Monday, December 31, 2012

Good bye, 2012

Okay--so it's arbitrary. A change on the calendar that means nothing but what we want it to. But I like these marker times... not the holiday stuff, which makes me feel profoundly alienated, but days where I can check where I've come to on the ascending (or descending) spiral... where I... we... all of us, have come to occupy the same space again, a place--which is not the same at all.
Years ago... pretty sure is was Martin Buber (I was in thrall of him in my 20's), said something to the effect that ones life is never over so long as one has the capacity to begin again. This year I made one of those life change moves... from a little too expensive efficiency at 13th & Morris in South Philly, to an old, unheated warehouse on N. 2nd St... sharing space and life with some 20 others... all many decades younger.

This was like... and has proved in one other profoundly significant way, a move back by moving forward... or the other way around. I lived in a commune from 1966 to 1970. Here I was again.

At that time, I was painting... in oils. Had many hours and courses in art behind me--from children's classes at the Art Institute in Chicago... where (like the Nelson-Atkins Gallery in Kansas City years later, I was able to wander the halls and bond with the art as a child... with almost adult privileges. Sunday at La Grande Jatte ... was like something in my second living room (all the museums in Chicago were like that, thanks to an unmarried Great Aunt who lived nearby).

I gave it up... for 8 years or so, to make pottery. And then... some dumb ass wish to be respectable (?)... merged with a genuine passion for intellectual pursuits... I gave it up.

After moving into the Ox... even before--the first view from the roof, I knew... that with space to work, and tools. I moved quantum leaps forward by moving back.. this time, without the pretensions, the inhibitions of what it meant to make 'art.'

In June, I walked to New York from Philly with Occupy Guitarmy.. and everything I saw made me want to go back and start putting things together. THINGS. Objects. Street junk. It was an act of pure pleasure. With no sense at all of where this would take me. But I kept doing it. And found that I was .. surprised, startled... by what was happening. What I was making. It began to sink in... that yeah (still hard to use the word)... I was making 'art' ... and it was, like .. ok. I mean... maybe better than ok

It's become an obsession. On a day when I make progress on a piece, or finish one, or begin another... I'm happy! I mean... as happy as I've ever ever been in my life! And on days when I don't... ?

So here I am. End of this arbitrary number (2012)... having begun again. Half way through my 72'nd year. Thinking... this time, it's to the end. It's all the way. Maybe... before 2013 has passed... I'll be able to think of myself as an 'artist' without irony, without self-consciousness. Not just all those museum images.. it's family. Really talented family... never felt quite up to snuff. Mostly, cause I was trying to do what I thought OTHERS judged worthy. Now... I've found my own way. I'm so glad I lived long enough ... talk about Late Bloomers.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Art Notes: #65

A better image. 24x24. Acrylic on wood, with can lids, strips of weathered wood, paper, street dirt

Friday, December 28, 2012

Art Notes: #78 Work in Progress

Large flakes of mural, graffiti covered, found on North 5th Street

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#74 Art Notes

Torn Auto bumper on wood, acrylic shadow

Friday, December 21, 2012

Something strange and powerful about all this.. .making stuff. 'Art' ... if I can call it that. I matted some drawings and a couple of woodcut prints I did in 1969... gives me ... boosts my sense of legitimacy. What a strange idea? Legitimacy? Forty years I've been away. Because I didn't believe enough in what I was doing to do what I had within me to do. But it's all ... nothing to do with whatever or whoever passes judgement on these things... and yet, not entirely free of that... the question, an echo at the bottom of the well... so why do I keep dropping that penny into the well? That little stone? Legitimacy... what a strange idea. Not at all sure what I mean by that word. Not what the word means--but what it means to me. Authentication? That I am real? that what I'm doing is real? But it's play... play, and play is only real to the extent of its power to resist the real... even while ... like a child, playing the reality it sees as a game. The child only wants to graduate from the game... but as an adult, everything depends on resisting that temptation. The red wheelbarrow, glazed with rain
The problem is... I am not free of ambition. Complicated. I both need it to drive me forward, and to resist with all my might what it would drive me towards.

Art notes. Work in Progress

November Storm over the Alleghenies. Acrylic on rusted metal cabinet door, with twigs, dirt and bits of leaves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Art Room at the Ox

Drawing table...the woodcut I did in 1969. Of a patient in the geriatric unit at Haverford State Hospital.

My workspace


24x24 Acrylic on wood, with paint can lids, torn paper, street dirt, weathered wood. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Art Notebook: 12/5/12: Why An Ear, A Whirlpool Fierce to Draw Creations In?

# 57 21x21 Fusion: Second of a series of 15, fragments from Blake's Book of Thel. Auto insulation, weeds, tulip poplar seeds, rusted iron, wood paper and acrylics.  $1,200

Friday, November 30, 2012

Art Notebook, Nov 30, 2012

Dream as I was waking... layers of paper, torn at the edges, each layer smaller than the last, from white to black with an opening torn in the center open to the base... one line from a couplet of Blake's Auguries of Innocence as I woke:"When we see not Thro the Eye." I saw this fairly large, maybe 30x36'. This morning I made a small study of it. Wrote the line at the bottom. I think I want to do a series on Blake ...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25, 2012

Every sickness an awakening
where reading was taken for black
snails crossing the Adirondacks
flights over Hawk Mountain
your last lover perched on a rock in the rain

It is remembering the incapacity of remembering
the stone thrown over still waters
the heart skipping a beat
caught in a wave at the end of the

break when you realized every line
was infinite. every nerve
an encounter with death
every particle of dust

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gaza... & beyond

Some thoughts on the Ken Knabb piece linked below--which is the best damn thing I've read on the current horrors in Gaza... even though (or maybe because) it was written 55 years ago. I think we make a mistake naming the State that has made itself the instrument of colonization, as though the former were the actant and the later a kind of verb--what the actant does, when the process (capitalism, colonization... ) is itself as much actant as process. It's not as though the former creates and realizes the latter, so much as the other way around. These are the conditions that have become our masters, and to break from their control it's not sufficient to name the primary instruments that are the means of of their mastery. We don't need to create or posit an enemy, to demonize this group or that State, to recognize the horror of what they do, the injustice of the consequences is enough. If we are locked into a mental state where we must have victims and executioners, and assume that distinguishing the one from the other amounts to understanding the conditionis that create the injustice, we will never be free. To be--in Camus' phrase, neither victims nor executioners, we cannot invest our whole identity with either--our only hope lies is forging solidarity with that which is neither. This is the root of the failure of cycles of vengeance and retribution. This is not a MORAL failure, but a failure of vision, a failure of creative imagination... of making real a world--forging actual relationships that know no borders, that disavow the distinctions which perpetuate the conditions of injustice and violence, seeking out those, individuals and collectives, with whom we can lay the foundations of a new reality.

The Ken Knabb piece linked here i

To be--in Camus' phrase, neither victims nor executioners, we cannot invest our whole identity with either--our only hope lies is forging solidarity with that which is neither. This is the root of the failure of cycles of vengeance and retribution. This is not a moral failure, but a failure of vision, a failure of creative imagination... of making real a world--forging actual relationships that know no borders, that disavow the distinctions which perpetuate the conditions of injustice and violence, seeking out those, individuals and collectives, with whom we can lay the foundations of a new reality.

And Again... our collective Death Wish

When I was 7 it was still called Armistice Day. People wore poppies. Veterans of the Great War were, on average, in their 50's... younger than Vietnam vets now. Of all the useless bloody wars, this still stands out for the scale of its carnage and sheer lunacy. A war for market shares and arms makers and the perfection of patriotic agitprop & nothing else. Nothing. A massive blood letting with absolutely no reason or justification. To top it, there had to be a really real bad guy for the next round... Hitler obliged, and the Grand Illusion spread its pestilence of violence... but as always after plagues & wars, we humans fucked like crazy to replace the dead--perfecting our already magnificent capacity for self-delusion, lurching yet a little closer to the deepest dream of all--our collective death wish. It was at least appropriate that the poppies be red...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Collective suicide?

I'm more and more inclined to think we're programmed to self-destruct, to commit collective suicide. Maybe we're picking up signals from all the other life forms on this planet--realizing how much better they'd be without us... we're on a mission, a collective death-drive. Almost did it once.. but then, backed off... maybe it was too obvious... i mean, the Cuban Missile Crisis. So now we have... global warming, where we can blame it on 'Nature" (whatever the fuck that is).. .and meanwhile, exhibit our symptoms ... like Israel in Gaza. "Warning signs" ... that no one wants to read, and if anyone does... no one has the number of the suicide hot line...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Collective Death Wish

History affords us nothing toward understanding the bloodletting in Gaza, or the larger conflict of which it’s a part.

And yet, we understand nothing about any of this without understanding history.

The first part is true because the antithetical interests, wishes, needs of the parties involved, the real suffering, deaths, lives, the terrible losses, the fears & ambitions real & imagined are of the here and now, creating the here & now of the future, immediate & remote, because if there’s any ‘history’ existing now—that’s the one, the one that belongs to the future.

The second part is true because the only way to get to the present is to get free of history—or rather, of the tangled, mutilated, psychotic pseudo-histories that pass as explanations, rationalizations, justifications—because, lets get this straight—history is not capable of explaining anything but…. history: what has already happened, done, achieved, been explained already a thousand times before. History can do only that: explain & re-explain itself, but it will not, cannot, explain us to ourselves, cannot explain who & what we are--& least of all, what we want. What we really desire. For that, we tell stories.

Stories we give the name of ‘history,’ call ‘history.’ But are not, history. they are stories—stories of how the Zionists colonized Palestine (named for a Roman colony), & drove the residents by FORCE from their homeland; stories of how the Jews of Europe, despairing of there ever being an end to the pogroms, persecution, humiliations inflicted on them by Christian Europe, came up with the idea that a dream of a place of their own might be real if only they would find the courage to FORCE it into reality; stories of how that dream became a nightmare of bloodletting & terror & dislocation & generation upon generation of refugee camps; stories of Jews who had lived for millennia across North Africa (since Spain kicked them out in 1492 as Columbus set sail on his mission to colonize the Americas), across what archaeologists felicitously called ‘The Fertile Crescent,’ (fertile creation of Empires conquests exiles and colonization), & were in turn driven from their homes, seeking refuge in Israel (becoming the most militantly anti-Arab class in their new homeland); stories of how the international anti-communist, capitalist class, with blessing and billions from the U.S, would use and exploit all of this to turn what had at least begun as a small socialist state into an American land based aircraft carrier in the Middle East & one of the most economically un-equal of all the developed nations—and that, not even counting the Arab & non-Jewish residents.

The stories go on. Sound & fury…

Nothing but fog & tear gas to cover the human reality, the mothers wailing for their children, the olive trees… my god, the olive trees! The living soul of the land itself—outliving generations, sustaining generations—bulldozing the olive orchards, building obscene walls, the buses exploding on busy streets, the real needs, wishes, aspirations of living people…

… of all those stories, that a careful understanding of history—history that cannot explain or justify or rationalize—but only struggle to point out what ‘is’.. .the helpless infant truth we would, if only we could, believe in… of all those stories, the one common element…


The FORCE that belies, that lies, that turns all it touches into ‘things’, the tool that turns the user into the very thing they most hate & fear.

FORCE—which weaves for us, stories in the shape of the wish that lies within us, the wish for Death… for collective suicide.

… and who, who will rise up to tell us … to begin to tell us… stories for Life? And who will have the power to overcome…

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Who won? Who lost?

There's money... (think Trump... and much of what went into the Republican campaign)... and there's serious money. An imperfect parallel, maybe-- with "old money" and "nouveau rich" Like, you don't enter the 'Upper upper' with money alone" ... or didn't in the old days. Something, I think, has changed. There are so many (though only relatively speaking)... with big bucks, and not a fucking clue. And there are those who have both--money, & real-world smarts, who don't confuse the one for the other. If the Smart money had wanted Romney, he would have won, but there was a divide early on... that this clown...was a clown-- who only looked smart by comparison with the Uber Clown competition in the primaries. Obama they can live with. It was worth a one-time shot to let the clowns pull all the stops on the populist racist religious nuthatch shit... but WTF... they cut 23,000 voters in Florida .. .and still lost? Ok... wrong tactics. But we still own the world. And what we don't own now, Obama will get us a little closer.. not as close as we would have liked... but close enough. Soon... soon, it will all be ours.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dorthea Lasky's BLACK LIFE

A sortof a review...
I've read Dorthea Lasky's BLACK LIFE. I heard her read from it. I read it again. And again. Every poem... it's the most awesome tribute to Sylvia Plath.. I mean, it should just fucking raise Sylvia from the dead... pull her head from that terrible oven, and I can see her saying... what the fuck? Why did I do that? Not that thiese poems are like Sylvia's poems. ... no. No, I don't mean that. I mean like... it's like... don't DO IT SYLVIA! THIS is what you gave us! See! Do you see what you gave us? What you made possible? And she would have no choice. She would read BLACK LIFE, and she would have to concede. "Yes. My life is fucked up..." she would say, " but Dottie... you convinced me... it was worth living. It was worth living. Thank you. Thank you Dottie... if I could do it, I would pull my head out of that oven. For you... and for my children of course... OMG, how could I have....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Last take on this election

While I can’t imagine that Christie hadn’t given some thought to 2016 when he endorsed Obama—running against an incumbent of the same party would be daunting, no matter how disastrous Romney’s presidency. He did manage to look more presidential than Romney, whatever was on his mind. But I see what may be a glimpse of something more significant, the more so, when you add Bloomberg to the mix. I think if big money really wanted Mitt, really believed in him, he would win… by hook or crook. For the last 4 years the smart money has been stirring the populist pot, counting on ignorance, the near impossibility of the general public getting enough serious information to counter the propaganda and bread & circuses, but the Xian fundies and troglodyte racists, and what they expect from their candidates, doesn’t represent the interests of corporate money anymore than it does their own. Obama is really a much better mesh. What I’m getting at—is I think Big Money has pulled the plug on Mitt. That’s what the rats abandoning ship really means. Give him enough for the Republicans to keep the party viable (Christie setting a new model—offering the appearance of something we’ve come to see as “presidential,” a leader for “all the people.” No matter what a lie that is.) Use the next four years to tamp down the populist lynch mobs they’ve been courting—dangerous for all concerned--and working more traditional modes to continue consolidating power, privatization, the draining of wealth from those who create it. This election, one way or another, has exhausted the crude nakedly predatory and racist efforts… and signals what will at least look like something more sophisticated… and for that, more dangerous for all but the very few.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My take on Bloomberg/Christie endorsements

My take on the Bloomberg, Christie endorsements. The real power, the big money, has been either actively courting and financing the Tea Bagger Xian Taliban populist movement—for their votes. They have no interest in sharing actual power with any real populist they can’t control. Coal and oil are big money. Lies, counter-propaganda, buying scientists willing to whore themselves, whatever it takes to delay the inevitable and keep the money teat flowing. Global warming (which they euphemize as ‘climate change,’ cause it’s easier to explain away the human contribution), has suddenly blown up in their faces. Time to pull the plug on at least this part of their pseudo-populist propaganda machine. They knew along. They’re not themselves ignorant.
Bloomberg and Obama? Think about it. Is this really something to cheer about? Yes, as far as it goes in addressing the reality of climate change. This is arguably the most important issue we face… I say, “issue” … what I mean is, ‘crisis’, global life-threatening crisis.

But Bloomberg? Obama?
Bloomberg—that dedicated enemy of dissent, of constitutionally protected free speech… and Obama… dedicated to the prosecution of whistle blowers, deportation, drone war murderer, defender of an endless war on ‘terror,’ denial of due process and indefinite detention… and most telling—willing servant of Bloomberg’s own financial elite?
Is this something we are to applaud? That we see a glimpse of reality through the screen… yes, for that. But look at that reality closely. We’ve learned to revile Bloomberg for his war on peaceful dissent, for his private army of uniformed thugs. And now? Now we see all the more clearly the false dived between Democratic and Republican parties… when reality forces their hands… they shake hands and stand together. And it’s not for us. It never was, and never will be.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Prisoners of conscience in U.S. now

Write to them. Let them know we care.Statement by Leah-Lynn Plante Partial list of resisters now in federal prisons: Write to them... let them know we care


Katherine Olejnik
FDC SeaTac
PO Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198

Matthew Kyle Duran
FDC SeaTac
PO Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198

Brent Betterly
PO Box 089002
Chicago IL 60608

Brian Church
PO Box 089002
Chicago IL 60608

Jared (Jay) Chase
PO Box 089002
Chicago IL 60608

Mark Neiweem
PO Box 089002
Chicago IL 60608

Sebastian Senakiewicz
PO Box 089002
Chicago IL 60608

Danny Johnson
Cook Co. Dept. of Corrections
PO Box 089002
Chicago, IL 60608

ONE OF THE GULF PORT 7 (incarcerated since 12/12/11)
Eric Marquez
Kays Tower
PO Box 660334
Dallas, TX 75266-0344


Stephens, Connor (last name first required, & no glitter, stickers or illustrations... photos enclosed ok. I believe that Doug has pleaded, and been released)
2240 Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44505

Baxter, Brandon
2240 Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44505

Stafford, Joshu
a #57976060
2240 Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44505

Wright, Douglas L.
2240 Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44505

Remember us when we're gone...

At some point, we're all gonna have to put our lives on the line... whether facing a life in prison, or death. By "all"... I mean, those who care, who have some sense of how far we've gone wrong. It's not a game. A wonderful night at the Ox... thinking how lucky I am to have come to this... and how much I've had to leave behind to be here. We have to remember what it was like... these moments before they come for us. And they will... Remember us... all of you who are left...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Art: Just Compensation without Ownership

In that the artist's need for just compensation is in conflict with the need to free themselves and their work from capitalist commodification:

Terms of release from the artist or collective to the custodian into whose care the work is received.

Believing it is a violation of the human spirit to treat either a person or a work of art as a commodity--rather than offer our work as objects for sale, we will accept what we mutually agree to be fair compensation for our labor and time, and in return--in appreciation for your material support, you are free to accept this work as a custodial trust in perpetuity. At such time as you may choose to pass this work on to others, you will accept no more in compensation than the value of your initial contribution to the artist or collective from which you received it. You understand that in receiving this work, you pledge agreement with the principles and terms of this statement, and to never to treat it as an item for sale or use as an investment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beyond Language... at last

I can't quite get over how happy I am... to be holding a paint brush in my hand again after so many years... even it's mostly Mod Podge on the end of it. I love poetry... but I have a profound, unfathomably deep mistrust of language. So happy to be doing stuff without WORDS . I've read those who write say, Oh, I love language! But how can you write--and be conscious--and claim to 'love' language?" I write in part, because I so deeply mistrust language... even... hate it. But I love play. And playing with words is bliss... even if the words are poison. And they are.

Supporting Art Outside Capitalism

I've been thinking about alternative structures for compensating artists that would foreclose the possibility of comodification of their work. Start with an artist's collective. The Collective would assume all rights of use & exchange (ownership). An object would be 'rented' for perpetuity--the rent representing just compensation for the artist. the custodian (renter) would assume responsibility for reasonable care. The work could be exchanged (with notice given to the Collective and to the artist, with name of the successive renter and new location), but NOT sold. The custodian could receive as compensation only the amount of the original rent--there would be no profit; the object could not be treated as an investment over the initial rent. The artist & the Collective would retain right to display (shows, museums), and retain 'ownership' for perpetuity. Those interested in the art would be willing to offer fair compensation for the artist, for the enjoyment of the object. If their desire is to acquire an object for investment, they can look else where. What do you think?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Physical art

"As important as poetry is to me, I love making physical art... things you can see, touch. It makes me so happy to be able to do this again. I put things together. Stuff. Trash I find on the street. I lay pieces on my work table. I move them around. I go away. I come back. I look at them. I go away. I see something else on the street and see it in my mind with something I left on the table. I go back. I move the pieces around--and feel a certain rush of happiness. I mix Mod Podge and Elmer's Glue, take out acrylics and paintbrushes & begin to mount them together. I go away. I come back and work some more. I go away. I play with this until I feel another--and this time--definitive rush to confirm that it's finished--better than MaryJane! This is a kind of thinking outside my body, and most important, outside language. A language of things outside language--and so I can't own it. That's the joy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guitarmy 99 mile walk: Video Day 3

Day Three, from Snipes Farm, across the Delaware to Trenton

.July 7, 2012

Assemblages/ Found Things

My Worktable: Photo, Greg Duff
The significance of a found object is that it has none. Decathected, by being lost—though I don’t mean lost, so much as discarded. The objects I find on the street, in empty lots. Not things still useful—things sticky with the snare of desire. The desire that adheres to and generates the delusion of ownership. I like these objects because they are free. I don’t want to own them. I don’t want to return them to a state of servitude, to become their slave. When collected, placed in some degree of proximity, they suggest their own form of desire… objects placed beside, under, inside another object--I sense affinity—or indifference. If the former—it is as though they have become a new object, each retaining its own identity, but now also, a part—of something else. These are the assemblages that I build… or better-- build themselves when I lend them my attention. The prime rule… is that there must be no rules. Else I would be the Master, the enforcer, the tyrant god … and so, eviscerate my own existence… for there are no gods. No Masters. Were I to aspire to that… I would not be.

Poor Hamlet…

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Is Occupy a Leaderless Movement?

On the oft repeated question of Occupy & 'leadership.' -- We all know that in any group action, some individuals will emerge, who, by their greater competence or knowledge in that area, or their communication skills, will become 'leaders.' But their leadership is situational and temporary, altogether different than the INSTITUTIONALIZATION of a POSITION of leadership... where one person may be replaced by another, and which creates a structure which determines roles & positions in relation to that office--a self-perpetuating structural hierarchy. Yes we can have, and need, LEADERS... but reject OFFICES of leadership. This is a CRUCIAL distinction.

Ceremony, Death, Memory--personal thoughts

Funeral in the rain. My sister's oldest child... driving home, the rain on the windows of the car, half asleep... what I was thinking...

When I've been asked by my sons what I might want done with the post-death waste, I've always said--whatever seems right to the living--I won't be there to give a damn! And let it go at that. But having time to run the question through again... maybe there's more to say. Maybe it does matter. Now. If not then.

First off--disposal of the body is a technical problem. This doesn't concern me. To be accomplished in the most environmentally sensible and cheapest way possible. I don't care now, and won't be there to care then.
Cremation ain't cheap. forget it. Unless you can sneak the waste into an incinerator on the sly.

Funerals... if I were to die in present circumstances... telling stories and reading poems and drinking wine on the roof of the Ox sounds about right... An empty city lot would be super --especially if there were plans to turn it into a community garden, but only if it's ok to read poems and drink wine there.& NO MOWED GRASS OR ENGLISH FUCKING IVY! .. no place with fluorescent lights, nice furniture or god help us--vinyl or imitation wood laminate. .

and though there seems not be any plots open in Summit Township Cemetery (see the photo above), there is a space left between the stones... and some suitable found object... a bit of rubble from a razed building (say several bricks still mortared together from a wall), a small section of rusted steel I-beam, an object of fused bottles and cans... stuff like that... placed in the site (with notice of what it was and some contribution for maintenance so it wouldn't be removed)... that kinda touches my heart. Maybe I'll make something like that--in lieu of cliche tombstone.

"Odd" is my home in this world... in or out of it. Taken me a long time to find my comfort level... how I want to be remembered

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Damn cops

Please, don't tell me your uncle and grandfather were policemen, and what good people they were. Whatever they once were (and that this was ever different is problematic), they are the thug-force for the predictors, the moneyed class, and their job--however individuals may rationalize it, is to protect the orderly transfer of capital--and those who are essential to that task. Whatever they do beyond that... is part accident... and part, that some sort of general order is needed for their primary goal. If you don't count--don't belong, are nothing more than a pawn in the system--you will be fucked, neglected, beaten, harassed... which is also part of that job--keeping the exploited class intimidated, the marginalized in their place. Cops are themselves a pariah class, servants to do the dirty work of the predictors.
Cops are hired to protect property, and those who have it. Period. The more property, the more protection. If you have nothing, you are dirt to trample under their feet.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Collateral Damage

Dissecting the euphemisms: 'collateral damage,' 'accidental death'.
When we choose to take actions that make these 'unfortunate incidents' inevitable, we are CHOOSING the whole package--the intended and 'unintended' casualties. The reality is--decisions to drop bombs from drones--make the distinction between 'intended'' and 'unintended' a semantic rationalization. This is the reality of ALL forms of violent force, and those pretty distinctions merely serve as excuses to continue the carnage. When we decide to kill, every death is intended, every body confirms the success of our goal.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Frances Madeson interviews me for The Crier

Upload the PDF and scroll down to page 15. Madison County Crier Or better, read the whole thing! This is what a local newspaper should look like!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dance of Life

Thinking back on partners I've lived with... married and otherwise... how good sex can be a kind of inoculent as you get to know one anoth... .... then I think... "know one another?" I don't think so.
What is it then? More like... learning each other's moves. When to cuddle, when to duck, when to offer a hand, or ask for one... when to just stay out of the way. when it didn't work... pretty much what it came down to, aggravating whatever underlying dissatisfactions might be present... if you get in each other's way. Have the wrong moves... no coordination... it won't work.
Has to be a kind of dance, where the movements, the accommodations, the comings together and the retreats--feel right in themselves. Describe something... like a dance (and how many dances describe exactly this?) It's choreography.
No one can hope to "know" another person... the hope is... while hope lasts... that you can learn to like their moves, and they yours, and learn to move together... pas de deux ... of life.

Nuclear Poetry

By imagining the real through language, the real doesn't appear, but explodes, shattering the fixed symbolic order--like splitting the atom.
We all know from birth that our true purpose is not to save the world, but to blow it up. The weapons we choose make all the difference

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lacan via Pogo

Nothing quite holds up to a rainy day traversing a fantasy of a sort one might have thought one had left behind years ago. Freud to Lear in the 3 caskets: "give up youthful passions, make friends with death!" The Big Other can't hide anymore... we has found the enemy, and they is us!
... and discover ...we are already happy in our own lives, and our best hope... is that someone else is a little happier because we've crossed paths.   

It's all so simple... so fucking simple... why are we compelled to play most of our lives in the labyrinth, prey to he Minotaur of our wounded desires?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Wise Child Reclaiming Her World

Physicians and medical professionals in Spain assert the primacy of their medical oath over the oppression of the state, and their right to treat immigrants.

 ... using a gesture from childhood is brilliant... primal, the undoing not only of the oath, but of the whole oppressive apparatus of adulthood gone wrong, the power of visionary imagination reclaimed.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Power of the Gaze

CIaude Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), "The 'bricoleur' is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks; but unlike the engineer, he does not subordinate each of them to the availability of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the purpose of the project. His universe of instruments is closed and the rules of his game are always to make do with 'whatever is at hand,' that is to say with a set of tools and materials which is always finite and is also heterogeneous because what it contains bears no relation to the current project, or indeed to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all the occasions there have been to renew or enrich the stock or to maintain it with the remains of previous constructions or destructions."
Thanks to Doug Weichbrodt for posting that quote on FaceBook

This passage perfectly describes how I make an assemblage... and almost describes how I make a poem. Have been thinking about this--how the 'things' before me are like passing thoughts, which, in being brought together, become an "idea,' but one that exists entirely outside my head, an idea which has no need of me to think it. I experience this as being guided by the objects. The power of the gaze turned to the objects of the world is fertile and creative, brooks no stasis, assembles, dissembles and moves on.
There is a way of seeing that does not impose itself on what passes through the field of vision, but is guided by the objects themselves. If you trust in this 'envisioning,' what comes of it will never be a "waste of time--but the discipline is not ours... perhaps, not a waste, precisely because the discipline is not 'ours " ... is not 'owned.' And though the objects have been found at random--the moment they are picked up, it becomes are an act in a stream of highly determined acts--but which are unguided by any imagined future form they might take. That would ruin it... the confirmation is wonder and surprise, and leaves no room for pride... or perhaps, a pride shared with the assembled idea... it having participated in creating the creator, as much as the other way around.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Foxes Fall to St Francis (repost from 2007)

My housemate's dog sits at my feet; she watches me, seeking my attention. Her silence, I tell myself, is beyond me... her unfathomable otherness..

And then I hear what I have said without speaking--wakened by an association that accompanied this thought, the recollection of a poem by Nancy Willard.

Her unfathomable silence, I tell myself.

It is not what I have seen, but what I have told myself.

Does this mean I was wrong about the silence of the woman pouring milk? HERE

Yes and no. It is true, the silence belongs to the painting, but how is it that I recognize this--? ...having no experience of such silence, my head full of words, a never ending stream of language pouring out of me--to caress, to corrode, to seduce reality to conform to what I need from her? ... needs both acknowledged, and unacknowledged?

I look at this dog... and now at the cat who curls up on my desk, head brushing against hands engaged in turning what is happening before me into words.

And there it is again...

turning what I have already turned into words into words that others can see. Is there no escape from the deceit?

What was it about this poem that so disrupted my unacknowledged account of my perceptions? It occurs to me that what I saw, and see and experience again and again when I open myself to animals, to their presence, to listen and contemplate--that the silence I find so alien, mysterious and not theirs... it is not the animals I am seeing, but a reflection turned back on...

...I cannot say, on my self, for everything of self is fraught with language, and this is what is beyond or beneath or prior to language... it is the self as other. A convergence of my animal being, my species being, by collective, genetic biological material efflorescence into this unique moment of entropic dissolution--a convergence with an illusion whose entire reality is language bound--the illusion of a unique, conscious engagement with...


Silence... again.

That is what I found in Willard's poem. That the silence is never ours, always subverted and betrayed by language... ("he ate only his words") ... and yet, language is the guide. If not our only guide, one we cannot do without, even as it betrays, leading us, drawing us on. Is this what Blanchot was getting at? Our animal lives, ours alone in deepest sleep and death?

Let me work out the connection to these thoughts and the poem in another post.

For now, here is her poem... keep in mind, the title is a play on sports news headlines. From her book, Water Walker, Knoph, 1989

"Foxes Fall to St. Francis"

"Religion," said the foxes,
"is for the birds.

And that man in the brown gown
is a hunter. Watch out."

The sparrows watched him
bake bread and sow crumbs

and the snow kept falling.
He seemed too weak

to make a meal of sparrows
and too dumb.

No claws, no beak
a nest without young.

He trapped roots, berries,

and the snow kept faling
(also the sun).

Many birds drew near
and admired his peculiar singing,

and he kept scattering seeds,
and badgers and hares drew

themselves up
to his stone table.

He ate only his words.
The snow kept falling

on the food,
on the far-off dead,

on paths paved
with mercy.

The foxes said,
"What's good enough for birds

is good enough."
And they fell on the feast

and were saved.

Would you choose to bring children into this world?

You really can't imagine how far we've descended into what would have been an unimaginable netherworld, but for a very tiny minority--say, 40, 50 years ago... and it's happened little by little--with a huge surge backward under Reagan, so what would have brought people out on the streets--shut down the nation... goes unnoticed for the most part. A nation of wage slaves... afraid to stand up and fight back, descending ever further into real slavery. I love children... babies.. and will never regret my two sons... but were I of an age to to engender children now... I would decline. I would not want to bring children into the world I foresee for the indefinite future

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three poems in The Madison County Crier

Check out this local Missouri paper bottomlined by Frances Madeson.

  Madison County Crier

... and a love letter to the neglected beauty of the midwest...

Ever been bored driving through Ohio? Kansas? Nebraska? Can’t get across them fast enough? Ever think—if you slowed down,  if you got off the interstate, if you opened your eyes, your senses, your imagination, you might find a world as filled with beauty and wonder—as great as any place on this planet?

I’m thinking of the Flint Hills in Eastern Kansas. Long rolling vistas of grassland… what the great plains looked like to the first Europeans who crossed them, & to the immigrants from Asia who proceeded them by millennia. Stand on one of those hills—only a few miles west of the 30 inch rainfall line that bisects the continent. Trees here grow only in the valleys, along the stream beds. Those tiny dark spots you see at the base of the incline where you stand… cattle. Five miles distant. And in the spring, you will see a thunderstorm coming from 40 miles away, and the grass, under the passing shadow of the clouds, changing colors as the wind sweeps over the hills.

I’ve been in the Cascades. I’ve seen the high desert in Eastern Oregon, the temperate rainforests of the pacific coast—and yes, it’s spectacular. The scale—the sublime wonder… but stand on the bank of the Mississippi in Missouri… look north and see all the way to the clear running mountain streams of the Missouri in Montana… turn your head… to the Gulf of Mexico. Stand on the Plate in Nebraska and watch Lewis and Clark passing by… and a million Sand Hill Cranes descending spring and fall.

In central Kansas, there’s a little town, still populated by descendents of Swedish immigrants. A few thousand people… a town with a museum filled with paintings and works of art by its own residents, a town which supports a symphony orchestra and puts on, in alternating years, Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s B Minor Mass. They will tell you joke… how immigrants coming to America—on first seeing the skyline of Manhattan, look at one another in wonder—and say (hear this with a Swedish lilt)… --if this is New York… what must Lindsborg, Kansas be like?

Not far from Lindsborg—the Coronado Heights of my poem. A WPA castle. Google it for images. On a summer evening, you will hear—dogs barking from 20 miles away, the clank of a pail on a farm… and rising up in stereophonic splendor, tens of thousands of meadowlark.

Oh, and the sky… the skyscape… like raised up on a stage into the heavens.

Think again when hurl yourself in your metal and plastic machines over the interstate, wondering how anyplace on earth could be so boring… maybe it’s not that you can’t pass through these places fast enough… but that you don’t slow down to see, to hear, to sense… to imagine.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

US & Hondurus --The Lesser Evil?

US & Hondurus

We need to understand that the distinction between Obama and Mitt doesn't exist for most of the the world--or for the most oppressed in our own country. When one argues about the 'lesser evil,' keep in mind the relatively few who benefit... and the many more for whom that difference is no difference at all. It might also be useful to ask whether those who will benefit will be more likely by their good fortune to be more aware of American oppression and violence, and to dedicate themselves to putting an end to it, or to be lulled into the belief that 'things are better now?'

Follow up on DJ (Danny Johnson)

DJ is now under house arrest. Here's an article from the Examiner

Chicago Bail Fund

After NATO, there were 7 felony charges against activists outside of the NATO 5
The last of the 7 still incarcerated since NATO, is Raziel. The total amount needed to get him out is $15,000. He has been incarcerated since May 20th at Cook County Jail.
Since May 20... that's more than 8 weeks, 59 days in Cook County Jail. Let's help our comrade. This is not right. Justice is up to us.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What 'law?"

When the law punishes the innocent, the law itself is subverted. When the law executes an innocent person... there is no law, and no longer any reason to respect or obey it.

Pussy Riot/ Masks

Pussy Riot's balaclavas & ski masks, Anonymous & Guy Fawkes... what is it about masks that seem to waken this deep collective psychic & emotional resonance... something here that marks our time. Have had several unrelated conversations recently about masks. Is it that with the mask you know there is more there, that the reality is only suggested? That what is most 'real' remains hidden?
Living in a world of the Spectacle--this is a powerful reminder--of the masks we assume to be real, that we have made ourselves into. Brands. Commodities. Labels. Like money--everything of value only as something to be exchanged for something else--nothing of value in itself.
We believe there is no such thing as Truth--when it's only that Truth can never be owned, or traded or sold.  
Pussy Riot exposes our duplicity, our unreality, and must be made to suffer for it. They are more free in prison than most of us in our everyday marketable so-called lives.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Challenge the voter denial laws!

Anyone interested in a direct action challenge to the voter ID law in PA? I'm convinced the electoral system is corrupted beyond repair... but no one should be denied the right to vote if that's their choice, and hundreds of thousands here in Pennsylvania are denied just that. Whatever my opinion about elections, I believe we have an obligation to defend the right to vote for those denied it by the insane photo ID laws. Go in, without ID, if denied, sit down, (not blocking anyone else from voting) refuse to leave... hold up a sign explaining why these laws have to be fought.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Get Danny Johnson out of jail!

$7,500 !!!!!  DONE!  
Thank you for your contributions!
Cook County detention center--think, guard towers, light deprivation, miles of razor wire. DJ is being held in max security--some two weeks running now. He is INNOCENT, held hostage to the attempt to criminalize all dissent. Just got back from Chicago where we visited him and worked to raise the $7,500 needed for the outrageous $75,000 bond imposed on him by the twisted injustice system. DJ is my brother and friend--PLEASE, don't let him spend another night in that place! 
Give what you can--call your friends! Share this link!Anyone you think can help. GET DJ OUT OF COOK COUNTY JAIL!

Girl on the Train--story on-line in Apiary

Girl on the Train. Published by Apiary--on line. The opening segments from my (as yet) unpublished novel, Air Figue's Cat.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wooblies of the Arts, Unite!

A call to Poets and Artists of the Revolution!  (sent to the artists on our National Gathering list)
Poets, Rev Billy Occupy Your Heart Quilts... given limited time and organization resources, we artists & poets made our presence known at the gathering. After walking with Guitarmy from Philly to Zuccotti Park, I'm more convinced than ever of the importance of our making a place for ALL the arts in this movement.

We are not reformers, rearranging the furniture in the house of oppression We are artists of a new revolution, creating a culture; razing the edifice of prisonspeak--the corrupted language of power & ownership; creating the language of liberation. In that light, what do you think about the idea of keeping this list (or setting up some other medium) & seeing what we can do to expand it to a movement-wide Arts & Revolution discussion, action and planning group? Someplace where those involved in the arts AND the movement can keep in touch, organize, give each other support, trade information, help publicize readings, performances, shows?

Like every other marginalized group (hey--artists & poets are low wage workers, with our own 1 per-centers); it's up to us to define ourselves and our place in a world we want to build together. We can't expect to be sent an invitation, we have to make a place for ourselves at the table if we want be full members of this new order!

Wooblies of the Arts! Let's start talking!

--Jacob SpiritStick

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rest stop, Guitarmy 99 mile walk

Resting up on the march to New York

I have about 15 pages of notes... working on a poem

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 21, North 2nd Street. Dusk

Starless luminous air obscure …
…trees blackly sign invisible
wind in silhouettes power lines church steeples couple
copulating in 3rd floor bedroom

Comcast gives

square-pants finger to the city
McDonalds speaks Spanish on bill boards

We are the Oxen on Oxford – the dead animals
eaten – smoke and wine
for consolation, hum of fans, beer cans clatter underfoot
lone cyclist rounds the corner

we grow things here
dreams, psychotic fantasies
in steel lockers laid
horizontal on the roof

to the east, black smoke stacks, water towers
lighted windows
& the first visible star of summer