Thursday, July 30, 2009

The End of Digitanus, a Parable About Modern Times

AKA: Gullible’s Travels

Today, right now, in another universe(V3.5) just a few universes down the block (so to speak) there is a world known as Digitanus. The people of Digitanus are extremely argumentative, and are able to block movement in any direction; politically, economically or socially through their arguments over foolish and bizarre subjects. Interestingly, there are several hierarchically arranged varieties of beings in Digitanus. These varieties are based on the number of digits on the extensor limb with which the Digitanusites interact with their physical environment. Those with two digits, one in opposition are known as the bigits and they hate all the other categories of Digitanusites since they have conquered all the various lands in the central continent of Digitanus. Those with three digits, one in opposition, known as the tripatiums are the indigenous people of the central continent, and have been driven into several small compounds by the bigits. Those with four digits, one in opposition, known as the quadigits had been the slaves of the bigits for hundreds of years until a great natural conflagration forced all the digits to work together in order to save their world. Never the less, the bigits still hate the tripatiums and the quadrigits and visa versa.

All digits, no matter their particular racial and ethnic background grow an additional digit as they reach maturity, and this digit is responsible for pollination and an extremely multifaceted budding process that necessitates an extensive “procreation” care system in order to assure continuation of the species. The system that developed historically is woefully inadequate, and many of the digits of Digitanus are not insured to cover the expenses involved in their budding. Because the professionals who deliver the services necessary to pollination and budding - individual private interest groups that manufacture products necessary to the pollination of the extra digit, and the government bureaucracy that maintains the pollination system all have their own interests in maintaining the status quo - the infant mortality rate, and death among adults due to diseases of the extra digit are both extremely high. The deaths are so extensive that they threaten the well being of the entire race of Digitanusites. Try and try as they might the Digitanusites are unable to come to an agreement about fixing that system, and their health care costs become more and more expensive with each passing year. Ultimately these costs will conspire to sink the economy of Digitanus.

Amazingly, a sub group of bigits has decided that their new king - a champion of fixing the healthcare system, and the first quadigit to hold that office - is not from their planet and therefore can’t be their king. Indeed they accuse him/it of being from another universe (V3.6) despite all proof to the contrary! As a result of the constant brobdingnagian arguments over the origin of their leader and their failing health care system the social and economic structure of Digitanus is gradually sliding into a state of entropy. Everything will constantly slow down until finally, nothing will grow, nothing will make a noise, and nothing will move. Nothing will happen at all, and Digitanus will be frozen in time and space at the end of its universe (V3.5).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Big Government!

As an X-Republican, now Democrat, I am still amazed that the Republican Party has any moderates left. The most recent outrage is based on further reports as to the totality of the Federal Governments interference in the lives of our people. I refer to the report mandated by Congress last year, and released by 5 Inspector Generals 2 weeks ago that sketchily details the “unprecedented collection activities” authorized by George Bush the Second after the September 11, 2001attacks on the United States. * The exact activities are still classified, and so they continue even as I write. Nancy Pelosi’s statement that she was not informed as to the exact nature nor extent of the surveillance activities among other things is thus substantiated by that and further news that our X (thank goodness) VP ordered the CIA not to inform Congress about (h-m-m-m-m-m-m, what was it – we still haven’t been told). So, after all the hoopla, the people of the good old USA don’t know how extensive the look into our personal lives is.

Yes, Big Brother is watching over us all!

Supposedly the Republican Party stands for smaller, less intrusive government. Really? I’m concerned more that our current overwhelmingly Democrat based government continues to operate the same programs, and, we the people have no idea as to what and/or how extensive they are. Is it possible that Big Government is BIG no matter which party is in control? Do we need a 3rd party that actually aims to achieve smaller government in our democracy? I leave these 3 interesting questions to be debated by others, as I’m certain that these issues are part of the zeitgeist of early 21st century USA politics.

*Hess, Pamela, AP, “Report: Too few officials knew of Surveillance,” 10:01 EDT, Saturday, July 11, 2009. Comcast News,,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Older White Men (Good ol’ Boys) of Power Against Latinas

Yes, I’ve used the feminine ending to Latino above because some of the white GOP Senators pulled the race and gender card this past week in Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. Shockingly, the Democrat Senators praised their GOP Senatorial colleagues for restraint instead of bashing them for using the divisive issue of race in the attempt to ignore Sotomayor’s judicial record. And, the GOP white supremacist senators achieved their goal to an extent, placing the emphasis on race rather than record!

Why don't these older white male senators just form an organization with the same name as the title to this journal entry,and become a not for profit organization and ask for non-taxable funding of racial and gender prejudice?

I am personally thankful for the 58 seat Democrat majority plus 2 independents in the Senate. There is no chance the bigots can prevent Judge Sotomayor's confirmation! Oh, yes, just to keep the record straight, there are also many Republican Senators who will vote for Judge Sotomayor.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Mind Body Dichotomy in Gay Male Art

Art critics, theorists, artists, and viewers alike have all been involved in conversations about the separation of the gay male artist’s art from his gayness. Instead, I maintain such a separation is impossible because it would demand the separation of mind and body. Coincidentally I maintain that there can be no mind/body split in gay or straight art, unless the artist be schizophrenic, as perhaps our Western culture is. The following is a short essay based on the artwork of one gay male artist.

Perfect Lovers

I discovered the “Chronology of Felix Gonzalez-Torres Life,” while reading about the artist, whom I greatly admire. The artwork is composed of two parallel lines of black lettering that form a timeline at the intersection of wall and ceiling. The work was installed at the Carnegie International in 1999 as well as other venue since. At that exhibit of Gonzalez-Torres work the viewer had to “walk through (“) Untitled (Water),(“) a beaded curtain that refers to the artist’s deep connection to the sea, stemming from his childhood in Cuba and his life in Miami.” * I immediately felt a deep personal connection because of my own spiritual link with the ocean. Being a gay male artist establishes a second connection. Thirdly, knowing that Felix lost his partner and his own life to AIDS established one more deeply rooted connection because of friends lost to that scourge. Thus, at a personal level, being gay and an artist are thoroughly connected in my mind, and I don’t know how one does not affect the other in the life and work of a gay male artist. In my own work the digital photo montages, seemingly frivolous images of beach and the male physical form are symbolically spattered with red and white to represent male seminal fluid, blood AIDS and death. Of course, the cosmology I have created in those images is much more complex, but I leave it to the viewer to discover and interpret if he / she should be so inclined.

Having established my personal connection to the artist, I am led into the next issue or question raised for me by Gonzalez-Torres artwork. Is there such a thing as gay male art?
Many would debate the possibility of such a thing in their own work and / or as a genuine category of artwork. I have established in the first paragraph above that for me this question is a resounding, YES! However, to proceed with a more thorough answer to the question, I must first wonder whether or not photography, painting, drawing and sculpture of the male nude – despite the cultural hangups, I consider the issue of pornography as not being applicable - is Art. I must bear that issue in mind because so many gay males, artists included, are totally fascinated, and I must assume titillated as am I, by the male physical form and artworks presenting it in part or totality.*2 Indeed, it is difficult to find images by gay male artists that are not about the male physical form. That, however, is because our own culture steps in with one more Western dichotomy, and tells us what is and is not gay. I would maintain, instead, that the gay male’s awareness of his own body as it is viewed both by himself and his culture intrudes its presence upon his art no matter the particular topic of his work. In short, there is a mind / body connection. If, for instance a gay male artist wishes to do art about his life in relation to his race, religion, ethnicity, that work is not thought to be gay art by most viewers if it doesn’t include representation(s) of the male physique. Secondly, if the gay male artist wishes to produce artwork about something other than personal issues involving culture, and or the artwork is to be applied to other artistic endeavors such as the theater, music, literature can it possibly be considered “Gay Art?” I would maintain that each of us whether gay or straight has our own sensibility based on our lives in this particular culture. Secondly, I know that our culture is so thoroughly involved and fascinated by SEX, gender, and sexuality, every manifestation and permutation thereof, that each of us has many ingrained ways of processing information and thought about life in general that are tinged by our sexuality, and we cannot help but bring it to the table with us. So, when Felix Gonzalez-Torres created billboards announcing the absence of his partner due to AIDS (photo of an empty rumpled bed), or installed piles of individually wrapped candies for the viewer to take and eat, he was painfully aware of how that empty bed and diminishing heap related to presence and absence, life and death. I also know from reading about Gonzalez-Torres that he believed in hiding his social/political concerns to the extent that he intended them to be a subversive or subliminal part of the artwork. Thus, it was all about Felix’s sexuality and how that thread was woven and knotted into every aspect of his existence.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres is but one example of a gay male artist whose work is all about his sexuality without being about the gay male physique. However, his artwork certainly is based on his life as a gay man and is due to the strong connection between his mind and body. I’m sure if I do a thorough search, I can find many more such examples, and I shall discuss these from time to time as part of this journal.

* Felix Gonzalez-Tores, “Perfect Lovers,” (1987-1990) at,, viewed 9:50 AM EDT. Tuesday, July 14, 2009.
The single use of a copyrighted image as part a scholarly work is considered to be permissible.

*2 I differentiate here between the male physical form and the “male body” as that term is used in Postmodern discourse.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The “Gay Art Blog”

Last evening, as I meandered through the cyber-void looking for possible Gay Art themes other than THE MALE BODY I was discouraged as I am so often because so much of gay male art is based on the male physique. Many times it might even be classified as semi or hard core porn. Granted, I am personally titillated by perfectly rendered drawings, paintings, and photographs of the male nude. I am also interested in artist’s depictions of such gay historic and religious themes as Ganymede, Saint Sebastian, and Achilles and Patroklos. However, there is more to life, even a gay male life, than art about the male body. Being gay and male affects the way I personally view and understand the world around me, and my own on line journal and ancillary links is an attempt to demonstrate that specific gay male worldview. In fact the absence of advertising in my journal is in part because I resent the commodification of the gay male in our culture. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the abundant soft porn images of handsome late teen and early twenties males in Calvin Kline, Guess, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Jockey magazine advertisements, billboards, and posters to mention but a few. I expect that my gay sensibilities are different than those of other gay men to an extent; though I’m sure a study of these should demonstrate shared areas by many of us. I also expect that gay male art should sometimes be about gay male sensibilities other than the shared interest in the male physique. Having said all that, I found a Website that looks at gay male art and makes an attempt at criticism including the use of a rating system for the art most of which is about the male body. The rating system appears to be based on the personal and makes no attempt at empiricism, which is according to cultural wisdom the most rational way to view all art. There are of course other ways; for instance through the lens of Art History or History sans Art, or the critical eye of Art Theory including all those interesting subdivisions of art appreciation; color, composition, theme, and so on. We might look at the criticism of Art itself as a category useful in understanding individual artworks. Any, or all of the above, including other vehicles not discussed here could be shuffled, assembled, or reassembled and used as a system for Art Criticism and/or rating art.

I did enjoy looking through the “Gay Art Blog,” and found most useful the section of links that includes gay male artists, art galleries and organizations. I also found one artist who particularly fascinated me, Scott G. Brooks. His illustrative works look as though they should be in a child’s storybook, though the subject matter is often about the human condition, and seldom gay male themed, but with bizarre darkly humorous surreal twists. Is Scott's art Gay? No. Does it have a sensibility that might be considered gay male? Perhaps, but here I'm speculating. I make no claims concerning the artist's sexuality. It is, however, interesting to note that the sensibilities of this artist's work landed that artwork in the "Gay Art Blog."

Regarless of all my ramblings here, I have bookmarked the “Gay Art Blog,” and I plan to consult it occasionally in the future when writing my own on line journal.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July Celebration

The painting above by John Lewis Kimmel is titled July 4th 1819, Philadelphia. Kimmel was a German born immigrant who worked in Philadelphia during the 2nd decade of the 19th Century. The tent on the left hand side of the painting has a tent with a George Washington portrait at the apex; a naval battle illustration and slogan (“Don’t give up the ship!”) from the war of 1812 hangs below. The tent on the extreme right side of the painting has a Pennsylvania State flag (motto "Virtue, Liberty, Independence") flying over an illustration of “the battle of New Orleans.” The building in the background is Benjamin Latrobe’s waterworks.

The image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. I found it in Wikimedia Commons. I added the banner, and I claim the newly modified image as my own copyright.