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Wednesday
Apr172019

Notre Dame of Impermanence

People who have no poetry in their lives have to live in other ways, and have real life events take them out of the ordinary.

Space is where we often go to get images that might save us. Thinking of space this way I think space is worth reaching, much more valuable than sputniks and rocket ships and planetary probes to determine whether or not there's water on Mars.

The image of space I hold: it's that either us, or something like us, is not out there, that if something like us is out there that something is better, finer, even stranger and more beautiful than we are, or that nothing's out there but one colorful planet of nothingness after another.

This image of space is the best I can do with the unknown, other than wondering what my death will be like once it's here.. Some people might think this a morbid way of wondering but I find it exciting, invigorating, a form of time travel in which reaching the infinite is always a possibility. 

As a poet put it, Things can burn in water and drown in flame. From one standpoint to another everyone alive knows that only nothing lasts. 

I haven't read The Bible in many years but I looked at "The Sermon on the Mount" this morning, receptive to the hristian message: It's not just "blessed are the poor," it's blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

A Planetary Assemblage, assembled sometime in 2017 and reassembled recently. Photograph by author, all rights reserved.

Monday
Apr152019

How to make a painting 

I start by goofing around with shadows, the one I'm making and the one that's made naturally by the light coming through the window.

Then I start thinking of the things that don't mean anything to me anymore. Should I make a list of them? And if I make a list where should I start?

I've just gone through a phase where I go around looking at everyone as a 'circle'. This followed a long period in which I saw almost everyone as an animal--a wild boar, an armadillo, a racoon, an elephant and so on. I couldn't seem to shake it, seeing people this way, nor could I shake the sadness I felt for the animal having to be seen as a human being: I felt as if I was putting them in some sort of jail. 

My left hip seems tired of its life. I try talking to it like a basketball coach might talk to a team at halftime that's behind by 20 points, replacing the sound of tough love with the sound of gentle urgency.

I wish there were more people like my sons in the world. It would be a better world if there were. I also wish I was more interested in myself as a Muse, but I'm not: I don't like to be looked at, thought about, fussed over.

It surprises me to see I've written on a piece of scratch paper the words, Army, Language, Faith, noting these words are the slogan for the re-election campaign of Petro Poroshenko, the President of the Ukraine. What was it about this slogan that made he write it down? I can't remember.

Color is the great miracle of sight. Each color is a miracle, as are their names--ivory black, translucent white, portrait pink, cadmium yellow, brilliant blue, buff, middle green...I'm sure I read somewhere that every color is expressed somewhere in the planetary spheres. There may not be enough words for all the colors there are. Color may be as infinite as numbers are infinite.

Getting ready to take a long trip I begin to consider books I'd like to take along. As I'm travelling in a small RV I need to be thoughtful of space, and books take up space. I remember a Swedish friend who'd rip the pages out of a book and throw them away once she'd finished reading them. But she read paperbacks, mostly murder mysteries, disposable literature she called it. I don't read this way and I always have three books going, a book of poems, a novel, and non-fiction. I read a little of each every day, less and less than I once read but at least a little.

Often by the end of the day I'm tired. But what am I tired of? Could I be tired of my happiness? It's possible I suppose. Tired of being happy I go to bed.

In bed I come across this in the notebook I keep in the bedside table--"It does a man good to turn himself inside out once in awhile: to sort of turn the tables on himself: to look at himself through others eyes--especially skeptical eyes, if he can. It takes a good deal of resolution to do it: yet it should be done--" Walt Whitman.

The next painting, "Skyline of American Literature," is a portrait of downtown, any downtown, San Francisco I suppose, as a series of books I've written, both under my own name and a pseudonym or two. 


Petite Mondrians, a series of small paintings, collection of the author, 2019.

Saturday
Apr132019

Our own black hole 

The black hole they're talking about isn't up above but down below, here on earth, connected as one planet is connected to another to the notion that as we're becoming more and more well informed and knowledgable about almost everything we're even more in the dark, becoming ever more and more powerless. 

For all the benefits of the past--plastics, antibiotics, the extraction industy, air travel--that promised to make us masters of the earth seem to be turning into liabilities.

Consequently I was delighted when the Israeli spacecraft crashed into the moon the other day, thinking it might be some sort of spiritual signal advising all of us to slow down, to pay more attention to the earth, the densest planet in the solar system. Fortunately no one was hurt, and there was no report of Palestinian settlements. 

Gottfried Benn, a writer with whom I'm currently engaged, wrote in the mid 1950s: "The exploration of outer space hasn't yet reached the stage where we could start to feel something again at the sight of the stars."  

'Giotto', painting in progress, 2'3" x 2'3", acrylic on canvas, 2019.

Friday
Apr122019

3 Tropes and reading Robert Lax

The old trope: man's inhumanity to man.

The new trope: no matter how well you think know someone you don't really know them.

The future trope: you can't really know yourself.

 After reading Robert Lax a reader sees it's possible to drill into one word and by drilling to find new meanings. And yet whenever one is at a loss for words it's probably a good thing. 

Sunday
Apr072019

Bernie Sanders takes notes

Why would anyone make art for money unless one was starving and homeless and could sell the art for food or shelter, or both? Money is not why art is made. Though sometimes art makes money, making money on art doesn't make it art.

Most artists I know are socialists, if they're anything at all. I asked a writer friend recently about his politics. He took a few moments to think about my question and then said, "I guess I'm a Marxist" as if he was surprising himself with his answer.

I don't know what I am. I know what I'm not, I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. I've been down in the dumps politically ever since the 2000 Bush swindle in Florida, and the more reading of American history I do the downer in the dumps I get. Woe is me and the hundred of thousands like me.

Since I turned 18 here's who I've had as my President--Nixon, Ford, Carter*, Reagan, HW Bush, Clinton, W Bush, Obama, Trump--a pretty sorry lineup. I put an asterisk beside Carter, who is retrospect wasn't terrible and is, as another friend put it, doing a really good job as an ex-President. I went door-to-door for Obama and look what I got! An inflated re-empowered Wall St., Guantanamo still open for business, and Trump, yes Trump who I lay on Obama's doorstep. But that's a subject for some other time.

I don't know what to say about Trump, I really don't. I don't understand the appeal. When I watch him speak, and I do with a kind of fascination, I watch the way his mouth moves. I learned this when I had a business associate who lied--watch the mouth move, the mouth will tell you as much as or more than the eyes. I know the type, a real estate developer. The game is all about using the word "great" as many times as you can in your presentation to the planning commission and in your press releases.

I guess what surprises me is how inept Trump is. I thought he'd at least be a decent administrator/businessman. That Cabinet! It really is a chamber of little horrors. there's no other way to look at it. A NY TIMES columnist was writing a weekly column, a contest to name the worst cabinet member, and each week Trump's team would joust among themselves for first position. Ross, DeVos, Perry, Mnuchin, Carson, take your pick. Don't forget either that Mitch McConnell's wife works for Trump as a Cabinet Member.

My idea for a Trump 'buyout' got no traction. I still think everyone dismayed with Trump could pitch in a modest amount of money, say $27 per person, to be dumped into a big sack and delivered to The White House in exchange for his resignation. At the very least it would be a great pr stunt and probably make the national news. The odds in Vegas of his accepting it would depend of course on the amount collected, but I'd wager they'd be 50/50.

Which brings me to Bernie Sanders, a socialist. I'm unequivocally backing Bernie. There's no more deserving candidate. I don't even care if he can win, which is the knock on him of course by the pundits. When I watched Trump's State of the Union speech, Bernie was the only person taking notes. While everyone else was clapping like the trained seals they are or sitting stone-faced like the trained seals they are too, Bernie was actually listening and taking notes with a Bic pen. This guy's a serious man, probably too serious for his fellow citizens, many of whom detest socialism without really knowing what socialism is, never mind that they're already operating in what could pass for a socialist system, and embrace the fantastical lies of a rich kid capitalist bully instead. 

As to our pundits. I have to laugh when one of the talk show 'news' anchors asks a pundit if they'd, "Mind staying on for a few minutes more." Hehe.