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.
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.
Nick Mullins posted a rich and interesting challenge on his web site today. I don’t have the time it would take to meet it, but I wanted to acknowledge it. It also gave me an excuse to publish a few old works.
First, my Halloween Costume from my 30th year. I went as Pregnant Death. It was the coming together of lots of postponed efforts. Since childhood, seeing Rick Baker’s gorilla make-up in such things as the Groove Tube and the King Kong of 1976. (In 1976 as a result of watching a tv d0cumentary of the making of King Kong, this is before even the VCR available to the average (my) household, I conceived of the concept of “Special Features.” I found the “making of” so engaging I just knew there was an industry to be made of it.)
So since that time when I used to make home-monster movies with my brother and friends ( when our big technological debate was which is better Super Eight or Regular Eight?) I’d dreamed of trying Baker’s process. The process involved casting an actor’s face, sculpting on top of the plaster replica, casting that and then making rubber “appliances” that could be glued directly onto the actor’s face. They were pliant so life like expressions could be made, either by the actor or by magical equipment referred to as “hydraulics.”
It was one of those dreams I deferred. I was quite sophisticated when I was younger and I knew that I would one day grow out of the urge. If I just resisted long enough there would be no evidence that I ever desired to do such a thing.
Rob Bottin’s mutant dog from the remake of the Thing, Stuart Freeborn’s work for Altered States (this information just rolls into my head when I start thinking about this…
Well, I reached the age of thirty, had long ago abandoned horror movies (even as a guilty pleasure) for film adaptations of Russian novels, and still the desire to “make my own real Hollywood mask” hadn’t gone away. In celebration of my milestone birthday — which like all my regular birthdays occurs just a couple of weeks before Halloween — I decided to give in and finally just do it.
My more grown up intellectual self — which had been slouching beside me since my late teens — was not entirely left out. The mask (and full body costume it turned out) I chose to sculp atop a cast of my own face was the image of Pregnant Death, which I’d learned about in Rabelais and His World the Russian scholar Mikhail Bakhtin’s book on the imagery of medieval folk culture’s “carnivals.” Rabelais and his World and Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics were the first truly brain hurting mind expanding books I read in college. I have sketchbooks full of carnivalesque sketches, all inspired by Bakhtin’s literary criticism. That’s a (then) 20th Century predicament if there ever was one.
To my horror when I returned to Rabelais and the sketches I’d made, all intent on making my Pregnant Death, I discovered I’d misread or mis-remembered: the image was supposed to be — as in the authority of literary and historical reference insisted — that the image was the Pregnant Old Hag. I persisted in my error already in love with the image.
To fully cut this obsessive tie to my past, I worked very hard on the above image. Dressing up and going trick or treating wasn’t a big priority at 30. Instead, I did the whole thing, painting tens of layers of latex rubber into a plastic mold, building the pregnant suit, all to produce the image above. What it recalls to me, and hopefully anybody around my age and given to proclivities like my own as a child, are the images printed and endlessly reprinted in the Famous Monsters of Hollywood magazines I read as a child. They were printed on the cheapest newsprint, which was yellowing already when I bought it at the stationary store. To this day, the particular way that black ink would go matte on this rough cheap paper — whereever I encounter it — still screams HORROR MOVIES! to me. Those grainy difficult to read images always offered so much more to my imagination than the actual movies.
a little game
At least one of these arrangements of letters is the name of a sacred event in the religious life of a minority population. Chances are your ability to identify that name says something about who you are.
My point with this little game is that there are many conceptions and uses of text, from scat to scripture. Nothing at all prevents us, through simple reordering, from making nonsense out of the most beautiful sentiments ever expressed in words.
What prevents us from authoring the most beautiful sentiments ever expressed in words?
( Consider the act of holding something sacred. )
“To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one’s freedom.”
The words of Nobel Laureate Andre Gide from The Immoralist, with my edits.