Romancing the Lachryphage

One of the supreme pleasures of that giddy delirium called human consciousness is an unsuppressable proclivity for filtering each extant instant and event, all objects, and every possible thing through the highly sensitive prism of emotion. The result is, put simply, poetry. We look at things around us, purposeful things, functional things, simple, straight forward things, and create out of them, through pattern recognition, anthropomorphism, and analogy a baroque emotional landscape positively rife with the touching, the gut-wrenching, and the glorious. Though the universe does not know it or care, we look around and we shudder at the significance of it all.

What am I rambling on about? Well, how about, for example, lachryphagy?

07.07. filed under: humanity. observations. science. 8

Mincing Our Oaths

Thoughts on being a potty-mouthed atheist in a world of Religious profanity.

As a bona-fide + atheist I find myself curiously conscious about the oaths I speak. Every time, in a moment of anger, I inadvertently begin barking “Jesus!” or “Christ!” or “God Damn it!” I feel slightly embarrassed afterward, as if my thoughtless reliance on these oaths, and others like them, were a betrayal of my own ideals. + It is almost as though the involuntary use of these words, signifiers of Ideas I reject, reveals some sort of personal weakness. + What it reveals, however, is the simplest of dumb-dumb facts. Namely that the English language is so brim-full of Religious oaths, that to remove them from one’s vocabulary would effectively render you, in your anger, red-faced and vein-popped but mute. 

06.18. filed under: belief. ideas. life. observations. 4

A spring day. A holiday. A beautiful day for origins laid bare. The question arises from within and without, from mischievous children and coots embittered by a lifetime in minority, “what do bunnies and eggs have to do with anything?” And there might be a squirm, and their might be a laugh, and there might even be an answer which deigns to include the word “Goddess” or “fertility” or “birth.” It’s a beautiful day for the survival of annexed symbols and the bright light of incongruousness that they shine. There is an implicit acknowledgment of lineage in those symbols that a hundred generations of voices crying “ultimate Truth” can’t drown out; a moon which won’t be eclipsed.

Across the northern hemisphere bodies are goaded and throb, independent of mind and careless of culture, as they always have. Biology, the great uniter, offering every animal their undeniable cues. Today, in the spring light, warm and feminine in its promise of fecundity, we’re presented a beautiful day for clarity. Feeling that light on our face, its winks and hints at comfort, we might ask, “Why should this light be refracted through a lens of bloody beatings and spear tips and torture? What has this light to do with the adventures of a murdered man’s corpse?” Or, “Have we moved the movable feast too far?” Perhaps today is the best day in the year to feel plainly the qualitative difference between healthy biological realities and the dark, gnarled festoons and embellishments of human abstraction.

Note: The image is a detail of Hans Baldung Grien’s Death and the Woman c.1517.

03.23. filed under: belief. humanity. observations. 5

Crows and Coins

Or: Extrapolations from Josh Klein’s Vending Machine

When I first read about Josh Klein’s “Crow Vending Machine” I laughed. It seemed funny as hell somehow. After heading over to Klein’s site to read some more about his invention and intentions I stopped laughing. For one thing it’s supervillian clever. Successfully training crows to scour the earth for cash with nothing more than the promise of a peanutty reward is ingenious. More than that though I stopped laughing because I began thinking about the crows themselves and couldn’t help but extrapolate…

03.08. filed under: ideas. observations. play. 8

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

Being dead has got to be a drag. Being dead and famous? Still a drag, but at least you impressed yourself into the wax of the world sufficiently to live on, if only in name, for a while longer. Being dead and a famous artist? That’s a whole other tank of hippos. It would seem if you achieve fame in your lifetime as an artist your fate after death is to have every awkward, stinking, aborted creative-effort dragged from the darkness of its banishment, tagged, and shoved under the bright lights. That thing you made whilst naked in the mountains, blindfolded, heartbroken, raving, high on poisonous toad-skin, which you set down in grasshopper blood on the back of a banana leaf… that thing which you awoke three days later to find wedged between a wet deer skull and your car’s front tire… if you were too weak to burn it then when you had the chance, that thing will be found and packaged, and your name will be emblazoned across it, and it will be sold. Yes indeed. It will be sold to someone, or anyone, or everyone with a jangling pile of coins burning a hole in their pocket.



The events which inspired
And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks certainly sound novel-worthy, complete with obsession, drunken knife-fights, murder, body dumping, and the incarceration of our intrepid beat luminaries. Surely its publication will have some redeeming value? Whether just for historians and completists and rubber-neckers, or as a work in and of itself, is yet to be seen.

I have to wonder what the artists themselves would think were they alive? Would they be embarrassed? Displeased? Would the fact that even their “undistinguished” works made it to a clamoring marketplace simply satisfy their egos and overrule their internal editors? Would they grin from their easy chairs unable to beat back the maniacal words, “I am legend”?

My “not very distinguished” mock-up of the UK edition.



Letting “unsuccessful” works linger in drawers and boxes under beds is a weakness for most artists I’d say, but then, when they are your creations, even abortive ones, abhorrent ones, embarrassing ones, and your intention is to mournfully review them every decade or so as you would review old correspondences or family photographs, they retain a definite personal value. A personal value.

After Henry Miller’s death Moloch and Crazy Cock came to light, neither of which were sterling examples of his incredible talent , likewise Bukowski has had damn near as many books of poetry published since his death as before. At what point does the pile of “not ready for prime time” work of an artist begin to tarnish his or her legacy? Does it ever? Is our insatiable desire to know everything about those we’ve immortalized self-defeating? And are we actually entitled to see the things artists didn’t want to have seen? It may well be that we afford our idols more “personal space” physically, after their deaths, than we do metaphorically. 

It’s a moot point I guess. There’s money to be made and industry marches on. And perhaps, just perhaps, the rationalization that even a turd from a master is better than nothing is true. One thing we can be sure of is that neither Jack, nor William, nor Henry, Nor Buk give a good god-damn either way right now, and we can take heart in the fact that while they lived, their art was their own.

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03.04. filed under: art. books. observations. people. 10

Astarte In Paisley

Take, if you will, the following group of words and and allow them to swim and mix and coalesce in your head: Greek mythology, simulated sex, paisley leotards, projectors, flowers, psychedelia, lotus tattoos, day-glo, multi-media, “hard rock” music, ballet… Now let me ask you, what single word might the synthesis of these things naturally result in as response? If you harumphed and murmured, “trainwreck” I’m right there with you. 

02.18. filed under: art. history. observations. 8

On The Scales

Or: Libra, Steelyards, Symbols, and Justice.

Being born in October I have been, for most of my life, obliged to take notice of the balance. I am a Libra you see, and whatever else that does or does not portend for me as an individual, and whether or not that designation holds any meaning whatsoever for me personally, one result, impossible to deny, is that my brain has been conditioned from an early age to give special consideration, be it particular depth of thought or even a single extra second’s worth of attention, to scales.

02.16. filed under: humanity. ideas. observations. personal. 4

The Emperor of Presumption

History has seen to it that the number of artists we’ve never heard of far outweighs those which we have, and positively dwarfs, like a supercluster to a matchbook, the number which we revere. This is doubtless as it should be since every aimless young person without quantifiable interests or skills seem to eventually shuffle (or be herded) into the arts seeking refuge from reality. From among these ranks of artists destined to be forgotten I bring you the somewhat interesting case of Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, the self-styled “emperor of presumption,” who undertook a determined campaign to be remembered in the annals of art history.

01.27. filed under: art. history. observations. people. 5

Miscellaneous Characters

I was looking through a Linotype specimen book today from 1920, glancing at the faces, the advertising figures, some info on “the Rogers Tabular Matrix,” that sort of thing, when I came upon a page in the “miscellaneous characters” section which made me pause. It was a page titled “party emblems” and featured icons meant to represent 10 separate political parties. I thought, “In 1920, less than a single lifetime ago, there were 10 political parties in America taken seriously enough to warrant a logo?” My my, how times have changed.

01.13. filed under: design. history. observations. politics. 6

The Lucky Horseshoe

“Throughout Germany the belief obtains that a horseshoe found on the road, and nailed on the threshold of a house with the points directed outward, is a mighty protection not only against hags and fiends, but also against fire and lightning; but, reversed, it brings misfortune. In eastern Pennsylvania, however, even in recent times, the horse-shoe is often placed with the prongs pointing inward, so that the luck may be spilled into the house. The horse-shoe retains its potency as a charm on the sea as well as on land, and it has long been a practice among sailors to nail this favorite amulet against the mast of a vessel, whether fishing-boat or large sea-going craft, as a protection against the Evil One.” - Robert Means Lawrence, M.D. from The Magic of the Horse-Shoe 1899.

10.20. filed under: belief. history. observations. 6

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