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Saturday, March 13, 2010


composition in gray #18

Sprang. Sprung. Sproing. Spring forward. That time of year again. It's so much easier to turn a clock ahead an hour than back an hour. Digitals with PM and AM and other complications have to be run around about the whole way. Already did the clocks. When I feel like turning in, I don't feel like going around changing clocks and one thing and another. I want to go crash. Daylight savings time messes me up twice a year. Like jet lag, it takes awhile to get used to the light tomorrow at 7am will be like today's light at 6am. I'm bad to write last year's date on a check through January and sometimes into February. I've noticed along the way DST disorients old people consistently. More evidence of my new phase in life.

Jr never realized he was old until late 70s. Even when he had just a few days left, his attitude was that he'd recover. Dying never seemed to dawn on him as something he could get his mind around. Of course, he knew it was there. At the same time, it was something that happened to other people. He wasn't afraid by any means. His mind seldom, if ever, thought in abstractions. Jr's only concerns were here and now. I'm late 60s and feeling old. Not old like feeble, but old like out of the loop, comfortably out of the loop. Like Jr said, "I don't want to know what's goin on, because it's already gone on." Everything is in the past a moment after it happens.

I find it interesting I'm wanting to spend the last years of my life in semi-solitude, communicating with the outside world by writing, pretty much the way I've wanted to live since childhood, early childhood. I remember lying in bed at night thinking I wanted to be able to write my thoughts, because talking always gets interrupted and I could never find anyone to talk about things with like I wanted to talk about, abstractions. In cowboy and Indian movies, I pulled for the Indians, was in there with them. Playing cowboys and Indians, I was always the Indian and the only one. The other kids wanted to be cavalry and uniforms. I wanted no uniform. I was at war with the white man in my house. It seemed like treason for me to go over and play a white man.

Here is a good picture of what an innocent goof I was going into the 7th grade. I was used to a school with reasonable class sizes, women teachers, who were nurturers as well as teachers, no homework. In 7th grade, jr high, a new school with kids from several other schools, I happened to be extraordinarily shy. English class with Nazi teacher, Mrs. Unruh. She meant business. We had to do homework. Right off, first day we're told to write something about summer vacation. Of course. I wrote about playing cowboys and Indians during the summer. I thought that was pretty cool. My last name was way down the alphabet. As other kids were alphabetically required to read their essay to the class, I heard them going to Yellowstone Park, going to Grand Canyon, going to Niagara Falls.

By the time about 30 or so of them were read and it was my turn, I felt like the dumbest shit that ever set foot on earth. Told to come up and read it, I said I didn't do what I wrote about. She gave me an F for not reading it and saying that, and I didn't care. Anything, as long as I didn't have to read it and admit openly I'm still a kid in a room full of kids that grew up over the summer, or something. They had a hell of a lot more interesting lives than I had, if they weren't lying. I was never aggressive. Even playing Indian, the aggression was defense. Always playing defense. The young rooster in the chicken house. No status. Don't want status. Status is for climbers.

Art is all I want. In my earlier years I taught myself to find art everywhere. On my mountain, it's all the way around me at all times, the sky above, the earth below and all 4 directions. In the city I found art everywhere. In the country I find art everywhere. Like Mark Rothko's rectangles of colors, a large rectangle hanging vertically on the wall, 3 horizontal rectangles down the face of the large rectangle, each one a color painted so luminously that they look like the light is inside the color. 3 rectangles is 3 rectangles, but when Mark Rothko fills in the rectangles with color, it becomes something awe inspiring. Art.

I don't know that awe inspiring qualifies as something to say about art. If you ever have a strong feeling in front of a given work of art, then see something about it written in an art magazine, you'll think, What? Is that what I saw? Now I don't know what I saw at all. I really don't know what makes half a dozen black squares by Ad Rinehart art and half a dozen black squares by somebody else not art. Except Rinehart was first to do it. So the next one is imitation. Excuse me. I don't even like to think about whatever I do as art. I think of it as making pictures. Poet May Swenson called writing poems making poems. I like that. I like it better making pictures than calling it art. When somebody asks me if I'm an artist, I don't know what to say. Sometimes? Every once in a while? Depends on how you define it. Like Bob Dylan said, It's mine to write them, it's yours to figure them out. I'll say it's mine to make the picture and it's yours to decide whether or not it's art.

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