Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 14 January 2012: The Painted Veil

Listen! And, I must confess, I like Kitschy Native American Great Spirit (WeltGeist) art, and I miss the American land.

Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Nuts Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and, to the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou’ as of 14 January 2012”, acrylic on canvas, 60 * 80 cm.

Edward G. Nilges, “In-situ State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Nuts Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and, to the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou’ as of 14 January 2012”

I had to take a shower after today’s session, for to save my clothes, I paint in shorts like hers. And, my method requires a very careful adjustment of the “charge” or amount of paint on the brush, so I am continually wiping the brush on a rag or my body to adjust this. I ended up savagely painted. Fortunately, acrylics are washable, especially with a stiff “loofa” style wash cloth such as I have.

Part of the romance of art is to go about paint-splattered as by a god, and to dwell in chambers smelling of turpentine, although my room does not so smell, for acrylics are far safer as regards fumes.

The goal is to reconcile Modernism and the Traditional, for the next step are color-form planes that reconcile things far-distant. There’s this incredible Shadow that unites her twisting dancing body, and it has to be echoed by the plunge you cannot make, on the Island whereupon I live, into the monsoon forest, at least, without a machete and boots like to destroy it (stay on the causeway). This plunge is into shadow.

I walked to the beach for a memorial get-together for a Scotsman today, and once again noticed the way in which the Banyan seeks the light. Used to be one of my father’s books, The Cypresses Believe in God. Written by a right wing Spaniard, but a great title all the same.

Buddhist ontology: discussing this with a Lamma mate: Buddhist ethics based on the idea of many souls in living things. A 747 has no soul, but a tree does. But so does a limb, a branch, and a leaf, each regarding itself as an end in itself, like an actor with a bit part who think that Romeo and Juliet is about this Apothecary.

The Painted Veil: to get to the thing in itself, the person you’re married to. Kitty, in the Maugham novel, pierces a veil of illusion when she realizes her Hong Kong lover was a fat fuck and her husband, who dragged her to a cholera-ridden mainland hole, was a good man, and, upon return to England, she asks her father, appointed to be the Governor of Bermuda, if she can not accompany him, and she says, o let us be good to one another.

Easier said than done in my experience. There’s this (German?) rage for pure Recognition which has to be calibrated at all times perfectly to the Recognition you give the other. Spielberg shows how dysfunctional this got in the German psyche, in that shocking (almost unendurable) scene where Ralph Fiennes as Amon Rath torments the naked Jewish woman.

This may have to do with Germany’s experience after the Battle of Jena and before 1870, a time of Idiocracy when my patrilineal ancestors had to play feudal roles in a bourgeois economy. Beethoven resolved this after “letting go”, in the modern parlance, of his nephew Karl, and the “letting go” became movements of his final quartets of unspeakable tenderness and beauty.

The joke in painting a female in sexy clothes, for me, is that I can slowly, slowly, build a radiant and saintly expression. The women on the Web sites, whom I do not use to get off, look so damned tired when in search of “pretty nudes” such as are marketed by Peter Hegre that damned Japanese web site cuts in. And, of course, the commercial Web sites aren’t two way. So there’s a complete absence of mutual Recognition, which is what the male porn consumer wants…the Benthamite Power to see while being unseen.

Whereas I can make her see by way of a careful analysis, in paint alone, of the inexhaustible bones of the eye and mouth, and how they interplay in complex planes of shadow and light. Digital technology pretends it can reduce this essentially to a single large “Godel” number, the exponential sum, if you must know, of all the bit values in a digital photograph. So, I have to stay one step ahead of the digital daemon. My daemon can beat up your daemon.

It’s absurd commodity fetishism to think of even an iPod reproduction to be “the same”, “effectively the same”, “ceteris paribus and kiss my ass, the same” as going to the symphony. I went to the symphony recently and noticed that one ear could apprehend not only sound but the exact distance between itself and the instruments. It made a difference that the Hong Kong symphony places the second violins where traditionally the cellos go.

Albert Borgmann’s Crossing the Postmodern Divide names American depression as a commodious depression. We’ve been sold ersatz lives, I told myself that a software career was just as good as being a doctor or artist, and I was lying to myself. We do this because the cash nexus makes things of the same price the same and dis-enchants the world.

Ironically, my Yuppie generation knew this, and refused to wear polyester. But as Adorno knew, “authenticity” can always be prefixed with “pseudo” because the very concept of Authenticity is post-lapsarian.

[In simpler English: “organic whatever” contains the memory of the whatever in the sense that the person buying the authentic stuff is paying a premium whereas her housekeeper is buying the dreck.]

To return to the gaze of Peter’s Crazy Aunt: it is breaking a boundary, it is a moment of insight and Spinoza’s Knowledge which was mathematically the same as Love.

I do not know what she’s looking at.

Poussin’s triumphant final painting: the God, who’s in a tree gazes upon the nymph but she not on him, for she grieves, for, I think, her father. As mon cher Maitre’s sight failed, his paintings, such as Blind Orion in Search of the Rising Sun, were more and more about vision. God does not see Adam and Eve, the Winter of the Flood is blindness and dark water, Boaz recognizes his servant Ruth as a human being.

I have dirt cheap reader eyeglasses bought at stands and slowly their magnification increases as I get older. I have to think about Poussin, who could not get eye-glasses in Rome: they were a high tech rarity primarily available a bit later in the 17th century from lens-grinders like Spinoza. I have also to think about Chief Dan George, who plays the Lakota chief in Little Big Man, who says, thank you for my blindness for in it I have learned to see.

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