30 January 2013

#noyolo

I've been publishing a new photo series on Facebook since closing CCPCtW that picks up some of the theme (and at least a portion of the subject matter) of that early series. It was prompted by my recent sudden reunion with an old friend who I've missed quite a lot.

Trixie, demonstrating kitten-zazen.

#noyolo borrows the trope of the ubiquitous Internet cat photo and employs it in a kind of spiritual subterfuge, smuggling buddhist concepts into the cloud through this common image. The photos attempt to convey the bussho (inherent, original buddha-nature) of my 14-year-old tortoiseshell long-hair, Trixie. Upon coming back into my care (or I into hers), she immediately grew accustomed to my nightly practice of writing in bed, typing away at my laptop, propped up on elbows, while stretched out on my belly.

Recognizing this ritual, she has incorporated her own practice into it, a kitten-zazen, if you will. She will stand to my right on the bed, waiting for me to clear a path of sufficient space between myself and my laptop so that she can walk to the left side. There she waits for me to remove my left arm from the position that allows me to type and stretch it out on the bed, where she will plop herself down across the arm. I then type with my right hand as she sits, in her catness, or, sometimes, turns to her side and uses the arm to prop up her head.

This happens almost invariably every night, in the same spot, and with her at least starting in the same position each time. As soon as I recognized this corresponding ritual, I began to document it with my free hand using Instagram and posting the images simultaneously to Facebook. To some images, I add a buddhist-themed caption, but typically I allow the image to be read on its own. In many, the laptop or some portion of it has also been captured, marrying both of our rituals in the images.

I have chosen the title #noyolo because it is multi-valent in relationship to the images. It is a hashtag, used to associate a topic or keyword (or several) with a social media post. This allows, in many social networks, for users to search the posts for that keyword. The phrasing is an appropriation and a turning back on itself of an unfortunately popular current homophobic phrase (and frequent hashtag): nohomo. It's an abbreviated interjection used to disavow same-sex attraction when engaging in activities that might stereotypically draw speculation on one's sexual orientation, such as hugging someone of the same sex. yolo is an acronym, with cache in our current culture, for "you only live once." noyolo, then, is a play on this indicating that you don't only live once, but instead you live in a cycle of rebirths, either literal or figurative. noyolo seems especially fitting to me when referring to a cat, with its fabled nine lives.

Trixie and I have been reunited because she is nearing the end of this particular life, and as its close draws near, she has so much to teach and such little time in which to do it.

27 January 2013

Chuang Tzŭ and King James: Scriptural Smackdown or Textual Tag-Team?

In reading Chuang Tzŭ, I ran across several passages that brought to mind specific verses from the Bible. These are some of the points of comparative doctrine that emerged.
Photo: Reuters

AN EMPTY VESSEL

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (King James Version)

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work.

Chuang Tzŭ, Chapter 4: "The Human World," p.80 (Fung Yu-Lan, Translator)

The function of the ear ends with hearing; that of the mind, with symbols or ideas. But the spirit is an emptiness ready to receive all things. Tao abides in the emptiness; the emptiness is the fast of mind.


BE AS CHILDREN

Matthew 18:3-5 (King James Version)

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Chuang Tzŭ, Chapter 4: "The Human World," p.86 (Fung Yu-Lan, Translator)

If the son of the prince should act as if he were a child, you also should act as if you were a child. If he should cast aside all differences, you should do the same. If he should cast aside all distinctions, you also should do the same. Then you can lead him to innocence.


KNOWLEDGE, DISTINCTION, JUDGMENT

Genesis 2:18-9 (King James Version)

18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Genesis 3:3-7 (King James Version)

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Chuang Tzŭ, Chapter 2: "The Equality of Things and Opinions," p.53 (Fung Yu-Lan, Translator)

The knowledge of the ancients was perfect. How perfect? At first, they did not yet know that there were things. This is the most perfect knowledge; nothing can be added. Next, they knew that there were things, but did not yet make distinctions between them. Next they made distinctions between them, but they did not yet pass judgments upon them. When judgments were passed, Tao was destroyed. With the destruction of Tao, individual preferences came into being.

22 January 2013

Monday, May 29, 1995 5:26 a.m.



Anyone who saw us right now would think we had completely lost our minds.

It's the wee morning, just before sunrise. F_____ and I are in the empty mall parking lot, both front doors of my car open wide, the stereo booming out repetitive techno while we dance wildly. We don't even contemplate what might happen if mall security were to drive by or if a police officer spotted us from her cruiser on the Interstate. This not the first time we've been tripping and ended up dancing in a parking lot. It's, in fact, the second time we've done so in this particular lot, but the truth is various parking lots and garages have been some of our favorite clubs. Not once have we entertained the very real possibility that someone might see us, might catch us and ask us to explain ourselves. Our whole relationship has been one long, invisible, inexplicable, mad dance in the abandoned parking lot of life.

How'd we get here?

I was back in Louisville midweek, a compulsory pupil in traffic school as the result of a speeding ticket I received in January. Traffic school is a relatively small price to pay for abbreviating the long, sobering drive home from Louisiana after a crazy, drunken Christmas and New Year's holiday there with F____. I'm still a little stunned by the fact that there are drive-thru daiquiri stands in New Orleans. It's like they want us to drink and drive. Thankfully, I was not drinking when I received the ticket, but was instead nursing a hellish hangover from being very nearly perpetually drunk for two weeks straight.

By Saturday, I'm back home from traffic school and there's no one at the apartment to entertain me, so I head to the Warehouse. I'm there now so often that it seems like my job, and I just come home mornings to eat and sleep before my next shift. Like dull workdays, my nights at the club all blend together and it's rare that something disturbs the routine so that it stands out in my memory. This evening at the Warehouse is distinctive, though, because when I wander into the back bar, I hear my name being yelled over the pounding industrial music.

I look up to see Tammy C_____ and her girlfriend, Ariadne, from Louisville in all black vinyl, smiling down at me, and grinding together on a platform overlooking the dance floor.  Tammy pulls me up to join them and makes me the filling of a sexy, lesbian dance sandwich. That lasts about a song before the lesbian bread slices are again only interested in one another, and this unwanted meat slides out from between the slick vinyl outfits and off the platform. It's great to see them, but I'm not crazy about the music and I don't feel like drinking, so I don't stay long. Besides, I'm coming back tomorrow night for a scheduled rave, Electrified.

F_____ has come up for this party, with party favors: two hits of acid. We drop at around 11:30. Roy F_____ is also up from Louisville, visiting, so he and the Steves have joined us. We don't tell the guys we're doing acid tonight because they are all pretty straight. The secret is really easy to keep because I don't feel anything. In fact, I'm starting to think we swallowed a tiny shred of regular old construction paper. The music is just normal Warehouse fare and so is the crowd, so the atmosphere isn't helping our trip along either. The DJ's, who were flying in from Chicago, never showed, leaving the usual weekend DJ to man the decks. I am resigned to my second lackluster night in a row here.

After an hour or so, the guys head out, bored out of their minds I'm sure, leaving F_____ and I to our own L.S.D.evices. For a couple of hours, we waste our nominal buzz on drunken frat boys, goth poseurs, and corny dance music. I have got to get some water in me, but the line at the back bar is frustratingly long. So, I head for the front bar, where I find fifty raver kids flailing to some pretty fantastic music; the party is happening in spite of the original DJ's having stiffed us. Lovely folks keep crowding in, dancing, and worshiping the buzzing speakers. Even the normally staid bartender can't keep her body still.

Forgetting my need for water, I plow back through the crowd to the back bar and drag F_____ up front. The house gets deeper, the kids roll harder, and the two of us finally start feeling the effects of the acid—just in time for the bar to close at 4, leaving F_____ and I yet to reach the peak of our delayed trip.

We're desperate to make the most of what's left of our evening.  A rumored after-party near the university that is supposed to move outdoors to Eden Park at 7 a.m. turns out to be a bust. So we wander downtown for a bit. Still no party. We head for the airport, which sounds like it might be a fun place to trip. It isn't. We must have already started sliding down the backside of our buzz. Or so we think until I hit just the right track on the CD player and the music is so intense that the beats stir up our brain chemistry and pull us out of the lull. Our bodies have to move and the car does not afford enough space for them to do so, thus the mall parking lot.

We dance. We laugh uncontrollably. We move inside the parked car. We jitter and convulse. By dawn, we're coming down, physically exhausted and yet sleep eludes us. I check myself out in the rear-view mirror, something I know better than to do under these circumstances. Pallid, blotchy skin. Dark, hollow rings under red eyes. Cracked lips. Sweaty hair matted to forehead. This is not the look of someone who has just spent an entire night having the time of his life, but instead the look of someone who has spent an entire night one dance-step ahead of a raving reaper.

20 January 2013

Mailing Travelogue

After receiving my first unsolicited travel information mailing.
There has been a distinct shift in the type of anonymous mailings I have been receiving after beginning my Husbrand project.  Instead of collages and other artworks of appropriated materials, I am now receiving travel information from various visitors bureaus throughout the country and other materials insinuating worldwide travel.

I have made the occasional Facebook comment related to these mailings, but withheld full disclosure in hopes of conceiving an appropriate delivery method. Due to the spatial, geographical nature of these mailings, I have started mapping related images and information to Google Maps. Use the indicators on the map below to access information on these mailings.


View Travel Mailings in a larger map

My related Facebook post of January 8, 2013.

17 January 2013

soundtrack series

An archive that even Derrida would become feverish over.

I have begun to archive my series of soundtrack Facebook posts to Pinterest. These consist of a link to a music video on YouTube and a brief caption, generally in the same format each time: "Tonight's -blank- soundtrack" or "Today's -blank- soundtrack." The -blank- is whatever I am doing, thinking, or feeling at that moment.


I considered just building a YouTube playlist out of them and sharing it; but, the source material is from YouTube, and the channel of distribution is Facebook, so I feel strongly that the means of archival must be some other outlet of social media. Pinterest has generally been used to collect still images from the Web, so using it to "pin" video is in keeping with my interest in misusing social media. As I archive each soundtrack post, I delete the original from Facebook with all of its comments, defying Facebook's inborn archival characteristics and supporting my virtual enlightenment project.

12 January 2013

Monday, May 22, 1995 2:43 p.m.

I'm a-pickin' and she's a-grinnin'.


I’m listening to Orbital’s remix of “Bedtime Story,” waiting for dishes to wash themselves, and unwinding after a hardcore weekend:

Orbit, a rave (party? I haven’t learned the difference, if there is one) scheduled for Friday in Louisville is canceled because the promoters “couldn’t find any place to hold it.” This probably translates to the promoters “blew the venue deposit on coke.” I have driven all the way down just for this party, so you can imagine my disappointment upon hearing the news. F_____ and I go to the club instead, but it’s lame. We’re both fiending for some X, which seems to have become our usual state of being, but there is none to be found, which seems to have become its usual state of being. Todd, now our pharmacist, isn’t there because he’s driven to Nashville for another rave, Heartbeat, which is to go down Saturday night. In order to salvage the weekend, and to track down our goddamned dealer, we decide that we are just going to have to drive to Nashville. I’ve already been on the road an hour and a half to get here today; what’s another two and a half tomorrow?

It’s exactly half a pack of Marlboro Lights, that’s what it is.

So, the country music capital of the world is not really the first place that comes to mind when one thinks rave. Images of a warehouse full of shoeless, toothless hillbillies blowing whistles and twirling glowsticks to the latest Josh Wink come to mind. F_____ and I have dressed the part; we’re both wearing loose denim overalls. Now, if she could just scare up a washboard and I, a corncob pipe, our costumes would be complete.  

God, I hope there’s moonshine.

As it turns out, these fucking hillbillies know how to party. Great venue, great crowd, great music. We look around for Pharmacist Todd when we arrive, but he’s not here yet. Something like a thousand other people are, however, and they have the drug jump on us. When Todd does arrive, a tad late, he promptly fills our prescription for not moonshine, but instead Orange Sunshine: potent X in an orange capsule. It’s the first time I’ve rolled at a real party, rather than just a club, and now I think I understand what this is all about. We hit the dark dancefloor a little after midnight and then the next thing we know, sunlight is streaming in through the windows. We leave at 5:30 in the a.m., having danced nonstop, but the party is set to go on until 7 without us. After catching four hours of “sleep” at a rest stop, we change clothes, brush our teeth, and make our way to Bowling Green for lunch.

My lungs are on fire. After chain-smoking on the drive down, and then chain-smoking at the rave, and now beginning my third course of chain-smoking on the drive home, I realize that one or more of my habits is going to kill me.  I’m going to have to stop drinking, stop doing drugs, stop smoking, stop driving hundreds of miles half-asleep, half-lit, half-stoned to find a party if I want to keep up the breakneck pace of my current lifestyle.

Wait, what am I saying? That IS my lifestyle.

Weighing my situation and the current damage felt by my exhausted immune system, I throw out my remaining two cigarettes. That oughta do the trick, right? Now, when’s the next party?