Counterfeit Commonality

1. Wonder and Awe

2. Doubt

3. Forsakenness; retreat to self.

Karl Jaspers talked at me about this.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Quoting The Sphere

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo it's rolling agin. Goin sumwheres. A little of what a lot adds up to.

The best laid plans of mice and men. That's the subtext of everything I try to make. The plan is shit save for the tiniest kernel that was or was not recognized as the impetus behind all the absurdity that might yield something.

Premise: Today everything I've got here is pathetic and misguided and worthless and I can't believe allthe goddamnn time i've sunk inot this lay me down now and sleepe forever/.

Premise: Today it's got something and I feel fine.

Outcome: Unknown event entry.

bedwetters. Chop chop chop. You gys are great, Haha! Fucking but who brought candles? and all the little noises too

Test if it's good Mmmmmm. mmm.

go back to spin class asshole; dares

Part of you gives ineveery time. Wow, isnt that going somewhere?(car sounds, sort of)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Old Men Drinking

I've known Rob since I was finishing undergrad at EUP and he was starting graduate studies. I've realized recently that he's like a more adventurous version of my dad.

He makes abstract oil paintings. Together we're old men at the trendy bars getting idiot drunk sometimes and venting about painting all the time. No one likes us. Not even us I suspect, but not always. A girl talked to us last time. I got tipsy and riled up and ended up ranting too loud with a stiff finger toward her face about the absurdity of talent. Sorry about that.

Rob does better than I do. His work is a little more accessible for an audience I think and sometimes he laments how that must be a bad thing. He landed a deal with a company thats building a hotel here in Pittsburgh. They commissioned twenty paintings, each four feet square. It's fun to hear about some of the requests. Less pink, for instance. What the fuck are you on about? Luckily he has a go-between. She's an artist that isn't making work but rather brokering deals like the one with Rob. Good for her I say. We need her.

The demand and volume has changed Rob's process. And thus, his images and surface too. I went to his studio to look at them. Chunkier and clunkier than in the past. It's a transition I'd wanted to see him make. He says his work deals with forces in the universe not commonly pondered but that super nerd physicists study and quarrel over. Mountains too and the unseen strata and the physical presence and girth of landmass.

We get along pretty great. We can talk about this dog's life we've gone for until the cows come home. I suppose it's fair to say that we're old fashioned. But some of that is good. It cultivates sincerity instead of shallow incoherent theory. I think I say some things that help him, and I steal his color ideas and his discipline for layering a lot, too.

He also has a solo show down in Alabama coming up. So his plate is pretty full.

Lovers in California

I'm just back from California. I like to fly. It's very introspective for me. Flying is a very childish and pathetic act of rebellion. That makes it touching.

I was in Santa Barbara for the wedding of two beloved friends. Stepping out of the plane onto the tarmac of Santa Barbara's tiny airport I could immediately feel how different the air was. The groom-to-be retrieved me and we went to lunch. Then he dropped me downtown to pick up some things while he ran his own errands. "Be careful" he warned me as he pulled to the curb to drop me in the shopping area "they're all under 18." But no one out there gave me a second look. It's yuppie sprawl. Two minutes out of the car I saw a man stacking up tupperware containers. They each held a snake. Yes, that's about right for the experience I had in the shopping excursion. Pretty carefree and somewhat mindless brats prancing around.

The wedding and it's surrounding activities took place in a campground nestled in a canyon right by the ocean. It's striking, but what it may lack in our eastern coast haze it makes up for in the scent of money.

The first night I was dumbstruck by the sky. It was littered with stars, constellations I'd only ever really heard of were suddenly there.

I didn't sleep much. Up at 5 on the first morning I went for a walk with a book. No one else was out. Desperate for water I walked a little dazed into one of the restroom buildings and saw an informational on the wall about mountain lion encounters. Turning the corner I jumped as a man with furry man boobs was brushing his teeth over the sink. I turned and left without looking back.
Everything was so dry. On the flight in I studied a huge brown fan shape cascaded down a mountain side. That's where a fire blazed recently, I was told. I went up a slope off of the trail through two trees. Up in the dry grass I came across some bones. Fairly sizable ones. It was a little alarming. I sat up further on the hill as the sun rose over the adjacent peak and read. Then I realized I had made myself a pretty easy target for the lions. Then I went to breakfast.

There were friends there whom I love, but most of the trip was much like my life here in Pittsburgh. Feeling pretty alienated and separate. It let up here and there. It's all my fault.

Wildlife I saw: A small snake, two lizards, llamas, an adorable donkey, goats, hawks, herons, gulls, and dolphins.

The ceremony was a simple and sincere Jewish one. It took place on a flat grassy plateau that looked back through the canyon to the ocean at dusk. I was taken aback by how beautiful and touching it was. I feel humbled and grateful. Like how you feel in love.

I made damn sure to book window seats for all four flights. The views were spellbinding. Coming home from San Francisco at dusk over the expanse of the midwest felt like I'd never been to this planet. After nightfall little clusters of electric lights looked a little like this:

But much better.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do you take thee, in dullness and violence?

The connection between Cormac McCarthy and Joel and Ethan Coen is already recognized. The brothers are obviously fans of McCarthy's writing. They try to make very similar work in mood; dark, absurd, malevolent. And, of course, they've adapted his work into film. I just finished Outer Dark, a novel published in 1968. All these artists seems to be asking: what kind of God could there be, how can we not be anything short of abandoned?

I think the key difference is that the Coen brothers take full advantage of abusing their characters relentlessly. They are coldly brow-beaten with a smirk and a condescending shake of the head. McCarthy's isn't exactly always a compassionate or empathetic vantage point either, but his is a presentation still more stark and aching with the pathetic human stain precisely because it is bereft of any clear bias. All judgement has been brushed aside in order to examine the plight of humans. And his prose constructs a painfully gorgeous landscape in which his characters struggle and flounder.

It howled execretion upon the dim camarine world of its nativity wail on wail while he lay there gibbering with palsied jawhasps, his hands putting back the night like some witless paraclete beleaguered with all limbo's clamor.

The imagery falls over itself, turning and folding again and again.

I like the Coen brothers' work. It's just a different medium and they squeeze the storytelling in finding their voice. Maybe the characters are simply dumb animals or violent animals too much of the time. Maybe I am just dismayed to hear about us described as such.