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A History of Art in the Western World: Or God Bless You, Barry Goldwater


"The year is gone, let him go," wept Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The earliest moment of my existence that I can recollect is of myself, approximately age 4, searching a clear and blue skyline in Northeastern Ohio. I am not wearing a jacket. I seem to see myself from the outside and, because of this, I wonder if it is a true memory or some random thoughts combined together to create what I believe to be a memory. My memory reminds me of a Lichtenstein painting…a combined image from dots and lines, falsifying truth.

My second earliest memory is of reading comic books in my room. My room was part of a converted attic, with western-style swinging doors. I remember reading comic books. Bang. Pow. Biff. Bang. Bang. Bang. As I stand in Las Vegas, at the Bellagio, I am looking at a Lichtenstein painting. Crack! Now, mes petits…Pour la France! There is also some video and sound art from Bill Viola. To me, this is garbage. This isn't art. It's a travesty of the senses. Behind the Bill Viola is a soundsuit from Nick Cave. This is worse than garbage. Garbage created Mr. Sparkle. This is a random ordering of chaotic ideas into something that becomes more chaotic than the original pieces. It is entropy leading to greater entropy at a rate of catastrophic failure. It sickens me.

Barry Goldwater once said that, "a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have." He also famously stole the Latin phrase of Marcus Cicero and raped it brutally, spitting it back to the Republican Convention in 1964. The Romans also fancied frescoes and nude male sculptures. Many of these are Hellenistic copies of ancient Greek works, much in the same way that our democracy is a copy of the ancient Greeks. Pliny the Elder, in 'Naturalis Historia,' became one of our most important sources of information on the ancient arts. But they are all interpretations of our internal emotions. Well, not that soundsuit. It is truly an awful, pitiful thing. Like some kind of dredging rat nuisance, scratching the tip of your penis.

In 2010 (MMX to our Latin friends), I accomplished nothing, absolutely nothing. Most of my memories include buying groceries and standing in line for a movie. In the Year of the Tiger, I was no more than a dik-dik. A timid, worthless little antelope creature hiding frightened in the dark of the jungle. Eaten by tigers. And large snakes. It was the year of William Blake and I was the little lamb lost. Herni Rousseau did not paint ‘Scared and Useless Antelope Living in Barstow.' Bang. Pow. Biff. Bang. He was also a Frenchman.  I have no memories of France or anything French, other than a kiss. Some wine. Bang. Pow. Biff. Bang. ‘Ceci n'est pas une pipe.'

Barry Goldwater continued, "You don't have to be straight to be in the military, you just have to shoot straight."

Fozzy Bear replied, "Waka. Waka. Waka."

"The revolution is my boyfriend," the Raspberry Reich muttered. It was a cold day and the wind whistled through the foggy hills. Abel Magwitch looked on with a sinister grin. He scratched his grizzled, British chin with his meaty fingers, reeking of gin and the filth of London sewers. "Is this art?" he wondered. "Is this art?

vitruvianman_632814957.jpgLeonardo di ser Piero da Vinci may have been a homosexual. As a young man he was accused of sodomy but acquitted in a legal court. Sodomy was illegal in Italy at the time. There is irony about the Catholic church and the illegality of sodomy in there somewhere. I once owned a shirt with a picture of the ‘Vitruvian Man' on it. I proudly wore this nude man through years of college, on dates, and to intimate family outings. It cost me two dollars at a thrift store. Susan Dorothea Man created ‘Sex Change of the Vitruvian Man' which was just a woman. Why the long title? It is art. Bill Viola is not. "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" might be art but only because the director also directed "Wild Things." Hot lesbians are always art. I have no real memories of hot lesbians. I do, however, recall a dirty, neo-hippie lesbian I referred to as ‘Nappy Roots.' Her breasts, though large, sloshed around in her shirt, unvarnished and free. Then flapped and smacked her rib cage with a sweaty splat as she walked. I am sure, had I have seen them on a Biblical level, they would unfurl downward, teats pointing to the earth from whence her medical herbs are grown.

In 2011, I will make changes. I will collect art. I will complete movies and articles and do those things I love. I said this about 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2006. In 2007, I was deeply depressed and had no time for such petty things as existing. 

Oscar Wilde quipped, "Mortality, like art, means drawing a line someplace." The foppish dandy then strolled, nonchalantly, through a courtyard full of cornflowers and daisies. A feather drifted by. At long last, he believed, the robots would come. And with their android grasp, perhaps…art? Bang. Pow. Biff. Bang. Bang. 

In 2011, Year of the Rabbit, I hope my memories will be sparse. Memories are nothing of meaning, just faint glimpses on old televisions of rattle and hum. No. I want the scars. I want to exist in ‘Guernica.' Tortured, anguished and free. Bang. Pow. Biff. Bang. 

"Did you do that?" the Nazi wondered.

"No," replied Picasso. "You did."

"Nazis," retorted Indiana Jones. "I hate these guys."

Yes, for me, 2011 will be the Year of 'Guernica.' My body will wither, burn, and crease. My soul will spit and writhe and convulse in a beautiful hue of gray-green. And this will be wondrous. Erotic and quietly beautiful. Bill Viola, however, will still look like a bloody cock-lover. Fuck his non-art. Art? Charles Ng was a visual artist, too. He mixed sound and video to create something greater and, in doing so, devastated lives. He was a monster and the result was as if Satan himself had filmed "Avatar." 

"Here's to you," Charles Ng pleaded, "and to 2011, Year of the Rabbit."

Or had he confused ‘Night of the Lepus' for the Year of the Rabbit? I wondered, calmly, and clutched my rifle in the dark. They had come for me. It was 1984, after all, and it would be a good year on the farm. The chickens were plump from all the fallen grain and the crop yield was strong, brave. Into the night I rode and into the night I cried. The year of the rabbit would not be my undoing, no. I will come for you and to the ends of the earth. But, alas, the earth is a circle and thus has no ends. Unless you are in the Flat Earth Society. 

school_of_athens2_762783566.jpgI am left, looking at Raphael's ‘The School of Athens,' in the night that I brought unto myself in the rain-soaked Southern California December. The central figures by the Renaissance master are Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle points to the ground, emulating his empiricist views. Plato points upwards, for his truth is in the sky. I do not point. I am writing a book, lower left of the foreground, in my pink and white ensemble. Most scholars would tell you this figure is merely Pythagoras. But, oh no, ‘twas me and ‘twere well it were done quickly. For this painting, in the Year of the Rabbit, I will weep. I will philosophize and think; and think again. Bang. Pow. Biff. Bang.

"The year is gone, let him go," wept Alfred, Lord Tennyson. "Ring out the false, ring in the true." Quietly he crept toward the door and barred it. A cold wind had crept in and a mouse squeaked. 

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