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Wednesday, February 5, 2014


agnes martin

A doctor's appointment yesterday. Arriving home, I went straight to bed. Woke up later, watched a film of New York artist Matthew Barney, Matthew Barney: No Restraint. I have to confess to not liking it at all. In five or ten years I may find it the most fascinating thing that ever happened. I'll allow for that, because I change. But for this moment, it failed to trip my trigger. The film was about his process of making his art objects, sculptures. Several years ago I saw some of his work at the Whitney in a Biennial, and didn't care for it then. Didn't care for anything in that show but a couple of Agnes Martins and a Cy Twombly. They were so fine, they seemed out of place in the show. I remember leaving the show, out on the sidewalk, back in the world of cars and noise, I saw at the corner a post for the walk-don't-walk signal, next to it a post with a fire alarm box, and beside it a steel wicker-like wastebasket painted black, a black plastic bag inside with trash in it. I saw this and assessed it the best in show. I don't mean to play like Tom Wolfe and come down on contemporary art in New York. Not at all. I'm going by my own personal taste. It felt like a majority of the artists in the show were commenting on living in a trash society. I go outside the museum and find the best sculpture in show is actually a trash bin, a black circle with multiple colors inside making a composition particular to the moment. Next time somebody drops something in it, everything changes. Interactive sculpture. If I'd been stoned, I'd have said, Wow. I am in tune with art as comment on society, a mirror, but after seeing a show of the trash all around us, I'd rather make my own art a reminder of the world we live in that is not trash. In like reasoning, I'd rather shop locally than give my energy to Walmrat.
agnes martin
A doctor's office visit is as trying for me as taking a driver's license test. After taking the test I see highway patrol lurking everywhere. After a doctor visit, I feel like I'll be dead in a day or two, can't possibly live another week. Come home, lie down on the bed and get a vision of waking up in my coffin and it in the grave. I have confidence in my doctor that is total. He kept my old preacher friend, Millard Pruitt, going through years of heart attacks, living until the body couldn't hold out another minute. My friend Jr Maxwell he kept going until the body couldn't draw another breath. I've witnessed other people he has kept going with his knowledge until there was nothing left to cure. I don't want to hang on as long as they did. It's not that I'm more in a hurry to get to the other side than they were. I think I've come to a place where this side of the veil, the other side of the veil, it's the same; it's my consciousness, my mind, there, the same as here. Different stimulus maybe. Like everything that's around a corner, it's the unknown. I don't like to think about the other side, because I don't want expectations. Misinterpretations make false expectations. Expecting one thing, I miss another. I know I have expectations, but prefer not to entertain them. Dread is a form of expectation and I have plenty of dreads. For example: a meeting. Friday I'm having lunch with my friend Cynthia, for which I have no dread, only look forward to, expectation. This expectation is from experience; I always enjoy Cynthia. The mind I'm in, after a doctor's visit, identification with the body again, reminds me of how poorly I take care of myself, yet continue to get up in the morning to feed my donkey friends. I can't go to a gym. I hated gym in school. Hated lab too. Any class that had a lab, I hated. Had to take a couple of them again, making it all the worse.
agnes martin
One thing this crazy mind of seeing myself dead the next minute has brought to the front of the mind is a focus I see in myself and others around me on what is wrong. I'm tired of dwelling on what's wrong. Political involvement focuses on what's wrong that we have to change. It's interesting, because it denotes an evolving society on its collective spiritual path. It is something tempting to do on the spiritual path, to come down on oneself for not being good or not doing right or not meditating. It's part of it, possibly a phase. The social fixation on what is wrong in society is the macrocosm of our individual concerns about doing right, being acceptable, being good, wanting to be a better person. I can't help but call it a good thing. At the same time, there is the balance. King David is the best example I know of balance. He was a genocidal warlord, bi-sexual wild man who fed his passions liberally as a king, and in his heart was a love for God so intense that the prophesied Messiah must be in David's blood line. King David shatters for me the notion that good (godly)behavior is the path. I see atheism a place on one's spiritual path. In my case, it was the beginning point. I had to unlearn all the nonsense I'd been taught as religion. Only then was I able to be open to the spirit. The spirit came so convincingly that I had no choice but to go with it. And so clearly that I could re-enter the old belief-system I came up in and appreciate what is real in it. And so certainly that I could worship with any religion on earth in full accord with the people around me. I've chosen no religion, just my own pilgrim way through everyday life.
agnes martin
I take carrots to the donkeys in the morning, talk to them while they chew donkey hors d'oeuvres. I carry hay through the gate easier while they're chewing on carrots. Without the carrots, they crowd me wanting to get the first chew. It's ok. I stop long enough for them both to tear off something to chew on while they wait for me to put it down. I feel an upwelling of love talking to them and feeding them, watching them eat, walking among them in the meadow. It's a tremendous love feeling when I'm in the meadow. I look out the window at them and feel an upwelling of love. In my house I feel a love embrace. I've found a good balance of battery charging time at home and only the kind of social that doesn't exhaust me, with friends, people I care about who care about me. It's a sight how much love I feel with the donkeys. Caterpillar too, indoors. This is my religion. Baby Vada is my religion. Lunch with a friend is my religion. The car is my religion. Living in the heart is it. King David slaughtered a large part of the Middle-East, broke every rule there ever was, though in his heart he lived his love for God. I remind myself that dying is not the issue. The time between now and then is the issue. When something like a doctor visit throws my head into looking at my death date, I have to spend some time with self, educate self again to understand that when I focus on the end moment, I miss everything happening between now and then.  

agnes martin herself


  1. What powerful words TJ. I loved the line, "I remind myself that dying is not the issue. The time between now and then is the issue." You are so wise - your paragraph about spirituality resonated with me and I loved, "I've chosen no religion, just my own pilgrim way through everyday life." Thank you for sharing your insight and yourself. - C

  2. Tj, I want to kick your butt a little and it's what I need to remind myself of as well…your body is your temple, please take better care of it. I can't speak to the years of the poisons I've ingested because I was told they were "good for me," yet I can stay up with what's going on now with GMO's and fast food crap and avoid them. Once I dropped the stress of working in the corporate world and dropped sugar (and all it's substitutes) and pasta from my diet - I melted over 30 lbs away and it's still slowly going. I feel so much better. Just cleaning up the diet can reverse so many chronic illnesses (not sure if that's what you're dealing with or not). Doesn't sound like your doctor gave you a death "date" though, because he's reaching into the future for all his patients - sounds like a good guy to have. None of them know our timeline. My mother-in-law was told she had 3 months and after 3 months was up, she claimed they'd lied to her and she lived another 3 years and had that precious time with her grandchild to take with her (maybe the only love she'd had in years).
    The only thing that is really important is the moment I'm in - and have had experiences that informed the future because I was paying such close attention. Steven Forrest (on the eighth house of death) says we need to go into that next journey as consciously as possible, carrying with us everything we've learned.
    Needless to say, having a home and animals that envelopes you with love is a great set-up for the next moment, and the next. I still can't get over how much Baby and Caterpillar look alike.
    I do love how you are sharing such intimate thoughts and feelings in your blog. And how you change the subject abruptly and then come back to topic. Very real. Very in the moment. Thanks again for sharing.~Lee