Saturday, September 6, 2008

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Panic

I've officially given up on my motorcycle. It was fun to dream about while I still had enthusiasm about it. It was certainly fun to paint. There are those that would tell you that you can't faux finish a motorcycle, and then there are those that will tell you that you shouldn't. You CAN and SHOULD. But there are also those that would just say that it's about the faggiest thing they've ever heard of... and I'm not really equipped to have a dialog with those people.

I have decided to abandon it after an incident. It was a seemingly benign incident, but it's analogous to all future panic inducing occurrences. I never even got the thing on the road. I was practicing in a parking lot and while down shifting, I let go of the clutch too fast the the bike started jumping about. I panicked and had no idea which hand was supposed to do what at that point. I don't even know if I kept my hands on the bars. For a few brief moments I had no control over what was happening, and on a two wheeled vehicle that means I could have been very close to dragging my face across the ground. As an isolated occurrence I know that I've learned my lesson, and that my next shifting exercise would be much smoother. But there is no way to prepare for the panic itself; you can only prepare to avoid panic. But how can that be done when I'd be sharing the road with all the fuck-twats that are around? By staying the fuck of that suicide machine, that's how!

If I was some half-wit tough guy I might stick with it, everyone needs a way to get their jollies right? But I have fun in more interesting ways. As an artist, I can be provocative and confrontational. Indeed, it's much more exciting to risk your mind than it is to risk your body.

Establish risks, weigh options. Abandon the stuff that destroys you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Freedom Isn't Free

So say the bumper stickers... but do we really want to take advice from the bumper of some redneck's pickup truck? I think that if we really want to have a conversation about freedom we should look to the east.

With spiritual freedom, it's a no brainer. Our normal concept of freedom is similar to the common Hindu dichotomy of svacchanda, to act by ones own desire, and paracchanda, forced to act by another's desire. But beyond that, the real goal is freedom from desire altogether. It's a broad concept that goes by many names, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the word used is aticchanda. More specifically with this word, it also implies a lack of consciousness of virtue and sin. I think that's such an important aspect. It implies that even if our behavior and efforts are toward the goal of being good, we're someone who's somehow missed something from somewhere. It can sound so hokey, but wouldn't we see past the crimes of others if we weren't using them to define our own virtues?

Also, Yung Ho Chang, the architecture head of MIT, was talking about China in this podcast. He had some really interesting things to say about freedom and the little citizen. I don't want to misquote, I'm only repeating him as I understood him when I heard the interview two weeks ago. He mentions this concept of the little citizen or the everyday citizen, which I think we generally think of as popular culture. So, where the Chinese recognize a noble individual, we recognize an ugly mass. We all know pop culture sucks, it's a whole lot of just because ideas and trends.
China isn't known for political freedoms or free speech, but Chang argues that they have personal free speech that might put us to shame. His example alluded to the "freedom isn't free" mentality. We're free to say whatever we like about politics as loud as we like and generally wherever we like without fear of legal consequences, but social repercussions are altogether different. Although they might not have our Bill O'reilys or Keith Olbermanns, Chang says that in China, fringe political views don't make you a social pariah. People ACTUALLY accept and value a diversity of ideas. Whereas we sort of do this theatrical thing where we invite diversity, then put up fences for even minor differences of opinion.

When I was first listening to this, I figured that was fine by me. After all, I didn't want to be friends with these warmonger, right-wing, bible fanatics anyway. And maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe that's why the music is so loud at bars, we'd be horrified to find out what everyone else really thinks.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Do it in Quotes

I was reading this essay about Larry Rivers, the grandfather of pop art, and how New York queered the idea of modern art. The premise was that a lot of pop art was a revolt against the macho attitude of abstract expressionism. The abstract expressionists were the first generation to experience New York as a real player in the art world, but when the second generation came around, they weren't so impressed. They thought the abstract expressionists were to serious, or a phony sort of serious.

The essay went on about how drag shows were sort of these women in quotes, nobody was trying to pass as a woman. They were quoting femininity. Larry Rivers started doing this with famous paintings, he repainted them in quotes. And so pop art was born according to some guy who wrote for a text book, the cliffsnotes of the cliffsnotes.

I really like the idea of in quotes, I'm also very interested in italics and parenthesis... The above image is a second generation of this earlier post. I painted up this objunc before I read the essay, but it now seems so appropriate. There's this sort of former hipster as Mary. Nylon quotes the Bible, and in turn the Bible (faith) sort of follows the fads. Moral Zeitgeist is the new buzz word, the progressive shifting of our moral beliefs. Biblical morality doesn't follow some cosmic tyrant; Biblical morality follows about five steps behind the moral zeitgeist. But.

Moral zeitgeist, moral relativism, moral fashion.

There's this three mile stretch of road that I like to walk at night. I always notice the corpses of dead birds on the sidewalk. I suppose they fall to their death from the power lines when they get to exhausted from the heat. Tonight while I was walking this road, I was also listening to CAKE, I don't know why anyone ever stopped listening to them. I was listening to their debut album, Motorcade of Generosity. These are some of the lyrics.

You see birds fall from the window ledge above mine.
Then they flap their wings at the last second.
I can see their dead weight
Just dropping like stones
For small loaves of bread
Past my window all the time.
But unless I get up,
Walk across the room
And peer down below,
I don't see their last second curves
Toward a horizontal flight.
All these birds just falling from the ledge like stones.

Now due to a construct in my mind
That makes their falling and their flight
Symbolic of my entire existence,
It becomes important for me
To get up and see
Their last second curves toward flight.
It's almost as if my life will fall
Unless I see their ascent.

I counted twelve corpses on my way home. There's also monsoon weather around here every couple of weeks, so half of these former birds are these ratty looking piles that blend in with the debris that's collected around them in the wind. I hope that's not symbolic of my entire existence, but the serendipity of having unsolicited lyrics to match my walk cannot be ignored.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

As If

The movie theatre is still empty, so I get my pick of seats. Of course I choose the row with the rail in front; nobody can sit in front of me and I can put my feet up without transferring theatre floor skank to a place where someone will eventually put their head.

I could have caught an earlier showing, except I was already late for the previews and maybe the first several minutes of the film. As a Hollywood blockbuster, it's important to be there from the beginning. Otherwise you're likely to miss the plot exposition in its entirety, but that could be a moot point. I'm looking to kill two hours on special effects explosions, the plot's going to be vacant anyway. The director hasn't encrypted any secret messages, nothing can be divined from the patterns in the fire bursts. They are just a special kind of fireworks so we can ooh and ahh. They are on the evening news. As if one combustion could be distinguished from another.

I could go peek into the earlier showing, but I don't have anywhere to be. People are starting to show up now. On one side of me, some guys are talking about the new episode of Cops that just aired, as if one episode could be distinguished from another. The drug charges outside of Detroit are the same as the domestic violence in Eugene, OR. I could never sit through one segment of that stuff, it's garbage, but because this other man has taken note, because a human voice is telling it rather than the television, it becomes fascinating. I'm leaning in now, I've plugged my opposite ear in an effort to block out any static noises. These guys don't notice me, but I feel really exposed. I think it must be really obvious to anyone sitting behind me, but so what, it's not criminal, it's probably not even as strange as I'm imagining.

When I finally get a real taste of the conversation that's going on, I realize that it's probably even sillier for me to behaving like this than I thought. To think, I was expending so much effort to hear this guy talk about the things he would do to some prostitute in a wife-beater tank top, "Why's this guy trying to arrest her, he ought to be gettin in that... check her pussy, see if she got a stash."

This doesn't sound right to me at all, that seems like the last place that a prostitute would hide anything of value. When overhearing this I wrote down stash, but maybe I was supposed to write 'stache instead, as some sort of pubic hair slang maybe? I'll never know.

How have I come to sit next to these people? They're vulgar and disgusting to me, and I'm surrounded. How have my life experiences, the path I've traveled, lead me to share this moment in this place amongst these people?

I write that so confrontational. I haven't asked if I'm superior, I've assumed it. But it must be so, I don't watch Cops. And I can forgive myself for anything. And I'm so aware, what with all the fault I can find in anything, I can see it where others wouldn't. And so I can conceal it.

How have I come to share this experience, as if one individual should be distinguished from another.

They Just Sit there on the Shelf Looking Much Smarter Than Me

I don't know how much I really want to say about this. I know I'm a hypocrite, I buy more books than I actually read. And then I feel guilty about it. Then I get mad at the rest of my generation for not reading as much as they should either. Then I see them spending $30 on fucking tshirts and I say, "Ah Ha! That's why I hate them! Because they're consumer extremists!" Counter culture my ass, you fucking hipster backwash! You muts! You eat whatever they put in your bowl. Then I scratch my leg through my skinny jeans and check my myspace. It's a vicious cycle that ends with me watching Gossip Girl. Fuck.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aaall Aboard the S.S. Twat!!

I get the bottled water thing, I really do. The people that say bottled water tastes the same as tap water are full of shit, it usually doesn't. It varies by region and city. My current tap water is fine, but when I lived in Phoenix it was undrinkable, and Pinal County was worse. As a child I lived on the outskirts of civilization and my dad had to drive into town with a truck that pulled a giant water tank behind it. Then when he returned to the boonies the water was pumped into a bigger tank that was connected to the house water supply. There was a well, but there's no water underground in deserts. That water was also foul out of the tap.

So buy a filter.

I'm especially annoyed by Fiji bottled water, and really any water that isn't bottled locally. Even if you recycle the bottle it's ridiculous. You understand what's happening right? Someone is putting WATER into storage drums and burning fuel to bring it across thousands of miles of OCEAN so that you can feel exotic. And you're paying for it. You're paying more for WATER than you do for gasoline. Fuck you.

There's oil in that water.

Also: if you need something to do with your used coffee grounds, mix them with crushed red pepper and rub it on chicken breast. Then grill it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ftr Cty

i write now as like the computer that within the pocket does the translate of text that is original a language is not of present

Summer school is over and I've been awarded my high marks for an indifferent performance, thanks State U! I think most people go to school for the grades and the degree, but I'm really there for the motivation the instructors are supposed to provide to work hard. Other majors get to look forward to a life of overbearing bosses to keep them busy, but as an artist, everything is self paced. If I can't develop those skills now, I never will.

The Digital Photo class lead me to learn about Dan Eldon, whose own art journal was an influence on this, so that was valuable. My second class was academically shameful, but I couldn't resist it: Film/Media Studies 394, History of Anime. I couldn't believe it either.

My first semester at ASU I worked in the study lab for the athletics department. Turns out that most of ASU's student athletes earn their humanities credits by taking a Hip Hop Music Studies class, so much of my generation-shame developed in that computer lab. Not because of the class, I can recognize the value of popular culture studies, but because these fuckers had to cheat. There's also a survey of American Pop Music class that's especially popular with student athletes. My favorite quote from that semester, "Are the Beatles the same as the B-52's?"

Truthfully the anime class was pretty informative. I learned about Satoshi Kon, who does really great work, and some of the other movers and shakers. I knew before going into it that anime wasn't the same as cartoons, but I didn't realize that it could be more than just entertaining. It's especially compelling to note that much of the apocalyptic/sci-fi genre is directly influenced by Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings; considering that those are the only instances of nuclear warfare, the Japanese have the purest understanding of the repercussions. For instance, Barefoot Gen, the original manga was written by Keiji Nakazawa, a survivor of Hiroshima.