Selections from a Prison Journal
3/4/3... not sleep/dreams, not day-doing either but at the juncture, that spacetime when awareness is a jumble and drifting-dawning, 'another day in prison, just another and i am unsettled, angry, hurt and will be bored, just another day of deadtime. Nothing to do with another, beyond expression, beyond friendship... a void of aloneness and another deadday filled by vague anxieties, humiliation, apprehensions. These words, this exact sentence, nothing fills the abyss and is only confetti tossed, drifting, pointness. Waking up is the worst part of the day, every day.
...frustrated, self-frustrated by self-hesitation, doubts-damn-fears. When there wasn't a future, when each day was the only day i had plans, activities self-generated, self generating, even the small things, i made the small things do and they did, or did in memory (i'm not sure). Am at a loss & standstill, caught. Angry at my timidity, an unwillingness to risk because the risk is pushed up against the edge, the end of release. During those times of non-future, in forever prison it didn't matter, i could push the bounds, was willing/able to take a stand, when nothing to lose it's not a stand but a way to live. Today, with all to lose a stand is deadtime and i'm in fear... fear of my own making, self-loathing, humiliation.
...ideas-of-clay and what's the point? Attention and the expenditure of excess energy? No matter what the confetti floats, the abyss unfilled, a glomping hole of being that the objects only covered, acting as a bridge between my need and the desire. Often in the twilight moments i loathe myself, the loss of life & time, that i gave up (for whatever reasons and there were many) the juice to make the effort. Is it that i knew i didn't have the will, the ideas, the craft, or a fear of succeeding? Have i burnt myself by too much need, needing to be accepted instead of a mild distain? I have, i lost and grieve and rage... and have no place to expend the flashing sparks that kindle each fresh mornings eye-wake.
...to be young again --go back to what timeframe, to babyhood, boychild, artschoolkid; when did the need arise-- wouldn't help (is impossible) and yet to have the time, the time now that i know. Angry everyday that i didn't when i could and fearful of my own hesitations/insecurities... in many ways that same youth, filled by unrequited needs, unable to overcome even the knowledge that only the quality of the risks matter and not the failures. What quality, what failure, with so little time left and the daunting limitations that exist, that i not only allowed but self-made; i am a self-made small and am aware i am... every nowadays morning.
...a bitter knife/slice salt filled, scabbed by hope and words, this very page in fact. What good the sensitive words except to cover, to entice and slickover the illness untouchable, the plague, the plague that drives and poisons in a bright flash same time. How to wake up, make up, go into future's' fresh, what contingent acts can turn the salt to biblical pillars, that's the task, the fact. Sacrifice attention, overcome need... would the mornings be cleaner. I doubt it... but/but later, days & years the body (of work and life) would be meaning... i lack meaning and that's the fact and the salt. Anger, it's what's available, the integration's the dilemma, not clayideas but the choice, i can not go on but know i will... every morning, just like everyone else over all time, all time & none. Words/pages/things, here in the second, this very second, while the act of typing abates the morning, i am relieved and it's the best i can/able, another day scabbed over, onwards into the day, days that run down and release. No matter those early dimlight emotions, this day becomes with hope refreshed, not much but ever so much more. I go on, i will go on... even with this page... or another.
3/5/3... and grayday-again begins, seeing if/if t'is possible to see-tiny-trees, as they are in the 'locked' compound... and at same check Koi, --during winter pond-plants die back and Koi are hungry if not dormy-- look at pondpumps and generally scope out the area. Winter in the garden is brown/droop & dirt, plant matter turning to loam, is clumps of windblown leaves in a corner, is yellow/brown mud, is the cycle of change, from fresh-greens & reds to slim-alive, the time-of-the-earth, the time-of-the-water seep, low/slow & browns swirled together, a puddle of goop,: elemental energy awaiting; much like myself.
...but/Hey, maybe-just-maybe a new room, seems there's a chain going out (in the jargon of prison a chain is a group of inmates... as in chained up and chained together, as we are) which opens up bedspaces... i'm in the line, on the possible, did the dance, humblepie'd self and Hey, just maybe... into non-smoking & less noise, just maybe. By mid month i'll know... as of this day i'm in the jerked around mode, being told diff things by diff folks... Such is prison life, Need-To-Know is like gold, from the other room-mate to top of the Boss-pile, i don't need to know... as in none of your business... and Deal With It. How rude and not very interesting... but/but facts be this, I'm an ol-hand, I know the ropes and a few tricks myself...there are options and/and i shall use. Wanting out of the one i'm in i'll check the winds, set goals, make the inroads and get verification so that if push/comes/shove i'll be in the loop, ready to jump... a New Room and a chance to draw.
...the news the damn news... the willingness to use torture in the pursuit of what, information, fear, safety... What? The capture of kids/children as hostage, the holding back of medications, the threat of transfer to a center expressly for pain-applications. What message, what actions will come outta this newly ancient practice, Terror & Pain, the promise of one and both in an effort to rid ourselves of them both. We are participating and setting a horrid precedent and will (when it's used by others) feel shocked with horror at the sight of our own children having their genitals crushed, their bodies twisted, blinded/mutilated... And it's not that it's not being done but that we're now doing it, the rules of law and humanity are undercut, tossed aside for information, outta fear... or safety. The universal excuse for genocide is fear, the pre-emptive strike for safeties sake. Historically a Stateless People have no rights, there is no nation to protect them... they are useless/hopeless and troublesome, an unknown and strange, they are (and/or will become) terrorists... No Rights, torture. Root out the source, seek & destroy... their pain is not ours and ours is greater than theirs, they aren't quite as human as we... torture doesn't hurt as much... or is justifiable... I'm appalled complete... in a state of horror and i suppose i speak out via this cause i'm unsettled, having nowhere else to express it.
...from off-the-earth (-the SkyLab series) next project will be 'The Hung 'Man' the porn and pain group, the color of red/purples, or that blue-yellow bruise tone, toss out the greens except as shadows, the next series attempts to express horror. Fuck the sublime, go for the balls... darker than prison by twice and 10 to the 10th... i'm appalled complete. Even as i think/feel this i must wonder at self, is the reality the political or the frustration from inactivity--and does it matter? Of course mood would be changed by output., the shock absorbed... yet the subject's real as the pain reflected. In prison we are mankind at its lowest level, a mirror of our times. Even as i'm aware that with expression-in-visuals i'd be more content, i'd not be that content, my perceptions aren't wrong only restricted, unfulfilled, explosive by the limitations. Jumbled of-mind and feeling it in-body, sluggish & burning daily, appalled at them and at myself... grayday/darkday texas morning and the trees haven't seen the sun either.
3/6/3... 'magine it like this: pale/pale blue sheet, totally wet, or a sheet of water color-paper fresh from the tray, a splatter of white drops, white paint like milk flung against, -flicked by random chance. Now a fan blowing one direction, blowing those drops a furious dispersal of streaks, white-thin feathers; or again a moving stream in which a bucket of liquid white soap was dumped in splashes, washing down river. A major change, a right-angle change and cross direction creates a tic-tac-toe pattern, skinny-thin washed-out wisps of highmorning clouds on this cold texas early day; the skyblue background almost too pale, etched by crosses transparent... the whole sky filled and covered by immense t's, horizon-to-horizon, an amazing weather one-chance in a million... and i walked out into it, under it. Something, someparts o£ this texas is damn fine, spectacular complete on this cold Winter's day. Then ...
...began a file, a collection, tore out pages/pages of ads, hair/noses/legs & eyes, if/when wanna collage the bits & pieces, glued onto a page, slashed over with lines, drawn on, colored over, covered up dark-dim nuance of femininity with her sexuality. Overdraw the whole with my eye, myself in reds/blacks as if the cheapest of xerox copies tinted. Obsessed with desire, the darkness of the times, the body. the bodyparts, flooded-mushed hues stretched across like those clouds, cris-crossed and thin, my eye horror of these times making it look/be sensual. Begin the collection, a fat-file for a later date, a day when the obsession itself presses me into action, mushed by the idea... imagine those clouds again... and that sky. But before...
...a sleep without a memory, lastnight's after lastlights-out no recall, none, it was the day that awoke with first consciousness, the bump of morning men, chairs and coffee and talk/talking, or tv sports reports and the buffer shining floors, of overhead announcements and report-to-work, the flurry of dressing/slamming/hurrying; from nothing to commotion in a shift, as if a lightswitch was thrown... and so i did, up and dressing, dressing without thought, without the tone of memory's dream and walked out under and into that sky as if it were the memory itself. Maybe it is and i'm that Buzzard, wings spread, eyes ashine floating, sailing the airwaves on the updrafts, hungry. A black shape... memory/obsession the day and the sky-clouds twisted/thin. I am hungry, on a float, on the wing mirrored above/below, right in the middle, morning-middle at the end, less days to do than i've done months. A sleep without memory, a cloud streaked sky...
...ol-con knowhow, first-day new-arrival, 7--months past; immediately request a dental appt, chip off tooth plaque, a real cleaning. Ol-con's know it takes months/months to workdown the schedule; it's been like 2/3 yrs since the last, needed as much for health as pride, for safety, to save and for vanity, i just wanted my teeth cleaned.
3/26/03... wherein t'is highwindy in the sunsky but be that, here's a concern-- the phase Target of Opportunity, it's gonna creep as Kidu across the land, it's gonna become how we address business and then go into the lexicon, something like 'Do a TargOp' on a person, a desire, a wish(these margins wouldn't drift) as if it didn't mean death/defeat but only a "I didn't mean anything by it, it's only a phase"... This and the word Coalition, plus the devil of it, the whole military jar(head)gon of this sadist. & sad times. One thinks we're all diminished... and it stinks.
...plus 'that' green, unnatural, horrid black-filled tv/cam green against the reds of sand and transmission, it'll soonly make its way onto the silver screen, in the commercials, then onto clothing, then couches, wallpaper, we'll live in a world color by that, just as the jungle uniforms of Nam became fashion... lamps, chairs and bivwack tan. And so i wanna, right here, right now, see if i can put my thoughts into words.
...just received this months issue of "W" (i'm on the same page, just hold on) and in it was/is the feature article, 44 pages in special color, Madonna Unbound, by Steven Kline. No reason to comment on mimed, just a figure/model (but of course it sells copy and promotes) and also in same issue was full page, Hugo Boss ad, a homage to Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle... with many other references --visual-- to video artworks, yeah the Madonna came right outta it too. Oh these are wonderfully shot photos, some foldout pages, not all of clothing or even models... some just burning a wedding dress type thing (i think) that is half gone, and of course for misMod a bed w/mattress. (oh she's the model but mostly it's the scene...) It's so very perfect... yeah great photography... and it smacks of video, it reeks of it, last issue was porn-site references, this one's faces (head-shots) and what's peculiar is that they even get the grain effect of poor art-quality video. Now of course it's all a total visual lie... nothing moves, and in fact most of the framing edge and the figures are static (unlike your normal fashion model layouts) and stark, unworldly in a way. These are as if a snap-shot of a performance piece, an art reality moved into high-end fashion... not that it's not done all the time but this time i got to thinking about the site-specific nature of artworks.
...in the artworld criticality itself is the hottest of art commodities, yet i 'See that self-referential objects (read sculpture), because it does not have a location, has a political/art-institution drawback, they are solid... and in today's world to be so is to be making a statement about objectivity itself, not just the sculpture. On the other hand, a video has no reality other than pure light image, but it's not subjective, it's only thought to be because of its immateriality --the factoid that it's stored in a medium that does not look anything like what's projected. A photo is really only a record, manufactured to refer back... and a video is really only a kind of painting but since it's so filled with a technical process, it is thought of as having no site specific location. In other words it can be in a museum, on a billboard, seen while driving for a Big Mac... What's happened within the artworld is that objectivity, a single point of view, is out the window, only a performance, a moving view, is real... and the less it appears to be of what it is the more power it has. Unlike a normal movie, a plot is only implied, it's not the characters but the scenery and poses, words are just redundant, action is also... the video moves, and that's enough. No object is there, the idea is the critical facility, not the eye, not the skill, only really the historical backdrop and other-worldness. Pure entertainment within one's mind with no references.
...how do we use this, that's the task...Of course i agree that to think there is an objective viewpoint is offbase, yet we do know objects and they do have a location, they do refer to things besides themselves. We're not talking about telling a story here, everyone knows all the stories already... and not making a political statement either, objects do not mean 'done for commerce' or to prove the superiority of an elite, much less to show beauty...(even as most performance pieces are just that).
This is the central issue, to generate works that do not refer to video/sites... and i'm unsure how that might look... in fact have no idea... yet.
...but/but the one on quantum mechanics is closer but still off mark, if superstring theorems gonna explain anything then it's gotta get over the inherent difficulties it presents in rolling up the number of dimensions...if they exist in micro it doesn't explain the present. Nice try through... better than most. Nope, if we're gonna have meaning we gotta be able to experience it... not just use if to justify or explain, who needs (or wants) yet another rationalization... Christ. Somehow i know that art does this, know it bone deep... before anything was the awareness of the modification that became human... and it was experienced as aesthetics...
3/27/03... far too easy to make this war a targ-op for propaganda/artworld, saying that, statements without comment miss the point. The reflex of discomfort, anger, frustration and disgust, in the end it's disgusting. Disquieting to see the whole of the mass-media, the photo-ops/talking-heads empty, empty of history, of observation, of principal, empty; yet filled with self-importance and war. Death, death in black green, in orange running-words, in split-screen, in animated cartoon video/game images, in High Alert and terror and the self-congratulatory comfort-phases empty. We are all now targets of opportunity in a war within ourselves. The reflex is as complicated as the war-goals are evident, a purification of the faithful/enforcement, to make the world commerce-safe righteously, victims/heroes and the duality of simplicity for the simple. Green-video death in the pursuit fear-for-security, underlined by the moving orange words, colorfully simple, the propaganda targets of opportunity using artworlds. It's far too easy and just as horrible.
...the reaction, easy as channel-surfing, needs consideration to address the confusion; an impossibility of motives flipping/churning as visual images, green-black nite/lite, and drawings and sculpture and dance and the paintings of performance death, the art bf war, Sun Tsu. Time for the past to come forward, time, past-time, it's time.
Not comment but statement at the end-of-time. What's worth saving, is it beauty, culture, the very civilization, the human condition, is it even possible, or only possible to make yet another sound-bite comment, swept into the airwaves, churned into a commercial break, a fashion statement. Every hairstyle/car/sofa, an art-fashion institutionalized; faster than radiowaves, as speedy as light-vision orange alerts, propaganda fashionizes statements into merely comments endless. Is it possible? Possible to stand, to desist/resist, to resist & exist, to create ars-san-artem, an art without artifice that raises to the level, a level that sustains/supports any of us, all of us and is not a commodity? the question, the hardest of task.
... is the role of the artist a cultural service provider, rather than a producer of objects self-referential (that space that is a division between man and nature). To step-back: i assume that at once moment in time, one group, one person within the group made a mark/sound/movement, done in joy... an adult joy that mimicked play but with a difference, it was a boundary between man and the world. This action was evident to all who witnessed, even as the same action had be done any number of times previously this time it was taken up, this time it was art. Art is a boundary, it's what marks out man from all else when it's self-aware. Soon thereafter (because art moves at the speed of the senses) it's taken up to unify a cultural practice, it serves purpose, one that grows out of and away from the original.
... during all intellectual revolutions, the old pantheon dies, new are re-formulated. In the 18th cen, art became Art, from the beautiful to the sublime, man had expropriated nature to the point where nature was an artificial construct --in most urban communities--and the artists because they deal in boundaries, had to revert to their own self- induced natural, but the difficulty with that's obvious, one can't be a line/edge on the nature side of chaos... but the objects/qualities can display that... and so they did, so they do. Yet always they, by necessity, reflect and are a cultural's medium, they provide context, meaning and it's through that water that fashion/fad swims.
...as a cultural expands, various segments take up different uses of the art-practices, a bifurcation of goals within the sub-set, this --in turn-- adds a layer of difficulties to the production of art, and since the artist (but not necessarily the artworld) is involved in this edge seeking/making, they are constantly deemed elitist, while the technical aspects are filtered down to social practices, service providers. It would seem that there's really only two ventrals left, either to recognize the historical commitment and play on it, or utililize the horror and joy in a fresh set of markers... and maybe both somehow.
7/2/03... here sitting listening to the drips splashing into buckets, buckets arranged under the A/C return duct, it sweats, it drips, the humidity's so high a constant condensation... drip... drip... drip. Yet all else quiet, another day in 'the-box' room, no class, no teacher, me and this fine machine, a mild hum radiates outta some back-corner and the sounds of the keys hitting the paper, rather nice it is... solitude. About the only time an inmate has solitude is when/if --like today-- the staff are off doing... whatever they do when they're doing... and of course they must trust me just enough. Not to mean someone doesn't, periodically, stick-head through open door and check, but that for the most part i'm alone... at least as i write this... Rather nice Totally and damn rare. So much so i hardly know how to act, should i write purple-prose, wild rants or intense aesthetics... t'would seem i'm more able under duress and high-noise, and that without the air escapes my balloon fast-hurry. I'd have to suss it's just the state of affairs, for so long i've had direct purpose, a daily goal, some self created anxiety, something to focus about... and now it's over, now is only the rush of days... and i just don't care, i'm phaselessly blank... barely able to hear the drip/drip/drips. Nice that.
... oh if i were really ambitious --i tell self -- i'd utilize this time to make a list, read a book, create a file, write a better letter, something deep and touching, something insightfully/meaningful...Ohwell, drip/drip. Spent an hour slow-drenching a couple of trees, some time peering at the tiny-pines, who daily thicken new top growth, whose hormones are into branching, who's bottom needles, those first seed-sprouted, are now dry/brown and hanging to drop. The hose flipped and soaked my feet, rather nice that too, i and the floor match, wet-drip-splash. In the background's a thump/thump of some large and ugly machine... but filtered through the cinderblock walls it's muted/dull... like the awareness of it. I've reached the chill mode --thank goodness-- and can only hope i can hold it till... well forever actually. I'm just as sure something --be it boss or life-- will interject/intervene, if not soon then sooner; and yet/yet it does not seem rushed, a slowness without the sense that it's pointless. Even the dripping's slowed.
... the book, The Blank Slate's a polemic and as such has lost its taste, i read for the data, skipping whole passages... and have no idea now why i bother, i'd have to guess i think there's something therein... something that can fill me up... but i'm at my brim thirstless, more interested in observation than knowledge. 16-yrs and it's down to this... not exactly holding breath but the slow in/out of moving through-time, sitting in an empty room, me and the drips. In my most extreme mental fantasies i'd have never imagined, alone in quiet and without thoughts, without even the drips. In an hour, in a day, the agitations will resume... yet at this exact i'm thankful even peaceful, suspended animation; not even words for this page. How peculiar, how wonderful... and how easy too.
... and that major packet arrived, the MOCA... as yet unread but that's only cause i got the new Steven Pinker book, The Blank Slate, and Martin sent something called White Teeth, saying it's a must read immediate. Then of course i'm still mulling The Invention of Art. Reading & writing... and sweating, Texas. Actually we just had a major BOOM/Boom hog-washer, the sky opened it poured, nice at that i do so love that sound... and smell. The prob is usually the power goes bye-bye' and we get locked... as we still might tonight. Ohwell... no matter what the days pass.
... did i say i've taken to long-walks and mild hard exercise. Yep, gotta get my clay muscles in shape, doing it daily as it turns out... and i guess it's doing what it's Supposed to do, at least i'm not icky sore... but then again i wasn't before i started either. Something to do... and i'd suggest i need it. Funny either in the spin or the agitate mode, or now in the off button... i guess i'm just loading the washer. Am sure in a day or three i'll have a new rant in the brood, but this one's been easy; thank the little gods.
7/8/03 ... More-Loud and crashbang the thunder, we're into hog-washers daily. All the ol'cowpokes and other bureau staff say this most strange, t'ain't like tex at all, t'is like florida or Lou-zee-anna, every morning the humidity high and higher, clouds swirling up like shaving cream outta the can, by noon a downpour massive but only brief, then hot like crazy and it starts again, the sky going omega, the sky rushing overhead, rain belts out/down and is gone again. Nice and we like but i don't think the cowboys do. Nope, they're looking for that dry heat & dust, this is too much like a bath. Ohwell.
... tropical is how the greenhouse effect is, warm-hot off the gulf, full of water, down it falls over Bastrop, we're gonna become the banana capitol and not just the home of horntoads, complete with mosquitoes/West Nile... Yikes. Interesting too, since i'd have to think all texas buildings are fully A/C'd but none insulated, the condensation pours into everyone's space, every room with a bucket, not for leaks but cause no one figured the humidity. Might as well be leaks, it sure drips like them and daily i haul out buckets full. Now have two plus a plastic 5gal can and a wastepaper basket with plastic bag... each with a diff pitch/drip sound, so it's me and this machine and my water/flood/drips ... and off behind the concrete block walls the sound of thunder. Only when it's actually pouring down does the dripping stop... For why these folks don't insulate --now that they see the pattern--i can't suss, nor in fact do i really care, i'm enjoying my dripping peace, Very!
... and then later-evening t'is cooler than normal, nice cause when i'm pacing the track and humping the iron i'm much happier, less sweaty by far. This past weekend did 4-miles one day, 3 the other and many sets of push/pull, can tell it's adding stamina if not muscle. Just as well too, plus i'm first energized, so much so i think my metab's raised, then i drift sleep well & goodly. Now i understand the allure, tired body is brainless/mindless, one can read the words but not put the ideas together after a full session, a novel's fine while aesthetics isn't, nor can one lay the book aside and concentrate, it's drift-off time in a wash of relaxed. Most interesting.
... and the best is that the days run rabbit/rabbit, still not counting days yet, although i'm sure i shall, but allowing them to drift like those clouds. Oh sure, doing what i think's best, make-a-list., write-a-request, looking to see if i can manage to elicit some interviews, jobs that is. Still, at this present, t1is a tad to early --or far too late-- and so the best possible is to cruzzzz along, be happy, be glad... Yes! Today i am, the days/weeks run together and be gone, bye/bye and Hello new life.
8/8/03 ... on a thoughtful day, almost sexagenarian, shocking really. Mortality, death ... or worse, decrepit... and of course t'is only a matter of time; time that shoots-past, like these years have in memory. The question: not what have i accomplished but what will i and then can i? Thoughtful. The residual of anger at both the system and myself, almost laughable at this point since it's overt a whelming dread, the future's so damn unknown & unknowable, the wiggle-room of youth's over, every move counts against death's day coming. Yet/and each day seems more glorious than the last, bright-eager into tomorrow; even thoughtful/considerate, even into fear it's beginning, a new start like a fresh day. Sixty years old, just writing it i'm an old man. Too strange.
... well it's fact, now what? Might i be able to forego wanting to impress, as i've forgone kids, might i shift energy away from mental turbulence/turmoil of my own emotional self. Rather than accommodating being self-sufficient, humorous rather then sarcastic, thoughtful more than witty, kindly rather than worldly and tolerant more than anything, even sexy/interesting. At 60 what can i offer myself, what needs have i, what's necessary, what's extraneous, what will suffice? Most of the worldly goods i'd have think, including house/wife & career, all past the point at this point, but friends and friendships in common, holding myself to clarity, choosing and making the most of what's left; that seems the point exactly.
... life’s accordioned, a beginning at the end, polka twinged with dirge, time squeezed and what's left is starting again. Years ago would never have seen it thusly, not known that for each it's the same daily, death reduces the options, we are each & all faced with the same problem, to make/create/generate ourselves anew every day. As cliché as it sounds, it sounds right, right at this writing anyway. I'd have to think we all know this perfectly it's just the how, not the what that evades. So, do i come out a better human than i entered, does it matter, i come out weightless, able to float. Yet's a metaphor, the fact is slightly more complicated, as they always are, the fact is grounding's mandatory but grounding as in focus, not in the excesses nor even what's considered normal... as i'm past normal in all ways and have been always.
... no wife, no kids/grandkids, no baggage and no possessions either, only the responsibilities i chose to honor, cherish and obey. Maybe to the future, not so much as example --as i'm not one--but within the body of works, both art and friends, the companions immediately, the artworks as they go and become. I suppose we'd all like to be remembered for something, i as much as anyone, maybe more so; for the dreams we have awake, not those aslumber nor ones that failed, nor even those that didn't. Given that, there must come a time/place where the opportunity's so slight as to be nil and although we all hope it's not now --not today-- the expanse of being (and therefore doing) stitches closed the wound, scabbing over memory until a thin pink-line's left on the body-in-time. Memories potentiality resides in the future, or at least mine seems to... on this day when so much of what once looked possible came to be with unintended consequences; for better and/or worse till death do us part Amen. Married to Life... and a kiss. A beginning at the end as well as an ending, a freshness to begin across the threshold, carrying on. At 60 I can still do this; thoughtful and will.