Artist Meredith at 16

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This is my self portrait I painted when I was 16 – the only thing I remembered about it was the background squares. I remember my art teacher, Mr Lower showing me a picture of Picasso’s Gertrude Stein.

I look at this picture and I dont recognize myself. It is not how Gertrude Stein felt about her portrait – she felt seen in her portrait. I look at this person -so young. Who is this 16 year old? The image is a mask or… perhaps it is an archetype. If an archetype what the archetype? Diana, Melissa, Athena, Lilith? Who who?

Here is a painting I did at 17 as well – do I still have the same eyes

Creative Surplus Surplus

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I am always impressed by people who have slides prepared for online classes or scripts for their podcasts. But I forget I am equally impressed by people who dont have slides prepared and no scripts. That my favorite things to listen to and watch are those without an agenda where there is some vital force, elan vital propelling the conversation forward.

I am against strategy.

I was bandying about subtitles for a poetry collection, fractal landscape came up, when I remembered the poetry book An Interface for Fractal Landscape. At first it was hard for me to get into it. My mind appreciates technical poetry that meditates on technology, but somehow it is not my taste. This is more my taste.

But I got into Fractal Landscape. I got into the analysis of different stones. I meditated on it. What are elemental patterns. What does a computer see when it sees an amethyst, when it generates an amethyst? (all you mindcraft people out there). What does the hidden layer of the neural net look like… does this question even matter.

I feel like my art is created by a body net. I dont understand it. If it comes from my mind it is garbage, if it comes from my body it is authentic – garbage or otherwise – sacred trash. What would the hidden layer look like? My veins, my muscles twitching, my hormones flooding… does it matter?

Picasso Gertrude Stein and Lady of Elche

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Today I learned something new….

You see this painting

This is Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein. He had her do 90 sittings.

Her face is a mask why? African Masks were very influential at that time. There had just been an exhibition. But that is not the only reason. Picasso went to spain and saw this sculpture of Lady of Eliche. This is an interesting sculpture to me. It is gorgeous and intricate. It sort of reminds me of princess Leia’s hair. With this inspiration Picasso finished the portrait and we see it has a mask like quality similar to Lady of Eliche. Stein said this portrait is always her. What did Picasso do? He captured an archetype. It is not that he saw Stein’s mask, he saw Stein’s universal essence. What is the goddess that was the Lady of Eliche, who is the goddess that Stein represents?

What is the regenerative turn?

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I have been interested in something for a long time that sort of has a name – the regenerative turn.

The regenerative turn is a way to look at society from the POV of a cyclical process of regeneration rather the accelerationist or linearity or exploitation of capitalism.

What is involved in the regenerative turn? Let me take a stab at it…

At its heart it is about a sustainable structure of society. What is the value here… sustainability… but at a high level of flourishing for all participants people, animals, nature, all parts of the structure.

What is sustainability? Is it equilibrium… I dont think so, I think the structure of society can change, the goal is not to break the structure. I imagine a network with nodes, and the nodes shift and connections shift but the structure does not remain broken. Maybe the structure needs to break in order to restructure, but it does not remain broken – or how can you break a structure but maintain the the network as a whole.

In any case what are the elements of a regenerative society, how is this different from societies that have come before, from a capitalist or a socialist or a feudalist, is this new or is this the same as something before. If this is part of a historical process it cannot be the same a something that came before but it can be an echo.

Ok lets map out the elements of a regenerative society

Immediately this is hard for me and I think in terms of our own society, laws and markets and exchange.

But let me instead talk about the things we do

communicate, eat, learn, love, play, sleep

What are the building blocks of life – probably those things above… and then we have other things that support theses things like work, like farming, like soccer, like dancing, like birdwatching, like reading, like talking

What are regenerative ways to communicate, eat, learn, love, play, sleep – I also want something somatic like body exercise – I feel maybe I should look at Maslow’s hierarchy but lets keep it simple for now

What are the structures that encourage these activities in a regenerative way or what are those things that facilitate this in a regenerative way

eating – we have things like permaculture, local food, etc.

love – we have things perhaps like polyamory or communal living or when I think of love I think of creating things and art, and a regenerative art would be an art where there is regeneration between the audience and the performer / the artist .. there is a flow between these two and this movement creates a bond

Play – what is play and what is learning? learning is purposeful play is spontaneous what is regenerative learning what is regenerative play ?

There are certain things that need to be in place on an individual level in order to live a regenerative life. In order to live a capitalist life certain things had to happen, the abolition of family structures, ties to land, access to a commons. Now it seems natural that everyone lives in a capitalist way – exploiting one another.

What needs to happen for a regenerative society. A certain focus on the self, on getting the self in order, on the value of listening, on the value of flow, of qualitative exchange.

I was going to write a post last night on Landauer and Spirit – reading. There was a conversation a group I participate in and many people discussed witnessness. There is an idea that most people only listen to 10% of what is said. That “successful” people listen to 15% (a 50% increase). Landauer does not have a lot of content but he has a lot of spirit. Nietzsche also also has a lot spirit but a lot of content, or we could call that MEANING. What is that? What is in the organization of worlds (words) that transmits meaning or spirit or both or neither? What is that magic? Landauer talks about the construction of spaces for community, the activities that people do in communities… The communal nature of man that people co-create one another by being transpersonal (I am thinking of simondon right now). What it is to be a hermit – with whom does the hermit or the monk co-create herself, with nature, with her spirit, with her imagination, with her inner life, this is the ultimate dialectic. But how do we cocreate in a world where everything is mediated by quantification – my signal to noise ratios and risk reward and pnl.. we lose spirit – we lose regeneration.

It’s hard to write these past fews days. There is so much happening in the world, pain, death, struggle. I just found out a cousin died this morning, I wonder why am I even writing this. I pull up the blank page and think, what a luxury and what a self indulgent. And perhaps (probably and most definitely) there is no meaning (whatever that means) to this, and this is just the wheels of my mind spinning, spitting, throwing up, the epiphenomenon. But perhaps there is also a better way to live.

John Cage and the sound world

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I had a discussion this week on whether or not contemporary art is really art. It started with wondering whether what Christo does, put up fabric gates in central park, constitutes art. Many people said no. The reason being is that it is all about shock value. It is also one dimensional. You don’t go back and get a different experience from a Christo gate every time you see it. I mean maybe you do, but really the effect is felt the first time, when you say wow someone put all these fabric gates in central park. This is different from the effect you feel in front of say the sistine chapel whenever you see it. Also there is a question about the notion of beauty. Are Christo’s gates beautiful, are they intended to be beautiful. I do think one of the quality of art is that it should be deemed beautiful by someone – how bourgeois another reason was that it is not, beautiful. What does it mean to be beautiful? I don’t know different people with different taste find different things beautiful.

Someone brought up John Cage 4’33 as an example of something that is not art – and that is just shock value. I agree but there are things that John Cage does that I would call art or even great art such as the music of changes or Etudes Australes these pieces depend on the musician playing them allows the musician to inject their own taste but within a very defined sound world.

Worlds

One of the things I have learned from my painting group is the concept of the ‘color world’ I think this was popularized by Hans Hoffman. Abstract art is about color, the primacy of color, a portrait does not have to be painted with skin tones but with blue. A “color world” is the creation of a world with its own color scheme that flows together to create a coherent world.

This color world comes out of phenomenology. I don’t really have something substantial to back this up, but a few inklings and my spleen point in this direction. Husserl, the father of phenomenology, which itself has about 10000 different definitions, had an idea of the lifeworld. First phenomenology as Husserl thought of it, was for the individual to engage with the world of sense perception. The world is the lifeworld – the world of consensus reality… but the world is not related to us as an object but as a verb something lived in by us (us all not me as an individual). So the lifeworld changes – it is dynamic.

Anyway the lifeworld is the world we experience, we create it by living it. A successful color world is one that we create by painting it. John Cage is creating a sound world. His compositions are sound worlds. His sound worlds are more variable than the color world of a painting which presents itself always the same. Cage’s sound worlds change depending on who plays the world. But if we imagine arts as involving different levels of collaboration and authorship with perhaps painting being the most personal and film being the least, and the types of worlds that these aesthetic modes allow the great artists are the ones that create new worlds. Is a great sound world a sound scape.- like Green House. But is this just like a beautiful landscape, is this flattening perspective, is this the Monet or the Cezanne flatteing of the picture plane? Is this a new world, a new color world, a new sound world?

I would say the creation of sound worlds is what Cage is doing. Sometimes it is successful or sometimes it is unsuccessful but he created what it meant to be in a sound world at all.

Some other thoughts on John Cage from various musicians.

Things I have been thinking about

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Covid, and Texas and cold, and water. But I am in the North with the starks

I have been thinking about the very woo woo practice of human design …. I am a splenic manifestor.

In the woo woo practice of human design I have an open head which means I think about things that dont matter.

I was going to talk about what I have been thinking about but then I realize it does not matter.

Instead I will tell you what I feel…

I feel community. Why and what for? I have been searching for community. I have been a community slut. I feel like I could write a book about the bazillion communities I have participated with over covid. I feel community and the earth and my body… I feel local… I feel like I want to take people on canoe tours but it is really cold. I feel sorrow. I feel the soil. I feel all different bodies and that the soil is a body and then I read this

“We also want people to understand all the cultural and philosophical aspects of soils. Soils can mean home, safety, familiarity. In times of war, soils can keep the memories of those tumultuous, horrific experiences. Soils hold a lot of things symbolically.”

“On the whole, there is so much you can learn if you approach soils from an artistic or cultural perspective, or even a religious or spiritual perspective. The specifics of your understandings are going to be different, but your general understanding and ability to work with them would be the same.”

What is art? I am painting. I am painting what my body knows. This is what my body feels.