Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Some improvement

Okay, so after nine days of vegetarian/almost vegan diet, no caffeine, no alcohol, and a whole lot of yoga, my left ankle is definitely not as sore. It is still stiff and locked up when I get up in the morning, but it has stopped seizing up when I am sitting down for more than a few minutes. My midriff is smaller and flatter, my shoulders aren't so knotted up, and I generally feel more balanced.

I still seem to need a minimum of nine hours' sleep, though. Darn.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Old School

I have conclusively decided that fruit-and-vegetable fasts are primarily designed for people who grew up on junk food, and thus need remedial nutritional therapy. This would not be me. On Day Five I broke into the oatmeal, brown rice, and Indian curried lentils, and my body profoundly thanks me.

In my state of relative purity, I managed to go party-hopping last night and only consume half a glass of wine and one chunk of low-sugar cake, despite the bottle of Maker's Mark sitting right there, where I was almost tempted to grab it a number of times. Particularly as this was a Pretentious Art Party where I knew almost no-one, and almost no-one had conventional social skills.

Actually, that's not fair. More than half the people I talked to had average-to-decent social skills, which was why we were able to stay longer than the forty-five minutes allotted. We stayed at Sono Osato's studio in Dumbo until the pizza arrived, then quietly decamped before my willpower and Oriane's energy gave way completely.

Sono's studio

Early on in the evening, I committed the atrocious mistake of trying to engage in serious conversation with an untested stranger. In a moment of rash optimism, when he asked me what my work was about, I told him.

"Transpersonal spirituality," I said.

"Is that like, person to person?" he asked.

Oh, no. I was already in too deep to retreat; I went through a haphazard schpiel about the evolution of moral reasoning, the convergence of spiritual traditions in the esoteric experience, and the nature of mysticism, knowing that I was speaking to a wall. He listened, uncomprehendingly, and fled as soon as he decently could. I should have asked him about his work, first--when he told me he had a studio upstairs, I'd jumped to the conclusion that he was a Serious Artist. Turns out he paints watercolor landscapes.

This is why, as I get older, I socialize less and less, with fewer and fewer expectations. My life feels like a long, hopeless quest to find people who not only understand what I'm talking about, but have the wherewithal to push back. I don't want to be a snob. I really, really don't. But this sort of thing is unutterably draining.

Which is why I never quite manage to completely give up on Sono.

studio wall--nifty little sculptures

It is possible that Sono Osato may be one of the great under-recognized artists of our generation. It is also possible that she is a determined maker of mud-pies with a gift for spouting academic blarney. She is a good teacher, however; or at least, she was the right teacher for the Interdisciplinary Sculpture class I took at the San Francisco Art Institute, sometime back in the dark ages.

That class is looked upon by most of the participants, I think, as one of the major transformative experiences in our lives. It triggered a creative frenzy that, for at least one of us, ended in a mental institution--but I think that girl was headed in that direction, regardless. The basic lesson that Sono hammered home was, "Get in touch with your Real Self. Stop imitating whatever the Establishment has told you that Art should be. Do something authentic."

I remember this one guy, Gunther, a big blond German guy, came to the class making these completely underwhelming, Picasso-esque plywood sculptures. After being subjected to the first of Sono's authenticity rants, he came to the revelation that Gunther was all about crows. He started making whimsically subversive crow sculptures and scattering them around campus, with a puckish glint in his blue German eye. His final exam project was the one I remember best; a giant chair, set up on the roof overlooking the city, with a crow sitting on the back of it. When you sat down in it, the crow started telling you a bedtime story in German. It was vaguely creepy and wholly enjoyable.

Another guy, for the final critique, took us to the studio he'd somehow managed to garner, inside a defunct Chinese factory in the middle of North Beach. The factory was one of those urban buildings that is so strange, your eye doesn't even register that it's there; though it towered over the neighboring Victorian row houses, I would swear to never having seen it before, or since. We entered through a small graffiti-covered door in an alley, and went on an underground journey through myriad unlit rooms, full of enigmatic junk and inscrutable architectural configurations. The 'studio' itself was more of the same; you got the impression, when entering, that a gnome-like man had been engaged in frantically piling up twisted refuse in mad configurations until, hearing our footsteps, he had precipitately fled.

The whole critique was so strange that, even at the time, I was sure that later I'd think I'd dreamed it.

Sono Osato--black paintings, exploded crate

As much as I liked Sono, I came to notice that she seemed to have something of an oppositional personality. Or perhaps it was just me; when I'd run into her around town, at openings or in the library, it seemed that I could not say anything right. At least once, I experimented with paraphrasing the statement that had just come out of her mouth; when the next thing she said was "No, but..." I stopped trying to connect. She's smart, she's interesting, she's talented and disciplined, and we just don't resonate.

And indeed, the hyper-intellectualism and cerebral nature of much of her art and rhetoric brings up some of my core Issues. These ubiquitous tarred canvases, for instance--once she said, "They're about so many ideas and patterns converging at once that they fill up the entire space, and it becomes black." (Or something to that effect.) This seems to me to be both literalistically illustrative and not particularly useful or enlightening; I greatly prefer her sculptures. Strange and conceptually impenetrable as they are, at least they're fun to look at.

So really, I forgot that Sono existed for a number of years. Then, about three years after moving to New York, it occurred to me to Google her, like it occurs to me to Google just about everyone I've ever known, eventually. I discovered that she was living one neighborhood away, and sent her a cheery little email, saying, hi! we're neighbors!

I didn't hear back. I figured that her spam filter had eaten it, or that she's the kind of person who never ever reads email, or that she gets so many emails from former students that she just Can't Deal, or that she didn't remember who I was at all. Ah, well. I went back to forgetting that she existed.

Last summer, I was at Oriane's opening, the person standing next to Oriane looked vaguely familiar. "You look vaguely familiar," I said.

"My name is Sono," she replied.

"Oh, I was in your class," I said. "You look beautiful."

And indeed, she does look beautiful. "My thirties were rough," she confessed. In her forties, she seems a lot more relaxed, open, chatty and giggly. At the opening we got along with little to no oppositionality, after she asked, warily, "Are you still making art?" and I replied, "Absolutely." I can appreciate the fact that having a lot of poseur students clamoring round you must be wearying.

I gave her and Oriane a lift home, and in the car Sono started talking about former students. "And then I got an email from one of them that I haven't replied to, yet. This person was sort of...weird."

Moment On The Horns Of Social Awkwardness.

"That was me," I said, cheerfully.

"Oh! I thought you were someone else..." she replied.

"I'm weird, but I'm harmless," I laughed, and dropped it.

In fact, I always got the feeling that I, my actual being, must press some sort of button for Sono. It is obviously something beyond my control, and possibly beyond her ability to process. Maybe it's my blonde WASPy-ness; maybe I represent the Oppressor Class. Maybe it's my goofy theatricality of manner. Maybe I remind her of her mother, or a grade-school teacher from hell, or her father's mistress, or some other embodiment of Absolute Evil. Or maybe she just thought I was a pretentious, no-talent schmuck, and wanted no association with that at all. I can respect that.

But, after running into her at the opening, I figured that whatever-it-was had gone 'poof,' and that, with some mutual maturity and establishment of good boundaries, we could hang out in the same community. I invited her to my salon; she said she had other plans, but promised to keep in touch.

This week, Oriane asked, "Are you going to Sono's party?"

Ordinarily I am ethically and personally opposed to showing up at the parties of people who definitely have my contact information, and definitely have not included me on the invitation list. But Oriane assured me that it was the 'bring friends' type of party, and I need to get out more, and I'm harmless, right?

Unfortunately the awkwardness, whatever it is, is back. When your hostess makes a point of avoiding any conversation with you at all, beyond less than the bare minimum of platitudes, that's awkward. I wasn't aggressively thrown out, and large numbers of the other guests were perfectly friendly, which is a huge anomaly in the art scene, so it wasn't a wasted evening.

But jeez. I so know how Ed Winkleman feels, about wasting one's time trying to connect with people who just see you as part of the problem. Whatever that problem might happen to be.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hee, hee

By now, of course you have all read of the incident involving the Picasso painting, the casino magnate, and the elbow through the canvas. Amusing, but not so amusing as it might have been if all the parties involved had not behaved with class, integrity and style.

The part I liked best, though, was Nora Ephron's description of it on her blog:
Steve Wynn launched into a long story about the painting -- he told us that it was a painting of Picasso's mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, that it was extremely erotic, and that if you looked at it carefully (which I did, for the first time, although I'd seen it before at the Bellagio) you could see that the head of Marie-Therese was divided in two sections and that one of them was a penis.

This was not a good moment for me vis a vis the painting. In fact, I would have to say that it made me pretty much think I wouldn't pay five dollars for it.
Further noted was the fact that the art restorer says that it will take 'six to eight weeks' to make the damage go away.

Let me just say that when somebody at BWAC dropped my painting, "Thistle," on a nail while hanging it, and didn't tell me, and just hung it there with a gimongous nail hole right through the center of it, it didn't take me six to eight weeks to restore it. It took me about six hours; I cut a square of canvas to cover the hole, gesso'd it, lay the painting face down with a book on top of the patch for five hours and forty-five minutes, then I re-painted the center of the thistle head. Of course, to be fair, this option is not available to an art restorer.

Which is why art gets so much more expensive after the artist is dead.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Type O meltdown

I don't think that people with my blood type are meant to go on fruit/vegetable fasts. It feels like a cellular thing. My system just does not want undiluted acidity in the morning, and unrelieved cellulose in the afternoons. It wants cellulose and protein in the morning, carbs mid-day, and the acid fruit stuff after dinner.

But I am not giving up yet, particularly since I cannot be said to have fully begun. Already had a lapse yesterday evening, as some clients of mine swooped down upon me and took me out to dinner at Coco Roco. Which turned out not to be the greasy-spoon Cuban joint I'd always assumed it was, but a really nice place with a rotisserie grill and a heck of a wine list. I limited myself to plantains, black beans and rice, but I had to have a glass of that wine. It was worth it.

The clients in question were a girl from Missisippi and her aunt Faye; they seem to have adopted me as a protegé. I really never thought I'd hear from the girl from Mississippi again, after she came to me last month, in a state of crisis. She'd just moved to Brooklyn, had no job, had left her entire life and family in the South, and was interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in food culture. I gave her a massage and some what-to-do-when-you-move-to-Brooklyn advice that I wish someone had given me, four years ago. I do this for a lot of people, now. They're the sorts of people who only get a massage when they're in crisis, because they can't afford it at any other time.

When I got an email from her, thanking me for the massage and apologizing for melting down, I had to think a minute before I remembered who she was. I replied that I hadn't noticed that she'd melted down, particularly--all in a day's work, in my profession.

So this weekend she called to make an appointment for her aunt, who is visiting, recovering from malaria and a recent divorce. Her aunt and I got along like a house on fire. Since the aunt had a sore knee I schlepped my table over to their place, which was stuffed full of gorgeous antique furniture, poorly arranged. Before and after the session I held forth on my notions of how to rearrange the furniture to greatest advantage; after I left, they told me, they were both hit by a whirlwind of furniture-rearrangement energy, and transformed the apartment.

Both of them said that their massages from me had been benchmark events in their lives to date. They referred to it as 'before The Massage' and 'after The Massage.' They were making serious plans for how many of their relatives they could induce to come to New York, get a massage from me, and have their lives similarly transformed.

And I sat there, smiling and feeling woozy.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wish me fortitude.

It's that time of year again--the pre-holiday systemic cleanse, otherwise known as Spa Week.

Last year I did this after an entire summer of vain fantasizing about winning a week at a chichi spa upstate in the NYC Public Library raffle. Oh, to do yoga every day, sit in saunas, get massaged, eat healthy gourmet meals, generally be peaceful and serene. Then I realized--hey, I can do this myself.

This year I have a Focus. I want to get my system clear enough so that my left ankle stops locking up, and lose enough weight and get strong enough so that I can, maybe, one day, run all the way around Prospect Park, or take flamenco lessons, or both. This is ambitious. More than one chiropractor has flatly stated that I would be wise to hang up my running shoes forever. I didn't even mention flamenco.

But in order to follow the directions that Caroline so kindly sent me, after she coincidentally called to tell me about the healing diet she's on, I need a motivating force. A strong one.

Because this is the diet:

Hi Baby!!

Here's the cleanse/detox info.

the idea is to eliminate sugar, salt, dairy, refined foods, proteins, grains-- anything you might be allergic to. You eat foods that demand little energy for digestion, allowing the body extra energy to cleanse.

So in the morning, from when you get up til 12, eat acid fruits with nothing else. As much as you want, but wait 2 hours after eating the fruit to eat again.

Acid Fruits:

acerola cherry
sour apple
sour grape
sour peach
sour plum

Peak digestion time is from 12pm-8pm. Eat non-starch/green veggies. Again, as much as you want, but wait 5 hours before eating again, and don't eat anything after 8pm. Herbal tea is ok after 8. You can eat the veggies with fat (olive oil, flaxseed oil, or Udos oil) and/or mild starch (see below), OR eat them with tomato and lemon.

Non-Starch/Green Veggies:

bamboo shoots
bell pepper
beet greens
bok choy
brussels sprouts
green beans
fresh peas
squash (not banana or hubbard)
swill chard (? what's that?)
turnip greens

Mild starch: (eat with non-starch green veggies, oil... wait 5 hours to eat again)

caladium root

You can have black strap molasses, maple syrup (grade B is less refined so it's better), and raw honey.

Substitute Braggs amino acids for salt.

Take 4 tbls. of flaxseed oil a day

You can use braggs apple cider vinegar in your salad dressings

Dont eat black pepper- use paprika or cayenne

Eat garlic and ginger

Let me know how it's going!

I love you!

Yargh. This sort of thing is easy for Caroline. I think she's a natural ascetic. She probably spent a former lifetime as Agnes of God, or something. Me, I'm a naturally self-indulgent mesomorph. I broke my Mastercleanse fast with a steak taco, forget the carrrot juice. I get cranky when subsisting on rabbit food.

But I am also cranky when I sleep to much because my body seems to require it, when I hobble out of bed every morning, when my brain is foggy and I can't seem to get motivated. So I will see if I can give it a jump-start.

Oriane has agreed to attend the Russian-Turkish Baths with me, later in the week. I will try to make it to yoga every day; I will get herb tea at the Tea Lounge, and work on my stack of Improving Literature. I will scrub my apartment with a toothbrush.

I may be blogging a lot; I may be bitching, whining, reminiscing, or hallucinating. I need your psychic support. Do not abandon me in this time of trial.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Burning Man Riff

Jack the Dandy shares my pre-Burning-Man sentiments:
Serena, I look forward to someday reading that extended riff. :) The art does sound spectacular, and that is the attraction. Otherwise, I already live in the desert, know its difficulties, and don't need to share them with thousands of other people.

Because I live here I don't see the desert as exotic or a tourist destination, I see it as my neighborhood, so I feel kind of out of place when I hear descriptions of the wonders of Burning Man. It's like, pardon the comparison, but the frat boys go to Tijuana to let loose. That doesn't mean there aren't many worthwhile things in Tijuana. But there's a little of a neo-hippy "go to this exotic locale to let loose" similarity in basic geographic imposition suggested in events like Burning Man, I think, no matter how queer or revolutionary or artistically redeeming.

At least, that's the kind of sensation I feel when I think about it. I should go some day, I guess. *shrug*
Oh, I SO know where you're coming from.

The friend of mine who dragged me to Burning Man, bless her heart, came back from her first Burning Man sojourn on a high. "You HAVE to go next year," she said. "We can do the Barbie-cue!"

(I have this very bad habit of not stating my vociferous objections to my friends' brilliant ideas for collaborative art projects up front. I don't want to be a wet blanket, squelch their creativity, be unsupportive, yah duh yah duh. I appreciate that they are where they're at, and that they have their Issues, which will not go away if I dismiss them out of hand. So I let the notion of making a gigantic Barbie doll and burning her in effigy, with much screaming and rending of garments, in order to symbolize our freedom from oppressive, patriarchal notions of female body image, just sort of hover there, unmolested.)

But right away, you have my first impression of the nature of Burning man. "Neo-hippy, go to an exotic locale to let loose like frat boys in Tijuana." Uh-huh. The more my friend raved about how friendly everybody was, about all the neat art projects, about community and consciousness-raising, free drugs and Critical Tits, the more I smiled on the outside and balked on the inside.

"All the women rode bicycles topless around the playa, then the men made us cocktails," she said. My friend is the sort of person who LIKES getting attention from strange men who ply her with alcohol when she's half naked. I'm not, so much.

But there I was, in the late summer of 2000, staying with this friend, rootless, and with a not-quite-ex-boyfriend who was panting to go. Also my other best friend, who loved loved loved playing dress-up, to the point where she would try my patience by staying about three hours longer in the cut-rate consignment fashion outlet than I could stand, which is hard to do. Also, my other best friend's fiancé, who had a jillion friends who were Burning Man regulars, and had a cooking rotation and huge communal tent all constructed and ready to go. I had no excuse. I was trapped.

But at least I have some experience with wilderness survival. While my two friends spent weeks trolling every vintage outlet, fabric store and costume shop in the city, pulling all-nighters making sexy and bizarre outfits for themselves, I phlegmatically dredged out the camping equipment, not forgetting essentials like insulite pads, zero-degree down sleeping bags, and sunscreen. I made sure I had comfortable shoes and plenty of layers. I planned meals and packed coolers. On the last day before we left, I found some high-quality body paint at a costume store in Berkeley, and decided I was ready.

My friends said, "Don't worry, the weather will be fine. It always is."

Hello? THERE IS A REASON THAT NOTHING GROWS ON THE PLAYA AT BURNING MAN. Wherever nature creates a perfectly flat, dry basin of nothing but fine, powdery dust, nature is harsh. That's nature.

So I don't know how much you know about the set-up at Burning Man. It's a very well-organized temporary city, arranged in a circle that is open at the top, with 'streets' marked out and named. There is no money exchanged between people, and no barter--everyone brings things to give away for free, and somehow it all works out.

And it DOES work out. When we arrived and found our camp, we pitched tents and started costuming ourselves. Some naked guys came over and explained that we should prepare to have our minds blown. We replied, "We're artists. This sort of thing is our normal state of consciousness."

It was true. I kept looking around and thinking, 'wow, somebody actually went and manifested that.' There were at least two dragons--real dragons, huge gorgeous fire-breathing dragons, with scales and fangs and waving tails, which seated eight to twelve people. They didn't fly, but that was the only minor flaw. There was a huge sculpture that was a flaming metal ball on the end of a chain, attached to a tall pole, rotating so that the flaming ball wound up to the top of the pole, then curved out into an arc, and wound itself back up again, over and over. There was a giant fluorescent tie-dyed wind sock that you could walk (or dance) through, accompanied by colored lights and trance music. There were huge flowers like tree-houses, that you climbed up into and sat on shag carpeting inside, drinking free cocktails. There were giant tents as good as those of any nomadic desert tribe.

And all this is a description of roughly one percent of what's there.

The playa is the perfect backdrop for all this. It's impossible to take a bad photo there; even the hundreds of bicycles everywhere look like exotic, semi-living sculptures. It's the perfect flatness, the strong light, the uncompromising starkness. I sure wish my previous laptop hadn't been stolen with all of Pierre's photos on it, or I'd show you.

So anyway, my body paint was the perfect thing, both for my talents and my temperament. I installed myself comfortably in a big tent and started painting faces, backs and breasts. I didn't give people 'personas,' like Spider Man or anything; I just did fanciful, abstract curls and patterns and shapes, wandering wherever they would. After doing several, then holding conversations with people I'd painted, I realized that I seemed to be following energetic patterns in their faces, because the paint had a way of exaggerating their natural facial expressions as they talked. It was beautiful, simple and low-impact.

I also had the perfect excuse for getting out of Critical Tits. I painted about eight pairs of breasts, but oops! didn't get around to doing my own. The tits I painted were the Best In Show. Everyone got compliments.

While I was having such fun, though, my high-expectation friends seemed to be running aground. They had a long list of places and times that Exciting Events were supposed to be happening, and became increasingly stressed about what they might be missing. (The 'Menstrual March?' The 'Pseudo-Prom?' I ask you.) Worse, a major wind and dust storm blew up, and leaving the tent became inadvisable. I didn't mind at all; I just kept painting, happily ensconced.

I don't remember how long the wind blew; it might have been one day, might have been three. At any rate, by the time it cleared up, most of us had tent fever. My girlfriends in particular wanted to go Out; they hadn't shown off a tenth of the fancy outfits they'd created, much less seen enough of the fabulous art. So one evening, before the burn, we got gussied up, mounted our bikes, and went clubbing.

That was the evening we climbed the flower-houses, and encountered the bikes with the neon fish, and other things too surreal to recall. At one point we were crossing the open playa to the other side of the circle, and the belowmentioned fifteen-foot-high fantasy vehicle pulled up, lit from top to bottom in rainbow neon, bearing a large band. They launched into jazz or blues or rock n' roll, I forget what, we all boogied for five minutes or five hours, it was hard to tell, then they drove off again.

All in all, it was way more fun than I'd ever thought it could be.

But toward midnight, it began to rain, lightly. Some of us decided to press back to camp; some others decided to duck into a tent and wait it out, taking little sitting-up naps. Some of us got lost. The rain didn't stop; neither did it pour. It just got colder, and damper, and muddier.

The dust on the playa, as I have mentioned, is very, very fine. When it gets wet it makes very dense mud. Dense, heavy, sticky mud. Mud that sticks to bicycle wheels and shoes.

First your bicycle wheels start spraying mud when you pedal. Then they get slow and hard to push. Then they stop turning altogether. Then you get off and push your bicycle; the mud sticks to your feet, until your feet are roughly the size, weight and shape of large bowling balls.

Then your bike becomes too heavy to push, pick up, or carry.

It was like trench warfare. One by one, my companions disappeared into the darkness, as though picked off by snipers. At last, I was trudging alone through the blackness, wet to the skin, dragging my thousand-pound bicycle, quietly declaring, "fuck. fuck. fuck." Blaming my vain girlfriends who wanted to go all the way to the other side of town to show off their sexy outfits.

I was rescued by two consecutive strangers, who carried my bike a few blocks, until finally ditching it a short way from camp. When I returned I found that I was the first to make it back; my resentment was somewhat mitigated as, snuggled in my zero degree down bag on top of my insulite pad, I listened to my fellow campers draggle in and attempt to get comfortable among their frou-frou accessories. They all had rough nights.

So those were the highs and the lows, inextricably intertwined. I did not take any drugs; they weren't necessary, for one thing, and for another you would have to be suicidal to even consider putting toxic substances into your body in that environment. People rallied in the morning, and we saw more great art, and only one person had a nervous breakdown. I enjoyed it, but swore never to go again unless I am really cozy with a person with a camper.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


This afternoon I made it to the Klimt exhibit at Neue Gallerie, barely--it took me an hour and a half to get there on the train, I stood in line for twenty minutes, paid $15 (at least it wasn't $50), and stayed 10 minutes. It wasn't that the show was bad--how can Klimt be bad?--but that it was crowded, small, and I had other pressing engagements. It's kind of amazing, really, that they can pack the place for only five paintings, three of which were basically unremarkable. At least, they were remarkable when they were painted, but after three generations of plein-air, art-fair copyists, not to mention wallpaper designers, have done their insidious work, they're not anymore.

Last week I went to the Picasso and American Art exhibit at the Whitney, and took a lot of notes for a diatribe which I then put off writing, because writing diatribes about Picasso is getting increasingly depressing. What I mainly noticed was that a lot of the show reminded me of going through Soho, where street artists are selling kitsch on West Broadway (I have done this myself; I WASN'T selling kitsch, which meant that I did quite badly) and noting the gargantuan difference between original creativity and 'making a painting.' It was truly disheartening to note how many artists copied Picasso; they weren't 'influenced' by him, they just flat-out copied him.

In the case of a few, like Roy Lichtenstein, the results were a mild improvement on Stupidity As Usual, because they had to actually think about things while laying out an image. Most of them, however, got much, much worse. The Jasper Johns was particularly cringe-inducing. He just superimposed a standard Picasso-face on a failed Jasper Johns canvas. You see this in the hallway at art school all...the...time, as though putting a decal on a bad painting will somehow make it a good one. Oh, the eternal optimism of youth.

I am developing increasing respect for, or at least peace with, Jackson Pollock. Of all the lame-ass paintings in this show, his were the only ones which were actually producing some perceptible standing waves. The waves were sort of muzzy and dull, perhaps a by-product of alcoholism and semi-nihilism, but they were at least there. The Picassos had none, and neither did any of the copyists.

Recently I was rereading 'Light Emerging,' and came across a passage I hadn't paid much attention to before. It discussed the creative process as a 'pulse,' which extends itself from our core to the farthest reaches of the universe, and then contracts back in again. Our works of art act as 'highly-polished mirrors of self-discernment,' and as the wave contracts, it brings what we have learned in the process with it. Thus the end result of the creative process is not the work of art itself, but the distilled essence of our souls.

Most of us like it a lot when we're in the expanding/expanded state of creativity, and want to stay there all the time; we experience the inevitable contraction, contemplation and stasis, after the completion of a project, as depression and lack of productivity. But this is when a lot of the important work gets done.

It's difficult to look at an artist like Picasso without thinking that the state of Picasso's soul must be a real mess. I certainly wouldn't want that crap in my soul. What I notice most, now, about standing in a room full of Picassos and wannabe-Picassos, is that there's no light in any of them. They're all muddy, cerebral and flat. It crossed my mind, 'this is what would be on the walls in Hell.'

I think that a whole lot of modern art is all about attempting to get the hellish junk out of our souls, and not taking it back in again, but foisting it desperately and uncontemplatively on the world around us. It's not an accident that most Chelsea-type artists are too overbooked in their 'careers' to take a break for re-charging, meditation, and introspection. The whole paradigm is churn, churn, churn, produce, produce, produce, impose your 'vision' on the world so indelibly that it cannot be ignored. Most Chelsea artists, as far as I can tell, aren't too concerned about the state of their souls.

All this makes me feel better about the fact that I seem to be in a stage of relative creative quiescence, at the moment. One of the things I decided, while on vacation, is that my primary focus needs to be my healing practice, right now. I'm not very creative when I'm worried about going bankrupt at any second. Making this decision seemed to trigger a wave of business without me even having to do anything; a whole bunch of clients pre-paid and pre-booked as soon as I got back.

In fact, the very notion of showing right now, or madly trying to promote my 'art career,' makes me feel sort of sick, so I'm not doing it. I applied for a couple of NYFA grants, not because I think I'll get them, but just as a gesture of commitment and completion; now I'm going out more, reading more, and taking every bit of pressure off my mind to 'produce.' It will happen when it happens.