misery is not). Its reflective or thoughtful aspect also makes it somehow productive. Melancholy is something we even desire from time to time, for it provides an opportunity for indulgent self-reflection. We enjoy this time out for reflection, but the pleasure is also connected to recollecting that which we long for, where this reflective element can be even exhilarating or uplifting.

- from Melancholy as an Aesthetic Emotion by Emily Brady and Arto Haapala

("Melancholy" 1894, Edvard Munch)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Astral Intoxication and the Intermediate Zone...

There is in fact an intermediary state, a zone of transition between the ordinary consciousness in mind and the true knowledge. One may cross without hurt through it, perceiving at once or at an early stage its real nature and refusing to be detained by its half-lights and tempting but imperfect and often mixed and misleading experiences. Or one may go astray in it, follow false voices and mendacious guidance, and that ends in a spiritual disaster. Or one may take up one’s abode in this intermediate zone, care to go no farther and build there some half-truth which one takes for the whole truth or become the instrument of the powers of these transitional planes - that is what happens to many.

- Sri Aurobindo

(Satchidananda [not Aurobindo] on a rainy Swiss mountain in 1987)

Friday, August 02, 2013

Ex-Lax for the soul...

The realms of shit hold important mysteries. "Do your duty!" my mother used to tell our family dog and me in a loving voice when it came time for either of us to defecate. The eager to please dog did do and the rebellious boy did not do. Regrettably, this victorious not doing lead to lingering bouts of childhood constipation, stomach pumping, and other embarrassments, which quite possibly, along with a host of other life happenings, ascended into a kind of psychic constipation that held certain aspects of my life's output in a retentive clench well into adulthood. You see, the boy was afraid to let go of his shit. Since it was a part of him, losing his shit down that long dark system of pipes and sewers below the ground was not a place any part of him wanted to be. 

I certainly place no blame on mom. She had our best evacuation interests at heart. And as happens as we get to know ourselves, I am learning to unclench. You would never have found me anally retentive in any sense of the stereotype. My constipation does not demand straight edges and clean countertops. I hold on loosely (but don't let her go). 

Actually, since you're dying to know, I think my psychic constipation got married in a secret ceremony to my fear of heights at some point early early on. The result of this blessed union was an unconscious sense that every action I took on god's green earth could result in a swirling fatal fall into an acid whirlpool of a shit pit. And so just as the person with a real fear of flying magically, solipsistically believes that they control the destiny of their flight through worry and clenching and fellating fear, somewhere in my fantasy melon I was operating on the unspoken notion that my clench was what kept me from tumbling into the cosmos every second of the day. And that, children, is how sleeping beauty became his own worst energy vampire.

I'm not sure what I can hope to accomplish in broadcasting this surface skim of retro deep doo doo in the backwaters of the Internet. I do know that now that mom is gone, I'm naturally replaying all the old loops that subliminally guided certain choices and fates in the earlier part of my life. Luckily, I can see them from a distance and enjoy them for their comedy. I can report that a healthier headspace along with two scoops of psyllium husks in the morning has brought sunshine to my digestion and my outlook. 

That said, childhood habits do haunt us in ways our logical minds can barely comprehend. With the memory of my constipation imprinted on my soul, I still find myself yearning for creative floodgates to open in all the expected and unexpected ways. The pipes may be clean but are they beginning to rust? The most primitive facility used to smelt iron is a bloomery. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Never really happened...

Am I just a victim of my circumstances?
Or are my circumstances
just the victims of all my wrong decisions?

- Mitch Toomey

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cure for pain...

We [doctors] do not recognize patients’ inner lives; maybe because we do not acknowledge our own... Most of us are dealing drugs because we don’t know what else to do. 

- Arthur Janov

(detail from Thomas Eakins' "The Gross Clinic")

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pi crust...

"There is in every language the word 'soul'. And we don't know what it is. And I think this thing is in us the metaphysical power somehow which just emanates. I feel that always in my concerts. There is something floating, there is something unknown around us. And I think that it has no place to disappear, so after our death if we had an amount of it, somewhere it's around."  (Artur Rubinstein)


"Any talk of the soul relies on it existing at all. That would need to be proved first. All this talk about souls and 'increasing your positive vibrations' and any other new age gibberish is, to me, a way of making people feel special or intelligent." (A blog commenter)

Which point of view do you prefer?

Chen Wei, "The Stars in the Night Sky are Completely Innumerable", 2010

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Learn to fly...

I have an irrational distrust of teachers. I look around at all the fair to catastrophic human output and think teachers must be partially accountable for the bad art, the ugly architecture, the soulless business, the tepid political action, the crappy food, the useless medical system, and so on... They inspired, promoted, or at least allowed these things to happen and continue happening. They are society's permission givers.

Now of course it's true that we can give ourselves permission without a teacher, and when that works, when an individual has enough critical faculty and crazy intuition to chart an original course from void to thing, well that's the best. For those who give themselves permission because their ego insists upon it, well maybe that's where a lot of the shit goes down.

I wouldn't want the world to be perfect, I don't know if I'd even want it any better; bad examples are teachers in and of themselves. But I do (selfishly) want to find those rare teachers who help enable all the excellent things that do manage to make it through to this reality. I suspect that many of them aren't lurking in the hollow halls and Cartesian compromises of academia.

Photo by Bjorn Moerman

Saturday, February 16, 2013

OK Computer...

Arthur C. Clarke serving up the future in 1974.

Friday, February 08, 2013

United Negations...

I propose a radical but gentle re-appropriation of "Just Say No!" While we the people still have power (and I think we do, but only for minute or so more), let's say no to what ails us for a one-year trial and embrace the positives of that negation. A soft anarchy toward an overdue correction.

What about no US presidential election in 2016? What about no drones above, no fracking below? No governments, no power-plays, no leaders. No media. No narratives fed. No Fed. No money. No advertising. No junk food. No toxic chemicals. No wars. No guns. No crime. No punishment. No "because we can" technology and attitudes.

Shit, I'm rewriting "Imagine" here, aren't I... Well, imagine it. Are we grown up enough as a species to take care of ourselves for one year without being told what to do? Are there enough examples out there, gentleman and gentlewoman anarchists, who are able to show us how to live life away from the game of civilization?

For general safety and emergencies, we'll keep the hospitals and the fire departments open and the rescue dogs well fed. And libraries and the internet can stay too, for learning how to do things and empowering entertainments.

"Unicorns and rainbows" you say scoffing me off, because maybe you're liking this, because maybe logic has infiltrated your mind like ivy on a building, because maybe you're a little drunk on this Kool-aid, this game.

But you know that there really is no reason why we can't unplug the exponential cancer to try another game, to see what it's like to live unadorned. Only the will is absent, probably because we're collectively hypnotized away from embracing our own existence.

And if it goes wrong, meaning if we were to try this experiment and the lesser angels of our nature triumph, it will still have been the most encouraging thing we've done.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

From Void to Execution...

I'm always drawn to the odd choices of words that pop up in professional or industrial lexicons. When we void out a transaction does it dematerialize back to the cosmic void? The train ends at the terminal. This job was killed (and therefore results in a kill-fee). That job was not killed, on the contrary it was well executed. It seems oddly fitting that the act of realizing a thing in the thin, post-god, desperately unifying layer of marketplace reality should be described as ending its life.
Twitter that.

Which reminds me, my professional skill set should have a catchy descriptor - you know like "from farm to table", "from soup to nuts," "from concept to completion." I've decided that mine would be "from void to execution."

Day by day, I pull low-hanging ideas from the void and drive them mercilessly up to, or through, the soul-sapping gates of manifestation - organizing what was perfect chaos, stripping off pesky metaphysical husks, awkwardly cramming big beautiful notions into compact words and phrases, ultimately abandoning them at the doorstep of monetized reality. I don't sell, that is a job for others. I've tasted that skill set, and while I know I can do it, I know I should not.

(photo by Stephan Zirwes)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Learning your learning style...

So this one's all me...

While the overall quality of my formal education was generally excellent, like many, I have come to realize that my own "natural" way of learning wasn't always activated by the set methods and formats I encountered in school. First off, I know my inner character interfaces with exteriority in a few basic aspects: courageous, engaged, disengaged, and fearful. Learning techniques received on the disengaged/fear side of the ledger tend to be ineffective. That sounds obvious, and this makes it all the more frustrating to think back on my education - why weren't misguided attempts to teach me identified and fixed? Learning was often an alienating experience. Logic was often substiturted with magical thinking. I was frequently asked to learn in ways that clearly missed my strengths. And this, over time, I became used to. That was my greatest educational "sin" I think. Acceptance.

While we each possess a constellation of learning styles, here's one of mine I'd like to call out. I've always been a good mimic. That goes for the narrow definition (I'm naturally able to imitate voices and mannerisms), and it has a deeper meaning as well. The ability to hear and recreate a voice or a character trait comes down to an ability to deeply comprehend its distinctive psycho-emotional makeup intuitively. It is not a logical, time-worn process, it occurs in an instantaneous "flash" of full gestalt recognition that registers emotionally as clearly as a photograph. That flash somehow reorganizes my body and mind to be able to recreate what I've observed physically, sensorially, and emotionally with great accuracy.

This mimic instinct doesn't just mirror and repeat. The individual "flashes" are stored and made available to mix and react with other flashes, sometimes resulting in unusual amalgams and original ideas. Not surprisingly, when these flashes are firing and combining and processing absorbed information in a fluid and stimulating fashion, I tend to move into the courageous side of my character.

This is all something I'm learning to identify about myself later in life. Had I been able to understand this ability at a young age, I think I might have had a very different life experience to date. I might have become an actor or a singer or a politician. But instead, I spend a great deal of time getting familiar with states of fear and disengagement. That has lead me to writing and a relatively private life. I am happy with this outcome, especially since there is no way to evaluate the outcomes of parallel universes or the potential of spilled milk. With ten zillion words typed and scrawled, I am just beginning to write for myself. This blog has been helpful on that path, fuzzy thinking, lazy writing, and all. I am excited to see what happens next. I am excited to learn about how I learn and how to apply it to the second half of my life. Stay tuned...

Brookesia micra, a microscopic chameleon recently discovered in Madagascar)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Philip Glass Disco...

To all my glass blowing friends, I want one for Christmas exactly like this. Alternatively, to all my friends in Florida, there's probably another one of these out there rolling around on some beach. Keep your eyes peeled.

Strange how it really appears to be looking right at you, even through the photo.
The eye of god is watching.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Lion's Mane Mushroom...

I'm told this amazing fungus is edible and extremely good for your brain.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Wild Lhasa-Apsos of Van Nuys...

S and I went on a tour of an auction house in the Valley this morning.  Get this lamp now, before it sells for $100,000 next year. That's the vibe. I leave with a queasiness, and with the idea of auctioning clouds. So unique, so fleeting, and yet plentiful stock.  Provenance seems to matter because it renders the shit on display deliriously invaluable while casting everyone else's into smelly suspicion. An eye-opening piece of fetish/hypnosis theater.

The Valley, the part that isn't an auction house, is an "authentic" place by some barometers, mostly because the landscape is hellish and the people here aren't visibly striving to become a glorified ideas of themselves. No half million dollar Eames chairs to whisk one away from miserable stink. Instead, fat sexless greebs stagger expressionless about the sun-baked streets, inhaling bus fumes, waddling through supermalls; zombies knocking into each other as another Ding Dong chokes down a pie hole. These people are authentic because they are not so aware, goes the theory. Because the industrial cancer flows freely in and around them unchecked. (Conversely, many establishments where we live post signs that proudly state the house toxicity. I suppose that's a step forward...) The so-called creative class, to which I apparently belong, strives to recreate this authenticity, because it contains undigested kernels of soul. but I can't help but notice a whiff of self-loathing in all of this.

Anyhow, I know this kind of talk pegs me as a cynical, judgmental creep. Civilization's boomerangs of disappointment chop off many heads, why spare my own? Instead, headless, let me shine a light on the freely wandering dogs I've been spotting lately. No signs of masters. Just eager prancing canines, Chihuahuas and Miniature Schnauzers, and other overbred toys. They somehow find their way out of captivity and furrow doggily among the piss-encrusted sidewalk grasses, or tiptoe bravely into traffic. Always a smile. A wink. Perhaps a local grandmother, consumed by residual mothering, chases after, shaking down citizens, trying to muster a freak out that will match her Armageddon fantasies.

 (Still from "How to Appear Invisible" by Allora and Calzadilla)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Amusing ourselves to life...

Out of his and her own free will, Shiva, the Supreme Consciousness, projects the entire universe (him/herself) upon his and her own screen.

 (From Sage Markandeya's Ashram and the Milky Ocean, c. 1780-1790.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fiscal Family Fotography

Posed proofs celebrating triumphant climbs from the pool of the great unwashed begs two thoughts: 1) How did you arrive here? and 2) Yes you exist. Now what?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Olga captured my heart...

Watch the whole thing, but know that it's her floor routine that floors me.
That we might all find the grass we danced on when we were seven.

Monday, July 23, 2012

O Henry...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nature must not win the game...

... but she can not lose.

 - C.G.Jung

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The plumber's sink is always leaky...

Sometimes, what we do is a compensation for what we don't have. Sometimes what we have is the opposite of what we do. Sometimes the actions don't match the intentions. Do what I say not what I do.

What's interesting about these scenarios is that they often illuminate the boundaries we fuzzily draw between internal and external, personal and public, nature and pantomime. Is there an authentic self that has to figure out how to carry itself in(to) the world? This seems to be the practice, and it seems to work on the principle of balance, which is something we often fail to see.

("Hats" by Saul Steinberg)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Twain shall meet...

I think Mark Twain had an innate sense of just how unfunny America once was. All those sepia tones and bed bugs and moonshine hangovers bred a stern national flatness easily spotted in photographs and letters of the day.

Twain could crack himself up because clearly he was from the future. In his adopted era he set out to brainwash citizens into giving themselves permission to laugh. And because one laugh wanted another, he had to teach all the awful joke tellers what they were doing wrong in his essay, "How to Tell a Story."

"There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind -- the humorous," he writes. "The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it."

For you toe-tappers who can't abide Twain's meandering, porchy musings you might cut to the chase with: "How to tell a joke like Mark Twain in 4 steps." Honestly, I'm not sure all these rules still stand in 2012 though. The world seems way less chalky and attendant.

But you've got to hand it to a guy who said this a hundred years ago: "To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American [humorous] art."

 This assessment rings as true today Between Two Ferns as it did once in Extracts from Adam's Diary.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Execute execution...

The chasm between creative ideas and whatever you end up with in this thin skin of reality goes back as far as recorded history. Shepherding good ideas into existence comes down to an ability to summon inspired, well-choreographed execution. A quick survey in any direction confirms there's no glut of this in society today. Our muses are not amused. 

One giant leap we might consider is doing away with realization altogether. I mean I know we have the big brain and the opposable thumb, and yes, these ever-present existential voids are motivating, but... these poorly realized ideas that we end up having to champion in order to justify spending and stave off embarrassment are seriously piling up. Frankly, it's beginning to look a lot like Fresh Kills around here.

 There must be a way to honor and enlist ideas without execution. Since the world is clearly moving away from analog living, maybe all this digitalism is just a willful transition into the era of pure ideas? 

What if instead of appropriating or awkwardly channeling our muses' callings into putrified artifacts, we simply accept the invitation, and head over to their place?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

White Rolls...

Felt was an egomaniac from Long Beach who drove an expensive British motorcar and made a point of attending Disney Hall symphonic recordings so he could cough during pauses in the music. "That's me," he would say, playing back a cough to dull-eyed dates while driving up the PCH. He really felt good about his secret discovery. A far more benign way to make a mark and garner recognition than...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

After bargaining, before resolution...

"I try to live each day as if it were my third-to-last." - Will Eno

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A bad Vulcan under an electric puce sky...

There's probably some kind of large intellectual magnet out there in the galaxy that collectively pulls human minds in certain logical directions as they learn and come to define realities within the confines of those learnings. I've always been equally as interested in things the mind rejects. Things the magnet can't pull. The concepts and consciousnesses that are to be avoided because they are not serious or threatening to the mind and its concomitant civilization. I find that I'm just naturally much more attuned to the flash associative logic of music and madness and animals.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rebellion is not Independence...

There will most certainly be a chapter in my autobiography called "Pathmark Sneakers." It will be followed by a chapter called "Pathmark Potato Chips."

The agony and the ecstasy. At any given moment you ride the wave between one and the other.

 ("Barbara Wandering Off (I think she was sick of us)" by Dave)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Dot of dust...

"The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot... Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us."

("Pale Blue Dot" photo: Voyager 1, comment: Carl Sagan)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Munch & Monk...

I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city. My friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

At this time the fashion is to bring something to jazz that I reject. They speak of freedom. But one has no right, under pretext of freeing yourself, to be incoherent. There’s a new idea that consists in destroying everything and find what’s shocking and unexpected; whereas I know we must first of all tell a story that anyone can understand.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

US Modernity: Trying grace god shed on thee...

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

 Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" by Theodore Roosevelt

 ("Connoisseur" by Norman Rockwell, 1962)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

RIP Butzi...

“A product that is coherent in form requires no embellishment. It is enhanced by the purity of its form. Good design should be honest.” - Ferdinand Alexander Porsche

Monday, April 16, 2012

What do tax pin up?

So let me get this straight man... you somehow fall into the accident of life and then you're mere existence is legally beholden to a system of taxation invented by others who somehow fell into the accident of life?

Why didn't you say so moonshine trousers?

("Syd Barrett visits his Accountant" by Dan Meth)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Creativity is the higher fire...

Don't make the mistake I've made, thinking that maintaining a certain amount of inner anger is a good kind of fire to store up as a propellent. It does fester and smolder and it can fuel some short outbursts, but anger is something you always want to work through. The right fire, the higher fire for your belly is creativity. You've got to burn through the anger to clear a space for creativity. So get on that. Try the heavy bag.

I don't know exactly how or when I got it into my head that anger is an essential component of the functional personality. Long time ago. It might have been this episode of Star Trek (incidentally written by Sean Penn's papa, Leo, who might have instilled an idea or two about anger in his son). Mind your sources.

(photo, Alex Kess)

Monday, March 19, 2012

But it's supposed to be about something...

Good people fighting for good causes. Who can fault it? It's one of the organizing principles of society: Backlash against bad things. But you do get to a point where every public gesture is dressed in do-good garb, and I'd like to point out that it can get pretty boring and worse, false, or rather, because certain pantomimes are expected, because symbolic behaviors are beholden to point at some vaguely nice or system-sustaining meaning, they are increasingly void of meaning.

And meaning is the problem. A brief survey of things reveals lots of moral panic followed up by look-at-me efforts to wedge lots of actions, transactions, expressions, into some tried and true form of desired meaning. Heavy handed examples of how good societies should behave. Tonight I applaud the triumph of non-meaning, enigmas, chaos, absurdity, delirium, and things for their own sake. I raise a glass to certain things that ignore tired morality cartoons in reviving ways.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Number blocked...

I have always welcomed the existence of simply elegant and wildly offbeat explanations offered by so-called "crackpots" and "conspiricists" in addressing that which inspires or confounds them. I'm less interested in the content of individual theories (though they're often wonderfully provocative), and more impressed by the choice to pursue them in public. It takes a certain courage to stick your neck out in our clubby species, one traditionally bound by fear and conformity, where being labeled a "conspiracy theorist" is not only instantly marginalizing, but also grounds for being considered insane. So three cheers to all the iconoclasts and visionaries and genuine nutters out there who've stuck to their guns, performed their own research, and broadcast what's on their minds in the face of rejection and worse.

They are just theories after all. The "conspiracy" prefix is a label that comes from a system that needs to protect itself and ward off ideas and speculations that might cause it to unravel at the seems. It doesn't matter whether the outside ideas are bogus or correct. The risk of any uncontrolled, un-vetted paradigm shift in perception is too threatening. It makes sense. (Those clever cabals who worked long and hard to build sheeple-containing systems would surely lose out!)

I'm always interested to see how people dismiss outsider ideas. "Ah conspiracy theory, the plague of feeble minds..." is one response I remember well. "People just aren't smart enough to pull that kind of thing off..." is another that's been used to derail alternative takes on everything from the moon mission to 9/11. "There's no proof..." is the classic response (to which one might counter "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"). The list of debunkings goes on and on. The unifying agent? They always have an air of finality about them. As if the dismissing logic were draped over a single sentiment: DON'T MESS!

(Jean Luc Cornec)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Too much verb...

Had that been the case, exercises would have had to have been enacted after having had their paperwork approved, not before.

(Martha Rosler)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Get Kony...

As so many of us shame-ridden citizens of Bubblopolis (LA/NY/PDX/SF/etc) focus our (solar) flaring (full moon) frustrations on getting Kony, what I really wanna know is - who's gonna get the shameless narcissist Jason Russell?

At risk of sounding glib, I am so pushed away from the subject by this approach. The asserted good intentions of legacy-obsessed self-filming altruists grate nerves to their nubs and degrade the real issues at play here down to sunny Bonoism. Jason Russell you've left me cold, disinterested, and angry (at you) in the face of something that clearly deserves attention. And I kick myself for falling into this dumb trap of trifling disgust. Here, embarrassed, nauseated, at my coldest, I will confess to a passing interest in the unchecked projections of outraged Californians marketizing their dawning discomfort with other worlds (via cute bracelets, child exploitation, superior voices, Shepard Fairey fingerpaints, and the power of the self-promoting docu-tumor). It makes one wonder what blunt awareness can do. I'm now painfully aware that ego-activism compounds Kony problems in fascinating ways. It's a great model of a 21st Century transcontinental socio-cinematic puzzle that defines increasingly odd encounters in the extremes of global culture. We're one but we're not the same.

Yes, someone should get Kony. Do I have to even say that? He's apparently a murdering opportunist lost in a situation no one fully understands. And yes, maybe this campaign will help save some children from ruin. That would be very good. I don't want to be a hater here, but tonight my hackles are as flared as our sun's corona. I don't seem to be the only one wresting with this either. OK, I'll stop. I know my expression is as misguided and upsetting as the one I'm attacking. Damn you civilization with all your blind spots and quagmires. Damn you America for the numbing spritz of your popping bubbledom.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Nothing is in the bag...

(Viviane Sassen "Mauritanie")

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Genius lurks...

Apparently, genius lurks just beneath the surface of ordinary things. Do you see it?

(Thanks Helena!)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hold your value...

No matter what clump of dung the world hurls at you, no matter how you are seen or not seen or think you are judged or forgotten by others, do this: hold your value. The you that makes you you is yours to uphold. And so we're clear, it's as much of an illusion as would be letting the outside world have its way with your you. It's a good trick to know - no one can make you disappear.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A limited window of opportunity...

Why do ideas act like they're all into reality, then leave you hanging? Was the idea leading you on? Why did it put actualization on the table, then suddenly take it away? It’s because with every idea, there is only a limited window of opportunity to take things and run with them. When the idea is still feeling you out, it'll be all tentative and experimental, hiding, teasing, seeing if you have standards that are up to snuff. Only those who take action then and there can make things happen with the idea. Want to get lucky with an idea? Move fast!

(slightly altered text from a men's magazine article)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Old what's his face...

(Nico the oldest silverback in captivity)

It only happens once in your life and today was that day. A wonderfully uninhibited fellow called me "old" today. I was riding my bike on the safe side of a temporary construction barricade on a busy street, when said agitated pedestrian started screaming at me, "This is a walkway not a bike path man!" Then the clincher (as I slowly glided by him with plenty of room to spare): "Shit, are all you old people crazy?" I laughed. I guess the gray hair is eclipsing the baby face. Or maybe the baby face has turned into a toddler face. With wrinkles. And bags under its eyes. And a faraway stare that says, "I've tasted the absolute chill of deep outer space motherfucker." Or maybe it was the flacon of Geritol on a tether of giraffe intestine.

On the subject of faces, I've got nothing to complain about. I am, however, still reeling from the piece on face transplants in this week's New Yorker. Sure the philosophical implications of wearing a stranger's face are mind boggling, but what really seared my neurons were the horrific tales leading up to the actual transplants... Assume that the reason you need a new face is because your old one is gone. Assume that because you can't live as an exposed skull for too long, that old exposed skull of yours will be essentially shrink wrapped in pig skin that your body will reject. Assume that most of the people who have undergone this thoroughly modern experience are remarkable individuals with lots of fascinating things to say about the experience. At least when they're being interviewed for a New Yorker piece. Wouldn't you be at your most fascinating then? So it's hard to say what these people are really like. But I like them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Are you drawing on all your horsepower?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Vainglorious Universe...

1. There is an underlying principle that constrains the universe to evolve towards life and mind.
2. Only universes whose properties are such as to allow observers to exist are observed.
3. Our universe likes to be looked at.

Conclusion: Our universe is a pretty beast who likes attention and so she invented us as living mirrors scattered here and there striving to catch a glimpse of her reflection, which is, of course, impossible by her design. We seek her vanity in vain.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rock and River...

What kind of dialogue can they have?

Monday, January 16, 2012

I'm still afraid, but it's ok now...

It's political season, which means the ethers are crammed with lies and hidden agendas and words and gestures some people think other people want to hear and see. Around this time, I start to get a creepy feeling that the world is actually filled with Nazis and pedophiles who have mastered the art of smiling for the camera and shoveling out sanctimonious proclamations and actions born of guilt and self-loathing. The Cove, in particular, was a movie that really illuminated this for me. Can those dolphins lobby for better human champions? Hope so...

The way we're wired we can't really know what's going on in the world. Isn't it wonderfully maddening? There's a performative surface and 7 billion bubble worlds beneath this, burbling in various uncensored degrees, complicated and embarrassing spaces that curious thinkers and artists strive to tap and/or exploit while the rest of us broker in pantomime and shame.

"Forget voyeurism and fetishism cliché... It is about what people hide inside themselves. In their inner space full of opinions, attitudes, thoughts, dreams and taste."

(quotation and photo by Dany Peschl)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leap into art...

Yup. Maurizio Cattelan... all that work hanging from the ceiling... 24 bolts holding so many tons of stuff... playful and provocative, bla bla bla... But what I really want to know is how many of you have tried (or considered) leaping to your death as you climb Frank Wright's spiral art walk to its dizzying heights? Can't find record of a single suicide or attempt. The Guggenheim must really have some clout in hushing such things up, cuz I can't believe that this fall remains unexplored by such a creative clientele for half a century.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The heart chakra is massive...

Up the spine you go. From the coiled kundalini in the root of your pelvis to the thousand petalled lotus of your divine crown, these timeless chakras are excellent compartmentalized metaphors for various aspects of the psyche as well as our experience of life. Devout Hindus spend much of their lives exploring and ultimately transcending each chakra on their personal journey to enlightenment. Very few ever get past the heart chakra. It is simply too big, too complex, too flammable for most of us to transcend. When we "follow our hearts" we are acknowledging a pathway that comes from our higher self, i.e. messages intuited via the heart from the higher chakras, the extra-karmic realms, the ones we may never get to.

People get down on this enlightenment stuff, and yeah, I can see why. It's vertically integrated, heavy-handed, and woefully unscientific mysticism. But without a doubt, I do notice progress, growth, and even a kind of elevation of spirit as I age. Call that what you will. I'm game for these "higher" levels of existence. I'm game for the churning ride of the heart. A muscle you must explore but mustn't explode.