Takashi Murakami has an exhibit opening in Gagosian Hong Kong entitled Flowers and Skulls-wish I could go and see it in person, I love his stuff.
Well, this is on my Christmas list! A book to celebrate Bowie's wild musical career and his equally stunning style evolutions and experimentations. The book is in honour of the 40th anniversaries of two of his seminal works, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane. Bowie's music marked a bit of transition for me, out of the world of blues, r+b and soul that defined much of my earliest musical baptism. I must admit that as much as the music inspired me I found the gender-bending dynamic of his image immensely appealing, it spoke to a part of me that didn't feel at home in the more aggressive male identities of my youth. I grew up in a working class world surrounded by mostly mods, skinheads and suedeheads, which is why I still love polished boots and sharp suiting, but I found some other threads to my life when Bowie glammed up. I liked the questioning posture of his music and his style--it wasn't just for the shock value, it didn't actually shock me at all, but it did seemed to be addressing questions that I was as well, about the nature of identity-- male/female, sexual/gender, authority/liberation, all those binary oppositions that tend to shape the worlds we inherit, which I found and still find suffocating.
Bowie is under-estimated I think--his avant-garde approach to music, to song-writing, musicianship, his theatricality--there are so few like him in the annals of popular music--and playing live? Well if you never saw him, and you may not get the chance anymore, you really missed out on something special--this man can bring it live.
"We should not let the theologians have the word faith. We should not give it to them. We should not give them the word hope, or other words like grace or even prayer. They don’t belong to the theologians; they belong to us. They are part of the furniture of human existence, part of the structure of human existence...Don’t give religion to the theologians. Don’t let them have it. It’s not theirs. They don’t get to build their fence around it. You have to keep the police away from literature, and keep them away from religious questions, too.
Religious authorities are terrified of genuinely thinking about religion in a deep and probing way, because they know that will expose all the uncertainty in religion and the fact that nobody knows just what’s going on. The stronger and the louder you shout your confessional faith, from my point of view, the more insecure you prove yourself to be...
Paul was a great theologian, had a great imagination. So he supplied them with a story to cover the fact that the End Time didn’t come."
Some interesting comments from John Caputo, taken from an interview over at Common Atheism.
Artist Gustav Metzger spent twenty minutes doing nothing, and what came of it was the piece above entitled, Null Object, The hard work was done by robots drilling into stone, responding to biofeedback results from some technology devised by cyberneticists at MIT. There is a lovely piece on him and his work in today's Guardian. Doing nothing is usually frowned upon but it has been something of a lifelong fascination for Metzger.
"He has always been interested in voids – an interest, it is hard not to think, that stems from his politically and ecologically charged disgust at adding to a world already filled with too many images and works of art. "I've always opposed two things in art: celebrity and commercialisation." I like the idea of voids and nothingness-perhaps because I have been doing a lot of nothing lately, well nothing much in terms of my own thought-life. For a while I felt a little guilty, it is easy for me to presume thati am meant to be in a constant state of creation and production, and this, coupled with a heavy teaching schedule pulls at me. but I have noticed that fallow times, are not really fallow at all, the heavy-lifting is actually going on--pre-production if you will.
I have been thinking about 'noise' as opposed to silence. John Cage said that 'what we hear is mostly noise...if we ignore it it disturbs us...when we listen it's fascinating,' I like that inversion, there is really no such thing as silence (hence the recording of ambient sound for tv and film--why record an empty room? Because it has a particular silence, or a particualr noise and it needs to be there), its just diferent levels andtypes of noise. I like being alone and staring at the wall for precisely that reason, to pay attention to the noise of my own life.
Slavoj Zizek has a post-election (U.S.) piece in The Guardian in which he declares that there is something to Obama which makes him more than Bush-with-a-human face. He talks about the "stabilising class," those within society who are "committed to the stability and continuity of the existing social, economic and political order – the class of those who, even when they call for a change, do so to ensure that nothing really will change." This can be taken as quite a cynical repsonse to the current state of affairs, but I must admit that I find it mostly to seem true. It is decidedly true in the religious environs that I work in--both church and educational--where the talk of changeis always freighted or slanted towards the preservation of what already is--it is the bane of my existence at times--most of the time to be honest--this assumption that the best is what we have, that to re-think it fully or completely would somehow be a detriment, so let's just tweak here and there. i got really pissed off listening to a sermon recently when a quote was relayed from another clergy-person that essentially declared that new forms of church didn'thave the substance, the wieght, to support the church---i.e. yes, the church needs to change but lets not get too carried away, we have what we need already it just needs to be rediscovered or supported by a few additonal bits and bobs so that it might appeal--meanwhile the writing is on the wall, in CAPITAL FUCKING LETTERS--the component with the inability to carry the day, is the very one you continue to champion.
I am writing this in the midst of a post-migraine melancholia, so by all means, read a little heavy-handedness in my comments, but don't mistake my critique for little more than frustration or disgruntledness--there is a problem here, its similar to the one Zizek names in his essay on the political world, different insititutional mechanism, same challenge.
of course, i must point th efinger firstly at my self--I have been asking myself what i'm doing lately, because I am part of the very thing that I think needs to be torn down--the reasons for that are complex (i.e. money/life/career etc.) but no longer to be ignored--time for hard questions of myself.
"In his Notes Towards a Definition of Culture, the great British conservative TS Eliot remarked that there are moments when the only choice is between heresy and non-belief, when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split from its corpse. Something like this is needed to break out of the debilitating crisis of western societies – here Obama clearly did not deliver. Many disappointed by his presidency held against him precisely the fact that the core of his much-publicised "hope" proved to be that the system can survive with modest changes." I might say that an heretical belief or a believing non-believing might be tweaks on those binaries, but I get his point. Is it possible? Well, as John Caputo might say, the impossible is what gives life salt, but it is in the separation from its corpse that this impossible salt might be found.
"our democracy effectively has to be reinvented. Every opening should be exploited to bring us closer to this goal, even the tiny cracks through which some light shone in Obama's first term. Our task in his second term is to maintain constant pressure to widen these cracks."
The same perhaps could be true for religion--pressure those cracks, maintain constant pressure, and in the meantime, practice a little herectical non-believing, and see if the bastard will give way.
Friedrich kunarth is a German born, LA-based artist who most recently had an exhibit at Blum & Poe. His work involves all the bits and pieces that I love--it's multi-disciplinary, incorporating painting, photography,video, sculpture and covers a wide swathe of the human condition--loss, love, dejection, melancholy, loneliness etc. The B&P exhibit was called Lacan's Haircut and focused on these and other themes--the dichotmoies in his work is great--there is much humour as well as juxtapositioning of some very challenging philosophical ideas. I particualrly like this piece below,