February 14, 2011

Closed Eye Drawings on Bible Stories

Since today I’m posting some messier stuff here’re two old drawings I did with my eyes closed. Nice yellowing tape, right?  They’re probably from somewhere between 91-93.  The first one illustrates the end Absolom meets, (II Samuel, 18: 9-15) the second illustrates the beginning of a new age. 

I love looking at these, it’s like looking at someone else’s work.


Carnival Kings

the spirit of carnival is the ultimate alternate text

This is one my favorite messy, unfunny cartoons. I drew it as a note to remember something I read in Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World.  I won’t tell you what it refers to, either you read the book and you know or you should read the book.  It is a great book!


Carnival cartoons

This is a follow up to my previous post about Bakhtin’s book Rabelais and His World  here Puck is applying love potion to a fortunate dreamer.  Below is an image of the play within the play, which I always associate with Puck’s secret visits, probably because both shapes occur in MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.  Both these cartoons were on the same page with the one in the next post, a truly classic carnival image.

January 28, 2011

stereoscope: style (1)

Since in my post on Seurat I quoted Rilke’s “cell of my art” statement, I figured I might as well post one of my favorite all time comparison lessons on that style “commandment.”   Above are two well known paintings by Van Gogh.  One is painted by the artist we know Van Gogh becomes and one is painted before Van Gogh fully realized that transformation.   I think the chief difference between these two paintings is how each painting relates to itself.  The difference between these two painting styles is in the relation between what the painting conveys and how it is rendered. In the first, the smoking skull image, an idea of something is conveyed, however vaguely, without regard to how it is rendered.  The idea is communicated then we notice how it is communicated, the calligraphy in which it is written.  In the second one, the sunflower,what the painting conveys is conveyed through how it is rendered.   It contains no abstractable message by which we can paraphrase it and do without the painting.  The painting is all.   I like to think that both paintings have the same thing to say.  They are both Van Gogh expressing something, but only in the second painting is the artist mature enough to say what he means.

January 15, 2011

Hark Back

Drawn during conversation the first night of Queer Spirit Camp 2009.  Still funny.

January 7, 2011

the perfect stereoscope

January 1, 2011

us doing what we said we’d do



December 31, 2010

Toward a New Year

We moved into the new house this year and we’ve been making all sorts of choices about what’s kept and what’s left behind.   We used to draw on this blackboard when we talked on the phone back when we lived at Maya’s family house when Maya was in Grad School.  We stopped drawing on it when we came up with this lively composition, changing only the year each January 1st.  See up there in the  left hand corner?  We stopped changing even that in 1996, then in ’99 we stowed this board when we moved out of state. We moved three more times in the intervening eleven years.  I don’t know what the occasion was but some time in the last months in our apartment we hung this over our bed and left it still untouched, except to every once in a while scuff  it with our heads by accident.   With 2011 coming on, finally in a place of our own and with a hard year passing away, we’ve decided to exchange all this history for a fresh start.

December 24, 2010

For Discussion (02): Punch Drunk Love

Encouraged by the break out success of my first “for discussion” post, I choose this night of all nights to instigate a second rich conversation.   PUNCH DRUNK LOVE is a wonderful movie.  I see it as a meditation on the reality and formative power of things like the will.

The will too is a real thing no less than a body. It has a certain constitution, and it can be made healthy or unhealthy.

That’s what I love about the movie Punch Drunk Love. In part the movie is about this guy who’s been caged by his family’s constant characterizations of his behavior. The family constantly keeps him off-balance with demands for explanations of behavior they judge bizarre without ever attempting to understand. And he does seem sort of feeble and ineffective and afraid and at the same time he has these intensely destructive explosions of rage.

But the movie doesn’t assert that this character is caged from the get-go. First it just shows you this guy alone and he appears strange and you don’t know what to make of him.   The medium of film allows us to watch his behavior for a long time before anybody has to put anything into words. In this way the film is able to create a real mystery around this guy’s identity and we are enabled to consider his behavior in relation to what we hear said of it. And we can watch the changes in his behavior in different settings, in the company of different people.

Two things happen in the movie. First, the character calls a phone sex line and becomes entangled with con artists who try to extort money from him. Significantly they try to prevent him from retaliating against their manipulations by judging him, by shaming him, “You’re a pervert, you deserve it.”  Second, he meets someone and they fall in love.  The two storylines become involved in one another and so the movie goes.

But the significant thing about the movie for me is that it offers two portraits of this strange guy. When he cancels his credit card to prevent the con artist from stealing all his money, four thugs are sent to force him to pay. When all he has is a family that continually shames and humiliates him, he is in this encounter with the thugs a person who flees. It’s an amazing scene, he bolts and runs and runs with this tremendous panicked whine coming out of him the whole time. He’s completely out of control. That’s who he is in that moment.

But then the second portrait comes after he’s fallen in love. The thugs return and this time they endanger his Beloved and threaten that relationship. This time he stands his ground and dispatches all four of them with impressive ease.  That’s who he is in that moment.

What’s changed is his relation to his will. Before he fell in love, frustrated and ensnared by people who supposed to love him,  the power in him could only explode in fits of “senseless” rage.  After he falls in love, as he tells the con artist when he finally faces him down, “I have a love in my life, it gives me power like you wouldn’t believe.”  In this new relationship he is a changed man, he is no longer what being on the outside of a family, taking any abuse, waiting to be invited in made out of him.  He is not now waiting for some good that someone else has the power to proffer. He is in possession of a good, of a thing he values and it gives him the power of integrity, it gives him an untempered simplicity which knows no hesitation.
It is a marvelous meditation on the reality of things like the will.  We think we can control things through our characterizations, but if the things we would characterize are substantial, they are real, and if our characterizations don’t fit, we pervert reality.  And this affects our will, our ability to love, and etc.

The film emphasizes the ambiguity in just seeing and hearing things, and ultimately in just feeling and thinking things as well. It cultivates this ambiguity by taking this guy out of the range of characterizations, by calling characterization itself into question. It  makes us watch things without our usual characterizations insulating us. As the character faces the hopes and anxieties of the first meeting of someone who might embrace him in spite of all he fears he is, who might want him as he is, we are with him in a world open to all of its own essential energies. We are standing with him without the higher ordering thoughts to flatten the experience into names. We are, as he is, involved, taken up, participating. The world once again seems a place of possibilities.

The film is at its funniest when the experience of love is characterized in its first completely disorganized sensations. The new couple has rendezvoused in Hawaii – a wild thing for either of these two people to have done – and they are kissing. He stops and says, “I’m sorry I forgot to shave.”
To which she replies: “Your face is so adorable … and your skin and your cheek… I want to bite it… I want to bite your cheek and chew on it, it’s so [] cute.”
He nods and then says, “I’m looking at your face and I just want to smash it. I just want to [] smash it with a sledgehammer and squeeze it, you’re so pretty.”
She: “I want to chew on your face, and I want to scoop out your eyes … and I want to eat them. Chew them and suck on them.”
He nods again and says: “Okay. This is funny.”
“This is nice.” They kiss again.

December 18, 2010

Marie was my secret Santa

 So at the Project U.S.E. holiday party, Marie P was my Secret Santa.   Which means I was  guarranteed a gift that was hand-crafted and super-thoughtful, lovely, clever and fun.  It was especially nice because it was all of these things and personalized for me. It was based on conversations we’d had.  It was a very pleasant surprise in the middle of the party.

She made me fortune cookie fortunes. We’d had a conversation about her history with fortune cookies when I showed her the blog posts here that had to do with real and fake fortunes I’d gathered to myself over the years. I like putting very important messages on fortune cookie paper.   Apparently I am not alone.

She’d asked me if I was planning to make the cookies as well.  A valid question which I had to answer shamefacedly in the negative.  In high school she’d made thousands upon thousands of fortune cookie fortunes with fortune cookies wrapped around them for a fund raiser.   Super cool.

She also made me fortune cookies.  Plenty enough to go around at the office party but I wasn’t sharing!  Very tasty cookies = not for sharing.  No, that’s not true. I wanted to make sure this package arrived home more or less intact so that I could share my good luck and warm feelings with Maya.

Marie also made the box in which she put the cookies in which she put the fortunes.  Cloth-lined and cloth-clothed, one of the fabrics for the box, she said, was from an old skirt.  You know, recycling, sustainability, that’s how Marie rolls.

Besides that Project U.S.E. is an extraordinary organization with which I am lucky to have become associated, one of the great gifts I received in the last year has been getting to know Marie.  She is a marvelous, super curious, wonderfully creative person.  Happy Holidays, Marie.