Wednesday, December 31, 2008

just a second more

Mouth won't make the sounds right, nothing sounds right, lips only sure of themselves in silent speech, and the translations of touch, which may circumvent subtext, cut down on the confusion, speak directly to desires, and while the festival committee discussed deities, I thought "We just need to talk" >>

The circles are silly, the cycles perpetuated under spherical moon, circular sun, with hands held tight, holding absurdly to each other as if gravity might give up and we be released towards the circles we worship - the son, the sun, the chosen ones, the prophets, the martyrs, the saints, the gods, the goddesses, the demi-gods, the krishnas and the shivas, the buddhas and the brahmin, anubis and toph, old jesus and adam and even moses and abraham, good allah and mohammad, thor in valhalla, god in his heaven, all is right with the world. But what did Jesus say - what did he tell you in that dusty old book? He said, "For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." Oh-oh yeah? You m-mean God ain't a jolly old robe sittin' on a throne of clouds way up where we don't know, judging and observing, determining right and wrong? No sir, and there ain't no Neptune in the sea, ain't no dragons in those caves, ain't no fairies in that forest, ain't no aliens in your brain, ain't no dimensions unfolding from your fingertips. (psst: The kingdom of God is within you.) Hey, hey! God is in me! I am God!

I don't mean to spoil the fun. I don't mean to bust up your magic, halt your rituals, snuff out your candles, fan out your incense, keep you from kneeling, but quit lookin' up at that cross. I don't know how many times Huey Newton has got to tell y'all folks, but "Heroes ain't nothin' but sandwiches." That includes all that dead ancient dust you chase after, includes all those fairy tale figures conjured beneath the stars, before we knew one of those was Mars, another Venus, planetary gods in the heavens, passive masses subject to gravity.

You've got to
Open up your, open up your, open up your

And let time go
Let them go

Friday, December 26, 2008

kids will be skeletons

kids will be skeletons someday so it's a sin to lie still, right? but you must, at least once, under a satellite or a star, drifting through the sky, on shaky steel, riveted and solid, above an incomprehensible fluidity, the mighty mississippi's endless tide, black sky dissolving in light pollution, behind an endless stream of cars, below, the river less roars, more pours, from the north, southward, to new orleans and beyond, to become a gulf, becoming an ocean, felt ourselves becoming as we lie still on rickety steel, rusty beams pristinely vintage, acid worn, dissolving like the sky, so that every footfall is a victory, every step a challenge to the structure, and when the bridge does not collapse you feel relieved, and you save up all your breaths because you never know which one might be your last, so that when you lie still under the stars on a rickety bridge above a river, against a backdrop of cars, you'll be alive, and not know why, and each time you remember, you'll sigh, sending your breaths downriver, away from the pain of knowing, the breath inward which rejoices, the breath outward which cries out, the breath inward which receives, the breath outward which projects, your breath, a whisper floating downriver, amongst the eddies and whirlpools, turning the river over backwards in rivulets, seen from above like strands of hair washed white in the sink, and the foam is thousands of celebratory bubbles cheering on the river's progress, intoxicated by the chemical contents of the water, detritus of our consumptive desires, and the shore is my hands caressing your liquid skin endlessly, all at once. lie still and feel the brick platform beneath rumble, watch upside down the lights shine upward on the steel above you, passing in their own time, set to the rhythm of the train, hopelessly pulled forward over the tracks by locomotion, a daze in the headlights of the train, a crazed look in the eye of every lamp lit down the caboose, and there's no one watching but you, as your lover hides her head in your chest. she's not scared, she's just unimpressed. or it's irrelevant to what's going on in that chest, the lungs expanding and collapsing with each breath, rejoice, reject, as the heart pumps, thumps, stumps the logical mind with each beat, steady, increasing rhythm, therefore hypnotism, therefore movement, and the stillness is broken, and you move with the stars, falling endlessly, clutched tight to each other through space; you flow with the river, float swiftly just along the surface and succumb to the intoxication of contrasting borders, above and below, when a loss of breath is, of course, death, and your arms flail and you scream, or pout, but bite your lips to keep from crying out, clutch tighter in the fall through space, hold tighter hurdled along straight, like the train, illuminating the night, bright as you bounce along, crazed and dumb, to have finally left all doubt behind, to be leaving in every moment, fleeing as you move forward, the vision always new, the perspective always changing, you look above, to the stars, you look below to the river, behind you the cars, and before you know it, the train, and you bury your head in your lover's chest, to hear their heart defy the roar, dare it to beat still more, beg it to be bold, implore the one you hold, as you sigh, sigh, sigh rivulets in the sky, galaxies riveted to night by stars, which shine, from this distance both steely and divine, at least sure of their place, a part of a structure, too large to comprehend, and you lie still on the steel structure of which you are not sure, holding tightly onto a person, people being of stuff which is anything but sure, but still you clutch, and trust, with pure naive trust, childlike logic which keeps you clutching onto this chest stuffed full of uncertainty, nothing but probability all around you, keeping you from the improbable river, bubbling with a consumptive lust, which you sigh against, breath inward, breath out, quicker as you clutch, breath inward, breath out, because kids will be skeletons some day, but that day for damn ain't sure today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

sounds, furthermore

The noise I've made the most often recently sounds like a groan and a sigh at the same time, and is meant to communicate a weight I can't possibly describe in the space of normal conversation. I make the noise because the question which prompts the noise is usually "How have you been?", which I don't take as an invitation to attempt to fully describe my weight, because I imagine describing the weight to be a lengthy process, one that might not have an end, so I make a noise that sounds like a groan and a sigh at the same time, by which I mean to communicate an inability to describe concisely "how I have been doing". Visually, it might look like this: "..." My eyes look toward a distant corner, away from the person I'm talking to, and then I return with a smile, as if to say "don't worry about it" or "what are you gonna do?" Everyone has problems.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

kitsch, personal and otherwise

I'm not wanting for words, but my open mouth suggests otherwise as I try to produce a sound that represents my thoughts, or my will, a sound that will project my desire and make it real, or at least known, and, naively I hope, make it true. But the electric storm of cranial activity never coalesces into a lighting bolt, so no there is no thunder to announce its creation, the connection made between heaven and earth, briefly, borne of passive forces, the illusion of a divine will, just static on a grander scale, and when the storm which is the mind is called upon to strike (like we imagine the heavenly father choosing his lightning bolts from a sheath and setting his mark with jagged golden arrow clutched between thumb and forefinger, eyes set upon his target, sure) it falters, and dissipates. Because first, our words are trapped in semantic towers, on the top floor, peering out over the landscape which steadily grows more miniature as the tower is built taller, further away from the earth, each stone between our words and the earth we walk upon (searching for words within our reach, finding all of them now in towers too tall to scale), each brick that sends our words further skyward is kitsch, which represent the multitude of meanings and connotations each word stands upon. As our words grow steadily upward, away from us, they also become more impossibly separated from our other words, which once mingled freely with each other, but now squint at each other from long distances, forgetting every day more details of the other words, what they were once like, and every day discovering more of the kitsch of the other words, finding similar bricks placed on their own tower, and the kitsch becomes more connected than the words, and now you can see how the trap is tripled, because our words are not only too far above us, but also beyond each other, and at the same time, connected by the very thing that keeps them separate from us, and from each other. Second, there is nothing, really, we have to do, but we cannot accept this, like other animals, so we playact our whole lives, each of us creating not only our own script, but also simultaneously contributing to the scripts of each other, and we are, of course, each the star of our own script. When we try to say something true, we can't, because the only truth is that there is nothing to do, which sounds like this: ______.

Friday, December 19, 2008

fresh phoenix

let's be honest, i never knew what i was doing to begin with. and now that i know sometimes, i'm suspicious, and i wonder if i really know, or if i just invent these fables and act out my own dramas. but how cynical, how completely jaded is that? no, i'm feeling, definitely, have to be, all this feeling, all these feelings, or why would I be holding a crisp piece of burnt pita bread, half-heartedly dipped in hummus, mouth agape and eyes exhausted, sagging with defeat, with acceptance of a great loss, an intense disconnection, red, swollen pouches of flesh surrounding my eyes, red, splintering veins pulsating monotonously, continuously and pupils very still, iris always ready to engulf the black, for the color to overtake the void, the light too intense, the truth too blinding, and the eyes squint, the mouth sags, the bottom lip quivers, terrified child, at the horrible sight of the eyes, the terrible, depraved weakness of their shock, the emptiness of the eyeballs' gaze, while the upper lip is anchored above, unable to fall completely under gravity's spell, to give in as eyelids do, and the bottom lip rises to cower below the upper, while the corners flee towards the feet, and the too toasted piece of pita bread has been in my hand and the hummus is still there and the commercials on the television never end. I left the pita bread in the oven too long because I was distracted. I was distracted by a call. I've just been distracted. I've just been distracting myself. I'm just creating these distractions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interview by Taylor Martin

So Taylor Martin asked some people some questions and I was one of those people. I thought it might be illuminating to anyone who is curious as to how I might feel about art and image making.

1. how do you think the process by which an image is made factors into how it is interpreted? do you think an image is just an image, or is the process by which it is made integral to how you perceive it?

of course an image is not just an image! art is communication, and everything that goes into creating that communication is a part of the communication as well. when you speak, your knowledge, perspective, preconceptions, experiences, prejudices, preferences, world-view, and ideals are all a part of how, why, and what you speak. art is no different! everything that goes into the creation of art is a material, including yourself, so any part of the work materially should be considered a part of the communication, and the materials or processes used to create that work should inform the communication.

but, ahhhh, also, thinking about 'the print' - it's sort of, for me, an abstraction, and i'm able to look at the image without thinking about 'the print' or, rather, the paper that the image is printed on. also, painting, you know, the paint in all the older stuff is all sort of irrelevant, but then, you know, pollock and them came along and started making stuff about painting, so... i mean, they got it, but then where do you go from there? soo i still think it depends on what you're trying to communicate, but maybe materials aren't always so important? if you're making work about a material, the material directly informs the work, but if you're making say, a documentary about homeless kids, or something, you're not necessarily going to use, like, body parts of homeless kids. you could use maybe their clothes? i don't know, but in that case, i think the point -is- the image, because the point of documentary work is to --show--, to present a 'document' of a reality. but, -how- you took those photographs could be important: did you live with them and run around with them and immerse yourself, or did you just pop up out of nowhere trying to be objective? i think that's important, and i think it's something you can tell in the images, or maybe should be able to.

2. do you think there is such a thing as a universal visual language? meaning, do you think there are certain visual languages that have been established by culture that have the potential to communicate to a wide audience? think about languages that could have potentially been established by painting, the invention of photography, or by film.

yes, definitely. there's all sorts of ways of communicating! every sort of interaction involves some level of communication, including the interaction between a viewer and a work of art. the art, created by an artist, is meant to communicate an idea, so without using words, the artist uses visual language to communicate. the birth of art was communication, cave paintings meant to convey meaning. since then, the language has been built on and expanded upon, and like our written and spoken language, there are cliches along with overused phrases, catchphrases, fad sorts of phrases, phrases that come in phases, slang, counterculture language, feminist language, gendered language, etc. etc. the same sorts of patterns that we find in spoken language can easily be found in visual language, as well as musical language. there's all sorts of languages we've invented, and they all inform each other, since they are all just methods of communication.

3. do you think a single image or a group of still images has the potential to carry narrative?

absolutely. there's no doubt as to the ability of people to create narrative out of absolutely anything, because there's something about us that craves a good story. history is a great big old story and we're livin' it, and since we've been raised on stories, we expect our lives to be stories, and we expect everything in life to sort of fall into these narratives that we've been told for years and years, right on back through dickens, to shakespeare, way on back to old man homer and those greeks, we've been telling ourselves stories since the dawn of man, and makin' stuff up like gods that are creating us! most of us believe some sort of story that involves someone else sort of making a story out of us! it's crazy! so, yes, an image or a group of images can certainly carry a narrative - as can a crumpled cigarette stub lying on the pavement, or a sickly neon light glowing ghastly orange on into the ashy night, or a car left for sale on the side of the road, forlorn like a highway hitchhiker.

4. how do you think that a society saturated by images has affected the way we perceive images?

the language just gets more and more complex, and we come to a point where it's really, really hard to actually 'see' because we're so overwhelmed with all the looking, and when you open your eyes it's hard not to see images, just picture postcards of places and moments, like a sunset in florida, or the birth of your first child, or a grandmother lying peacefully in a hospital bed, exhausted, scared, confused, perplexed, hurt, wronged sorts of tears trailing down your cheeks...

and life isn't able to be lived without documentation! the digital camera has become another intermediary, with folks photographing absolutely everything in the same sort of way, the same poses, the same smiles, the same happiness for posterity, because we don't photograph misery, we want to communicate eternal happiness from the walls of our living rooms, and from the profiles of our online identities, so that we're forever frozen in a moment in which we're happy to be around others, and they are happy to be near us, when the next moment outside of the frame is perhaps an awkward scattering, but at the very least a separation, while in photo albums we can live from one happy moment to the next, jumping past all the slower seconds spent lying in bed, watching the sun go down behind dusty blinds, past the alarm going off and the shower too cold, the waiting for a telephone call and driving on endless highways, and, looking at the stop-motion glee of the framed life, we feel nostalgic, and on some level jealous of this fabrication, so that the nostalgia is twinged with a prick of sadness, because loneliness can never really be banished.

5. do you have any general theories you abide by when making or looking at images? perhaps your own art theory?

well, i believe that art is communication, plain and simple, so i think about the basic stuff - how, why, what is this person communicating? to whom? and i try to answer those questions in varying degrees of specificity and value. for example, the 'to whom' may not be important to me, or it may be very general (i.e. anyone/everyone), but usually the why and what are pretty important, and the how.

Everytime I Think Of You

Curling up my heartstrings, twangy and lush, a hushed tone that reverberates up my neck, up my frets, causing me to, ring in and out of you, ring in all the wrangling feelings, the rooftop shingling, shining, jingling in the moonlight, musical dancing sparkles like a slanted starscape, black mirror of the night we ride on, legs astride, hanging on either side, and our hands in front of us, held and staring straight into each others eyes, held in gaze or gazes, seconds or minutes, a window reflected through clear skies of blue and bright white, into some interior region, a silence, a darkness we see and shy away from, hide our faces from, because it is familiar, but too private, too personal, the weight of pride and ego and self all shrouded in a dark black cloud or a small, hard marble, falling through the open skies, through the free air, through the contentment of white clouds, the nothingness of wooooooooosh, out of control, forever, until it decides to disappear entirely, of its own volition, no longer slave to gravity and time, the endless fall, but return to the nothing which always was, always will be, not a space, subject to no physical laws, but a state, or less, consisting of a choice, 1 or 0, nothing more, but the zero shrinks itself into inversion, pouring out of a point behind or under, beside or reflected, bisected and interconnected to all other points, rings and rings and rings around the sun, all at the same time, so that's out, too, all candles, as well, flames of any sort, will not do, their constant change is subject to all manner of disturbances too vague to mention, gust of wind smokes out and calls your attention, to open window, a cold night, a chill and a shiver, your legs surely quiver and you recall you left the window open, how could you forget, on a night like this, how could you forget, and in your heart you know you forgot because a moment ago your mind flew out the window and left you behind, just let itself out, because you had nothing for it to do, no purpose for its pondering, and it decided it was probably better off elsewhere, and off it went. And so you shiver.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'll Come Around

Anxiety today like the coffee shop days, sipping aloud, for warmth in the cold surround, sounds of streetlamps sighing compressed by the glass, drowned out by James brown on the jukebox, good god, teasing quarters out of pockets for TLC and R. Kelley, Al Green and Elvis, and the air smells honey brown. We walk briskly in from the car, and I hold the first door open while you wait holding the second, and we both walk in together, sit side by side in the booth together, I smile I shake your shivers off your shoulders.

We grew up in diners, publicly private, between orders of coffee and fried apple pie. I sussed out myself over hashbrowns and scrambled eggs, white toast golden glowing yellow with butter, dripping, and I associate wondering with maple syrup in small glass pitcher, etched with a woodland pattern, perhaps dutch.

And some months later we sat across from each other and you stopped using cream.

I don't really go to diners much anymore. For a while it was too smoky, and now I can't stand the grease. It never was the food that brought me there, but now it seems to be the reason I stay away. But, you've also been gone, and I'm not so encumbered with searching these days; I stroll with curious interest through the forest, but I no longer feel so lost, so terrified of the shadier parts - I sit for hours in the wilder patches some afternoons and notice sun broken into soft circles by small yellow leaves, their branches dissecting the sky, pulling apart clouds into tufts of white cotton candy stretched out in strands across the atmosphere, and I know below is a world I will never know, under the leaves, inside the dirt, across the what must seem endless horizon encompassing the shadow under my feet there are centuries of history, and I will only know it for an afternoon, a few hours before class, and I'll trample off to unknown worlds several feet at a time, beyond the imagination of the shadow organisms, spoken of in hushed awe, for millenia.