Sunday, March 29, 2020

REPORT from PLAGUELAND



Report from Plagueland.

What has gotten me through the past few days.

RUNNING. I've been running through downtown when I can feel the stress and building up within me. When I'm out running, I know I'm burning off cortisol. When the "stay home" part of "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" starts to get to me, I shift momentarily to "stay healthy."

ROUTINE. I make sure I stick to a routine. I get up the same time in the morning. I take my shower, get dressed, put my keys in my pocket. Eat breakfast. Go to work, even if it's now in my basement, and keep my normal work schedule.

READING. I've haven't had the same appetite for books that I had prior, but I still make sure that I read something every day. I need to keep my mind occupied. Poetry. Essays. Short stories. A page or two of The Lucky Star by William T. Vollmann.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

VIGIL ART • TESTING of ABRAHAM



"The Testing of Abraham," watercolor, India ink, iridescent calligraphy ink, and papercut on 6" x 6" watercolor paper, by Troy's Work Table.

---

"It was early in the morning when Abraham arose..." 
—from "Exordium" in Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard.

---

Challenge #3 = TESTING of ABRAHAM, Genesis 22:1-18. Your interpretation in any medium.

REPORT from PLAGUELAND



Report from Plagueland.

Troy's Work Table adopts additional functions.

TWT is not only producing art and poetry, but now also serving as (1) a work-at-home station and (2) a canine nail trimming salon.

Also, today is the day that the photo-editing software I've used for the past 16 years decides to give up the ghost. (So now I'm learning how to use Gimp.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

REPORT from PLAGUELAND



Report from Plagueland.

(1) The washing machine died last week, prior to the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order, so I'm washing clothes by hand in the bathtub. But then if I have to stay at home do I really need to wear (clean) underwear?

(2) A classic plague: Hail! (And lots of it!)

Monday, March 23, 2020

UNCUT GEMS



A week ago, The Wife and I watched Uncut Gems (2019), directed by the Safdie Brothers.

---

I'm thinking that this is Punch-Drunk Love (2002) on steroids and cocaine. And not a likable character in sight.

---

Perhaps it's the anti-Punch-Drunk Love, a corruption of sorts of Paul Thomas Anderson's film. 

Adam Sandler is obviously the connection point, if this indeed the case. Barry Egan morphed into Howard Ratner. Business owners who end up in the midst of shady business because of their own sins. Extended families that are chaotic and overbearing and manipulative. A love interest who is lost for a time.

But all of the goodness and grounding of Punch-Drunk Love is perverted and degraded and amplified in Uncut Gems


---

It's another minor echo, but the various color-filled molecular-level trips we take into the structure of the black opal—at the opening and closing of the film, as well as in the middle—remind me of the twelve "Scopitones" by artist visual Jeremy Blake that serve as "chapter headings" for sections of the story.

---

The best thing about Uncut Gems is that it's inspired me to watch Punch-Drunk Love once again, one of my favorite films. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

JOKER



Tonight we watched Joker (2019), directed by Todd Phillips on DVD.

---

Timing is everything, as they say. I think I should have watched this before the world really started to unravel.

---

The colors in this film are so saturated. For some reason, I keep being reminded of the films of Todd Haynes. The two films couldn't be any more different in tone, but I keep conflating Far from Heaven (2002) with Joker, confusing Phillips for Haynes.

---

Another film I'm reminded of is The King of Comedy (1982) by Martin Scorsese. Arthur Fleck as an alternate universe version of Rupert Pupkin. It's as though elements of the backstories of both the Joker and the Batman were laid upon the framework of The King of Comedy.

---

I couldn't imagine that someone could play a crazier version of the Joker than Heath Ledger did in The Dark Knight (2008), but here we are.

---

Joaquin Phoenix's laughter throughout the film caused me to laugh, not because it was funny or infectious but because it was oftentimes so inappropriate and absurd and uncomfortable.

---

I actually felt a bit queasy at the conclusion of the film. It will definitely stay with me.



VIGIL ART • FLOOD



"Flood," watercolor and India ink on 6" x 6" watercolor paper, by Troy's Work Table.

---

Look close and you'll see a few pairs of animals on the deck of the ark, as well as the dove that returns with the olive branch hovering above.

---

I like that a bit of the storm still resides within the rainbow promise.

I also like that the ark may be riding the waves in the midst of the storm or alternately stuck on Mount Ararat as the storm waters recede.


---

Challenge #2 = FLOOD, Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

VIGIL ART • CREATION



"Creation," watercolor, India ink, iridescent calligraphy ink, gouache on 6" x 6" watercolor paper, by Troy's Work Table.

---

Each year, my church observes Easter Vigil, one of the most liturgically complex worship services. This year we won't be able to because of COVID-19 and emergency measures. So I created a series of play-prayers for members of my congregation as they stay at home and shelter in place.

The thirteen Vigil readings (12 Old Testament, 1 New Testament non-Gospel) depict God's presence throughout salvation history. Each year I get to figure out how to visually depict six or seven of them. Since I won't be creating them for church/work, but I have free time, I decided I would work on all thirteen. And invite others to do the same.

---

Challenge #1 = CREATION, Genesis 1:1—2:4. Your interpretation in any medium.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

PAUSE (AN AMERICAN SENTENCE)



"The Pale Horse," watercolor, India ink, gouache, iridescent calligraphy ink, 2020, by Troy's Work Table.



PAUSE (An American Sentence)

The once cavalier have quieted
and the quick of tongue gone silent.

© 2020 Troy's Work Table Publishing



Prior to the plague that descended upon us, I was exploring the poetry form of the American Sentence. It's a form that was invented by Allen Ginsberg to free the Japanese haiku from its syllabic line structure in English, since he felt the form didn't translate well from one culture/language to another. But he wanted to keep the spirit of the condensed form, so he landed upon one sentence of seventeen syllables, with whatever line form the poet felt worked best, typically one line.

So, here I am trying to process whatever is happening around me right now. Trying to grieve when others tell me to find the joy in the midst of this shit. Trying to find a way to scream on the page as an act of catharsis and release and healing.



On social media, there was a female poet belittling male poets she felt were romanticizing COVID-19, death, social distancing, and the associated themes. I went and read some of the poems of which she complained. There I did indeed find death. And lamentation. And fear.

I wanted to shout at her: "Fuck off!" Instead, I took a break from social media.



I know that we all process things differently. Which is why I need to avoid the optimists. And the joyful. And those looking to put a bright spin on what feels grim and dire to me: you can all "Fuck off!"

Because I'm not telling you how to process. I'm not telling you to be realistic. I'm not telling you to mourn. To cry out. But it feels that you, the joy-filled, the optimistic, the "glass half full" people are often the ones trying to prescribe to others how to behave. Don't tell me to wear a smile or cheer up when others are dying, losing jobs, struggling to shuffle through the day, suffering. Move through life with your joy; I'm glad that you're able to do such. But let me sit in ashes and sackcloth and watch the world shrink around me. Let me sit in quiet and prayer. It's how I'll make it through to another day.



Strangely enough, I take comfort in putting one of the horses of the Apocalypse down in ink. Here comes the pale horse, albeit without its rider, Death. I take comfort in noticing a somberness and solemnity move across the nation as a whole. A shadow. It let's me know that I'm not the only one feeling the gravity of the moment. The grave.



I'm hoping that this time of Good Friday come early in Lent, lingering, and its attendant Crucifixion, will bring about a glorious Resurrection. But I'm not there yet. May God have mercy upon us. May God walk alongside us. May God roll away the stone.

Monday, March 16, 2020

THE BEAUTY



"The idea of this was worse when it was happening to someone else. Now it is me and it is inevitable, and nothing inevitable is ever that bad. If I have to live with it, then how can it be unbearable? 

"Besides, bodies betray us. That is what they do. They die and this is, at least, not death. I will choose any option but death. This body wants the story to go on." 

—page 93, The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley