andre derain, the trees, 1906
Just now finished seeing a video of George Carlin on YouTube professing we have no rights. He told it well. He had to throw in some vulgar language to distinguish that he was not preaching, anyway not religion preaching. He was political preaching. He talked about illusion, breaking down what God-given-rights means. He noted that this country has 10, Britain has 13, Germany has twenty-some. Then he notes most countries recognize no rights. His lesson for the day was that our government does not care about us individually. Does not care at all. Totally true. Maybe it's a surprise to somebody, but all you need to do is think about it half a minute and there it is. And, once you see it, it changes nothing. It's just another way to see something we tend never to think about, which is what he's really after. He went into an examination of swearing on the Bible in court. Like would it take if the Bible were upside down? If he held his left hand up instead of his right, would God object? He breaks it down and looks at it like examining a tradition that has lost it's reason for being, but continues because it's tradition. It's what we do.
In my own life, I've taken the Bill of Rights for granted. Who ever thinks about it? People in law school think about it. Judges think about it. The rest of us could not list our Bill of Rights if asked to name two. It's like Carlin said, he, himself, feels like he has all rights. And we do too. How that works out is consequences of actions, everything comes back. Step on somebody else's rights and yours will be stepped on in turn. I've an idea the Bill of Rights was written and adopted to save us the conflict of learning over and over what other people's rights are and the limits to one's own. Sometimes I get the feeling that the people who make the most noise about freedom want it for themselves, but not for other people. Since the beginnings of women's liberation unto today, black men, as a rule, don't believe women should have certain rights. But black men want liberation for themselves. I've never understood that. It surely has to do with culture, and I know next to nothing of black culture. I can never know black culture, because I don't have the experience. My culture is the privileged race that rarely thinks outside its own box, just like socially it is only looking up the ladder, not down the ladder.
Where the ladder is concerned, my own take on it is to stay away from the ladder. I've avoided work that is structured hierarchically. I've stayed out of social climbing altogether, since childhood where it starts. I will not work in corporate hierarchical structure like in the military. There, you address the rank, not the man. That's bullshit. It makes for good organization, but there are enough people willing to live like that, who want to, they don't need me. Also, in a hierarchical organization, military or corporate, one's rights are restricted. One signs off one's rights endorsing the first paycheck. I've never been interested in working for an employer that tells me how to live my life. Like when I stepped into the art world and became subject to all the s'posed-to mind. I said to myself, I'd rather have a job painting houses, the houses themselves. One individual who was beginning to sell some of my paintings started telling me how and what to paint. I was to paint little nigger kids playing around a schoolhouse, folk art, that's what people want. That was the end of me and her. It wasn't even the racism, but the stupid that got to me. The racism was understood.
I found that everyplace I connected with for selling paintings believed it was their Right to tell me I should paint some way other than what I'm doing. They have the right to say it, and I have the right to pay them no mind. I pulled out of the art-market world, because I'm not interested in my name in lights, not interested in fame or fortune, or climbing the hierarchical ladder in the art world. I'm no big deal as a painter. I make pictures that some people like and some people don't like. I'm ok either way. I'm satisfied that I'm doing what I like doing, what I want to do. I'm not looking to be cutting edge avant-garde, nor am I interested in imitating a certain style that is called mainstream at the moment. Accused of not painting mainstream, I always answer that when a manner of painting is mainstream, it's over. I'm not looking for a place in art history. It suits me better for my paintings to be in the homes of my friends than homes of people I don't know and don't even know who owns the paintings. I don't want my paintings so expensive only the upper-middle-class can afford them, or corporations for offices and lobbies. I want my friends to have them, people I know, people who live in my world. Like I don't like to leave the county, I don't like to sell a painting outside the county. I do, but that's just a rule of thumb preference, not a commandment.
We give up a lot of rights when we pursue money and position. I learned so early on about giving up rights pursuing money and influence, that I never developed an interest in money. I'd rather have a working class job where I can be who I am and not be expected to adjust my thinking to what is acceptable. The way I think is largely not acceptable. I see it in the coffee shop every time I go in there. I refuse to talk political correctness speak, thus get frowned at quite a lot for unacceptable speech. I don't go to church for the same reasons I go to the coffee shop less and less. I'm not submitting to expectation that I think and believe certain ways. I won't do that. I am not dehumanizing myself voluntarily for money. My own humanity is more valuable to me than a big house full of expensive things in the best part of town. I don't want to get so high up that I look down on the lowest people. The people who believe themselves at or near the top of the ladder despise it in me that I don't honor the ladder. I don't shit and grovel when they're around. They hate me to the degree they need to believe themselves high up. None of it has anything to do with me. So I pay it no mind.