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Monday, August 18, 2014


adolph gottlieb

I found another measure of my own psychological maturity, or so it seems from the point of view of the interior life. I think I mean by psychological maturity the ability to absent self from a tiresome situation right away without hanging about trying to look like I'm interested, without pretending. I used to try to please people around me who ruled by disapproval. I'd try so very hard to at least give the appearance that I'm approval oriented. I went to a psychotherapist over that one. Had a highly educational experience on the path of Know Thyself. One of my many core questions was why I allow self to be manipulated by disapproval. I've recently seen that approval does not have the hold on my psyche it onetime did. I don't dare attempt to fool myself by saying I don't lean toward approval, and disapproval has no power with me. That would really be fooling myself. I don't take disapproval in this time of my life like I did young when the preacher's wife, who didn't approve of anything, ruled absolutely. I came to a place I said to preacher friend, Millard Pruitt, Since everything I do and can do is a sin, I'm free, I can do anything I want. So what if I sin when I can only sin? No, it's not like that. This is how many of our conversations went. He was still pre-Copernicus and I was post-Darwin. Two cosmologies lay stretched out over several hundred years between us. He was pre-Renaissance and I was post-Modern. It was quite a gulf. I felt like we met on a bridge between his world-view and my own. We were of very different cultures. His culture was in the past of the culture I came from, but he had no reference for my culture. When I talked, it put him to sleep. I encouraged him to talk; I loved hearing stories from his life. He represented for me at the time mountain culture. He was one of my more significant teachers, who, like his brother I worked the farm with, taught without teaching. 

jean arp

I didn't even bother about his disapproval. His disapproval was so absolute it was meaningless. I learned in childhood never to say anything that might provoke judgment. More than likely, that's the origin of much of my character. It was an easy lesson to learn, because it was hell to pay if I ever slipped up and said something like shit or even worse. The kid learned young to edit everything spoken. We start individuating at about three, so by eight or ten we're individuated. I was and it seemed to me the other kids around me were. I recall at about age eight sending a message to my future self, my adult self, to remember that kids are a whole lot smarter than adults can see. I've remembered it every time I've been around kids. I recall one of the random times I saw the Tonite Show with Johnny Carson, he had a woman I supposed was famous and I didn't know it, Selma Diamond. I enjoyed her so much I remembered her name. She was chatting about baby-sitting kids, taking care of kids she knew whose parents were out. Carson expressed dismay she could be so long-suffering. She made it clear the kids are wonderful fun. She said, "They're just little people." As indeed they are. I think of Roman Polanski's film, The Pianist, Warsaw in the time of the German occupation. Polanski, himself, was an eight year old Jewish kid in Warsaw in the time of the film's story. His parents and extended family were taken away. He slipped out of the city and disappeared into the countryside to be taken in by a farm family where he stayed and worked with them throughout the war. That eight year old made some serious decisions. They didn't destroy him. Decisions made in that time gave him the drive that makes him go.   

eva hesse

I've found when I'm around people who disapprove and wait for key words to get in a huff about, I see them like a hawk sitting on a wire waiting for something, waiting for It. Gives them something to talk about later in other company. I don't like to be around people I can't talk with as I talk with my friends. An experience popped up in the front of my mind from several years ago. I was visiting some people I knew who were new here from Florida. They also had invited to my surprise the biggest gossip in the county and her husband. I was miserable. I couldn't talk, knowing everything I said would be told in altered form to a given gossip circle all day next day. I could name many in the circle. I felt like Martha the dog stuck at the door between me urging her out and Caterpillar outside hissing at her, not allowing her to step forward. There wasn't much I could do. I just didn't talk. Couldn't talk. I imagined anything I said misquoted on the phone a dozen different ways. You might say I was struck dumb. Of course, I was judged all the more mercilessly because I didn't talk. It was actually quite obnoxious, but I didn't know how to break the spell of silence. It was like knowing you're being recorded by surveillance cameras. Alone in a room watched by surveillance cameras, I would tend to sit still. Do a meditation. Take a nap. Surveillance cameras have become a new form of the disapproving eye. Add to the disapproving eye the approving eye of the cell phone camera that can also be a disapproving eye. The cell phone camera is subjective, the surveillance camera objective, the eye of law enforcement. A song is playing in my head by Chaka Khan, God Is Watching You. She sings it that God is watching in loving support, yet in certain religions God watches you in disapproval. You sin. The omniscient surveillance camera has a video file on you. You don't have a chance. That's the God I grew up under, the god of disapproval. I prefer the God of love; approval, understanding, allowing, supporting, embracing. 

jaap mooy

It seems like what happened was I took one more step toward freedom from other people's expectations. That's a great freedom in itself. For a very long time I cow-towed to expectation. It got incredibly confusing after awhile. So many different expectations from so many different egos unto conflicting expectations. Finally, it came that expectation is another form of control, especially the silent expectation that can easily be denied if called on it. When I start feeling silent expectations coming on, I'm gone. The humor is that when I saw the light that other people's expectations have nothing to do with me, only with them, that was the end of being expected of. I didn't understand it, still don't, but that's how it bore out. As far as I know I'm free of other people's expectations. When somebody projects an expectation on me now, I pay it no mind. It pisses them off. My attitude: leave me alone with your expectations that are for you, not for me. This is a time in the life that if somebody gets bent out of shape because I didn't say or do what they expected of me, I say: You bent yourself out of shape. I had nothing to do with it. A good one: You're an artist, I expect you'd want to be on the studio tour. I expect you listen to MO-zart. Actually, there are other composers I prefer. We expect to see ye, next week, brother. I had to cut out paying attention to other people's expectations for my own personal behavior. They sent me on an endless maze like a Kafka story, going from bureaucratic office to office looking endlessly for why. It took a long time to learn that other people do not know what's best for me, what I'll love. Netflix recommendations based on what I watch very seldom have one in twenty I would want to see. Amazon's recommendations are closer than netflix's, though they're still way off. I expect you would want to (fill in the blank) is always as far off the beam as a netflix recommendation. I've come to see expecting of others another form of control. I have the choice to participate or not.
jasper johns


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