several nights ago i went to the Whitebird dance presentation of Pilobolus (http://www.pilobolus.com/), a dance troupe from conneticut, renown for its incredible acrobatic whimsy, strength and contemporary interpretations of classical dance questions (and remember that writing about dance is like dancing about architecture). i knew that i wanted to bring julia to see them and thought there was no real possibility of it selling out… of course this wasn’t a full formed thought: that seat capacity for Schnitzer dance hall would want to attend, because, of course, it was all sold out by the time i called on the day of the event. so half an hour before the performance i went down there to try and find some tickets on the real market of human individuals showing up with extras. to this sally into the darker marketplace i did not attach any real desire or assumption as to a conclusion. i did find, however, that there were around 40 other individuals doing the same as i under the lights in front of the theater: people with signs, others holding up an index finger, and some exercising their voices, incanting what they would pay and to whom, etcetera. a faint shroud of doubt passed before my mind at this point as it did not seem likely that such a number of tickets would turn over in that grey realm between box office ticket and EVENT. nonetheless i quickly dispelled that doubt and embraced the observations of an exciting play between those with desires and those with assets. (during this observation i realized that in the moments of now upon now, there was no difference between where i was and somewhere i was not, in the theater for instance… and that as long as that was true, i was in the best possible place… i therefore became very happy–and we all know that happiness comes from good work.) so i found myself in the midst of a fervent and gay marketplace, a marketplace of equable desire. i watched a couple thousand dollars cash transact right there over the sale of tickets to the dance performance and EVERY dollar spent was done so with pure bliss, like there were no difference between giving and receiving… and i saw how hopefully people were attending this dance troupe and how nicely they treated each other, hugging perfect strangers, smiling, shouting with glee… all under the fast palpitation of the several-thousand light play of the building’s own assumption of what was about to take place. all temporal thought left my mind and i was subsumed into the joyous encounter of one human being with another, reveling in nothing other than the bliss of existing. my ecstasy left no room for doubt or for jealousy of others’ good fortune. i prepared to be encountered by someone who wanted to sell ME a ticket. i reached into my pocket and pulled forth my wallet and realized that i had only $18… and i had been watching for the last twenty minutes tickets selling from $35-$100 per ticket. so i made a simple statement to the universe: i would love two tickets and i can’t spend more than $18. within thirty seconds of this thought a woman showed up at the curb holding two tickets in her hand, and her arm pointed at me, out of the whole crowd, like the needle of a compass points north… it did not waiver at all, and with a bright face she exclaimed, “I HAVE TWO TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY.” i almost wept. i know there are some of you who love science so much you might tell me this is luck, but there’s no convincing a lover that he’s not in love. the amazing thing about my request is that, several minutes later–after i had hugged this woman and told her she was facilitating magic–a man in a nice suit approached me, still one among many, and handed me two more tickets saying he’d been given them and didn’t want to sell them. so i took them and in turn gave them away, only multiplying my extreme state of wonder, as though a very potent entity had heard me and said, “here.” and that the numbers 2 or 4 or 60 mean little to this entity, all the leaves of fall or all the gold in fort knox are but a sneeze. ask and ye shall receive.
i attended the first of an artists’ lecture series at p.s.u. last night and the speaker, allan mccollum (http://home.att.net/~allanmcnyc/) blew my socks off. i rode down there on my cruiser. i still haven’t purchased night riding lights for it yet, so i took one of the solar lanterns from my garden; this is an excellent implement for setting the tone of seriousness with other drivers. for instance, if they mess with you, you simply grab the solar lantern and wave it at them madly whilst screaming invectives, which i did. this bike has a particular character which lends itself to absurdity… it’s red, ladies’ cut, old whitewall tires with rusty rims, in generally poor condition, yet road worthy and stout… when i bought it, it came with a sticker that reads, “this bike is a pipe bomb.” for this reason i don’t bother locking it up: i carry along a chain and simply tie it to things with an over-under knot in the chain. people resist stealing it for the fact that i may be a bomb. i felt right at home walking into the lecture series sweaty with a solar lantern gripped in my hand.
the talk began with allan’s early work in new york city which concerned itself with the process of viewing art itself. sort of abstracting the symbol of painting from painting itself. it doesn’t seem worth exploring this much. i was worried that this would turn into a boring, masturbatory talk about viewer/artist subjective experience-what-is-painting b.s… but it quickly evolved. allan was concerned with making many multiples of these painting blanks… and concerned with making them art, so he focused on how to make a whole bunch of them such that none were copies of another. he used combinatory mathematics and produced thousands of objects none alike! this led naturally to more such endeavors, increasing the dimensionality of his work and producing molds (hence sculptures) that offered up little ginger urns and such. (he mentioned that the ginger urn is a symbol for life, the womb, death, society, civilization…) he took some job during the 80’s at a (or the) carnegie museum in philadelphia and worked with an exhibit of fabergé eggs and freely spoke about how stupid these little objects seemed, all identical and worthy only because they’re laden with jewels. so he took on the task of making all these objects that stood as individuals. he looked into carnegie’s history as an industrialist, and found that carnegie, interested in dinosaurs right at the turn of the century, went to utah and bought the bones of a diplodocous, of which he made molds, casting the first skeletal structure of a full size museum quality dinosaur! he used the molds and made many more dinosaurs and gifted them to museums all over the world. mccollom, inspired by this industrial gaiety, made molds of dinosaur bones and displayed them in such a way that each stood as an individual. here’s a quote: “when you look at things closely enough, no matter if they SEEM to be the same, every individual is unique.” thus begins his process of becoming a FORCE OF NATURE! his installations become more and more elaborate, constituted by tens of thousand of unique objects! the most impressing thing about this talk was just that: the artists journey into nature, copying it and looking at how it MAKES an object, how often nature itself is a mold maker, leaving behind just the traces of its objects, as in fossils and the remains of a dead dog in pompei, a dinosaur bone in sandstone… where the object itself has long since disappeared and we are left with a negative. and he accomplishes this using the process left to us by the industrial revolution, with the machines that make copies. it showed me a picture of a process so much bigger than one man… that it required society to run it, meant to make copies, meant to make objects all the same and useful to households… which to a creative eye, is the very process of nature, creating one unique object after another ad infinitum et nauseum.
i really haven’t followed the harry potter stories much besides every so often noticing the blockbuster lines around a book shop when a new volume emerges and the posters at the box office. i saw the first movie years ago and then, last night, the second one for me, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” i think this one is nearly the full evolution of the story… i would imagine not just because it seems there is hardly anything left to flesh out for harry and hogworth academy, but because the actor, Daniel Radcliffe is demonstrating all the devastating signs of manhood that might inhibit the continuation of the adolescent saga. i found myself fairly transported by all the beautiful animation in the film, the otherworldly and mythical creatures and that very English feeling of a true and parallel departure from our reality. that is, in fact, a nice theme in the story: the “muggle” world, or ordinary reality, set against the scrim of another world, high above, or below, or wherever it is, indiscernible to those unbelieving, interred in the social machine. it is out of their world that one marches to catch the parallel train system that takes us into the land of sorcerers, the phoenix, and TRUE psychic danger. magic. overlooking some of the mechanically generated conflicts in the film, i found myself asking, “what is magic?” what is this that produces non-belief among reality-mongers, or something miraculous, parabolic to our standard experience? i find this one of the most wonderful questions one can ask, and it’s full of excitement because it is a real question, applicable now… it is a strict question of belief. and not that of external things so much as of belief in oneself. i was thinking of all the people in the gospels that ask christ for a miracle, and he says that all he will “produce” is the miracle of jonah (going to the belly of the earth for three days)–and for those of you who may have allergies to religious talk, bless you!–and that other occasion when he makes all the leaves on the fig tree whither. ? more to point: if you ask for a miracle, that is, if you ask for magic, implicit in your question is non-belief: you, who proclaim magic, must show me in order to convince my understanding. and the magician will nearly always feign from such a demonstration, not because s(he) cannot produce, but because it is unwise and perhaps dangerous to practice for reasons of NON-BELIEF. it is necessary FIRST to believe! there are a million different possibilities for what’s going on behind closed doors in our world; “they” would have you believe that it’s always the incandescent blue flicker of the tonight show or whatever the hell people are watching… but some are practicing magic… and yet others some darker arts… and one must be careful about making assumptions.