May 25, 2006

What Would They Say if I Blew (Myself) Away?

by Catherine King

Last night I dreamed I made a huge art installation with a waffle-type garden bed of seeded things. Locating, collecting, planting and then growing the abundant array of flora was quite a feat. But though I made it to share with others, nobody cared-- a point that was sadistically driven home with much relish by my ever scornfull Evil Twin. The message sent and received was that I should not have made my beautifull living flower and vegetable quilt, but if someone else might have done it, the very same thing, it would have been eminently acceptable and fine indeed.

And then I dreamed that I was traveling the scenic highways of northern Arizona. There was no one else on the road but me and my childhood friend, a recent gun suicide. L. was my dead tour guide. Spread all around us were mountain views, green forests and the vast blue sky. But we weren't really there for the natural scenery. She was taking me to various locations to show me the rusted wreckages of horrific fatal car accidents, which, in the social custom of this Dreamland, were allowed to "lay where they fell" as macabre monuments to Death. We were in Arizona, but the culture of this state was otherwordly.

Spirits, by way of my ghost camera, have tipped me off that I'm entering another phase in my life-- an OTHER phase. I refered to this realization in Housefull Of Phantoms, written and posted just eleven days ago. Familiar sensations are beginning to stir in me again, as I work with my haunted images. I told you how it felt in Roomfull Of Phantoms:

As I labored over that uncanny bedroom and handled all those ghosts, my thoughts wandered to sad and serious places.

I'm being told that it's time to go to those sad and serious places once more and I'm going to share some of the thoughts they raise with you, my loyal readers.

I may as well begin at the beginning, and bear in mind, dear readers, as I told you in Takin' Out The Trash, V.2:

I have never lied to you and I never would.

It began with Art and it will end with Art. My parents were both artists. It's all I've ever done. First Art School, classical training in Drawing and Painting, then Commercial Art, then Graphic Art, teaching Art, and then, a year or so after I met Jerome-- Contemporary Art.

Put the children to bed before I reveal my next secret. Though I can't stand the little brats, the nurturing ex-teacher in me doesn't want their impressionable spirits to be crushed by the truth of my painfull discovery. Remember how we were told by our vocational counselors, "Find what you love doing, put your heart and soul into it, and you'll be a success"? Well, it's not true. Or it's not necessarily true. At least in my case, it's been A Great Big Lie. Maybe the realization has driven me just a little bit crazy.

It's not The System that I blame. I still stand by the words I wrote, nearly two years ago, in Democracy In America At ASU: Here's Your Balance:

...this is the place for a man or woman to invent, or reinvent, themselves...the place to be your own boss...This is the place to become a self-proclaimed Stylist and set up your tent. This is the land of the Self-Made, Self-Taught, Do-It-Yourselfer... And those whiney punks who made the crappy art for "Democracy in America" don't have to tell her (that would be me-- American Woman) how things aren't perfect or fair out there.

No, life has been hard and unfair for me, though I've consistently given it the best I've got. This old world just loves to mock all my efforts as I complained in Phase Why: The Making Of CrazyQuilt II. How is it that I consistently put out so much yet get so little back? For all the impact my striving has made on the world, I might as well be dead. Invisible-- not even here. As I've written before:

I must say, sometimes I feel rather like a ghost in this world.

I've long suspected that I'm not just haunted --I'm cursed. Well, just think about it with an open mind for a minute. Why me with all the paranormal photography? Are spirits really crowding around everything all the time? or do I attract entities, malevolent as well as harmless ones? If so, then what has been driven away? Success, perhaps? I've had more than my share of demons. These truths have not set me free.

I remember when I started doing Contemporary Art with Jerome, I thought artists could get away with being eccentric. I believed an artist's success depended on the quality of their work-- that the work spoke for itself. I hadn't yet realized that one had to have the correct "disposition," the jargon used in education for making nice. If one makes others feel uncomfortable, for any reason-- it's professional death for the "troublemaker". I confess, that would be me. I've always called 'em like I see 'em.

But the way the Art World works is this: to achieve success, it is essential that an artist be deferential (kiss ass) to the "Creative Class," as they love to think of themselves. That's right, soon enough I learned and wrote (in blood) in Glen Lineberry and Lisa Greve Behaving Badly/One More HairStory/Part Two:

There will always be plenty of artists who will bend over as far backward as people like Glen Lineberry and Lisa Greve desire. Probably most artists would. They probably think I'm crazy and I think they're whores.

I was, and am, constitutionally unable to just "go along to get along." I noticed that in Contemporary Culture, people love mediocrity best. That was what my subconscious was telling me in the dream I had as a very young woman, just before I left home:

People will put money in a tin cup, but nobody wants to contribute to an eternal flame.

I think the love of irony is tied up in this. And the refusal to acknowledge that Life does, indeed, have Meaning. For me it has so much meaning that I physically hurt. Especially taking it all in with no buffers, as I do.

Okay, here we come to the dead guy, the Valley's latest suicidal darling --S. O'D. This guy got covered twice last week in local feature stories, even though he offed himself back in January. I could relate to some of his struggle, as described by Richard Nilsen and Robert Pela. I also asked myself questions, which I'm allowed to do, after reading about his opportunities and mode of extraction.

It seems the guy had a fan base and support system. That's good, but I guess it wasn't enough. He was disappointed in formal Religion, oh well, and attracted enough to Schlock Culture to spend years making it the subject of his mocking, superficial art, which was apparently quite popular. I'm not surprised. I'm just sorry that he thought Life was such a joke. You already know how I feel about Meaning. It happens to be the Major Force in the Universe whether or not we choose to see. He had fifty-eight years to wise up. But he didn't. One cannot blame one's own spiritual impoverishment on Catholicism. Or even on being single.

I've thought about committing suicide before, out of pain, not emptiness. I've dwelt on ways to do it without causing undue trauma to others-- I mean leaving a mess behind. I won't tell you what was the best mode of extraction I conceived, and hopefully I'll never again get crazy enough to seriously entertain such dark thoughts. But the struggle is hard.

I told you my thoughts wander to sad and serious places. Unlike S. O'D., though, if I had all those meds and a house of my own, I'd use them quietly and privately and not go out in public to blow myself away . . .

Oh well, it's done, the bullet cannot be unshot. And he got to become a post-humous art star as a result. This is exactly what they admire in this town. Just maybe that's why he decided to go out with a bang. And, you know --it worked!

I just don't understand why Amy Young down at Perihelion didn't seize the opportunity to synergize an art exhibition with Trunk Space. You know --the death scene photos of him in his car after "the pressure was released," as Richard Nilsen would say. Because we all know that Perihelion is all over snuff, so don't say I'm being harsh. Oh, does it make a difference whether one knew the poor chump whose blasted skull is displayed as art? Because that's a nuance that just escapes me.

Because all these poor chumps were some mother's son. So maybe for his next exhibition at Kimber Lanning's Modified, Colin Chillag can extend his own snuff series with a death scene photo of ole S.O'D. to lovingly craft one of his real masterfull oil paintings.

Note to all you sadists out there: don't be sending me e-mails telling me to go ahead and do it, because I've heard it all before and I won't open your mail anyway.

Posted by Jerome at May 25, 2006 05:05 AM | TrackBack