9th - 15th Mar 2019
- Franz Kline
You had not expected this, the bedroom gone white, the astronomical light pummeling you in a stream of fists.
Fuck that poem.
* * *
Édouard Levé started painting in 1991. In 1995 he returned home and took up photography, but only after burning all of his previous work.
In Outrenoir Pierre Soulages says when he works for too long on a canvas that he does not like, he destroys it. To destroy each painting he burns them.
A painting starts and develops only to collapse, and he collapses with it.
Luc Tuymans spends only one day on each piece. If it is not acceptable the next morning the work is destroyed. The other fate, being accepted by the dealer, is arguably a worse fate for a piece of art.
Wittgenstein destroyed every copy of Tractatus by writing philosophical investigations.
John Baldessari burned
in a morgue
he painted since 1953.
Max Brod was instructed to burn Kafka's papers. He betrayed his friend and gave the world his literature.
Hickory High School senior Chad Loefell burned his prize-winning charcoal anatomy study (“Minotaur at Dusk”) in the driveway of his stepfather’s home in West Middlesex while drinking a can of Blatz beer he’d stolen from the garage mini fridge. He had been feeling extremely lonely.
@sadgurl69 once deleted a tweet with over 200 retweets after waking up and seeing a typo. When she sends the same tweet with correct grammar over morning coffee, no one retweeted it. It got 3 likes.
Infamous serial arsonist John Orr at the height of his activities in the 1980s once tried his hand at poetry. He wrote a rhyming sonnet. Dissatisfied with the result, he crumpled up the paper and disposed of it in an ordinary fashion.
In 1982, kindergartener Billy-Ryan Crumpet drew an exact replica of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” (1893) with Crayola crayons — without ever having seen “The Scream.” Then he vomited chocolate milk all over it. Scarred, he never drew again. He was allergic to milk. He became a beekeeper and a lonely old bachelor when he was 11 years old.
Sick of having to transport his giant mural, Miró asked close friends to destroy his painting “El segador“. They had a party and ate their food from scraps of the stone wall.
In South Pasadena, a member of the Denver Lane Bloods named Konfuze used spray paint to create a lifelike tableau of Christ’s crucifixion on the side of a bus. When the bus garnered media attention, Konfuze distanced himself from its creation. The bus was later found torched, an unidentified body inside.
Tenzin created a sand mandala in the concourse of a Midwestern shopping mall. Day after day the sun rose and set unseen on his efforts. On the seventh day, on its completion, he dragged a rake through the mandala’s centre. Kyle from the vape kiosk sat on a stool nearby and texted his drug dealer.
Jack Kerouac wrote the original draft of “On the Road” on a roll of toilet paper in five hours in a basement in Denver high on mushrooms. He wrote in nearly invisible handwriting. Also tripping were Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady and a stripper/cigarette girl and a rodeo clown with a broken arm. Kerouac took a cigarette break with the stripper. He asked her for a ciggy-boo but was too nervous to ask for a kiss. Ginsberg got sick and ran to the bathroom and grabbed the roll of toilet paper on his way. He wiped his ass on the tale. And flushed it. Cassady calmed everyone down but explaining it was all a hallucination and Denver itself was a hallucination, and then he started a threesome with the woman and the rodeo clown while Ginsberg and Kerouac sang a song about a train.
Jimmy Rustler carved the first version of Mount Rushmore into a hill in North Dakota. Three faces. Each face was Elmer Fudd. He blew it - and himself - up with dynamite.
Wanda Xeres sang an aria to a newborn lamb. Enrapt is the ecstasy of her own voice, she failed to notice the barn was burning. As they raked away the ashes, they swore heard the embers of music.
Carl made a clay pot. He looked at it and thought “this kind of sucks actually.” The destroyed it with a hammer and went to the bowling alley. He bowled a 178 and had the nachos.
In the gulag, a guard gave Fyodor a chance to escape if he could write a poem that made the guard’s wife love him again. Fyodor couldn’t. He spent the next 29 years hauling timber.
MC Escher drew a maze. He got lost inside and never found his way out.
Brusca sculpted an egg. The sculpture was so perfect it turned into an actual egg. Brusca became an embryo inside the egg. The next morning, his wife made an omelette out of the egg. “Breakfast! Brusca, breakfast!” she shouted from the kitchen. She never found him. The omelette went uneaten. She later remarried. The milk man.
To try and justify his painting method, Monet would tell his peers about his glassy-suffering from early onset cataracts. When people learned to love the impressionist movement for what it was, Monet stuck to his guns; walking into door frames during exhibits and kissing the wrong women at dinner parties. Alice used this as an excuse to leave Monet, and poor Claude was left spending his evenings with Camille. For many years Monet would dream of drowning himself with his lilies.
Deep within the abyss that Midwestern America was spiralling into, a teenage poet named Michael was sharing poetry about loving his dog while being viscerally online with other far-too-online poets on gchat. Lucidity was rejecting his body. His blood was more oxycodone than haemoglobin. Then, a hand grenade was dropped inside the chatroom. Suddenly Michael had been sharing his poetry with demons who were revealed to be sexually preying on young people, like him. He would have torched Poetry with a Molotov if he could. He kept writing. He threw away all of his Percocet. He never talked to another poet again. His poetry didn't deserve the world and its evils. He only wrote for his eyes so he could protect it.
Daily the three kids slid magnetic poetry around on the side of the refrigerator. It was a perfect trifle. Each morning Mom regarded it silently, looking forward to the day’s offerings, wondering which phrases might endure. None of the resulting verses could be attributed to any one mind. Occasionally Mom became aware of all the dead time that had been enriched by the words there—-pouring a glass of milk, peeling an orange. The three kids spending their energy without seeking attribution, then heading off to school. Mom absorbed all of this. Suddenly it weighed heavy on her somehow. The anonymous words and unobserved participation should have been about joy. And of course it was joyful. Of course it was. She walked to the bathroom with her coffee and imagined she looked the way a tax cheat must look heading off to that first day of jail. Shocked, confused, disbelieving. She closed herself in the bathroom and cried on the toilet.
Dimitri wrote a two-word poem on the wings of a Japanese beetle under magnification. He cupped the insect in his hands and walked across town and released it into the rose bushes of a woman he adored. When he would drive past her house, he delighted that she did not know what had changed.
A man, bitter from a lifetime of feeling rejected begins to keep a diary on Twitter. He sends into the world his every thought. It feels like a form of therapy. A way to monitor his hateful impulsions. The threads of anger are relatable, and the man finds out for the first time, people are reaching out to him. They feel like they have found someone who suffers similarly. Immediately the man locks his account, making it private. He blocks every account that he had gained along the way. He stops tweeting and goes to the local bar. He orders a drink and tells the staff how he is Twitter famous. They give no discount, and he leaves no tip. The women he talks to all leave for the bathroom. Back at home, he unlocks his account and tweets about being a failure. No one reads it.
A young man records his face every day for five years, then creates a super cut and releases it to the internet. His family supports him. His boyfriend supports him. His coworkers support him. The resulting video goes viral. The experience is so overwhelmingly depressing he cannot leave bed for three days. He contemplates suicide. When he recovers, he does not speak of the incident to anyone.
A teenage girl loses her shoe in Lake Erie. Her father is upset and tells her to write an essay about taking care of her things. She writes it on her parents’ bedroom door. During her grounding, she writes laments on the soles of every shoe in her closet, binds the laces together, and flings them at the tree outside her window where they dangle and lilt in the breeze.
A yellow vapour of terror hovered over Gauguin and his adolescent Tahitian girlfriend. A warm breeze rippled their curtains. The stone eyes of the little icon in the corner lit up, and Gauguin arose and went to his canvas in progress. He picked up a brush and made a ghostly form in the upper right-hand corner. His girlfriend moaned in her sleep. She was dreaming of millions of fish dying on the shore. It wasn’t a nightmare - it was a peaceful dream of death. Gauguin began to work. A title came to him through the yellow vapour: A Peaceful Dream of Death. Then he felt feverish. He drank a glass of warm water. He looked at the moonlight milky on the young girl’s naked back. He put his brush down. A yellow vapour erased his mind. He became a rectangle and slid over the horizon. His girlfriend woke up, and he was gone. Twenty francs on the table, a glass of warm water, a brush, an incomplete canvas, a letter and a razor was all that remained of him. She yawned. He always was a strange man.
Baby Mikey drew a birdie. He hated the way the birdie looked. He scribbled over it until he ripped through the paper. That was better.
Mog was awakened from hypersleep by the gentle chime of the craft’s orbital entry alarms. He had dreamt he was a painter. In his dream he was prolific. As he gazed at the image of main-sequence star 65 Avem C he realized it would be weeks before the rest of the crew awakened. He checked life support systems, then, to pass the time, he searched the recreation area and was pleased to find art supplies. As he settled in to mark the canvass, he realized it was possible that he might be the first sentient creature in this solar system to create art. He weighed the significance of this against the significance of the achievements in science and technology the craft represented—-firsts, surely. But he did not feel solely responsible for that. He was merely a circuit in those systems, not their architect. He found he could not enact his will on the canvass, and so discarded it, blank, and even still it had been the greatest work of art ever produced in the solar system, a purity like light itself.
Tao Lin wrote a sequel to Richard Yates called Lydia Davis using the TextEdit app on his MacBook Pro. It was six hundred thousand words long and examined, in incredible detail, the deep intricacies of Tao's life in unendingly clear and concise terms. It detailed highly minute aspects regarding his relationships with his childhood friends, his parents, his brother, and his various lovers. It also laid out a utopian vision for the role of art and science in daily life, a disarmingly nuanced examination of being an American citizen, and a protracted, evocative, first-person narrative of the birth, life, and speculative death of his parents' poodle Dudu. He smoked DMT and threw the laptop into a dumpster. He considered not buying another laptop. He didn't mention any of this in his book Trip, except for the part about throwing the MacBook Pro in the dumpster.
An old man sat on a park bench, crying. He couldn't remember why.
At the Cleveland zoo, a gorilla named Frito threw a handful of shit at the glass of his enclosure. Spectators noted that the configuration of shit bore an uncanny resemblance to Andy Warhol’s Banana. Lots of pictures were taken before the zookeepers were able to clean the glass. Frito spent the remainder of the afternoon watching Animal Planet and masturbating.
Jamie Washington drank a large cold brew coffee and walked the two miles home from his shitty job at the clothing store by the coffee place. He composed the perfect suicide note in his head. It touched on all of the biggest problems in his life and revolved around a very solid metaphor about a bicycle that he kept returning to. When he got home, he stood in his pantry eating wheat thins for twenty minutes, forgot all the important parts of the suicide note in his head, and fell asleep early. He went to work the next day, and the next day, and the next, and so on.
After the Arena emptied out and the air was silent, empty beer cups and hotdog wrappers still under the seats, Karl Malone made 100 straight three-pointers and did a 360 tomahawk dunk from half-court. Then he went home and drank 35 beers and played Moonlight Sonata perfectly — except for the very last hit. He struck a bad Gm7. YOU MOTHERFUCKING IDIOT KARL FUCK YOU. YOUR’E NOTHING. JORDAN IS OUT THERE DUNKING ACROSS THE PACIFIC RIGHT NOW. IDIOT. It was his way. He was a relentless perfectionist.
In Heaven, right now, because in Heaven time is meaningless, Antonio Salieri is eating dinner in a fancy restaurant with all of his old students when in walls Mozart. The restaurant falls silent. The two men look at each other. Mozart walks over. You could carve stone with their expressions. Then suddenly they both break out into big grins and grasp hands in a bro grip across the table like Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator. After Mozart leaves, Salieri tops off everyone’s wine and can’t seem to stop staring at the tablecloth.
I had written a really cool and long paragraph for the stream this week. It was about my favourite painter, Franz Kline, and an alternate history of his last days painting, how he spent ten, fifteen, twenty hours a day painting these giant, beautiful, monolithic works. He was framing them as the shadows projected in his head by the light of his memories against his struggles with pain, addiction, and romance. Each work was breathtaking, and each one nearly killed him. He was pouring his paint as if it were his soul. Just dumping himself physically and emotionally onto these massive canvases. Gallon after gallon of black paint intricately scraped over gallon and gallon of every other colour he could remember, imagine, and invent. It was a violent, protracted, obsessive undertaking, and, ultimately, it killed him. In my account, he died face down on a blank canvas. I surprised myself with the imagery and how it made me feel on rereading it, how it felt like exactly what I set out to write, or, no, better than I could have planned, better than I ever thought I could write. I brought myself to tears by how perfectly I had done justice to this important figure in my life, how succinctly I had captured his life and work and the way I carried it around in my heart. But by the time I hit the button to post it, my internet had cut out, and it never went through. It simply never got posted. It was like I had never even written it. It was just gone. And I couldn't bring myself to try again, as I knew that I would simply be unable to recreate the magic with which I had so thoroughly enchanted myself. So I wrote the one about the old man instead.
An old man crying on a park bench suddenly ran out of tears. His sadness evaporated. It happened at the precise realization that there was no way to tell if he was a real person or not.
During halftime of the Vikings vs Bears game, Randy Bush made the GREATEST NACHOS KNOWN TO MAN. A triumph of melted cheese, jalapeños, tortilla chips, onions, salsa and seasoned beef. He sat on his recliner and enjoyed his nachos as hos Viking beat the shit out of the Bears. He even won $100. That’s it. His heart kept beating.
Later he died. Just like you will.