I knew that I wanted to be an artist and it started out as a solution to making work at the beginning. I was a literature student, but I knew very well that I didn’t want to be a novelist.
“Of all ghosts the ghosts of our old loves are the worst.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes
“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
Sometimes it seems that time is going by slowly, sometimes it seems like it is moving too fast. Oddly, often, the people around you seem to feel the same way. I’ve always wondered if this is really true – maybe times speeds up and slows down, that it isn’t always just in your head.
“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Are there ghosts around us… ghosts that are simply moving too fast for us to see? There are definitely live people moving too fast for anyone to see. Maybe a blur. All you feel is a buzz of wasted excitement and maybe a bit of a hot breeze.
And they are gone.
The sculpture in the photograph above is a Henry Moore bronze – Three-Piece No. 3: Vertebrae (Working Model). It is a prequel for Moore’s larger Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae, also known as the Dallas Piece, which sits in a forlorn spot in front of I. M. Pei’s Dallas City Hall.
I’ve always loved that sculpture and have visited it for decades. One especially cool time was when Rachel Harrison added a temporary pink arrow in a sculpture known as Moore to the Point as part of the Nasher Xchange project.
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora
This is the time of year in Dallas where the days are awfully hot – but the nights are still bearable. As you walk the cool, humid air wafts by – but if you cross a patch of concrete you feel the ghost of the day’s heat still radiating upward. I feel guilty interrupting its voyage back into space.
“The past does not influence me; I influence it.”
― Willem de Kooning
Oblique Strategy: Give way to your worst impulse
There is nothing as exhausting as facing your fears – no matter how things turn out. It is so tiring, I’m not sure it’s even worth it.
I think we all, at times, wonder how it would be if the world were different, that’s the essence of imagination. I don’t think utopian ideas are bound to fail, but quite likely when they become real or succeed they stop being called utopias. Think about the Internet, or women’s rights for example. Some of the things that have been achieved are now considered as normal.
Oblique Strategy: Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place
The AK-47 is a frightening thing, an object of terror. I remember traveling through Central America and seeing traffic cops waving their arms, directing vehicles this way and that, with an AK-47 slung over their shoulders. That is scary.
Here, it isn’t unusual to be waiting in line for fast food, noticing a cop in line beside you, and being a little intimidated by that big handgun hanging off his belt, inches away from you. Compared to a guy directing traffic with a machine gun, though, it’s no big deal.
The AK-47 is not frightening because it is beautiful. It is ugly. It is not frightening because it is accurate – a lot of weapons are more accurate. The AK-47 is frightening because it is ugly and cheap, and reliable. It is a very efficient way to kill people.
Would an AK-47 still be frightening if it was made of translucent purple plastic?
Probably. But it would not be as ugly.
“Every so often, a painter has to destroy painting. Cezanne did it, Picasso did it with Cubism. Then Pollock did it. He busted our idea of a picture all to hell. Then there could be new paintings again.”
― Willem De Kooning
“A giant octopus living way down deep at the bottom of the ocean. It has this tremendously powerful life force, a bunch of long, undulating legs, and it’s heading somewhere, moving through the darkness of the ocean… It takes on all kinds of different shapes—sometimes it’s ‘the nation,’ and sometimes it’s ‘the law,’ and sometimes it takes on shapes that are more difficult and dangerous than that. You can try cutting off its legs, but they just keep growing back. Nobody can kill it. It’s too strong, and it lives too far down in the ocean. Nobody knows where its heart is. What I felt then was a deep terror. And a kind of hopelessness, a feeling that I could never run away from this thing, no matter how far I went. And this creature, this thing doesn’t give a damn that I’m me or you’re you. In its presence, all human beings lose their names and their faces. We all turn into signs, into numbers.”
― Haruki Murakami, After Dark