April 26, 2012
A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.
Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities.
The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit
to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and all science.
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
Quotes by Albert Einstein
Art by Edward Hopper
April 21, 2012
April 20, 2012
Creation is one thing. Communication is another. The two are often conflated, mistaken as one in the same, when discussing art. It seems as though as the audience, we have forgotten our role. We are not the reason for the art, though we would like to think it so.
Creation is a personal endeavor, coming from an array of needs, be it spiritual or financial, aesthetic or emotional, physical or intellectual, or any other reason. The artist has a purpose, and that purpose is their own. Ideally, I imagine they would like this purpose to translate into our experience, but that can never really be so. At best, there is an affinity between purposes—for each member of the audience has their own needs, and seeks out greater understanding through communion with the art.
Thus it is really communion, and not communication, that happens when the audience observes the art. There is a shared space, something that only exists between the art work and the observer. And it is this space that the audience then tries to communicate, to understand what they experienced when looking at someone else’s Idea….
April 18, 2012
And so it is, and so it has been that this blog has become a diary of sorts. It is a refuge, an oasis, a sacred space where I have found the integrity that had been stripped from me. It is an exploration of the dark and the light, the sick and the healing, the curses and the blessings that have surrounded me since I was born.
It is this blog that has given me a new sense of understanding of the Digital Age, not just what it means to speak freely to the world, but the courage it requires to sign my name to my word. I have no aliases, I play no games, I hide from nothing because I no longer fear my pain.
Once this blog became my diary, I discovered something I didn’t understand—that in being me, I do not need to do anything else. As this blog has taken hold, I have released myself from the illusions and lies that held me prisoner, and in pardoning myself of crimes that I did and did not commit, I have discovered that freedom is the only way to live.
I live to write. I write to live. I live for photographs. I take no photographs except those that I find. I am horrified by the idea of documenting my life as that which lies in my immediate purview for what I experience is so much greater than the small scope of my travels on earth. And to that end, the Internet has become my Oracle, guiding me to images of life that I know, even though I did not live them until the moment my eyes cast upon their form. The images I select tell as much about me as any words ever could—perhaps more in that they speak all languages. And, as you know, or shall soon discover, we are moving into a post-literate society.
Isn’t it beautiful and ironic and amazing to realize that we are returning to our essence, to a world of signs and symbols and oral history. Granted, that oral history is now video, but it remains worth noting that the death of print is the harbinger of this brave new world.
And yet… I could never give up words, nor give up print, even though I fully embrace the Digital Age. I have always felt that I was born at the turning point, and that I at once live in two worlds, the old and the new school, and I love them both for all their beauty and critique them both for all their arrogance, and I benefit by virtue of all that is possible because at no other time in history could I live on my terms and no one else’s.
I answer only to myself, and that is a blessing, for I know the curse that was implanted in me at birth, and I fear it not because my powers are granted by the Universe.
And one of those powers has been and shall always be the desire to communicate, to share, to connect, to create community. And I did not know, until I began, that what you seek is seeking you, and so it happens that I am.
As I consider the future is now, and now is the time, and time is an illusion, I create the world in which I choose to live. And that world is the world of my heart and mind and soul manifest. And that creature is both an essence and an existence, and they are complementary because what was done unto me is very dark and heavy.
And this darkness weighs on me and I accept it. For we all have our demons, and finally, now, I can give mine a hug. Because, two years ago I drew a card and the lesson was “Dealing with Demons” and the first thing I realized was that demons were sick energies that need love in order to heal. And I was disgusted and charmed and confused by this, because I couldn’t so much as wrap my arms across my chest and give myself a hug, let alone love the demons that dwelled beneath my breast. But I never forgot that lesson, even though I had no idea how it would become expressed.
It is both this blog, which is my daily meditation, and my novel(s) which have allowed me to express and accept and make peace with the darkness and to accept that who I am is not for everyone, particularly not those who are afraid of themselves. And that makes me sad, partially because I still possess the pathetic desire to be loved by all, but more than that, it makes me sad because I hate to see that kind of self hatred in anyone else. I feel it, with a kind of empathy that has no boundaries, in the way that spirits can enter my space without resistance. Because the boundaries around my ego were so completely violated, first by a shocking proximity to death, second by predators masquerading as parents, but no matter anymore.
All blessings are curses and vice versa. And the curse has blessed me with the ability to know things very few people wish to talk about. But then I realize, if only one person wishes to speak with me, I am a lucky girl. And there is at least one person, Miss Fitts, and she rocks my world. To imagine that we speak about suicide so calmly, so clearly, so deeply, so much so as to come to the knowledge of parallel universes, other dimensions, and things which mankind cannot prove but the brain can experience—ahh, this is why I am here. This is why all of this happened to me. This is why I don’t ever need to ask why—because I live in faith. I live fearless. I believe.
And so it is that something has happened and things have changed and I see that there are two forces working together at this time. There is the darkness and there is the light and both need to be expressed, but in order to become manifest and pure in their essence, I separate the two to develop in their own space, and perhaps the day shall come when they unite. But today is not that day.
Today is the day that I introduce my other half. The Kingdom of Eternal Night, my new blog, and the future of Miss Rosen, Sara, and me. Is that like the trinity? The Mother, the Daughter, and the Holy Spirit? God is so Good, there are no words for it.
April 13, 2012
April 12, 2012
I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim,
and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling.
La novia que se se espanta de ver la vida abierta.
The bride frightened at seeing life opened.
I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone,
because I am the person I know best.
I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.
I used to think I was the strangest person in the world
but then I thought there are so many people in the world,
there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre
and flawed in the same ways I do.
I would imagine her,
and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too.
Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that,
yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.
April 12, 2012
May I kiss you then? On this miserable paper?
I might as well open the window and kiss the night air.
From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back.
That is the point that must be reached.
Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive
needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate…
but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.
Not everyone can see the truth, but he can be it.
If I shall exist eternally, how shall I exist tomorrow?
Quotes by Franz Kafka
Artwork from Six Glasses of Water
April 10, 2012
On June 6, 2012, Allegra La Viola will open The Invisible Line, the first New York City solo show by Ellen Jong. The exhibition, which is curated by mr. and mrs. Olu, will feature photographs from Jong’s self-published monograph, Getting to Know My Husband’s Cock. It features 25 framed works, a mixed media installation, and will be accompanied by a Happening, which invites participation from one and all to cross their own Invisible Line.
The Invisible Line is the demarcation between fear and fearlessness. It is that thing that holds us back, or thrusts us forth into the great, wild, unknown space where possibility that makes every life so perfectly unique. To cross or not to cross, that is the question. But who could be an artist if they allowed fear to dictate their creative process?
As Jong observes, “There is an invisible line that lies between my body and my mind. It withholds my deepest beliefs, fears, curiosities and desires. It is there to protect me. It is there to tell others where I stand, what is mine and why I am. In falling in love, I lost sight of my invisible line and I let it go. Love breaks down walls and sets you free.”
For Jong, the creation of her monograph echoes the process of falling in love. She had to face her deepest fears and release them into the universe. The result was not just the success of having her work well received, it was the commitment every artist must make to themselves—to persevere by every means….
March 30, 2012
The forms may change,
yet the essence remains the same.
March 28, 2012
I don’t believe in dogmas and theologies. I just believe in being a good person.
When I work, and in my art, I hold hands with God.
I see things like they’ve never been seen before.
Art is an accurate statement of the time in which it is made.
I need somebody who I can really communicate with.
When I have sex with someone I forget who I am.
For a minute I even forget I’m human.
It’s the same thing when I’m behind a camera. I forget I exist.
Quotes by Robert Mapplethorpe
Photographs by Lilla Szasz
March 26, 2012
Eddie Brannan introduced me to Ellen Jong back in 2005. He told me she had a book she wanted to publish and would I be interested? Ohmagosh. Yeaa! With that introduction a beautiful friendship began, and I must say, rare is the person with whom I have collaborated that I can say holds such a shining place in my heart.
I have long been a champion of Miss Jong, and she of me. As we drew closer, I could see so many parallels between our lives. We have taken different paths, but we are going in the same direction. And once again our paths align, as she brings The Invisible Line to life this June at Allegra La Viola Gallery in New York.
As we talked, The Invisible Line began to make itself felt. It is the same line I have been crossing, though I call it the fire I walk through. The premise is elegant and essential to life. It is that we must cross the line cast by fear in order to grow, to live, to thrive. Life need not be mere survival. Life can be more than you ever dreamed, because every moment we are here, we create possibility.
I know this to be true, having lived so many lives by this time it is hard to imagine that still, I am young. I know this to be true because things I never imagined possible have become. The people I have known, have connected with, the unexpected being the constant, the dream becoming reality. This could only happen by facing fear with a big golden smile upon my face. And I now know facing fear is to take it on wherever the invisible line appears.
A common fear among artists is the fear of creation. I have been thinking of this lately, about how so many people never allow themselves to express the divine energy that is their birthright. The reasons (excuses) for this are numerous, but they hold no weight. They are chimeras, illusions, shadows of the fake.
One common fear is money. Who has it? Where will it come from? How to finance? How how ask? How to manifest our purpose with or without it?
Amazing that a piece of paper could hold such sway, but we will empower it to disempower us, unless we learn a better way. Kickstarter is one such way. It shows how technology can be used for the greater good. It provides the platform upon which we can introduce our dreams to the world. And here we can ask, without the residue of shame. Because why should there be shame in creating community among those who love and support creative energy?
I believe one must always put their money where their mouth is. I have poured money into people into whom I believe, never asking in return for anything, because that would be cheap. I am hypersensitized to cheapness and greed. I have seen it in my own character and it was the first vice I sought to erase. And so I began, supporting artists. Because this is America, a capitalist society. I believe we vote with our money, and where we put it can help other people thrive. And there is nothing greater than to be among the flourishing, to feel the energy that comes from being a part of something bigger than yourself, of supporting the provocative, the beautiful, the compelling, all that which is original thought.
Those who say nothing is original are those who have quit their own lives. Everything is original. Every moment we are on this earth is unlike any other, and in these moments, we create ourselves anew. And in order to do this, we must cross The Invisible Line.
March 26, 2012
Work without doing.
Taste the tasteless.
Magnify the small, increase the few.
Reward bitterness with care.
See simplicity in the complicated.
Achieve greatness in little things.
In the universe the difficult things are done as if they are easy.
In the universe great acts are made up of small deeds.
The sage does not attempt anything very big,
And thus achieved greatness.
Easy promises make for little trust.
Taking things lightly results in great difficulty.
Because the sage always confronts difficulties,
He never experiences them.
—Tao Te Ching
March 25, 2012
you are here and so am i
and maybe millions of people go by
March 21, 2012
William Blake: Subversive and Visionary
Story by Clara Lehman
William Blake was born in London in 1757. He didn’t go to school, but was instead apprenticed to an engraver. Blake was to use the techniques he learnt as a boy throughout the rest of his career. He eventually joined the Royal Academy of Arts in his twenties, and began to mix with radicals who were exploring religious mysticism and political ideas in their work. Blake had grown up with the Bible, but his religious ideas are not easy to encapsulate. He had mystical visions, and was passionate in his religious views, although they were so original that they defy categorization. He believed that man’s imagination itself was ‘the body of God’,or ‘Human existence itself’. Some thought he was mad, and his religious visions the ravings of a lunatic. But this belied the complexity and originality of Blake’s work. He was a voice like no other before and the purity and clarity of his vision is startling even today.
‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’
Blake’s work Songs of Innocence and Experience combines both his religious and radical political ideas. The simple verses in Songs of Innocence were produced in 1789 – the year of the French Revolution. Blake laboriously engraved every poem on an engraving plate and hand colored his designs. He felt the presentation of his poetry was as important as the message they carried. They are extraordinarily beautiful and simple, but the simplicity leads to profound consideration of the ideas expressed. Songs of Experience, published in 1794, provided answers to the questions posed by the first Songs of Innocence, and together Blake intended that they Shewed Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.
In 1789, London was in a state of barely suppressed turmoil, with the French Revolution causing great anxiety amongst the ruling classes, for fear that the insurgency would sweep cross the Channel and take hold in England. Concerns at the time were a million miles away from modern day worries, about mortgage repayments and cycle insurance. There was no notion of consumerism, or material goods for the majority. It was just about survival. The Industrial Revolution was in its infancy, but already conditions were terrible for the working class, who became cogs in the wheels of the factory machines. Radical thinkers embraced the idea that oppressed working people could rise up and change their wretched circumstances. The ruling class hastily imposed new laws banning dissenting voices and meetings, but rumblings of discontent continued unabated and Blake was one such voice. He opposed slavery, the subjugation of women and the use of child labor.
Part of Blake’s fury with of organized religion was his anger at the failure of the church to act on the appalling conditions suffered by children in London at that time. Blake saw children as embodying man’s innocence before ‘experience’, and hence closer to God. Child chimneysweeps’ working conditions at that time were indeed shameful, and they were one group of oppressed workers Blake wrote about furiously and passionately. Children as young as three or four were routinely being sent up chimneys barely nine inches wide, naked so that their bosses would not have to replace their clothing. They would sleep in cellars on the bags of soot they had collected during the day, and rarely washed. The rate of injury to these children was high, with respiratory problem, twisted and broken limbs and death by fire common occurrences. The boys would wander the streets when not working, stealing food. Many regarded them as vermin and not children at all. It was this that enraged Blake, and caused him to challenge both the political and religious systems that allowed it.
Blake’s poem ‘London’ in Songs of Experience was a devastating political and social analysis, condemning the conditions of the industrial revolution, the use of child labor, the appalling plight of young military recruits, and political ‘chartering’ of land. Powerful and angry it encapsulates the turmoil and discontent felt at that time.
London by William Blake
I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.
How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black’ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.
But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born Infant’s tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.
Mysterious, unknowable, prophetic, mystical, symbolic… there are not enough adjectives to cover Blake’s work, and it is this rich complexity combined with the simplicity of his work, and beautiful engravings, that draws artists to his work time and time again. A true subversive and religious visionary, Blake has influenced artists, poets and musicians for over a century. His life ended in 1827, and his friend George Richmond describes his passing:
“He died…in a most glorious manner. He said he was going to that Country he had all his life wished to see, and expressed Himself Happy, hoping for Salvation through Jesus Christ. Just before he died His Countenance became fair. His eyes Brighten’d and he burst out Singing of the things he saw in Heaven’.
March 17, 2012
Watch, watch your body walking, sitting, lying down,
and you will be able to see that you are the watcher, not the body.
Watch your mind in anger, in hatred, in love, in greed, in misery, in joy,
and you will become aware one day that you are not these things that happen in the mind;
you are the watcher. Slowly slowly the watcher becomes crystallized.
That is the birth of the soul. That day you are really born, that day your real life begins.
From that moment God is a reality for you, and the only reality.