The Absolute Artwork

A ceaseless question I have, which I then pose to everyone else, is what is the ultimate form of expression? Many of us know that answers are typically not important in matters of intellectual musing, so it's not an answer that I seek here. Rather, the question froths up others about the extent of human expression through art or otherwise.

Recently, I was discussing the gesamptkunstwerk—A German word roughly meaning the "total artwork." James Turell has another phrase for this in calling Rodin Crater his "life project." Is it merely ego which leads an artist to strive for such great heights, to create something larger than their mere life? With my own such interests in creating gesamptkunstwerk, it is not ego which drives me but disillusion; artwork, how it exists in most of its current forms, leaves me wanting.

Similarly I find this dilemma in congregations of thought—ideologies, theologies, intellectual schools, and so on. I was just reading Hitchens third entry in his "letters to a young contrarian" where he's writing on the uselessness of Nirvana, or an absolute perfection within existence or humanity. He concludes that if we "imagine a state of bliss and perpetual happiness and harmony [Nirvana]" then we "have summoned a vision of tedium and pointlessness and predictability, such a Huxley with all his gifts was only able to sketch." 

In my years of exploration through, let's just call it "eastern philosophy," the idea of Nirvana comes up often. And it was my so-called enlightenment to realize that Nirvana is merely the present moment; there is nothing after death, there is no place beyond this conscious experience. This is it. And with that, I have come to a certain intellectual absolute: I have no other desire to "find" answers of meaning or purpose—those things are given in my expressions of artwork. Rather, the only thing left to do with my brain is continue filling it with, hopefully, useful information. My job then, as this artist, is to conjure something from that information.

In the conjuring, there are endless routes of composition. This is where the idea of absolute artwork comes to mind, and yet at this time I lack any possible idea of what that might be. My time these days is spent in photography, garment building, writing, and considering my newfound domestic collaboration in the engagement to marry (aside to the general endlessness of thinking on the economy of my work—as Pedro Costa put it—during waking hours). This idea of the absolute brings to mind the dreadful character of Caden in Charlie Kaufmann's Synecdoche, New York, who spends 17 years on a production that never comes to be. The irony is that the production was happening all the time, and that the production is his life. And perhaps that was Kaufmanns message, but again, the answer here is unimportant. I think also to the artist Ilya Khrzhanovsky who directs the world of Dau—of which I've only seen 4 hours of a six hour film with a dozen other potential films to see.

The gesamptkunstwert I seek will be at least half of my lifetime in the making and may even see me to my grave. Yet, I will stop at nothing to see it come to be. It is the mere fact of art as value which determines the worth of my work. Paired with my undying forward trajectory, I know something marvelous will eventually form. Today I am known as a photographer, tomorrow I could be anything but, and in that position I have the only absolute that anyone really needs: freedom.


Politics, Again, and Starting a Saul Bellows Collection

This artist has reached a conclusion with politics that the working-class and impoverished share in common: politics are where small groups of phony people attempting to change life on behalf of every else. We should always praise good journalist or activists for maintaining a level of accountability and remembrance but otherwise we can't be bothered with what happens in politics. Life begins where politics ends.

That said, I've just picked up again a collection of non-fiction from Saul Bellows that I've kept unread for some time now: There is Simply Too Much To Think About. There are many bits of his writing that are already intriguing within the prologue, and I'm very much looking forward to learning from this man.

"Several millions of dollars were invested in vain by businessmen and politicians. If they could be quixotic, there was no reason why college students shouldn't be impractical too. And what was the most impractical of choices in somber, heavy, growling, lowbrow Chicago? Why, it was to be the representative of beauty, the interpreter of the human heart, the hero of ingenuity, playfulness, personal freedom, generosity and love. I cannot even now say that this was a bad sort of crackpot to be." [Prologue: Starting Out in Chicago. 1974-1975]

Word of Crisis, Meanwhile...

Odd, to be here, writing in Texas at 1:38 am while my Lover soon wakes in Lisbon, and from Lebanon news makes its way onto my screen; tales of ongoing crisis, fuel shortages, etcetera. The sustained disaster of humanity is far too complex for one to ever remain consciously aware of its multitudes. Odd to sit comfortably in my privileges while people around the globe extinguish beneath some hand of darkness.

I'm sitting here, a tangled stream of information, an online website, a social media profile, a photograph. I'm forever becoming a newfound iteration of myself in each moment.

Cory and I spoke briefly, but we're both tired and have spent too much time talking today. We spoke about the American University of Beirut and the disaster at the Medical Center. He quickly looked through some news; I only read a statement the school published on instagram. I shared it. Cory said we should follow a Dr. Firas Abiad the director general of Rafik Hariri University Hospital, for more information.

Meanwhile, in the hours leading up to this news about Lebanon, I was contemplating strategies for my online behavior. And before that it was Concept Neutral brand design. At one point in life I felt my work in creative arenas was without purpose. This is changing. I can not save anyone today in Beirut, but I can continue wondering toward that beacon which signals me onward. 

My small actions can change life for the better, I do know.

And If I risk being a fool by believing such things, then I risk being a fool.

Thoughts on Cuba

I thought that the heightened energy of political events in Cuba as of July, 2021 was an anomalous event. This thought is a result of my years of indoctrination through United States propaganda, and my general lack of time spent in reading through the history of Cuba-US relations.

As of now, this is my understanding: New Years Day 1959 Fidel Castro and company overthrow the Batista regime; Batista flees to Portugal who is also then a totalitarian state ruled by Olivera Salazar's Estado Novo; Castro assumes power as the communist dictator, Eisenhower in the White House issues myriad embargo; Bay of Pigs was the US attempt to seize weapons from Cuba; the "Cuban Missile Crisis" was a US attempt to seize missiles from Cuba who apparently received said missiles from Soviet Russia; all the while, Castros Cuba begins a massive push for healthcare education laying ground for what is now the largest medical school in the world—The Latin American School of Medicine; As embargo continues, Cuba attempts to build a strong communist economy despite constant offense from the imperial United States; Cuba begins subsidizing doctors to other countries in returns for trade deals. Now Cuba has more doctors per capita than any other country, including the United States.

As of today, Cuba remains buckled under United States embargo severely limiting their ability to build a strong economy. The United States threatens other countries with trade penalties or sanctions if they do business with Cuba. Cubans revolt due to embargo, infrastructure failures. United States blames communism, Cuba blames restricted economy.

In the United States, and in Miami, the rhetoric of anti-communism is the usual basis for all attacks against Cuba. July 13, Miami mayor Francis Suarez calls to bomb Cuba.

Most criticisms of Cuba coming from the United States are baseless and ignorant. The United States government and its CIA are the most well-funded and technically organized imperialist-terrorist organization on the planet—protecting the interests (dollars) of the pro-US oligarch class.

One Section of an Endless Loop

Words, Online. Again.

Ugh.