Exchange of Values

Exchange of Values
acrylic on board 48'X96'

"Structure of Color Perception"

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


All Hallows Eve Death Mask. 96” X 24"

On the after-life of social mediation: A review of, “Fear the Walking Dead.” 

(My All Hallows Eve Death Mask. 96” X 24”) 

“Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”Thich Nhat Hanh.

“The coming being is whatever being.” Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community.

“Let the dead bury their own dead.” Jesus the Christ, Luke 9:60. 

Zombie movies haven’t interested me much. But the new series, “Fear the Walking Dead” got my attention with some new creative spiritual/cultural insights. For example In this series some post-apocalyptic survivors claim that Zombies should not be killed but cloistered away and cared for by humans. Other survivors have learned to walk among the migrating hordes of Dead, speak with them in whispers and grunts, and share in their collective ‘mind.’ Some other communities put the Walking Dead to work, enslave, mutilate, and use them as mindless labor. One powerful cult of survivors led by a despotic dictator named “Alpha,” have even learned how to control massive throngs of Zombies, weaponizing them against other survivor communities in order to gain resources/power/territory.

I’v struggled to place the cultural fetishization of Zombies into some original political/theological matrix of interpretive myth-making. But informed by these series I’v come to the simple thesis that Zombies just represent *death.* Of course death is not one thing, or even a thing in itself. And death has always been part of life and humans have always made their way, thriving/perishing, with death as necessary companion. But as the series matured I realized that Zombies were not the most significant threat to human life; what threatened human existence was not chomping obsessed monsters but how humans responded to each other when threatened by social/political collapse—that is, it was the destructive collective human response to the revelation of *walking death* abiding in humanity’s own being that causes ultimate human destruction.

New to the Zombie genre I mistakenly believed that it was the Zombie bite that killed and transformed humans into the Undead; but the Zombie bite merely kills its victims. According to this genre, only later, after people ‘die’(?) an already existing virus/mutation dormant inside every human activates and emerges, resurrecting the afflicted into a new form of what might be called (pacing Agamben?) “Bare life.” That is, an existential reclaiming of *being* from the problematics of the universal and particular into a form of unitive sacramental existence. 

Zombies only eat living tissue, so Zombie-being initially reduces the afflicted into one dimensional consumers—their single fetishized commodity is life. But although hordes of quasi-dead trudge over the face of an already brutalized planet consuming/transforming life into the otherness of undecidable non-life, Zombie-being is not rewarded in this fatal exchange. The life-force Zombies consume offers no physical/spiritual nutrition adding nothing to Zombie existence. Should Zombies be considered *evil* then? At least in the sense used by Aquinas/Dalai Lama/DBH? That is, evil identified as a void of good lacking wholeness abrogating our life-force rather than ontic agency functioning through malevolent subjectivity?   

Regardless, perhaps it is the undecidability of ‘living death’ that presently so vexes and entertains? ‘Moderns’ construct world/language via antagonistic binaries: left/right, republican/democrat, black/white, male/female, enemy/friend, living/dead. But Zombies transcend our dualisms/binaries. They are dead enough to be killed with impunity yet living enough to resist non-existence; perhaps functioning as the universal underclass of *Homo Sacer* ("sacred man/cursed man”). However, unlike subjects under the ancient Roman law of ‘homo sacer,’ Agamben quotes these manifestations of living-death may be readily killed and sacrificed to the consuming gØds humans have already constructed for themselves, even as they vanquish earth into the lifeless wasteland of a spent commodity.

New season starting soon!

Keep your eyes open.

Be well.  _/\_ 

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Black Lives Matter

“The cross can heal and hurt; it can be empowering and liberating but also enslaving and oppressive. There is no one way in which the cross can be interpreted. I offer my reflections because I believe that the cross placed alongside the lynching tree can help us to see Jesus in America in a new light, and thereby empower people who claim to follow him to take a stand against white supremacy and every kind of injustice.”  James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

96"X38" Acrylic on panel.
The work hopes for more than *remembrance* but seeing true and acting in compassion.

50 years ago today, Paul Celan, a Jewish holocaust survivor and poet that I greatly admire killed himself in Paris. On his desk he left Wilhelm Michael’s biography of Hölderlin, “Das Leben Friedrich Hölderlins,” lying open to page 464. He had underlined this sentence from a letter by Clemens Brentano: “Sometimes this genius goes dark and drowns in the bitter well of his heart.”

TENEBRAE. By Paul Celan

We are near, Lord,
near and graspable.
Grasped already, Lord,
clawed into each other, as if
each of our bodies was
your body, Lord.
Pray, Lord,
pray to us,
we are near.
Windbent we went there,
we went there to bend down
over crater and maar.
To the trough we went, Lord.
It was blood, it was
what you spilled, Lord.
It shone.
It cast your image into our eyes, Lord.
Eyes and mouths gape, so open and empty, Lord.
We have drunk, Lord.
The blood and the image that was in the blood, Lord.
Pray, Lord.
We are near.

Shalom. _/\_. 

h/t to Pierre Joris. Celan Translator/poet.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

El iluminado (The Enlightened One) by Kati Horna, La Castañeda Asylum, Mexico City, 1944.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Tabula Rasa
We are all swollen
From hiding his affairs
Let's put it all on the table
Let it all out
It is time
He mustn't steal our light
Clean plate
Tabula rasa for my children
Clean plate
Not repeating the fuckups of the fathers
My deepest wish
Is that you're immersed in grace and dignity
But you will have to deal with shit soon enough
I hoped to give you the least amount of luggage
Got the right to make your own fresh mistakes
And not repeat others' failures
Clean plate
Tabula rasa for my children
Let's clean up
Break the chain of the fuckups of the fathers
It is time
For us…

Monday, November 12, 2018

“Disclosing his wounds to the listener was the same as bathing it in the river, until it became cool and one with the river.” Hermann Hesse.
“Thou keepest track of all my sorrows; thou hast collected
my tears in your bottle.” Psalm 56: 8.
Siddhartha’s Kaddish:
As the monk burned
the serene unknowing of his golden robe
into raging mindfulness
the now
would like to rest in peace
instead of chasing naked sighs
through saudade moors of eire
Celts its believed
lived circular lives
unbesmirched by dualistic papists or
ghosted by mortal green subtexts
blistering saint patrick
for all those hallowed nuns
who rescued foundering babies
from potato slurries of famished grace
And where was our lord then—?
under lock and key
as the cosmos kept expanding
exploding our reliquaries
yet we still don’t know for sure
how our postmodern ideas of “truth”
got kick-started
anyway these are now questions for wall street
not science
or the old testament
Limbo though
devas and asuras know
got born in mother’s heart
on a ganges river shore
watching her lost children drift away
on swirling currents and
insufferable winds
Fluttering above the funeral pyre
butterflies see
seven more colors than we
tongues of ultra-violet flame
shimmer over mourning cocoons
with splendored pigments unknown to human eyes
schooled to the black and white
of gød’s printable word
Oh I don’t doubt for a minute
lazarus came forth from his tomb
stink and all—mad as hell
but who hasn’t been pissed at christ
for arriving after the fact
What if
truth be told
jacob had beaten that angel
locked it in a cage and took it to market
hoping to barter angel-tears
for babylonian currency
maybe a small dacha on the sea of tiberius
just compensation for his limp
Not everyone could agree on the cage
but nobody except jacob could see the angel
other than orthodox butterflies
so when his captive refused to cry
jacob hid behind the vale
filling bottles with his own tears
so great was his sorrow
for breaking gød
Jacob’s angel chooses the cage
a monk’s heart chooses the fire
to burn and not to burn
like little gidding’s shirt of flame
like the tears of esau
like the grief of any virgin mother
cradling a dying gød in her arms
when every other gate is shut
the gate of tears remains open
this is the new and everlasting covenant
jerusalem falling falling
into the red bliss of the roiling sun
the fire and the rose
not yet
(For Thích Quảng Đức, killed in Vietnam, June 11,1963. at my age of 66. Acrylic on canvas. 30 X 40 in.)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

"Structures of Visual Perception." 9 feet by 3 feet, acrylic on board)

For Marilyn Monroe (Born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 Died on this day, August 5, 1962).

Roslyn (Marilyn Monroe): "Horse killers! Killers! Murderers! You're liars! All of you, liars! You're only happy when you can see something die! Why don't you kill yourself to be happy? You and your God's country! Freedom! I pity you! You're three dear, sweet, dead men!"

In "The Misfits," (Marilyn's and Clark Gable's last movies) three broken-back old cowboys hunt wild mustang horses for scratch and dog food while believing that their lust for Roslyn (MM) will save them from death. But in this scene Marilyn is outraged by their violence and barbarity and she attempts to stop the slaughter. The screenplay was written by playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn's husband, and its based, I think, on an earlier actual experience. I am reading Miller's autobiography and he recounts that when he and Marilyn were living at Amagansett long island she encountered the surf-net fishers early one morning. The fishers drug their nets onto the beach then marketed the "money fish" but left all the writhing "trash fish" to slowly suffocate and die on the beach. Marilyn was horrified and began to get up early and follow behind these fishers and gather up all the dying fish and return them to the water. She became obsessed with stopping this daily slaughter that was ignored by everyone else and began saving the condemned fish every morning. Marilyn (like Pope Francis it seems?) rejected the economic ideology that classifies life as either 'trash' or 'marketable, but her life-saving work took a painful, physical and spiritual toll on her. A soaked-through Marilyn could often be witnessed shivering, stumbling, along the beach weeping and trying to get the dying fish back into the ocean, until one day she completely collapsed. Marilyn never fully recovered from that "break-down," and subsequent suicide attempt even though she was hospitalized for "treatment." She eventually recovered just enough to finish "The Misfits," but perhaps at the cost of her life. Other than academic/σαρκικός I have never really had much of an interest in Marilyn, but it was this story and movie that have caused me to engage her again with more seriousness, sorrow, and maybe even reverence. I agree with what Clifford Odets said: “If they tell you that she died of sleeping pills you must know that she died of a wasting grief, of a slow bleeding at the soul.”

Marilyn's last words on screen were, "Which way is home…How do you find your way home in the dark." But I don't think that Arthur Miller's answer is true, he wrote, "To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was. She was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes." But Miller was also one of those desperate clawing men pulling at her clothes. What Marilyn needed was not more cynicism or fantasy but the kind of love that finding her broken and suffocating would return her to life-giving water.

Marilyn Found Poems:

To the Weeping Willow

'I stood beneath your limbs
and you flowered and finally clung to me
and when the wind struck with earth 
and sand--you clung to me.

Don't cry my doll
Don't cry
I hold you and rock you to sleep
Hush hush
I'm pretending now
I'm not your mother who died.

They taught my body
to squeeze grapes.
Warm wine poured out.
And once or twice,
a slick skin.

O, Time
Be Kind
Help this weary being
To forget what is sad to remember
Loose my loneliness,
Ease my mind,
While you eat my flesh.

I am of both of your directions
strong as a cobweb in the
wind — I exist more with the cold glistening frost.
But my beaded rays have the colors I’ve
seen in a paintings — ah life they
have cheated you

When the hourglass
takes off its dress,
the sand loosens and spreads.
You cannot find a footing
in me. They always said
I was terrible in bed.

I have always been
deeply terrified to
really be someone’s wife
since I know from life
one cannot love another,
ever, really
We're all dying aren't we
we're not teaching each other
what we really know,
are we'


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Christian church calendars name today, ‘Silent Wednesday’
or ‘Wednesday of Shadows.’ 

Also occurring on this day in history:

Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus with expensive oil >> Lady GaGa was born in 1986 >> In 1854 Britain, France, and Russia, began the Crimean war >> Liturgy committees everywhere begin preparations for Jesus ‘last supper’ >> Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with rocks and drowned herself today in 1941 >> Judas conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus (that is why today is also known as “Spy Wednesday”) >> The Premier performance of PT Barnum’s “Greatest show On Earth” occurred today >> Paris was sacked by Ragnar Lodbrok and his Viking horde in the year 854 >> The donkey who carried Jesus into Jerusalem went back to hauling water and wood for Roman occupiers >> Today in 1933 the Reichstag conferred dictatorial powers on Adolf Hitler >> The Supreme’s song, “Stop! In the Name of Love!” topped the 1966 pop charts >> The Gospels record that today Jesus taught parables about: *Vineyards, *Taxes, *Wedding banquets, *the Destruction of Jerusalem >> In 1655 Puritans defeated Catholic forces in Maryland and outlawed Roman Catholicism in the colony >> Raphael completed his remarkable painting ‘The Madonna of the Chairs’ >> Today was the day that High priest Caiphas first plotted with Quisling collaborators to murder Jesus  >> The Largest dinosaur footprint ever was found in Kimberley Australia >> Jesus’ Disciples complained about Mary wasting expensive oil on Jesus >> In 1917 Jews are expelled from Tel Aviv and Jaffa by Turkish soldiers >> According to legend Barabbas was arrested on this day for opposing Roman occupation >> In Poland on ‘Spy Wednesdays’ Roman catholics throw an effigy of Judas from the top of a church steeple. Then he is dragged through villages as the devout hurl sticks and stones at him. What remains of the effigy is drowned in a nearby stream or pond >> Astrophysicists just announced the discovery of a “ghost galaxy” that contains no ‘dark matter’ >>  Today a cock in old J-town crowed twice.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

"He's a bandit and a heartbreaker.
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker"

From a poet/songwriter I admire greatly and a dear sister who died young. I use to play a couple of her songs. Once a young armed robber and sex-worker she learned music and Jesus in jail. She asked some difficult questions and she suffered greatly, eventually dying of a heroin overdose. Thank you for your words and music. May you always be in blessing. 

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flyin' low for me
One time I trusted a stranger
Cuz' I heard his sweet song
And it was gently enticin' me
Tho there was somethin' wrong
But when I turned he was gone

Blindin' me, his song remains remindin' me
He's a bandit and a heart breaker
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flyin' low for me

He wages war with the devil
A pistol by his side
And tho he chases him out windows
And won't give him a place to hide
He keeps his door open wide

Fightin' him he lights a lamp invitin' him
He's a bandit and a heart breaker
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flyin' low for me

I heard the thunder come rumblin'
the light never looked so dim
I see the junction git nearer'
and danger is in the wind
And either road's lookin' grim

Hidin' me, I flee, desire dividin' me
He's a bandit and a heart breaker
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker
Yes, Jesus was a cross maker
Yes, Jesus was a cross maker
Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flyin' low for me
One time I trusted a stranger
Cuz I heard his sweet song
And it was gently enticin' me
Tho there was somethin' wrong
But when I turned he was gone
Blindin' me, his song remains remindin' me
He's a bandit and a heartbreaker.
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flyin' low for me

Blessings and obliged.