Here is the moment Ian closed his eyes. Thus began the chapters of Ignoring. Life was too much for him and he found that shutting his eyes, shutting the windows, turning off the noise, and sleeplessly marching in one direction was the way he decided to deal with it. In the process of ignoring he found a familiar resonance and it occurred to him that this is how his culture copes with the greatest problems it faces. They Ignore them. Environmental degradation? Keep driving. Broken foreign policy? Keep bombing. Native American reparations? Thanksgiving.
Ignoring ends with a reckoning. Ian is still recovering from his.
I have been under the choppy waters of my own making. Two kids and a rigorous, self imposed work schedule: the American Dream.
Ian has made some changes: Moved with the family to Mexico (the other American Dream). He is slowly learning spanish again while watching his kids soak it up with the ease of flexible brain matter. He is surfing and drinking and speaking in third person. He is reviewing these last few years and will be catching up on the writing down. Stay tuned, here are some topics to be recovered from the wreckage of recent history:
Ignoring One Two Three
My recent work has been pairs of self portraits that explore and depict one element of my psyche and then its opposite polarity. This has been rewarding because it gives a sense of balance. "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." This is one of the pillars we use to define reality and anything that supports this law provides grounding and comfort. Recently, however, I have noticed that bouncing from one polarity to its opposite in order to encapsulate a whole, is missing something. If we extend this metaphor to our physical realm, it would be like landing on the north pole and then traveling as fast as possible to the south pole and claiming to understand the whole world. Sadly, that would mean I would never know what it is like to live in Austin, TX, and I love living here. This is my home and the experience of "home" is a totally different type of knowledge than those polarities offer.
I have been trying to find, identify, and express the elements of my psyche that motivate my actions and ultimately control the trajectory of my life. My hope is that this internal knowledge will lead to an understanding of why we humans do what we do. In this series I have found that each element I uncover has an opposite polarity and I have been diligent in alloting equal time and integrity to each side of these coins. The most recent duality I have been living with is NASA vs. JAZZ. My previous post was about the NASA influence, but for the last three months I have pushed the pendulum over to Jazz.
This piece was a violent departure from the previous one. The gestural ribbon-like element was the first mark I made on this paper and I made it with a fistfull of charcoal powder and a loose arm swinging from the shoulder. I had come to see Jazz as NASA's opposite and was bucking the gridded symmetry, order, and discipline that NASA implied in favor of an organic, rythmical focus. I think of NASA and Jazz as hitting their high-water mark around the same time in the sixties when we were sending a man to the moon and Coltrane was doing what he did. Both NASA and Jazz are distinctly American phenomena and have begun their distillation through history to land with a grainy black and white nostalgia in the collective subconscious of this country. For me, NASA is the highest expression of academia, government, and the military, A.K.A the "system." Jazz, on the other hand, comes out of the African American experience, and is born of a need for self expression in the face of that "system" which is responsible for denying it. Jazz is not restricted to a black voice; it is an expression of humanity just as profound as the human quest for flight. I find Jazz at it's best when it acknowledges structure and composition and form and then dances right out of those shoes, dissolving the structure and smashing the forms and then picking them all up and making something totally new out of the rubble. Bird was amazing in that zone, but I find myself lining up most with the music of Thelonious Monk. He could plop a note down in the most precarious places and leave them there all alone and my ears aren't sure if they are going to keep balancing there or just drop off the edge of that table. I'm naming this piece "Monk" after him, but also because of the more overt implications of that word, referring to one who is committed to hearing the voice or song of God.