If you have never seen Otto and George live, no amount of youtube or whatever will adequately capture the experience. You just had to be in the same room as them or what was happening didn’t feel quite right. Do you know that old Twilight Zone where the ventriloquist dummy has taken control? It’s like watching that act; you felt like you were seeing something you weren’t supposed to, that despite Otto’s lips moving it was clear that George was the one really running the show. It was one of the most brutally funny spectacles I have ever witnessed. Truly, the obscene filth that spewed from that dummy’s mouth was among the most beautiful dark poetry I have ever heard. And Otto was simply a wonderful and kind human being who knew how to unleash his id as a force of joy. According to wikipedia and other sources, Otto contracted bacterial meningitis and died today. My condolences to his loved ones and the world of live comedy.
This line feels like a quicksilver rivulet flowing across black velvet
but I kneaded it desperately in my head until it became this one
And then transmuted itself from gold to lead before your eyes
Unrecognizing itself into new form without unbecoming its truth
Contained within these constraints the lines free themselves
Finding their own lives apart from each other
So they can come together in harmony
I don’t know.
When my dear Aunt Ann was descending into Alzheimer’s she gave me her diaries and notes. The diaries are the chronicle of a soul of purest innocence observing the doings of the 20th century, ending before the disease really began. Her more recent notes are a dissolving spiral of increasingly incoherent paranoia, mostly consisting of the most generous woman I knew scrawling about the imagined theft of her meager possessions by the staff. What shook me into stillness was discovering the question mark that filled an entire page, its eloquence unbearable.
It was relentlessly cruel. It forced me to confront the God of Job who murders innocents and torments His most faithful servant just to make a point to Satan. Watching someone I love fade away from their own self was terrifying. It was a painful lesson in compassion to endure. To be there and be present with her was extraordinarily difficult and exhausting but I think it helped her. When all else was forgotten there still was a sparkle of recognition when I walked in or spoke to her because I saw her as regularly as I could. The people who faded were the ones who hadn’t seen her in years or even much less near the end. Even when the conversational loops got shorter and shorter until it felt as if I were in a Samuel Beckett play I kept it fresh like any pro would for the blue hairs at the Sunday matinee.
Everyone responds differently and reacts uniquely and dies alone. Everyone we love and cherish will experience pain and terror and death. Everyone and everything will be taken from all of us. This is the price of life. This is what it costs to love and laugh and be. But what we buy cannot be destroyed or obliterated; through lovingkindness we resonate through each other. Instead of cowering before the God of Job, Christ and Buddha gave me the strength to look that poor old mad bastard in the eye. What I saw with my squeegeed third eye was that it was just nature and not malevolence; there is no sin or curse or reason in it. There are saints who disappear into the fog of dementia. There are Nazis still drawing pampered breaths who have never answered for their crimes. There are innocent children with malignant tumors tearing through their little bodies. This is not the fault of God or you or anyone. This is the world.
But honestly, I don’t really know.
I love you.
So there’s a lot of stuff going on but Julia and I ended up hanging out and going to the movies today. We’re not getting back together or anything like that this is just part of being there for each other as friends and looking out for Little Tony and all that. So anyway, we went to see ‘Noah’.
Let me begin by saying I actually really enjoy Russell Crowe movies. ‘Master and Commander’ was terrific and ‘Gladiator’ remains one of my all time favorite historical-ish epics; the historical accuracy of ‘Gladiator’ can be understood by imagining a film made two thousand years from now about the year 1999, when Abraham Lincoln and Batman teamed up to defeat Hitler and save the Ewoks. That’s how awesome ‘Gladiator’ is; it is the movie Romans would have made about themselves if they could have made movies. ‘Noah’ pretty much does to the Book of Genesis what ‘Gladiator’ did to Roman history; turning the Gracchi Brothers into one guy and shifting him forward two hundred years isn’t much different from turning Methuselah into Obi Wan Ka-Gandalf. Except probably that nobody cares about the Gracchi nearly as much as people care about the Bible. That would probably explain that one lady who stormed out of the theater screaming about how the film was an ‘abomination against God’.
What struck me as strange is that she had waited until nearly four fifths of the film had passed before storming out; I thought that the giant rock monsters whom Noah befriended in the early scenes had already established that the movie was going to be straight-up blasphemy by conservative standards. Which is also strange because the film explicitly presents a creationist interpretation of the story for the most part; the world is literally different before the Deluge in that stars are visible in the daytime sky, there are no natural carnivores, and the attention to the details of the many apologists who have rationalized the pragmatic problems Noah would have faced has clearly been paid in full. This makes the deviations more glaring and puzzling; they get every detail right in the strange coda where Noah passes out drunk and naked but ignore essential facts of the story to create artificial tension and fulfill the demands of formula. The grafting of the story of the terrible test that Abraham faced onto Noah’s tale does work in terms of communicating the essential truth of the myth even as it is the largest deviation of all from the Genesis account. In this, there’s no surprise to me that this was what most likely sent the woman shrieking from the theater.
I was not offended and enjoyed the film for all of its goofy grandeur; I appreciated that it was trying to embrace the Noah myth head on and this is probably what is going to confound many who see it. On the one hand, a Young Earth Creationist should be pleased to see their vision of a literal reading of Genesis brought to the screen with state of the art special effects and a big name cast. On the other hand, a Young Earth Creationist seeing their vision brought to life should be embarrassed to realize their theology is less sophisticated than a game of Dungeons and Dragons. It is an elegant demonstration that a literal reading of an ancient sacred text is bound to produce a confusing muddle of nonsense.
The truth is, Huck, that I’ve been colordrunk and soaked with images; my house reeks of paint and glue and my fingers are stained with oil. I haven’t felt like writing about the world much, though there’s certainly a lot going on, what with Vladmir Putin getting the Next Great European War started and all. There is American politics but I would rather puke blood rather than think any more about Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin, and besides, I’ve also been trying to unplug myself from the ‘net as much as possible. Of course that sounds stupid as right now I am communicating to you through the ‘net, but I mean that I’m trying to only be online when I have a reason to be there as opposed to just mindlessly surfing for diversion. The problem with the ‘net is that with a billion voices competing to be heard most of them are just shrill screams for attention that will suck your life from you like a vampire (not one of the sparkly homosexual ones who drink bloody mary mix on HBO).
Julia and I get along great as friends and are doing a good job of keeping Little Tony the priority. I get to take him to and pick him up from preschool and spend some time with him every day when he comes home. For my trouble I get paid in toddler hugs, which are more valuable than I ever knew possible. I’ve been working on a large painting for a couple of weeks now. It’s triptych of the Crucifixion in oil on wood panels. Everyone who stops by likes it even if it makes them ask a lot of questions. I like questions.
Gotta run. The blog is alive as am I.
My unlimited love to y’all,
Pi Day, 2014
Anders Breivik isn’t comfortable in his jail cell and is threatening to stop eating if he is not given better video games. Obviously, the only reasonable thing to do is to let him starve. While the United States prison system is brutal, inhumane, overcrowded, and desperately in need for reform, it does have the benefit of not pampering mass murderers of children. He spent his trial not trying to prove his innocence or madness but rather that he is a political terrorist who was a rational actor.
How ironic is it that countless innocent Muslims have been interrogated and imprisoned in places like Gitmo because of the fear they might be terrorists, but a European who murdered 77 people because Muslim immigrants make him feel icky is treated like a spoiled child. That he is serving a mere 21 year sentence is outrageous and insulting to the idea of human decency; it is impossible to comprehend that someone who perpetrated such a horrific crime is going to be free before he is sixty years of age. While Norway may pride itself for being a tolerant and humane nation they are apparently utterly helpless in the face of the sort of threat Breivik represents.