c’mon release me, c’mon relieve me

why is ian curtis here? because i fucking said so

why is ian curtis here? because i fucking said so

Lawd, it’s been too long since I’ve made an entry so I’m gonna, in spite of my downed inhibitions. I just preached about downed inhibitions to two people tonight, so guess I better step up and take myself down, too.

I’m always blahblah going on about ~shit~ that is occupying my mind, and that’s what I’m hesitant to put down in print because it all sounds so incredibly twattish and self indulgent (as dicks and twats are by nature) but underneath it’s really just me, my crazy mind trying to figure out things and make sense of the maze we’re all winding our way through. So….

I’m reading Franny and Zooey again. One of my favourite books, because it’s about deconstructing spirituality to find the divine. The divinity in the mundane.

I’m not a religious person, I’m not a spiritual person, but I am someone who appreciates the origins of the divine. People don’t like to examine their religions, their gods, because to examine is to deconstruct, to pull apart. And when you’ve done that, the individual pieces are just parts, little springs and gears and cogs that individually mean very little. The mystery is solved, the divinity is gone. But maybe not. Maybe what you have left in all of these pieces is the true breathless beauty of simplicity. And when you see that, it’s an ecstatic moment. It’s sad, and it’s funny, and it scares the shit out of you. It’s the irony that lingers. Divine fucking irony that shoulders you with a burden that’s yours to carry for the rest of your life.

Religion is about comfort. Spirituality is about superiority. And pulling apart is about creating a mess. You can’t ever put the pieces back together in the original form.

What this little tome all comes down to is that, ah Buddy, ah Buddy, the fat lady is christ himself. Forget divinity, forget apotheosis and theology, just concentrate on the fat lady and shining our shoes for her. She can’t see them, but she knows. She knows. And that is the essence of giving ourselves over to the selflessness of self actualization. That’s what it is, Buddy. That’s it. And that’s what I’m striving for in my own reckless and flawed way. That’s the core of it. I’m a fucking idiot reaching for the selflessness of self actualization.

I’m going to shine those fucking shoes, Buddy.

sometimes a brick is just a brick: or, the incredible triteness of p33ning

Writing is my overriding passion, on which I spend most of my time and energy. But I also have a great interest in fine art, and I’ve spent years educating myself on different artistic periods and movements.

the lute henri matisse

the lute henri matisse

The Renaissance is overwhelming in the vast amount of sculptures and paintings produced, and I’ve just nicked its surface. I’ve spent a great deal of time enjoying the Impressionist period with its glut of bigtime artists, and the subsequent flow into modernism with Cézanne and Matisse leading the brigade. But I have danced around the perimeters of contemporary art, because for me, it’s a minefield.

It’s true that nearly every movement suffered through a period of adjustment, wherein art and artists were mocked before they were appreciated. New things are difficult to take in, and it does require dedication to receptiveness, and the trust that you will find the keys to opening those doors. I’m missing some keys.

le gerbe henri matisse

le gerbe henri matisse

I plunged in with Matisse, who showed us collage as fine art. There are certain shapes that repeat throughout his work, whether paint or paper, that make his evolution as an artist easy to follow. I have a great love for Picasso, which led me to his contemporary Duchamp, whose evolution was made in leaps rather than steps. He was a cubist painter who moved on to what he called Readymade art – he’s the one who signed a urinal and called it good.

Now, that was quite a jolt to the public. People hate to be jerked around, and that’s what it felt like to some – a twisted joke, making fun of their sensibilities. It was one of those Emperor’s New Clothes situations in the art community, where you were either going to join in the praise or fear for your head. Or miss out altogether.

fountain marcel duchamp

fountain marcel duchamp

The thing about Duchamp’s urinal was that it was legitimate, in that it was a new definition art. He saw it as engaging the viewer by providing an opportunity to view and define art from a different approach. He said he felt unmoved by these objects, and therefore instead of forcing us to praise the Emperor’s complete lack of clothing, we were allowed to stand back and make an assessment based on our own aesthetics.

I really am building to a point, here. Bear with me.

There have been standout artists in the time since Duchamp busted open those doors. Andy Warhol took everyday objects and arranged them in ways that we couldn’t help but notice, and therefore see in a different light. Jean-Michel Basquiat took graffiti and moved it into artistic statement. The thing is, there are a handful of standouts in a glut of artists. I know when I’m looking at a Basquiat, because there is unmistakeable skill in what he gave us. Put his work beside an admirer’s, and there absolutely is a detectible difference in the use of paint and form and space. We can’t all be geniuses.

untitled (skull) jean-michel basquiat

untitled (skull) jean-michel basquiat

So it is with much difficulty that I approach the majority of contemporary art. A signed commode does not speak of greatness to me, it speaks of a lack of originality. A dirty mattress shoved into a corner, a brick on the floor – to me, they read as jaded attempts to mimic a greater man’s work. However, I can’t believe that we’ve wrung all creativity out of ourselves, even as presentations such as these have me asking, “is that all there is?” Have we said everything, done everything? No. And there will be many more innovators who come along and pull us into something completely new. So far, with my present day view of what is and isn’t significant, I have largely been unmoved.

Sometimes, a brick is just a brick.

Which brings me to the second part of this diatribe: Are the plain bricks essential? Are they basic structures upon which the innovators can build their masterpieces? Or are they merely obstacles in the path.

david michelangelo di lodovico buonarroti simoni

david michelangelo di lodovico buonarroti simoni

I’m drawing a parallel between fine art and the written word, because I think the same factors apply. You have innovators and you have mimics, and in between there are perfectly acceptable, if not remarkable, stories to tell.

But there’s a new medium that is influencing our output and our standards, and I’m afraid it’s not all for the better. Epublishing is like Duchamp’s urinal. There is the initial innovation and the ability to engage the public in a way that has never before been explored, and then there is the ensuing onslaught of those who would sign their name to anything and call it good, not out of creativity, but because they can.

olympia edouard manet

olympia edouard manet

Finding your way as an artist is essential. There are a few prodigies, and there are a much greater number of those who work their way toward success. That’s true in any art form, including writing. But is it right to pull something half baked from the oven and serve it up to the public? Isn’t that detrimental not only to the artist, but to the audience? Standards will either drop to invisible clothing levels, or leave the public cold.

It’s freezing out there.

And I’m not happy about it, because it’s not the self published would-be artists—who have every right to hone their craft in whatever way they see fit—who are the problem. It is the proponents who are eschewing standards in favour of cheap and cheerful profit. It’s easy to do with a virtual product that requires little more than a push out the door.

les demoiselles d'avignon pablo picasso

les demoiselles d’avignon pablo picasso

And it’s definitely, definitely exacerbating the already existing obstacles in the path of certain genres. Genres that have a sexual focus. Genres that have gender centred focus. I don’t believe this is commode art, I never did. I believe there are innovators, and I absolutely believe there are great strides to be taken in introducing the public to new art forms, new thought processes, and a new way of engaging with the world.

It has happened before. The human body has long been revered as an artwork in itself. Prostitutes have become a revelation, their depiction a thing of beauty; urinals have become Fountains of forward thinking. Ugliness has been ground breaking and glorious. Defacing has offered statements of importance. In fine art, sex, along with several other plain and simple facts of life that have routinely been kept hidden, have become masterpieces of artistic expression. Why should the art form of words be any different?

nude descending a staircase marcel duchamp

nude descending a staircase marcel duchamp

But we have to respect it in order to elevate it. We have to revere it, and embrace the beauty in order to share it. We have to give the world something that will break through the barriers and allow others to see and experience in a different way. We have to believe in our art and respect ourselves as artists, and our venues and avenues must support that as well. We’ve got to step up and take control of what has become an increasingly precarious situation.

We’ve been used and abused as much as our subject matter, and the exploitation is becoming more and more mainstream. The more visibly prevalent it is, the more widely acceptable it becomes to marginalize. Those who have never before ventured beyond the black curtains are being introduced to a view that is the exact representation of their worst expectations, which greatly influences every subsequent encounter.

We don’t have to call it good, because I know we have something better to show for ourselves. We have prodigies and skilled artists and innovators who can lead the charge, if we as artists and champions of the art of words make it a priority to support them. Are we ready for a revolution? A Salon des Refusés for writers of debauchery, who are poised at the entry to a key shift in culture.

I think it’s time.

the bdsm of writer’s block

I’ve been stalled out in my writing, and it’s bothersome. Not just a frustration like a bout of writer’s block, but an unmet need, nearly on the level of basic survival – food, shelter, writing. Even this post is taking effort, and that’s saying something. I can usually prattle on with great ease about absolutely nothing.

I don’t want to bore you, and frankly, myself, with incessant talk about my story (Revolving Door, now available at MLR, on Amazon and at other outlets, ha), but I don’t have much to say about my other work, because other work ain’t happening at the moment.

And I so desperately want to write, and take myself out of this world for a few hours.

I am reading over some stuff I’ve already completed, and that’s been helpful in several ways. It always helps to go back over stuff and find all of those little things that don’t quite work, or are in need of tweaking. I have a piece that’s centered around a subject I know absolutely nothing about. Dangerous, I know. But the story is there, bubbling around in the back of my mind, and I just can’t help myself. I’ll go anywhere literarily. But I found some major fumbles on that one. Stuff that under the circumstances wouldn’t be – or shouldn’t be – said, at least not by someone who knows what the hell they’re doing.

I have another, similar one in the works with the same problem. I’ll just come out with it and tell you that one involves BDSM. Not exactly my area of expertise, and it’s not a good sign when my reaction to some of the pics is ‘eeeoww, what the hell?’ – and maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that, because now you’re going to scoff at me, scoffscoff, if ever it sees the light of day.

There’s a lot you can research and fudge your way through, if properly motivated. I’m always motivated to give my boys, my characters, the best possible roles within my stories.

And I’m anxious to get back to them all, because I’ve left a few in some compromising positions. I’ll hurry back to you as soon as I can, fellas.

P.S. You were going to get a picture of Emily Dickinson because for some reason it came up when I was looking for public domain BDSM pictures. Little tip: there are none. However, my internet connectivity is crap here, and it can’t handle images. You’ll just have to envision a hot BDSM scenario to accompany this rather lukewarm post.

this is my mind on dregs

On a day when I was particularly frustrated by my own limitations and by the temptation to lift words and ideas from others, I lifted this line from Camus:

A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.

And I started to write my frustration. My mind slipped around to authors who were so talented, they created not only new phrases, but new ways of writing them down. Rimbaud is one of these artists. (Yes, I’m obsessed with Rimbaud. I’m very okay with that.) His work was unique, masterful, and had an influence on many creative movements.

So to make my theft complete, I used his poem, Vowels as a precipice to throw myself off of. I took great liberties with Paul Verlain, made assumptions and cast aspersions. In other words (ha), I made a right mess of things, and ended up here:

Continue reading

my bohemian fantasy

I’ve been trying to write a review of Graham Robb’s biography of Arthur Rimbaud for my Goodreads page, and all I can come up with is “When I regress, I want to be Rimbaud.”

I am fascinated with the artistic mind. There’s an ongoing debate about whether insanity breeds genius or vice versa, but it’s clear that minds which produce remarkable art don’t fire on the same synapses as most. I think one has to see the world at a slight tilt to uncover the potential of what could be in what is. It’s what causes the “artistic temperament”  – the moods, the inclination to enjoy things that even further skew perception, the disregard for anything that interrupts focus, including practical matters of paying bills and observing social niceties.

A certain dedicated motivation is required to create on that level. We assume they’re being difficult or are just plain crazy, when I think the truth is not so simply measured. Rimbaud is known as the enfant terrible of the decadents, and he became the go-to icon of those who only dream of such ballsy indifference (backed by the credibility of incredible gifts, of course). It all seems very romantic and attractive. It is very romantic and attractive, looking at it from this side, but I have no idea of what it was like to be in his head. Seems to me he lived a relentless life from beginning to end, a sort of hard-won freedom.

I guess the question is whether the legend is worth the difficulty in getting there. He certainly knew nothing of his upcoming immortality when he was slumming it around the streets of Paris, and ultimately dying in pain and delirium. I really doubt he would’ve cared. But if he had to trade in his brief fling with poetic genius for an easier road? No fucking way. He did what he did not as pretense or precursor to fame, but because he could. Experience is what he was after, in his writing and in the way he lived his life.

So maybe I should change that first line to “When I truly want to be Rimbaud, I will progress.”

Ma Bohème (Fantaisie)

I ran away, hands stuck in pockets that seemed
All holes; my jacket was a holey ghost as well.
I followed you, Muse! Beneath your spell,
Oh, la, la, what glorious loves I dreamed!

I tore my shirt; I threw away my tie.
Dreamy Hop o’ my Thumb, I made rhymes
As I ran. I slept out most of the time.
The stars above me rustled through the sky.

I heard them on the roadsides where I stopped
Those fine September nights, when the dew dropped
On my face and I licked it to get drunk.

I made up rhymes in dark and scary places,
And like a lyre I plucked the tired laces
Of my worn-out shoes, one foot beneath my heart.

to be or not to be

How do we feel about author information? Authors are like painters and sculptors and filmmakers – they are not inseparably joined to the art, not physically. Not knowing who the artist is doesn’t detract from the significance of the piece. And I argue that at times, it’s preferable not to know. The freedom to be completely absorbed in the experience without intrusion. Yes, sometimes the artists are the intruders.

Does it matter that Caravaggio was an asshole or Truman Capote a sly little drunkard? Perhaps. Perhaps not. At least not at this point. Were Caravaggio alive today, we might have another view of his destructive, murderous temper. Distance can seal the gap.

And then there are the instances of a work being enhanced by the physical presence of the creator. Music is like this: people are interested in the performance, not just the music. Popularity of singers and bands often are not judged on the quality of work, but the allure of the presentation. If paintings and books were judged on the attraction of the artist, how many works would be rejected?

Truman Capote’s sensual author picture on the back cover of Other Voices, Other Rooms is what threw that genius of a writer into the spotlight. His work was worthy of attention, but the come hither look of the young author is in part what made the public, well, go hither and read his words. Would his popularity have been affected had it not been for that debut photograph? I’d like to think not. But soon his work was overshadowed by the troubled man beyond the pages.

Henry Miller, who was unmistakably a complete ass, became more charming once I saw an interview with him as a much older gentleman, that took place in his bathroom, of all places. Is he still an asshole? Yes. But now he is a forgivable asshole.

I had both condemned him and forgiven him long ago when I read his words. Words that made me want to slap the piss out of him, and also drew me in to worship. I wanted to lick those words right off the pages, no matter how tainted they were.

So does it matter? Are there forgivable and unforgivable sins? Is there a line to be crossed, a curtain which should be kept drawn? Pay no attention to the artist behind the art. The magic is in the meaning.

doing the unstuck

I recently saw an interview with Robert Smith on youtube. You know, Robert Smith – of The Cure? That 80s gothlite band? That was my lifeblood as a young’un, that was. Now, either I had forgotten what his speaking voice was like, or I had never heard it before, because it struck me rather bluntly that Noel Fielding’s character of Richmond on The IT Crowd is totally a parody of my beloved Robert. Am I slow on the uptake – did everyone else already know this?

Listen:

Robert….

Richmond….

These are the types of things I ponder when I’m doing the unstuck – trying to get the words out. This is how my mind hops around, landing on things that may or may not intersect with my needs. For instance, Robert Smith’s lyrics have very little to do with blue y-front briefs. Or so it would seem….

Also, I’m a little in love with Moss. Just so you know.