Art Criticism

[a repost from June 2011 when crowndot.com was a Posterous (R.I.P.) blog]

So this little communication-challenged man comes up to the parts counter at work, and I am totally not understanding what he is trying to ask me.  Subject?  Verb?  Object?  -- He hasn't filled in any of the blanks for me.
"Eesss a, eess, uh . . .  khow you say?  Uh, you have pepper?," he asked.
"I'm sorry?  Pardon me?," I attempted to ask for clarification.
"Uh, you khave uh pen a pepper?"
I handed him a ball point pen and a clipboard loaded with copy paper.  This is his illustration:

That is an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper.  And that is his drawing.  Really.  This is what I deal with day after day.  For their own safety, people with this tenuous a grasp on reality should not be allowed to roam about unsupervised.  Let alone be allowed to work on large equipment.  He was trying to draw one of these:

Aha!  I see your are cleverly and playfully deconstructing the construction industry!  However I find this work menacing as well, in that the aura of tension created by the minisculization of the scribbled signifier seems very disturbing in light of the accessibility of the work.  With regard to the issue of content, the disjunctive transmutation of quasi-biomorphic forms threatens to disintegrate the inherent overspecificity.  In sum, the work verges on codifying our own participation in the critical dialogue of the last decade.  Or something.


Lo-o-o-ong Distance Phone Call

I had seen the movie "The Matrix" the weekend of 17 June 2000.  The idea of phones ringing might have been percolating around my brain.

I was having a midsummer night dream.

I am at a cafe in a downtown high-rise.  Looking out the window, I can see the glass front of another high-rise.  In that other building across a narrow street -- hey, I can see my Mom!  She is standing there with HER  mom (my grandmother, who died in 1981), and they are all dressed up.  My mom is holding a telephone, but she is not speaking.  Instead she is smiling, waving at me, and pointing.  Not pointing at ME but at  something BEHIND me.  I turn around, and see a pay phone on the wall.  I turn back to my mom, and I gesture toward the phone, as though to say, "What?  You want me to make a phone call?"  Mom nods, and she and Grammie smile and wave.  My Mom is still holding the phone, and she's pointing again.  Just then the phone rings.

The phone rings.

I wake up.  I can still hear the phone ringing.  "That's strange," I think, "I can still hear that phone."  Then I get it.  It's my REAL phone ringing.  I rise and pick up the phone, but I don't say anything.

It's 1:20 AM on 21 June 2000.

Finally, I say, "Hello?"

On the phone is my Dad, telling me Mom has been taken to the hospital  in an ambulance. He says slowly, "The prognosis not good."

Well, Mom had died very suddenly of a massive heart attack, and was perhaps dead by the time the ambulance showed up, but her pacemaker restarted part of her heart, so there was some question to the  paramedics.  I know sometimes dreams can create a context for a noise that is about to wake us up.  But I think that the dream was a real call from my Mom.  Lo-o-o-ong Distance and not only "Person to Person" but Soul to Soul.  Calling to give me one last hug, as it were.  It was my Mom, with my Grammie.  There they were, on the "other side" -- and happy.  To me, that is too much for coincidence.  That dream continues to be a source of some comfort, and of great hope.


Things I learned from my big brother

1.)  The water in the cup on the night stand turns into oil overnight, and if you drink it you turn into Frankenstein.

2.)  The last tablespoon of milk out of the carton -- the one with the all the bubbles in it -- is poison.

3.)  The potato chips with the green edges are poison.

4.)  Mom said he could have the last piece of cake. 

5.)  The brown crayons are made out of poop.


Role playing

On a good weekend, I am a Zen Archer.  "Dungeons and Dragons"  (Pathfinder, actually).  That's right, role playing games.  Some families play Monopoly.  At Casa Crowndot, the whole family dons their imaginary personae, weapons, and feats, and move through a world full of creatures that want to take advantage of you, if not kill you. 

Which is to say, it is not all that different from the rest of my life. 

At work I frequently feel that I am playing a character who is not really me (and doing it rather clumsily).  Since I lack the gene for telling consciousness to STFU and go with the flow, most social situations are like role playing to me (and I just rolled a one for sense motive). 


BMI physics

As little as I try to think about it, I do step onto the bathroom scale from time to time.  Healthy lifestyle changes notwithstanding, I've been hovering at about the same weight since November 2011.  At the same time, my waist size has decreased by about four inches. 

This means, basically, that my mass / weight are the same, but my volume is decreasing. 

I figure at this rate, by about the year 2313, I may collapse into a black hole. 


A Triptych of Tanka About Running

June 8 2013

Hot red rubber track,
Four hundred meter repeats.
Best part of my run --
In suddenly clear focus:
A lizard on the sidewalk.


On a predawn run,
Against the luminous sky:
An osprey hunting,

One wheeling white pelican,
A black line of cormorants.


Cracked adobe trail,
Doing some miles in the hills.
Highlight of the run:
Up in the wind on the ridge,
Luminous stalks of dry grass.

[Tanka  is a form of poetry that originated in Japan, in which the lines are arranged with a set number of syllables, in the form 5, 7, 5, 7, 7.] 



It must be the pinto pony genes...

I keep my hair short.  Number 1 on the sides blending to Number 2 on top.  If you know barber talk.  Every two weeks. 

Maybe it was the lighting, but when I cut it this morning, it looked like the "gray" (white) was a lot more extensively spreading from the right temple area than the left. 

I'm not going bald -- I'm going piebald. 


Plumber's Nightmare(s)

During one of Tuesday night's all-too-brief REM cycles the feature film of the internal Crowndot Cinema was broken plumbing. In the dream, some kind of viscid bog water was gurgling up from behind the refrigerator.  It was purulent with a black, sooty cast to the bubbly surface.  A great deal of active cleanup was called for, and the family members each had their own idea as to how to proceed.  However, after application of instruments such as towels, shovels, and broken windshield-wipers, the area seemed to be clean and the hell-mouth closed.  The dream ended as I retired from the scene ready for a hot bath, only to meet the evil discharge cascading down from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom -- and, the morning alarm sounds to rescue me from another episode of refreshing sleep. 

A few hours later Tuesday morning I was drenched head to knee with hydraulic oil when I was not quite fast enough to tell a customer not to remove the quick-disconnect fitting from his broken ram.  He was dropping it off at the shop for repair, but decided (while my back was turned) that he would get his trusty adjustable spanner and take the Q.D. coupler home Right Now.  His ram was "Stuck" in the extended position, you see, and that model has an internal BFS (big freakin' spring) that sucks the rod back Right Now -- whether there's oil being pushed out or not -- once the Q.D. fitting started to come free.  In this case, the fitting port being pointed at the service writer (me), the geyser emanated immediately in my direction: nasty, brutish, and fortunately of small volume.  Of course the customer was very sorry.  Of course I keep a spare uniform at work for such contingencies.  Of course I don't want to talk about it. 

This morning we had no water at Castle Crowndot.  It took me a while, first thing in the morning, to realize what was going on.  Why is the cold water flow just a trickle?  Why is the hot water making horrid noises?  Why is there a small quantity of brown rusty fluid coming out of the faucet?  Then the brain kicks in:  "We must not have paid the water bill," the brain says.  Stupid brain.    It turned out that there had been a water main break half a mile down the hill.  We live in earthquake country, and take our prep seriously, so there is always stored clean water.  Well, you still have to make like a soldier in the field, but it can be done.

And it is still a day and a half until the new moon.  My luck is always better after the new moon...  Ya think?



A couple nights ago I went out into the cool of the evening to stare at the starry night.  A satellite appeared.  (I live in the Future!)  It is still amazing to me to see these tiny points of light making their progress across the sky.  I watched it until...

Huh.  It's gone.  I must have taken my eye off it.  Maybe it went behind a bit of cloud haze.  Hey, there's another one and...  Gone.  Huh. 

Silly me.  I forgot that satellites are not "lights" like stars.  I can see them because they are high enough up to reflect sunlight back to me.  These satellites were traveling west-to-east, and had blinked out when they entered the earth's shadow.  That explains it! 


Eschatonic epistemology

Genetic epistemology  has to do with the study of how people come to know.  How do children learn?  How does a body of knowledge come to be "in" the mind? 

What would be the other side of the coin of genetic epistemology?  What if instead of coming out of ignorance into knowledge we dealt with the ultimate destination of knowledge?  Or instead of dealing with the coming-to-be of knowledge of things, we flipped it over to the coming-to-be of the knowledge of  ... persons? 

One may come to knowledge, and know that they have  knowledge; knowing you know is a species of belief, right?  One may come to a certainty that they will come to know; that knowing that you will know is a species of hope, right? 

Faith / belief is something you have, based on what has been experienced before.  Hope is knowledge grounded in -- well in something or someone else -- that has not been experienced (personally) before, but which is held by the power of some report (some other person).

Thoughts for the penseive.  Thinking out loud.   

Any job worth doing...

Way back in 1979 when I was trying to finish a major college paper, I put up a little sign over my desk:  "Any job worth doing is worth doing poorly." 

I had come to the realization, you see, that some weird idealism was keeping me at the task of constantly tweaking the product, to such an extent that the final  product was never going to be produced.

I grew up with the "do it right" mentality.  My mom would scrub the kitchen floor on hands and knees because, "Otherwise it just doesn't get clean."  Dad would see me washing the car and say, "While you're at it, why don't you just pull it into the shade and give it a coat of wax?" 

My kitchen floor is lucky if I spot-clean the occasional spill, or give it a hasty sweep.  My current car (and most others back through my vehicle ownership history) have been uncontaminated by car wax. 

But what I'm really talking about is running. 

Part of my mind still defaults to "do it right" so much that it risks doing nothing.

The running schedule called for 7 miles today.  I just wasn't up to that.  I almost just turned off the alarm and said, "No run today."  Instead, I got up dark and early and ended up doing 3.7 miles.  Me and the birds and the deer and the cottontails in the dawn's early light. 

"Only" three point seven miles. 

Calling it good.  After all, any job worth doing...


What I do instead of taking a nap

Well it's three in the afternoon and I've read the whole internet.  Twice.  So I guess I'll get up and do some work or something.