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Wednesday, April 9, 2014


kazimir malevich

Talking with different friends yesterday, three, I brought up the subject of the box for some thoughts on the matter. Everyone I talked with said something to the effect of, Who needs a box? These were people who don't have an art expression, though take an interest. It continues in the front of my head that since 1970 we've been in the Post-Modern time, a time in which anything goes. I personally see the Post-Modern period a composite of what was learned through the Modern Period, a kind of universal Dada period. In 1915 a small group of draft-dodging artists from around Europe met in Zurich, Switzerland. They set out to discover art as if none had ever been made before. They acted as something of a cleaver on a chopping block, severed everything that went before and started fresh without reference to the past. They experimented with chance, with nonsense, with the new machine age.  Everything they did was then outside the box. Happening then was Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism. The dozen or so Dadaists in Zurich created a new -ism, totally outside the box, Dadaism. In a period of about 6 months they deconstructed art down to conceptualism. By the end of WW1, they had practiced their art vision outside the boxes, and introduced a new box to Europe and the rest of the world, the box that is not a box, the anti-box. From the end of WW1 to 1969 the world of front-runner artists all over the earth repeated the Dada process of deconstructing art, peeling away superficial layers a step at a time by way of a series of -isms. Surrealism started up in Paris post-Dada, explored interior territory until WW2, after which abstract expressionism in New York came forward. Then minimalism, and Pop, which became an -ism too, and a quick run of new -isms every year unto conceptualism, which revealed the core of what we call art, conception.
kazimir malevich
One of the better known conceptualist moments was a postcard a "conceptualist" sent around to art dealers in NY and patrons announcing a show at a particular address, a particular time. When the people arrived, it was a locked empty space with nothing going on. The postcard, itself, was the art. I've seen what the Dadaists did in Zurich in half a year repeated universally in half a century, the Modern period. This Post-Modern time started its first cycle in a Dadaist manner where anything goes; realism, abstraction, projection, video, exploring everything. The Post-Modern is a new time of thinking outside the box, but this time with reference to the past, the Modern period. Everybody was too busy watching television and fighting wars to notice that the Modern period, Dada to conceptualism, was the greatest renascence the world has ever seen. Preceding it were the renascence of the classical period of Greece and Rome, and the Renaissance, renascence with an Italian name. The next renascence the Modern period. It was the beginning of a new expansion of mind for collective humanity. Renascences past brought us into Reason. The renascence that was the modern period is bringing us into Intuition. It shows in the evolution of art. It's a long slow process. We still have a world of people who have not caught up with the cosmology of evolution, and even what would be a surprising number, if known, of people who have not yet caught up with the cosmology of round earth. We humans come in all levels of development. I've never argued with someone who believes flat earth. I figure that's their place and their vision. I don't know how to convince someone who does not understand planets and orbits that the earth is indeed round, and I don't believe it matters in everyday life whether someone believes the earth is flat or round. It matters for launching satellites. I believe round earth initially because I was told as a little kid in school it's a fact, like it's fact that George Washington was first president. Get it right for the test. My neighbor Tom would say of the moon-landing propaganda that no man can walk on the moon. The Bible sez the moon is just a light. No man can stand on a light.
kazimir malevich
Remembering the time he told me his teacher in school said the world was round like a baseball. Little man Tom said, "I aint never seen no mountains on narry baseball." This house used to be the Air Bellows School, it happened in the space I live in, in the space where this is being written. These walls were there. Tom believed he understood baseball, played it when he was a kid. I had to respect his integrity as himself and not let it show that I was tickled. Immediately I saw a baseball magnified to the size of the earth. The mountains would be a hundred miles high. Even the smooth part would be a plain of great high mountains and deep, deep valleys. A ball bearing the size of a baseball magnified to the size of the earth would have huge mountains and vast valleys. His mind really was from another cosmology. He did not need to be converted and I didn't need to be telling him he was wrong, when he was going by experience and I was going by believing what I was taught. He would be disappointed that I was so ignorant to take what somebody else told me without questioning it by way of my own experience. The sun goes across the sky, caint y'see? College boy thinks he knows all about it and didn't even know what a chainsaw was, except for a movie that warped my mind so bad it probably changed my DNA. Jesus brought a new cosmology, love is all there is, summary of the gospels by John Lennon. This cosmology was a little slow taking hold. Finally, all these millennia later, a pope is reintroducing the old cosmology that never went anywhere, as if it were new in a world that never heard of it. This cosmology goes back before gravity. A couple thousand years later, it's outside the box. I continue to wonder what the box is. It comes to me over and over that Western Civ is the box. It is the box that civilization is transcending now. In Asia, Africa and the Middle East, they are transcending their own boxes. My new piece, BIG SUR, is only outside the box pre-Dada. From 1915 on, it's very much inside the box.
kazimir malevich
Again, I see the box so vast as not to be a box. In conversation with Tom's preacher brother, Millard, who was hard-shell unto stasis, after years of knowing him, I said one day, "If everything is a sin, then I'm free, it doesn't matter what I do when I can only sin." "No, it's not like that." It was quite a time knowing those men from two cosmologies back. I had a difficult time where talking was concerned, because I'm from round earth and understand evolution is the ongoing process of creation. Never use the E-word, it's as bad as the C-word, Communism, the A-word, Atheism, and the F-word. These language restrictions were pre-political correctness. I might make a case for the old restrictions due to limited education, but political correctness is adhered to with the same vehemence in the "educated" middle class. Who needs censorship when we have a population so eager to self-edit? Concerning my own interior boxes, television has so minimal a place in my world as to have no place at all. To go outside my box I could start watching television. That's not even worth an experiment for laughs. I like to tap in periodically for a review of what the people around me are believing this moment and to see what it is they're smiling about all the time. This could be outside my box too, smiling all the time. I could sit in front of a tv with a Bud, a bag of barbeque flavored potato chips and a big smile on my face. Good time for a selfie. Click. Self as Ken doll in environment. Call it art. Instead of doing it, I write it and that is my art expression outside the box. But it's not really. Just sparkles flickering in the universe of the image-ination. Lenny Kaye on the guitar. Keith Jarrett on the keyboard. Go Rimbaud and go Johnny go and do the Watusi. How was that sentence for outside the box? You didn't see it coming. What did it have to do with anything? An outside the box joke, a game I learned from the donkeys, I get a kick outta you.  
kazimir malevich himself


  1. TJ, you're definitely outta the box...but thank goodness not outta this world, as I'd miss your insightful posts. And BTW Cultural Intuitiveness seeks to overcome political correctness with it's basic assumption that since you will ALWAYS offend someone with your words (the proverbial lose/lose situation you describe), the goal then is to respectfully express your thoughts, minimizing offense if possible by seeking to appreciate who you're communicating with--just as you do with your other-worldly friends. Thanks for coffee chat! Cheers!!--Carol

    1. Carol, Thanks for what you say. I like Cultural Intuitiveness. Like you say, it's what I do. Like you said about PC, I've had to get with a few of my friends and make a case for you cannot be liked by everybody no matter what. Even if you're nice all the time, somebody will hate you for being nice. Before we can "respectfully" express our thoughts, we need an understanding of respect. I learned respect in the mountains. Here, you respect somebody for their own existence. A culture of poverty. When somebody from this culture gets real rich real fast, respect is the first thing to fall away. Respect matters. Speaking with respect for the person spoken to matters. In urban environments respect feels wasted and I withdraw into myself anxious to be home. I grew up in a home I wanted out of every minute. It's been my goal to have a home I never want to leave. This is that home. This is my box where I happily reside in the universe. I really do appreciate your insights.

  2. Learned a few things here today...I have missed having coffee in the mornings with your Tj but will get caught up soon...Thanks for the interesting journey with you outside your box and of course the donkey humor...