I just realized right NOW, on the eve of Wednesday the 12th, that I forgot to record my opinion about the last episode of Twin Peaks: The Return, which aired on the eve of Sunday the 9th. The series is now on Part Nine of Eighteen, if I'm not mistaken: so it's halfway thru. Or part full, if you're a believer. I call it two-thirds empty, because, so far, exactly three hours have been sublime: 3, 4, and 8. And the fraction 3/9 reduces to a third. But if every single hour henceforth is a marvel, then that would leave us with twelve out of eighteen, or 66.66666666666667 percent magnificence. So that's more than half full. But this is assessing possibility not probability, let alone REALITY. (Since I am an aspiring pataphysician who tends toward self-doubt, my prediction is that we'll end up at a solid 80% passability ranking, because I'll change my mind about some of the lousy episodes after viewing the entirety, and also upon re-watching. This is a far better result than season two achieved, so let's count our blessings.) ...My opinion on Show Number Nine is that it was OK. Nothing special; just adequate. If you press me to be a model blogger and say something smarmy, something negative, I'll go with: Twas a decent hour of filler.
But the real reason that I sat down at my royal purple laptop to write this post to you, whoever you are, is that I thought my library copy of The Art Spirit by Robert Henri was due today, but I found out it's actually due tomorrow; so I had a few more moments to read it; so I read for a spell, and in the process I struck much gold; thus I'm here to store a number of fine quotations. I gave one passage yesterday...
Oh, that reminds me: I should explain the image that accompanies yesterday's post:
That was a picture of a scrap of underlayment, which is the material that goes beneath the vinyl flooring that is taking me forever to install; I do not relish this job. My sweetheart was trying out a couple different pens on its surface, as you can see – two blue ballpoints and a thick black marker – to determine if we could use them to establish dotted-line "slice here" measurements without the marks smearing. And the cloudy white blotch at the bottom is a residue of paper from where the thing was glued to its advert. For this piece was a free sample, which came attached to a sheet of info aiming to lure passersby into falling in love with the product. By the way, isn't the color of this material eerie? You should see it up-close, in person: it looks like a vast spool rolled with processed cheese; the kind that you peel away from the clear square of plastic: 3-by-33 feet of this stuff. It even feels like cheese. This is making me hungry.
And today's image is just a line drawing that I drew. No, it is not. It's a photo of me with my in-laws. I'm in the top row, second from the left. And I superimposed the listing of a "well-balanced, regular stock of colors" that I found on page 19 of Henri's book, to give the final vision a personal touch, and to make it more difficult for the picture's owner to sue me for copyright infringement.
Also, before getting to the Henri quotes, I want to mention that a few of the movies we've screened recently have left me with the feeling that nothing is changing in the hell-chambers of politics and money-ism: this world's been broken since before I was born, apparently. I was born in 77. Last night, in an attempt to abate my vexation with crooked warmongering politicians (from BOTH sick parties), I chose to re-watch Babo 73, which was released in 64, which was before my birth, which you can tell because I disclosed my birth year above. While watching, thru happy-sad tears, I noted that every single aspect of this FINEST FARCE (I adore the films of Robert Downey Sr.), alas, rings true today. Not one iota of evilness has been eroded; and no heavenly representative has closed the sky like a scroll yet, or extinguished the moon like the cherry of a marijuana cigarette.
And about a week ago, I chose to watch Werner Herzog's 1977 masterpiece Stroszek. Note that this film shares with me the exact same year of birth (as do the very first Star Wars and Eraserhead). This means that the awful societal practices and corporatism that doom the characters of Stroszek were so well known, even when I was an infant, that Herzog was able to encapsulate them into a two-hour screenplay with the clarity of a parable.
(Incidentally my time as an infant was spent floating in space.)
And another Herzog film called Where the Green Ants Dream, made in 1984, reminded me of the recent pipeline atrocities here in the States, like Dakota Access and Keystone XL. All around the world, the same song.
When a movie documenting horrors is released, I wish that those horrors would STOP instead of continuing through many lifetimes.
With no sign of even slowing, let alone stopping...
Now let me say one last thing before getting to M. Henri, who's been waiting patiently in the wings for me to begin quoting his beautiful book. I made the mistake, seconds ago, of screening part of a video that I stumbled across online: it shows a curator, gentle and well-meaning, who is trying to explain the artistic value of Andy Warhol to a perplexed museum-goer. I don't know what the overall point of the production was supposed to be, but it made me want to etch my reaction into the screen:
When Warhol satisfies me, it is not always on an aesthetic level. Any pleasure that I derive from him is usually different from the kind that, for instance, Auguste Renoir might give me. I love Warhol, and I think it's a mistake to talk about him as if we've figured out his stance, and as if he had a particular message – as if he intended anything at all. Perhaps he did want to convey this or that meaning; perhaps he was seeking to produce a type of fill-in-the-blank (beauty, seriously?) – I say it doesn't matter as much what we think he thought: what matters most is what we think we think. Here we have many things that Warhol made: Does it matter if we like them or hate them? What does their existence make us wonder about? Is this or that series of works more like art than science, or more like philosophy than mock commerce? How much sarcasm versus how much sincerity? How do we know, why do we want to know? I see him as teasing art and commerce both at once. But mostly I like it that Warhol brings these questions out of me. I think the point is more that he gets us to talk to each other, and to see the unsightly places in our status-quo systems of categorization; he lures us to slip around in the muddy realm of... what? I don't even know what to call this muddy realm he has us slipping around in. But it sure does please me, in a certain way. (In other ways, not so much; and that's OK.) I now summon my friend Duchamp again; here's a passage from the bio by Calvin Tomkins, which I call holy and sacred (only sort of half-jokingly) – and I hope I haven't copied this quote here before; in a monological discussion about the work of Warhol, I'd hate to get caught repeating myself:
Duchamp came to believe that Warhol was an important artist, but for reasons that Warhol himself might not have recognized or even understood. Referring to Warhol's soup-can pictures, he said that their interest was not so much retinal as conceptual. "If you take a Campbell soup can and repeat it fifty times," he said, "you are not interested in the retinal image. What interests you is the concept that wants to put fifty Campbell soup cans on a canvas."
Now for Robert Henri. To give an idea of the riches to be found in his book The Art Life, I'll note that the few quotations given below are taken from the same small sample of pages – the twenty-five that I was able to enjoy while waiting for my noontime appointment at the shampoo parlor:
(A perfect mantra: Few are capable of holding themselves in the state of listening to their own song.)
I photocopied that quotation out—click to enlarge it—because of its length and formatting. Now here's a couple (from p.30) that I ripped from the book by hand. Then I set the type and printed it electronically via telekinesis, because its target is the future. Let it be recorded that I am in absolute agreement with Henri regarding humankind's potential and our failure to fulfill, expand, and surpass our current selves. Also his remarks about waste are nothing if not pertinent to the Internet.
The art student of these days is a pioneer. He lives in a decidedly colorless, materialistic age. The human family has not yet come out of the woods. We were more barbarian, we are still barbarians. Sometimes in the past we shot ahead, in certain ways, ahead of where we are now. We gave flashes of what is possible in man. We have yet as a body to come up to the art of living. The art student of today must pioneer beyond the mere matters of fact. [...]
I believe the great artists of the future will use fewer words, copy fewer things, essays will be shorter in words and longer in meaning. There will be a battle against obscurity. Effort will be made to put everything plain out in the open. By this means we will enter into the real mystery. There will be fewer things said and done, but each thing will be fuller and will receive fuller consideration. Now we waste. There is too much "Art," too much "decoration," too many things are made, too many amusements wasted.
I was surprised by the following passage (from p.34), because, here, Henri sounds to me like a fusion of my heroes Marcel Duchamp and Walt Whitman. With a dash of David Lynch.
These next three statements (from p.42–43) also remind me of Duchamp's remark about the viewer completing the artwork:
The fact is that a picture in any way, in color, form, or in its whole ensemble but sends out agents that stimulate a creation which takes place in the consciousness of the observer.
That is the reason association with works of art is enjoyable.
It is also the reason they tire some and irritate others.
Lastly, this passage (from p.44) reminds me that it's better to evoke than to control.
Art is the inevitable consequence of growth and is the manifestation of the principles of its origin. The work of art is a result; is the output of a progress in development and stands as a record and marks the degree of development. It is not an end in itself, but the work indicates the course taken and the progress made. The work is not a finality. It promises more, and from it projection can be made. It is the impress of those who live in full play of their faculties. The individual passes, living his life, and the things he touches receive his kind of impress, and they afterwards bear the trace of his passing.
Although I discovered the above only after writing yesterday, that last line or two could be used to justify the exhausted way that I began my previous entry, where I confessed that "Writing in this weblog seems the least important activity in my everyday life; but, to eternity, it's probably the only thing that matters. When I'm dead, where will I be but here?"
In the masterpiece film Wrong Cops (2013), Officer Rough attempts to introduce a work-in-progress musical composition that he wishes to play on the stereo for Officer Duke. Interrupting Rough, Duke snaps: "Don't piss around with all your technical crap, just play the song." So it is with a nod to my anti-hero Duke that I title this postscript: Notes toward a pissing around about personal politics. The truth is that after finishing copying out all the above "Art Spirit" passages, I am overflowing with opinions, and I don't have time to polish them right now, but I want at least to jot them down in some form.
We have this word "progressive" that describes (as far as I can tell) a more leftist version of what used to mean (in the U.S.) "liberal". I imagine that the Thomas Frank of the near future (say, an hundred years out), instead of naming his timely truth-bomb Listen, Liberal!, would call it something like Give Ear, O Ye Leftists, and I Will Speak; and Hear, O Progressives, the Words of My Mouth! (I'm cribbing the song of Moses, from Deuteronomy 32:1.) All this pissing around is just to get to the point where I can ask myself: Do you side with progressive politics? And I answer: I do. And now we are wed; and they can lift my veil, and see what they have purchased. But here's the first spat, which we jump into even before the night of our honeymoon: I'm getting tired of hearing about all the troubles of our eon; I want these awful predicaments to go away. I want the violent corruption to cease to exist; so let us bring it to a void, by whatever nonviolent means. Yet instead of effecting change and stopping the corruption, we just keep reporting it to each other. I'm most guilty of this. Now I wonder if it's actually an hindrance to present the news in an entertaining way. For what's the point of knowing about unfairness in any changeable, transparent, public realm, if you don't DO something to amend the state back to utopia? But maybe that's what everyone's already doing, behind the scenes, as it were, and the reason this seems not to be occurring is just that the wheels of justice turn very sluggishly. If this is the case, then I myself should be chastising myself for inaction. Myself alone. I am the bad apple, because I just sit here writing blogs with rambling postscripts.
OK now I'm officially bored with this entry, so, as Jesus always sez: It is finished.