Clark Flood hard drive dump, Pt I: Spirituality and the Arts

Clark Flood’s 20 "Objects in the Mirror" essays, published in 2006-2007 on Glasstire, were widely disseminated and discussed around the web. His new book Clerk Fluid (which is available for sale at our shop) includes all 20 "Objects" essays, photographs taken by Flood, and finally, previously unpublished, unfinished and unedited drafts straight out of his hard drive.
The following is one of those drafts.

 

 

SPIRITUALITY AND THE ARTS

PICANTE ART CENTER – I was in the audience of a panel discussion the other day. Established nobodies. Painters with work in art gagazines, and professorships in not-too-embarrassing universities
Only an idiot would mess up a gig like that by saying something interesting and unfortunately they weren’t idiots.

Discreet silence is the artworld’s professional mode. Its not professional to have a strong opinion, or even acknowledge there’s anything to have an opinion about. Not publicly. Not on the record. Art’s good. Everything’s good. We’re good. The programming’s good. The school’s good. The staff is good. The board and all our benefactors are very good. But not as good as our corporate sponsors. They’re so good we don’t care what they do.

I guess when you reach the golden rungs on your ladder to the misty top o’ the art world, Panels ‘R’ Us contacts you. I wonder if the panelists do it because it looks good on the ol’ resume. Or maybe the honoraria are fat. Publicity? All of the above. Maybe they’re coerced Mafioso style. You will get out there and talk about your work or your loved one will have an accident…

So they talked, prodded along by a “moderator.” I guess she was there in case anybody on the panel might want to fight a duel over their differing art theories.

They talked but they said little. They were like a team of tightrope walkers gingerly tiptoeing down the thin wire of the audiences’ attention span, with a yawning chasm of career suicide all around. Mostly they reluctantly answered the pointless questions lobbed at them by the moderator. Do you like pudding? What’s your cat’s name? How many fingers?

They warmed up a little when they got to talk about themselves. They exhibited the usual character defects associated with their occupation – self absorption, hyper-trophic arrogance, an ironic appreciation of pop culture. Nothing remarkable.

The only thing weirder than these lumpy robots on-stage was the audience hanging on their every mumbled monosyllable, eager to applaud any complete sentence like it was Caruso’s greatest solo. I feel like I’m fairly jaded about these things but I felt an icy chill creep up my spine at the spectacle of these soul-less zombies. Why were they here?. How did they get this way? What have we done to them? Or did they do it to themselves?

It’s amazing how much the art community expects you to surrender for the right to participate in their dreary rituals. Only your soul, Clark, only your soul.

I think most of us have killed a hamster or two by loving it too much, hugging it too tightly. That’s sort of what the non-prof art-orgs have done to the artworld. And when you killed yours didn’t you need to pretend it was still alive, didn’t you keep playing with it, pushing it thru its cedar chips, scooting it around the furniture, cradling it, even rolling its dumpy dead body around inside the little hamster wheel????

That’s what this panel was like.

These organizations that administer our art gulag need to demonstrate that their prisoners are not only alive but flourishing. Everybody still vaguely remembers what art used to be like, before they killed it. Didn’t it involve ideas, the exchange of ideas, people talking about art? So they set up these gruesome panels.

It reminds me of those cargo cults that sprang up in the Pacific Islands after WW2. The natives remembered with admiration the cool airplanes that used to land there. After all the soldiers were gone, built their own airplanes out of mud and bamboo. But they couldn’t make ’em fly.

Its OK, if you don’t mind going to the Eiffel Tower at Vegas. It’s like Disneyland, familiar, comforting, better than reality. Better administered, free of controversy

Controversy. Actually, ArtPanels‘R’Us does stock that flavor in about a dozen categories. Take a brave stand against AIDS or violence or racism or sexism or child abuse. Go way way out on a nice, safe officially sanctioned heroic limb, one that might’ve been shaky 10-20-30-40 years ago.

But nobody on this panel went anywhere.

As weird as it got was when one of the panelists indirectly implied he had once smoked pot, many years earlier.. You could feel the tension in the audience.

It’s not like the art world isn’t full of loudmouths eager to talk and argue. If you served alcohol you could have art riot on tap. But all these organizations want is to go through the motions.
It’s like a thanksgiving dinner table. Everyone is gathered and everyone is too polite and non-controversial because this is the day we pretend were a happy functional family. You talk about the weather.

So, big yawns for everybody. And of course what always goes with the big yawn is everybody talking about how entertaining and insightful it all was.

Anyway, they were asking the flock of sheep who were sleepily observing the proceedings for reasons as difficult to understand as they are are painful to imagine, if anyone had any questions. Its kinda like when you’re strapped in at the dentists, with a drill rumbling in the background, and they loom in their big balloony hali-toxic head and say Are you comfortable? So I was trying to think of a question that would be disruptive while at the same time time appear reasonably polite. And I raised my hand.

Given the long history of art intertwining with religion, I’d like to know if any of the panelists consider that there is a spiritual dimension to their work..?

Ouch! That’s why these big deal professionals hate to tour the sticks. That’s where you run into bible-thumping, snake-handling, poison-drinking, hillbilly Pentecostals who ask these unbelievably awkward, inappropriate questions that engage audiences and sabotage careers. Ugh! And you wish they were speaking in tongues because then you wouldn’t have to acknowledge that YOU UNDERSTOOD THEIR TERRIBLE QUESTION.

A visible shudder ran through the panelists and there were even some audible groans from sympathetic professionals in the audience. The listless burnout moderating this adventure in tedium gave me the look of barely contained contempt you get from waitresses when you walk in a restaurant five minutes before it closes. But what could they do? I laughed inside, being a demonic connoisseur of social discomfort, as fond of the long silences in group therapy sessions as I am of endless incoherently drunken toasts at weddings. On the outside I maintained a shell, an appearance of happy, peppy art panel enthusiast, eager to receive any pearls of wisdom these gosh-darn real pros might have to drop in response to my heartfelt query.


The lead rat turned to her fellow cornered rats and asked them in secret art-pro code if any of them had a way out of this dreadful situation. To the untrained ear it sounded like “Would anyone like to address this?” 3 out of the 4 dove for cover. They just denied it, one after the other. No, there’s no spiritual dimension to my work. They were embarrassed and shaky. This was a real test of their art mettle. Like Peter they were gonna have to deny their God because they were scared of something worse than his wrath – professional embarrassment. One of these was flustered, visibly wrestling with his conscience before he stammered out his No, looking like some tortured POW dragged into a propaganda broadcast to dis his country. It was a level of entertainment no one could reasonably expect to encounter at this carefully neutered art event.

One panelist rose to the occasion in a manner that garnered my admiration.. He said No as well but you could tell he actually meant it. He was Californian, determinedly gay and worked for a U that never had any qualms about expressing the depth of its commitment to the forces of evil, so maybe he’d been over this ground before. He had the words. My art is secular, he said, made for a secular audience. I’m an atheist. Theres no spiritual dimension to my art. Unlike the others he had given it some thought. He still sounded a little bit like an arrogant three year old announcing he was running away from home, but.

The others were in the closet with their beliefs. Atheism is a rare calling so, just statistically, one knows they were lying. Hell, one of them was a woman, and I’ve never met a woman who didn’t think she was personally hooked up to the mystical powers that govern the universe, and eager to tell ya if asked right. Men are having parallel Pantheistic feelings, beer-drenched, urine-spattered communions with Nature, going through the motions of huntin’ and fishin’ trips while they desperately review their place in the city of effaced patriarchal functions. There’s a whole lotta closet spirituality going on in the determinedly atheistic a-world, and we’re just right next door to the big mega-pop thats still goes thru the motions of participating in religion.

So my call is most of the panelists were lying. They have some mystical communion, maybe drug-related. Not superficially related to their creative life, probably right at the very center of it. Maybe twenty -thirty years ago, maybe over their last killer buzz. Artists have this mystical thing. It tells em what to do or maybe just inspires, but it’s there. They feed it, to keep it happy, just like some cultures feed dead virgins to the sky.

So why is it such a big fucking secret? Why is it embarrassing? Most of all, why is it so unprofessional?

CF

Clark Flood is a freelance writer living in Houston.

also by Clark Flood

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116 responses to “Clark Flood hard drive dump, Pt I: Spirituality and the Arts”

  1. “Heaven for the scenery, Hell for the company.” Yes, I am sure that you were hugging that hamster, and of course, hospital emergency rooms are overfilled with people who made this same grievous error of passion. Next time, try to incite people with racist comments, instead. Your infatuation with religion is so… 2001.

  2. That’s weather, not scenery. You caught me snoozing, and I haven’t been to Ireland for several years.

  3. It would be useful to differentiate between matters of religion and matters of the spirit. While there is no place in contemporary art for religion, I think there is plenty of room for spirit. Simply put, religious art makes a statement illustrating dogma or doctrine, and it hasn’t been taken seriously since the seventeenth century in the West. In the East, there are those who believe the village statue of Vishnu actually houses a powerful entity, but people with deeper understanding appreciate the value of metaphor and the esthetics of the object.

    I think that many contemporary artists operate from a position of toughness as a matter of self-defense. To be cynical is to wear a full suit of armor. Armor is required these days because too often the artworld is competitive, secular, and completely tied to culture. I think art that addresses the spirit addresses nature, not culture. Art that only addresses culture is not moored to much that endures, but in the short run, that’s the type of art that most people “get”, since it seems “relevant” and is often easily identified in context: TV, the Web, Commerce, Film, Politics. Joseph Campbell talked about tough-minded people and tender-minded people when he talked about artists. Tender-minded artists are, by the nature of what they do, vulnerable. While the quality of sincerity may be often joined at the hip by simple-mindedness, sometimes intelligent sincerity is valid if it is also poignant or open-ended in its intent. Nobody likes a preacher unless he is a naive folk artist (and his work is appreciated for its raw esthetic, but not for its doctrine). There is room for art that addresses what is finally unanswerable, art that does not declare truths but asks questions or points to the mystery that all people finally encounter if they look hard enough.

    Most artists who cling to careers in academia have already shown that they belong to the tough-minded group. They walk on the tightrope you describe, balancing with the aid of the usual political correctness, mild manners, and other forms of servitude required in that milieu. Art institutions are no different. Museum curators live like gypsies or crew members on a motion picture. They follow the work and would love to be on a picture that takes ten years to make. It’s very dicey for curators these days to deal with matters of the spirit in art. Too often such shows, while full of good intentions, end up looking political or at least polemical because they advocate worldly positions…cure for AIDS, end homelessness, etc. Those are all worthy issues, but they are tied to culture. It is difficult issue.

    Take a chance, everybody. Drop the armor and walk naked. Risk everything.

  4. I enjoyed this.
    I’m reminded of being in a crit in grad school – a couple of us sculpture knuckle-draggers (including the dept chair) bum-rushed a final group painting critique. One gal, refering to some particularly gnarly giant goopy green and purple abstractions, was going on about her mystic connection to the flora of Bali, and the profs were gushing about the push and pull. I just asked if anyone had mentioned drugs, because to me it all just looked like a bad trip committed to canvas (mind you, this was before that all had become de rigeur.) Talk about enjoying the shocked silence and looks of horror. My prof snickered approvingly.
    That whole spirituality vs religion thing makes me shudder with cliche-reflux. I understand being horrified by the word (spiritual). But mainly because it means nothing really, and is the blanket apology for the mist of the mystics. But to declare yourself a Secular Atheist is just another religion, and possibly even more passe. Flood gets into it here.
    What gets me is that we somehow manage to mostly overlook the vast fucking mystery of being – of having this extraordinarily ordinary adventure of consciousness. What are we? Where did we come from? What the heck IS this? To pretend that one has any clue, and then parlay that into tenure or a head curator gig, is the real kick in the ‘nads.

  5. To respond to Titus in regard to the “spirit vs. religion thing”, I agree that the whole thing is old and rather worn out. However, the essay’s title seemed to invite the necessity of sorting it out a bit. Plus, the image of the crucified Christ and the references to hillbilly pentecostals as a one side of the question pretty well obviate the need to mention the mystery that you describe in your final group of questions as an antidote. Of course it is a cliché. Unfortunately a lot of teachers and art administrators love to either give answers or at least pretend they know more than the rest of us students. I am often impressed by the most difficult but often most thoughtful reply to a question: “I don’t know.”

  6. What if you happen to be Reform Jewish? You may have some serious questions about whether God is everywhere, and even question whether your pact with God should be taken seriously, given the Holocaust, and all. You might be offended by kooks performing post-mortem baptisms, and other flakes saying they love the Jews, but ‘pray’ for their souls. I applaud the panel for generally not touching the topic with a ten foot pole. I wish everyone was so civil.

  7. Christ looks pretty happy….even orgasmic, I’d say, in that shot. And I’ve seen that look before. Did you order the book, Theremin? I did. I enjoyed it so much, I ordered the book.

  8. You enjoyed Christ or the book?

  9. I can only hope someone was touching it with a ten foot pole when you saw that look, my dear. Havent read the book, but I’ve seen the movie.

  10. I would agree with Tightus that Atheism is indeed reliant on a type of dogma that seems to defeat the purpose of purging yourself of a religion, although I don’t borrow from Duchamp interviews, and call them another religion. However, to suggest that Secularism and Atheism are synonyms, or must be used in the same sentence is utter bullshit. Besides, what’s wrong with Atheism? Nothing more than any other religion, as you imply. Whether any of it is any more of a cliche than the existentialist dribble offered in his Zen mantra is a matter of one man’s opinion.

  11. “My art is secular, he said, made for a secular audience. I’m an atheist.” See above.

    Mistaking existentialism for Zen and vice versa is the basic blunder. Very Beatnik of you. If you say they’re the same, you miss. If you say they are different, you also miss. The main “doctrinal” difference would be that in the face of life’s inevitable suffering, existentialism throws total reliance on the egoic self, while “Zen” is premised on questioning the very existence of such a thing. One results in grudging acceptance (push rock up hill), the other in a compassionate grappling with the realities of inter-being (no rock, no hill. How hilarious! man, are my arms tired…can I help you with that?) And a mantra is a short sacred phrase, repeated for magical or psychological effect. I don’t deploy them on GT…as far as you know.
    Atheism is fine, I don’t discriminate – I just question how one could ever finally know, either way, pro or con. I can’t see how it matters, in the end. The question misses the point.

    One only has to look at contemporary art practice to realize Duchamp has become nothing short of a religion, with priests, rituals, tithing, and vast cathedrals built in his honor, thousands wishing for his grace and blessing. And many greater minds than mine have revealed the deeply Catholic mechanisms at work in many of Duchamp’s maneuvers. I frankly think this is more redemptive of his work than shameful, revealing that (at his best) he was dealing with a full-spectrum, and not just caught up purely in a “secular atheism” as many of his heretical disciples are.

  12. “how one could ever finally know, either way, pro or con. ”

    It is referred to as gnosis Titus. The trailer parks are full of it.

  13. On the face of it, what I just said sounds naive, but isn’t it a very deep thing in human nature to search for order, pattern, mathematics, ethics, etc. ? The mine where all those things are occasionally extracted is full of a thousand empty, foolish dry holes, but it’s hard wired in human beings to inquire, experiment, observe, and, finally, just be amazed. Isn’t amazement delightful? Some of us shudder at doctrinaire “explanations”, religions that claim to be exclusive and unique understanding of The Way Things Are, but upon close scrutiny are just reflexes of a particular culture, reflections and projections of human power structures, superimposed upon some imaginary deity created for the purpose of making a particular tribe behave itself. Some languages, beautiful as they may be, claim to be the words of God or some Ursprache from a long-past Glory. All that, though, is parochial. To me, it’s a worthy endeavor for artists to continue to search for and describe what is finally delightful, awesome, sublime, horrendous, tragic, humorous, compassionate, and so on.

    Speaking of meaning, maybe it is useful to think of spirit from an etymological standpoint. Spiritus is breath. What do you do in Zazen? Why do we say we are inspired? Maybe spirit is consciousness expressed by life, and life is defined as that which breathes.

  14. Titus,
    If you were to try to pigeonhole artists, it would not be closer to the truth that they can be placed in one of two categories– those who are self obsessed, and those who are interested in understanding all that can not be defined as themselves. Although, I would have to say it is impossible to distinguish between these two activities in your writing. Given the self obsessive nature of your work. Duchamp came by the Catholic stuff quite naturally. He was born into it. Were you born into a Zen Buddhist family? If not, how did an interest in the world outside somehow become a self obsessive act for you?

  15. Theremin,
    were you born into a family of dicks, or did you convert?

  16. “existentialism throws total reliance on the egoic self, while “Zen” is premised on questioning the very existence of such a thing”

    This takes me off guard: the egoic self.

  17. After sixty years, a Rabbi decides to retire. Taking the large box of foreskins he has collected over the years of attending circumcisions, he goes to a leather goods manufacturer and says to the man. “Can you do anything with these?”
    The man says “No problem, come back in two weeks.”
    After two weeks the rabbi returns to the shop, and is presented with an elegant wallet.
    In total dismay, he says to the craftsman “After sixty years and all those foreskins, the best you can do is a wallet?”
    The man replies, “Don’t worry, just stroke it a few times and it will grow into a suitcase.”

  18. Andy X’s father was flat broke, and out of a job. The economy was in a tale spin, and his career as a head cheese cleaner lost all its jobs to the Irish, who’ll do anything for a buck, and even work some of the time on the clock, if you can keep them sober, and civil. Andy X’s mother stood up and said, “Seamus, I’m going to turn out as a prostitute, so we might have some gruel.”
    Andy X’s mom returned that evening, and handed Seamus her the wad she collected that evening. After counting, Seamus looks at Irene, and says, “There’s 7 Pounds, and 42 pence, here… who gave you the 42 pence?” Irene looked back at Seamus, and gleefully shouted, “THE ALL DID!!!”

  19. Oh dear….
    I’ve misjudged you, theremin.
    But I’ve misjudged others.
    (Titus, theremin is a convert, a covert convert….but he can’t help it any more than I can….and you both exhibit ‘Anita Bryant’ syndrome.)

    Tell us another, brother.

  20. Anita Bryant syndrome? I’m the one who came up with the yes is no on 8, no is yes on 8 shell game. I’m so Anita Bryant I drink orange juice for breakfast. I shot Harvey Milk.

  21. You (and titus) protest too much. That’ s all.

  22. Drivel is what flies out of one’s mouth into the air. Dribble is what flows out of one’s mouth down one’s chin.

  23. Blow it out your post-pie hole, Lil Ms. Andy-Semite.

  24. I wish everyone was so civil.

  25. Are you currently taking Andypsychotics, or Andydepressants?

  26. You caught me snoozing, and I haven’t been to Ireland for several years.

  27. All that, though, is parochial. It merely illustrates your Andysocial behavior, Andy-Semite.

  28. Yawn

  29. The trailer parks are full of it.

  30. Whatever happened to the state hospitals?

  31. It appears “theramin” has made the mistake of taking a knife to a gunfight.

  32. The trailer parks are full of it.

  33. Leonard Cohen

  34. So long (Andy-Semite), Marianne…

  35. Someone please bring on Part 2.
    We all, almost all of us anyway, eagerly await. Theremin usually takes a nuclear device to a (swiss army) knife-fight when something much smaller will almost always certainly do.

  36. doesn’t suit you at all.
    Ching, ching, lie lie.

  37. Carefully neutered bling bling.

  38. The knife metaphor was meant to describe “theremin” and his apparent prediliction for whining about things that he doesn’t really understand. He doesn’t have the chops to discuss the issues, either with Flood or with O’Brien. The first comment on Flood’s piece, from “theremin”, has the tone of a person taking personal offense at what is, to me, simply a plea to take a risk in talking more about internal and personal points of view rather than always being worried about being politically correct. Theremin seems like a self-appointed nanny making sure that the children all play nice, except he or she is full of the worst kind of bile herself. BTW, the “rabbi joke” was standard fare for comics in the Borscht Belt and has been told a million times by guys like Shecky Green. So “theremin” takes offense, playing the innocent victim entitled to tell (badly) that old canard about the Irish. He can’t spell. He even fucked up the punchline. This is in addition to what he feels perfectly entitled to say to Titus O’Brien about Zen. O’Brien even extended him the courtesy of responding, not in kind, but by actually giving a very succinct explanation about the differences between Zen and Existentialism. However it zinged right over theremin’s head. Theremin loves to dish it out, but he/she can’t take it. Finally, theremin might investigate the form of gnosticism known as Kabbalah.

  39. Why, thank you for your unbiased take on things, Ttus. M/C Flood has a sense of humor, and welcomes opposing views, if not outright relishes them. In the context that “Andy Sheehan”, aka Andy-Semite, presented his little joke, it can only be taken as an insult to someone, based on their cultural heritage. The art world, and the better half of the world, frowns on such things. Don’t you have your own blog to lord over?

  40. I esp. liked Titus’ take on Zen vs. Existentialism, now I’ve got to go back to the books and look up egoic self reliance.

  41. theremin can dish it out, but he can’t take it. Plus, you misunderstand Feehan. He is the Andychrist.

  42. The trailer parks are full of it, and so are you both, Titus. Mark should be arrested for impersonating an Irishman. Andy-Semites.

  43. Tell the Andychrist to drop 150 lbs., or invest in Andygravity technology, the Andy-Semite.

  44. Truth be told, I usually only post while drinking, heavily. This place is where I come to be with friends and with enemies. The line gets somewhat blurred by this time in the evening and I’ll regret this post around 3:30 tomorrow morning when I wake up hungover and laying between dogs, while I struggle to remember what I’ve said or what I’ve bought off ebay and elsewhere….I won’t fall back asleep until around 5:00cam and I’ll promise myself then that ‘Ill never come back here again. But I do and tonight I wonder why.

  45. bought a parka recently on eBay, and a fur hat for Ray. Et tu?
    But I have to burst Theremin’s bubble – I’m not Trungpa R. Though he strikes me as sharper than some of the other tools in this drawer – except for falling into the trap of bothering to post at all. Oh shit, I’m doing it again too! I’m cutting myself back off. Fookin Jameson.

  46. I was saying how I think maybe rainbird and I are maybe the same person, since we have the same experience posting on GT, and ebaying. whatev’s.

  47. We aren’t the same. If only. I certainly admire you. Buy used stuff from North Face, Mountain Hardware, Arc’teryx,

  48. …and Patagonia. They may not be the best but they will keep you warm.

  49. I’m not drinking Wild Turkey or Bombay, but those were the days.

  50. After reading this today, I am Andyalcohol.

  51. You don’t need warm clothes. Where I live, everybody this time of year just drinks Andyfreeze.

  52. For the record, I hope Chicago treats you well, and that the climate at least better suits your work, even if you do need a parka.

  53. תודה. עם זאת, אני לא טיטוס.

  54. Níl gach uile fhánaí caillte

  55. The first one is something about W is coming tired to your house and he second one is something about not all wonder is white.

  56. if you were a wanderer, you’d drop the 150, sugar dumplin’.

  57. לא משנה
    אתה גמד

  58. For THIS we are spending our-hard-earned tax dollars? The least you clowns could do would be to write in English so the rest of us could read what you are arguing about. This is America. I spent two days’ pay on a computer just so I could look at Glasstire after my producer told me to find some soft target to bump the ratings. Another thing, stop telling me to drop the 150. I am not fat. I just have big bones. That also proves I couldn’t possibly be a tick, because arachnids don’t have skeletons, at least not on the inside. Mine is on the outside. I’m thick-skinned and shapely, like a Bartlett pear.

  59. Choosing the past instead of the future creates ontological guilt by association.

    Couldn’t get the second one Ricochet.

  60. It’s not important. Besides, ontological guilt is a Western Tradition.

    From Ulysses:

    “What points of contact existed between these languages and between the peoples who spoke them?
    The presence of guttural sounds, diacritic aspirations, epenthetic and servile letters in both languages: their antiquity, both having been taught on the Plain of Shinar 242 years after the deluge in the seminary instituted by Fenius Farsaigh, descendant of Noah, progenitor of Israel, and ascendant of Heber and Heremon, progenitors of Ireland: their archeological genealogical, hagiographical, exegetical, homilectic, toponomastic,historical and religious literatures comprising the works of rabbis and culdees, Torah, Talmud (Mischna and Ghemara), Massor, Pentateuch, Book of the Dun Cow, Book of Ballymote, Garland of Howth, Book of Kells: their dispersal, persecution, survival and revival: the isolation of their synagogical and ecclesiastical rites in ghetto (S Mary’s Abbey) and masshouse (Adam and Eve’s tavern): the proscription of their national costumes in penal laws and jewish dress acts: the restoration in Chanan David of Zion and the possibility of Irish political autonomy or devolution…..

    In what common study did their mutual reflections merge?
    The increasing simplification traceable from the Egyptian epigraphic hieroglyphs to the Greek and Roman alphabets and the anticipation of modern stenography and telegraphic code in the cuneiform inscriptions (Semitic) and virgular quinquecostate ogham writing (Celtic).

  61. God I hate you guys.

  62. Are you working on a sequel to the movie PI, or did your babblecrock buddy eat it whole?

  63. Are you talking about Dave Ward or Marvin Zindler?

  64. That’s the wrestler’s stream of ptyalin grinnin at defeat’s estranged daughter.

  65. Such was the lot of Lot.

  66. That was a joke about pie.

  67. Genesis 19:32
    Finally, perhaps the thing we share, a piece of the ∏, is that we are all irrational.

  68. Je jongle, donc je suis.

  69. Swallow it whole and blow it out your post-Π hole. Hooke, Lyon, and Cinquer.

  70. You don’t juggle, but you are most certainly subject to gravity, therefore, you are… welcome to blow it out your Π-hole, Andy-Semite.

  71. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  72. ….but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards.

  73. Andy-Semite Ricochet,
    We already said, “Good night, Dick.” So, Good Night, Dick.

  74. Yawn. Good night, cousin.

  75. I bought that book Ricochet. Cause of your suggestion.

  76. I tried to read it, but found it to be Andyclimatic.

  77. Yes

  78. Not that one, the other one, constructing alterity in and around Molly’s age.

  79. If you will pay attention to the symbolism in Ulysses, you will notice that Leopold and Molly lay in bed with their feet at opposite ends, forming an eternity symbol.

  80. their feet smelled worse than their mouth?. I haven’t gotten to Ulysses yet. I’ve been reading most of the 100 ‘best’ books of the century because my education was much so worse than woeful. I also bought a whole bunch of the ‘Paris Review’ compilation books that I won’t remember reading. I sure don’t remember ordering them. ‘Cloud Atlas ‘is a great postmodern book (hahahah ,I typed postmortem first…..). Titus, you and Theremin , Asshole and Trungpa and even perhaps Clark should list the 5 most important books you’ve ever read. I’d certainly be interested. I’m always looking for something good to read….(to keep me from here as much as anything else.) Or just make fun of me. That’s good too.
    Antdyintellectual.

  81. make my spelling lackluster. But funnier.

  82. theremin just for that comment I’m going to list my five most important books: Zoetrope, The Looming Tower, Buried Dreams, God In Not Great

  83. and Postmoderism and the Holocaust Denial.

  84. you forgot Suttree.

  85. I’m not big on lists, but here’s some great books everyone should read, and I still enjoy: Remembrance of Things Past, The Divine Comedy (I consider it a great masterpiece of fiction, but it has very much influenced the ‘Christian’ concept of heaven and hell), The Impossible, The Cantos, Tropic of Cancer, The Glass Eye Bead, Pere Ubu, 120 Days of Sodom, My Secret Life (a diary of the sexual exploits of a Victorian era “Gentleman”)… enjoy, although I doubt your education is ‘sorely lacking’, rainbird.. and thanks for the list, Asshole. There are three I haven’t read, and should.

  86. The title is the glass bead game, not glass eye bead.

  87. Those are good books, I am sure, although I haven’t read all of them. Like theremin, I’m not much on lists either, since there is so much great stuff to read. Just for navigating through life, we all should know the Bible (I’m serious.) Then all of Shakespeare. Then Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Then all of Joyce, but preferably with a group, because he is so dense, and I mean that in the best sense. On a completely different note, Joseph Needham’s huge achievement, Science and Civilisation in China, will astonish the reader and completely alter anyone’s notion of history.

    I like theremin’s list, and I’d like to add that Dante’s model is of course taken from Ovid, Virgil, Homer, and, prior to all of them, his “architecture of eschatology” is taken from the Ziggurats of Babylon, upside-down as well as right-side up. The Christian ideas of heaven and hell are much older than Christ (who, if he actually existed, probably never would have made such a building).

    Thomas Mann and Umberto Eco fascinate me, too. Anything by either is worthwhile. And, although he probably has suffered from simultaneous overexposure and misunderstanding due to cursory exposure among some readers, Joseph Campbell is a treasure trove. The Masks of God (4 volumes) is a great road map. Like anyone else, he had his blind spots, but he was an amazing scholar and a great teacher.

    Thanks, all of you, for the suggestions.

  88. Well of the books I listed I’ve only read one of them, Buried Dreams and part of Postmodernism and the Holocaust Denial. The others are important because someone gave them to me. rainbird is right, Surtree is one of my favs along with that other madcap thing which I can’t remember right now. Trungpa is right as always, thanks Trungpa. thanks rainbird for the books. Joe is a nice treasure trove, he kind of rocks.

  89. I haven’t read Suttree. I liked Blood Meridian, but found the Road disappointing. Like John Irving, sans humor. I agree that Dante owes a debt to the past, and this is in no small part the reason Virgil was his guide through hell. I have to disagree on the importance of reading ‘the bible’, and don’t plan to ever do so. There is a great documentary on Holocaust denial called either Mr. Death, or Dr. Death. It follows a man who built electric chairs for the state of Mississippi, and his subsequent involvement in “scientific” proof the Holocaust never happened. Creepy man, scary story. Best to all. Mr. T

  90. just some I like, that I go back to regularly (or want to), in no particular order. A sort of desert island selection:
    -the Platform Sutra by Hui Neng
    -Finnegans Wake
    -The Road Home, Jim Harrison.
    -Sexus, Henry Miller
    -The Book of Serenity (Shoyo Roku.)
    -I Am That, Nisargadatta Maharaj
    -Leaves of Grass, Whitman
    -Break the Mirror, poems by Nanao Sakaki (out of print I think)
    -I Ching, Stephen Karcher translation
    whoops – that’s ten. I don’t want to do with less, if I don’t have to…I’m sad there’s not woman on my list. So I’ll add Jane Hirschfield, The October Palace. And a collection of Emily Dickinson. And Riprap

  91. riprap and other poems, Gary Snyder. and and and

  92. Theremin, although I think I understand your reluctance to read “the bible”, what, for the sake of brevity, the Christians call the Old Testament is so woven into Western culture that it would be hard to function without it. Even if you look at it as history, poetry, or geography, it seems essential, even if, as history it’s not always accurate. And how much art history wouldn’t be recognizable if one didn’t have biblical iconographic references? Just as a set of points to find one’s bearings, it seems important to me. If you accept it or reject it, you can still bounce a signal off of it.
    Titus, I have the Wilhelm translation of I Ching. The page edges are black with use. Although I haven’t consulted the oracle in a while, there was a time when I did, daily. I even have the Legge translation, which is awkward but kind of fascinating as a piece of history. He worked with the Latin that the Jesuits published. Chinese to Latin to English is a great way to make mud, I realize. Still, I used to look at it as a sort of backup, and it was the first version I saw when I was young. I’ll have to find the Karcher, now that you have made it known to me.

  93. I get your point, and I am well versed in the stories, iconography and symbols associated with the saints, angels, and biblical heroes. I grew up in a family that collected Mexican Retablos, etc., including Greek, Russian, Armenian, and Eastern Orthodox relics. But, there are several versions of ‘the bible’, some include books that are not in others, some are dreadful revisions of stories from long before, as you well know. If I read ancient Greek, I may be more inclined to have an interest in them.

  94. I should be working but I read this and thought, Hey! I grew up in a family that collected relics too! …old beer cans and soda bottles mostly. They also sold worms, 50 to a box, for extra spending money. (Dried creek beds offer a wealth of worms). Later they would raise the worms in tubs the back yard and also bake cakes. I hadn’t thought of that in years! Thanks for the post Theremin. And my sincere thanks to you all for the reading suggestions. I was pleased to see I had read some of them already. That ‘Science and Civilization of China’ book lists for over $300. and ‘My Secret Life’ has 11 volumes!) I might just buy one or 2 of those to start with.

  95. Hello, fellow collector. My copy of My Secret Life is a box set, hardbound in two books. You must be warned that the language is quite explicit, and the “Gentleman” might be described as depraved, at best. It’s one of those books you can open at any point, read until you’ve had all you can stand. This might mean one, or two sentences, or more. It is all depending on the thickness of your skin. Remembrance of Things Past is 7 books, and over 3,000 pages. I’d devote a month to it, on your first go around.

  96. Theremin, I figured you were raised with all those stories, told in one language or the other, translated from something to something else. So was I. I was thinking of a dozen books that I would take with me if I were to leave the earth on a space ship with only carry-on luggage. Everybody here obviously reads and probably knows the OT. You are quite correct about visions, versions, revisions, reversions, translations, etc., and how some were tailored for various reasons. And the Gospels…that’s a whole other thing, political, mostly, I think. Most people who call themselves Christian accept what is given to them in the NT, but there are other gospels, as I imagine you also know. And with all of them we are asked to trust the translators. Same with all literature. We have several years’ worth of reading, just looking at the books and plays listed here. It would be miraculous if we all could read them, each in the original language.

    Rainbird, the Needham books are the life’s work of a huge scholar, a polymath of the nth degree, and they still haven’t all been published. If you live near a decent public library, you might be able to find all volumes. Borrow them one at a time. I think there are over twenty now. I lived in Houston for years, and people stole many of the things I was interested in at the downtown library, including that title. Interlibrary Loan is a great way to score stuff, too. Even if you live in a small town, your local library can get you anything you want through this network.

    Theremin, I’d really be impressed if you had Proust in French.

  97. I saw Gary Snyder read a poem once.

  98. Actually, there’s no way all that shit would fit in the overhead compartment, so I got it all on my hard drive.

  99. No worries here. My skin is really thick. I sat next to asshole once…. during a movie.

  100. RB, Did he ask you to pull his finger? Unlike ancient Greek, I can read French. I would like the new translation, or to obtain the French text it was compiled from. Great brain exercise to read other languages. Why it is controversial to look at more than one account of the crucifixion, I will leave for others to say. There were an awful lot of crucifixions in Judea, and it was not unusual for everyone in the crowd to be reluctant (to say the least) to speak up for anyone who was executed for political reasons. Those Romans were savages, the damn Christ Killers! : P

  101. It is also perhaps the magnetic attraction of polar opposites. You complete me?

  102. No he didn’t. I don’t think he even spoke to me. Most people avoid me like the plague. And I don’t blame them a bit. I drink too much. Did i mention my dad sold worms for a living?
    Signing off…again.
    pray for me never to return…..

  103. No one has ever said my dad sold worm for a living.

  104. Not even Rodney Dangerfield?

  105. What crucifiction? Maybe Rodney said that or some equivalent, I don’t know, I think he peed on the carpet though.

  106. Theremin, uncoordinated Cartesians in South Louisiana saywhen they mean . I think you have to be from New Iberia to have thought it was funny.
    Oh, well…

  107. The program apparently doesn’t recognize some foreign diacritical marks.
    Uncoordinated Cartesians is South Louisiana say “je jongle” when they mean “je pense”.
    I’m starting to talk like the murdered monk in The Name of the Rose.

  108. This is as close to religion as it gets. Paste this in your browsers:
    http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid960594369/bctid1716406566

  109. the Rodney post was a comment on the humorous, self-deprecating remarks from rainbird. thoughts are sometimes juggled, I was referencing an unfinished portion in the Large Glass, the juggler of gravity. Mark/Clark, we are all blog hogs. don’t go changing to try to please little ol’ me, just big ol’ you!

  110. You people aren’t praying nearly hard enough.

    Those weren’t humorous or self-deprecating remarks, Theremin…they were god’s own truth! My worm-selling dad later landed a job as a history teacher in a private ‘Christian’ school. My dad, (who doesn’t believe the holocaust happened either, by the way….) got to teach ‘history’…to a bunch of wretched teenagers…for years!!
    I attended that same private Christian school for 1 year… (I was in the 4th grade and learned to say no by the 5th!) more stories for another time…but let me tell you…. I filled many a notebook with drawings of perversely over-endowed bikini clad women, sitting in the back of that room filled with over 60 4th graders.

    Humorous, self-deprecating remarks? I wish.
    My geography is perhaps the worst but my Mother taught me how to spell it…. George Eat Old Gray Rat At Paul’s House Yesterday.
    My head is going hurt real soon.

  111. my tv isn’t ready for dtv either. Oh woe is me…..

  112. You ever do any pictures of worms on crosses?

  113. Its good to have you still protesting those icky human contractions. giottos deadly sins do a good job of personifying them. you can find a description in any world religion ,though for some reason most people like to find the same stuff in an exotic wrapper. i find most modern/postmodern art to be rank materialism, most of mine included.
    best, n.

  114. My head hurt so bad after that post I started throwing up. For 9 hours, give or take, I threw up. I didn’t drink for a whole week after that! Only a little red wine tonight and a gift for anyone who ventures back here. Try DELICE DE BOURGONE if you enjoy brie. Get a real soft mushy piece. Best brie I ever ate.
    I’m making a work that involves caterpillars, Asshole…. metaphorically speaking…I guess those are sort of like worms.

  115. After the first couple hours it gets to be every 20 to 30 minutes as the bile builds back up. Then of course when you take a hydrating sip, that comes along back up the highway with the bile. Then your mouth tastes metallic or something, like a serious depletion of some kind.

  116. I thought of saying ‘metamorphicaily because both words made sense. I can’t seem to spell it, but you already know what I mean.You’ve walked that mile in my shoes…..which sort of explains things.

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