Saturday, October 14, 2017

to be - the essay / not to be - the sonnet

“The ‘what should be’ never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no ‘what should be,’ there is only what is.” - Lenny Bruce

I am struck by the irony that i’ve lived in a time when the fable of “the sky is falling” actually has foundation in reality, and there is no boy crying wolf to be found. Many will still maintain what they declare is the sole truth of existence, but anymore i am finding fewer and fewer with questions about how exactly we have gotten into this painter’s corner we face. My drawing of Maria Sabina has become more of a refuge than any loving fantasy about the many beautiful women i have drawn these past few years. I am at a lost to explain why. When young, i was quite inquisitive about the parallel universe Sra. Sabina introduced to the many unscrupulous personalities riding the crest of post WW11 optimism. Near as i can tell, she had a fundamental reservation about why these characters were searching for god, rather than using what was for her, a medicine with which to heal. It is this misalignment of the fundamentals which seems to have a role in our current predicament - more irony that we are about to be anonymously incinerated by zealots at the behest of “their” god. I don’t know what god is or even whether i believe. I do believe there is good reason that the wisest of teachings stopped short of defining such mystical proportions. Some descriptions i like are: the holiest prayer of the holiest sage barely touches the foot of god; the peace pipe is used to tickle the nose of god; “god is the inpenetrable.” - Albert Einstein. The sad truth is if we are not god, then there is no god. The whole notion of adhering to some prescription for divinity is fraught with  illogic. One is sanctified or one is not, how could it be otherwise. To believe if one only did this (fill in the blank__________) then one would be holy begs the question - what does the this refer to¿ Who is to say god does not want us all to do exactly what we are doing and thereby put an end to our species so that a more benign, less excoriating organism might take root on our magic orb and perhaps know peace, or that that hardy cockroach isn’t actually godhead who has allowed our species to congeal onto this current corrosive precipice simply out of boredom from having survived so long on the third rock from the sun?

Nor am i averse to the tenants of decency and wisdom found in all the scriptures which i guess makes me an Omnist - an omnist without a phone. I do not have much faith in the church of technology as it is, too much driven by the profiteers in our midst. In any exchange the one taking does not hold nearly as much fascination for me as the one giving, be that money, love or hate; but pound for pound it is that special breed of life that gives of oneself that completely intrigues me. This morning i had a funny black butterfly land momentarily on my tobacco smudged fingertips, i think i was as nearly touched by this as the text exchange i had with my Nepali love interest, both being miraculous in vastly different and implausible ways. As a re-reformed non-smoker the image of being touched by an ineffably delicate mariposa exacerbates my conflict about smoking, but confirms there are no condemned amongst us, only tense people. I only wish that i had within me a way to have given more to this winged creature who brightened my morning the same as i would hope to have with my young Nepali maiden. I do not know much about what is holy, but i’m fairly certain love is at the core, and if it is not - i know from personal experience love is a damn sight more fun than hate. Who doesn’t want to have fun; so just how does one go about loving? From what little i know, it begins by not hating which
 is a more complex concept than i had imagined when i first began my quest for unconditional love. If love is the absence of hate, also defined in Hindu scripture as “aversion,” what am i to do about all that to which i am averse - war, greed, cruelty? Yet these are concepts and definitions as much subject to the distortions of charlatans and usurpations of the unscrupulous, and as much a part of my own character as my hope for human survival. Is it simply a case of integration and acceptance of our own foibles? Could it be we might all be saved by admitting to our indecencies; was President Jimmy Carter truly the last leader of the free world when he copped to having “lust in his heart¿” This is where it gets dicey, how will that play out when i explain to my chaste maiden of the Himalayas that i am as struck by her beauty as her mind? Do i want to evaluate what i share with anyone predicated on how i imagine it will be received - that smacks of a level of manipulation for which i’m not interested, though i know well enough how it works, or at least well enough to feel it when it’s coming at me.

You see, fucking aversion - my own, and i’m swimming in it. Maybe that’s what’s really meant by water off a duck’s back. Do any of us have any real choice about what we are going to be? I choose love, because hate is tedious and foolish, while all of the best times in my life have been a direct result of love, including marriages, divorce/lessons, those christmases i compare to others, and most especially all of those people whose touch allowed me to more fully appreciate an itinerant mariposa in a foreign country. Can we make mariposas do anything, much less give love¿ That’s about as stupid as believing i have any control over the feelings of a young mountain maid. What little control i possess is personal and currently being mocked by my fantasy about smoking 6 cigarettes a day. However, i have learned something about being happy; i have found if i am patient with myself and allow for the time it takes to depict an image i enjoy eventually something emerges that is oftentimes worth the struggle. If that is called art, so be it. Is that what it means to “be” - to look out over the horizon of possible choices and to gravitate toward that which seems to feel right¿ If so, what is the criteria one uses to define “right”? Would that be some magical result of our incessant socialization by parents, friends or ostensible rulers of the universe¿ I would not be the person i am without a measure of input from the world, yet the deeper i get into the miasma of our world and the further i am able to plumb the depths of my own darkness, the more i wonder whether choice is part of the equation at all. I can discipline myself until i am blue in the face, but that does not seem to affect the heart of any love interest i’ve ever known. I am beginning to doubt the conceit of any manner of efficacy knowing how diabolical my fears can be.  What is left upon which we might base our decisions - the will of the universe? If this is so, we are fucked big time. What is it Einstein said - “God does not play dice with the universe.” So we must have been betrayed by faith and its shills, our families are bloodied and broken, the money lenders are laughing at Jesus, and our mother’s womb - the oceans have become a piss-pot for the petrochemical concerns. Maybe Kojak was really on the trail, “who loves you, baby”?

What i have difficulty abandoning is the fight, not that gory bloodbath born of revenge for real or imagined offenses, but that Herculean effort to make one more line, to find one more flower .  .  . to feel one more love again. Is it really more like Jung’s quote “Where love rules there is no will to power, and where power predominates, there love is lacking”¿ I am convinced there is not fuck all i can do about my demise - will or no will, so all those fucking vendors peddling that pig-in-poke of everlasting anything are about as welcome at my table as my last wife, bless her heart. Besides, what exactly is there left for me to be so all fired willful about¿ Do i make a full court press and act on my instinct to run that shy young thing to ground and subject her to my love fantasies dressed as romance? No, but that doesn’t mean i can’t send love her way because i admire her style, and want to reinforce her very understandable awareness of her allure. I’m not sure i have enough soul left to be mortally wounded as i have been, whether or not my misery was self imposed. I do know that the fantasy of any perfect anything is worthless and vain. We are squirming piles of biomass with a short shelf life, but we are also imbued with the capacity for self-awareness that permits us to question our very most sacred cows - love, family, pride, humility and faith. Could it be this doubt is our best friend. Lao Tzu says “make self confidence your best friend” which i also prefer, but if i had to have anything riding shotgun, i’d prefer a skeptic to some of the arrogant pricks i’ve come across in my trek through life. Still in all, if i have to be something, i would rather be myself, for it seems one has very little choice about not being, unless of course one is a suicide afficionado; however this vocation comes with a much shorter shelf life than those who persist in puzzling the mystery, or even those for whom it has never occurred to entertain a question.

“Now that you know who you are, what are you going to be” - McCartney/Lennon. 

Ah . .  that sweet myopia of youth; I have said that i was many things during my life behind that fucking mask of ego, and now all i can say is thank god for the stranger who never told me no, that shaggy shambling beast haunting the caverns of my wounded heart quietly healing each and every self-inflicted wound. Wounds which while attributed to every avatar to whom i’ve ever given up the reigns, but who also ultimately disappointed and betrayed me, often without ever having known of their blunder. There is no one on the planet who can ever be for you what you are for yourself, so for god’s sake, or tobacco’s sake or even the sake of Sra. Maria Sabina’s sainted memory, be kind to yourself because there is no one who can ever do it for you, not even if they could crawl into your skin and shake hands with whichever agent of the ego answering the door at the time. But remember this, when you are unable to recognize the person in front of you as asking, demanding or begging by whatever behaviors they command for whatever it is which may result in your feeling assaulted, overwhelmed, insulted or loved is likely related to that same part of yourself which only you can know, otherwise you have likely lived a pretty empty existence. We are a single species and each of is simply that reflection of the other which through the lens of our experience we are able to understand about the other. The more you can hear what others know and feel, will reflect your efforts to see into your own heart and to know why and how you do whatever it is that makes you who you are. The exceptions are those lacking empathy for other and who while able to conceive emotion have no internal register - the ciphers amongst us now commanding, and not surprisingly inculcating the emergent Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology with the same inability for awareness and compassion toward human suffering that has resulted in the current profit driven distribution of our world’s dwindling and increasingly corrupted resources by using power over the weak to control through force and fear - in other words our current world leaders. If you wish to continue to be whatever it is you have found suits your unique capacities and desires, i would suggest you include a way to help others do the same - to be whatever it is they want. I choose to be happy because it improves my odds of finding like minded others, like you.


not to be - the sonnet

i was raised not to be, but to become-
a loving well-intentioned oversight.
but helps some believe that sweet kid’s a bum.
Is that from only seeing what’s in the light.

it’s possible to not be what you are
but the effort is great, and not worthwhile.
maybe for a while, but you won’t get far.
except maybe to amass a great pile.

of what - remains the question no one asks
why’s that - could be easier than asking.
our work world makes little room for more tasks
except those that feed the greed of our king.

still and all i’ll never stop not to be 
what i am, just to be’n another tree

jts 10/13/2017 

reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Friday, September 29, 2017

woman - an essay / man - a sonnet

I rarely know what subjects i will pair prior to writing; this morning i thought perhaps drunk and sober might be apt, but puzzling over some better idea of what woman means is much more appealing to me, though i can speak with greater authority on drunkenness. I enjoy both, and i’ve found that both can be quite painful when taken to excess. That might be said of nearly everything known to our species. However, few things inspire me to abandon my normal probity as liquor and women. I have occasion today to be repulsed by both, and not. Last week on my way back home, i stopped to pick up my paid-for loaf of sourdough bread, but unable to remember the pretty cashier’s name i remarked in my execrable Spanish “i forgot your name, because i was looking at your eyes when you gave me your name. “She laughed, and i was elated though mindful of my precarious circumstances. I know that giving offense to pretty young maids can be lethal within some cultures - even the one in which i live. It is something of a double bind in which man exists with respect to the fairer sex. For example, the home in which i reside is also a habitation for three pretty young gringas, having grown by two within the last day. The vibe is as unpleasant as i can remember in terms of simple amicableness. I try to parse my feelings in any case of tension to discover my role and rectify, because why not. The root of my discomfort may be as simple as rejection, but not from any forwardness on my part that i am aware of; the original resident (a dynamically pretty young woman) gave a party to which i was uninvited. 

Where she a man, that would be considered punk-ass behavior given we are two foreigners within a household of 4, 3 of which are over 60 years old. At 63 years old with 3 ex wives i have experience with some of the nuances of the mating dance and am extremely circumspect about reading “come on” from a woman, especially the young and pretty variety. So much so, on my way here i stopped and offered my apologies to the young baker who inscrutably nodded back with happy dancing eyes. I have enormous regard for the torments of the attractive, my mother and sister both being beauty queens. But i am a man in a world run amuck by leering demands for a salacious surrender to the wonders of money and its perverse relationship to love - that is not the kind of human i wish to become. I am erotic to a fault, but far more interested in the wonders of a sexually responsive partner, yet the intimacies shared by loving hearts between considerate partners is a mystery i mean to learn. I know that subservience has no role in human relations, but beyond that i have no clue. It was late in life that i acceded to the reality that love can be predatory, not the least of which, my own dark love. The more i accept and nurture that shambling beast rather than dress it up in manly homilies and chivalrous raiment the more readily apparent the parallel darkness of woman seems. In my zeal to take possession of those personal failings that would result in so much derailed love much less the holocausts of three domestic collapses the less inclined i am to pursue a woman that is anything but open and forthright - however even the ballsiest broads i’ve known had guile about them even if only to themselves.

So what of woman, would i ask her to be different. Is it a finely tuned sensitivity of my party giving housemate that discerns my unapologetic beast and simply wants no part of it as i do her conceits? To say there is no difference between man and woman and that equality is legislate-able is a conceit of the modern world when we are unable to codify peace and fairness, two keys to human survival. I am tired of being afraid of woman for her ability to break my heart, so i’ve learned to carry on with a broken heart. What confuses me about that condition is that i invariably become better for the damage. Is that the heart of woman - her capacity to find growth in destruction, therefore she breaks that which she loves just to make him better? I enjoy the concept of C.G. Jung where he channels the anima and animus of yore into plausible aspects of either gender, and then there is Hank Williams’ observation about woman “it’s better to talk with them, than to talk about them which may be closer to the root of my conundrum. As much as i enjoy speaking with the housemate, that explicit insinuation that her beauty is sufficient to presume an inability on my part to resist and which requires from her an outward state-of-siege behavior which turns party invitations exclusive is a tad pompous. I know this because of my own bloated anima that gets orgiastic about its inability to resist what  Arundhati Roy describes as the “pursuit of beauty to its lair” in my own work. Then again, it could be simple fear of that repugnant feeling of my own fury having been insulted; i don’t know.

I do know that without understanding we are doomed, so i try to commune with my peace and learn how to understand what others want and give it to them if i am able; as the good Dalai Lama remarked kindness is always possible. However, i am only just now coming to believe that my absence from all circumstances is not necessarily kind and to seek those circumstances and that woman who enjoys the company of me and my beast. A deep and close woman friend of mine once asked after yet another debacle of one sort or another, “has it ever occurred to you that people might be afraid of you?” How is that even possible to fear one so shackled by socialization that he could get himself in dutch with one woman for possibly being too shy and another for being too forward? What remains is there is no form of manliness which when conformed to, results in harmony, so i’ve taken Jung’s advice “privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” I also search for gender neutral language and behavior, not because i am so compliant, but because it would be bullshit to advocate liberty without seeking it for all people, creatures, places and things - the same for happiness, peace or nearly any other esoteric concept one would like to propagate in this profit driven miasma we inhabit. Woman and men are more effective together than either is apart, though it is well documented women fair better in solitude than the hapless, short lived male. Why is that¿ 

My father, g_d rest his soul, distilled his concept of woman down to a single question for her, “what do you want?” For all my protestations about self expression to ask another “what do you want?” strikes me as peremptory, pushy, and officious, though my divining rod quest using sensitivity as my pack mule is killing my mule. I have learned this much from my last three wives - what a woman wants you to know she will tell you, and what she doesn’t want you to know is indecipherable by and immune to any forensic examination or force of will. Men pride themselves on willfulness, but if your anima is a wilting lily, good luck in the blood sport of love. The cowards effecting women’s policy in the testosterone bubbles of D.C. and Wall St boardrooms believe their imagined dominance to be from will rather than the Naked Emperor charade tumbling down around their ears for no other reason than the lack of actual information they function with, believing instead what computer models tell them from data extracted by the mighty data mining apparatus which defines so much technology today. No model for human relations is valid without a deep and profound appreciation for the formidable will of woman. I am currently drawing the profile of Maria Sabina gazing across a valley comprised of rugged terrain and determined human habitation. Her expression is etched with pain and endurance while remaining utterly open to what it is she sees. For me to presume the content of her sight would be ignorant, but to beg any form of welcome to her patient vigil has given me greater peace and hope for the survival of our species than any lust i’ve ever run to ground, however ravishing she may have been. Only g_d knows the limits of that animated power of love which resides in the heart of woman; i most certainly have not plumbed her depths, but i’m trying.


man - the sonnet

Out gunned, out fought, out thought - the lot of man,
yet like every other day, out he goes
to lie in graves from the battlefield plan.
The bad soldier does it still though he knows.

The fighter does not make war, he makes love
the more he understands, the more he makes.
A man won’t do much without a good shove,
trouble is, once going he ain’t much without breaks.

The one thing that makes his life practical
would be his mate - his love for which he lives
be that a purpose, a god, or more pull
you know he’s wallowing in what he gives.

a handful of men are thinking they won
by not using hands and taking a ton.

jts 09/29/2017 

reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Friday, September 22, 2017

have - an essay / have not - a sonnet

apple, has just informed me that i do not have permission to save the document you are reading - fucking cheek. Clearly they are confused about what have means. Then again i could just be getting old and don’t know what computers are supposed to do, nor have i figured out what women want yet. I can say that i do have a computer i’m not so sure i want, and do not have a woman - if woman could ever said to be had - i’m pretty sure i want one. I thought i had a few, but they each clarified that presumption for me in their own unique fashion. I think i’ll have a cigarette, or it me - more confusion about to have or have not. Our world is being ground to dust by idiots believing that a piece of paper is adequate evidence they have the right to do so - why is that presumption any more stable a conviction than my own belief that a woman can be had. What if in some bizarro universe the idiots just never learned to want a woman and so did not have the advantage of being educated about why a woman can never be had. That really would be great wouldn’t it¿ All the world’s problems could be solved simply by teaching those idiots who have been substituting their desire to love a woman for world dominance. I don’t know fuck all about women, so i guess we're still shit out of luck. Who would have thought existence could hinge on some something so simple as knowing what a woman wants. I have a mother, however she is aged and while she would be thrilled to know i acknowledge such good luck - she is truly a miracle of creation - she most certainly would not describe knowing what a woman wants as a simple matter; i have learned that much.

True this - Bob Dylan is just now singing “ you’d be as happy as you could be if you belonged to me,” so it is quite likely given Mr. Dylan’s keen instincts distinguishing love-fact from love-fiction, we should be on the right track. Though there is still that issue of my computer depriving me of rights to save this file, and the fact that i am not online to query “the cloud;” what i do have, is problems, which in this world hardly makes me unique. I have a bed and a refrigerator, while not exactly mine, having access to them makes me increasingly unique today - how sad. Yet i can honestly say i do not have sadness, who needs it? I have time to do this, which as i age toward the void gives me an increased appreciation for each second, and get ready for this, creates great doubts as to whether i have time at all. It's been said, "make the time"; i’ve made a lot of things in my life, but i’d be a damn liar if I said, based on what little i can understand about Sir Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” that i have ever made any, time that is. By all accounts one’s word is something one wants to keep, yet the  current administration is actually capitalizing on Mr. M.T. Suit’s legendary prevarications to the tune of billions depending on who you blow as much as who you know. This essay does not seem to elicit peace which in these days may have become an even more pertinent issue to discuss, vis a vis - have. What i've learned is that i cannot give peace if i do not have peace. Just how does one go about having peace, unlike having a woman who can often be wildly diverse in her concepts of belonging, like ma. Peace however, that is more like a blood sport which requires no team, no permissions, no time - you just focus. Then again, is saying “i have peace” adequate to take possession of such¿ We’ve nearly established that those 6 men holding as much wealth as the bottom 7 billion humans alive have needed little more than a surprisingly similar assertion “it’s mine” - poof - ipso facto - welcome to the white ages.

What is not clear to me is how they got so many to agree to the difference between pilfering from the till, and the enforcement of such as anything other than an absurd bastardization of our marketplace. As much as the grinning baboons parading as commentary/corporate shills want to describe our lot as something other than a horrid ice burg gash in Starship Earth the reality is much more simple. They need us, we do not need them. Just as my heart’s hunger to have a woman is now where near enough scratch to turn the tide of love so too is the ruling class anything but deposed for no other reason than lacking a winning hand. Voila - poof - ipso facto - BOYCOTT the shit out of the lying skanks - and goosing the Dupont bottom line with toybomb decals is not depriving mr. m.t. suit of a thing. have your bliss, have your self respect, have your love, have your peace - all those things the chimera of consumer addiction have never nourished or manifested. The scrutiny you are enduring by some pencilneck geek’s concept of technological adroitness pales against the incomprehensible stupidity of apple selling a product that is not loaded with the finest dictionary immediately translatable into all human language. So if i can’t have peace, maybe i should shoot for patience - another blood sport which requires little or no visible means of support. I could probably get a lot more done, not the least most especially with regards my quixotic quest to the only worthy dream of any male worth his salt, to live in that land of milk and honey where i have a woman.

I’m a little confused, do we even know if it is possible to have a woman¿ i know what it is to not have a woman, so i picture myself half-way home. It was not having peace which has allowed me to learn what i don’t know about peace, though that is as close as i’ve gotten; i find the emptiness oddly comforting, even a little inspiring. I wonder how much i could learn by knowing less about other things¿ Funny that; if this were true, knowing as little as i know about woman, i’d again be halfway-home. I think we’re getting somewhere what if all the copious records collection of it-ain’t-none-of-your-business has caused the geeks to sit back and wonder about what they haven’t learned from their conspicuous consumer collection¿ Sadly, i could give a fuck - a personal defect. To have love in my heart is somewhat stymied by the attention necessary to devise a language with which to explain this to the haves who haven’t been able to divine what i would happily answer should they ever grow a pair and ask to my face. I’m suspecting the illusion that anyone can have anything is a myth - a fable woven by loving parents to jolly children who begin to wonder what happened to their mutts. Object permanence became a metric by which smart people found patterns, a scientific effort that was supposed to alleviate suffering but like many events involving fire and meat was hijacked by a family member looking for the fattest piece food. Look up the story of Bernais, nephew to Sigmund Freud first Scientologist to be cleared. This surveillance is bi-directional, and if anyone reading this doubts there was an unseen hand keeping this from you as long as possible, you’ve never met my agent.

What, you don’t think i could have an agent¿ Fuck you, go read some other body whimpering about what he can’t have, see what i care. You can begin to see why i respect my agent a lot, mostly when she takes my calls. Then again i could be lying and trying to inflate my numbers so i can have everything i ever wanted and wouldn’t have to rationally rant my sublimated defeats into semi-fictional commentary. It is now closing in on 3 hours that i have paid to better understand have. I like having a computer, and it doesn’t please me that apple may take back the three hours i used, but fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. I guess that’s why they are making the big bucks, because they can. I’ve seen it, rich and poor; loved them both, but if and when it comes down to it, would i sacrifice a cigarette butt to see a celebrity or spend an hour shooting the shit with my neighbor - hand’s down i’d say Miguel Angel. Those things i cherish have dwindled and dwindled more while Bob Dylan is singing “Congratulations, for making me wait, Congratulations, now it’s too late.” So i guess the paradox of being owned by that which is yours is one that will haunt, or hunt us to extinction. I have the pleasure of puzzling through this time with you - whoever you are. That is something that can never be taken away from me, and i’ll likely go around the barricade which prevents me from storing these fragile symbols only representing vaguely the pleasure of having had this fun with you. Thank you. 

“If you want me, just whistle. You know how to whistle don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” - Howard Hawks, channeling Ernest Hemingway 


have not - the sonnet
being black is not a death sentence, but close.
murdered by a bunch of fucking haters
who don’t need guns - they can’t tell friends from foes
protecting ignorance using their fears.

let us kill all those with hate in their hearts!
But wouldn’t that be a hateful thing to do¿
And that rank odor of my hateful parts
i run from like the piquant ode d’poo 

maybe i’m war waiting for armistice?
maybe i’m peace and not waiting at all¿
maybe birth was enough to have everything?
and death just reward for having a ball.

I’ve not wanted a lot of what i’ve had;
were what’s left at peace, i’d be kinda glad

jts 09/22/2017 

reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

future present - an essay / past present - a sonnet

I arrived at this present future moments ago - a gallery in Mexico whose owner like all artists of merit is searching for more time to work. My business model allows for adjustments, and our two purposes coincided. I am writing at his front desk awaiting the client who will offset such demands by buying his work - but that is in the future. I now know where to empty my bladder - always a future eventuality for those who are years’ challenged. My last drawing has left its mooring and for better or worse i bid thee bon voyage. As ever one would hope to end any 6 month relationship having learned something, but i fear my choice of subjects for my present drawing belies such optimism. What i was thinking about when i woke up today were the parts of the valley Maria Sabina looked at and whether i am capable of intuiting the profound expression in her quiet determined face. Ah well, no sense getting worked up, or as some might say “buying trouble.” If i am able, it will be done, and if not something close - meaning i’ll be foisted on my own petard of excoriating judgement about something i just spent 6 months loving. I have found that writing is an essential function of my creative process, and consistent with my unique right brain/left brain civil war. Just like the hunger to find a loving image to faithfully internalize, or regurgitate, or any of the other equally bizarre interpretations of graphic/plastic arts, writing nourishes me in ways that objet d’art are unable to. Each activity works for me as a lens to consider the manifest complexities of this life and therefore give better understanding to that interminable quest for self-awareness, for knowing the heart or mind of another is a virtual impossibility in this manifestation of spirit.

As much as i’d like to fancy myself immune from the opinion of others, its indelicate presumption festers and goads me to further growth, or greater clarity about the human i have become and am becoming. What is there to know about the caverns of one’s being, or are we collectively no more than that progression of snapshots the ruling class has compiled of us each supposedly aiding in the protection of ourselves from ourselves, but more likely some sort of elaborate “chutes and ladders” game resulting in our certain separation from time, independence, imagination, love etc., etc., etc. What fascinates me is how difficult it has been for me to arrive at even the barest of outlines of that celebrated unconscious our society’s experts have posited, expounded and even cured but never presented in any tangible fashion. I am often mystified that our mute acquiescence to surveillance amounts to more data collected about our behaviors than is readily accessible to ourselves unless you happen to be a system administrator with the “keys to the kingdom” and writable media or permission to transmit such as those demigod technocrats, from whose ranks the freedom fighters of tomorrow are emerging - Thank You Mr. Edward Snowden. The gallery has now been put in order for the day’s culture traffic and the owner has receded into his emerging future - the “table rasa” of fear every creative spirit faces when commencing that peculiar process in which artists of all stripes seem unable to resist. How the fuck does this pertain to future, past or present, you might be asking yourselves. If so you’ve just made my day. 

I’m of the mind there are not near enough questions in the world we inhabit. So much so, i’m horribly self-conscious about presuming on your time with assertions of any kind. Yet the question of what our world will look like in 50 years without having made the effort to establish a question beachhead in this world of knowns. But just like my 1st aerospace lead Doug W_____ so sagely opined too long ago, “it’s not who you know, it’s who you blow.” However keen his Machiavellian instincts may have been, he missed the orientation by about 180 degrees, and future of our world has been pinned to a pinnacle of successive ass-kissers whose seeming competence is predicated wholly on one’s ability to deliver on high while demanding the best from all who would follow. While writing this, it occurs to me how much hay could be made from what i don’t say, and that i would have to ask who the fuck cares. Mr. M.T. Suit is the preeminent  ass kisser, just ask his financier, Mother Russia, but what for me nails the logic of my admittedly dubious concept of our collective straits, is how this narcissistic baboon managed to garner so many hard bit, hard charging, hard up yankee razorbacks to pucker up and engage in such a carnal pyramid of fakeness. Then again he could be right, or left given his consistency, about me being a sore loser. If that were true, rather than stretching to do my best as an equal opportunity menace to sacred cows everywhere, mostespeciallymyown - i’d be asses and elbows on the “information super-highway currying favor by conjuring witty and acerbic repartee so much the rage in the talking head echo chamber that constitutes our current media stream. Instead, i’m questing to enlarge my contribution to those around me and at the same time utilize the fuzzy logic my “loving/doing their best parents” kindly beat into me during my wayward youth, and which i now allow as lead sled dog in a world that may forget what snow is in the lifetime of my brother’s youngest grandchild.

It is that world which compels me to consider such a threadbare topic as imagining the future. Nikolas Tesla “we may live to witness unimaginable horrors” This was prior to the collapse of NYC with the end of the twin trade towers. It is hard to accept there are millions of teenagers alive today who have never known a world prior to the current American Empire. It is the "corporate inevitability" which Arundhati Roy speaks of that sticks in my craw, for along with all the saber rattling and fake as fuck exhortations to fear we are at a nexus in time where the greatest transformation of our species could as easily, or is as easily transpiring as we speak. Your call. I was very fortunate to be raised in part by a thinking man who demanded the same from me - not to believe as he, but to use what mind i have to consider my world without being prey to others or preying on others. He was an existentialist which to sum is to be responsible in the same vein as Rumi’s quote “you are not a drop in the ocean, you are the ocean in a drop.” I refuse to surrender to the self serving concept of our divided reality when there is so little difference between all of us. There is no mother on earth that does not have the biological hardwiring to help her child survive, even the emotional ciphers devoid of affect resort to the intellectual equivalent if only to remain in camouflage. What amazes me, is how easily we have been torn from each other. I am not amazed because i have not personally willfully, even cruelly separated myself from those who have professed great love for me, but after time and contemplation the murderous rage so close to our human skin abates and even the most heinous of betrayals in my life now inspire little more than a cruel indifference. What is truly amazing is how bad i feel for not finding some way to surmount that indifference with the flag of peace which i so vocally and cravenly pronounce as mine own.

What bullshit, for you see the charm of existentialism or any level of self awareness is not dissimilar to Gertrude Stein’s observation “there is no there there,” or even the “i am you as you are he and we are all together” of Beatle lore. The best way i have found to confront my own abundant blind spots is to accept my inability to admit the vilest amongst us as brethren - essentially it is my fault the world is as fucked up as it is. This personal unkindness is a double edged sword, for as deeply as i am able to peer into my own murderous abyss of rancor and befriend that beast the sooner i will be able to dissipate those prideful, needless barriers to warm open heartedness which Mr. Leonard Cohen so sagely summed as “love is the only engine of survival.” Oddly the thorniest of anxieties pale compared to the challenge of being kind to oneself, especially if that self is intractable in penetrating the veil of personal darkness. If there is to be a future of any worth, it will not be from bombing each other into sticks and stones battles over boundaries in some purulent oozing environment. Our only hope for a future worthy of the majestic mystery of this planet and its inhabitants is based on those whose memories that go back into our species origins. As much as it is good for any leader to stand and say “we put a man on the moon,” we have yet to hear a leader declare we have conquered war and are resolved to find ways to mend our oceans, heal our rivers and nurture our abundance. Until this happens we are no more than jesters for an evil royalty in a twisted court full of palace intrigue, inbred gene pools and riches that are believed to reside on servers in the sky. Fuck the cloud, love someone today - you will feel better.

Lao Tzu - “if you are depressed, you are living in the past; if you are anxious, you are living in the future, you will be anxious; if you are at peace, you are living in the present.


past present - the sonnet

why does the past seem to happen again
and again¿ is sadness DNA made?
what made DNA¿ is it from heaven?
will we be more punished because we prayed?

one asked how we see past but not future?
i hope such questions will be remembered
while askers be fabric for our culture
if so, then our days may not be numbered.

however “past is prologue” has been heard
enough times to justify hard choices
to kill, to die - so we may cull the herd.
power behind closed doors - only voices.

what if all our pasts are the illusion
and pollution caused our real conclusion¿ 

jts 09/15/2017 
reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Al escribir esto, tengo 61 años; Mi padre enseñaba inglés en la escuela secundaria y era un poeta; Mi madre enseñó arte de la escuela media y es un artista. Yo estaba solo en un ferry entre Amsterdam y Londres para mi 17 cumpleaños; Pop había recogido una furgoneta Volkswagen en su camino a Grecia con su nueva esposa y su hijo, donde escribió poesía durante un año sabático. Yo estaba en una búsqueda de la visión y fue guiado en la escultura por un maestro de alfarería amable que también resultó ser un profesor de arte en la Universidad de Brighton. La misión de Visión es taquigrafía para la juventud disipada, porque "Haz lo que quieras" en ese momento era más que un comercial en MTV. Que yo no muriera con una aguja en mi brazo se debe en gran parte al estímulo de ese profesor. No comparto esto en falsa intimidad contigo, ni con 12 pasos en tu moneda de diez centavos, pero para que puedas sentir el alcance de compromiso que siento hacia una actividad que se remonta a los albores de nuestra historia colectiva. La posibilidad de que pueda estar viviendo entre los últimos artistas / chamanes es una ironía que se desprende incluso de mi imaginación vívida sin embargo addlepated con la edad o embotado por el miedo que una vez la imaginación viva puede ser.

Mark Rothko era un pintor de campo de color cuya demanda de pintura se convirtió en estratosférica después de su suicidio. Fue traicionado por su colega artista, amigo y ejecutor de la finca Theodore Stamos, instructor en la Art Students League de Nueva York, donde asistí unos 5 años después de la muerte de Rothko. Su traición por un amigo con fines de lucro fue ruido de fondo a la santa influencia de mi amigo y mentor José De Creeft - un español de 90 años de edad. Hay una foto él y nuestra clase en una fiesta de Navidad en la Liga; Él había colocado su mano en mi cabeza donde me había arrodillado para la foto del grupo. Siempre estaba haciendo una mierda así. Por ejemplo, me mostró una pintura de él por un admirador que se representa con un brazo alrededor de su hombro; En la versión que compartía conmigo; Él había pintado sobre ella como un elefante con su tronco alrededor de su hombro; En otra pieza fantástica había modelado una rata en posición vertical, sujetando una nuez a sus mejillas en una cacerola llena de tuercas y pernos. Soy el heredero de esta irreverencia, que es todo lo que constituye mi auténtica persona como artista, más que los 1.000 de las horas de estudio; Conferencias eruditas o vagabundeo de museos que forman parte de la formación muy real y necesaria para llamarse "artista", nunca me he hecho llamar artista; Pasaron décadas antes de que susurraba la palabra tan fuerte mi aversión a los diletantes que he visto ocupar el alto terreno del comercio.

Lucky me - mi entrenamiento se convirtió en una batalla no muy diferente a la del alma de Charlie Sheen en "Pelotón". Mi alma colgó durante décadas entre la traición atroz de Mark Rothko y lo sagrado - el mismo conflicto entre tiempo y producto sobre el cual Miguel Ángel Y el Papa Piados luchó; El Papa, según Vasari, despachando el aparato político de la época para recuperar al artista renegado de su Florencia natal sobre un desacuerdo sobre qué exactamente el artista debe dar vuelta a su mano al siguiente. Tampoco era tan cortado y seco como los criterios puramente venales de hoy del valor artístico (por más que se determine), pues Miguel Ángel era un alma reverencial que creía profundamente en la santidad de su obra - hoy el arte sagrado es el bando todopoderoso; Este hecho triste juega hacia fuera todo hacia abajo la línea excepto que los "creatives" en ciernes de hoy son ahora indicadores del mercado con sus propios filtros y contenido del pre-consumidor que es "empujado", "incitado", "querido" en su subconsciente, y la pulsación de tecla Salida entonces cosechado como gusto de las tendencias que hace un poco de la cogida rica un poco más rico y mejor capaz de aprovechar lo que las guerras del arte del gladiador "están sirviendo para arriba como cultura superior de la tapa - hable sobre su hámster en una rueda de ardilla.

El arte ha sido secuestrado por los profanos precisamente en ese momento de nuestra extraña historia humana cuando una visión mística de esa exitosa cacería existencial que podría guiar a la humanidad a través del horrible peligro que enfrentamos como especie. Casi todos los artistas contemporáneos que conozco hoy están totalmente y completamente absorbidos por la realidad financiera y la necesidad de un estatus de celebridad y un modelo de negocios proporcional que proporcione exceso de inventario; Escondite forastero y / o espacio en la pared en la "casa grande" - el museo papa. Muchos artistas son desviados de lo sagrado a la validación comercial por la tentadora influencia de los nuevos ricos medios. Hipócrita que soy, aquí me siento sirviendo a usted un lector desconocido que raspa para "pulsaciones de teclas" u otra recompensa viral que podría traducir en centavos con el que continuar mi asalto quijotesco en ese mismo mercado - sólo otro traidor en la mezcla. Mi alma mater - "La Liga de Estudiantes de Arte" ha sido subsumida en una disputa intestina amarga sobre un proyectado fragmento de penthouses desde el nuevo rascacielos más alto adyacente en Nueva York.Este proyecto está siendo calzado en el Manhattan rápidamente gentrifying y es una metáfora perfecta para Lucha de nuestra edad - ser humano contra corporación.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

being / not being - the sonnet

This morning when taking a pee i was not greeted with the same automatic light which had informed me earlier in the night of my existence; aside from an empty bladder, there was a moment of relief which one instinctively feels in the absence of anything automatic, but that was soon followed by the plausible reality that world leadership had gone completely off the rails and a nuclear option had severed a major aspect of our current understanding of civilization - electricity. Satisfying my lessor craving for tobacco outside, i was also able to verify the street lamps were on, but not whether our neighbors suffered a similar outage. Having lit a candle and placing it on the stairs for my kind friends, i began to calculate the complexities of life without electricity including what to do about my computer battery - at 26%, now 24%. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have an occupation such as writing with which to explore feelings of panic, depravation and curiosity when faced with circumstances of such consequence, though it is unlikely that i’d resort to writing longhand should my battery expire prior to my access to electricity. That is to me a bizarre commentary on my commitment to the written word, but then again, since waking, i’ve considered the very real possibility that my world might have been expunged at the hands of a “leader” - an even more bizarre commentary. I think i’ll have a cigarette, a marginally less bizarre commentary on my existence (23%). I guess whether or not my desire to express my self is greater than the convenience afforded me by technology is really the question.

Of late, I have begun to wonder about the utility of expression when what i wish to say runs counter to the prevailing sentiments of so many events in the world i am now living. It feels as though the body i inhabit is hard wired for survival and those organs provided me for such - sight, smell, awareness are being lulled into some cocoon of unreality by other expressions contending for consciousness. The sound of  rain on the roof and the familiar smell of moisture on the ground outside my window are as ancient as damp fur on my forefathers, yet the possibility extinction based on information at hand runs counter to the calm provoked by shelter from the rain in earlier days of our history - The electricity has now been restored, but the safety of light which must have provided security for our forebears only seems to exacerbate my feelings of precariousness - why do you suppose that is¿ In engineering one of the foundations of design is repeatability; if we are entering an epoch of intermittent utilities, would it not be wise to cultivate tolerance for outage, be that food, water, electricity, and g_d help us - the absence of the internet. In a capitalist society such as ours where the ruling elite seem inured to the difficulties they have created for an unwitting population, it makes no sense to look to the profit model as a solution to the shortages that are absolutely present, and which will only grow in severity and scope.

I do not see reform as viable or correct - all i can muster is as intense an application of those skills which i have learned, challenge me to my utmost and provide a sense of accomplishment. If this means that i am being myself - good. Whether this selfish inner direction can provide an example of how to live beyond the consumer addiction to which we have been indoctrinated, i can’t know. I have no confidence in mobs or group-think so persuasion of any kind of anyone is suspect to me. Yet i care deeply about the injustice and ignorance which fosters hatred and grasping concern for one’s own well being. I can only take care of myself and extend to as many as i may without taking on water. This selfishness of mine torments me when i see rafts of human beings being plundered and shipwrecked by those from whom the refugees of our age would seek haven. What is the solution, and how could a solitary life of creativity possibly contribute to a new world? I am not a saint, yet it would seem our times are demanding the best from all of us. In my own experience, i have found i do not possess the inner fortitude for selfless devotion, except, as Arundhati Roy said so well, “chasing beauty to her lair”. I am grateful to the current American Chief Executive for no other reason than giving a face to the vanity to which i believe the entire planet has succumbed. This is a remarkably harsh and unforgiving judgement, but i include my own quest for excellence in the equation. I can see no other reason to apply myself, if it is not to accomplish the finest work i know how, and that is sad.

Not perhaps as sad as assessing my success by the number of bytes i can catalogue on a financial server, or evaluate my humanity by the number of other human beings who agree with me. Michelangelo painted a view of himself as the skin of a human being hanging from the hand of Saint Peter; when asked why, Michelangelo replied, and i paraphrase, “when i die, i wish to have emptied myself of all that i was meant to create.” The logic of such a pursuit makes perfect sense to me, much more sense than qualifying my merit based on publication or shows which some critic or patron has facilitated for my dubious creative skills. I don’t know what it means to be, and that may be my most successful creative effort - to possess doubt in a world full to the gills with certainty. I have learned many things about the external world - ideas about family, about love - esoteric knowledge of little worth to anyone but those with some curiosity, but the most difficult subject i’ve ever encountered has been to know myself. To date, i have only a vague idea of the hazy outlines which might begin to suggest who i am, much less what i am. Why is that¿ It is not for a lack of curiosity; when one does things which result in a totally different outcome than expected, it is logical to ask why. After decades of attributing results to _________ fill in the blank, the only plausible explanation is to seek an answer within for those unexpected outcomes. The corollary would then become what personal role does one attribute to expected results. Is it skill, determination, merit, or ___________ fill in the blank.

The difficulty with this line of thinking would be the enormity of our world, meaning the expanding universe and the fact that we can never be anymore than that of which we are comprised, gas, molecules, protoplasm, minerals, gravity, wavelength, etc., etc., etc. Idiomatically, are we more than the sum of our parts¿ How could anyone possibly answer that question with a straight face when we have no real idea of just how extensive those parts are, or what parts are missing from our primitive catalogue of knowledge¿ These are the questions i come up with when attempting to “know myself.” Is it simply a case of will¿ Can one wake up one morning and say, I will become president of the United States, and epso facto - voila - one is president; it would seem so based on the current political terrain. The deeper question for me is, who would want to be the president, and why; who would want to be the richest human being in the world or the fastest, smartest or most beautiful when one can just be happy¿ Sounds goofy, i know, but is it any goofier than spending one’s entire life acquiring things someone else said they should have, and then going to work to pay for those things because someone else said you couldn’t have them if you didn’t earn them. What does that even mean - to earn. Have i earned the right to express myself¿ Apparently I have, because i am. Yet with each passing day, there are more and greater attacks on that ability, nor are the attacks solely on our capacity for expression; now the attacks are on our right to exist. This i will never cede. I came here i know not why, but i do know any force other than that which is greater than the sum of my parts is the only force which i will acknowledge; i have yet to learn what that means, but i will keep seeking answers with or without permission from the “know it all” shot callers attempting to define what it means to be. 


not being - the sonnet

prior to the big bang there was something
the event horizon is not the end
our presence or absence is not nothing
and all in between is more than a trend

up, down, in, out, on, off may be our lot,
so why do we squirm so vigorously?
Is there meaning from the steam off our pot¿
Do we make matter from mortality?

Is it possible our lives radiate
outward like the big bang forever more
still emitting once we de-animate
like some odd Hawking black hole metaphor 

who gives a fuck ¿ we are the mystery
our legacy - whose memory are we

jts 08/12/2017 
reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

communication - an essay / silence - the sonnet

My father was given to homilies, and i remember hanging up from phone calls with him where he’d invariably close the call saying “communicate.” Like all good advice, it’s easy to hear - a little more difficult to put into practice. I have read where a huge percentage of all human communication involves body language. We derive a great deal of information from cues found in the posture and carriage of other human beings - filling language with elegant phrases like “turn of a woman’s ankle.” The question becomes what is understood by whom based on what¿ I can say with good authority that many a woman’s turned ankle was saying nothing at all to me; ah misunderstanding and what it can teach us if we are good students. Awareness is a solid partner to the barely understood and often maligned effort which communication brings to any exchange. In order to convey a thought or feeling, one must have an idea or sense that might be of interest to the right party. Not all turned ankles are speaking directly to you; so how to learn which ankle is the one that beckons with all the delight and joy that might accompany such a quiet expression¿ I’m beginning to have my doubts that a computer is capable of conveying such complicated communication; which if true, means that communicating the fundamental nature of allure via screen does not bode well for parsing the manifest other pressing misunderstandings in our rapidly devolving civil fabric, much less the rapidly evolving isolation of the human soul.

My skin is the boundary of my self-awareness with my aged senses informing a fading echo of the sharp rich odors and sounds of youth. However, as with all vacuums, the fallow field wants to grow something. It is almost as though as the world recedes with all its attendant distractions the stranger i’ve avoided all my life grows more confident that it might be heard. Memories become just that, faded echoes of events no longer present to the senses - love, hate, want, misery. All once vivid demands from a complex interchange of indoctrination, assimilation and socialization now cardboard cutouts with balloon voices repeating ancient litanies about exhausted turmoil. The stranger within is vastly more comfortable with these specters of past power than what my withering “i” is willing to accede. The self once so intent on satisfaction of all urges has trouble ceding ground that doesn’t result in accomplishment or gain, while the stranger seems more content just to be heard. However, like the honest misunderstanding of the lady’s “turn of an ankle,” simply because my quiet stranger was not the one being addressed at the time does not mean the dame’s own stranger was not expressing a want, just not a want for me. My internal stranger conveys much want when not shouted over by what Leonard Cohen wrote as “the blizzard of the world” or at least that is what i’m beginning to hear. Perhaps my life would simplify if i just allowed my interior to speak its desire and fly with any yes or no reply. 

I accept that any reader considering the forgoing abstruse dialogue would require persistence to locate meaning, yet if there is this much difficulty for one person to make clear basic ideas about self-awareness, how much more difficult must it be for all of us to discuss with others far more complex issues such as shame, fury, fear or hatred, most especially in a media culture filling itself up to the rafters on scandal and excess¿ For myself it has become very important to learn how to hear without taking a position, save understanding. Is the woman’s ankle turn addressing me; is my prostate hardening; is the war i object to mine; is en vino veritas true - ad nauseam¿ That the universe could be as curious as i aspire to is very encouraging, yet if i’m as obstinate a student as when young, what could i possibly learn from a curious universe whatever its dimensionality¿ Awareness is a correlation of communication in so far as one can barely speak of what isn’t known - an interesting intersection in the top secret world of ours. A paradox for me is the concept of what can possibly be known outside of one’s own self. If love is relinquishing: where love predominates will is absent; where will predominates, love is absent - paraphrasing Carl G. Jung, what can i affect but myself. So too with awareness, craving a woman will teach me very little about her, while watching her ankles can be quite instructive.

Understanding the world and possible meanings of reality about our existence is not going to give up much ground from a frontal assault. I could join a militia that adheres to my particular flavor of freedom and proceed to take no prisoners, but then i couldn’t sit here and share my confusion with others as puzzled as myself, possibly more so - maybe you will help me find other members of my tribe - stranger things have happened¿ I’m becoming more certain that fun, nee happiness is closer to the core than anything normally   found virtually anywhere, and its far cheaper - air travel being the climate change elephant with its footprints in the jello, so to speak. You didn’t really think tripadvisor, hostelworld, couchsurfing etc., etc., etc., were just touching base to know you’se well - didja¿ Wherever you go - there you are. The dilemma goes back to an argument i had with a young engineer - his position being “knowledge is finite” vs my continued belief how can you say what you don’t know. Are we species simply the micro to the universal macro¿ Rumi says we are not a drop in the ocean, but the ocean in a drop. If true, introspection takes on a whole new wrinkle. What if my reticent stranger whom i am only beginning to appreciate was actually “the” stranger and we are just notes in g_d’s song¿ As yet, i’ve never read anything to prove this potentially heretical idea false, but the administration is young still. What is useful regards an honest desire to communicate¿ This is a complex question for me because there are many who are close and not so close who would, if not shut me up altogether, then at the very least have license over my tongue. This awareness is grievous, but i’m unsure whose sadness it is. My stranger has heard awful things spoken yet because it has never harmed me as the faded echoes of memory have, i feel more safe with myself than anyone i’ve ever known, and i’ve known some very loving people in my very fortunate existence.

The further i travel the greater the mystery; i will feel better when i can say the same for fun, nee happiness. I know the essence of my happiness is not virtual; the corollary would be that my faded memories left because i no longer made them happy - it would be insane to believe oneself so powerful as to make another happy, unhappy, angry, sad, strong, weak, better or less. I have found i am more comfortable with crazy people once i learned it is not contagious, but it can be a perilous contact high if they are beautiful or hallucinating. My deeper concern is welcoming home the stranger who has patiently waited to share my heart’s desire. I believe it be nearly impossible to give kindness to another if one has not found within one’s own skin a deep and abiding warm regard for one’s life. I also believe that if one acts from this warm regard it is possible to know better one’s own pain, suffering and inimical factotum born of our collective history within a dark and sometimes dangerous world. The fact remains the more things change, the more they remain the same and it will likely be true as it is now that when you are born crying while everyone around you’s laughing; and when you die laughing, those around will be crying. But the in-between time when you have the opportunity to “leave the world a better than you found it” - Jane Sterling, is where your internal quiet stranger has a chance for redemption and reintegration if one can still hear the serenade of a mother’s laughter or cadence of prayer in a father’s important lesson throughout the places one visits or rests one must acknowledge with respect to our human frailty.


silence - the sonnet

it is quiet on a Sunday morning
but somewhere in the world there’s too much noise-
crying in the eyes of children mourning
something that can’t be done with any poise.

what is the sound beyond the human grief-
is it love, or an infant in deep sleep¿
why is our good ship earth stuck on a reef
so dire, while the good captains make no peep¿

is a tornado core eerie’n silent?
is our world a tornado core- passing
with zephyr winds foretelling bad intent,
or have we learned and all our hearts massing¿

it seems to me the quiet that is found
while loud beats calm with silence all around
jts 06/30/2017 

reprinted with permission - all rights reserved