Art is rapidly confusing me. I don’t know where I am or where I’m going with this modern day painting repetition. Is it a pastime for the delusional dreamer, outcast, rank failure of the social experiment? I can’t even tell if I’m a creative person any more, or if I ever was. And does it matter? Am I trying to impress, entertain, self-elevate? This morning I awoke with the desire to walk west with a backpack and good sneakers. But then I immediately thought about my pill regimen, and if I’d get too dizzy on the road after my heart got pumping. And then my mind jumped to the mountains and a rustic cabin without any people around. But that will cost money. Lots of money. What could I do to make lots of money? I am useless to the real world except as day laborer, or ticket-taker, elevator man, very short order cook… My wife is “working” upstairs as I write, as I am “working”, like any person is who is moving their fingers and toes and circulating blood. However, like billions of other human beings crummying up the planet, her work movements make money. She’s invested in the system, and it pans out, financially, although there are many trade-offs. For one, she’s locked down geographically, indoors, in perpetuity, while the brilliant spring sunshine greening the trees in the breeze is relegated to evenings and weekends—but only if clouds play nice. There is no walking west, nor a mountain cabin in our future.
Unless I sell a painting for an exorbitant sum. Then hope sneaks its little weasel nose in on reality, and I rise to levels of self-aggrandizement that only the great delusional fools of history have achieved.
You might already know how I price my work. There’s an equation I use that I think is fair and could be universal if we exterminated the billionaires.
Price = [W(wage • hours worked)] + M(materials + overhead) + Element “X” (W + M)
But I rarely follow it. Especially when it hangs in a Plebian gallery, all nicely framed and ready to share the mark-up spoils with the business owner—all for the generous rental space of painted wallboard so that equally confused passersby can view and judge and never buy, subjectively.
I give away paintings, or ask for a silver dollar, or bow my head way low like a beggar while taking money from a nice person who thought my equation a fair assessment of work by a living artist. I literally feel a rush of shame overcome me whenever I make the money exchange. That’s just not right. My gut instinct swears that art for sale ain’t art worth selling.
Oh and then there are those cheeky self-promoting painters who sell prints for $500 to middle class home decorators. That self-assurance makes my head spin, especially if the scam works for them. “How do they let their minds get away with it?” If that’s “the business”, then I want no part. But then I’m not so delicate either. You pay me $500 for something I made, and I’ll throw an old-fashioned ditch digging into the bargain. I like a good bit of pain with my creative work.
That’s the artist as masochist, and a big part of why I am leaving the world behind. More on this in a bit.
Art is not for sale, but we make it so because kings of old and billionaires of now have turned it into a horse race hobby amongst themselves, buying and selling to see who’s house is best. Museums and “high end” city galleries play along, and the peasant painters continue to embarrass themselves pretending their time will come. Yet we all know that for every single artist breakthrough, there are 10,000 left begging. Which, to me, means that the system is wildly dysfunctional. Not even a system, really. Might as well have the artist collect grass clippings and try to sell clumps at a Major League baseball game. One lucky vendor in a million might discover a rich dandy who’ll buy his grass to be ironic in order to impress another rich dandy, and then the two gigglys take it back up to their box seat and sniff it. However millions of grass-clipping mound makers will be left out time and again, and better find another use for their grass, or quit altogether, and join the Marines.
Art is not for sale. Not as a commodity anyway. The creative act does not end with the last coat of varnish. The “buyer” needs to continue the process, which will never see an end if the art has any intrinsic value. That’s a huge burden to put on someone for taking art expression from another and shouldering it. A kind of love act that can’t cost a cent. The new soul responsible for the life of your expression better love it, or you enough to manage a wall hanging for a lifetime. The middleman money is just an old-fashioned ritual and an annoying third wheel to take on any art venture.
So I am getting out of “the business”. I hope to officially break away by midsummer’s night and challenge myself thereafter to seek a life worth living. Time to abandon the Internet, and its unsocial social media. Maybe I’ll write letters again and send them with paintings because I shall always express myself gratuitously. I want to feel good and take in the beauty of what life I got left in me. I desire a wonder that stimulates, and mustn’t always end up expressed as a painting that strangers likelikelikelikelikelikelike in 2.5 seconds or less. I want more than anything to like you, and for you to like me, and I realize that can only be nurtured through society. So I’m not going recluse, just pre-Internet, like Thoreau or Kurt Cobain. Or even like that unknown fella you never heard of because he shut up when the time was right.
I plan to keep my studio and myself seated in it. I might even make it a local hot spot with an outdoor summer concert series and Thursday night garden parties. I live in beautiful suburbia, beside a Great Lake, and the sun is shining today. Just walk around back, and look for the Fuel Gallery sign. I’ll keep a bottle of good bourbon by the door. And if it’s a nice day, we’ll sit in the shade and sip. Peruse the studio for something to take home, and we’ll meet again as soon as you are ready.
For those subscribers who have donated to my newsletter, I hope it was worth your while. This was the first time I was ever paid up front for writing, and it felt real good. For those who live nearby, stop over and pick up a painting, please. Those far away, just message me a request and it’s yours. All readers, stop by any time and knock on the door. If I don’t recognize you, I might hide. But I know most of your faces and truly look forward to our meeting of the minds.
The Israeli government is committing war crimes as I write. When you see poverty, despair and ass cracks trolling up and down the streets outside of your invisible fence communities, and feel sad or embittered by the dystopic nation you’ve inherited, please think on the billions of tax dollars Congress denies your neighborhood to fund terror in East Jerusalem.
When you get really mad like me, and seek practical remedies to prevent occupying armies from murdering children, consider boycotting the only nuclear armed nation in the Middle East that occupies families of another nation and culture. I avoid Sabra hummus in my local supermarket, even when the deals are great, because it gives a percentage of its profits to the Israeli military mob bosses. I painted a recipe to help you make your own hummus at home. It’s really satisfying and super garlicky. Spread it on whole grain crackers, and oust the bigoted pretend Jesus crackers from your arrogant government.
Why not promise to support candidates for U.S. Congress who are against Apartheid, so you can feel good knowing you did your part keeping Palestinian intestines on the insides of Palestinian bodies.
My Congressperson encourages Apartheid. So I ran against him and lost in 2018. I must not have gotten the word out with enough verve to infuse consciences into the cold hearts of my neighbors. They’re very savvy voters. They can spot goodness coming from a mile away, and then they lock the doors and draw the curtains.
The United States is a rogue nation and is fast becoming a failed state. We’ve always had Apartheid here, however unlike our government’s commitment to Israel, no other nation sends us oodles of cash to keep it running.
Knowledge is not power. Noam Chomsky knows a lot about U.S. Foreign policy in the Middle East—more so than any person on earth probably. I wrote him a letter two decades ago about his failed lifelong effort to lessen the suffering for families of Palestine.
Okay Noam Chomsky, you’re old, yet still quite able to express your wits, verdad? Still thinking and writing and breathing in safety. No live weed-eater bomb hiding in your carport. So among denizens of earth you are quite safe and comfortable in your person. We agree on that. We shall not take that for granted.
Well here’s a dare I would ask you to consider. You possess the goodwill, strong ideals, noble aims... But the courage? We will have to see.
I dare you to save the brown, big-eyed child in Gaza presently kneading bread dough with his mommy in the kitchen. He sits on the floor pressing flat bread to fry. Seek him and save him. Right now. Today.
I demand that he occupy tomorrow.
Your books cannot help. This boy is no political reader. I am a reader. But I am younger than you. Therefore I should not have to help. Not yet. Intellectuals massaging their intellects on a figurative bed of nails hoping to change the world with thought, facts and opinion. I cannot stand for this delusion. You arrogant bastard Noam! You snot-nose! You stinker! You filthy mouth, dirty pen! What good are you to that sweet, innocent boy in the immediate now? Arundayuti Roy claims that you’re the loneliest man in America. Rat Piss. You have friends, contacts, acquantainces, students, publishers, editors, editor’s secretaries, bookstores, and six million readers, maybe more. YOU ARE NOT LONELY. Save the boy! Protect him. Keep him from danger. Without an immediate solution, he will be sent to the market with coins to purchase a bag of chick pea flour. He might skip on his merry way. Then he will be shot twice through the head by an Israeli soldier pig-filth.
This is your first chance after a life of wasting morality on cowards. Now is the time to prove to the world that you are any good at all. I want to know beyond a doubt that auto mechanics was not a wiser career choice for you. Please, for the sake of humanity, do not step foot on another plane en route to a country of eternal woe until you can secure a murder-free life for the little boy in Gaza. He is just one human being who needs an adequate solution.
Otherwise, pack up your fine international reputation, along with those voluminous hard copies of polemics, studies, and exposés, dig a deep hole, and throw all of that B.S. and yourself into it. Then have the trash heap set ablaze by an admiring fan. Without the promise of that boy’s happiness, you remain a poisonous vanity, who has endangered the lives of millions by unintentionally allowing your words to act against your own heart.
Save the doomed boy today or silence yourself, or kill somebody god damn you, or call on those who believe in you to avenge today’s suffering, and the coming onslaught of power which you predict.
You are an old man over seventy. Shall not all men of your age gradually become less visible and more reflective? Is it not your duty to family and society to prepare for an honorable death? After so much effort made exposing evil, have you not the will to save just one small boy before you die? For God’s sake man, knowing what you know, what intellectual soft blanket prevents you from foaming at the mouth? How can you not be screaming angry? Why not have your secretary schedule more flights to Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Paris...? Conference the rest of your life. Hotel room your last days. Podium bark atrocities that nobody will act upon. Write books decrying the WTO and get them distributed to the warehouses of Barnes and Noble, Inc. and Amazon dotcom. Have a ham sandwich and take out the garbage. You look to me like any other greedy plaque-seeker. How active you appear to be on paper, even at the same moment a little brown-eyed boy bleeds to death on a dusty road.
Many in the markets you write for are tomorrow’s sell-out monsters. A hundred dollar bill has a lot of pull in this world. What good are you to practice this trickle-down justice and compassion? Was the Palestinian boy on his way to a hotel in Brussels? I don’t think so. He went to play bounce-ball with his polite, clean-shaven, government oppressed and nightly terrorized father. Now he’s got two holes in his head. All your tireless book tour effort could not save him, let alone bring him another hour of life. Just one boy! The wrong of you Mr. Chomsky is that you try. You try and try. And their arteries and veins burst, their organs collapse, their gentle heads explode. You try, but the CEO still shits goose-liver pate. You try, and the U.S. President does everything in his power to prove that he is satan except say it. You try, and the earth is held hostage by nuclear proliferation and all machines that spew exhaust. You try like a desperate fool but the little boy in Gaza was dead before some hot bread came out of the oven.
Man, you could have been so many professions. A quiet janitor, bricklayer, birdwatcher; anything else really to remain socially stagnant and intellectually unobtrusive. You could have made a clandestine pact with knowledge, and saved your lust for judgement for the right time and place. No. You had to go and open up, let it out, prove to the majority that man is essentially coward through and through. Book and !ecture, speech and travel. Out with the bad, in with the good. Very early on, however, you must have come to the realization that the western man will not move an inch to save his own children, that he knows enough but just doesn’t care what happens to humanity as long as his life goes on very carefully, that there is a hollow space called his conscience, closed and locked up, at least for as long as his personal eternity can last. You realized long ago that the peaceful will never win outright. That is, provoke unconditional surrender from the death wielders. What began as mass murder, at best can only end in compromise. George Bush, Adolf Hitler, Ziggy the genocidal Swahili are free more often than not to enjoy their crimes to the utmost. They are powerful death contractors of no-conscience. The killing is done. It can be stopped for now, but not for yesterday. While you write and talk, children are murdered by your tax money, by the tax money of the institution you work for, the tax money of your publishers, distributors, colleagues, secretaries, friends, relatives, even your own children are killing all over the globe with their taxes. The peace we honor in writing or with activism is a great sham, as you must already know. Yet there is still a way to honor the innocent children of this world. With one brave act, the honorable Noam Chomsky could do more good for the small boy in Gaza than a virtual mountain of his writings could ever accomplish in real time.
Now that you have some idea what I am talking about, put that overworked noodle of yours to better use. Secure the real advantage of just one incredibly disadvantaged human child. Make the act complete, thoroughly supporting it if you must. Post-publish reasons, planning, practice, execution. With your status at seventy I foresee your easy entry into the right room at the right time. Conceal your true intentions, but wear a heavy winter coat. After so many years, and such colossal failure, it’s time to release the real Noam with a breathtaking ceremonial boom. For without it, you’re just another interesting book to read, another vanity to talk about now and then while we wait for the concrete stage of Armageddon to set.
I respect your peace and I pity our world.
Next week I’ll take us through the steps of going anonymous. There are too many links to my Google name. I hope to erase them all! Must get back to basics, become the happy zero like the worm.
Thanks for reading!