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Monday, December 30, 2013

DONKEY TRUST

jack starts to bray


I look out the window at grazing donkeys. Jenny is rubbing her neck in the fork of the dogwood tree. The woman I bought her from told me she liked having her neck rubbed. I wonder how long the dogwood can live with the equines and the bovines rubbing on it. That fork in the tree is at the perfect height for them. It's like the tree is made for donkey rubbing. The tree stands in a circle of hoof prints in soft ground. Jenny is giving herself a good scratching. The woman I bought her from, whose name I don't know, told me when she bought Jenny, she had a bad case of fleas. She took care of the infestation by covering Jenny in used motor oil, the country cure. Works on mange too. When it's too expensive for the vet to cure, working people have to find their own ways. I'd like to go into the meadow and take some photos of Jenny scratching, or make video, but I know as soon as she hears my door open, she'll start walking toward me. Even if I'm quiet with the door, she sees me the moment I step outside, wherever she is in the meadow. When I think of what Jenny has been through, getting here from there and living with a rapist, I forget that she's had her entire body soaked in old motor oil. Donkeys, like cats and dogs, are vain about their appearance. Every animal is. Every bird is. They are literally grooming when they lick their pelt. I can't imagine Jenny's misery smelling old oil all the time, that nasty mess all over her body. And it stayed on her until it wore off with time and weather. I'm sure she preferred fleas. There, she did not have a place where she could wallow on her back in dirt to cover herself with dust for insect repellent.
 
jack brays
 
 
Jenny and Jack were both in good moods this morning when I went to them with hay. I walked through the gate and they greeted me with eye contact. Jenny walked by my side out into the meadow. I put some hay down for her and she started eating. Jack came over and Jenny grunted a warning on the verge of threat, a short, sharp grunt. I spread some hay for Jack and occupied him. Here come the calves. I spread some hay for them and they were happy. I went back to Jenny. The temperature was around 45, the ground mostly dry, so I sat down beside the hay she was munching, leaned to the side on one elbow and talked with her, face to face, not talking down to her, but on the same plane. I feel like this is how I communicate with them best. I had not yet felt enough trust with Jenny to sit down beside her eating. I took advantage of the warm day to celebrate the new trust. I feel like we've reached a place where we can trust each other. I was within easy reach of her hay. She munched along, our eyes together. I talked to her, telling her I'm happy she's here, which I tell her every day. I think of it as verbal affection. I feel like she takes it for such. They love to hear us talk, and they know what we're saying, by tone of voice, eyes, body language, if not by telepathy too. The relaxed calm I saw in Jenny's eye and her munching told me we have come to mutual trust. Good. Gaining her trust is a giant leap in getting to know Jenny as an individual. Jack appears to feel no apprehension when I'm nearby. While Jack was munching, I rubbed his rump and back legs. He stops grazing when I rub his legs. It's like it puts him into a meditation-like focus, relaxes him way down. While I had him close by, I put my right arm around his neck and gave him a hug. I stood beside him and bumped him a little bump on his side to say, Hi. He went back to grazing and I returned to the human barn.
 
jack continues to bray
 
 
I've been reviewing my comfort with Jack and Jenny, watching it evolve separately, though similarly, from being apprehensive in the first days to step into the meadow with Jack, and  then Jenny later. We didn't know each other. I took Jack a couple of carrots in the afternoon. The first week, I handed them to him through the gate. The day I felt like he took me for a friendly, after our brief experience, I stepped inside the gate to give him the carrot. He seemed happy I'd joined him. For a week or two I just stood with him inside the gate. I'd never been around equines and had no idea what to expect. I asked Jack to teach me donkey. By now, half a year later, or less, as I look back, I see he has taught me a very great deal. I've asked Jenny to be my teacher too. After I'd known Jack inside the meadow a short time, he was letting me touch him. I'd run my hand the length of his back, rub the side of his neck, rub his legs. I was a bit hesitant about being touchy-feely with an Equus. Then I saw his dinger was lengthening. Oh shit. I stepped back, held both hands up in a Halt gesture, and said, not in a scolding way, "This isn't what we're about, Jack. We're not going there." The swelling went away immediately and it has never happened again, not one time, not even a suggestion. This was my first clue the donkeys can understand what I'm saying verbally. By now, both Jack and Jenny have shown me so many times they know what I am saying, that I just tell them what I need them to know, taking it for granted they get it. I'm finding these donkeys have the intelligence of a really smart dog and a smart child.
 
jack concludes his bray
 
 
My friend Justin and his wife, Crystal, have a couple of little girls, six and two and a half. The oldest one, of course, picks at the younger one uncontrollably. So little one has learned to take care of herself and takes charge of the situation saying, Stop it Sissie! And she means it. Then she leaves and goes her own way to whatever is next, that does not include Sissie. Crystal and I were talking last week and laughing about the kids. I said to her, "They're donkeys." We laughed and laughed at how the two kids and the two donkeys behaved so much alike together. Vada, the younger one, is now talking in sentences. She's completely skipped one word at a time talking. Of course, she started with single words, but about the time you'd expect her to start relating words to one another and figuring out how to make a sentence of all the words, Vada skipped that step. She just started talking in sentences. She doesn't know how to articulate a lot of the words she means, but it doesn't slow her down. She talks to me now as if I understand her clearly, the way little girls talk to their dolls, and I do intuit her clearly when I don't know most of the words. I have always talked to her like she intuits meaning, which I learned from pets I've lived with. A young child has very similar intelligence to a cat, dog or donkey. I believe it is at least a part of what attracts dogs or cats to human babies. A human without guile. Crystal and I sat on the basement steps having a cigarette time-out, laughing our bellies sore seeing the kids and donkeys developing the same. They fight and fuss if they get too close. Toys are MINE! They also have affection for each other that the fussing doesn't change. The annoying behavior is still a form of communication and affection. Jack and Jenny walk along side-by-side comfortably. From me staying out of the meadow in Jenny's first weeks to sitting beside her while she's grazing, talking to her, makes a good measure of the evolution of our inter-species friendship over a few months.
 
jack and jenny welcome the ice cream man
 
 
*
 
    

Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE DAY THE DONKEYS BELLOWED LIKE BEARS

jenny in her don't-come-near-me stance

Mid afternoon I took some "sweet grain" to the livestock. I thought I had it made putting it in a big plastic gallon container with handle and lid. I could carry it into the field without anybody smelling it. I thought I could carry it to a part of the field with less hoof prints and donkey mounds, pour some on the ground for each one. They all love the grain way out of bounds. Jenny came at me with her ears back, her neck beside me as I walked, her moving in on me pushing. She was walking in the way that says she's light on her feet and might start kick dancing at any time. She wanted the grain. At a certain point, delay was no longer possible. Before she took the container away from me, I poured some on the ground for her. What an explosion that little gesture set off. Suddenly a big roar like a bear, a rough roar that had a grunt in it, a big blow of wind like a Plains buffalo. It was the growl of something enormous. It had an urgency in it that said this is the last warning. Jack had walked up in a hurry, as crazy about the grain as Jenny is. Jenny let out this buffalo snort, swung her ass end around at me so fast it was there before I knew it. I stepped back to give her room. She nailed Jack with both back feet, a full body blow, while I watched, not two feet away. It wasn't a nudge. Jack danced back out of her range. She growled again, this time at me. I said, "C'mon Jack," and walked out of Jenny's range with Jack all over me trying to knock the container out of my hand. I poured some on the ground for him. He went at it, his ears back, his rear end moving toward me, jealous of his grain. He let out the same loud blow with grunt and growl in it as Jenny, sounding like a bear. I'd never heard them make that sound.
 
jack telling me with his ears and eye to stay back
 
The calves started getting anxious for some grain, both of them coming at me between Jenny and Jack. Big mistake. Jenny and Jack redirected them in a hurry with kicks and the  growl that says in no uncertain terms, get outa here. Both Jenny and Jack had their ears back and legs set to spring at any second. I took the calves to a place far enough from Jenny and Jack they might have some peace.The first one to me was rougher than Jenny and Jack wanting the grain. Not intentionally were they rough, but they don't have much coordination, both had been taken from their mothers way too early, didn't have time to learn anything from mama, so they amount to what appears to me an empty consciousness with no mental development but for each other and the donkeys that ignore them with complete indifference. They didn't give me time to pour two piles for them, so I dumped all that was left in a pile and moved away from them quickly. They're heavy. I even suspect one of them to be a retarded child because it was taken from mama too soon after being born. I haven't told you much about the calves because they are a heartbreak for me. They're charming and tremendously ignorant in relation to a donkey's intelligence. I feel sorrow for them every day. I'm letting a friend raise the calves in the meadow to sell them in February and make some money. Not much, gas money for a dually pickup. Minutes after I'd poured the grain for the calves, Jenny trotted over to them, nose forward, ears back, walked in between them, pushed them aside and ate from their pile. Jack went to Jenny's first pile and the calves went to Jack's.
 
the calves
 
Rural America has been in Depression since the year 2000. The mountain people have always lived in economic Depression, the reason the men buy and sell to make money. It's the only way you can make good money in the working class. Hunting is important. People have freezers where deer meat is kept through the year after hunting season. And new antler racks go up on the wall in the mancave. I don't hunt and don't kill anything by intent. I dodge wollyworms. Roadkill I often can't avoid, like when a possum darts under the back wheel. I'll stop for a squirrel running back and forth unable to decide which way to go. When a squirrel does that in front of me, I think of that crazy Ray Stevens song, The Day The Squirrel Went Berserk, a slap-stick country comedy song that's hilarious. The squirrels make me laugh. I let a friend hunt in my woods, which I've thought of as a minor sanctuary, because I understand his circumstances and want to help him out. As with the calves, I have two acres of meadow, so why not let a friend raise a couple of calves and make a little money. He works all the time and can do things I'm in awe of, like a drive a trailer with a donkey in it up the mountain with tight turns back and forth all the way up. I don't know that I've ever felt impressed by somebody's driving like I did that day riding up the mountain with Jesse hauling the trailer. It was a smooth ride for Jenny. These are good people, people I call my friends, and I want to help them as I'm able. We help each other back and forth as needed. It's rough on young mountain men with families they love with their whole hearts and want their babydolls to have a good life. If it weren't for a woman and the kids, a mountain man could live without need for much. But a mountain man needs family foremost. In my first full year in the mountains, 1978, a song was uber-popular on the country music charts, A Country Boy Will Survive. That's a truth. Mountain boys know they will survive.
 
jenny
 
People who buy and sell animals pay no attention to their consciousness or intelligence or awareness. You can't, really, when you have to regard them as stock. You don't go by what works with one particular animal, but with all of them, like swat one on the face with a stick and it will move. I went to a stockyard with Jesse and Justin when we were looking for a Bethlehem Cross mate for Jack. They know that world intimately. I hated it, couldn't stand it, but forced myself to, because I wanted to see what it was. I don't ever want to go back. They're not mean to the animals, they're just indifferent to their consciousness. I felt like I was in a slave market. The soundtrack was cattle crying. Like I'm unable know a person or an animal without wanting to know who is in there, get acquainted, somebody new to know. Therefore, I'm unable to interact with the calves very much. It would tear my heart out to turn over friends to the McBurger assembly line that amounts to continuing trauma from the time they leave the meadow in a trailer to the time they're killed. I can't do that. I live in a world where that is how it's done. This is how we raise food. Who wants to eat the meat of a retarded cow that never knew its mother? I don't want to eat the meat of even a healthy cow. But I do. I live in the world and this is what we do. I can't be one who proclaims vegetarianism. My first seven years in the mountains I worked as a caretaker of a farm with 23 beef cows. I reconciled myself with being a part of the McBurger assembly line, which I did not like participating in. I called it service to humanity by way of producing food. It's the nature of the world I live in, all the parts too deeply integrated for me to affect. I called the bull Big Mac.
 
stockyard

Though the calves hurt my heart, they'd be kept someplace else if not here, so I am good to them, feed them carrots. There is a little bit of a problem there because the retarded one wants to eat my hand. My whole hand. It has a big mouth. Today I had to pop it on the forehead half a dozen times with the palm of my hand to stop it from pushing through the gate while I was trying to hook the gate. If I were to pop one of the donkeys like that, it would be ten feet away in a blink. The calf kept on coming back. Donkeys startle easy and spring into motion fast as a polo pony. I love to watch the donkeys run. They sometimes play chase, one chases for awhile, then the other chases awhile. I sometimes need to push the calves out of the way, though seldom the donkeys when I walk among them, except when I'm carrying grain. Jenny's first three weeks with Jack, I stayed out of the meadow. They were too unpredictable and I didn't know Jenny. Jack was in such a state Jenny was his mind, totally obsessed. I stayed away from him. Thought the best thing would be to let them get used to each other and settle the kick boxing as only they know how. I like about the donkeys that they still have the wild in them, a little bit. Jenny cutting her shine with me standing right there beside her showed me that I'm not afraid of her anymore. She was kicking at Jack, not me. When she starts, I make a yelp. I holler, "Cut it out, Jen!" and just step out of her way. No need to run or get scared. I had a few seconds of donkey mayhem up close and it didn't startle me. I knew she wasn't going after me. I simply needed to take a step or two out of their way. I like that I can walk through the meadow with a big powerful donkey beside me pushing me and I push back. It becomes fun like walking on a ship at sea after you get used to it. I saw myself today the old hillbilly farmer so familiar with his animals he's comfortable among them, even when they get antsy. It felt good.    
 
 
23
 
 
 
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

THE GRASSY HOLLOW BOYS LIGHT UP THE FRONT PORCH



scott freeman, willard gayheart, mike gayheart
 
Another night of good music from home, acoustic mountain music by Willard Gayheart, guitar, and Scott Freeman, mandolin and fiddle, with Mike Gayheart playing bass. They are calling themselves the Grassy Hollow Boys, Scott and Willard with whoever they can find available for banjo and bass for a given show. They said Jimmy Zeh plays banjo with them, but couldn't make it for this show. They found a banjo player who might make it, but didn't. No problem. Scott and Willard together make the most satisfying shows I've seen and heard there at the Fiddle and Plow Show at Woodlawn, Virginia, in Willard's frame shop and gallery for his extensive collection of pencil drawings of regional people and musicians of the past and present. A second book of Willard's drawings has recently been published. It's his pictures hanging on the walls. Willard and Scott play together at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Parkway once a week, I think Thursdays, during the summer months. Scott is married to Willard's daughter, Jill. He and Willard have made music together at least twenty-five years. They have had bands together, Alternate Roots, a stellar, first-rate bluegrass band of Scott and Willard's own style of bluegrass. And Skeeter and the Skidmarks, disbanded for several years because the banjo player had to leave the area, and when he returned years later, the band is back together. They have been called a "progressive old-time band," and I can't improve that. It's what they do.
 
willard gayheart
 
 
Willard and Scott have been giving concerts at the frame shop, The Front Porch, where they bring out about forty folding chairs for the show. Excellent sound system Scott keeps at a level where it sounds like there is no sound system, but it's easy to hear everything clearly. Tonight's sound was about the best ever. I think Scott has been working with the sound system, fine tuning it. The audience is often less than twenty, and often full. Last time Skeeter played, they had to bring up chairs from downstairs and still there were people standing against the back wall. Wayne Henderson fills the place up too. Full is about fifty. Everybody is comfortable. The people who go every week to almost every week, of which I'm one, all know each other after something like four years of hearing some of the finest music from the Central Blue Ridge every week. We're spoiled. There is no place any of us want to go to hear better music. There isn't any better music. Some more popular, some more dynamic, some more showy, but to my ear, even Willie Nelson's band doesn't compare to Scott and Willard's bands. Back in May I saw Willie Nelson and was struck by what a good band he had, and struck even more that the band was no better than what we hear at Woodlawn on Friday nights. Not less, but not better either. My respect for Scott's and Willard's music is the fullest of any music I have ever loved. They bring in different musicians of the Central Blue Ridge who play for $5 a seat.
 
scott freeman
 
Jeanette Williams has played there I think three times. She won bluegrass music award for best traditional vocalist twice. Her band, Jeanette Williams band, has made about ten albums. She's Nashville bluegrass and says every time she's plays at the Front Porch with maybe fifteen people in the audience that it's her favorite place to play. She gets no more than gas money when she plays there. Her husband, Johnny, is with her and he's fine bluegrass musician and singer on his own. He's recently played with Big Country Bluegrass, one of many he's made music with. It's some high-powered straight-ahead bluegrass when they play. The VW Boys, from Bristol, have played three times, as well. Another auditorium bluegrass band that likes to play at Willard's place for gas money because everyone in the audience listens. No coughing, no getting up and going to the bathroom. It happens, but rarely. Everyone is there for the music, because they love the music, go when they don't know who is playing. We all know that whoever is playing is music we want to hear. This Fiddle and Plow Show can come under the heading, Best Kept Secrets. They don't advertise. People hear about it in their own ways. Scott and Willard open every show with two songs. Going by my own musical taste, I'd rather hear Scott and Willard than any of the people who play there. It wouldn't do to have Scott and Willard every week. But it's great to have them give a show after ten or so by other musicians. It's always refreshing for me when they give a show. Neither Scott nor Willard take any money from it. All the money goes to the guest musicians. Scott and Willard won't have it. It's not what they're about.
 
willard's henderson guitar
 
I've not been able to go for several weeks due to one circumstance and another, and lately because city night driving through Galax blinds me with the bright car lights. This is a new condition of my eyes. Night driving with other cars on the highway gives me a fit anymore visually. It makes me uneasy and I do it less and less. I missed some really good music. And I was glad the show was Willard and Scott. Scott's mandolin is out of this world. The sound system carried Willard's guitar the best I've heard it. Willard sang the songs he loves that I have learned to love hearing him sing them. When It's Nighttime in Nevada, one of my favorites, the Bob Wills Texas Swing song, Won't You Ride In My Little Red Wagon. This show was the best Willard has done that song, one of his I love the most. A lot of the people take it for a children's song, but it's not. It's a beautiful love song. They had a good rhythm going, a kind of Forties big band rhythm Bill Monroe used in his bluegrass that has gone out of bluegrass over the years. Willard and Mike kept the rhythm going at a pace that makes you tap your foot double-time. They played another of my Willard favorites, I Get The Blues When It Rains. It rained when I found you. It rained when I lost you. That's why I get the blues when it rains. Beautiful song, a pop song from the 1920s. He sang several songs of his own composition, Ern and Zorie's Sneakin Bitin Dog, one we love every time we hear it. He sang Hank Williams' song, Mama Tried. To my ear, Willard has made that song his own.  And one of his more recent songs, My Henderson Guitar.
 
mike and willard reflected in the window and mirror
 
Scott played several songs of his composition and sang a Bob Wills song, Roly Poly, a good Western Swing song that Scott performs so well he has made it his own. By made it his own, I mean the way Jimi Hendrix made Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower his own. He played an instrumental on the mandolin of Sweet Georgia Brown that was killer. I don't usually use that word, like awesome, but it fits here. It's the only word. My old banjo pickin friend, Junior Maxwell, would say of Scott that he has found every note there is in a mandolin. He has only said that of Earl Scruggs where the banjo is concerned. I believe if he'd heard Scott picking on every song he played he would have come away from it saying Scott has found them all. Scott would not say that. And maybe Junior would not say it. But I do. I've heard Scott smoke his mandolin such that the others in the band looked at him in awe like, What got into you? That was in an Alternate Roots show at the Blue Ridge Music Center scheduled right after Scott won the mandolin competition at the Wayne Henderson Festival. He was playing the new mandolin he'd won made by Wayne Henderson. He tore it up. Steve Lewis standing beside him playing banjo looked at him like he'd found a hole in the stratosphere and went through it. In the mountain tradition, Scott is not a show-off musician. He just plays music so beautifully he doesn't need to pretty it up with flourishes to draw attention to himself. His musicianship is about addressing the song itself as beautifully as he can make it. Scott and Willard satisfy my ear to the same degree Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys give me musical satisfaction. I feel privileged in a very real way to be one of the people who knows the Fiddle and Plow Show is happening. They are my primary source of music in this time of the life. I feel like I have grown into them over years of listening to every kind of music, educating my ear to the place I can appreciate the music Willard and Scott make.
 
 
willard
 
 
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Friday, December 27, 2013

JENNY EQUINE WOMAN

jack got too close, jenny kicked, jack jumped back


I'm glad it finally came to me to pay attention to Jenny's grief. I've thought plenty about what a rude transition it was for her, taken from her miniature goat friend and herd so roughly by slave traders who forced her very much against her will into the trailer, then the drive up the mountain, tight curves back and forth up the mountain. She was scared, she was mad unto furious. The trailer stopped, two rough men wrestled her out backwards, let her loose in a field just before dark with a jackass rapist suddenly completely out of his mind chasing her, climbing onto her back when she stopped. She ran and ran around in the meadow with this jackass she hadn't even met trying to rape her in a place where she had no idea where she was, and it getting dark. She ran with his chin on her rump, him keeping up with her, her kicking him in the chest with both back feet every four gallops. By morning Jack looked like Mike Tyson after the hardest fight of his life. Jack's face looked swelled a bit from being kicked so much in the head. Just before it was too dark to see, I saw and heard Jenny pop Jack on the chin a knockout punch. It dazed him for about half a second or less. I saw his eyes saying, That one hurt. He walked a little tenderly, too, next morning from being kicked all over his body. His bray amounted to a squeak possibly from being kicked in the neck so much. She worked him over good, and he followed, getting kicked all the way like he was saying: It feels so good when you kick me, Baby. In the first several days, Jack wore himself out attempting rape on a woman who fought back, a woman who wouldn't have it, a woman bigger than him and she knew it, and he was finding out.
 
jenny's rear toward jack, ears down,
 jack watches her back legs
 
 
This was Jenny's introduction to Jack, the meadow and me, within a half hour of her abduction from a life where she was happy. I can't feel bad about taking her away, because she was up for sale and somebody would have bought her. I bought her to be Jack's companion. He was lonesome by himself and I wanted him to have a friend. Her name before was Daisy. I'm one who doesn't like to change a pet's name in the middle of its life. Justin automatically called her Jenny. He's raising some calves with the donkeys. I mentioned I was kind of partial to keeping her former name. He said, "You can call her anything you like. She'll always be Jenny to me." I was fine with that. I like the name Jenny for several reasons, number one being the name for a female donkey, like Jack is for male. They are the very most common names for donkeys in the English speaking world. We tend to like to give our pets unusual names that are unique to the particular pet. I tend that way. I had thought about naming them Tammy and Tyrone. But I also like Jack and Jenny because they are so common, like naming a black cat Midnight. I named my cat friend, who happened to be black, TarBaby, from the Uncle Remus stories. TarBaby sticks to you. I loved TarBaby so much as a kitten I wanted him to stick to me. Also, a song by Sade called TarBaby that is incredibly beautiful. It's the story of a white middle-aged woman given her wild daughter's baby to raise, a mixed race baby. She wasn't too crazy about a chocolate milk baby, but she fell in love with her Tar Baby. One of the most beautiful love songs I know. The last time I saw TarBaby, that I know of, was in a dream where I was in the bed asleep on my back, TarBaby was standing on my chest looking at my face, waking me with his stare. I opened my eyes and he disappeared. The other aspect of Jenny's name I like is the Little Richard song that I still remember all the words to, from fifty-seven years ago, Jenny Jenny. It was one of Little Richard's great rockers like Good Golly Miss Molly and Long Tall Sally.
 
the cross on jenny's back
 
 
It took about all Jenny's physical energy as well as mental energy to deal with her new situation. For weeks they were playing mind games obsessively all the time, like a poker game that goes on for days and days. Jenny was entirely focused on keeping Jack off her back, whatever it took, and Jack's focus was getting on Jenny's back, whatever it took. Their first full day together, she kicked him all day long, all over the meadow, all over his body. He acted like it was nothing. Her kick on his chest with both hooves at once would have sent me over the moon. He didn't pay it any more mind than if it were a cow mooing. Next day, he started kicking back. Third day, Jack was the aggressor in the kick dance. The next day he clamped down on the back of her neck and bent her to his will. I saw what he was doing in amazement. I didn't know how stallions took their mares. It seemed so like Mongol culture and Ottoman culture, which led me to believe they derived their cultures from closeness with horses. Mongols rode horses all day, lived with herds of horses, and treated their women after horse behavior. I began to see how important the equines were in the evolution of civilization, not simply as modes of transportation, but psychic influences too. Watching Jack break Jenny down and force her to let him climb on her back sent a shock wave through all my human rights thinking, feminine equality of intelligence and everything else. It's not cool anymore for men to treat their women as horses do, but it hasn't been this way for very long. I had to remind myself that Jenny is every bit as much a part of this dance as Jack. It is automatic in both of them. They are equines from the other side of the great leap in consciousness from four-leggeds to two-leggeds. I cannot try to understand them from this side of that leap in consciousness with any success. I can understand them to some extent, but not as they understand each other. 
 
jack walking
 
 
Their behavior goes unimaginably far back in our evolution. Equus Africanus asinus. I'm guessing they got their name, Ass, because they kick from behind, from the ass. One of the first aspects of donkey I learned from Jack was his awareness of everything behind as much as everything in front of him. Its like his eyes are as much in the rearview mirror as on the road. He was aware of his whole body with the same sensitivity behind as in front. As both a defensive gesture and offensive, the donkeys swing their ass around to whatever the perceived threat. Yesterday morning when Jack was taking his turn to be the jealous one over the hay, he followed me with his rear end as I walked by behind him. I walked close to him intentionally to see how he would handle it. Not the first impulse in his legs to kick. He was just following me because he was feeling defensive, hungry and jealous for his food, "Mine!" I knew (believed) Jack would not kick me. His ears were back and his knees together like they get before they spring. He followed me with his ass end like his rump had eyes. I find it a fascinating characteristic in donkeys. I'm learning how to read their warnings and what their kicks mean. I'm comfortable in among them up close, bumping and pushing, with some understanding of their warnings. Jenny's kicks have eased from knockout punches to nudges like an elbow nudge, to what she's doing now, back feet cocked, ready to kick, hopping up and down. I'm feeling like a few more months, about the time she has come out the other end of her grief, she'll have Jack trained and she won't even be hopping up and down pretend kicking. Except for when she does. I'm saying she won't feel so defensive. She'll be at home. Her goat friends and her human friends from the past will be a happy memory.
 
jenny's ears
 
 
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

DONKEY LOVE

 
jenny munching morning hay, ears back
 

I've been taking camera to the meadow in my shirt pocket during this ten day period of Daily Creative Practice. Every day I look for new ways to photograph a donkey. That's limited, because I can only get them eating. At this moment, I can see Jenny out the window rubbing her neck on the dogwood tree. She's showing me where she likes to be rubbed. Behind the ears and the upper neck is where she allows being touched. She's giving herself some good rubbing. Talking yesterday with Justin, a local guy who understands horses very well, he suggested that Jenny is probably still in grief after her kidnapping and release in a field with a rapist. She had a woman friend before, who loved her. She told me Jenny's characteristics in brief, and it really was Jenny she was talking about. Jenny lived in a big pen with twenty or so miniature goats. One of them was her friend, they were together all the time. I hated taking her away from her goat friend, because I know the four-leggeds have friends and they love their friends. Jenny had a happy life, Queen of the goats. I'd thought of the possibility of Jenny's grief, but didn't study it. I'm working slowly with Jenny with respect for her loss. One day I got down with her, eye to eye, and asked how she felt about living with Jack. She said, He's ok. She likes him, but she doesn't love him. She hasn't had time to love him. I've found in myself a grief lasts about six months. No point trying to shorten the time, because only denial can shorten it. I've found every grief I've gone through has been a great learning experience, fast track. I've learned to embrace grief and allow it to do its work. The grief keeps the spirit of the lost one alive within. Wake up one morning, the grief is gone, then I miss the grief, the last little bit of connection. From then on its just a memory among many.  
 
jenny munching, ears up
 
 
Jenny has been with me and Jack about half the time it takes a grief to fade into the memory. I've been respecting it in her without paying much attention to it. I forget her little goat friend. As I read her getting used to Jack and liking me as her friend, I'm also seeing her grief wane. She has whole new circumstances to get used to. Everything in her life changed. Again. Perhaps her need to be the donkey in charge is a way of, as we say, getting a grip. Everything and everybody is new and different. She needs to keep her equilibrium somehow, whatever it takes. If it means you have to keep a teenage jackass off your back, that's what you do. I think of girls in the old world way of living, esp in Asia, where a girl was sold by her parents to the highest bidder. One day she's taken from the only life she knows and is keeping house for a rapist and raising his children, slave to her mother in law. She never sees parents or siblings again. Jenny is in that place now, sold for $200, a slave penned up with a rapist, but praise God, a gentle hearted rapist. Jack is a naturally gentle soul. I feel like it will be another three months before I can know Jenny as she is in herself, after she has her world figured out and becomes comfortable with her donkey companion and her new human. I told Justin about Jenny's jealous behavior earlier in the day and taking the hay away from me. He told me I need to carry a stick, a walking stick, with me into the meadow, so when she acts like that, smack her, she'll cut it out. My entire interior being was screaming in shock at the thought of hitting her, while I kept a straight face. I'm in a culture that does not share my feelings about animals, doesn't believe they have souls, believes killing them is the same as nothing. I don't try to change them. They allow me my way of seeing, because I allow them theirs.
 
note the line on jenny's back runs down her tail
 
 
Justin was concerned that she might knock me down one day and stomp me to death. In my mind, that was so far from the realm of possibility I couldn't even entertain it. All I could say was, Jenny doesn't have it in her. If I went at her with a stick for pushing me like she does another donkey, hell yeah, she'd attack me. I've witnessed her kicking change over the time she's been here. At first it was to connect a mind-numbing blow. By now, she doesn't kick so much as hop up and down in back as a warning. The kicking is all defensive. I give her nothing to be defensive about. Yesterday, when she was in a mood from it being bone-chilling cold all night, probably didn't sleep a wink on account of the cold, hungry, freezing all night, needing something to warm her blood in a hurry, she wanted the hay right now. Not over there, here. I got what she was saying. When she pushes me, I let her. It doesn't hurt. She knows not to knock me down. I'll always remember the eye she gave me yesterday first thing when I stepped through the gate that said, "If you weren't my friend, I'd knock you down." Though we've not bonded yet, like Jack and I have, this moment told me the time is near. Possibly when her grief is over. I don't need to hurry it. I've learned from dogs and cats along the way that they love us way more intensely than we love them. Anyway, they want to if we'll allow it, recognize it. I felt like what she was saying was I want to knock you down, but I won't because I believe you wouldn't knock me down. I believe if I'd had a history of hitting her with a stick she would have knocked me down that moment. Then I'd have to be afraid of her.
 
and jack's line runs down his tail
 
 
The donkeys have taught me that they pay close attention. They read faces, eyes, tone of voice and body language, plus they use telepathy which we have to relearn how to use. I speak to them and look at them lovingly. I move around them lovingly by not flailing my arms about unconsciously. They are wary of unpredictable human arms. It's like our arms are a curious mystery to them. I mostly keep my hands behind my back or occupied holding something when I talk to them eyeball to eyeball. I want my mind focused in my loving feeling for them, in my delight that they are here with me. I tell them both daily I love them and I'm happy they're here living with me. They understand what I'm saying. It relaxes them immediately. I'm recalling when Jack was new, came here from a meadow with cattle, we were nervous of each other for awhile. In the nervous time, he challenged me a couple of times to see how I would react. I would walk into the meadow and he would come walking toward me. At about fifty feet he would recognize my face, start braying and running all out and stop in front of me. One day when he recognized me, I saw a twinkle in his eye that said, "I'm gonna do it." He had a trick in mind. He came galloping at me like setting out on a race, ran right up to my face and stopped with his nose a few inches from my chest, his feet planted firmly in front of mine. He looked at me like to say I'd surprised him. He expected me to jump and I didn't. I was thinking, If he knocks me down, he knocks me down, but I don't believe he will. A couple more times he ran at me like that and did a turn when his feet were inches from my feet, a polo pony turn to his left, laughing like crazy at his trick. I was impressed. I am not going to carry a stick into the meadow. I've learned to love them and let love do the training. I'm seeing it work out in both donkeys, one at a time. It's a truth: love loves love.     

jack shows the line that makes the cross on his back
 
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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

DONKEYS AND STABLES




Christmas morning, the sun casts long tree shadows over the ground of last year's grass the color of beach sand. Rhododendron leaves are curled up tight as cigarillos, telling a temperature below 20. In the mornings when I get up, I can look out the window at the rhododendron leaves and know the temperature. They curl up looking like green cigars at 32. Below 20 they tighten up. They look like green pencils hanging when temperature is down around zero. I woke not long after sunrise this morning, thought about rolling over and inviting sleep to descend again, but thought of Jack and Jenny in the very freezing cold, waiting for the human to bring some breakfast to warm their blood. I sat straight up, put on my outdoor jacket, shoes, gloves and hat. Pre-donkeys I'd have gone back to sleep. Now, they are the first entry in my mind when I wake. In my mind's eye they were out there shivering, pleading for me to bring them some hay. I stepped out the door, saw Jenny and Jack waiting at the gate. Jack set to braying. I try to match his note and sing with him. I walked up to him singing his note, face to face. When he stopped, I reached over the fence and put my hand on his forehead. I'm glad they had a day of sunlight to dry their wet hair between the rain and the cold. Something on a donkey website said  they're hyper-sensitive to cold. People I know familiar with donkeys say they handle the cold well. It's not like they're given a great deal of choice.  
 
jack's nose
 
Jack and Jen appear to me fairly comfortable in the cold. Yesterday, rubbing Jack's legs, I noticed below the knees his legs were freezing. I thought of myself sitting here at the desk with feet freezing on the cold floor and legs cold up to the knee. It's uncomfortable for me. Jack never gets a relief from it. His feet touch the cold ground all day and night. Before thinking, I rubbed his lower right front leg until he lifted it enough to tell me that's enough. I was thinking a warm hand on his freezing leg might be a comfort. Maybe his legs are so used to the cold, a warm hand was uncomfortable. Or maybe he was just saying that's enough. Donkeys don't like to linger a feeling like we humans do, who try to make a moment last, say we gotta do this again. Going through the gate with half a bale of hay in my arms, the donkeys wouldn't move back from the gate. I had to push Jack aside to get in. I looked out the window just now and saw Jenny with her head up looking at the road. A neighbor's yellow and white dog was walking down the road. Jenny started walking toward the dog and Jack went with her, both of them watching the dog. Jen the protector. She'll make a good mother. The dog walked on down the road with donkeys watching until it left their view. Jack wanted a bite of hay, so I let him take some. Jenny wanted to take some hay and I let her. She had a look in her eye that said if I wasn't her friend, she'd knock me down. I was a little apprehensive walking out into the meadow, listening to their footsteps on the frozen ground behind me. It felt like Jenny was a bit hormone driven this morning, or something.
 
 
jenny left
 
About half as far as I intended to carry the hay, Jenny stepped up walking beside me, pushed me to put the hay down. And meaning it. I attempted to walk a little further, but she wasn't having it. Put the hay down now. Her ears were back and her rear end jumped up when Jack came within kicking range. I dropped all the hay, intending to pick up sections of it and spread it around. Jenny wouldn't let me touch it. Jack came up to have a bite and she swung her rear end on him, her back end hopping up and down, back feet cocked to kick. I watched her closely, because it looked like I was a target today, too. I thought I'd see if she'd let me take some of the hay. She swung her behind around ready to let me have it. I put my hand on her rump and pushed her aside, using the momentum of the push to quicken my exit from her kicking range. Her kicking was not an attack, but a defensive gesture telling everybody to stay back, this is Jenny's hay. Jack stepped over to me and I put my hand on his back, ran my hand along the dark chocolate line down the middle of his back to his tail. I looked at the bristled hair of his mane, fascinated to have such intimate access to an African herd animal that I can pet him, look into his eyes, take hold of a leg to look at his hoof, and best of all, have this chance to know such a being. I think it wildly impressive that the Bush people of southern Africa go back 200,000 years. Donkeys go back as far as horses, a very long way back. Donkeys have places in the very most ancient stories from the early phases of civilization. I might want to reread Carlo Collodi's children's novel, Pinocchio, to review the donkey's role in that beautiful story of becoming a real human being.
 
jack left
 
I've seen reference to "legend" somebody made up for the convenience of the symbolism that a Bethlehem Cross donkey got the cross on its back because Jesus rode one into Jerusalem. Another story says it is the donkey Mary rode to Egypt and back. A fundamentalist woman I know told me it's true the donkey got the cross from Jesus riding it. I said, "Genetics doesn't work like that." While speaking it, I knew this was going nowhere, changed the subject fast as I could think of something, anything. I don't even think she knew the word genetics; watches Faux tv and believes science is evil. I can believe the breed of donkey got its name, Bethlehem Cross, because Jesus rode a donkey and the symbolism made a good story. Jesus wasn't born on December 25 either, but it makes a good story. I can believe, for sure, that three God-realized men from India made a journey on camels, probably by caravan, and possibly separate caravans, the only safe way to travel in those days and part of the world, some time within baby's first year or so. I can believe the angels were having a fit over the baby. Probably the donkeys, horses, camels, too, felt a certain stillness within. Animals are inclined automatically toward babies, ie, Tarzan, lost human baby raised by apes. There are accounts of human babies raised by wolves. Probably down through time there are many such cases unknown, possibly even from kidnappings. My feeling is the animals in the Bethlehem stable felt a reverence that a human baby was among them. For somebody in the vicinity who saw angels, the sky must have been alight with them, something like the Milky Way. I loved it when the old boy Simeon saw the baby and said in his language, Now I can leave the body satisfied mine eyes have seen.
 
 
jack in front
 
The Bethlehem stable had to have donkeys in it for the symbolism of humility. Easily done; it likely had more donkeys than anything else. The human form to be the essence of humility was among them in the most humble time of this human's life, who would live humble as a baby and receive his fate humble as a baby. Ever thought about what the floor in a beast of burden hotel is made of? And everything from the waist down covered with? It's interesting to me to see the nature of God is humility, the humility of a baby born in a hay-lined trough in a nasty old stable, no midwife, no pot of boiling water, no nothing, definitely not FDA approved. A hymn playing in my mind's jukebox, He'll always say, I forgive. Wow. We're looking for God in heroes, in belief systems, in visions, in spiritual feelings, on and on as far as the human mind can figure, when God lives in our own humility. When Donkey Jack is not driven by the brain between his back legs, he is so noticeably humble, it was the first characteristic I saw in him. Jenny has humility too. It's just in a different personality. It's only been in the last days to weeks that she's been allowing Jack within biting range. They're doing donkey-to-donkey business that is none of mine. I've been seeing them draw closer to one another as time goes by. These pictures I got of them close together is a new experience. She has Jack trained to stay off her back such that she doesn't need to be watching him all the time. She leads the way and Jack follows. Jenny's fit over the hay didn't last very long. After a short time-out with Jack, I stepped in to take some of the hay, not threatening to touch the part she was eating from. She let me take the hay without an issue, whatever. This is not to say she didn't watch me with an eye that reminded me she's fast. I spread the hay around for everybody, out of Jenny's kicking range. I went to walk around Jenny and her rear end followed me all the way, ears back, donkey warning. I walked on a little bit out of range and said, Merry Christmas to you, too.   

donkey jen
 
 
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

DONKEY JENNY'S MEADOW

jack after his appointment at the donkey hair styling barn

I'm living the farm experience every day. Wake up this morning, it's raining lightly after all night rain, some of it rough. Put on the jacket, the hat and the barnyard shoes, go out into the weather, whatever it is, pick up some hay, slip and slide over the entrance to the meadow where they like to gather and wait for the barnyard waiter to notice they're waiting. I go out the door and Jack cuts loose with a bray, mouth open, tongue and teeth showing, eyes sparkling. If they're off in the meadow when I go out, he will walk toward me and when his eyes focus on who it is at about fifty feet, his friend, the neck extends forward, his head points straight forward, lip curls up, teeth and gums show and he gives the bray all he's got. It's a donkey joyful noise. He makes a bee-line to me with his nose wanting to smell my hand or clothes first thing to confirm sight and sound with scent. I call, "Donkey Jack," to him to identify myself by sound. I'm thinking it's about fifty feet that Jack's eyesight can see a face clearly enough. That's the point where he sometimes starts running with neck forward, chin close to the ground, his face twisted up in a high whistling inbreath, Hee, followed by a long exhalation of Haaaaaauuw. It's the original horn. The H is definitely there. Hee-Haw is correct phonetic spelling of the sound. It's a comic sound that automatically fills me with delight. Sometimes he brays when a car goes by. Neighbors love hearing Jack bray when they pass on the road. I do too. Sometimes I think he brays just to be singing. I'll hear him during the day sometimes cut loose with a long honk and it cracks me up every time.
 
jenny sez, hello in there
 
I have a feeling Jenny cannot bray. I've heard some very poor attempts at making a bray that was not Jack's voice. I've never seen Jenny bray. I think I've only heard her attempt a bray three times. I see her watch Jack closely when he cuts loose with a bray. I don't know if braying might be gender specific, like roosters and crowing. I'll look into that. My guess would be that both jacks and jens are able to bray. Don't know. So much is different between the two characteristic of gender, it puts me in awe to discover their natures as two sides of the same coin. With only Jack to go by, I'd have access to only one half of the full circle that is donkeyness. I suspect size has something to do with their differences too. I feel like Jenny is the Alpha because she's the biggest. She feels to me, too, like she feels an urgency to keep intruders out of their meadow. The protector. She's possessive. She's a jealous woman. She's a little girl who holds her doll close, saying, "Mine!" Jenny eats with her ears back, telling the others to stay away from her mound of hay. She'll munch awhile at her hay, then she'll take a few steps with her ears back to Jack's hay where he's grazing. She noses him out of the way and he walks to another bunch of hay. It strikes me as possibly equine dominance behavior. If Jack were the biggest, he'd be doing it. The privilege of size. This is something else we humans think we have transcended with civilization, but have not.  
 
wet jack's back
 
Jack lived here about three months or more before Jenny arrived. Jack and I bonded in that time. I can walk around behind him and know he won't kick me. Today I walked around Jenny close behind her believing she would not kick. I watched her legs to see if ever an impulse made a muscle twitch. No. She watches me talk to Jack and rub his legs, drape my arms around his neck. Then she wants me to be familiar with her, too, not so much as to touch her legs, but rub behind her ears where she scratches herself on the dogwood tree and she likes to feel my fingertips run through the hair on her forehead. If she doesn't see me petting on Jack first, she doesn't want me touching her. Jenny and I have not had a chance to bond yet. We're close. I've only recently reached a place where I can sit down or lie down on the ground near her with confidence I won't be stepped on or kicked. Donkeys are like reverse kangaroos. Jenny seems to be settling down a little bit in her kicking Jack. I'm wondering what it means. Yesterday I saw him inadvertently side up too close to her and she went into what would have been a kicking fit. This time it was contained. It amounted to her rear jumping up and down several times and the back legs cocked to kick, but not kicking. Just hopping up and down like a warning. I read it for self control by her own will. Now that she has Jack apprized of the fact that Jenny is the matriarch of the meadow, Alpha Donkey, she doesn't have to be so rough on him. It has been a long struggle by her to take charge of Jack so he's not trying to climb on her back all the time like the serial rapist that he is by nature. I've an idea that a time or two when I've not been around they've had a fight that determined the hierarchy.
 
jenny after her appointment at the donkey hair styling barn
 
Jenny has muscled me about a few times, nothing threatening, just taking charge of me. I cannot carry a bowl of grain past her without giving it to her  immediately. If I don't, she'll jerk the bowl out of my hands and the grain will fly all over the ground. Rather than struggle against her, I put it down for her and take the one for Jack in my other hand a little ways from Jenny, because Jack will take it away from me too, just not as fast as Jenny will. This is how they would treat each other. It's how I want them to treat me. I don't want to be the Alpha. I'm happy to leave that to Jenny. She's not abusive with it. She is the first to see me when they are at the other end of the meadow. She's wide awake. I don't want to compromise her role in the meadow. I'm in the meadow a brief amount of time per day. I'm the visitor. The meadow is their home. I'm feeling that Jenny is settling into her new life she did not choose for herself, the life of a slave, sold from master to master. She has an intelligent mind. She assesses things closely, she pays close attention. Jenny is up and alert at all times. Jack drifts about, makes no waves. I get the feeling he doesn't like being smaller than Jenny. Though when it comes time to take charge of her, Jack doesn't need any help. Today I gave them carrots side by side. In the past I've had to give them the carrots both arm's reach apart to keep them from kicking. Their mouths were merely a foot apart while I handed them the carrots. No kicking, no grunts, no snorts, just carrot munching. I want them to work out their relationship without interference of human mind saying it hadn't oughta be one way or another. They look up to us human beings in such a big way that I can't abuse such adoration with harm and regret. I'm bonding with them by getting to know them, by talking to them like they have some sense, keeping them knowing I am aware of their consciousness, by communicating with them consciousness to consciousness, by keeping them aware that I am happy to have them for my friends. We don't need language. 
 
jenny sez, y'all come back and see me
 
 
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Monday, December 23, 2013

A POEM BY LUCAS CARPENTER







          NODADATHING

          Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich



          Nothing helps.

          Nothing matters.

          Nothing remains.

          Nothing lasts.

          (Nothing more,

          Nothing less.)

          Nothing is free.

          Nothing is simple.

          Nothing is impossible.

          Nothing works.

          (Nothing ventured,

          Nothing gained.)

          Nothing happened.

          Nothing doing.

          Nothing for me.

          You?



                     --- Lucas Carpenter

          from his book  of poemsThe Way Things Go


kurt schwitters


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Sunday, December 22, 2013

CYCLES AND THE WIDENING GYRE

yayoi kusama
 
Today, the winter solstice was a still day of light fog with about fifty yard visibility. Trees in the foreground were dark and wet, and the trees faded into the fog with distance. The foreground had a white background like a watercolor. Light breeze rang the windchimes in sequences of four and five different notes every time. A good day to be at home with no schedule and nothing pressing. A good day to stare out the window in silence with empty mind and see familiar landscape as watercolor. A good day for a long winter's nap. A good day to ride a dugout canoe through a swamp in Botswana with author Laurens van der Post in his 1958 account of searching for the Bushmen, THE LOST WORLD OF THE KALAHARI. I'd read this several years ago, probably around 40. A few weeks ago I saw the documentary film, THE JOURNEY OF MAN, tracing DNA back to the original people on earth. It went back to the Bush people of the southern part of Africa, who are living in the Kalahari desert in this time because people all around them want to kill them. They're little and they're different, so kill them, the mind we like to believe we rise above in civilization, but never do. Sometimes I feel like this is the very mind that guides civilization. However, that's serving a temptation to take something incomprehensively complex, simplify it into a word or two and pat myself on the back for saying something erudite. I returned to van der Post after learning the Bush people of the Kalahari are the original humans we all come from. They have lived in the southern part of Africa for something like 200,000 years. What we call civilization goes back less than 10,000 years.
 
yayoi kusama
 
I've recently learned a word for my view of the world. The word is, apocaloptimist, someone whose vision of the near future is waxing worse and worse, and whose vision of the distant future is that everything will work out just right. We're in a difficult time in civilization, perhaps the most difficult ever, and perhaps the greatest renascence since classical times. Making sculpture of human forms changed from standing straight up with arms straight down to sitting, lying down, standing in varieties of postures, walking, running, realistic in the classic sense. In the 20th Century, we left reproductions of existing objects and human forms for more interior representations of mind. In the Dada period, 1916, Zurich, Switzerland, a handful of draft dodging artists from Romania, Germany, France, Norway, ran the course of 20th Century art in six months. Simultaneously, in Paris, Marcel Duchamp was working in the same spirit. The cycle repeated from then to 1969 or 70. A new cycle has begun in what we call the Post Modern. First cycle happened in Zurich for half a year. Second cycle covered the globe in half a century. Third cycle may last half a millennium, 500 years. The progression I see is raising of consciousness by way of Dada during WW1, Surrealism between WW1 and WW2, and abstraction from WW2 to 1969, when the avatar of the Age left the body. The Modern period. The Post Modern period began doing Dada again. That's breaking it down in broad sweeps, the best I can do for brevity. This span of Dada all over the globe may last fifty or more years, then Surrealism and Expressionism maybe a few hundred years, then the same period of time with abstraction in all its varieties. Then time to run the cycle again, a spiral that started in one place in one time, cycles that grow bigger and bigger to take in all of humanity over a period of at least 500 years, each cycle an advancement by way of what was learned from the cycle before.
 
 
yayoi kusama
 
As we have looked back on Greece and Rome as the foundation of art through the 19th Century, the future will be looking back to the 20th Century as the foundation time when collective human consciousness took a leap without knowing it. It will take a few more centuries for that leap in consciousness to reach all the people around the globe. This does not exclude the learnings from the Classical period or the Renaissance. They will continue and feel as far away conceptually as Egyptian renderings of people with straight arms and straight legs. I was fascinated to see my first Egyptian sculpture of a life-sized human head. No lines on the face. No furrowed brow. Smooth African round face. The classical age of reason, the breakthrough of the forebrain in the time of the Christ in Jerusalem, made sculptures showing furrowed brows, deeply lined faces, the torment of thought. In a way, that period was the introduction of rational thought to collective humanity. It takes awhile for it to get around. We can see in the progression of 20th Century art leaving the physical reality of the body, or what Marcel Duchamp called "the retinal," for an art of mind reality. Perhaps this is leading to the next big cycle of the spiritual. If abstraction and readymades are art expressions of mind, I'm wondering how art of the spiritual would manifest. Perhaps what I'm calling "mind" is the spiritual, and mind came with the classical. It's getting down to defining mind and spirit, which I can't get into at this moment. I don't even know that there is a line. I'd be more inclined to say they fade into each other the way light and dark do at sunrise and sunset.
 
yayoi kusama
 
This brings to mind the next book from the past I want to reread. Not all books from the past do I want to reread, very few. This one I just now picked off the shelf. AN ART OF OUR OWN: The Spiritual In Twentieth Century Art, by Roger Lipsey, 1988. Looking at the table of contents makes me salivate mentally. He walks from Cezanne through the Modern period, chapters on Kandinsky, Brancusi, Matisse, Noguchi. Lipsey previously wrote a biography of Ananda Coomeraswamy, a philosopher of Indian art. Lipsey's vision of art is through a western eye that has learned to see through the eastern eye. He is a scholar whose eyes see both ways. I am comfortable with his approach to the spiritual through the eastern vision. Eastern spiritual engages experience. I remember enjoying Lipsey's prose and insights. I didn't always feel like his interpretations accorded with my understanding of the subject, but that means nothing. He was teaching me. I wasn't teaching him. It's mine to take what I learn from him and weave with my own understanding. Lipsey pulled the whole of 20th Century art together as the dismantling of form, color, name, design, all the way to conception, 1969. I remember reading the 500 page book with the same fascination as a Patrick White novel, another one I'd like to dip into again. I could happily spend what time I have left in this body rereading books I have loved along the way. Another favorite is a biography of artist Giacometti by James Lord. One I must read the first time is the text with a big book of Brancusi's work, written by his closest friends, other Romanian artists living in Paris. And Stanley Weintraub's biography of Whistler. Now I get a logjam in my head and have to do like a dog, shake my head, flop my ears, throw pointless thinking off like water off my hair. Back to the Kalahari of Southern Africa for now. This is what I love about reading, that it takes me to places, times, people, understandings far beyond my own, whatever my own may be. I feel like I'm creeping up on a time to dive back into Lipsey's beautiful book and illustrate it with google images. A review of the Modern to look forward to with the same anticipation as for a cup of Ethiopian coffee.
 
yayoi kusama
 
 
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