Yoko Ono says

9 Feb

I think it is possible to see a chair as it is. But when you burn the chair, you suddenly realize that the chair in your mind did not burn or disappear. The world of construction seems to be the most tangible, and therefore final. This made me nervous. I started to wonder if it were really so.

Isn’t a construction a beginning of a thing like a seed? Isn’t it a segment of a larger totality, like an elephant’s tail? Isn’t it something just about to emerge – not quite structured – never quite structured… like an unfinished church with a sky ceiling? Therefore, the following works:

…A garden covered with thick marble instead of snow – but like snow, which is to be appreciated only when you uncover the marble coating.

One thousand needles: imagine threading them with a straight thread…

– Yoko Ono, Grapefruit

weekend silliness: ? whazupwitu?

6 Feb

I try to push my students toward experimenting and taking on real issues in the world, and then I see something like this, and I think, well, okay, or you could make something like this.


4 Feb

Look at these successful proposals from apexart.

Now look at the ranking of all the proposals. Many of the titles were fascinating. Not necessarily good, but very effective at eliciting confused curiosity. Here are some of my favorites, loosely organized in a way such that sometimes it is dialogue, sometimes title and subtitle, sometimes the highest poetry and sometimes plain mopey whinging. Also, a dramatic ending. (If it was good enough for Bon Jovi,) I call it:


    Other Mothers
    Breastfeeding our nightmares away
    Just eat it – From identity to art
    Slippery When Wet

    Gaping: Scenes from a Chasm
    Laws Change. People Die.The Land Remains.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
    We dance, we smoke, we kiss
    you, me, angel, ghost
    Agony, Again

    There is a Killer Among Us
    Starry Speculative Corpse
    The Dog Is Dead
    and together we are alone
    Phantoms speak to the living, we shall listen with our eyes.
    If Only You Could See, What Iʼve Seen With Your Eyes
    What do you see?
    Blue-pencil. Black-out.
    The White Cube and the Altar of Darkness.

    Race just isn’t what it used to be
    Do we live in the same world?
    Whatever happened to gender equality in Scandinavia?
    Where to go from here
    What’s up?
    How Are You Feeling Today?
    If yes, say yes. If no, say no
    7 practical exercises of communication to try with your usual authority figures, should they be absolutely necessary to have aro[und?]

    If I were a grown-up
    I Will Have My Own Washing Machine
    How free could I be without you, Money?
    This is one of the main problems we have with imagination today

    What’s in the package?
    Your Life is a Story
    So HERE’s My Jetpack

    I Have Become to Perform Significant Embodiments
    The Act of Stretching
    Out of Bodies
    Shut the Fuck Up
    And You Are All Flops
    I don’t want to talk about the world anymore
    Why Are You Here?
    I Love Dick, the Exhibition
    A Roomful of Teeth – An Oral Exhibition
    EAT IT

I really wish we had access to all the proposals. I’m dying to know what some of these were, especially “BOO!” and maybe “THE MEANING OF LIFE.”

Also, I’d like to be in a show titled “Shut the fuck up.” What about you?

Table for two

1 Feb

Shani Ha

Shani Ha plays with the context and vocabulary of the restaurant by twisting an archetypal bistro table in an interactive installation. The table is split between the inside and the outside, playing with the boundaries of public spaces and questioning social interactions and relationships in New York. “Table For Two” appears on the corner of 7th Avenue and Carmine Street…

Annie Proulx says dissolution

29 Jan

There are still times that I don’t think of myself as a writer. I’m basically a reader, which is the best way to learn to write. I think the study of history and the marshaling of facts, the comparison of societies and movements and power structures, is far more important to my writing. The fringe edges of dissolution and construction of societies. For me, mostly dissolution. Change. How the shape-shifting happens…

Most rural people are angry when I write about their places because they’re not presented in great glowing hosannas. I don’t say that they’re the greatest places on earth. They can’t bear any kind of criticism. They know they’re in the best place in the world, but I don’t seem to realize that. It infuriates them. There were lots of people in Newfoundland who hated the book because it wasn’t all sweetness and light. The same way the Wyoming stories infuriated people because it wasn’t all about wonderful things. If you want to write about bad things you have to write murder mysteries.

Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx says violence

28 Jan

Interviewer: You have been criticized by some for overemphasizing the bad luck and failure of you characters — for not finding the mitigating factor in their lives, if only in the way you frame their stories.

Proulx: It is difficult to take this as a serious criticism. America is a violent, gun-handling country. Americans feed on a steady diet of bloody movies, television programs, murder mysteries. Road rage, highway killings, beatings and murder of those who are different abound; school shootings—almost all of them in rural areas—make headline news over and over. Most of the ends suffered by characters in my books are drawn from true accounts of public record: newspapers, accident reports, local histories, labor statistics for the period and place under examination. The point of writing in layers of bitter deaths and misadventures that befall characters is to illustrate American violence, which is real, deep and vast.

…I am reminded of the uproar of disapproval over historian Michael Lesy’s 1973 Wisconsin Death Trip, the author’s gathering of newspaper accounts of nineteenth-century economic failure, madness, hoboes, suicide and murder in company with the extraordinary photographs by Charley Van Schaick. Real lives, real events, which displeased the many critics who denounced the book’s darkness as distortion of history. One protesting group got out a rival collection of photographs entitled Wisconsin Life Trip, showing happy families, picnics, affection and peace. There is something in us that wants to believe in sweet harmony against all evidence.

An Interview with Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx says metaphor

27 Jan

Metaphors — a complex subject. What is involved in constructing them seems not so much a matter of seeking similitude or trying for explanation or description as multilevel word and image play. Metaphors set up echoes and reflections, not only of tone and color but of meaning in the story. The use of running metaphors in a piece — all related in some way to indigestion or water or loneliness or roller skates, or with a surrealistic or violent cast — will guide the reader in a particular direction as surely as stock can be herded. For me, metaphors come in sheets of three or four at once, in floods, and so metaphor use often concerns selection rather than construction. There are private layers of meaning in metaphor that may be obscure to the reader but which have —beyond the general accepted meanings of the words — resonance for the writer through personal associations of language, ideas, impressions. So the writer may be using metaphor to guide the reader and deepen the story, for subtle effects but also for sheer personal pleasure in word play.

Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx says character

26 Jan

Where a story begins in the mind I am not sure — a memory of haystacks, maybe, or wheel ruts in the ruined stone, the ironies that fall out of the friction between past and present, some casual phrase overheard. But something kicks in, some powerful juxtaposition, and the whole book shapes itself up in the mind. I spend a year or two on the research and I begin with the place and what happened therebefore I fill notebooks with drawings and descriptions of rocks, water, people, names. I study photographs. From place come the characters, the way things happen, the story itself. For the sake of architecture, of balance, I write the ending first and then go to the beginning.

I read manuals of work and repair, books of manners, dictionaries of slang, city directories, lists of occupational titles, geology, regional weather, botanists’ plant guides, local histories, newspapers. I visit graveyards, collapsing cotton gins, photograph barns and houses, roadways. I listen to ordinary people speaking with one another in bars and stores, in laundromats. I read bulletin boards, scraps of paper I pick up from the ground. I paint landscapes because staring very hard at a place for twenty to thirty minutes and putting it on paper burns detail into the mind as no amount of scribbling can do.

…The character Loyal Blood leaped complete and wholly formed from a 1930s Vermont state prison mug shot. A friend gave me a small stack of postcards sent out by the Windsor Prison warden’s office in the 1930s to alert various sheriffs around the state to escapees. I knew nothing of the man on my postcard, but his face was arresting and the character jumped forward at once. The story’s genesis was sparked by a small stack of state fire marshal’s reports during the Depression. There were a number of dismal accounts of farmers burning down their houses and barns for the meager insurance money. They had nothing else. From this desperate arson, with its roots in the global economic slump, emerged the story.

…In working endings for stories and novels I try simply for a natural cessation of story. Most of my writing focuses on a life or lives set against a particular time and place. This is the nature of things, and, though it sounds simplistic, this is what shapes my view of the past and present, both as related to my personal life and the lives of characters. One is born, one lives in one’s time, one dies. I try to understand place and time through the events in a character’s life, and the end is the end. The person, the character, is one speck of life among many, many. The ending, then, should reflect for the reader some element of value or importance in the telling of this ending among the possible myriad of stories that might have been told.

Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx says place

25 Jan

“Landscape is the driving force for everything that I write,” she says. “Place comes first – what is this place, what makes it this way, what is the geology, what is the prevailing climate, what’s the weather like, how do people make a living, what grows here, what animals are here. All of this stuff I do first, and then the stories just are there because the place dictates what happens.”

…she never lost her academic undergirding and her interest in the intersection between ecology, economy and history; even now, asked to name writers she admires, she plucks a decidedly scholarly volume from the thousands of books in her home library.

“This is a hugely important book,” she says of History and Ecology: Studies of the Grassland, by James Malin, a Kansas historian. “It’s badly written – he wasn’t a writer – but the information in it and the outlook is first-rate.” Malin believed a region’s human history was largely determined by the environment, and so he wrote as much about rocks, insects, fire, weather, animals and plants as he did about people. “An ecological approach to history – I’d have to say that’s my approach, too.”

The desert that breaks Annie Proulx’s heart

+ An interview. I’ve been a Proulx fan for a long time, but never did enough digging to realize how much research she does and her “ecological approach.”


21 Jan

This is a list of interesting stuff I encountered or purchased in 2015, not necessarily made in 2015, which means it could all be old hat to you. I like making these kinds of lists well into the new year. I’ve never understood (well, yes, I do) why people do them before the year is up – after all, you never know what’ll manage to sneak in at last second. This way, you also have some time to reflect on the year and what was worthwhile.



Children’s Hospital, Chris Adrian

Saints & Sinners, Lawrence Wright

Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag

Lose Your Mother, Saidiya Hartman

McSweeney’s #26, #43

Desert Oracle, Ken Layne

Tabula Rasa: Deluxe Re-issue, Arvo Part



Red-Color News Soldier, Li Zhensheng

I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed By Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World, Trevor Paglen

Until the Kingdom Comes, Simen Johan

Deadline, Will Steacy

100 Suns, Michael Light

The Book of Trees, Manuel Lima

Undermining: A Wild Ride Through Land Use, Politics & Art in the Changing West, Lucy Lippard

The Codex Borgia: A Full-Color Restoration, Gisele Díaz

Manga: 3 Volume Box, Hokusai


Habibi, Craig Thompson

Arsène Schrauwen, Olivier Schrauwen

Safari Honeymoon, Jesse Jacobs

Sunny, Taiyo Matsumoto

Maus, Art Spiegelman
Footnotes in Gaza, Joe Sacco
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel

Nobrow 8: Hysteria +

Worse Things Happen At Sea, Kellie Strom +
Beyond the Surface, Nicolas André +
Bicycle, Ugo Gattoni +
Fish, Bianca Bagnarelli

(BOARD) GAMES: (from light to beefy)

Hanabi, 2−5 players, 25 min

Tsuro of the Seas, 2−8 players, 30 min

Tajemnicze Domostwo, 2−7 players, 30-60 min

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, 1−? players, 60-120 min

Blacks & Whites, 3-9 players, 90-120 min

Dead of Winter, 2−5 players, 45-210 min

Night Witches + Grey Ranks + Juggernaut, 3/4+ players, 60-? min


January, February, May, June


September, November, December