Knowing Your Own Darkness, in 2016…

I have said stupid things in my life, and written stupider things. Now, on July 21, during the nightmare Republican Convention, besides trying to remain in reality and do everything possible to make sure this “buffoon”(thank you, Trevor Noah for this word)  is not elected president, I realize when I posted a Trump topic post back in December, I did not add some important things to it. I also noticed I was disgusted by my own poem but another voice said, “Are you disgusted because you don’t want to see this bad stuff inside you?”

The post was a poem about accepting the Donald Trump within me, and I still think that any person of any amount of privilege  in this country, needs to look at themselves and acknowledge any pieces of Trump within them. According to Carl Jung, we need to follow this:

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/carl_jung.html

When I wrote that poem, I took a radical position of seeing some of my own darkness as “Trump-ish”. I see parts of Trump, that I need to control for sure, including, narcissism, grandiosity, careless talking, need for too much attention, etc.

I do not agree with anything about Trump, from his values (which he has none), to his lying and not caring and continuing to lie, his racism, his anti-Muslim positions, and xenophobia, and all of the hate speech about every minority group, the list goes on. Most of all, I do not condone living so long without a total inventory of yourself, what lies deep inside you, what is on the surface, what parts of yourself you may have been unconscious of. The most dangerous people are the “careless” people, those who have no insight into themselves, and have no desire to even look for any.

Looking at the Convention, about 6 months after writing the poem, I did not forget this poem. I don’t know who said this idea, which is not mine, not only do we have to know our own darkness, we have to know that what’s going on around us in our country is our responsibility. You may have hated nobody, you may work to end poverty, you may be a therapist who really wants to help people have the fullest life possible, but you can’t ignore reality or it will become hell and you can’t ignore the “bad/ignorant” parts of yourself.

So this man is bringing the ugliest parts of American reality of 2016, which may seem not that different from 50 or 40years ago when you look at the ugliest parts, but it is a different place.

The main thing Trump is doing is not brilliant or original, he’s playing to everyone’s fears. You can watch Trevor Noah’s bit on the Convention playing to fears. It’s nothing new. It’s what Bush did and lots of others.

Yes, I have to take responsibility for my own ignorance and ability to ignore things that should not be ignored, whatever they may be. I aim to be in touch with the hatred and racism, sexism and everything else that is somewhere inside me, because you can’t live in a country founded on taking other peoples land, founded on racism and sexism and every other ism, without internalizing those things.

These are difficult times, but I don’t want to be fearful or ignorant, as much as I possibly can.

All the things they all want you to be afraid of at the Republican Convention are manufactured. The facts have been checked and you can find them in a lot of places. For example, http://www.politicususa.com/2016/07/21/crime-statistics-trumps-acceptance-speech-lies.html

Of course the thing to be most afraid of is the power Trump has right now and his supporters, a fear that brings action, not more fear.

Philip Guston, the painter, painted some very provocative paintings that would resonate with people today, probably you could change them slightly to look more present day, but the symbolism is there:

http://www.artnet.com/Magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit12-4-1.asp

This is Guston’s painting, a very scary self-portrait of himself painting himself as a Klansman, much like my poem about Trump. Trump is a modern day 21st century Klans person. I don’t think that is an exaggeration.

Philip Guston said he tried to really imagine being “evil” and even imagined being with the Klan, because he knew that even when the hoods go away, they are still here. They are inside of all of us in different forms. Some artists amplify things. They exaggerate things to make a point. When an artist gets deep inside their dark side, they make some very intense works that may appear really crazy. Other artists see no need to go that way, they can just paint what they are seeing and what they are experiencing that the view sees and experiences as part of the “reality” of both painter and viewers, such as Jacob Lawrence and his Migration series  Both kinds of artists make important art work. So do the artists who are not interested in looking deep within themselves or at what they see. Those artists paint and write and sing other kinds of things, also needed.

I have been fascinated with Philip Guston’s paintings most of my life as a painter. He is even called an “artist’s artist”. The poem I wrote was influenced by his kind of art. If I was as gifted as Guston, I could paint a self-portrait of myself holding a gun in some way that would capture what’s going on right now in this country. Or I could paint a weird painting of myself looking like some white blond lady delegate from the republican convention. You can find photos of them, here’s one I might copy: http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/delegate-wears-a-women-4-trump-pin-on-an-american-flag-themed-cowboy-picture-id578126290

Maybe she’d have a real gun on her hat. It would be a tribute to Philip Guston’s kind of painting, to go into your own evil, you have to own having it and own yourself seeing it. The canvas in Guston’s painting functions as a kind of mirror.

We also have within us all kinds of good aspects of our living in the United States, we have the Statue of Liberty inside us, the one that really stands up for every person’s right to live equally freely.

Now we need whatever part of us is not scared, but angry and not willing to sit and be lied to by anyone. We also need to be hopeful and see positive changes and work towards more.

“The job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open.” Gunter Grass

I would say one job of a politician/”government servant”and anyone else, especially people who are in privileged positions, is to know when to shut their mouth and when to open it, and to be very careful of what comes out of it….

 

 

My New Project: #Bathroom Art Only

Here is the link to the great news for NYC, which should be a model for everywhere, USA:

http://nypost.com/2016/06/20/public-bathrooms-are-about-to-become-transgender-friendly/

I am posting quickly about my project in honor of today’s great news that NYC public bathrooms will finally be liberated from binary gender and open to all genders. (There are people other than those who identify as transgender who also benefit from this news coming true.)

About three weeks ago, I embarked on a “new” art project that was inspired by my passion about all gender issues and conversations about gender. I have been passionate about bathrooms needing to be done with the binary gender signs and words. It’s not enough to turn the “dress” into a “cape”. The real super heroes are those who need complete liberation from gender inequality and gender stereotypes including those about what “transgender” is/means.


Anyway, I decided to do several things with my art project, starting with the idea of this art will only be intended to be put in a public or private bathroom, so the “# Bathroom Art Only”. The other part was Gender Activism which I had been involved with in past art projects from years ago. For here now in 2016, the Gender Activism part of this Bathroom Art Only involves making art signs for public and private bathrooms as well as other things like door hangers, pins and ribbons, all kinds of small art that can be given out for free or sold for $1. More on that in future posts.

The other part, I guess third part, involves guest artists, which I will feature in my posts, social media and maybe shows, and in my studio on my “Exhibition Wall”.

Lastly, this project will involve a lot of input from children, as I have already had great responses to my project from several kids who have come to my studio and been inspired. One made the first door hanger which is in my home bathroom, and others made some fun bathroom art. I plan to do a youtube video called “Kids speak out about Gender” and I will be interviewing some enlightened kids of whatever gender. I am always inspired by children, because the majority of kids really “get it”, what is really important and how to simplify and clarify your message. Believe it or not, children are usually better at communicating that adults!


More for further posts. I will post photos in this post or the next one…

Below a post it added with no prompting by a child to list of studio rules on my office door!

Dermotillomania

Stupid Person: Why do people pick their skin for hours and deface it?

Person: A. because I can and I will do it whether you like it or not. I will also not do it if I don’t need to or want to.

B. If you stop picking on me for picking my skin, maybe I will stop picking it for a while.

C. Because it’s there. Get used to it and stop asking stupid questions.

D. I pick it sometimes when stupid people stress me out. Until there are a lot less stupid people around, I may pick it once in a while.

E. Guess what? It feels really good sometimes and it’s sometimes fun. Go have another vodka and snort another line of coke and then talk to me.

My Bathroom Poem

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In response to a great video called just pee:

 

Inspired a poem I wrote right after first seeing the video:

Style: Facebook Post/Song Lyric

Topic: Poo and Being you

Device: Talking about poop when people might not want to..

Drumroll here it is:

Just poop! You don’t have to snoop.

Be you . Accept your poo.

Wherever you poo make sure you be you…

Art project: draw a good poop emoji style and have it talking to a human in a bathroom.

Andrea’s Poem

Thank you Andrea R. Huelsenbeck for creating a beautiful poem from my word list! This is the bestest thing about blogging! Creative exchanges and discovery and connecting with another poet.

What use has a mermaid for a surge protector?Will it help her clean the lint trap?

In a fit of indignation

She stamps her foot

And eyes the thing on the ceiling fan that turns around.

Impatiently, she makes a caviar sandwich,

Which immediately gets soaked because of all the water.

The dream catcher snatches all her aspirations.

She crawls out onto the bridge shrouded in fog,

Tying a cable-knit sweater round her neck like a cape,

While the clouds hide the planets.

Day 2: Write a List

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Ray Bradbury wrote a list of nouns to get inspired. I will try it too.

  1. caviar
  2. heads
  3. sandwiches
  4. The thing on a ceiling fan that turns
  5. lint trap
  6. matches
  7. oven thermometer
  8. cork paper
  9. arteries
  10. surge protector
  11. planets
  12. eyes
  13. fringe
  14. cape
  15. stamp
  16. selfie-stick
  17. fog
  18. indignation
  19. boxing gloves
  20. cable
  21. bridge
  22. castle
  23. cloud
  24. brush pen
  25. dream catcher
  26. mermaid
  27. water

I’m not sure what this list will do for me. I guess while making it, I was judging myself for mostly listing objects I’m seeing in my studio. If I look at it from another person’s point of view, any of these things could be a portal into something else and could spark something creative. I’m too lazy right now to actually try using five of them in a few sentences. It feels forced.

Writing Class, Day 1: I write because

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I’m taking this class to get back into writing. I’m trying to write a graphic novel that I started in 2000 and still haven’t finished. I hope this class will inspire me to get back to doing it.

So I have nothing in particular to write about for this class; I want to return to the joy of writing for the pleasure of writing.

The assignment is simply to explain what makes you write. I am rereading the Miracle Worker (the play), so I looked to Helen Keller for her thoughts on writing and found this gem:

“Trying to write is very much like trying to put a Chinese puzzle together. We have a pattern in mind which we wish to work out in words; but the words will not fit the spaces, or, if they do, they will not match the design.”

I found this very fascinating coming from someone who is visually impaired. As a visual person myself, I love this idea about patterns. It is close to the approach to writing of Vladimir Nabokov, one of my favorite authors.

 

I can’t see writing or art making in this way that Keller does, as I don’t have images or patterns in mind before or during the process of creating. I just start with something and see where it goes. Maybe after something comes out, I see something and try to play with the form in subsequent collages or drawings. Even with my struggle to do my graphic novel, I do it page by page, and have no idea who or what will appear until it’s happening.

This quote from Nabokov seems pretty accurate as a description of what I’m doing in my graphic novel:

“The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and once they are there, throw rocks at them.”

So, why do I write?

Words. Language. The first thing Annie Sullivan does to engage with Helen Keller is to spell words of things with her, to teach her language, that everything in her world has a name. As humans, even when we cannot see, hear or speak in words, we have some kind of innate hunger for language. We want to make something that symbolizes what is in our mind or environment. Language is an abstraction. Writing with words is a way to move into a world that exists only in our minds.

I like to write because the use of words leads to the imagination, where anything is possible. My favorite book ever written remains Alice in Wonderland. There is no reason for anything in the book. Alice is not on a quest to find herself or get home or anything else. She is curious and wants to explore and see what is down the rabbit hole and in the garden. Something is locked, so she has to find the key and get in to see what is there! It is very evident that Carroll successfully got her up on that tree and he and the others in the book are throwing metaphorical “rocks” at her!

For me this is the purest reason for writing, to see the familiar from a different point of view where everything becomes strange. Alice can’t use the language from her real world in Wonderland. Every time she recites something, it comes out strange and different.

That is my reason to write, to be surprised by what comes out and to see how the most ordinary word is not ordinary at all…

 

I don’t know…

What makes life so intense and such a struggle for some of us? A patient said today getting up in the morning is like a new fight all over again.

Maybe that’s why some of us resist sleep. Late at night it’s comforting to be awake in the dark time when most people are asleep. I feel it now. 

Last night I felt a strange inability to feel anything: I couldn’t even draw anything. I had nothing to say, not just nothing to express but nothing to say to any person asking what was on my mind. I felt  like I’d never have anything to draw again. It wasn’t sadness or depression. It was like being in touch with nothingness. Blank.

This didn’t last. I woke up and at some point in the morning I felt a lot of things. It started out with anger and hopelessness. Bleak images, extreme violent fantasies, not of physical violence, but disturbing. Then I got to work and felt grounded. Later on I felt inspired. The wall of obstacles in my head melted and I looked up the principle of least effort and re acquainted myself with the 7 spiritual laws of success; I needed a structure that made sense. I listened to the loving kindness meditation and did it in my head and repeated it all day. It feels like an anchor for my wayward mind that seeks to get itself in trouble.

Suddenly I felt in touch with understanding that most of my struggles are with myself and pushing things instead of just letting go.

I felt relaxed and free; anxiety is so grasping, your hands hurt from trying to move things, control things, hold things, change things.

I had some moments of peace. I could really believe that I can just accept things as they are and myself too. I had clarity for the rest of the day. I felt connected to my work and my patients and other people.

I know the struggles of the mind; my own mind is a many splendored, crazy dark light place, often overfilled, every once in a while empty like last night, sometimes dark and stormy, torture. Often excited and brimming with enthusiasm about everything. Whatever I’m drawing painting making at the moment is leading me somewhere great. The next day I may throw out most of what I made.

I understand what my patient said about waking up in the morning constructed, anxious, dreading another struggle.

We are unseen warriors in an invisible fight. At least we can know that others experience life this way. I can’t change this; I can’t exchange my mind for a quieter one. 

I can write about it here, and wake up tomorrow for another day of surprises.

End of month Journal Images!

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Today while on a long bus ride, I took photos of recent and older drawings in my current journal which is finished. Time to make a new one!

Most of the images are drawings of things and some are talking. I just visited friend with baby chickens so I tried to draw some of them. 

This is the front cover:


Below is the back:

Some drawings…

From this weekend:

I was visiting friends who just got chickens! Hard to draw!


The one above- there was only one salt shaker, so one must be fake!


I’m rereading a great App about DaVici’s dissecting bodies and figuring out anatomy, so I found a basic drawing of a heart and copied it….

Drawings below: I’ve been inspired by Edward Gorey Fantod cards, and tried ideas for my own..,


This last drawing below is a favorite, not done by me… I love when kids get into my journal and do their thing!

The Big Election Challenge: Is it Opening or Closing Your Mind?

The election is a great way to measure humans’ ability to be tolerant, open minded, calm and to “listen actively” to others. The issue of dealing with others’ opinions, especially those you care about and interact most with, has been a big one I’ve noticed with myself, my patients and supervisees and my friends/family during this intense election process.

So I pose these questions: I actually posed these on Facebook, as I’m curious to see what the answers are.

Has the Election enhanced your relationships with close people in your life or hurt it? Has it increased your anger management skills or worsened them? Has it enhanced your ability to be tolerant and open minded or made you more rigid? Post answers in the comments!

If you want to work on frustration tolerance, anger management skills, negative thinking, negative future prediction, overexposure to media, the best thing about this election in my view is that no matter what , it’s an opportunity for doing so.

Being friends with people who disagree with you on some things, important things, is a sign of the ability to tolerate others and be open minded, to be flexible and to be secure. The more secure you are with yourself, the less you mind what others’ think about anything. Other people’s opinions belong to them.

I would say that being a vegetarian, for example, has exercised this muscle for me for 20 years. I am a vegetarian based on treatment of animals. I eat with people who eat animals; the closest people in my life are often non-vegetarians.

When I became a vegetarian, I had a choice. Do I make big statements or small ones? DO I tolerate or do I have to be rigid for the purpose of my ultimate goal, less harm to other animals on the planet?

In a way, shopping and eating at places, public and private, where you see dead animals is an exercise in supreme tolerance and open mindedness. I care a great deal about animals and agree with Ghandi that:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Nobody says much about the food industry, especially with regard treatment of animals in this campaign. The one reference might be to the right to have rifles and firearms to kill animals that are not human.

So, when I’m around someone arguing about any of the Republican or Democratic candidates, I still get riled up, and I can look at election talk and feel anger coming, but then I remember, nobody effects big change by being a jerk about their opinions. Needing to be right is something that will not serve you in life. I spend a few minutes on the high horse and get into a passionate this vs. that thing, then I come down and realize: I’m just not the debating type. I’d rather shut up and ask questions. Since I am still super confused about most of what is going on, I seek information. I have a terrible memory for details, so I can’t pull good arguments and data out of myself in the midst of a political candidate preference discussion. Just this morning I spent two hours on the internet trying to gather facts to be able to “argue” better my judgments and feelings about the candidate, to no avail. I don’t remember much of what I read and got bogged down to the point where I’m back to being confused

I guess that is what we artist and healers tend to do, or some of us anyway. Get in it for a minute, and then when frustrated/confused/angry take it as a cue to pull to the side of the road and ask open-ended fact seeking questions, find out more about the person through asking about their views. Close observation of others, not just what they say, how they say it and how they dialogue with others. People distract me which is what makes it so hard to remember policies and issues and points of view; even reading an article, I wonder about the writer and the publication… I tend to notice a lot of “irrelevant” things about other people and environments; it can serve to get me more neutral and out of my angry convincing head and back to my curious head, where I operate best from anyway.

As to the animal rights issue: I go by the ‘set the example and just mind your own business method’, unless in the moment I can actively and non aggressively affect some kind of change, which may just be to make sure someone is feeding their animal enough.

How about you? How is this election affecting your relationships and your general well being?

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