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Thursday, January 30, 2014


ernest trova

Very strange experience today. The day's film was Rust And Bone, a French film by Jacques Audiard, the story of three people. The film amounted to character development of the three and a fairly intense story that uncovered the character of all three. One of the characters was a woman who worked at the French version of Sea World as a trainer with Orcas. She was the target of an Orca attack that took both her legs. She's left to herself to deal with it. At the same time we meet a guy who doesn't pay much attention, has a boy about ten with him, in a French city moving in with the guy's sister and her husband. Things go round and round, he and the Orca trainer start a casual affair with complications. He is an underground mixed martial arts fighter. These are not the ones that fight on tv that play by the rules. A crowd of twenty or thirty men bet on the fighters who go by no rules, no referee. It was brutal in a super-testosterone brain-dead way. She falls in love with he, but he is unable to commit. It goes round and round from there. I don't recall many films where three characters share the lead role. Beautifully made French film using dynamic photography like I've not seen before. All the way through it, the editing and the workings of the camera were new. All three were dealing with real world issues, all of them living without affection and needing it. After much physical, emotional, mental pain, they came together to lean on each other and begin their healing.
rene magritte
I'm at the end of the film and Justin drove up to the barn to throw some hay bales on the back of his truck to bring to the place I feed the donkeys. I saw him go by, put the movie on hold and threw on jacket, outdoor shoes, hat and gloves, picked up a couple of carrots. I gave carrots to the donkeys and calf over the fence. We stacked the hay bales and covered them with the tarp. Justin came in for a few minutes to smoke a cigarette. I'd mentioned the film I was seeing about the underground fighter. He told me a little bit about the world of underground fighting like that. It's every place. He told me about a fight he had in his wild-thang time with a Mexican over money. The Mexican owed him money and wouldn't give it to him until Justin stuck the barrel of a 9 in his mouth. He told about a guy that had him down with a choke hold and Justin was stuck. He couldn't move and he was losing oxygen starting to fade. The guy put his hand over Justin's mouth and Justin bit a chunk out of the palm of the guy's hand. He let go. He told episode after episode, and I'm sitting here thinking: what's going on? I'm seeing this movie about guys fighting to near death, then Justin comes in telling me of his fights to near death, it's a new moon, and I'm wondering what the hell is happening. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed by stories of the very hardest kind of fighting. It made me ask myself what is going on inside me that needed to hear these stories today. I used to be really put off by such "masculine" behavior. For one thing, it misrepresents the masculine in the same way junkie whores in big cities misrepresent the feminine.  
marino marini
It caused me to look within. I saw that over my years living in mountain culture, I had to change a great deal of my thinking. Right away I had to get used to men who kill casually, talk about it with excitement the way teenagers talk about rock stars. I have spent my time among my mountain friends controlling my face when they tell me about some of their killing adventures, shooting squirrels and crows for target practice. My friend Jr Maxwell was good with a gun. I think he got a kick out of telling me stories about shooting an owl out of a tree or shooting flocks of crows with a shotgun, just to watch me control my face. Inside, I squirm up into a knot feeling for my friends living happy lives ending up as target practice. All these years later, it still tears me up to hear their kill stories. I've told myself many times it is the culture and if I want to accept the culture as it is, this is the chance to really practice acceptance. It's been a good practice. It has been responsible for much thought, not to justify, but to accept. If I object to these stories, then I inhibit my friends from talking freely around me and I don't want that. I learn to accept. By now I can watch mixed martial arts fighting on tv at Justin's house and enjoy it. First, I know the guys doing it love it. They like getting hurt and they like hurting somebody. It's just how they're wired. I figure they're on their own when they step into the ring, doing what they love doing. I'm not here to deprive them of what they love doing just because I'm squeamish. I can get some appreciation for the sport of what they're doing by acceptance that it's ok for them to do what they want to do, a whole lot better than I can by disapproval. Again, the only thing my disapproval could achieve would be to inhibit my friends from talking freely when I'm around.
robert ryman
I don't think like them and they know it. They know it better than I do. I accept and appreciate their way of thinking and they allow me mine. Even though they know I'm not a racist and don't kill anything, they feel free in my company. I don't judge them and don't attempt to make them think like I think. I don't want to give any kind of impression that I want them to think like I think. They all know in their hearts that in my heart is no feeling that I am better than any of them in any way. We have totally different experience. I come from another culture and continue to carry much of it with me. I don't object. I like much of both cultures and live with what I take for the best of both. I believe my mountain friends have a certain affection for me because I do not judge them. They don't know anybody that doesn't judge them. I'm remembering how refreshed I felt in the company of the first person I'd ever met I didn't feel was judging me. It was unforgettable. All we did was sit on a screen porch with cups of tea and talk for an hour. It was an unforgettable experience because I felt I could tell or say anything and it would be ok. I can still feel it. Kitty Davy was her name. She was 88 at the time. I knew her for a little over a year, maybe two. She became for me a model of how I wanted to be as a human being, to be a refreshing spirit who simply does not judge. I can't lay claim to that as who I am, but am able somewhat. I want the people in my company uninhibited by perceived judgment. It frees me as much as it frees the other. I'm thinking that today's learning has to do with seeing that I have not "steeled" myself against behavior in others I don't want for myself, but have accepted, allowed, adjusted to their culture such that I am doing all right where understanding is concerned. 
robert rauschenberg
I'm glad, grateful too, to see I have come into living by non-judgment. I'm thinking the film and Justin today at the same time were measures of how far I have come on my spiritual path. I never dreamed I'd come to a time when I wasn't judging others and self. It just crept up on me. I didn't know that's what was going on. I have become curious to have a glimpse of who it is I'm interacting with conversationally, coffee shop, mancave with friends, hardware store, drugstore, any place, anybody. I've learned to find other people really interesting. There came a time when I tuned in to my own inner spirit and now want to find the inner spirit in the other. I've found that non-judgment soon becomes apparent. Then the other drops judgment and we flow freely without apprehension of being taken for a nerd or thought stupid for having a valid feeling. I'm remembering in Women's Liberation times thinking liberation for women is equally liberation for men. I never understood why other men didn't get it. I was thinking women freeing themselves of stereotypes would free men of stereotypes too. Men of the newer generations are getting it. Please don't misunderstand and suspect I mean I am free of judgment. I am not. I can tell you a lot I'm judgmental about, but the judgment is weaker now. It has no conviction. I don't believe my own judgments. I suppose they drift away because I don't believe them. Friend Jr Maxwell said one evening at the table over drinks, "Don't believe what you think." This from a man I came to assess wise without hesitation. I have a lot of opinions, but don't believe them. I can talk about them, but can't argue about them because I don't believe them. I have zero conviction for any of my opinions. I tend to think of opinions as dots to draw lines between to make sense of the world I live in the best I know how. It's not even a sketchy understanding, but makes a kind of map to give self at least a little bit of an idea of context.

robert indiana



  1. Thank you for this deeply insightful and introspective thought piece, TJ. I loved reading it and am old enough, I guess, to relate to much of it and understand what you mean by much more. You may just be shining a light on the path I suspect I'm on and it is refreshing, enlightening and, frankly, exciting. Bravo and thank you!

  2. This is where I want to be, too: "There came a time when I tuned in to my own inner spirit and now want to find the inner spirit in the other." I've tuned in, now am more and more curious about others. This is so incredibly insightful, Tj. I thank you. I love your introspections. This topic is in the ethers for those who notice it — there was a posting yesterday by "Humans of New York" with a shot of a fighter for the Russian underground fights. I noticed it. I noticed my son's raised level of testosterone (in pain from a bad knee) and how quickly he got enraged last night when the dog tripped him. Doing my best to just notice.

  3. Nicely done. I still deal with being judgmental and have a ways to go. I thought you were going to bring this back to Rust and Bone. I was taken with how the male lead treated the double-amputee female as a sexual object -- something us liberals would abhor -- but in doing so she realized she didn't need legs to be a complete woman. An interesting twist on judgment.

    If you get a chance, check out Perfect Sense. I find people either really like it or hate it. It's one of my favorites.