Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Sometimes its not the voyage that is perilous but the home port.

We build on unstable ground, take into our hearts unstable people, grow up in homes that have no foundation.

Occasionally our tenous homes are tolerated by those surrounding us.

Really, one can live in remarkable difficulty and get used to it: the man I see sleeping under an overpass in the middle of a ten lane highway.

My grandmother used to say, "if you are tired enough, you can sleep hanging on a nail"

There is more to say

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

amanita amanita amanita

Amanita Muscaria

I have been taking photographs of mushrooms. I am lucky to live in a place that is damp, wet, organic.
This year I have collected photographs of over 30 different species. I have followed the fruiting and life cycle of a patch of amanita muscarias. First they push up through dirt looking almost obscene- thick white bulb thrusting up to breaking the surface. This is the mushroom with its "universal veil". The bulb begins to change color and open its cap shortly afterwards, shedding the spores that were tightly kept inside. The cap opens and lifts- becoming an umbrella shape. The small white spots are what is left of the veil attachments. This amanita- in the photograph- was uprooted early, and lay on the ground exactly as I found it.

The mushroom glossary of J. Lindgren reads like a poem. Imagine someone reading aloud these
sensous and beautiful words.

Amanita muscaria- mysterious, veiled, beautiful, poisonous, potent....

abruptly bulbous - top of bulb flattened, sides and bottom rounded
adnate - gills which are broadly attached to the stipe
adnexed - gills narrowly attached to the stipe
amyloid - spores which stain bluish in Melzer’s reagent or iodine
annulus - a ring of tissue around the stipe
appendiculate - margin of cap fringed or adorned with fragments of the veil
areolae, areolate - spaces marked out on the surface, separated by cracks
attenuate - gradually narrowed
clavate - base thickened like a club
convex - regularly rounded, domed
disc - center of the cap

ellipsoid - spores with rounded ends and slightly curved sides
evanescent - slightly developed and soon disappearing
farinaceous - mealy to powdery particles on the cap or stipe; may also refer to the odor of fresh meal
fimbriate - gill edges finely fringed by cells
floccose - loose cottony or soft tufts of tissue
free - gills that are not attached to the stipe
fusiform - spindle shaped, tapering in both directions from an enlarged part
gills - the knife-blade-like structures on the underside of the cap
globose - spherical, like a globe
habit - the general, external, and characteristic appearance, or manner of growth

habitat - the natural place of growth
lamellulae - the short gills that do not span the whole distance from margin to stipe
limbate volva - membranous, attached closely around the bulb and with an open, free margin
marginate bulb - with circular ridge around top edge of bulb; in age it may flatten to look like wide shoulders on a rounded bulb
Melzer’s reagent - an iodine solution used to test for an amyloid reaction of the spore wall
membranous - like a membrane or skinlike
obtusely conic - rounded or blunt cone-shaped
plane - having a flat surface
pruinose - finely powdered

saccate volva - one shaped like a sack, cup or sheath
spores - the reproductive units of a fungus
stipe - the correct term for the "stem" of a mushroom
striate, striations - radiating grooves or lines on cap margin
subglobose - almost spherical
subumbonate - center of cap slightly or broadly raised truncate - appearing chopped off or abruptly ending
umbo, umbonate - having a raised knob or mound at center of cap
universal veil - the enveloping veil that covers an immature amanita and which breaks to form a volva at the base, and often leaving remnants on the cap
volva - the remains of the universal veil; usually refers to the structure found at the base of the stipe

Sunday, October 7, 2007

wax and lead, straw and pitch

"The transformation of waste"


When we walk in the dark land, where nails and blood and he hard screams of others scrape along our minds, we are in the Nigredo.
Alchemists said you needed pig iron and scrap in order to make gold.
Pig iron and scrap was what they called the Nigredo.
Jung said we needed to wade through the wastelands of our dreams in order to step up into the transformation.

The transformation of self.

As Patti Smith says- "the transformation of waste".

Anselm Kiefer paints in wax and lead, straw and pitch. His pieces are enormous- they span museum walls.

His lead books are gigantic. Some you may don white gloves and look into- but the pages quickly turn them black.
What is in these books?
The words of our death or of our transforming?


Monday, October 1, 2007

peering in with my giant eye


If there ever was a portal to New Crobuzon, John Taylor's vessels will take you through.
Each ship carefully made of pieces of scrap metal, wires, weathered bits of wood.
These are the artworks I'd fill my place with, if I could.

If for nothing else than to lie on the floor with, peering into the
windows with my big eye, imagining the voyage.
Reclusive, or perhaps simply quiet and without interest of public scrutiny,
John Taylor's works are sold out of Garde Rail Gallery.

New Crobuzon and the pirate vessels in The Scar, are in books written by China Mieville.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

the icon and its maker

In the 1970's, a piece of land art was constructed that spiraled off the Great Salt Lake.

The image and the memory, even if second hand, is pretty indelibly marked on several different groups and generations.

Understand, artist Robert Smithson has made no noises about claiming, in fact he is rather quiet.

So the questions here are rhetorical and meant to stretch to other iconographic works as well.

Is the artist responsible now for the archetypal quality, the coil of dense projection that has happened to this work?

Did he simply create the work and the interaction with the environment- and now should not accept the mastery or ownership-


Let go let go Let go



There are rascals in the world, and some of them are blue. Blue, with articulated eyebrows and feather capes.

When they first arrived, I had a misguided thought that I could train them to come to a command or clap.

I would match a clap with food.

But I was very very eager, and would find myself jumping up from my work when I heard them in the trees, stick my head out the window, and clap.

It wasn't long before I realized that they had trained me.

Trained me to pop out of the window at the sounds they made, sitting in the woods.

They can't clap, they have wings.

It doesn't matter, the rascals had won.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


The night sky .
(Click to enlarge.)

Ole Wurm's Kunsthammer

Turns out that wedged into the list of motivations and drives for a human being's old brain survival mechanisms-

(sex, hunger, thirst..)

is Curiousity.

Just the sheer tug of wanting to know what's outside the cave entrance- what is that little shiny thing winking and blinking, what is that strangely shaped object, what is that insect?

Curiosity helps our little human race progress- but certainly at a cost.

The idea of a room, or a case, or a box or even an entire museum dedicated to storing, squirreling, and collecting oddities is very appealing to me.

They could be actual objects, or perhaps concepts or dreams or half finished thoughts?

If you each out side the cave, you could retrieve something incredibly vital.

Or you could get eaten.

That's pretty much the deal.




"In 1587 Gabriel Kaltemarckt advised Christian I of Saxony that three types of item were indispensable in forming a "Kunstkammer" or art collection: firstly sculptures and paintings; secondly "curious items from home or abroad"; and thirdly "antlers, horns, claws, feathers and other things belonging to strange and curious animals" "
(www. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunstkamera)

The problem is- we're severing any opportunities for our children to engage in curiousity.

Everything is named, packaged, pronounced.

Anything that isn't, is declared to be of no value.

There's an astrophysicist named Woody Sullivan, who declares we are sending up so much ambient light from our cities and airports and factories, that we can no longer see the stars our parents did.

Light pollution.

"Analogies of loss of wonder
The dismantling of Cabinets of Curiosities or their assimilation into curated museums was a result of the rise of scientific/logical thinking as the accepted way of describing the world. The sense of a loss of wonder as 'scientific' thinking became the dominant way of looking at the world is expressed in Keats' lines on Newton 'unweaving the rainbow'. This loss of wonder seems to be analogous with the sense of loss experienced by children as the use of rational thought and language displaces their intuitive relationship with the world, as in Wordsworth's child for whom 'there hath passed a glory away from the World'. "

synched up

Magdalena Abakanowicz

I have two friends who confide in me about synchronism. Certain times in their lives when a found object, a card, a key might fall in their path, sometimes unlocking a series of events- sometimes but not always good. There's a high about it- a shallow breathing:

"is this it?"

"have I hit the jackpot?"

"will the angels show up in the next five minutes?"

Some people pick up the two of spades in the gutter and then disappear for several years.

Some people read the note written on a napkin left on a table, and then meet the one they love.

"Remember the cafe? And the note on the napkin? We looked at each other and knew..."

"Remember the card? How you abandoned me ?

It was as if you had been plucked from my heart.."

Monday, June 25, 2007

love and fear

Some people tattoo messages on their bodies that they feel must be indelible to be remembered
Mine would surely be:
"The hardest part of love is fear.
Have courage, dear heart!"

This is the amygdala twisting itself into a barrier.
You must survive before you can attach.
And what if you fear what you are supposed to attach to?
In that vein- here are a few photographs that Saiga Yuji took on
Gunkanjima when the island was alive and vital.
So we can remember that the basis of abandonment is not always fear.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

perdido street station and gunkanjima

Seven years ago, in Stockholm, I went to an art gallery.
A video was playing- a silent black and white documentary piece about an
abandoned man- made city off the coast of Japan. The beauty in the abandonment
and decay was palpable. I've been trying to find out more about the city ever since- but had no name, no information at all.Yesterday, dawdling through websites and google earth, with no particular place to go, I typed in "abandoned city" into the search box.
And my city of decay rises up.
The site belongs to the photographer Saiga Yuji.
He is really the first to document this extraordinary place and its transformation.
Gunkanjima was an island created for industry (coal) as well as housing its workers and thier families. There were temples and schools. Children rode their bicycles in industrial
back streets and played with dolls on the stairs of the workers housing. And then in 1973, it was closed down. Saiga Yugi was there when it happened, and he stayed until it was over.
Since then he has spent countless hours on the island. At night it is very strange.
Here are a few of his remarkable photographs.
Remember- this city was vital and living and real. People lived and quarreled and suffered and read books and stole things and dreamed and cooked and prayed and made love.

China Mieville is one of my favorite authors.

King Rat (1998)
Perdido Street Station (2000)
The Scar (2002)
The Tain (novella, 2002)
Iron Council (2004)
Un Lun Dun (February 2007)
The island of Gunkanjima exists quite comfortably (or uncomfortably) in Mieveille's world.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

resentment is drinking a cup of poison and hoping your enemy will die

Sue Lloyd

In her recent series photographer Sue Lloyd has captured the eerie sense
of being in danger, with no one around aware of your situation.
I am angry tonight.

But if you are angry, you are feeling something.

Anger is deceptive.

There's a highway that it rides, through the amygdala, that primitive machine in your brain.

Somewhere else in the brain, that is supposed to be tamed, taken in, analyzed, understood.
Supposed to.

Not many of us can get past
the initial surge-
the corporeal bonds-
the steel trap door-
WHY are we angry.

Are we lonely?


Singled out?

Left out?

"Anger is repressed creativity."

I appreciate that perspective.

It works pretty well for me.

the transformation of waste

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison
Perhaps these characters would be at home in Emmet Gowin's industrial landscapes?
They surely are living in the wasteland. And it appears they are gathering material towards their transformations.

No artists could better present the visceral pain of the alienation and isolation.

Occasionally that state of mind has moments of beauty, of clarity.

If we are artists or writers or people who live in our imagination, we try to

duplicate those high sensation moments in ways that are very harmful to us.

Be forwarned: any act that selfharms or destroys you,

is only the dark disease muttering in your ear.

You will get through. It is only your mind that is tricking you.

There are others of us who who are in the life you are in.

You are not alone.

Get up.

Get out of bed.

Drink some water.

Open the window.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

making it through the wasteland

Emmet Gowin
ariel photography
Emmett Gowin is in transition.
I envy his chances to be above the wasteland, the refineries, the junk iron and pig metal.
We need to get distance between us and the thing that makes us suffer.
So we can see it, for the smaller thing it is.
We cannot make gold until we have gone through the wasteland.

The secret is- we MAKE the gold from the things we find in the wasteland.

If in the web of depression- today look down and bring home one found thing

- a nail, a coin, a piece of paper with some writing on it.

Begin to assemble the things you will need to make gold.

Do not dispair, do not give up.

the terrible beauty of odd nerdrum

Odd Nerdrum
cantankerous, brilliant, tempestuous, controversial

paints like the bastard son of an old master

what is in his head we will never know and he could care less about enlightening us