Posts Tagged ‘artist’

The Writer's Block

13 Sep




Originally published on September 13, 1999

KUBHLAI: Like me, he is markedly unimpressed with the intellectual sincerity of Man. Where he immediately impressed me was by identifying precisely that there is a distinct duality between *Worldview* (''weltanschauung'') and *Philosophy* or supposedly objective human reasonings in general. Now I have never clearly made this distinction between philosophizing and worldview—rather leaving it as an assumption I suppose, that thought (along with other attitudinal modes) is but the building bricks of the total Worldview. In Hulme however, they are at odds from the very start; philosophizing (by which is meant human thought and judgement in a wider sense) lays claim to the humanist value of ''Reason'', but all the while the Worldview, which is defined as the grand picture we have of where our "satisfaction" lies, is exerting a gravitational force tempting us to construct complex arguments which, by an amazing coincidence' as it were, arrive at a point which is ''satisfying'' , which provides an apparent justification for the often crude and simplistic desires which were there a priori.

GABRIEL: Here is an interesting piece I found somewhere under a napkin not of my own choosing, a piece quaintly reviewing Kundera's TESTMENTS BETRAYED: "Kafka, Stravinsky, Rushdie—the modern artist confuses and often outrages critics looking for the clarity of orthodoxy. Kundera, whose talents as a literary and music critic almost match his formidable gifts as a novelist, defends the artist against obtuse or perverse critics, disciples, and allies. Thus he rescues Kafka the artist from the embrace of disciples who want to remake him into a thinker. Likewise, he brings the genius of Stravinsky out from under the shadow of the misguided criticism of a close friend. Similarly, Kundera reclaims Rushdie's Satanic Verses as an imaginative work from progressive intellectuals who have never read it but have claimed it as a political symbol of the need for a free press. Discipleship, friendship, and comradeship can all turn into betrayal. Against such betrayal, Kundera insists upon the creative autonomy of the novelist and the composer, whose works live in an ambiguous sphere outside of all history except the capricious history of human creativity. Though he offers keen insights into music and literature, it is in his celebration of humor in the European novel that Kundera's genial brilliance burns most brightly."

The writer steps down from the podium.

Why Do Writers Need Editors But Painters Do Not

17 Sep

Alledgedly Landry

Alledgedly Landry


Date: Sep 17 1996 14:55:12

Sorry more words than you called for. Guess that in and of itself supports the subject of this little piece. Was that your ploy all along? To mock the amateur wordsmith? Now, if I could have just emailed you a painting, that would have said it all in a flash.

Painters can make an honest (or lazy) attempt to pass ANYTHING as art. They don't have to worry about the confines of structure in the way that a composer or a writer must. Let's face it, I can squat down on a canvas, smear a big corn filled turd around on a spatula, glue on a crucifix, and immediately get a reaction from born again christeeeans, derelicts, intellectual bull shit artists and the like who don't even have to be literate. But, if I write a story about blowing a big chocolate corn stuffed stain on a piece of fabric and shoving a cross on top, first, I must construct a sentence in some grammatical form that even people who can read can understand. Then, I have to get people to read it. Since most people, even with some college education, refuse to read on principle, only a small percentage of the population will read it. Out of this group, most people will read it just to fill up some time on the john, some won't get through it because they will be bored, some will laugh but forget it immediately. . .basically only a smidgen of people will care—some whacko born again Christeeean who will want to make sure the piece will be censored, a few people who think anything that couples shit and Christ in the same piece to be important, a zealous ACLU lawyer, and the writer (maybe on this one).

And, in order to be taken seriously as a writer (whether you need it or not) you are REQUIRED to have an editor and your writing is only worth something if SOMEONE ELSE (in particular a BIG PUBLISHER) likes it and prints it and sells it. Quite different from celebrating independent artists, filmmakers and musicians who can gain credibility precisely IF they shun the BIG GUYS.

Now to address the points:

1. Painters as a demographic rarely stop working on a piece until they are finished.

If they do stop before they are finished they lie and say they ARE finished. If I turn in a manuscript finished or not, people can put their two cents in and change shit. How come I can't go up to a painting and blot on a hint o#196# yellow here and there? Hunh???

2. Writers are a driven but inherently lazy bunch, and are inclined to need a proper correcting of their pomposity since word manipulation rules are finite.

OH, does this hit the mark. Does this mean that a writer who paints is also a lazy painter? My painting and writing instructors both said "Miss Landry, you are very talented, but very lazy!" No fair that a writer can't use words like paint, layering and layering for effect. Well, you can do it, but who would read it?

3. Wordlovers are a different crowd from artlovers with slightly different motives and therefore require a middleman.

Yes Yes Yes. Sort of like a conductor in an orchestra. Otherwise, chaos.

8. It's easier to dismiss a single canvas than a truckload of books in boxes.

#8 True, in a way. But, I think the modern computer/internet age is presenting a dilemma for old school visual artists. Electronic visual art is now on the same intangible level as the written word or music. Think about it. I am an artist (alive or dead). I sit in my studio drinking, fucking young boys and going insane from syphilis. I buy paint and drugs from my so-called friends, have a vision and do a painting. Since I am well known in my village or on the left bank of pareeeeeee, a few bored no-talent rich people bid for my painting. The painting. The only one. Mr. Booger wins and buys it for $3 million and takes it home to hang it over the fireplace in his boudoir and whacks off to it every night. No one else sees it until his death. Then, his lover gives it to some museum and the only way you can see the actual painting is if you spend lots of money to go to the city that contains the museum that houses the painting.

But, if I'm, say, Emily Dickinson, I write, I die, and years later all these people read my books. At the most, they spend, what, $10 on a collection. After a certain time, the more valuable the words become (named "classic") the easier it is to buy a piece of paper with the words on it. (I'm at work, so I apologize for how disjointed this is). In a nutshell, writing was and is always existing in a virtual world. You can't own the writing in the same way you can own a piece of art. But, with the Internet, I can do some visual art, scan it in my computer (or do it on the computer), put it on the Internet and it becomes just as unreal and intangible as words. Everyone can own it. Everyone can borrow bits and pieces of it. This will do more damage to the artist's ego than STDs. Writers have always known this and that is why a writer embraces the modern world before a visual artist.

This reminds me of an argument I had with my friend Brad who is a painter. He said that painting is art and writing is craft. What do you think?


Another Shot At Literary Credentials

16 Sep


The poet Charles Bukowski


Date: Thu Sep 16, 1996 6:48:00 PM America/New_York

Finished the Bukowski book, and and 75% finished with D'Sousa's 650 page tome which I unabashedly declare as the most thorough and well-adjusted look at racial intelligence in the literature to date. But let's finish first with that old egotistical drunk with a few passages I either am forced to admit reflect my own struggles, or are simply savvy lines I find fascinating for a variety of reasons, lines upon which I suppose I'll remark in the appropriate pauses as I stretch like a svelte Nottingham cat I know for another shot at literary credentials, may God forgive me. So have a laugh, attack of superiority, goof, or gaff. Be assured that I'm not trying to browbeat you with anything particularly profound, but am simply exercising the most available form of verbal flatulence not essentially my own:

" per a 'literary conspiracy' against me, I suppose that a great many do hate me—much of it caused by my writing style which is rather unpoetic, also in my drinking moments I have caused difficult feelings, I suppose. No excuses, man, also in my own short stories I am often the bastard villan of the pieces. I guess I am convincing. Also I don't mingle much with the literati (sic) New York City or North Beach up at Frisco, none of that. I am the loner. People come around here, I beer-up, and I have a tendency to run them out the door. All in all I suppose I have given off rays that I am a son of a bitch. They almost have me believing it myself."

I tattooed my body, not in a dim jones to appear chic and confrontational but because a navajo wanted to mark me and because I dared toss away any hope of worldly respectability my native intelligence and white skin supposedly entitles me to receive by throwing in with the foolish and the irresponsible, blackening it, and to prove something else to the sterile. I fattened up to escape the hype of my earlier thinness, and to test the women who claimed to love me for my mind when time has proven it was my body these older women desired.
Well, the Buk nailed me on this one, although I believe my own grammatical intuition is in lot less need of an editor than CB's, who throughout this book of letters was found railing against the "gross impertinences" of that particular class of literary befrienders, and yet appears as sloppy a writer as I've ever seen in print, much less world famous. (GT)

"Well, the female is a clever creature. She knows how to regulate her affairs. Most often it is the man who falls apart; it's the man who jumps off the bridge. When we give over our feelings they run off with us. There's no regulating them. I give over my feelings too easily, and it's not all regulated to suck and fuck (as the sculptress calls it). I get as much or more, out of other parts. Small talk. Breakfast together. Sleeping while touching. Waiting while the other goes to the toilet. Lovemaking after a stupid argument. Drinking beer with maddened friends. Hundreds of tiny things. I am never bored when I am with my women. I get bored in large formless crowds. Bored, hell, I get desperate, I lather and blather at the mouth, my eyes roll, the sky shakes. What am I talking about here?"

Uh, Gabriel. You're talking about Gabriel...

"I think that what has happened with Hal is that he has put total importance upon POETICS and what a poet is supposed to be. A good poet never knows what he is, he's a dime from the edge, but there's nothing holy about it. It's a job. Like mopping a bar floor. I can't rail too much about him; I suppose that the things he has imagined in his mind seem very true to him. Who is to judge? I rattled around his place in Venice a couple of nights drunk but it was more in energy and clowning than malice or a wish to destroy. I'm an asshole in many ways, I even enjoy my assholeness. I can tear a man in half in a short story; I can also tear myself in half, but I'm no knifer, I don't whisper things into editors' ears. I'm no destroyer. Nothing can be destroyed that has the power to move forward into its own thing. Fame or acceptance or politics or power has nothing to do with it. Nothing is needed but self going-on as self must. One only need realize this small realization."

Well, so far I have done nothing but quote what I presume to mirror my own thoughts, but this brings me to a question about the language you used in your last letter, Landry.

Your individuality schtick as an artist and a human being is very interesting. For one thing, I think that you are one of the few people I know who really is asserting their individuality. So many people think they are doing it when all they do is change uniforms.

INTERESTING? Does your usage of this word best translate to clever, queer, peculiar, noteworthy, what?

However, I do not think that whenever me or anyone else brings up generalizations about minorities or women they should be dismissed as bunk. I think that white males (at least in Western Culture) are socialized into a world that allows them to see the world differently. It must feel pretty good to come in on top. Then, if you fail, you only have yourself to blame. While I don't think anyone should use their group's oppression as a crutch or an excuse for any flaw they may have, I don't think the general population of blacks, Asians, women, Hispanics can escape some of the hardships put upon them throughout history by white men.

But enough of this blather, this is not the stuff of Email where it simply sounds like histrionic self-rationalizing apochrypha (hey, how did Howellnyms sneak into this perfectly good snatch of self-criticism), but the iron truth is in God's own pocket calculator, and as long as my memories sustain me, I will not relinquish the justification of my own experience any more than a thousand subsets of humanity do with their own Pontius Pilate slant, following after their own fashion.
Now we are tiptoeing into the pond best swam within the context of D'Sousa's book. I just got off the phone with Len Bracken who does not share my enthusiasm for D'Sousa's points of view, he having heard him on a radio talk show (I caught him on Phil Donahue), although I challenged him to read the book before dismissing him out of hand. I am thoroughly convinced of the integrity of D'Sousa's work, perceptions, and remedies for what ails us as a culture,although admitting it will take a cold day in hell to convince the Boasian liberal establishment to nudge an inch off its pedastal, but I'd rather postpone that commentary until a more appropriate time. Now back to the asshole of the hour:

"Norse? I understand his viewpoint. We simply come out of different poetic backgrounds. And when I'm drunk I am generally rude and boorish and stupid to everybody alike. I don't just select Hal. If he could understand this he might feel better. Before a man can ever meet the gods he must learn to forgive the drunks. Alta? I understand her viewpoint, and it must certainly seem plausible and right to her, but creation, art, is the breakthrough. We hardly do what is proper or kind, though often, in life, we are kinder than most, much more. Without flying flags about it. Alta does not know how to write a sentence down. It hurts her pitch. I don't want to rape Alta. I don't want to rape anybody. I never have. But if an artist wants to go into the mind of a rapist or a murderer and look out of that mind and write down that mind, I don't think that is criminal. Furthermore, I didn't say my stories in NOLA were "sarcastic." I don't apologize for my work. If I write a story about a shitty woman then that shitty woman did exist. One form or another. Blacks can also be shitty as can whites. I refuse to be restricted in the materials I can paint with. It's really all so ridiculous to defend anything as JUST that thing, can't they even understand that? Oh Alta, I HAVE love...that's why I can write other things..."

Ditto again. Hence my niggard reputation. A capsule rant of the reality of a consciousness which has predicted me since a child, if I may: I presumed at the insidious sterile age of seventeen to wreck my whiteness, my elitehood, my natural intelligence by lowering my standards to the world's din. I have refused time and time again the higher education the world says I must have in order to achieve the level native intelligence requires. I have stated on several occasions and to surprising acclaim that I drink to excess so I can be as stupid and as forgetful as the rest of the world. I tattooed my body, not in a dim jones to appear chic and confrontational but because a navajo wanted to mark me and because I dared toss away any hope of worldly respectability my native intelligence and white skin supposedly entitles me to receive by throwing in with the foolish and the irresponsible, blackening it, and to prove something else to the sterile. I fattened up to escape the hype of my earlier thinness, and to test the women who claimed to love me for my mind when time has proven it was my body these older women desired. I dare to remain jobless so as not to take a job from those who claim the system is rigged in my favor. In my pure uneducated but highly observant 20s back in the 1970s I was popular and hung with the gay population, and also infiltrated the hispanic and black cultures, and as a result often had projected onto me what I was reading was the sole domain of my own kind, the white cetera et cetera. But enough of this blather, this is not the stuff of Email where it simply sounds like histrionic self-rationalizing apochrypha (hey, how did Howellnyms sneak into this perfectly good snatch of self-criticism), but the iron truth is in God's own pocket calculator, and as long as my memories sustain me, I will not relinquish the justification of my own experience any more than a thousand subsets of humanity do with their own Pontius Pilate slant, following after their own fashion.

This has gotten rather long, and I have three more bookmarks to exploit for your perusal, so until next time....


Actually That Was Hangover Harry At The Door

07 Dec


Exactly, right.


Originally published on December 7, 1995

Figgered there was something lonesome Gabriel must do for Tom Howellnymns when I saw the length of that last note. Yep that's the ONLY time that rascal ever shows his face OR his furnace around here. Funny thing about that music quip you made. My rocker pals chide me because EVERY time they come over Dylan's on the box, and EVERY time old hippie Tom has a mumble to make, there's punk or hardcore on the drive. Powerful dichotomy, my music. Tom still occasionally remarks on how stunned he was to learn I had several Donovan Leitch albums since he knows me only from the punk stage. Sho nuff, there's no pleasin' the w-o-r-l-d, say I, in the ninth chapter of Isaiah.

Cool that Russell Braen has an unabridged archive of those Jewish texts on his server. Have I shown you the wierd CD-ROM biblical exegesis Sue bought me for my 40th trek around the sun? And listen here Senator, no more cheaper than cheek moving services. Gabriel's a desperate artfag now, and has scaled back his back graces, having finally given up that ghost of petty pushover you've taken for granted for oh so long. You, like thousands around me, are always whittling away at my goodwill, but shuffle brilliantly silent when I ask direct questions, or a favor for myself. Do not fear me, a lowly human, albeit more inspired & more aromatic than angels' dung, but fear G.O.D...

That said, I SHALL respect your request for new letterhead the next time you show up around here, but I press with this question once again. Have you put forth that Photoshop LE & Hypercard 2.2 deal (both for $130) on the table for Robert Cole to address, OR NOT? Frankly I've grown beyond sick of getting caught inside everyone else's voice loop, an impeccable void where I hear the same references over and over, but little which directly benefits the one I serve. You fill in the pronoun, Hangover Harry.

If this sounds bitter, perhaps it is, but it is written with a BZT smile on my forehead. Perhaps I am near death. I feel terribly ill begotten, but ripe on the vine. Cocky only in daring to become cockless, the fatty delicious juices of the battered ram oozing down my chin as I wonder when you might want to pawn that rented RCA camcorder back to its previous host for a devils' bargain, since what little friendship we have is always numbed by the dead works of your silence as you make your way into the Hall of Skewed Genius Dr. Bracken has erected for you.

Until we meet again.

Dunaway Ka


23 May

Yesterday's gone to sleep
waiting for her husband to return from the plant
where soot finds its way into his very dignity
clothing his shame in layers of insult too twisted to recant.

Yesterday's alone with child
sitting in the backroom of the artist's studio
where he will pay her to reveal her very dignity
painting her memoirs in colors her husband wouldn't know.

Yesterday's grown to hate
all men and women who killed her husband and child
with cathedral bells buying and selling her very dignity
knowing nothing could ever be reconciled.

(Many years later)
Yesterday's shown no favor
declaring the artist serves no one from inside a jail
where neither mind nor beauty can save its very dignity
blaspheming birth as eternal blackmail.


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""