‘No path to heaven / except through this dirt’

My title is from the poem by Philip Metres, “Never Describe the Sky as Azure,” in Poetry, September 2021.

A Reservation Over the Fist

Resisting the repressive Texas governocracy is of the essence. Are fisting poses ginned up for camera bytes effective for that?

Organizing and training specialist with Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Barbie H. leads a chant during the “Bans Off Our Bodies” protest at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas on September 1, 2021. Credit… Montinique Monroe for The New York Times. [Photo from Maureen Dowd, “Drowning Our Future in the Past,” NYTimes, 9-4-21]

Where Poetry Is Dangerous

… In cracking down on free expression, the authorities have muzzled the region’s poets, practitioners of a centuries-long tradition.

(Sameer Yasir, “As Kashmir Crackdown Endures, Poets Stifle Their Verses,” NYTimes, 9-4-21)
“We are not allowed to breathe until and unless we breathe as per the rules and the wishes of the government,” said Zabirah, a Kashmiri poet who uses only one name. Credit… Showkat Nanda for The New York Times.

The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

… A website set up to facilitate enforcement of [Texas “heartbeat bill”] SB 8… invited users to upload “evidence” that SB 8 was being violated, while guaranteeing users’ anonymity…

(Jon Michaels and David Noll, “We Are Becoming a Nation of Vigilantes,” NYTimes, 9-4-21)
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Commentary, Quotations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Le Coeur A Ses Raisons Que la Raison Ne Connaît Point

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/09/10/heres-conflict-it-had-to-come/ )

He was an oddity in the Rhipidistian peerage: a patrician who chafed under the yoke of privilege and pose. Siddhartha Huff knew in his bones that he was a left-handed entity in a right-handed body. Sidd was a political animal from even before he realized it. The honor he held as Shootist for the Posse of Matrons awakened him instinctually. It brought him edgewise to the very crotch of Isthmian pow. Each year’s Heritage Ball whose dais pose he captured caused the earth to move for the desultory flaneur that Sidd had become.

Sidd believed he had the puckish gumption to transition to a Mamasutra if he dealt his cards right. He was prepared to play the long game. On one hand it would give him a shot at achieving Posse rank, the ne plus ultra of pow in the duchy. On another, it afforded respite from his partisan dysphoria and the maunderings of bilgeweed vapers in the clubby opprobrium dens of Mar-a-Gogo.

A sense of urgency to act on his thrust was gripping Sidd. He intuited an approaching climax to the figment in which he figured, to be followed by the sad satiety of dénouement. Coiled plot momentum propelled him to ride the crest of the moment to whatever desertified barrens it stranded him on. This mess started with a yacht wreck and would surely end just as badly, but end it must, he theorized.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Anthology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“I’m Trying to Overwhelm the Museum,” He Said

Adam Pendleton with “Untitled (We Are Not),” 2021, silkscreen ink on canvas, at the Museum of Modern Art… Credit…Lelanie Foster for The New York Times.

[Adam] Pendleton, 37, is best known as a painter of abstract canvases in a distinctive black-and-white style that challenge how we read language. Made using spray-paint, brush and silk-screen processes, they incorporate photocopied text, words unmoored from context, letters scrambled and repeated.

“Untitled (Hey Mama Hey),” 2021, silkscreen ink on Mylar sheet… Credit… Adam Pendleton.

… Adrienne Edwards, the director of curatorial affairs at the Whitney Museum… called his work a “lush Conceptualism”… But the work is never easy. Pendleton claims for his art the privilege — the necessity — that the French Caribbean scholar Édouard Glissant called the right to opacity: to not be legible, to not have to explain oneself.

Pendleton constructing his 60-foot-tall installation, “Who Is Queen?” in MoMA’s atrium… Credit… Lelanie Foster for The New York Times.

“I’m fine with being misunderstood,” he said. “You can see it in my work — these fields of stuttering language. It’s a refusal, but it’s an invitation at the same time.”

Pendleton’s newest series of paintings at MoMA is “Untitled (They Will Love Us, All of Us Queens),” 2021… Credit…Adam Pendleton.

[The exhibition] “Who Is Queen?” is prompted by a challenge to the personal identity of the artist, who is Black and gay — the expression “you’re such a queen,” once tossed at him in a way that got under his skin… Perhaps characteristically, rather than dwell on the microaggression, Pendleton made it the prompt for his broad inquiry into how easily the social urge to categorize takes root and constrains hard-won freedoms. “… I think that’s what draws us to art; at its best it’s other [My emphasis — JMN], it’s outside of those fixed and finite spaces.”

(Siddhartha Mitter, “Adam Pendleton Is Rethinking the Museum,” NYTimes, 9-11-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Quotations | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here’s Conflict. It Had To Come

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/09/06/rubber-of-aspire-meets-highway-of-dream/)

His mansion sprawled in the sunny uplands; his larder bulged with premium ancillary protein; the flower of lab produce was carted daily to his kitchens; his chef staff conjured shakshukas and bibimbaps for him at the drop of a hat; his thés dansants were legendary among the Four Hundred; he stroked a mean putt on the Mar-a-Go-Golf pastures; he rubbed classy elbows at The Gentleman’s Club.

What more could Siddhartha Huff want that wasn’t proffered in spades by accident of birth? The answer was pow. Sidd craved it in the worst way. He and his Rhipidistian cronies had all the pose in the world, but they lacked pow. The terms of the co-griftership handed down by the Better Monday Agreement — the magna carta of Isthmia — were crystal: pose to the Rhips, pow to the Mamas, fifty-fifty skim divvy, nominy dominy amen.

The Montmorencys’ clench on the precedency had relieved Rhips of the burden of figurehead choice. They had capitalized on lack of purpose to play, eat, drink, bet and hang at Mar-a-Gogo. The obesity thing crept up on them. When they realized they had a problem, it dawned that the Mamasutras held all the patents on SlenderTech ™. Siddhartha Huff was the sole one of their number to perceive how this would alter the delicate balance of greed in the land.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Anthology | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

‘Distraught Toddler’

This gallery contains 1 photo.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

More Galleries | Tagged | Leave a comment

Rubber of Aspire Meets Highway of Dream

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/09/03/the-shot-that-broke-the-wuhwuhwuh/)

Siddhartha Huff was dubbed official Shootist for the Shot. The Posse of Matrons’ totemic dais pose, captured with campy barbarism by the primeval “camera” at the annual ball, wreathed with an old-school aura the fashionist selfocracy sustained by ectomies of the ding-peopled organ donor substrate. Unbeknownst but to Nick and now to you, the Shootist honor brought Sidd closer to his secret goal of transitioning to a Mamasutra.

Nick assumes you’ve done a spit-take on your kombucha here. Yes, you heard right: transition to Mamasutra. This starkly linear revelation clamors for shading and modeling, Nick realizes.

As a scion of the Beni Huff, Sidd should have been solid as The Rock in his Rhipidistian identity. He was a birthrightful paragon of the overlordship. He came from a biological line of Rhips who voted rancidly with old money. His ancestor had been one of the wordsmiths of the Magnificat of Prismatic Multiplication, the sacral text of donorism and dispositive scripture of state. It will come as no surprise that Sidd held the prestigious chair of Elective History at the Heritage Foundation. Why would such a personage wish to undertake the arduous transmigration from Rhip to Mamasutra? Was doing so even possible physically, nay psychically? These are the questions that burn your tongue, hypothetical reader, mon semblable, ma soeur.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Anthology | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Shot That Broke the WuhWuhWuh

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/08/29/on-the-origin-of-specials-a-treatment-of-privilege/)

The WWW could have called itself something more sayable, such as GEEP (Globally Extensive Electronic Pasture), or EARPP (EArth-Ranging People Platform), or MAGA (Multi-Access Grandstand Arcade), or you make one up.

During the parlous era of the squabbles, Montmorency IV — May he romp with potentates in astral splendor — plundered a “camera” in a hostile takeover, gifted the artifact to the lineage of Saint Chuck — May he dally in glory with the cream of gopis — which donated it to the Museum of Ancient Technology. Intense study of the device enabled MAT restorers to recreate the long-lost process of two-dimensional imaging.

At the next splashy Posse Ball hosted by the Matrons in their own honor, a bureaucrat named Siddhartha Huff pointed the “camera” curiously at the Posse’s climactic dais pose. The retro 2-D image that emerged charmed the Matrons. It went viral. The WuhWuhWuh exploded with hateful banter over how to decode the bizarrely flat picture plane. The Shot became an unlikely annual ritual and a potent symbol of the Posse’s project to shellack the present with a patina of yesteryear.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Anthology | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

‘A Way of Understanding Who You Are’

Salman Rushdie is set to publish a series of works on the digital subscription platform Substack. Photograph: Benedict Evans/The Guardian.

“Human beings have always been storytellers and you use that as a way of understanding who you are, and who the people around you are, and what’s going on,” he says. “If I look back, which I don’t very often, the books do seem to be like reports from different stages of my consciousness. I think most of us do that – we all tell each other stories all the time.”

(Shelley Hepworth, “‘I guess I’m having a go at killing it’: Salman Rushdie to bypass print and publish next book,” theguardian,com, 9-1-21)

Building on Rushdie’s insight, I posit that some of us tell stories to ourselves in striving to adumbrate the imago that skulks in mirrors. What else can excuse my figments?

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Anthology, Commentary, Quotations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter Bradley: ‘What’s Important Is the Color’

Bradley’s “Midnight Moon,” from 2020, acrylic, pumice and sponge on canvas. Credit…Peter Bradley and Karma.

“In person, Bradley is warm, refreshingly irreverent, unapologetic, and potty mouthed.”

From left, Helen Winkler, an art historian; Peter Bradley, the artist and curator; Kenneth Noland, the painter, and Clement Greenberg, the influential critic, in Houston in 1971. Greenberg came as a guest but ended up helping install the show. Credit… Menil Archives/Menil Collection; Hickey-Robertson, Houston.

Bradley was among a handful of Black artists, along with [Sam] Gilliam, [Ed] Clark and Williams, making abstract work in the late 1960s and 1970s. Now as then he vehemently opposes figuration, including “stupid figurative Black art. A bunch of slaves on boats,” he said.

Bradley’s studio is a shipping container parked near the house. He first pours waters on canvases to help adhere the paint. A finished painting, hanging, became two works, “So What This Is It” and “Train.” Credit… Douglas Segars for The New York Times.

“I feel like I am composing music,” he said, seated on a Steinway stool, with Count Basie playing softly in the background. There are no paint brushes in sight. Instead, Bradley uses his hands, wooden sticks and an electric paint mixer to stir colors in plastic buckets. He then pours the concoction onto the wet surface of a canvas.

An unfinished abstract painting by Bradley inside his home in Saugerties. Credit… Douglas Segars for The New York Times.

“Look outside. Look how abstract it is out here,” Bradley said, looking at the garden. “Before you see any plants, you see the color. What’s important is the color. Nothing else.”

(Katya Kazakina, “Is Peter Bradley Ready for Round 2 in the Limelight,” NYTimes, 8-27-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Quotations | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

‘On the Origin of Specials’: A Treatment of Privilege

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/08/26/the-velvetizing-of-the-manacles/)

We pause a moment to acknowledge the figmentary birthday of Wally, Lord Fuchs, a foundering father of the trifecta that groomed Isthmia. — O Isthmia of temps perdu, whose sorry plight we strive to misconstrue!

From the moment the future lord’s yacht took on water, forcing him to swim to shore, he began scribbling a new business plan on scraps of salvaged bandwidth. After his evolution from hedge fund manager fallen on end times to co-titan of a moribund hegemony, his treatise “On the Origin of Specials: A Treatment of Privilege” became the constituting mission statement of Isthmia Inc, the tiny republic.

Lord Fuchs’s conspiring journey is an object lesson in how the wealthy can recover from adversity. Vanquished portfolios can be rebuilt from asset tatters and salvaged trust funds. Still fondly known as Wally in the Mar-a-Gogo Gentleman’s Club, his pithy apothegm was often cited: “Pudding can be pulled from porridge with elbow grease and family fortune.”

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

Posted in Anthology | Tagged , , | 1 Comment