Blog

Building

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I am thinking about Brutalism this week. I am thinking about Brutalism last week. Brutalist wall as prairie …

It seems to me that Brutalism gets loved by two means and neither love Brutalism as it is described in its lines. The first means is the coming to Brutalism with a memory, and therefore body, filled with roses and the breadloaf smell of human skin – which rolls like aquarium marbles behind the silhouette while meeting with Brutalism, noisy and sensible; the second is the language of the structure, which is to say the language the human creates using, for, about the structure. The structure is taught to the infant body as a pidgin (the structure “itself”, its lines – the structure beheld by humans instantly), then structure and all Brutalism is made a creole by the body, which labors naturally to involve and complete.

To live against Brutalism – against it in the sense that lover is against lover in love or an infant is against the breast – is to complete it, especially when the body loves it. To live against the Brutalist structure and love it is to build it to the same invisible texture which the first one brings to the structure which they love and don’t know. The first involves Brutalism with / into their body, the second conpletes Brutalism using their body (body, of course, I use to mean person, personality, and living form and presence).

Neither loves what they see as they see it, unless you can say that the first impact of sight is also the entire act I describe, the building of the experience using as materials: the sight of the structure and the memory (sensual, adult) or the building of knowledge using: the structure taken as ground and also one’s own body (linguistic, infant). It’s important to note here that I do mean the person loves the thing-that-is-seen, only that they don’t love the thing for and only with those aspects which light and air present to the eye.

It seems to me that the structure also builds. It builds itself. Is it like a human, which involves-and-completes (I think involvement-and-completion is uniquely human and is in fact the character of human nature, which would explain why the person becomes Buddha when she supremely ceases to involve or complete)? Or is the structure godlike (like the terrestrial gods, Loki and Odin, Osiris and Set) who telescope their self-natures? All English words for this type of extension, expansion have to do with being witnessed – “radiate, express” need bodies which are warmed or which hear. This growing enacted by structures and gods, self-construction, is phenomenally without audience, or without audience besides the self.

Probably there are humans who are insensitive to sights and like Brutalism for its associations or dislike it for its effect on the light on their faces – this insensitivity is doubtless a shortcoming, a flaw in the body’s capacity to read and experience, and as such according to my beliefs it has special nobility. It is a kind of involvement-completion, but seems to take place entirely on the body …

Movie

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I was unrolling and spreading flat my last week in San Francisco with the side of my hand. If I am ever again as unhappy as I was during my San Francisco years, I hope it is because I am being tortured for information which I heroically refuse to release. Every hour of the last week is in my memory.

I went to see a Jodorowsky movie. I rode the bus. Black sky, fog like a car compactor. The Muni jingling inside itself and the laser gun pluck of its pole on the wires it ran along. Mostly empty and some warm humans leaning.

At the little shopping center in the black. Wide shallow stairs. An empty fountain. I asked the man at the theater window if there were any tickets left. He gave me the look people gave me back then. Clothed against the cold, I’m sure I looked like a Christmas gift wrapped by six-year-old Laura Ingalls Wilder in rabbit fur and rope. The corners of the empty fountain, white at the L and black in the mouth.

Big chocolate and a big bottle of water. Slid-down, my knees against the seat in front of me. A few human bodies like clothes in a dim closet. Somebody was smoking. In the movie Jodorowsky as a boy comes to a cliff in pain. Jodorowsky the man comes behind him and embraces himself, grips himself across the breast and they roll in pain and comfort. They roll from the strength of the feet of the man like wire spun in a fist. The movement is skilled and knowledgeable; and this skill acted as proof for the idea and the scene and the act. The skill of the man’s movement and the man’s feet was the veracity of his claim.

Outside the theater, the sound of the sky and the shopping center was like the thick ground above subway. Concrete the breadth of a state. The density of a state of land if the state were a body of a human. Air like a soundproof room.

You sons of snakes, have you got told / to run before you get what’s yours?

Here comes John, clavicle first. Seventeen years old, big head. The starvation round his mouth makes him look like he is always smiling. He points with his finger straight from his voice – his prophecy, accurate or inaccurate, is honest prophecy, which is to say it is descriptive. Aesthetically he might be telling, “this here is the American bullfrog”.

Abruptly John-Baptist stops walking and gets up into the low tree, blue knees hanging. It’s shady in the tree. He holds a balancing tree limb and his walking stick in the same hand. His fingers crawl like unique animals against every important side of the tree and his baton. John prophesies from the tree for a while then sits without speaking, swinging his feet past the air to cool them down.

donatello john

Head

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My feet are bleeding because I wear heels wherever I go and because also I walk wherever I go. You can’t tell, because my shoes are red and my toes are painted red.

The blue sky is pressed between the walls, and the walls shine. The shutters are open. “Madonn’,” invite the men, leaning toward me. That dense and best name. “Oh Maria.”

I have a lover who sweetly asked me at lunch some days before I left, did I hope to find a holiday lover? “You can be honest with me. Do you fantasize?” I am and have always been a plug gone half in the socket, snapping white.

There is a John by Giuliano Vangi striding beside the Arno, opposite the Arno’s flow, pointing and speaking. Addled, restless, and open-mouthed.

I walk at a good clip in every country and I hurry in the Tuscan hills and I hurry in the city. My Los Angeles lover goes like sparkling rain over the landscape and crosses orange buildings like light and shadow. Men say “Bella, bella donna, bella donna.”

– all over the country which seems, unlike any other place I have been to, populated by woken people. They seem to be people like me and therefore I say woken. Maybe it is untrue or unfair but to my particular soundlength I say and it seems to me that the whole of America is shut and not listening and making no sound.

Here is the brown Arno and John putting his foot down – “Madonn’,” sighs the policeman with his big gun.

I am at San Marco understanding beauty and I wonder what it is I ought to do and asking at the fresco of the two thieves to do what I wish to do, well and virtuously – for all this time I have gone as I would, and not glad, sullen and pushy and hurt.

Brown clean halls and Brother Angel’s lines, and –

across the whole wakefulness of time and history, all the cactus’ open rose flowers, the standing eels, the black cobras’ hoods, split papayas and their black seeds, feet stretching their toes, the filled cup and the water in the well and the sea at the top of the sea, which is white like the light at the socket –

Passion

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I think of the Catholic body. Lately I think of the hobbies and pass-times at which people become excellent simply because of practice over sufficient time. To become excellent – at anything – is to be made better, made virtuous. That we’re made better by love –

I think of the body in the Catholic church and hanging in the Catholic church. And the body in the Catholic artwork and in the Catholic imagination. In Florence I am surrounded. In my own life, the martyr in the children’s book – the suffering body and the dead body, and the dying God and the dead God, on the wall and on the neck and called more habitually into thought than perhaps those who aren’t Catholic perceive. There is a museum-going practice which must be common to Catholics but which I never considered before now, crowded as I said I am at this moment by Florentine Catholicism: that of reflexively entering something like the Stations or the Mysteries in front of Catholic art.

Half-consciously fingering for a way into the scene, a habitual devotional exercise – habitual, and so distinct from the perfectly natural practice of deciding to imagine what an art-character must be feeling and distinct also from the transport one sometimes experiences caught up by art. This happens instead the way compulsive reckoning of floor dimensions happens to the carpet-layer in any new room.

Catholicism fosters this kind of habit more than the Protestantisms. The Protestants don’t have the practice of repeated prayers nor the kind of ritual which gets the body kneeling without processed consideration. I understand why this might seem distasteful or even immoral to a Protestant or moreso to a person without religion. I understand how this horror can exist in people who share some of my outlooks in part because I understand that my own Catholicism might put off other Catholics. My Catholicism may be heretical; certainly the basilica which asked to me to spend mass with a modesty-smock shoveled over my clothing would say I am in the wrong.

Habits run on honest circuits: I don’t think it’s possible to form a dishonest habit. There is a unique holy humility in habits, I think, since habits spring from the defenseless part of the mind which can only do what seems right for survival, and I am sure that the things which are least protected are the holiest. The circuit along which my religious habit runs is sensual and sexual, like the rest of my empathies. This is what I have and this is what I bring and this is the way I come in – by love into the dead God, by going again and again into the dying God made good at that kind of going, and by that excellence made better, refined.