Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 22 January 2012: Before I Got My Eye Put Out


Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy 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 22 January 2012”, acrylic on canvas, 60 * 80 cm

Before I got my eye put out,
I liked as well to see
As other creatures that have eyes,
And know no other way.

But were it told to me, to-day,
That I might have the sky
For mine, I tell you that my heart
Would split, for size of me.

The meadows mine, the mountains mine, —
All forests, stintless stars,
As much of noon as I could take
Between my finite eyes.

The motions of the dipping birds,
The lightning’s jointed road,
For mine to look at when I liked, —
The news would strike me dead!

So safer, guess, with just my soul
Upon the window-pane
Where other creatures put their eyes,
Incautious of the sun.

Emily Dickinson

Come on, come on, you bastards: Vorwart! This ain’t no pork chop, this is Chloris, this is Pandora, this is Artemis, this is Chang-Er, Goddess of the Moon, and I’se Jade Rabbit.

Over and over again. Painting on the floor, me dancing around like Jackson Frigging Pollock…love his work, could never accomplish something like that…but no wonder he smoked…I pound Nicorette.

If you’re glazing (dark and transparent over light) or scumbling (light and translucent over dark) you have to be an Action Painter at this phase despite the realism of the work, for there are patches of light in darkness and darkness in light. You need not be afraid of the way the Light shoots (zuschammen) into the darkness and the way the darkness climbs towards the light as in Milton:

Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven firstborn,
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblam’d? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.

Constant glazing and scumbling. NO GOUACHE, as Daniel V Thompson, author of The Practice of Tempera Painting said, “we are not here to paint with poster paints, dammit.”

In The Lady’s Not For Burning the Lady says why was I born why did I give my mother pain. Why did you buy the pure white gesso canvas?

My painting series as displayed on wordpress are what Henry V would call “another Fall of Man” in th’old play when the King arraigns Cambridge, Scroop and Grey:

I will weep for thee;
For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like
Another fall of man.

I mean, generally speaking the earlier versions are better, and I care not, because it is Man’s Fate to Outsmart Himself. This painting has suffered less of a decline than my painting of the Holy Terror of Chattanooga, dancer, artist, activist Lana Sutton. That started out great and went to hell you ask me. I was lucky to preserve its grisaille.

And the intersecting glazes and scumbles are slowly fusing the thing. There is a single column of highlight that starts at the top of her head and goes all the way down, it’s her Soul, it’s her pillar of fire: but matching it is a single Shadow and a deep vermilion middle tone (that Vermilion I got in place of Cadmium Red, which sucks, is working out well).

Sir Joshua Reynolds would simply darken the background with tinted varnishes made of ground bones of Egyptian Mummies. Sir Joshua was an idiot and Benjamin West, the first real American painter, was way better.

Sfumato, the smokiness of tone that strangely makes form more and not less distinct. Leonardo strove for this in La Joconde but succeeded in Virgin on the Rocks.

Modern materials make his effects easy. The question is where the sfumato goes.

I’m thinking once in Italy of continuing to do the Grisaille in acrylic but the svelatura in oil. I’m up against the limitations of a petroleum byproduct. But I need to be more familiar with different oils and drying agents.

We admire a van Eyck because it has the appearance of a manufactured product: this is of a piece with the fact that, in Adorno’s reading of Odysseus and the Sirens, the old myths were a proto-science, a way of controlling reality. But the difference between what’s sitting in my flat and what you see is that in the actual art object there’s a piece of me, a secondary Soul in the Buddhist sense. A sort of Buddhist, I believe that living things have souls, and that first-order handicrafts have a secondary soul. Whereas, as I discovered to my dismay as a software engineer, technology is always such a collective venture as to be a sarcophagus, the trace of dead souls.

A new way of authenticating artworks has been found: the artist’s fingerprints as verified from a known attribution where all of most of the fingerprints are known to be his. Perhaps also fragments of sweat, blood and tears, that is, DNA.

We cleanse our world of aura, the human stain, and wonder why we’re so discontented. Mediaeval man on the other hand prized the skin and bones of saints as holy relics. Perhaps even piss and shit, we don’t know.

Keeping everything transparent & translucent has preserved the nobility of the line drawing. That’s all one can do. Richard Strauss risked his life protecting his Jewish grandchildren during the War and went on to write Four Last Songs. I can draw a line in the sand and preserve it, highlight it, glorify it. Unum necessarium.

When I stop painting and photograph the painting for upload here I usually do a Hitler Video, fuming with rage. This is because anything to do with technology fills me with anger. All programmers seem like incompetent little lower-middle class dweebs, probably because I wasted so much time programming. That little “rainbow spinner” on the Mac really, really sets me off. I gotta cool it since my landlord doesn’t like it when he hears me raging.

I knew it long ago. I might not have talent but I gots duende, the magic fire, up the ass: unlike some art students I have something to “say”, a “vision thing”. Dang, one leg is still bigger than the other (needs to be adjusted in the old style, glazing and scumbling, like Wellington at Waterloo): but every time I look at the damn thing that gal LEAPS out. It expresses for me the fact that I’ve been leaping as an hart ever since I left my kids thirty years ago, as if my ex wife cursed and blessed me at one and the same time: he will run and not stop running hee hee until he wises up. Which he won’t.

Go straight for the feeling, the jugular, the bone. Learn tricks of the trade but don’t worry about them too much. Every time we know we feel every time we feel we know: this is University of Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s point in Upheavals of Thought: a physical feeling is identical to a physical fact but an emotional feeling is based on what we believe to be true. “I have a headache” is different from “I am sad that my father has died” because if in fact your father has not died, your sadness would go away…whereas the fact of the headache is ONE fact.

Therefore in any image or text there’s a sort of grisaille backstory, the emotional trace. Shakespeare’s life story isn’t known in detail but we get a good feeling from it, because he left his wife and kids and succeeded as an entrepreneur whilst ripping Early Modern English a new asshole. Of course, jagoffs like Emmerich, being jagoffs, like to destroy this trace in that new movie Anonymous. They confuse knowledge with lack of feeling.

The ancients knew this. It wasn’t history if it didn’t either edify or instruct through pity and terror. The modern, scientific (or pseudo-scientific) distinction between emotion and cognition was to them unknown.

Therefore I think I’ve communicate a feeling. And without being “painterly” or overtly clumsy in the modern way. I love Matisse and Leroy Nieman, the guy who paints the Super Bowl, ain’t all bad, but never wanted to paint like them.

Which probably means I should. Sometimes I do. We have to turn ourselves inside out.



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