Friday, February 18, 2011

Whistling pretty songs

My work is that of finding connections between vast spaces of emptiness. I am on constant watch for those things that seem to somehow synthesize the disparate and seemingly meaningless moments of daily life. I am a an investigator, in search of proof.
 As a child I did not question my  life. I simply believed in the myths that I was given. I went to Sunday school for my soul and public school for my mind. I was loved by my family and had many freinds. A life of rich relations, comfort and success was my heritage. I found all the promises glorious, and had no reason to doubt, I  had faith in the infinity of the earth and took solace in the immortality of my soul. I was the product of American 1950s idealism, a true believer.
As I got a little older the turmoil of the sixties began to rock my proverbial boat and Donna Read gave way to images of Viet Nam and Civil Rights marches. I began to question. Lingering insecurity began its  job of deterioration.
At my home we had crisis of our own and soon my Father would leave the happy household  for another apparently happier one. So, undying love, family above all, blood over money? Scams, all of them, nothing but air, cliches. What then was real?.
I began to send out messages, prayers, desparate pleas, searching need, they all told me that Jesus would hear, he would listen and he would respond  He had after all, died for me, he loved me and would undoubtedly be there if only I tried hard enough to reach out. I had many questions for Jesus and so I in my childish voice sent out prayers of pure and naiive simplicity, prayers that only a true heart could utter. I prayed long and hard to the blond sweet faced barefoot man I had seen in the Golden books and on the Sunday School posters in the childrens room. I needed answers about his bigger plan, surely there must be one. And so Ibegan with all of my young earnest effort to say the right words, I tried the ones I had been taught and I tried my own ,I sang the songs and worked to purify my thoughts,still none got through.
My freinds, my cousins,my family all seemed to have secret personal relationships with the almighty but I was ignored..
Eventually I decided that either Jesus was a lie like Santa Claus or a sort of  comforting idea like a Teddy Bear to hold on to at night. Either way he wasnt there, not for me. I watched and listened for clues to what it all meant. Discovering no path to Jesus I concluded that they all were in on the conspiracy, it was a plot and I was an outsider.
 Jesus asked me, "Are you saved? I didnt know what that meant, but Jimi (aka Hendrix) asked " Are you experienced?" To that I could relate.
So life my adolescence became about living from one moment to the next, making enough noise and commotion to fill the empty spaces. I was fine as long as nothing stopped, so I kept on moving. TV, music,drugs, parties, the opposite sex, and the buzz of life created enough static to avoid the vacancy I saw in the mirror.
Eventually I settled into some patterns, found things  I liked,  people I could tolerate and a way of life that seemed, well  if not the American Dream, at least full of surprises and moments of ecstatic joy and along the way somewhere I discovered the beauty of silence.
At some point it became clear to me that all those people and institutions and books that had made all those declarations of truth and absolution were just lies, they were all just whistling pretty songs. Their deception was not evil or devious, instead they whistled as a way to feel peace, music can do that you know, a temporary solace.
 Now with the very earth in peril, my children's children's lives unsure and nothing safe to hang a dream on , I love and I make art. I look and listen, read, write and watch.  I collect and synthesize, seeking out even the vaguest of connections. Serendipity is my faithful servant, the sound of the ocean, the sun on my face, the touch of my loyal lover, the only proof  I look for now.
My art is about the re-assimilation of fragmentation.The underlying armatures continue to break in front of my eyes but in the spaces that sometimes appear I  find moments of peace. I cant for the life of me quite remember the tunes of those old pretty songs  and in their absence I find a silence.  It is the emptiness of ongoing pain and endless stife of living.
I have a constant need to build and repair the damage even as it continues in front of my eyes. It is my essential quest, to repair, to patch, to build .The work never ends but with enough effort I am able to piece together something, enough to hang my life on.