the large glass
The picture book of the works of Marcel Duchamp is finished. I found it an informative read. Thought I might turn to Brancusi next, but instead went to the bookshelf for a book of two long essays on Duchamp by Mexican poet, Octavio Paz, a paperback I've had since late 1970s, Marcel Duchamp, the title. It has a few markings of mine in the early pages. Didn't get far in it the first time around. At the time, I did not understand Duchamp enough to be able to read the Paz book with comprehension. Paz was over my head, around my head, bypassed my head, in that I simply did not get what he was writing about. Many years have passed since then, I've read a few articles and seen everything Duchamp has done multiple times. The Pierre Cabanne picture book gave me the best understanding of Duchamp I've had. I went to the Paz a little reluctantly, sat down with it and flowed right into it, read several pages delighted. I was with him all the way. In fact, this time it is an easy read. A good measure of my inner growth as a reader. It wasn't Paz's writing as much as it was Duchamp being opaque for me at the time. I'd bought the Paz book around the same time as the big book of Duchamp's complete works by Arturo Schwartz. It is too big to enjoy sitting with for any length of time. It's something you look at on a table. I see at amazon it is out of print and has some value now. I may put it up for sale and pay some bills with it. It is so big and heavy, the shipping would be a lot. I'm glad to be getting some understanding of what Duchamp was doing. I felt I had some sort of understanding, but not much. Cabanne filled in my blanks that needed filling in. I don't feel like I have solved a mystery, but Duchamp is no longer the enigma he once was. I think Duchamp is noted for a saying, "There are no problems, only solutions."
It is good to be coming to an understanding of Duchamp in my advanced years. Better than not at all. I feel a satisfaction that I seem to get Duchamp a little bit. It's not all that's happening in my old age. A few minutes ago I sneezed. It took a bounty towel to wipe the front of my sweater. It is outside the usual to be at the summing up time of one's life and find self in a summing up mind. Most curiously, I'm finding I don't have concern for what is said about me or thought about me after I'm gone. A few times peers have brought up the subject of legacy. I say, "I don't care about legacy." I don't think I'll be remembered as the asshole of the year or just plain chickenshit. Some will say that for sure. They say it now. I don't think about it, don't care, can't care. Some will mourn the loss, most will not. We know who will mourn us and who will not, allowing for surprises. Friend Jr Maxwell did not want to leave this lifetime with anyone having hard feelings about him. Interjecting my own point of view, I said, "It doesn't matter." He said, emphatically, "Yes it does." He was a whole lot friendlier a person than I am. He didn't want anybody disliking him. I see it inevitable and don't worry myself over being disliked. I found in one of Meher Baba's discourses his reasoning for why it is not so bad to be hated. It turns out it's such a good thing, I have to watch myself for encouraging it. The deal is, when somebody hates you, they are a bar of soap washing you clean of what it is about you they hate. The hate energy draws the objectionable quality in self out of self and onto the one doing the hating. I am not above being hated, and can name at least three, without even thinking, who I know for certain hate me, want me dead. I laugh inside like crazy when I see them. I know they never see me with a sour face, because I light up with mirth when I see them. It cracks me up to see who it is and know what they're pulling to themselves. I think, Here, let me give you something else to hate me for, and break out laughing.
Aware of the magnetic power of hate, I consciously choose not to hate. I recall a time a decade ago when I wished I could allow myself to plot a murder to get away with it. I wanted to hate, but couldn't allow it. Didn't want what I knew it would draw to me. I just let it go and projected to other party: hate me with all your might. Gimme the best you got. I have to say I appreciate the liberation from concern about being hated. It's a similar feeling to discovering my fear of dying is gone and the other side looks so interesting, and I'm so curious about it, I have to be mindful not to slip into an accident that would take me to the other side. I tell myself I am the same consciousness on this side and the other side. One side or the other, it is the same as long as I have some inner peace on this side. I find I do have peace within. Didn't know what all that Bible talk about peace meant. Didn't have enough experience with inner peace since maybe one week old to even intuit what it was. Like imagining no mind. It takes mind to imagine no mind. I noticed I'd come into inner peace quite a long time after it came over me. Like I was saying yesterday about favorite color changing. Both times it changed, it was years before I noticed. One of my keys to inner peace is Don't worry ~ Be happy. At first, it felt frivolous. I can't be that irresponsible. Then it turns easy. It gets so easy it becomes automatic. Perhaps the greatest liberation of all I received from Meher Baba was the sage counsel, "Don't take anything seriously, not even God." Immediately, I intuited the truth in this. Ever since seeing it the first time, I have felt remarkably free of worrisome burdens. Not even God. I love that. Especially not God. The worst crimes against humanity were done taking God seriously. Worry is only good for the bank accounts of heart surgeons. I listen to cement-heads like that guy from Westboro Baptist in Topeka, Kansas, spewing hate everywhere he went, I think of what he pulled to himself over the bridges of his hateful projections onto others, and I understand his conflicted face in the photographs. I'm glad I don't have his mind. I was raised with the same influences, easily could have. Ego would have loved it. My mother would not have been so disappointed in me if I'd turned out more like him.
Like the Hank Williams song, Mama Tried. "I turned 21 in prison, doing life without parole." Mama tried. Alas for my mama, she does not have what it takes to make her boy subservient to Kansas fundamentalism. It spit her boy out like the human cannonball. It went boom. I saw the film, Black Swan, yesterday and enjoyed it much more than anticipated. The reviews of it when it was new I felt were misleading. It was a brilliantly made film. It made me aware of director Darren Aronofsky, wanting to see whatever else he made. It brought to mind Carlos Saura's, Carmen, Spanish, an unforgettable film. Both are stories of dancers taking on a powerful role and the role seeping into and taking over their lives. The dancer's story brought my mother to mind, who wanted to be a ballerina when she was a little girl, and when she couldn't, she projected the dream onto her little boy it never stuck to. The dancer was stiff as a marionette from being so uptight wanting to be perfect. There again, mommy wanting to be perfect so much she squeezes life out of herself and goes about stiff as if made of wood. Often I felt I was watching my mother's story in symbolism. She needed the black swan for balance, could not let go enough to relax into the sensuous. Daddy was noted for saying, "She don't have angel wings." Seeing the woman in the film torment herself unto agony wanting to be perfect, I have a strong feeling my mother was something like a Buddhist nun or monk in a recent lifetime. This time around she's a Fundamentalist nun. I took her to the Nelson Art Museum in Kansas City about 20 years ago. She was drawn to the Chinese room. I found that curious. I followed her, seeing her drawn to the people and interiors in different paintings. A life-sized carved head of a Chinese Buddha on a pedestal. Mother's hand automatically reached out to it. An inch or so from its face, she drew her hand back, "I'm not supposed to touch it." This moment taught me something that helped understand mother's need for perfection. Possibly a carry-over from a lifetime seeking perfection through meditation. I don't hold perfection for a goal. I think of perfection as nonexistence. Nonexistence is coming my way, anyway. I don't need to meditate toward it.