Monday, 2 December 2013

Dante's Answer: Part I

By Rory A.A. Hinton

Black And White

"...since from this abyss none has returned alive, if what I hear is true, without fear of infamy I answer you." (Dante, Inferno, XXVII 61-66)

I: Shrouded

Black Professor teaching Philo-Sophia.
“What is Protestant Theo-Logia?”
‘Biblical Marginalia’... this much was true:
This questioning - curiously new.

White Note full of fashioned texture.
“You’re wicked. Great lecture.”
Come. Teach. Depart.
Ask: "World's apart?"

Black Beauty-Marks on a delicate hand.
“You admire what I cannot stand.” 
Left by the force of nature.
Unbuttoned, despite my stature.

White Honesty telling what is true:
“It is not compassion I feel for you.”  
Wollstonecraft’s “Mind Has No Sex.”
The ingredient of the interesting hex.

Black Poem ushering all that I see.
“You seem to have captured me.” 
Words that remain tenderly hidden.
Writing the tyranny of the forbidden.

White Blake given for forfeit.
“I thought you would like it.” 
The critics agree without schism.
"The Sick Rose" as auto-eroticism.

Black Style with a splash of black hue.
“What voodoo that I do?” 
Wearing Jack across this lap.
You think only I deserve a slap?

White Jack-Ass shrouded in denim.
“I thought you would like them.”
Sweets for the sweet.
Sixteen Bourbon Street.

Black Confession said in guilt:
“I too like black silk.”
Clarion calls outside the frame.
This will never be the same.

White Card cuts like a knife.
“I love having you in my life.” 
How much truth can a spirit bear?
Veritas Et Utilitas ... As I Stare.

Black Vow made over personal wealth.
“What is the state of your mental health?”
Moderate Poverty. Relative Obscurity.
Material Parity. Religious Absurdity.

White Sign destroys disturbance.
“Your pathological transference?”
Nothing to do with personal duplicity.
Everything to do with Synchronicity.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Dante's Answer: Prologue

By Rory A.A. Hinton

Black And White

"...since from this abyss none has returned alive, if what I hear is true, without fear of infamy I answer you." (Dante, Inferno, XXVII 61-66)


Black Lines marginalizing lips.
“Secretly shrouded tips.”
Encode the feminine thunder.
Betray the masculine wonder.

White Rules habitually learned.
“Those who learn are spurned.”
Eventually this too will be spoken.
But first the Ego must be broken.

Black Verse exposing inner fragility.
“A laps into romantic stupidity.” 
Falling off Joshua’s Tree.
This legend is not lost on thee.

White Picture of frozen days.
"An image of seasoned ways." 
For those who know.
The best in show.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The French Connection

By Rory A.A. Hinton

Cafe - Paris
James Wilson Morrice (1865 - 1924)

Canadian post-impressionist painting cannot be understood apart from its French progenitor. What is the essence of French Impressionism, therefore, and how did it evolve into the representative work of James Wilson Morrice (1865-1924)? This is a philosophical question, and its answer is the product of a Parisian provenance that leads back to the writings of Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867).
     Baudelaire broke aesthetic ground by reducing art criticism down to its modernist essentials. What makes the opening question to this essay philosophical is because Baudelaire's reduction, in turn, cannot be understood apart from his reading of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). His use of a priori categories in his abstract prose indicates as much. Kant's philosophy made Baudelaire's criticism possible.  
     Kant is the first real modern because he is the first to analyse and critique the means of criticism (in his Kritik der reinen Vernunft - Critique Of Pure Reason). “Western civilization is not the first to turn around and question its own foundations,” Clement Greenberg writes, “but it is the civilization that has gone furthest in doing so. I identify Modernism with the intensification, almost the exacerbation, of this self-critical tendency that began with the philosopher Kant.”
     What makes Kant’s critique unique in the history of modernity is that it did not follow the standard rule of criticizing a subject from the outside, as was the de facto method during the Enlightenment. By “outside” I mean not adopting the premises of the subject of critique, but rather assuming other premises as a basis for critiquing it. The Enlightenment critique of religion was an outside job. Rather, Kant criticizes from the inside by using critical procedures upon the subject of criticism. In his case, Kant used logic in order to place limits upon logic (subjecting his subject), thereby reducing it down to its critical essence, and function. Kant’s logical “antinomies” within his Critique Of Pure Reason are an example of what you get when “logic goes subjective” (as it were). 
     One of Kant’s objectives was to put limits on Enlightenment reason, through his subjective critique of logic, in order to make room for religious faith. Kant’s modern critique of the Enlightenment critique was an inside job. This example raises an important point about internal criticism. The point is not to subvert the subject of concern, but to entrench it within its own methods and motives. This turn to the subject as the object of subjective concern is the essence of Kant's modernism. It is also the philosophical key to understanding Baudelaire’s brand of Impressionism, and its impact and influence on Canadian post-impressionist painting in the 20th century.
     This revolutionary brand of internal criticism began to influence fields outside of philosophy (painting included), especially within the 19th century. Because of this influence, we moderns now stand in the shadow of Kant in the same way that earlier generations once stood in the shadow of Aristotle. Kant is the Eiffel Tower within the Paris of the modern mind. 

Kant's Shadow


     What Kant did to critical philosophy, Baudelaire did to art criticism. However, what makes Baudelaire different, and thereby ground breaking, is that he applied Kant’s critical modus operandi more consistently than did his modern master. Standing with one foot within Kant’s shadow, Baudelaire made art criticism self-critical by turning it upon itself through brilliantly combining linguistic sense with lyrical scope. He showed what he said in the very act of saying what he sought to show. This forced his readers to turn their attention toward the immediacy of the present moment, just as Kant forced his readers to conclude that reason’s limits illuminates the immediacy of faith. Subjective immediacy within Baudelaire’s work is an example of what you get when “art criticism goes subjective” (as it were). 
     Kant placed logical limits on our understanding of the phenomenal world so as to make room for faith in the “noumenal” (what Kant called das Ding an sichThe Thing in itself, that upon which we place our analytic categories of space and time). By making the turn to the subject more subjective, Baudelaire, with his other foot outside of Kant’s shadow, made the phenomenal world, the world of immediate sensation, the only subject of critical concern. The result was revolutionary: a subject is as it is treated to be (but more on Flaubert’s Madame Bovary in a moment).

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)


     If Baudelaire made room for anything in his new brand of modernism, it was an abstract variant on Kant’s noumenal world. Following upon a pragmatic lead by Henry’s brother William James, Baudelaire could be said to embody the spirit of James’ pragmatic credo: there is no difference that does not make some difference (less is more, in life as it is in fashion). The noumenal world makes no difference to critical consciousness. Better to reduce it down to no more and no less than a product of the modern mind. 
     Commenting on the work of Constantin Guys, Baudelaire says that he “is looking for that quality which you must allow me to call ‘modernity;’ for I know of no better word to express the idea I have in mind. He makes it his business to extract from fashion whatever element it may contain of poetry within history, to distil the eternal from the transitory." In what does this “eternal” consist? Baudelaire is clear: “By ‘modernity’ I mean the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable.”
     How does Baudelaire's "immutable" differ from Kant’s “noumenal”? The difference is entirely abstract: “Absolute and eternal beauty does not exist, or rather it is only an abstraction skimmed from the general surface of different beauties. The particular element in each manifestation comes from the emotions: and just as we have our own particular emotions, so we have our own beauty.” Human emotions understood as mutably immutable, the historically condemned constant in a poetically changing world, is Baudelaire’s aesthetic equivalent to Kant’s logical antinomies. 
     This abstract reduction on Baudelaire’s part made impressionistic painting possible. It focused artistic attention on lived-experience. Through the procedure of painting itself, Impressionism was critiquing painting from within, thereby manifesting the philosophy of modernism in general, and giving birth to modernist painting in particular. It consistently entrenched its subject of concern (life as it is experienced to be) within its own methods and motives. This turn to the subject harkens back to the ancient idea (first made possible by Heraclitus, and then made popular by Martin Heidegger’s Sein Und ZeitBeing And Time) that Being is becoming, that the Being of beings is essentially historic, temporary, contingent, and immediate. By focusing on the temporary moment, impressionistic painters were literally painting the Being of beings, the ground of being: reality itself. 
     For Baudelaire, impressionistic painting is not so much art for art’s sake, but art for artist’s sake. It was a modern realism with a magical difference. His was a self-conscious, indeed critical, subjectivity, the product of his answer to Kant’s famous question “What Is Enlightenment?” He answered it by asking a similar, if not more important, question: “What is pure art according to the modern idea?” Baudelaire’s answer is instructive, and sums up how best to think of his work: “It is to create a suggestive magic, containing at the same time the object and the subject, the world external to the artist and the artist himself.” That is impressionistic painting: as romantic as it is real, as objective as it is subjective, as external as it is expressive. 
     Baudelaire created his own shadow to cast, engulfing both literature and art. In the introduction to the 1861 edition of Les Fleurs du mal (stripped of the six “indecent” offences), Baudelaire described his “hypocritical reader” as his intimate brother: hypocrite lecteur – mon semblabel – mon frère! Peter Gay points out that while he had few brothers, he did have many illustrious sons. Influential among them was Gustave Flaubert, who praised Baudelaire for having “found the way of rejuvenating romanticism.” He returned the compliment by commending Flaubert’s Madame Bovary for showing that “all subjects are equally good or bad according to the manner in which they are treated.” No wonder Flaubert said of Baudelaire that he resembled no one (a very modern compliment). He used hyperbole to make a point, obviously, but the point leaves its impress, nonetheless, especially concerning Baudelaire’s unique place in the history of impressionistic painting. 
     Baudelaire’s friendship with Eugène Boudin made the transition from Realism (representation) to Impressionism (romance) in painting possible. Baudelaire’s influence on the product of that transition in the work of Edouard Manet was so acute that it’s only right to read Manet’s painting as Baudelaire’s Olympian program put to modern canvas. I side with the historians who think of Manet’s Olympia as the first modern painting.

Olympia - 1863
Edouard Manet



     In Baudelaire you go from Kant’s turn to the subject to a more consistent turn to subjectivism. What you get in the impressionistic wake of Baudelaire’s work is a final turn toward the substantive. What is Canadian post-Impressionism? Canadian post-impressionistic painting is the result of a critical focus placed upon phenomenal subjectivity, articulated and promoted within the work of Baudelaire, and manifested on canvas by painters like Morrice who felt and dealt his influence. That influence is grounded in Baudelaire's theory of representation in his 1857 poem "Correspondence." He writes that art expresses feelings and evokes ideas and emotions. In the process it rises to a level of artistic interrelatedness, where "sounds would suggest colors, colors sounds, and even ideas would be evoked by sounds and colors." Cafe - Paris is a visual example of Baudelaire's conviction that "the whole of the visible universe is only a storehouse of images and signs to which the imagination assigns a place and relative value; it is a kind of nourishment that the imagination must digest and transform." This is why Morrice should be numbered among Baudelaire's many illustrious sons.

A.K. Prakash. Canadian Art: Selected Masters From Private Collections. Vincent Fortier Publishing, 2003.
Charles C. Hill. Morrice - A Gift To The Nation: The G. Blair Laing Collection. National Gallery Of Canada, 1992.
Francis Frascina and Charles Harrison (eds). Modern Art And Modernism: A Critical Anthology. Harper & Row, 1987.
Gustave Flaubert. Madame Bovary. Penguin Classics, 2002.
Herschel B. Chipp (ed). Theories Of Modern Art: A Source Book By Artists And Critics. University Of California Press, 1996.
Immanuel Kant. Critique Of Pure Reason. Penguin Classics, 2008.
Martin Heidegger. Being And Time. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008.
Peter Gay. Modernism - The Lure Of Heresy: From Baudelaire To Beckett And Beyond. Norton, 2008.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

My Dear Edward

Out Of Place: A Memoir
Edward W. Said
Vintage Books

Review by Rory A.A. Hinton

Out Of Place
Edward W. Said

Ten years to the day.
What shall I do?
Does this rock
Throw rocks,
Just like you?
Hate the academy?
Kill the anatomy?

Behold, this daughter of destroyer.
Behold, this paternal knight.
Behold, this fatherly right:
He wants to protectively hold
From the shelter of the cold
For One Thousand And One
Arabian Nights.

The colour of his face
Reminds him of his place.
Guilty for being white?
And yet ...
"I wish that I may,
I wish that I might."

     Wish no more.
     He wants your Roar.
     So, take your stand! 
     You see, not even Moses
     Entered into The Promised Land. 

For the struggle, he struggles.
For the dead, he lowers his empty head.
"For Said," he said, "I will kill"
As he swallows the suicidal pill:
Simply based on the roll of the dice
He Now knows Apocalyptic Paradise.

Edward W. Said (November 01, 1935 - September 25, 2003)

Edward W. Said. Out Of Place: A Memoir. Vintage Books. 2000
Hany-Abu Assad. Paradise Now. Warner Independent Pictures. 2005.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

"... But With The Mind."

By Rory A.A. Hinton

Lee Alexander McQueen

Queen Elizabeth II: "How long have you been a fashion designer?"
Lee Alexander McQueen: "Quite a few years, m'lady."

There are four designers in the history of 20th century fashion that changed the way women look: Coco Chanel, Yves St. Laurent, Christian Dior, and Lee Alexander McQueen. While all acknowledge the sartorial change Lee made, some are still divided over its social significance. Did he support or subjugate post-Millett sexual politics? 
     For some the subjugation started early. The six-piece graduate collection for his MA degree from Central Saint Martins entitled "Jack The Ripper Stalks His Victims" (July 1992) is seen by some as the misogynistic basis for every piece of clothing he ever designed. That his next show two years later entitled "Nihilism" (S/S 1994) provoked the critics to quickly condemn it (fashion journalist Marion Hume of the Independent described the show as "McQueen's Theatre Of Cruelty"), only added critical fuel to the subjugating fire. What else could this show be but a violent homage to John Galliano's "Forgotten Innocents" collection of 1986?
     Hume wrote that the collection was "a horror show ... of battered women, of violent lives, of grinding daily existences offset by wild, drug-enhanced nocturnal dives into clubs where the dress code is semi-naked." Despite the hyperbole, Hume was at least observant enough to see that Lee, despite his supposed misogyny, was a young talent with something new to show in a business where designers devour each other's ideas as if they were their own. In order to stand out in this business you must be new on demand. And "the shock of the new," said Hume (echoing a modern theme out of the pages of Robert Hughes), "has to be just that: shocking." In this case, the value of the shock was too costly for critical consumption. Hume and her subjugating subjects condemned Lee's modern designs as nothing but a shockingly new variation on an old misogynistic theme.

"Nihilism"  (S/S 1994)


     For others it is telling that Lee's "Ripper" show caused the "dames de Vogue" throwback Isabella Blow to sit up, take notice, and conclude something completely different. She too knew the shock value of Lee's new work. Fortunately, she was wealthy enough not to cheapen it by projecting a narrative of cruelty onto it (an ad hominem thing to do in the face of an inconvenient truth: when you cannot fully understand, you get fallaciously personal). Only someone as astutely connected as Blow (the one time assistant to both Wintour and Talley of Vogue fame) could put this subjugation theme into ironically feminine relief by focusing her attention on the clothes. She knew that the clothes were merely an interpretive vehicle for Lee's artistic vision. But she also understood that you need to have the vehicle to get the message across.
     Isabella was struck by Lee's tailored blow, and the blow-back proved beneficial for him: she became his sine qua non fashion Establishment entrée among the styled elite. By this time he was established enough to know and show that the humane establishment was in the designing details. "The tailoring was excellent," Blow says. "No one spotted it. They kept thinking it was just blood and paint. They weren't looking at the cut! It was obvious from the first outfit that here was someone of enormous potential and great gifts."

Blow And Her Protégé


     Lee knew from his apprenticing days with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard that cut, proportion, and colour are the three essential ingredients to a great outfit, but the greatest of these is cut. His beautifully tailored jackets in the "Nihilism" show were cut in such an exacting way that "the lapels were as sharp as shark fins," as Judith Watt describes them. Lee was a cutter, not a ripper ("McQueen's Theatre Of Sevility" is more like it). However, whether this tailored talent made him able to "marry Savile Row with ready to wear" (a stated aim of his as a designer) is questionable and worth considering, especially as a contributing means to his tragically early end. For some artists creativity and commerce remain divorced, despite the will toward rapprochement. For them it does not cut both ways.
     But there is no denying that the cut came naturally to him. At one point in the documentary McQueen & I, Lee is seen gathering up a white sheet that is hanging in a doorway to a very frugal studio. He walks into the doorway, elegantly gathers up the sheet with both hands, holds it in his left hand, takes a corded phone off the receiver that is hanging on the wall next to the doorway with his right hand, wraps the cord around the sheet, then hangs the phone up again. Seamlessly. Only Lee could get away with turning a functioning door into a fashionable drape by using a phone cord as a holdback. He did this without the slightest bit of effort, without the slightest hint of forethought, and without making you think that fashion and function are mutually exclusive. Style just flowed out of him.
     In light of Lee's natural style, only a myopic misogynist without Blow's eye, let alone an ear for what she and Lee had to say, would interpret Lee's "Highland Rape" show (A/W 1995-1996) as a slam against women, rather than what he said it was: a stylish commentary on England's rape of Scotland. "It wasn't anti-women," Lee says. "It was actually anti- the fake history of Vivienne Westwood." Lee's point was that Westwood's attempt to make tartan "romantic" takes away from the fact that eighteenth-century Scotland was not about "beautiful women drifting across the moors in swathes of unmanageable chiffon." "Highland Rape" was about the historic violation of women's rights because it was about the colonial rape of human culture. No amount of Westwood's revisionist herstory can take away from that fact, not if this Scottish l'enfant terrible had anything to show about it.

"Highland Rape" (A/W 1995-1996)


     Blow told Harper's Bazaar that what attracted her to Lee was "the way he takes ideas from the past and sabotages them with his cut to make them new and in the context of today. It is the complexity and severity of his approach to cut that makes him so modern." By the time of his "Dante" show (A/W 1996-1997) the accusations of misogyny had slowly died the death of a thousand fittings. Lee was not interested in feminine subjugation but fashionable strength, wherever it may be found. Carmen Artigas, design assistant at Romero Gigli where Lee worked as a pattern cutter in the early 1990s, realized early on that Lee was all about "disturbing the senses and yet finding beauty in decay." Celebrating empowered beauty in human savagery was the "McQueen thing to do."
     "I want to empower women," Lee said. "I want people to be afraid of the women I dress." This is a key to his designing divide and conquer strategy. What Lee did was to cut through the idea that his social impact was only about supporting or subjugating women, while still acknowledging that disjunction's traditional influence on how we conceive of the relation between fashion and sexual politics. "You've got to know the rules to break them," Lee says. "That's what I'm here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition." Part of this tradition consists in how post-World War I women were able to discard the corset in favour of more functional clothing. Ever since, the implicit mandate for designers has been to prevent the subjugation of women that the corset represented.
     Lee understood this history, but as an artist with a social vision he used it to create a new standard by which his work should be judged. He was not just about supporting women through fashion. That was merely a means to a transcending end for him. The end was to approach the question of what it means to live a beautiful life. Lee called changing the way women look an "art thing." Rightly so. Art demands a change in us. And Lee's art changed the way we think about the social importance of haute couture (high sewing indeed). He changed the look of Betty Friedan's "feminine mystique" by empowering the human physique, where the dividing line between fashionable tradition and gendered rules was put into ironically masculine relief. Lee used his knowledge of the history of costume to promote the necessity of an androgynous aesthetics. He neither supported nor subjugated sexual politics. Instead, he changed the political game by demolishing the psychological rules (gender), but keeping the designing tradition (fashion). Empowering women changes everyone. This is his artistic legacy.

"The Birds" (S/S 1995)


     "He really loved women," fashion queen Daphne Guinness writes in her forward to Alexander McQueen: The Life And The Legacy, "really adored them - and not just for our statuesque beauty but for our fragility as well as our strength, our ghosts and demons alongside our accomplishments." This love began with his mother. Joyce McQueen's role in shaping her son's talent cannot be overestimated. Her love of social history and the powerful sense of identity that came from her research into their rich family heritage ("Highland Rape" would not have been possible without her), provided him with a sense that anything was possible for him as an artist. This possibility became actual in his "Banshee" show (A/W 1994-1995), where the women are celebrated as heavily pregnant, sport short Sinéad O'Connor style hair, and pose like the bride in Jan van Eyck's The Arnolfini Marriage of 1434 (his favourite painting). Beauty, fragility, strength, ghosts, demons, and accomplishments. In a word: love.

McQueen Adoring Queen


     Helena's line about love in her soliloquy in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is the humanistic (not misogynistic) basis for every piece of clothing he ever designed: "Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind" (A Midsummer Night's Dream - I, i, 234). The relation between love, physical eyesight, and conceptual vision is the central theme in this play about the confusion that love sometimes brings. Lee's work attempts to clear up this confusion by focusing our fashionable attention away from the eyes (important as they are), and onto the mind. He was, therefore, a conceptual artist. "With me, metamorphosis is a bit like plastic surgery but less drastic," Lee said. "I try to have the same effect with my clothes. But ultimately I do this to transform mentalities more than the body. I try and modify fashion like a scientist by offering what is relevant today and what will continue to be so tomorrow." No wonder Lee had Helena's line tattooed on his right arm.

McQueen Adorning Queen


     Lee's love for his mother received a shocking blow when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. She and Lee lived with it for two years until her death on February 2, 2010. Her death proved fatal for him. The day before his mother's funeral (nine days after she died) Lee hanged himself in his Green Street, Mayfair apartment on February 11, 2010. He left a suicide note. The contents remain private to this day. It was inscribed in the catalogue of Wolfe von Lenkiewicz's The Descent Of Man. Even though Lee had the designer's eyes, more than any other designer of his generation, he still was not able to mindfully accommodate love's loss in his life. What caused this man's descent? Did the love of the mind fail him?
     A coroner's inquest into Lee's death recorded the verdict that his suicide was carried out "while the balance of his mind was disturbed." Lee's psychiatrist blamed his client's depression and anxiety, in part, on "the demands of his work." It has been said of Isabella Blow that the reason why she committed suicide was that she could not endure being stuck between kitch and oblivion. Something similar can be said of Lee: he could not endure being stuck between the love of the eyes and the love of the mind. While a psychological story can and should be told here about Lee's lack of endurance, a philosophical one needs to be told as well. Lee's philosophy of art was not strong enough to deal with the confused descent that love brought into his life. This is particularly the case when it comes to the marriage between creativity and commerce.
Mother And Son


     The demands of his work include the necessity of coming to terms with art and money. "Designers have to make a choice - art or money. I don't create art," Lee said. "I create clothes people wear." This was sensible PR at the time (2004), given Gucci's 51 percent stake in his business. Just after partnering with Gucci Group in 2001, sales jumped 400 percent as a result of Lee's "What A Merry-Go-Round" show (A/W 2001-2002). The CEO of Gucci Group Domenico de Sole praised the marriage between "creativity and commerce this represented." He told British Vogue that McQueen's great talent and intensity as a designer included his "comprehensive understanding of his business."
     And yet, Lee's own economic commentary runs counter to his social commitment to artistic change. Guinness knew him well enough to know who he was and what he did. "He has been referred to as the fashion world's darling, its rebel and pioneer," Guinness writes. "He was both all of these things and none of them at all, because actually, what he was, was an artist. Had he chosen paint or wood for his canvas instead of material, I genuinely believe he would have been determined to master and challenge their disciplines in that same defiant, obsessive way he worked with clothes ... Painting's loss was fashion's gain, however, and how very glad I am of it."

Queen Mourning McQueen

     Art or money? Artist or businessman? His claim that designers must choose between the two is a consequence of his inability to see that in the post-Warhol era art and money are not mutually exclusive. While he was able to demolish the dividing psychological line between male and female by promoting androgyny as an aesthetic ideal, he was unable to demolish the dividing economical line between creativity and commerce. He did not have a balance of mind when it came to the economics of art. This is a philosophical failure. This failure shows itself in his work just prior to the time of his death, from his inconsistent questioning of human greed in "Natural Dis-Inction, Un-Natural Selection" (S/S 2009), to his inconclusive response to fashion's built-in obsolescence in "The Horn Of Plenty" (A/W 2009-2010), to his ultimate escapism in "Plato's Atlantis" (S/S 2010) - "Aristotle's Earth" was nowhere to be found.
     "The Horn Of Plenty" show is a noteworthy indicator of his struggle over the consumption of fashion in a capitalist society. The name of the show just happened to be the name of the pub in which Jack the Ripper's last victim was seen before her murder. Whether this was "a metaphor for impending doom" is up to the fashion critics to decide. What we do know is that Lee used the name of the show and his fame as a designer to respond to the inherent obsolescence and excessive production within the fashion industry. While stagehands were scattering broken mirrors on the runway (representing the narcissism of fashion), and stacking props from his past collections in mini landfills (representing the waste fashion produces), preparations were being made to launch his accessibly priced McQ line in 250 Target stores in the American Mideast once his "horn of plenty" show was over. "This whole situation is such a cliché. The turnover of fashion is just so quick and so throwaway," Lee stated, "and I think that is a big part of the problem. There is no longevity." The irony of his contribution toward the problem of mass-market saturation from "Jack The Ripper Stalks His Victims" to "The Horn Of Plenty" ("McQueen's Pub Of Plenty" perhaps?) was not lost on him. He knew he was part of the problem. He never solved it.

"The Horn Of Plenty" (A/W 2009-2010)


     "I want to marry Savile Row with ready to wear," Lee once said. If "Savile Row" was haute couture for him. then "ready to wear" was about having money to spare at the end of the runway. To embrace both couture and commerce requires a philosophy of art that is insightful enough to see a capitalist life in aesthetic terms. "The Horn Of Plenty" show is an enigma because Lee was not romantically realistic enough to see the irony of mocking the excess of fashion by fashionable means as itself an artistic statement (precisely because it is an economic one). He failed in his own mind to look hard enough at art and money, unlike other British artists of his generation. The demand that this work required was too much for his love to bear. This is his artistic tragedy.
     Watt chose her words carefully when she described Lee as "the so-called Damien Hirst of fashion." Many are chosen, but few are called. Sadly, Lee was not one of them. That said, the Alexander McQueen brand under the corporate direction of Jonathan Akeroyd has less of a problem with capital than its founder. Hirst and McQ are now joining forces to celebrate the 10th anniversary of McQueen's iconic skull scarf by creating a new limited edition line based on Hirst's Entomology paintings. The collection launches November 15, 2013 and is available in chiffon, pongé, twill, and cashmere. Prices start at £135.

Lee Alexander McQueen: March 17, 1969 - February 11, 2010.

Alex Fury. "In Fashion: Daphne Guinness - Interviewed By Alex Fury." October 10, 2012.
Alexander Lee McQueen. Isabella Blow. McQueen & I. Profile of British fashion designer Alexander McQueen. July 27, 2012.
Andrew Bolton. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
Anne Deniau. Love Looks Not With The Eyes: Thirteen Years With Lee Alexander McQueen. New York: Abrams, 2012.
Daphne Guinness. Brennen Stasiewicz. Daphne's Window. Daphne Guinness homage to Alexander McQueen. May 02, 2012.
Ella Alexander. "Alexander McQueen And Damien Hirst Join Forces." Vogue News, August 13, 2013.
Janet Maslin. "Looking Back At A Domestic Cri De Coeur." The New York Times Books. February 18, 2013.
Judith Watt. Alexander McQueen: The Life And The Legacy. New York: Harper Design, 2012.
Kate Millett. Sexual Politics. New York: Doubleday, 1970.
Katherine Gleason. Alexander McQueen: Evolution. New York: Race Point Publishing, 2012.
Reiko Koga. "The Influence Of Haute Couture - Fashion In The First Half Of The 20th Century." Fashion: A Fashion History Of The 20th Century. Berlin: Taschen, 2012.
Robert Hughes. The Shock Of The New. New York: Knopf, 1980.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Bridge

By Rory A.A. Hinton

Brooklyn Bridge, NY
John Lennard

"Now then, lets go out
To enjoy the snow...until
I slip and fall!" 
(Basho - 1688)

Walking down snow-buried hill
Toward the bridge of frozen dreams.
Speaking of world-enough-and-time,
And of things that might have been.

     Seeing snow
     Slowly buried
     Head to toe

Walking up snow-buried hill
From the bridge of reflective .ssendam
Thinking of style-enough-and-rhyme,
And of things that cause this sadness.

     Touching snow
     Slowly buried
     Head to toe

Walking alone, slipping
On the bridge of no tomorrow.
Dive straight down,
End the sorrow.

     Basho's snow
     Almost buried
     Head to toe

Walking apart, falling
Below the bridge of bread and wine.
Feeling the force of Blake's storm,
Why is this communion such a crime?

     Nurture's snow
     Completely buried
     Now we know ...

     we are the snow that buries us
     we are the bridge that carries us
     we are the reality of these composites
     we are the totality of inner opposites

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Odd Man Out

By Rory A.A. Hinton

Scientific Canadian
Kazuo Nakamura (1926 - 2002)

"People send me so many presents in the mail, but I wish instead of all the presents and art mailers I would get science mailers in language I could understand. That would make me want to open my mail again." (Andy Warhol)

When Andy Warhol started painting money (like 200 One Dollar Bills) he finished a revolution that demolished the dividing line between creativity and commerce. Curating capital through this multiply-and-concur strategy made it possible to recognize human survival as a natural pattern of aesthetic consumption. Taking Warhol's lead, some recognize this by producing consumable art (like Banksy), while others do it by artistically consuming $43.8 million for Warhol's money (like Sotheby's). They both supply and demand within the same marketplace of ideals, they just do it in different ways. Prior to the idea that "art is what you can get away with" (which goes proxy for the post-Pop principle that good art is good business), there was no gift shop to exit through, let alone survive within. Guggenheim as Bloomingdale's.
     Combining art and economics in this way set a precedent, and increased the possibility for artists after Warhol to live conceptually ahead of life itself according to their own artistic ideas. Jeff Koons is the perfect protégé. Andy's work is "about that spark of trying, in the most economical means," Koons says, "to just get a little bit ahead of life itself ... it's that increase of possibilities, and for that moment (you know as a great alchemist), we are greater than we have ever been." Koons' use of 'economical' means more here than just the necessity of romantic capitalism. It means trying to use whatever means necessary to increase the possibility of uniting art with culture writ large.

200 One Dollar Bills - 1962 by Andy Warhol on display in
New York at Sotheby's pre-auction preview, 2009.


     When Kazuo Nakamura finished painting strings (like Infinite Waves), he started a revolution that demolished the dividing line between painting and physics. Curating science through his own multiply-and-concur strategy made it possible for him to recognize that the artist and the scientist do the same thing but in different ways: they both recognize patterns in nature. There is a sort of "fundamental universal pattern in all art and nature," Nakamura says. In a sense, "scientists and artists are doing the same thing ... This world of pattern is a world we are discovering together." In this way Nakamura lived and worked ahead of his own life and times by increasing the conceptual possibilities of what art is, and what artists do. Prior to the idea that "art is what you can scientifically recognize with" (which goes proxy for the post-Abstract principle that good science is good art), there were no science mailers written in a language artists could understand, let alone read through. Scientific Canadian as Scientific American.
     Unlike Koons, Nakamura was less Warhol's perfect protégé and more his conceptual contemporary (he was two years Warhol's senior). At a time when the physical sciences are still ruled by reason, while the humanities "have been virtually abandoned to the primitive epistemology of mysticism," Nakamura's work functions as a scientific apology within Abstract Expressionism, in much the same way that Warhol's work functions as an economic alchemy without Pop Art. Both of them conceptually united art with culture writ large, they just did it in different ways.

Infinite Waves - 1957
Oil over string on canvas 


     Science for Nakamura (like economics for Warhol) was an artistic venture. His work shows that the difference between the art of humane measure and the science of human measuring is only in the patterned product of a physically vibrating degree. Knowing what this means, and how it fits into Nakamura's aesthetics, helps clarify what Roald Nasgaard might have been getting at (albeit cryptically) by describing Nakamura as the "odd man out" among the Toronto-based abstract Painters Eleven.
     Nasgaard's initial attempt to explain Nakamura's oddness focuses on his painterly technique (a predictable place to start). "From the start," Nasgaard writes, "his painting was precisely ordered and executed with restraint. There are no painterly flourishes, no expressionist gestures." What makes this explanation conspicuous is that words like 'precision,' 'order,' and 'restraint' usually don't belong within the expressionist lexicon. Is it any wonder, then, that Clement Greenberg (the abstract doyen of expressionist critics) dismissed Nakamura's work as "just a bit too captured by oriental 'taste'" to be of any good abstract use? We now have the benefit of hindsight to know that this "critical" remark is less about Nakamura, and more about Greenburg's lexical lack to describe him otherwise.
     In fact, it is precisely the precision of Nakamura's fragile line that gives sense to his abstract oddness, and why (contra Greenberg) he is of such abstract use. "Nakamura adopted a way of drawing," Nassgaard continues, "using first razor blades and then the edges of a piece of cardboard dipped into paint ... [this] gave to his line a fragility and precision that some viewers have attributed to his Japanese ethnicity.”
     Nakamura's ethnicity is not "germane to his primary practice" as a painter (as Ihor Holubizky correctly points out). However, it does help him express the “parallels between nature, science and art, [and] the mesmerizing complexity of both mathematical organization and mathematical chaos” in his paintings. This fact does not make his art any less abstract, nor any more concrete.
     Speaking of the organization of mathematical chaos, Nakamura's pictures are best read as representing the kind of abstractly concrete world you get within chaos theory: a world of order without predictability (a theory Nakamura probably knew about given his regular reading of Scientific American, a practice and a publication that was "emblematic of his entire attitude to art," as Nasgaard says). Nakamura's work shows that there is Occidental chaos within Oriental concision. And in tapping into that chaotic concision (where West meets East on a two dimensional plane), he questions the notion found within critical scholarship (the "Oriental/Occidental dilemma") that there is a real artistic tension between two cultural tendencies that cannot be united, let alone uniformly classified.
     To think there is a tension over the Oriental and the Occidental is to miss the unifying significance of "natural patterns" in Nakamura's philosophy of art. The patterns are simultaneously orderly (Oriental) and chaotic (Occidental) enough to be given both experimental and expressive recognition. The implications of this union are as surprising as they are revolutionary. In Nakamura's world an artist can literally make a scientific difference to culture. The artist just does it in a different, but no less significant, way than the scientist. How? The scientific artist and the artistic scientist share the same recognitional brain because they literally inhabit the same physical brane (but more on string theory later). Katsushika Hokusai's The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is a fractaled example of how the kind of chaos represented in the pictures Greenberg was most "captured by" can be expressed through the means of tasteful oriental precision. The Great Wave drips its own Lavender Mist.

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa - 1830-1832
Katsushika Hokusai

     Austerity is at the heart of Japanese aesthetics. Art must be austere enough to detach the viewer from an attachment to the world of surface appearance. To get beyond appearance to reality consists in remaining attentive without becoming attached to what merely meets the eyes. The kind of technique that you get in Nakamura's painting is generous enough to catch your attention, but serious enough to prevent you from being distracted by being caught. It forces you to question just what is being represented through his lined fragility, and why. There is an attentive method to this austere madness. Less shows more in Nakamura's taste. Hence his abstract use.
     Hillside - 1954 is an early example of this austerity in action (an instance of what he called "linear abstractions"). This painting demonstrates that too much psychological abstraction can get in the way of experiencing the abstract nature of physical reality. Psychologism is conspicuous by its absence here. Oddly enough, this early painting proves why Nakamura is both the most and the least abstract of the Painters Eleven. He is the least abstract since his work is not about his inner psychological landscape as a painter (unlike his abstract contemporaries). And yet precisely because of this, his work is the most abstract since it seeks to accurately represent the outer physical landscape of abstract reality. To copy nature is to create abstraction. “Do not copy nature too much," Gauguin once said. "Art is an abstraction.” Fortunately, Nakamura did not heed Gauguin's prohibition.

Hillside - 1954
Kazuo Nakamura

     Canadian painting is steeped in its landscapes, and Nakamura's contribution to it qualifies him as a quintessential Canadian painter. However, his work in this area is abstract in a way that might seem counter-intuitive at first, at least historically. "Cezanne broke nature down into cones, spheres," Nakamura says. "But we are living in an age where we can see a structure, a structure based on atomic structure and motion."
     Consider Plowed Field - 1953 as an early example of Nakamura's structured abstractions, a painting that Richard William Hill describes as "fresh, confident and clearly engaged with Japanese aesthetics." The landscape is recognizable. And yet, closer inspection displays smaller fractal-like images within the landscape. These images go proxy for the great waves of patterned energy derived from even smaller more chaotic structures existing explicitly beneath the surface, but implicitly making that surface landscape possible. Energy in motion.

Plowed Field - 1953
Kazuo Nakamura

     "It takes energy to do abstract work," Nakamura states. "Every once in a while I do landscapes, to do what's on top." This comment is less of a commentary on what Nakamura does in response to the spent human energy of abstract painting, and more of a scientific description of the necessary condition for producing it. It literally takes physical energy, the energy that gets produced on the quantum landscape, to make it possible. The energy is virtually on top, because it is vibrationally on the bottom. Nakamura was scientific enough to recognize this patterned fact.
     It is interesting to note here the similarity between Nakamura's 1953 painting Plowed Field, with the artistic rendering of a quantum field from Brian Greene's 2003 PBS documentary The Elegant Universe on string theory. The fifty years that separates the artistic rendering of these two fields only confirms the intuitive anticipation of Nakamura's artistically rendered scientific recognition of patterned spacetime. Odd, indeed.

Quantum Jitters - 2003



     Cutting-edge physics is concerned with unification. The goal is to fulfil Einstein's unified dream by creating a theory of quantum gravity that will unite two mutually incompatible areas of scientific study: general relativity (the very large) and quantum mechanics (the very small). Given its universal eloquence and unifying elegance (at least as Greene describes it), string theory is not only the best unifying theory within the marketplace of ideas, but is also as revolutionary as the individual theories it attempts to unify.
     String theory states that everything in the universe is made up of ultra-microscopic vibrating filaments (strings) of energy that vibrate and move within space-time. Strings (closed and open-ended loops) are the things that unite the four fundamental interactions of the universe: gravity, electromagnetism, the weak radioactive force, and the strong nuclear force. To work out how this works is the most pressing concern among string theorists. Strings be the ties that bind.

Untitled - 1965
Kazuo Nakamura


     When Edward Witten (one of the leading experts in the field) said that "string theory is a part of twenty-first century physics that fell by chance into the twentieth century" he was giving expression to its revolutionary status as a theory of comprehensive breadth and predictive depth. As a result "it could be decades or even centuries before string theory is fully developed and understood" (as Greene puts it). With this comprehensiveness in mind, our understanding of it just might (in part) come from an initially unlikely domain of inquiry and analysis (one that has generally been at odds with science): art. And why not? Excluding something explanatory from a theory that claims to explain everything would be prejudicial and inconsistent. The church once claimed that Copernicus' heliocentric science was not only wrong but had nothing to contribute toward our understanding of the cosmos. How quaint the ways of scientific progress.
     In his book-length commentary on why Warhol went from a commercial artist to a cultural icon, Arthur C. Danto states that “when there is a period of deep cultural change, it shows up first in art." In his analysis of the parallels between art and physics, Leonard Shalain says something similar: "Art generally anticipates scientific revisions of reality.” With Michio Kaku's commentary on Einstein as a guide, it is only right to conclude that art's anticipatory contribution toward scientific revolutions is found primarily in pictures. "Einstein would often comment," Kaku writes, "that if a new theory was not based on a physical image simple enough for a child to understand, it was probably worthless.” Nakamura’s string paintings are physical images that are simple enough for a child to understand their artistic value, but complex enough for an adult to grasp their scientific worth. This is chiefly the case when it comes to Nakamura's Infinite Waves - 1957, his "most extreme painting" as he put it.

The Infinite Wave
Kazuo Nakamura (1957)


     Commentators have struggled to make sense of the extremity. "The waves, dense and maze-like, go nowhere," Iris Nowell writes. "Or perhaps it is better to believe that the tantalizing lines emerged from a place deep in Nakamura's cosmic world and it matters not where they go." Nasgaard's commentary is less metaphoric, and therefore more insightful: "The rows of string lines cover the whole surface of the support uniformly ... suggest[ing] landscape horizons or even objects on a plane, literalness and illusion always coexisting." Take away 'illusion' and this comment comes closer to the literal significance of Infinite Waves, especially concerning Nasgaard's notion of "objects on a plane."
     Research into string theory has produced theoretical objects that are larger than strings. Witten's work theoretically created an extra dimension that allows a string to stretch into something like a very large surface or membrane ("brane" for short). With enough energy a brane could grow into an enormous size, perhaps even as large as an entire universe (like the one we live in now). Early string theory focused attention on strings that were closed loops (like rubber bands). But after Witten, physicists turned their attention to open-ended strings. It is now held that everything we see around us is made of open-ended strings, each one tied down to a three dimensional brane that is our universe. What Infinite Waves represents, then, is the waves of vibrational energy produced by open-ended strings tied down to an infinitely large brane (canvas as brane). Nakamura's "cosmic world" is our own, and it does matter where the strings go and what the strings do.
     Like the string theory he anticipates, Nakamura's string paintings are part of twenty-first century art that fell by chance into the twentieth century. Fifty years prior to the public disclosure of string theory, Nakamura's strings scientifically intuit and artistically represent the most important and revolutionary theory in fundamental physics (years before it was formulated within the scientific community). And fifty years after the private production of Nakamura's strings, string theory itself helps us comprehend his work. The string paintings and string theory mutually endorse each other and help to unify art with the most successful public institution for the past three hundred years: science.
     Nakamura's revolutionary worth consists in his scientific work. His artistic genius showed itself in conceptually intuiting and artistically representing string theory as a form of pattern recognition. In this way Nakamura made a scientific contribution to culture by preparing our collective imagination for scientific work in this field. Einstein was right: good physics requires good pictures. You cannot have thought experiments without them.
     In the Preface to the 2004 catalogue for the Art Gallery Of Ontario exhibition Kazuo Nakamura: A Human Measure, Dennis Reid states that Hill's introductory essay "establishes the platform for all future consideration" of Nakamura's work. Reid is right. The reason why is because Hill describes Nakamura's work as a "funny sort of realism." Hill's use of 'funny' here means "odd." And the oddness is based on the source for Nakamura's artistic inspiration (at least for an artist of his descriptive ilk). "[I was inspired by] photographs ... of the real world at the microscopic level," Nakamura says. "And this is real form. And its basis is pattern and structure ... [so] you might say I am actually a realist."
     To say that Nakamura is the "odd man out" is to recognize that his work is an extreme form of representational realism, unlike the work of his abstract contemporaries and his abstract critics. "Looking back, however, it is now clear that his radically simple yet infinitely expansive minimalist string paintings ... were more significant than any objects produced in the 1950s by his Painters Eleven colleagues," Reid writes, "and were among the most important works produced by any Canadian artist during that decade." Their significance consists in the contribution they make to our scientific understanding of the world. The string paintings are patterned artistic products of physically vibrating strings.
     To unite art and science artistically, is to do the same thing that quantum gravity is doing scientifically. Nakamura’s work is an artistic component of unified field theory at work. Einstein's unified dream was not unknown to him. Nakamura knew what he was doing: "I hope that some day all these explorations will be united - though maybe not by me - into a universal theory of number structure." 
     Combining art and science in this way set a precedent, and increased the possibility for artists after Nakamura to live conceptually ahead of life itself according to their own artistic ideas. Jeff Koons is the perfect protégé. The scientific sina qua non of Koons' artistic One Ball Equilibrium Tank is none other than Nobel Prize Laureate in physics Richard Feynman, with whom Koons collaborated in order to defy the art of gravity through the science of salting distilled water. In trying to use whatever means necessary to increase the possibility of uniting art with culture writ large, Koons shows that the art of science is indeed a spectacular sport.
One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank - 1985
Jeff Koons

     Warhol and Nakamura did the same thing but in different ways. They both united art with areas of culture that were their artistic concern: good art is good business if and only if good science is good art. They were contemporary revolutionaries. However, as an artistic American it is unfortunate that Warhol did not have a subscription to this Scientific Canadian. Nakamura painted in a language Warhol would have understood, and read. It would have made him open his mail again.

"Andy Warhol's 200 One Dollar Bills Silkscreen Sold For $43.8m." The Telegraph. November 12, 2009.
Andy Warhol. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001.
Ayn Rand. The Romantic Manifesto. Signet (Penguin Group), 1975.
Banksy. Exit Through The Gift Shop. Paranoid Pictures, 2010.
Brian Greene. The Elegant Universe. Vintage Books, 2000.
Ihor Holubizky. Kazuo Nakamura: The Method Of Nature. The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2001.
Iris Nowell. Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones Of Canadian Art. Douglas & McIntyre, 2011.
Joseph McMaster, Julia Cort. The Elegant Universe. NOVA, 2004.
Leonard Shlain. Art & Physics: Parallel Visions In Space, Time, And Light. Harper Perennial, 2007.
Michio Kaku. Einstein's Cosmos. W.W. Norton & Company, 2005.
Ric Burns. Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film. PBS, 2006.
Richard William Hill. Kazuo Nakamura: A Human Measure. Art Gallery Of Ontario, 2004.
Roald Nasgaard. Abstract Painting In Canada. Douglas & McIntyre, 2007.
Steven S. Gubser. The Little Book Of String Theory. Princeton University Press, 2010.
Thomas Kuhn. The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

What I Once Believed

by Rory A.A. Hinton

Philosopher Reading
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

“I believe in God the Father, in Jesus Christ his only begotten Son, in the blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Ghost, in Adam Cadmium, in chrome nickel, the oxides and the mercurochromes, in waterfowls and water cress, in epileptoid seizures, in bubonic plagues, in devachan, in planetary conjunctions, in chicken tracks and stick-throwing, in revolutions, in stock crashes, in wars, earthquakes, cyclones, in Kali Yuga and in hula-hula. I believe. I believe. I believe because not to believe is to become as lead, to lie prone and rigid, forever inert, to waste away…” (Henry Miller, Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion, p.9)

I believed that ‘God’ is,
     but God is not an entity.
I believed that the ‘is’
     is the 'is of identity.'

I believed the universe exists,
     that space-time is round.
I believed in Newton’s law:
     entities fall to the ground.

I believed life is uncertain,
     that Heisenberg was right.
I believed nothing worth having
     comes without some kind of fight.

I believed something is
     as it is experienced-as.
I believed there is no Reality,
     just the realities everyone has.

I believed less is more,
     in life as it is in fashion.
I believed life is less, not more,
     without style and passion.

I believed my mind is not for rent
     to any churches, states, or gods.
I believed in Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
     all the rest are frauds.

I believed congregations make you crazy,
     you only get better on your own.
I believed only Libido Over Creedo
     will find The Philosopher’s Stone.

I believed scripture is metaphoric measure,
     never thing literally measured.
I believed to read otherwise
     is to miss what must be treasured.

I believed “God’s second error of judgment,”
     (there is nothing so fine).
I believed in Yasmeen Ghauri,
     (to err is divine).

I believed in compassion,
     to forgive is human.
I believed in humility,
     especially in a wo(man).

I believed in a man
     who despises The Rules.
I believed most men don’t know
     they are taken for Fools.

I believed in September
I believed in The September Issue

I believed in Lagavulin,
     (Scotland’s Corona)
I believed in the Giant Killer,
     (Romeo’s Mona).

I believed in The Bridge,
     despite the subtle ssendam.
I believed in my "Longfellows,"
     despite my poetic ssendas.

I believed those most threatened
     act like lawyer, judge, and jury.
I believed those who severely threaten
     ignite my anger, wrath, and fury.

I believed those most threatened
     are those who severely threaten.
I believed those most threatened
     are those who severely threaten.

I believed I repeat myself
     when I’m as angry as hell.
I believed I repeat myself
     when I’m as angry as hell.

I believed in the hollow man:
     “Mistah Kurtz - he dead.”
I believed in the follow man:
     Zen lunacy - instead.

I believed in my brand of mindfulness,
     Vietnamese bullshit and all.
I believed its the right response
     to The Legend of the Fall.

I believed honest Ikkyu:
     the erotic red thread.
I believed dishonest people
     despise him instead.

I believed the love that matters
     is both private and open.
I believed in Eshun’s love:
     your image must be broken.

I believed in Mona and Jack,
     in Eshun and Ikkyu.
I believed to disbelieve
     rejects what makes you true.

I believed I am not a buddhist
     (this is nothing new).
I believed in Living-Christ
     from a buddhist-point-of-view.

I believed in Blazing Fossie:
     the lord of the deviant trance.
I believed in Raising Kain:
     the lady of the deca-dance.

I believed in Glenn’s Variations,
     and Herbert's conducted clefs.
I believed in The Trane,
     and his gentle Giant Steps.

I believed in two Parkers:
     Dorothy and The Bird.
I believed they embody
     the sublime to the absurd.

I believed in “Lady, lady, better run”
     (if not you might get mired).
I believed Dorothy is a sage:
     “They make me sick. They make me tired.”

I believed Park/Her is matriarchal
     when whining about masculine fun.
I believed her flock should take heed and learn:
     “Lady, lady, better shun.”

I believed in my Little Women,
     full of wisecracks and hints.
I believed in sweets for the sweet:
     my Snow White mints.

I believed in the birthing room blues,
     where the carnage hits the fan.
I believed the blues will be worth it
     when my boy says: “Hey, Old Man.”

I believed in Dr. Secret
     so Cosmic and Free.
I believed in your Secret
     (it remains safe with me).

I believed you should live,
     as never sure to live again.
I believed you must live,
     as a dying man among dying men.

I believed these beliefs
     are only rules for public action.
I believed you don’t get it
     if there is no Newtonian reaction.

I know Papa was right in the end:
     we are bitched from the start.
I know we must nourish this hurt,
     both together and apart.

Henry Miller. Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion. Grove Press. 1994.