Thursday, March 22, 2012

This is a post in favor of censorship

I only know that I love strength in my friends
And greatness
And hate the way their bodies crack when they die
And are eaten by images.

--Jack Spicer, A Poem Without A Single Bird In It

I am a visual artist who hates images.
Correction: I am a visual artist who hates untrue images.

An untrue image is a picture of a fairy. People believe in fairies. People create their reality. If enough people believe fairies, the fairies become real.

Mainstream fashion is notoriously discriminatory towards most body types. Gemma Ward, a young model, was criticized for looking "bloated" in 2010, when she walked for Chanel in a denim bikini:

The New York Fashion website commented on the issue:

"Coco Rocha has said that when she weighed 108 pounds, at 5'10", clients told her to lose weight. So how much can Ward have weighed at that show? 120 pounds? And that is, according to the industry, "big, almost bloated." A photo agent who worked with Ward said that for every model with staying power, there are twenty who don't make it past age 18 — that time when girls become women, and grow breasts and hips, and gain the weight that is a natural part of growing up."

We've accepted a realistic representation in fashion as a lost cause, but have failed to consider the impact that these images--not only fashion photography, but advertisements, films, etc.--have on a society.
On young people.
On my friends.
And, selfish fuck that I am, on me.

I am tired of how I look prefacing what I do. I'm tired of a society that values a single, untrue image.

So do I think that untrue images--images that diminish a person's humanity--should be censored?
Yes. Why? Because control of media is control of everything. Period. And an image that advertises an agenda rather than the truth is propaganda.


If I'm going to be criticized, I want the criticisms to address my character or my commitment to my craft. Not what I'm eating or not eating for breakfast.

I'm afraid that if anyone reads this post, they'll read it as a "FUCK YOU FOR SAYING I'M PRETTY" rant, when I mean it as a "FUCK YOU FOR SAYING I'M ONLY PRETTY" rant. There's a branch of feminism that maintains that as long as the woman has power, she is a feminist. If she wants to degrade herself, that's her choice, and isn't that just beautiful?

Fuck that. I don't know any human who, outside of fun&kinky sex, wants to degrade themselves. It's a slave mentality, the Uncle Tom of feminism: A woman who, happily, chooses to be seen as two dimensional.

Naturally, the same goes for men who want to be seen as more than muscly, car driving wage earners. This, too, is a single, untrue image often portrayed in fashion, film, and--worst of all--advertising.

Why can't we advertise self-reliance? Confidence? Generosity?

I hate that i wake up an hour early to do my make-up. I hate that all my methods for "self-improvement" revolve around weight loss instead of character. I know blaming the system is futile, that change starts within yourself, but this is the first time i've become truly aware of how toxic tour image culture is.
And here I am, working within it! I have only ever made images. It is all I know how to do, so I will do what I can:


and Run.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

stay golden

Gold, gold, gold.

Someone was bound to find it. Dig it up. Weigh it. Price it. I wonder who was the first person to say "This mustard-colored rock's gotta be worth something."

I'm remembering an Andy Warhol story, how he started painting money after a lady friend asked him "Well, what do you love most?"

Loving money is traumatic. It's always coming and going, switching hands, hanging out of some stripper's G-string.

I remember in kindergarden, being asked how I would make money when I grew up. "Veterinarian," I said because I wanted to bandage dogs.

In my public high school, we learned how to balance check books--there was a whole class on it.

I wish no one had to love money. I wish it didn't matter. No more poor people getting fat because they can't afford vegetables. No more humane societies killing dogs. All the kids who want to go to school in New York can just go.

Then I wonder: What would New York be without money? Or Los Angeles?
Or Vegas?

O America, land of a million sunset traumas, even now I hear the greasers in abandoned Allegheny junk-houses whisper...

"...stay golden."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You Are My Ulysses That I'll Never End

The streets howl with ghosts, the smell of cold rocks.

Edinburgh: Warm people bustling outside thorny houses.

I spend much of Scotland drunk/hung-over. Despite this I meet few Scotsmen. The hostel is run by Australians, and our roommates are French. When we meet, it is in an open door.

Ello," they say.

“Hello,” We say.

Ello," they say.

And so on. We must have stayed there, in the doorway, for at least two minutes greeting each other. We told them to eat a Hershey bar. They told us to watch Godard.

You have two minutes and an open door to communicate your cultural legacy. What will you say?

That night the Australians take us on a pub crawl ending at The Hive. Take the house from Mask of the Red Death and put a deejay in every room. Hang disco balls and strobes from the ceilings. Give Poe's worried guests cheap drinks and gyrating hips.

ViolĂ  Hive.

The next morning, I nurse my hangover with a peanut butter banana milk shake. Chelsea stirs a bowl of porridge. She's so groggy, she's talking about the future.

The Future: What I'm always preparing for / what I hope never-ever comes.

When we get to Dublin, the first thing we do is feast with our hosts, students at the local university. The three boys juggle studying and music (two guitars, some rat-a-tating) with happy yet critical cooking:

"Remember when Gregg burnt the chips?"

"Let's not speak of it."

When it's our turn to make dinner, I diligently chop half an onion before giving in to the Bailey's, already open. All is saved by Chelsea, her spicy, angelic pesto. I aid digestion by reading Flan O' Brian in a Yankee drawl.

Then, a party. The guests arrive. The smell of loose tobacco. A song by R.E.M:

The fear of getting caught
Of restlessness and water--
They cannot see me naked--

James Joyce is the slurred subject of the night. I never finished Ulysses, though I reference the book in my poetry. I love anything making me feel small: Highways, movie screens...James Joyce. My poems try and fail to hold oceans in paper cups. "No one's actually read Ulysses."

A chorus of objections. I stand corrected: At the Dublin city college, there is a whole class devoted to the book. The Irish fetishize Joyce much in the way that Americans build shrines to Hemingway's baby shoes.

Joyce and Hemingway: No, Joyce/Hemingway! By the time I finish a bottle of whisky, I'm convinced they're the same person, one far-flung sailor following s siren.

I've discovered the bridge between modernism and post-modernism. I want to call everyone I know. I want to give high-fives to animals. Break my bones and build fires.

Pour another drink.

The next night is spent in tense sobriety, huddled around a deck of cards. The game is Higher/Lower. We successfully guess that 34 cards are higher or lower than their previous card. The next card, card 35, has us biting our lips. We've come so far, we've drawn diagrams. Calculated probabilies. "Surely it's higher."




Chelsea flips the card, and we flip a shit.

The card is lower.


Thus concludes my Scots-Irish-week-long-bus-hopping-hubaballoo.

The sun was too bright, the cemeteries too old. I can’t describe it. The people were too generous. So much happened, and in so short a time.

You know when film makers adapt Hunter S. Thompson by layering images in glittery, drug-induced sequences?

It was nothing like that.

It was a bottle of whisky with no hangover, a night talking about childhood bedrooms. Another night spent dancing. Birthday candles. Castles. The most masculine lip-ring you ever saw. "Jaysus!". The smell of seagulls. A ghost story.

Then, my forehead against the bus window, highway lights stabbing my eyes as if to say “wake up, wake up—”

The feeling of missing something I never lost.

In the song Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da (typical title for Of Montreal), Kevin Barnes sings "You are my Ulysses that I'll never end."

Even though I'm back to writing essays and drinking shitty English coffee, part of me is still traveling--Hell if i know where.

Somewhere, I'm putting off a shower, writing a book I'll never end.