This is the studio a couple of weeks ago when it was pretty cold outside. I thought I'd show you why I don't sculpt in the winter out there. Note the thermometer on the wall sitting at a cold 20 degrees. All the clay is rock hard frozen, the water is crystalline, even the plastic bags are brittle. I sometimes go out there to work on what I can do, like straighten up the tables, arrange the greenware, or unfired sculpture and sometimes, amazingly enough, I sketch. Of the three masks on the wall two relate directly to Jon and our terrible TBI experience. The bottom one is titles "Fear" and represents the first day I found out that my son was in a coma down in Arizona. Above that is "Jon's Bad Day" and it kinda speaks for itself. I'll post a good sized pic of the whole series later. The idea is to have a display of the masks in order with a written explanation of the subject below. Fear is how I started out. At various points in our journey Jon changed and my reaction was to go into the studio and work it out in clay. I suppose I could also sketch, maybe watercolor but I haven't done that much lately. I used to watercolor a lot, going back to schooldays living with Mom and Dad. I never could do portraits very well, seems a shame too. I have a couple nice ones that happened almost by accident, one of Margaret, one of a girl named Yvetta, one of Annie. I have an oil of Mom... come to think of it all but one is of women in my life.
I guess a lot of things can effect my art: weather, illness, comas. Right now I am suffering through an upper respiratory infection making it very hard to breathe. I used to get that a lot more often, especially as a kid. That was why I studied yoga, actually, that and seeing Dad put his ankles behind his head and walk around on his hands. Breathing was tough for a kid with asthma so I learned prana breathing on my own and expanded the volume of my lungs. It also helps to correct spasms, which I got a lot. It's a curious thing but Dad used to mock Yoga as a fraud, because when he was in India he learned the postures, but being an atheist he never tried to study the philosophy behind it. I recall him telling me that even they knew it was all a fraud because they even called these guys "fakers". He didn't understand they were called "fakirs" and it meant something entirely different. When he found that he could acquire the postures and yet he was an atheist he figured that meant it was all a fake. The sad thing is that if he had studied the philosophy behind Yoga he might have cured his alcoholism, migraines and lots of other things that troubled him all his life. Maybe not, maybe the lessons there could not have prepared him for pulling boiled bodies out of the bay. He saw death, touched death , smelled death and it made him know a fear that never left him. He was confronted with his own mortality and the knowledge of his own humanity, that he would rot like the rest of them. Oddly, he arranged to have his mortal remains dissected and burned. A medical school studied the old fart, cut open his chest and looked at the scars and tattoos and then when they were done they burned the flesh. If he had stayed in India, somehow, he might have been burned at the shores of the Ganges and his ashes floated into the sea. So in the end we don't have his ashes and we don't have a gravestone. I suppose it's up to me to make a centopath for him, maybe out back. I did a mask for him, part of the DeathMask series. I'm not sure he'd like that, he used to tell me I should carve more wooden horses and sell them. He liked my wood carving, although he said it was a far cry from Grand Dad's skill and I have to agree on that, but in time maybe I could have gotten better. I'm not so sure now with only nine working fingers.
I'm reading Joseph Campbell's "The Masks of God" series. I'm up to "Creative Mythology" and it's pretty exciting stuff. I wish Dad had found Campbell, I think it would have answered some of his questions. Most Westerners fail to understand the rest of the world about religion. The Yahwehists teach that their stories of creation and Moses are historical facts that happened in real places and dad knew how much of that was bullshit and reached the conclusion that all religion thought that their stories were based on history and so were bullshit. Let's face it, people being created from the sweaty armpit of a sleeping giant is a stretch. But of course they thought no such thing. Those stories were metaphors and understood as such. They helped you get past some basic questions and on to the harder ones. It does not matter in religion if we came from dust, clay or armpit sweat because we are here now and we have to get on with it. Dad limited himself but it was largely because he came from ignorance and was self taught and so he missed a few lessons, like Joe Campbell's excellent books on how religions came to be, how they work and where they can take you. For instance, Dad taught himself to raise the temperature in his hands by a few degrees in an effort to control his migraines, but not knowing the concept behind the act he failed. Oh he could do the tricks but he didn't try to understand the essentials. To him a black rock was a black rock and those who taught it had a soul were fools. He didn't make the leap to the idea that every black rock has a soul because every black rock was as much a creation of the Deity as we were. Since Dad did not want to believe in souls he refused to accept the rock as brother. He didn't want to believe in souls because he was raised in a Southern Baptist environment, and in that environment he was a sinner doomed to Hell's fires. Please note that in the end Dad did in fact burn, just not the way the preacher said. Western religion is like a practical joke that the victims just didn't get. Oddly enough, living with a drunken atheist who read aloud from the Egyptian Book of the Dead made me eventually a believer in souls, just not Christian souls. I became something like a Shinto, believing that all of creation was soul. It seemed, and seems, so logical that if I had a mind the universe must have a mind. The logic was that a mind and a soul were related like a rainbow was related to the sun. The mind was just a color in the rainbow, split out from the source by the material world in which it found itself. Maybe Dad should have read more Byron or something.
Well, in the winter I can write and take pictures. Even with a broken finger I can type, with some misspelled words but thanks to spellcheck even those can be fixed.
One thing that worries me a bit is having come from an incident wherein a finger was eaten by opportunistic bacteria I am trying to breathe while opportunistic bacteria mess with my lungs. We have to hope they aren't related because those bastards ate my finger joint and if they ate my lungs I'd be as alive as Dad much faster than I am prepared for.