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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


As of today I have a GPS for the car. It came in the mail from amazon, a birthday present from friends in Georgia who live on the cutting edge of the modern, have had one for years. Judy said she thought it would be a good assist finding some regional music venues in places I don't know my way around. Like this weekend is MtAiry fiddler's convention. It will be a great assist finding the place. It's in a freaked out place in town that you almost have to belong to a secret society for the key to find it. It is a secret society-- the old-time music community. Secret not because they guard it jealously, but because nobody else is interested. Judy went with me last year to the Albert Hash Festival at Whitetop VA, over hills and dales, beautiful drive up 58 from Mouth of Wilson. Actually, the beautiful drive starts at my driveway. In these mountains it's beautiful everywhere I go. I'm a Taurus whose ruling planet is Venus, meaning a Taurus personality needs the beautiful, in my case mountains and trees, the green world that draws me into it feeling more like home the deeper I go.

Sat in the car reading instructions, assembling it part by part, strictly according to instructions, one step at a time. I'm in a world there completely foreign to any world I know. Not completely foreign. Let's just say I don't know the language. It's familiar, like nearly everybody has one, and simple to operate. It's so simple it's just right. Makes it possible for me to deal with it in my indifferent attitude toward the tsunami of hi-tech gadgets we can't live without now. In Polanski's film, Carnage, the lawyer who has alienated his wife with his cell phone fell to pieces on the floor when she dunked his blackberry in water. "My life is in there!!!" The women fell out laughing and couldn't stop laughing, loosened somewhat by some liquor mid-day, and the man lay on the floor practically in convulsions. I couldn't laugh so hard because I wasn't as mad at him as they were. I just saw him as one of those people I'm glad I don't know. People jumping out of their skin from anxiety and stressed to the max make me nervous. Ambition has never been one of my driving forces. One day many years ago reading in the discourses of Sri Upasni Maharaj it rang the bell within when he recommended living without ambition. I wondered about its meaning for some years, yet at the same time saw it straight-forward and obvious, about as direct as know thyself.

Because I've lived my adult life without ambition, I've got nowhere. The Buddhist ideal: nobody going nowhere. The art of Andy Goldsworthy. A red leaf floating down a stream among rocks covered in moss. Flowing with the Tao, the Way, the way of the birds, the way of the ants, the way of all life on earth in evolution to the forebrain that gave the hairless ape the curiosity to leave the shelter of the trees. From there on, look what we've done. We're in a place in civilization when it's probably as good as it has ever been, yet at the same time gives cause to declare it the worst of times. Along my way working at outdoor labor jobs like caretaking a farm and house painting, I've felt no ambition to be a contractor, hire people to work for me, get big jobs, big money, big office, big name, hotdogs forever in heaven. I have spent my life in a world of people who want to be looked upon with favor by them from on high. The great American smile always makes me see a children's market in China, I'm nice, I'll cook for you, I'll scrub floors for you, wash your clothes, I'm nice. That's what I've come to see ambition reduces one to. Ambition involves selling self, selling time, selling attention.

In a time of wanting to climb the art gallery ladder, I was told in seriousness to paint primitives of nigger kids playing around a school house. That's what people want. She blew my circuits. I didn't know there was anyone in the civilized world that ignorant. It pushed me over the edge. In another gallery situation, I was invited to show things to the top dog who complained that they were too much of a kind, not enough variety. On the wall of the gallery at the very moment was a show of one tree in landscape over and over, same landscape, same tree, over and over all the way through the gallery. I left the place making vows to myself. Before I was out of Raleigh I saw a big pink Buick of about 20 years old with a tag on the front that said Love God. That set me to laughing and my dark mood went away like a hat flying up through a sunroof. Got with a hot dog gallery for a year and brought everything home because I couldn't stand the drive the Chapel Hill once a month, for Christmas parties, for openings, and being treated like the truck driver when I show up. Didn't paint for ten or more years after that.

Scott Freeman set me in motion again, this time on the only track I've found that is right for me. He asked me to paint a picture for the album cover he used on his fiddle album. Working on that picture brought me back. By then I had discovered the artist in the mountain musician, and saw that music was the only art form in mountain culture, and preaching. Preaching the old time way was an art form. The mountain musician isn't ambitious about fortune and fame. The mountain musician makes music for the joy of making music. He likes to get paid, but will make music for gas money. The musicians are more interested in their own skill than anything else. Also, "making it plain." That means make it straight-forward what it is. In music making, it's note for note, no effort to draw attention to the banjo picker, but to the banjo keeping rhythm and playing tenor to the fiddle. The style of playing is to honor the tune not the musician. In my paintings now I want them to honor the mountain musicians. I paint "plainly" in a realism easy to interpret. I've adopted the principles of mountain music for my painting of mountain musicians. It's the best principles I've ever operated by. They are sound principles, like find your own style, don't make a spectacle of self. It's the art the creation is about, not the artist. The artist is about giving expression to the art form, manifesting it.


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