Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Art Is Lost, but Alive

Art hunkered in the shadows of Lascaux, smoldering.
He broke into the third dimension under Rembrandt, found beauty

With Botacelli, exactitude with Van Eck and Vermeer; exploded
Into a rage of color and perspective with the Impressionists, the Cubists.

Then Art began questioning his intentions.

In 1917 Marcel Duchamp hung Fountain, a urinal, at the
Society of Independent Artists exhibit, and said “this is art.”

In 1980 Jeff Koons did pretty much the same thing
with four Hoover vacuum cleaners, but for a different reason, perhaps,

at the New Museum in New York City. One of the series (why quit
a good thing?) was recently sold by Christies for $11,801,000, and

being encased in plastic the vacuums still work, which is an added
bonus. You could take them out and clean your house.

Since then Art has wandered many places, but seems to have a fascination
with primary functions: Piero Manzonni in 1961, exhibited

90 cans of Artist’s Shit (two cans recently sold
for well over $100,000 – must be good shit!) and Adres Serrano

dropped a crucifix into a glass of urine and photographed it;
John Baldassari videotaped himself sitting in a chair; Maurizio Cattelan

Hung stuffed horses, and Matthew Barney milked his
Cremaster, but this was tame stuff.

When Guillermo Vargas’ chained a dog to a gallery wall
letting it starve (it was later rescued) he violated Art’s trust;

and when Aliza Shvarts successively impregnated herself, aborting herself
each time while videotaping the procedure she became what Art

Should never be -- evil. Today Art is lost.
He finds himself slouched on a barstool off Forty-Seventh

unable to remember where he lives; an air conditioner
banging away and the Wurlizter playing Cryin by Roy Orbison.

The amber liquor is going down smooth, too smooth. It so seems
long ago since Art took his hat off the peg and went to find

beauty, truth, and the mind and soul of humanity. The bartender, a cherub with
an evil grin pours it slow out of a stout bottle, and the light is the light

of Marlowe, of dusk and neon and loss. After
a few more drinks, Art has to piss. He gets up walks to the rear

but the door opens not on the men’s room, but on a high prairie where
moonlight casts shadows off contorted sagebrush. He pisses and watches

the dry ground drink it up. Not far off a coyote howls. North wind, and Art
feels the back of his neck prickle. He throws his head back, and once

the dizziness subsides, stares into the vast cataclysm above dotted with stars,
but he doesn’t realize that up is relative

to where he stands (which is perhaps Art’s problem - hubris?)
and he is staring into directionless

endless distance. Pieces of an exploded universe move away from him
at speeds approaching light, rushing blindly into infinite emptiness

until at some immeasurable future time they might slow,
stop, and begin retracting again, long after the lights

of the dwellings on earth have burnt out; long after Art is dead.
Art shivers again, turns and re-enters the warmth, light and cluttered noise

of the bar. He summons the bartender, takes out a wad of cash
and buys a round for everyone in the house; then he walks over

to the jukebox and plays another Orbison song, “You Got It.”
Art turns and watches the crowd, their naïve humanity,

Their banter and their beauty, and Art grins, happy to still be alive
even if barely.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Can't Buy Happiness

As the quarter end nears, and the work piles up, stress levels are apparent. I caught part of an NPR show this morning that discussed the relationship between health and vacations. One interesting statistic was that men who worked with no vacations had up to a 30% greater chance of having a heart attack than men who had at least two weeks off a year. Women had a 50% greater chance. The relationship between "Happiness" and vacations was also commented on, and the correlation between vacation (and free time) and Happiness was apparent. Many of the happiest countries are those European and Northern European nations that allow (or in some cases mandate) five and more weeks of vacation a year. The average in the U.S. has fallen to less than two weeks in recent years.

There are numerous lists of Happiest Countries and Happiest Citizens out there, but I couldn't find any that listed the U.S. in the top ten.

The list NPR used (Ruut Veenhoven's database of
happiness) ranks these as the top five: Iceland, Denmark, Colombia, Switzerland, Mexico

Adrian White's list (University of Leicester’s School of Psychology) puts the top ten at:
1. Denmark
2. Switzerland
3. Austria
4. Iceland
5. The Bahamas
6. Finland
7. Sweden
8. Bhutan
9. Brunei
10. Canada

Right now, I'd be pretty happy with sunshine and a couple of weeks off.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Modern Times

I Linked-In my Twitter
and Twittered my Facebook,
Facebooked my Flickr and
Flickered my face.
Linked-in Myspace and Second-Lifed
My Blogger, Myspaced my Twitter
and Flickred my frog.
Bloggered my Buzznet and
Netted my Linked-in,
Twittered my Plurk and
Plurked my Dog.
GoodReads and AgentQuery
send spam to my mother
who hangs out on Facebook,
Outlooking on Flickster
and watching the Ryze.
So my Twitter my Myspace
or Twitter my Flickr
if you want me to answer
What you have to say.
I'm watching my LibraryThing
Flickr on down screen
and Skyping my Blog
to bypass my Mog.