Lana Sutton #1, the truth dances

Edward G. Nilges, “Lana Sutton Study #1”, pencil, pen and colored pencil on A4 size paper, 26 Sep 2010

Edward G. Nilges, “Lana Sutton Study #2”, pencil, pen and Gimp modifications on A4 size paper, 28 Sep 2010

Lana Sutton is a political activist, musician, dancer, environmentalist and holy terror in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The media systematically represents populism as Tea Baggery, but she is in no way a Tea Hag. She just feels that the good old boys of her town shouldn’t mess with her for not mowing her lawn, and furthermore that they are a bunch of crooks…who have so deconstructed the line between business and government to make ordinary people spiritless and cynical.

A few days ago, I fired off a letter to the International Herald Tribune. They’d tarred her cause as Tea Baggery since she’s active in the recall of a corrupt mayor, since that’s what they do: if they can’t do their homework, they herd us into a Concept.

She appears to me like a sort of Lola Montez, the Irish adventurer and dancer who fired up German youth in the revolutions of 1848, who somehow knows that the truth exists because she still feels it body and soul.

That is, most of us sit flaccid in front of the TV and the bodily decay that results, results in turn into a negative epistemology, something misnamed “skepticism” which is merely ignorance, and something swept and garnished…all to ready to turn into belief in right-wing malarkey.

So…my next art project, to be narrated here, is a painting celebrating her. In this the first cut, I like the simplicity of the side view, because the way her skirts float reminds me of a Greek vase.

In the green drawing I simulate the method best described in Daniel V. Thompson’s book The Practice of Tempera Painting: white and black chiaroscuro on a middle tone. I simulate it in Gimp by adding a new translucent layer and using the (clumsy) Gimp brush to add the white.

If bone could speak and skin could sing…

“You do things because of the way they look
You do things because they feel good
But I do right”

(Lana Sutton, I Do Right)

That is: us baby boomers lost the very idea that you do something out of what Kant called pure or reinen “duty”…to the extent that in the 1980s I could not even claim to my sophistoe friends that I was trying simply to do right on a job or as regards my kids.

Reaganism explained us as universally self-interested. But one of the unexpected consequences of the claim of universal self-interest is that we’re always doing something for some other reason.

This put the Yuppies on a treadmill named “rationality”. You work at some soulless job to get the money to buy the expensive vacation to recover from the stupid job. Everything is a tight loop (I do A to get B which gets me C which fires me up to do A) or else as it happens to some corporate crook’s benefit, poured out like water on the ground.

“Self-interest” and the whole theodicy of rationality was in fact a massive fraud: check out that negative equity, baby. The saint does what she wants, not what’s in her self-interest.

I was terminated last month from a job as a teacher which I had for five years and loved, mostly because the sight of kids farting around always cheers me up. My specialty was the rambunctious boys such as the Tiger Monk.

The Tiger Monk’s helper should get combat pay since he is never still but ever in motion, questing about the office on a secret mission from God. But I was able to get him to do his work by telling him stories while he swotted away.

The company did so without notice and gives no reason, thinking that they can morph the job into a pure or reinen contract and at-will. By law they were supposed to have given me two months’ notice or pay in lieu, but they’d given me a schedule past the kiss-off date and put me on the Fall bulletin. They even promised parents and kids that “Mr. Edward” would be the children’s teacher; many parents and kids liked me.

This shall not stand. There shall be Kung Fu fighting.

I was told by a former co-worker that the Tiger Monk, on the day he was supposed to start his fall classes with me, was questing about the office, saying, over and over again in a sad voice, “where is Mr. Nilges?”

I have filed a claim on this matter with Hong Kong’s Labour Relations Department. Oh, this might mean I won’t get a character reference? Well boo hoo: I have CEO references from all over the world, and, I’m a little tired of the corporate treadmill anyway. I refuse to be a 19th century servant and I’m quite aware that there may be consequences.

So, this one’s for you, Lana, and Tiger Monk, and Lola, and Joan of Arc.


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