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Exchange of Values

Exchange of Values
acrylic on board 48'X96'

"Structure of Color Perception"

"Structure of Color Perception"
48'X96' acrylic on board

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Poem of the week is form Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos:

"Account of the Events" 

Today, the sixth day of the month of August
of the year nineteen hundred and seventy-nine
as history forewarned
the coffee bitter,
the tobacco running out,
the afternoon declining
and everything in place for
conspiring against the shadows and darkness
which obscure the world and its sun.

Some of you older folk may remember Subcomandante Marcos, the charismatic poet-warrior leader of the Zapatista’s in Chiapas so many of us radical poseurs were infatuated with (and so many others went to visit/vacation with after Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua got himself de-elected by Ronald Reagan’s falangist contras).  Still, they need the money and the media in order to continue to conspire against the “shadows and darkness,” long after our attention has been tweeted elsewhere.  Yet there is still something very inspiring and terrifying about a small community of poor campesinos living, struggling, and caring for one another, whose life together is lived out daily in the simple acts of feeding pigs, grinding corn, hauling water, invoking the Virgin and burying one another’s children.  From the windows of a moving bus heading through such actually existing communities of hope and desperation one can witness *the blessed poor* we so much like to conjure into our intricate and fantastical theologies.  Too much of my own theological ruminations smell more of ivy, new leather, and Starbucks than pigshit, blood, and Ning├╝ijute to be taken seriously by anyone, obligado. 

p.s.  later in the document Subcomandante Marcos goes on to write to his friend Don Fernando: “Greetings from all the zapatista companeros and companeras and from the indigenous communities in resistance. We hope that you, and all of those working alongside you, are in good health and of good cheer. You, as we know, are working alongside other honest men and women in tending to the memory of our people's struggle.”   Then at the end comes this really quite jarring exhortation of commitment to the struggle and to solidarity.  The Subcomandante proposes that his followers sign a contract of sorts that bears a frighteningly amount of similarity to the gospel! 

“First. - That the below signed renounce their homes, work, family and studies and all the comforts which have been accumulated in the hands of the few upon the misery of the many.

Second. - That the below signed renounce a future, paid on time, of individual enjoyment.

Third. - That the below signed also renounce the shield of indifference in the face of the suffering of others and the vainglory of a place among the powerful.

Fourth. - That the below signed are prepared for all the sacrifices necessary in order to fight silently and without rest in order to make me, the patria, free and true.

Fifth. - That the below signed are prepared to suffer persecution, calumny and torture, and even to die if it is necessary, in order to achieve what was noted in the Fourth point.

Sixth. - That I, the patria, will know to keep your place in history and to watch over your memory as they watch over my life.

Seventh. - That the below signed will leave enough space under their names so that all honest men and women may sign this document, and, when the moment comes, the entire people shall sign it.
There being nothing left to be said, and very much to do, the below signed leave their blood as example and their steps as guide.

Valiantly and Respectfully, Subcomandante Marcos.”

I gotta say that this Evangelium hits me pretty hard.  And as you can imagine the list of names of those that signed was pretty short (and always has been).  Hasta la victoria siempre, obligado.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Klediments:  “More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”  Woody Allen.

Interestingly, there has not been much discussion in the election season on concepts like “free will,” “predestination,” “fate,” the “eternal return,” “tzimtzum,” or even “karma” or “kismet.”  Seems like all of a sudden at election time everybody determined that their single, statistically insignificant vote is the most potent expression of human agency and power in history and that it’s potential rivals the very supremacy of God!

Well, thankfully we are reaching the end of the election here in the U.S..  So as a final sabbath reflection on the election let us ponder some words from today’s Talmudic reflection that offers some insight into our own indisputable abilities for self deception, selfishness, vanity and idolatry:  

Here is a relevant teaching from Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, on the biblical verse Exodus 33.8,  “Whenever Moses went out to the Tent, all the people would rise and stand … and gaze after Moses until he went into the Tent.”  Rabbi Ber taught, “Everyone sees himself in the righteous one (zaddik or saint) therefore, they suspected Moses was guilty of adultery (since he had separated from his wife). But in fact it was they who were guilty of adultery with the mixed multitude.  When they gazed at Moses they saw themselves in the zaddik and thus suspected him.”  Rabbi Dov Ber suggests this is the core, and tragedy, of a leader: His selfhood is lost in the aspirations, expectations, and limitations of those “who gaze upon him.”

And even more, what is lost of the “selfhood” of the followers/worshipers of these leaders?   Ponder these things sisters and brothers until after the election.

No, that’s not MauMau Obama strangling some white colonist in Kenya, it’s Saint Martin de Porres healing a sick old white dude in Peru (bless you bro!).   Nov 3rd is the feast day of Saint Martin, the first black saint and the patron saint of mixed-race people being the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a black former slave (legitimate rape?).   As well as caring for the sick and poor, one of his miraculous abilities was bi-location, appearing in many different places at once around the world where needed (sort of like having a Saint Batman app on your smart phone).  Saint Martin was also good friends with my third favorite saint, Saint Rose of Lima (more about her later, I have some poetry, the beginnings of a screen-play, and an Icon of her in the works).

legend has it that if you pray to St. Martin and see a mouse in an unusual place on his feast day, you will receive an answer to a prayer.  I have saved a mouse in the freezer just for today so if any of you have prayer request let me know.  And yeah I know, these catholic super-stitions can really be bizarre, but at least half my friends (both virtual and in the meat world) voted for Romney and have y’all checked out some of the crazy sh%&it them Mormons believe?  So don't you go rolling your eyes at me!
In 1962, Pope John XXIII remarked at the canonization of Martin: "He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: 'Martin of Charity.'"   This election has made me wonder if “racism” in america has become a sin that almost nobody acknowledges and confesses, like pollution or global warming, racism has become a "sin of the world" that is, it’s everybody's responsibility but apparently nobody's fault?

Finally, I was just sitting around watching C-span and reading from Marx’s “The German Ideology” when ZOOMCRACK!!!  Obama actually  came on the TV and started giving a speech Coincidence??? 

"One has to "leave philosophy aside”  Marx admonished me.  “... one has to leap out of it and devote oneself like an ordinary man to the study of actuality, for which there exists also an enormous amount of literary material, unknown, of course, to the philosophers. ... Philosophy and the study of the actual world have the same relation to one another as onanism and sexual love" (The German ideology, 259).  Hmmm...did Marx just say that all my pseudo-philosophizing here and on facebook was just so much cenobitic malthusianism? (I’ll just let y’all look all that up).  Now I could so see one of the apostles (not the big shots like John or Peter but maybe Thaddeus) saying something just like Marx when they were arguing about who gets what from the common purse.  But I reckon that all those “free” market Kapitalists can thank the Roman Emperor Tiberius for cracking down on and snuffing out that little cabal of upper-room neo-Marxists before their radical ideas caught on!  Alas, like so many other commies, anarchists, and re-distributists, they all spoke in too many “different tongues,” drunk on the Glossolalia of their chichi theories.  Later Marx adds:  “As individuals express their life, so they are.”   

Well, let’s just see if we can tie this all up together with a poem by one of my favorite Nordic poets, Olav H. Hauge:

Don’t Come to Me with the Entire Truth

Don’t come to me with the entire truth.
Don’t bring the ocean when I feel thirsty,
nor heaven if I ask for light;
but bring a hint, some dew, a particle,
as birds carry drops away from a lake,
and the wind a grain of salt.

Blessings and obliged. 

(p.s. Zoomcrack is one of many useful neo-logisms created by my good friend Johnny Van Patten, obliged Johnny)