Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Brainstorming, The Tao of Wu, Faulkner, and Chip Thomas

Admittedly, it has looked a bit quiet in the Valley of the Mighty Lark recently.  I have had my nose buried in books and have been working on a number of mail art pieces.  I finished some sketches for a book project with a poet whom I respect a great deal and have mailed out several more archaic tweets, but I have documented very little of my work recently.  I have opted instead to focus on the work a bit more, to think it over, explore the concepts and push the ideas to a better point.

I have started reading the Tao of Wu, by the RZA and Sanctuary, by William Faulkner.  The RZA smoothly relates his inner city wisdom with the practices and philosophies of Shaolin monks.  Faulkner on the other hand, creates a character of good education who is cast into peril because of his own weakness for alcohol and girls.  It is interesting to consider these two books at the same time.  Street knowledge is acquired through living in circumstances that society prefers to ignore.  Growing up in my peaceful rural area, there was very little mention of inner cities.  The only things that I remember "learning" about inner cities was that was where gun violence originated.  The hip-hop that was popular while I was learning these supposed lessons was heavily in the gangster rap era, completely supporting my impressions.  About this time,  a woman came into my high school with a list of albums that we weren't supposed to listen to, because they would cause us to be violent, another card to lay the foundation in the massive house of cards that was completely shatter when I moved to Syracuse in 1999.  I have never lived in the projects and I certainly don't parade around the projects or anywhere else in the city flaunting that I have cash, but I do find those areas of the city fascinating.  They are certainly not anything to loathe.  I think that there is a different sort of person that comes from that upbringing.  There is a vitality in individuals who must overcome some odds to live a successful life.  I rather resent the very capitalistic and uneducated wisdom that was passed on to me when I was 12 in my little country school.  Faulkner's characters are more what we would have considered white trash in my school.  We had many students growing up in this economic hole in my community.  Some of them stayed and live in the same way that their family did while they were growing up.  Others left and had all the more motivation to do so.  We cannot expect to know how conditions are going to affect and mold another individual.  I am sick of the idea that we need to "fix" the poor and the people who work constantly to make a living.  While I do think that it would be good for them to make more and have some more opportunities, I do not think that it is smart for us to think of another segment of society as a problem that needs to be fixed.

With that in mind, I have been thinking about what we spend our money on.  Our society purchases a lot of devices that do all sorts of unnecessary things.  The infomercial with the ear cleaning device and the small hair trimmer which cleans up the hairy man's back in five seconds burst to the top of the list in my brain.  Do we need so many devices to help us get by?  The car that tells us when we are going to hit something behind us?  This is great in some respects.  I don't want people backing over children on big wheels; are there still big wheels, but perhaps we should pay more attention to the world around us if we are to be behind the wheel of a machine that is known to be one the biggest killers in the United States.  I am working on a proposal for a machine, because this economy is all about machines, which will be very elaborate.  I intend to draw it on four walls.  As you work from left to right you will be able to see the function of this machine.  It will make all sort of twists and turns and will result in an action which in comparison seems rather anti-climactic.  Here is the list of ideas for the purpose of the machine which I brainstormed today.  I think that 29 may prevail, but it would also be interesting if it just produced a drop of ink.

I have also been very excited about my mail projects.  This past week I was reading an article that Chip Thomas put together chronicling the story of the Painted Desert Project.  I felt incredibly moved by his story as I have felt with the better part of the images that I have seen of the project over the past year.  In an act quite outside of my normal character I wrote to him and asked if he would share his address so that I could send him some mail art.  He said yes, and yesterday morning I finished up a one off zine and sewed an envelope out of one of my favorite works on paper for him.  It felt like the right thing to do.

A friend of mine posted a picture of the Tweet that I sent him this week as well.  I very much enjoy the number of lives that these drawings are living.  I realized while out for a walk with my good friend on Sunday that sending the work through the mail is somehow related to my history of collecting baseball cards.  The wonder of what could possibly be inside an envelope is half of the excitement.  Sometimes that anticipation is even better than learning what is inside.  As envelopes become a piece of their own, they start to provide a document of the interior of that anticipation.  Or at least, that is what I am thinking right now.

I've probably said enough for one day.  I'm going to quietly reflect over the Tao of Wu until the Knickerbockers play the Celtics.  Hope you are all well.


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