Sunday, May 30, 2010
I was riding the subway back to Brooklyn early this evening, immersed in my book, when a guy got on the train and immediately started ranting. He smelled bad, a mixture of stale alcohol and rancid clothes. He walked with difficulty, partly due to the alcohol, and he also seemed slightly disabled. As he commenced his rant, I assumed that a plea for money was coming, as is usually the case in these situations, but he never asked for it, nor did he have a cup in which compassionate subway riders could place their change. No, this guy was all about the rant. And here it is, to the best of my recollection:
(Imagine, if you will, an angry, thick Brooklyn accent, an improbable lisp, and some alcohol-induced slurring of consonants).
G'ahead! G'ahead! (screaming)
Call me whaddever you want.
I know what you think of me.
I'm a BUM!
That's right, I'm a bum!
So shoot me!
Throw your garbage at me!
Okay, he's got my attention.
Laugh at me if you want, I don't care.
Call me whaddever you want, I don't care.
I know what I am.
People throw garbage at me all the time.
G'ahead! Do it!
I put down my book. I look at him.
Everyone calls me a bum.
I don't care.
You know why I don't care?
I'll tell you why.
It's cause I know what I am.
Do you know who I am?
I'll tell you who I am.
Leaking of eyes. Quivering of chin.
Yup, that's right, everybody.
I...AM...GOD. (still screaming)
Tear duct overflow....damn.
You don't believe me?
Well, that's your problem.
That's your biggest fucking problem.
All of you.
You don't know that I'm God.
And you know what?
You're God too, and you don't even know it.
What a bunch of assholes.
Severe eye leakage. Mascara impaired. Incoming Kleenex.
If you knew who you really are, your head would fucking explode!
You'd be so full of love you wouldn't know what to do with it!
Well let me tell you something, assholes.
You are God, and you are love.
You're no better or worse than I am.
So g'ahead! G'ahead!
Shoot your garbage at me!
Shoot your garbage at God!
There was more, but I was too busy tending to my southbound snot and mascara to remember the rest. Wow - talk about a Power Point Presentation! This guy was good. You just never know where those dang Advaitans are gonna turn up. Thanks, man.
Above: Not my subway car, but it coulda been. This was the kind of reception this guy got, except from me, of course. If he'd been selling books on motivational speaking, I'd have bought one.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I'm working on the Book of Revelation again. It will be my largest piece to date: 44" x 30". I totally love it, but am forced to take long breaks, as I have to stretch into demonic positions while working. Every time I lean over the great expanse of my table for more than thirty minutes, my lumbar region goes on strike and my neck does a 360. I also noticed that my phone now has a speed dial for OSHA, but I don't know which body part is responsible. Other than those minor nuisances, it's going great.
As mentioned in a previous post, this text drawing is the Book of Revelation in its entirety, cut letter by letter from the Koran. I started at the top of the paper, and am winding down in a continuous line of type until I finish all twenty-two chapters. In the center of the piece is the Islamic prayer called Ayat al-Kursi, or the 'Throne Verse'. This is one of the parallels between the two holy scriptures that interests me–their similar use of symbolism in regard to the Throne of God. For both Christianity and Islam, the Throne is the indisputable seat of power, and the place where God has chosen to hang out. But it's more than that–there's the sense that some pretty high-voltage power is located in or on the Throne. In Revelation, God sits on his Throne as he reveals to John that which is in the sealed scroll, which I'll get to in another post. (Calm down and take your seats, everyone! I know how excited y'all are about this, but do try to be patient!) The point being that it's not until God is planted on his Throne that he starts revealing to John his positively psychedelic visions. And in the Islamic 'Throne Verse', it states that the Throne fully extends across heaven and earth, which is interesting because al kursi can also be interpreted as 'the heart'.
The other parallel between the Book of Revelation and the Koran which I find intriguing is the obsession and fanaticism that lurks just beneath the surface of each. Let's face it, folks: Saint John was an obsessive/compulsive. He ate locusts. He wore hairy shirts. I'll bet he didn't smell so good. So he winds up shipwrecked on the Greek island Patmos, starved and likely tripping on mushrooms culled from his cave, and he has these completely mind-blowing visions. I don't doubt their legitimacy, and believe they were of divine provenance. He manages to write them down, and in so doing provides fodder for later generations of Christians to argue, excommunicate, and incinerate their fellow believers. It's insane. No book in the Bible has created such heated debate about salvation and hierarchy in the church. I'm not blaming John, I'm just sayin'.
As for the Koran, well, this could get me in some trouble, but I'm up for it. Like fundamental Christians, there are some radical Muslims who take their beloved Islam and use the word of Allah as a weapon of mass destruction. Again, it's insane. Any religion that insists upon being the only path to heaven, and then sets about killing those who don't concur and convert, is rooted in a profoundly twisted and erroneous interpretation of the word of God. I have deep respect for Muslims, and am deeply moved by the genuine devotion in their prayers and writings. So it fascinates me to no end that such a heartfelt religion can turn so violent when it gets into the wrong hands. (That's the problem, as I see it. It gets into their hands, rather than their heart).
But we can say the same thing for Christianity, right? There was that nasty little episode called the Inquisition? (Ouch...I hate hot burning pincers). And for that matter, there's no end to the calumny and degradation that stains the church today, even as we speak. Those dang Catholics priests are still insulting the name of Christ with their reprehensible conduct. Wtf? The arrogance is astonishing! But they're a small slice of the pie, and too far from any Throne (heavenly or earthbound) to besmirch God or his goodness. The only consolation in all of this is that the priests are effectively dismantling Catholicism's leaden control over their followers. Their previous positions of power are simply untenable. And it must be said that intelligent people know that the fanatics and hypocrites of any religious persuasion are ignorant, and not delegates of the God whom they claim to represent.
So my fascination with obsession is presently and thoroughly engaged in my current text drawing. How cool is that? I get to obsess over obsession. A neurotic's dream come true! I forgot to mention that I'm only on chapter seven, so you'll be hearing from me again. Soon.
Above: David Koresh, the leader of the extremist Branch Davidian religious sect, who claimed to be their final prophet. He and 75 of his followers died in a fire at their compound in Waco, Texas in 1993.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I recently finished this piece. It's called "SPLURT: The Book of Genesis from 'On the Origin of Species' by Charles Darwin". I'm recreating the book of Genesis by cutting the letters from Darwin's classic book on evolution. Get it? You should – it's not that deep – but here's the cool part: The shapes are taken from illustrations from 'The Joy of Sex' by Alex Comfort. I traced the outlines of these fornicating couples – (well, actually, I'm not sure if they're fornicating, but they're definitely copulating) – and so we're talking about beginnings, origins, and the inevitable coitus that made it all possible. I find it amusing that whether one is a creationist or an evolutionist, one must concede that copious amounts of sex were had by all creatures great and small in order to populate our planet.
So this will be a series. I've started doing more of these, tracing other copulating couples from 'Joy' and then filling them in with the text from Genesis. Not sure how many yet; I'll just do them until I get tired of it. Can you tell that the shape is a couple? My sense is that you can, although it may not be clear what they're doing. They might be having sex, but they might also be playing Parcheesi. The illustrations from 'The Joy of Sex' are exquisite. I remember as a kid my aunt and uncle had the book tucked away on one of their remote shelves, and when I'd visit them, I'd sneak a peek at it. Quite a shock for a quiet little Methodist, who didn't realize that 'sex' had another meaning beyond gender. Say what???
What is THAT??
And why is he sticking it THERE???
And why the hell doesn't she fight BACK????
Imagine my shock. I think every kid experiences their first reality check when he or she is told about sex. It was the only time in my life when suicide seemed a suitable alternative to the foul deed that was being presented to me.
I have to thank Aunt ____ and Uncle ____ for my most excellent sex education. I thought I'd outsmarted them by sticking their big fat book in my Archie comic book, but I'll bet they were wise to my machinations. My wounded-deer-in-the-headlights look must have given me away. In any case, they gave me lots of space to process the surreal information, and undoubtedly had a good, quiet laugh in the other room.
About the title: When you think about it, it's pretty funny that all of creation and all of evolution is contained in a single splurt. All this fuss about who's right and who's wrong is a moot conversation and misses the point. Whether we evolved from Adam and Eve or two humping baboons, it's a given that there was a well-aimed and well-timed splurt, and the rest is...well, history.