Friday, August 28, 2009

Who Created Your Ass?

Wow. If you KNOW you're going to heaven, why not?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Identity vs. Camera...

This is my kind of tintype. On first glance, this fellow seems to exist independently of the prying eye of the camera. That extended finger on the saw suggests a hint of self-awareness though, of cinematic flare. Or does it? Then the rakish tilt of the hat. Was this 1875 meat masher a closeted runway model, is he oblivious to the idea of being recorded, or somewhere in between? Your answer probably says more about you than him.

We all know the feeling of self-loathing that can arise when we take in images, videos, or audio recordings of ourselves. And the relief of "that one's not too bad." It's very unhealthy to dwell in this space for too long, but it's an important one to consider. These symbolic externals are all that many people can discern in the realms of human interaction.

How strange that we should live on the inside of our skin, unable to read the never-ending story of our physical presence the way we devour others'. We're on to this of course; the fear of not knowing what we're projecting at any given moment feeds many mirror addictions.

Our physical selves almost always oversell or betray our inner identity. I mean, what are the chances of a perfect match-up? Now add the lossy, warping "lenses" of recording devices into the mix and all hell breaks loose. Does our core identity adapt to the information it receives through mirrors and photographs? Do we fawn over animals and people who are blind or deaf because of their "natural," unaltered behavior? Which curations of our physical selves are efficacious? Noxious? Pathetic? Unholy?

In conclusion, identity in the modern world is a tough one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All kinds of lazy...

"There are different species of laziness: Eastern and Western. The Eastern style is like the one practised in India. It consists of hanging out all day in the sun, doing nothing, avoiding any kind of work or useful activity, drinking cups of tea, listening to Hindi film music blaring on the radio, and gossiping with friends. Western laziness is quite different. It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so there is no time at all to confront the real issues. This form of laziness lies in our failure to choose worthwhile applications for our energy."

- Sogyal Rinpoche

(thanks Trina).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lovely wallflowers blooming...

While politely observing a shy person this morning at ye olde overpryced coffee shoppe, it (the obvious generalization) occurred to me... it's not that shy people don't want attention, on the contrary, they crave it. They just don't know how to handle attention. Shy people, I can help. I know how much you take in and how hard it is to find a present-tense interface with reality that meets your excruciatingly high standards. Let's talk... behind digital curtains if we must, but really, as attractive as it may be, the shy must be overcome.

(Painting by Ilya Repin)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The sky looks sweet and wears a pretty blue dress...

People who work in extremely dangerous fields (such as Clark Gable's dashing, dumb risk-taker in the excellent film Test Pilot) inhabit another hyper-enhanced reality. It's a powerful drug for them and those around them.

Every hour of life is a bittersweet victory punctuated by the adrenaline rush of cheating death, infused with the agony of knowing that if death visits not today, then maybe tomorrow. Once you're in this zone there's no leaving it - "normal" life can not compare. ("He gets you -- there's no fun being with anyone else," says Spencer Tracy of Gable's character in the film.)

In this erotically charged quagmire you will accept a perpetual dance with death ("Put on the red shoes Vicky!"). It is a dynamic that can be applied to several fields, namely the ones that empower desirable individuals by binding them to a sacrificial alter: actors, politicians, and rock stars come to mind.

Of course, in being born, we're all engaged in a dance with death. Our lives are no less precious. We just don't confront death on a daily basis. Most of us don't live as gods or rock stars or test pilots. We buffer our mortality with the hypnotic drone of "lesser" tasks, and we experience a blissfully false sense of immortality. Good trick!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What aliens think...

This thing you call language. Most remarkable. You depend on it for so very much. But is any one of you really its master?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cultural Imagination...

There's actual stuff, and then there's the way we think about stuff. I am increasingly interested in the latter (in relation to the former). The cultural imagiation includes all the messy, dreamy, illogical, unconscious, self-serving, magical thinking that is collectively brought to the table when virtually any subject is invoked. Fantastic stuff!

Take anything... The Crusades for example. What is triggered by this concept? Probably something not too far from the image above. The actual Crusades were probably a good deal less cinematic and crisp than this imaginary depiction. Those scaly suits of armor got sweaty.But for this tobacco company, it was the satisfying idea they were interested in not the trench-foot reality.

The "Pop Imagination" has real value. To ignore it, or event to vaguely acknowledge it, is to deny the most accurate portrait of our collective experience. Can it be measured without ruining its wonderful organic sloppiness? Probably not, thank gods.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Recent offerings from Friends of Gazpachot...

SBW says the first picture of herself where she thought she looked "acceptably ok" was taken shortly after she met me.

JB says, "at risk of sounding sexist" that "men are generally givers and women are generally takers. This reverses in motherhood, when women have to become givers. Therefore, motherhood brings out the man in a woman."

JTW has "recurring waking dreams"of using his arm in a throwing (or perhaps tennis swinging) motion.

RD says, "let's start a time bank."

STL let slip, "I was recently reminded that I invented Facebook." I would have to disagree STL, since yours truly and RJ invented a religion of humiliation waaay back in the mid- 1980s in which people would record their most embarrassing aspects in public diaries displayed in social settings for all to see.

RJ says that "the POTUS is well-meaning but powerless."

WF sends a photo of an old gorilla mask armature.

JE assures me that "shit sandwiches are exhausting!"

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Nature Boy: eden ahbez...

I've always loved the Nat King Cole song Nature Boy, but never would have imagined its peculiar origins. Or rather, these are the strange origins one might have imagined, with the expected reality being far less interesting. Sometimes these things get reversed.

The song was penned by a bearded man living under the Hollywood sign in 1947. Not a "hobo" but rather the original hippie. eden ahbez (lowercase his choice) arrived in Los Angeles in 1941 and began playing piano at the Eutropheon, a small health food store and raw food restaurant on Laurel Canyon Blvd. The cafe was owned by John and Vera Richter, German immigrants who followed a "naturmensch" and "lebensreform" philosophy, influenced by the Wandervogel movement in Germany. Their followers, known as "Nature Boys," wore long hair and beards, and ate only raw fruits and vegetables.

Once, when Ahbez was being hassled by a cop who assumed from his wild appearance that he deserved to be hauled off to a mental institution, he remarked calmly, "I look crazy, but I'm not. And the funny thing is, that other people don't look crazy, but they are." The cop thought it over and responded, "You know bud, you're right. If anybody gives you any trouble, let me know."

Here's a track, The Wanderer, from ahbez' 1960 album, Eden's Island (wonder if this is where Gilligan got his start - and font?).

(Thanks KXLU for the edification.)