MOVING THINGS

or, gathered bits of life and art that inspired me this week.

I used to call this type of post the noteworthy links, but I think this may be a better format. I’m sad to say goodbye to the bullet points, I liked those. Regardless, here’s a few things I liked this week:

THIS QUOTE RESONATED

Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.

René Magritte

WIKIPEDIA RABBIT HOLE

Wikipedia is pure possibility. When I’m feeling lucky, I let the Wikipedia:Random feature take me wherever the hell it wants.

I saw the word cluster and I clicked on it. The disambiguations page is a series of forks in the road sparking more joy than those Marie Kondo clothing squares. I settled on open cluster, because my audio project of the same name is currently unresolved and a clear and present threat to my self-esteem. Nonetheless, I continue down the page and click on the Pleiades star cluster, a familiar term amid thick descriptors of space, and I find myself in familiar territory. Ah yes, the comfort of myth! I still remember the Pleiades Sisters from that time I played a Rick James-inspired Dionysus in college. I scrolled down the page about star clusters and was drawn to this little detail, highlighting the timeless human superpower of storytelling:

…in mythology the name was used for the Pleiades, seven divine sisters, the name supposedly deriving from that of their mother Pleione and effectively meaning “daughters of Pleione”. In reality, the name of the star cluster almost certainly came first, and Pleione was invented to explain it.

Wikipedia

What gorgeous magic our ancient forebears wielded, to take the unknown and give it shape.

A SMALL JOY

I Think You Should Leave is one of the finest shows in the history of the world. I quote its delightfully absurd sketches so often my wife is ready to throw me out of the house. Yet at the core of its bizarre comedy, there’s a whole lot of heart and humanity. Yes, deep in there somewhere.

So as I wrap up the cluster project edit, issue 7 of coalitionworks, and a couple more Arts Calling episodes, I made a new screensaver to help me get through the month.

A WORK OF ART

Zdzisław Beksiński paintings are a visceral experience. I could spend a lifetime studying the mood alone in his somber, surrealist dystopias. I have always admired his commitment to ‘photographing dreams’ as he once said. He seemed much more interested in creating on his own terms rather than following popular trends.

I recall reading that Beksiński had little use for theme or making art to get a message across. He once said:

Meaning is meaningless to me. I do not care for symbolism and I paint what I paint without meditating on a story.

Zdzisław Beksiński

His work is never an intellectual experience. I never reach for my words. I sift through his art with my heart in hand, led by intuition, never looking for meaning in the unbridled dark nihilism of his works, but rather, pure feeling. Yes, his catalogue is pretty intense.

I’ve shared this painting on IG, but I’ll share it again because it resonates with me every time I see it.

Untitled, 1978.

Guttural, indifferent, irresolute. Pretty cool, huh? But wait: There’s more.

Beksiński may not have been interested in meaning or symbolism when he created this one, but holy shit: this painting gives us a story in the sharpest relief. Whether he cared to or not, he encapsulated the deep wound of a spiritual humanity seeking greater cause, as well as the only thing that matters in this life: togetherness in the face of oblivion.

I move through three emotional stages when I see this piece of art. I am in awe at first. Then I surrender to its stark despair. Then I realize its brutality becomes a rallying cry for humanity to hold together. Ultimately, it’s not about mourning at all. I see pity and fear in this work of art tracing back to the tragedies of ancient Greece, but transforms if seen through a more contemporary, secular lens. All we have is each other. This is my favorite kind of horror: Works of immense feeling and ecstatic truth. The kind of art that humbles, shakes the viewer, and drives us all to do better with the time we have. I concede, it looks like a cursed painting made by a Lovecraft character, but I can’t help but be overwhelmed with hope every time I see it.

That’s it. Go make a dent. Much love,

j


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