Thursday, March 19, 2020

Art in a time of war

Makes me think of the Talking Heads song, "Life during wartime" still so good!

This aint no party. This aint no disco. This aint no foolin around.....

We are trying to hold it together. Where has everyone gone?

We are all looking at the reality of at least a year of switching our priorities to something closer to survival mode. Being concerned with high art or what esoteric or decorative piece would go well on a given wall will be taking a back seat for a while. No harm in that, unless you happen to be making your living from those less basic pursuits.

We are still working on social distancing

I know I can always switch over to making shelving for all those household pantries that will want to be built in the years to come. Of course we are now looking for ways to be productive at home and lord knows I have a long list of things that need tending to. And how do we keep our spending down? This is fast becoming very real for us all.

We are digging in for the long haul at home, hording whatever we can.

How many rolls of toilet paper does one need?

Fortunately we are moving out of heating season (and maybe into the hunting season) so utilities should be less. Outdoors is where we want to be, not hiding indoors. Fortunately I can do that with little worry. Find a way that you can too.

Finding a roof top is a good option.

Or finding a place where people don't usually go.

What good do I see coming out of this pandemic? Hopefully, less nastiness and more humbleness and empathy all around. We have gotten way too cocky and being knocked down a few notches by mother nature now and then seems inevitable.

There are still grave stones in the middle of Manhattan.

WTF? Going out and buying as much amo as you can lay your hands on? Do you really think that is what is needed right now? The deep sickness in this country maybe needs to go a bit deeper before we can start to get our priorities turned around.

Is this the calm before the storm?

Yes, large parts of the US could become a third world country in the near future. What would this look like. Many parts already are. The distribution of have and have not will most likely become more uneven.

New York CIty will likely be walled off.

Castle prisons in the sky.

Monday, March 2, 2020


I read this line in a New Yorker article by Nick Paumgarten this morning and was completely stopped by it:

"In the elements, performing tasks, the climbers achieve a narrowness of focus - a lizard-brain braid of adrenaline, expertise, and choice - that becomes a demented kind of meditation: Zen on ice.

This wonderful sentence put a chill of recognition down my spine. One of my earliest bush-soul connections was with a blue belly lizard - hyper aware and really fast. I have always preached that to do anything well you have to go narrow and deep and Nick just put narrowness and lizard-brain together in a way that made complete sense to me.

I was also an avid amatuer climber way back when. I completely understand the necessary narrowness of focus he is talking about. Climbing with your nose a few inches from the granite wall, you keep your focus very narrow. Your world does not extend beyond the reach of your limbs and where the next move will be.

I had not thought of the lizard brain literally, but of course, narrowness of focus certainly can be about survival focus and turning off the higher functions. Focusing on nothing else when your entire body knows you have to be in that moment completely.

Unfortunately, I never reached the level of expert in free climbing exposed rock faces. I have reached some kind of expertise in assembling visually cohesive compositions, and this process is not so much about using my lizard brain. Going narrow and deep in the creative process still very much applies though. And, like meditation, that is a learned skill that can take a life time.

Here's to narrow and deep in Utah.