Friday, December 19, 2014

Why it is true, that There is no such thing as a good cop.


Why do I keep saying, there is no such thing as a good cop--when we know that not all cops do bad shit? Let me see if I can explain my reasoning, sans rhetoric, when I say: there is no such thing as a good cop.
First, there is the role. Then there is the person. The role is defined in general terms by what kinds of actions it involves. To keep this simple, I want to look at only one aspect: what is permissible within the role. The persons who step into the role are not identical with it, and certainly aren't reducible to it—as persons; but while they occupy that role—the role of ‘cop,’ their moral or ethical character—their ‘goodness’ or ‘badness,’ is. So when I say, there are no good cops, I’m speaking about a person in that role, as ‘cop.’ Not what they are outside of it, or in addition to it.
As the role, ‘cop,’ includes all those things permissible in the performance of that role, we have to take the unpleasant reality, that this includes killing unarmed men and women who have committed no crime, done no wrong according to the law. We know this to be true, because cops who kill unarmed men and women who have done no wrong according to the law, are, in fact, given permission to do this, post facto, if not in advance, in that they receive no punishment, experience no official sanction or restriction of their duties, once the PR phase and “investigation’ has been completed. If by chance, disciplinary measures are taken, their unions will correct the official command, reminding the command, and us, that killing unarmed men and women who have done no wrong according to the law, is, in fact, permissible.
There is no contesting this. These are facts, confirmed again and again in full view of everyone who refuses to avert their eyes. As long as cops, who kill unarmed men and women who have done no wrong under the law, are excused, confirming that this is, in fact, permissible for anyone occupying the role of 'cop,' it will be true, that there is no such thing as a good cop. That not all cops kill unarmed mean and women who have done no wrong according to the law, is no more relevant than pointing out that not all cops stand on corners directing traffic. What matters, is whether these actions fall (standing on a corner directing traffic, killing unarmed men and women who have done no wrong according to the law) under the class of permissible actions for the role we’re discussing, namely, being a cop, and given the history we have before us, it is clear that killing unarmed men and women who have done no wrong under the law, falls as much under the class of permissible actions as standing on corners directing traffic, or appending actual criminals.
Of course, the weak part of this lies in how we define what is good, or bad. Clearly, if you believe killing unarmed men and women who have done no wrong according to the law, is a good thing, it would not be true to say: there is no such thing as a good cop. More significant—is the problematic of the what that role (being a cop) plays in a larger context. Here there’s more room for reasonable disagreement.
I’m not going to write a book here, so I’ll condense this to the max. If you concede that one of the primary functions of the role of 'cop' (remember, that means everything included as permissible—even if individual cops are doing very different things)—is to protect by whatever means, the status quo of power, and the status quo of power happens to be hell bent on destroying human life on the planet… well (forgive this rhetorical lapse)… there is no way that role, the role: ‘cop,’ is a good thing.

There is no such thing as a good cop

Imagination Shall Make Us Free!


In a Facebook post, Nyle Fort, wrote of the difficulty of seeing past the neoliberal simulacra to find what is real. Maybe it helps to see this, not as binary opposites, but different *kinds* of real. In the way a fictional character is real, *as* a fictional character-- which nonetheless has real generative effects.
The spectacle, too, is real, but a reality whose generative effects impair both thought and perception in such a way that we cannot see past the simulacra, or imagine, while in its thrall, another kind of reality. That suggests to me, that the way to another reality--one we can inhabit in the fullness of our human being--is not like breaking through a curtain to something that lies there, already existing, on the other side, but in the very power of imagination on which the illusion depends, that our hope lies in knowing that that power is immeasurably greater than what has been drawn on by the oppressive system holding us hostage. Like in the Faerie Queene--the flames surrounding Busirane's castle, real enough to burn Scudamore--because he believes they are the wrong kind of real, a reality over which he has no power, while Britomart walks through them unscathed. It's our collective belief in the simulacra that makes it 'real' -- that is, gives it power to generate effects--in that way, challenging collective beliefs is the very essence of the work of the imagination.
We do not dance as relief from fighting oppression; we dance, because out of the dance, come the flames of passion that will burn the citadels of our oppressors. We do not sing or paint or rap or create stories to escape from one illusion to another--but TO IMAGINE THE REAL WE DESIRE, THAT WE MIGHT CREATE IT AND MAKE IT SO!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Art and Capitalism, one more time...


Hoping for a discussion group sometime in the not too distant future at A-Space for artists who want to explore ideas on alternative means of support-- outside gatekeeper-gallery-to-investor servitude. If you're interested in this, let me know--and I'll keep you updated on when this might happen.
True, making stuff from your own materials and exchanging it for money isn't yet capitalism. The problem is with what happens after, and the way the gallery-to-investor system works, using art as an exchange commodity to create surplus value for the investor/collectors--which also screws the artist-worker. Think of artists, with very few exceptions, as low wage workers. Any artist activist would do well to give this a shit-load of thought. It means rescuing art from being subverted and co-opted by the establishment, which is an absolutely essential step in turning our creative powers to serve the revolution.
We will never make a new world by centralized resistance. We have to turn every aspect of our lives to creating new forms of relationships, with one another, and to the work we do in making a humanly habitable world with all our fellow creatures on this planet. Making art isn't a side dish we wait to serve up after the 'real' work is done--it's how we open the faucet to ALL our creative energies. Why the elite are so committed to owning and using what we do to image forth a world that looks like the one they want us live in, the one where they own us and the labor of all.
See also Imagination Shall Make Us Free

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Surfing the wave of history!


All over the world... Brazil, London, Spain... in Hong Kong they were doing "hands up don't shoot"... Palestine. There's always waiting for us, that crescendo of events no one could have predicted. Those who are most dependent on being in control will the be the least prepared to deal with them. Those whose lives have been given to surfing the wave of history ahead and beneath the curl, ready to risk everything, give up everything they have held true to embrace the new reality, they will inherit the earth!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sometimes a riot is a beautiful thing!


Have seen several posts on Facebook contrasting white dudes rioting over pumpkins and sports victories, with stores and cars set fire in Ferguson. Who are the real rioters, they ask? I was thinking about this on the bus the other day... how what they share, may be more significant than how they differ.
On the one side, there's destruction as celebration--a spontaneous eruption from joy to mayhem. On the other side, attacks on property out of justifiable rage, or at least--rage with more than enough provocation to make it understandable. But isn't that all too neat? What kind of celebration is this--destruction of public property--of shared assets in the community (buses, automobiles, breaking into stores)--isn't this as much an expression of rage as the other? A rage let loose in people by the celebration? And if so, is there not something similar in their rage to what we saw in Ferguson--a release of pent up anger?  I mean--anger that explodes out of the oppression of living in this consumer culture, of being valued not as human individuals, but only for one's exchange value--as wage slaves, as consumers pressured to want and need always more than they are able to realize?
On the other side--isn't there joy as well as rage at the burning of a cop car? And breaking and smashing things, the tangible symbols of a culture where nothing has value of and in itself, but only as means of exchange?
Maybe--however little aware (at least the whites, in their Dionysian celebrations), are of what is driving them, there is on both sides a common passionate hunger to destroy the material symbols of a culture that oppresses everyone--however unequally distributed the raw violence of that oppression--that there is a shared hunger for genuine freedom, for another kind of world?
This is why I see appeals for 'calm' and 'reason,' are but a disguised way of taking the side of power, of the status quo. And the worst--those who think of themselves as radicals, scolding those who 'lose control' --that is, who refuse to accept the top-down discipline of the tacticians and strategists who claim to 'know better.'
Let there be room for joyful destruction. For both sides. May it come together in a great celebratory conflagration to make room for a new world.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Memorial to E. Passyunk PoemTree, 2010-2012 #287

48x22 acrylic, Poem cards, aluminum tabs, American chestnut leaves and found stuff mounted on plywood.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#288

34x36 strips & chips of wood, acrylic on canvas

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


How can we recover our creativity, if we aren't ready to renounce art, have done with the isolation of aesthetics as a specialty, and absolutely reject--work to destroy by whatever means prove effective--the vile usurpation of creative effort by the gallery to investment pipelines--to resist comodification of self and work as nothing less than a life and death struggle? Is there anything more vile or than the idea of a "professional artist?"

Friday, October 31, 2014

#284

32x40 acrylic on canvas. light through trees, Morris Park

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#283

31.5x14.5 Acrylic on packing box cardboard

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#56 There's a Soldier in the Garden of the World

Cardboard, paper, roofing paper, torn US currency, acrylic mounted on rusted sheet metal

Friday, October 24, 2014

#282

28x20 acrylic on Masonite

#281

Paintchips on rusted metal. Found object mounted on wood, acrylic.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#279

24x12 Acrylic on canvas.

#280 36x34 Acrylic on canvas. Samhain, Full Moon Fire Circle, Faerie Fall Gathering

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Narrative Realism: recycled

This is the preface to a review of an Alice Munroe story in the New Yorker.
This is Part II of a review of Some Women, by Alice Munro
Naming the Real in Realist Fiction. Here is Part I .

And
Three posts on Critical Narrative analysis
  One
Two
Three

No artist tolerates reality." says Nietzsche. That is true, but no artist can get along without reality. Artistic creation is a demand for unity and rejection of the world. But it rejects the world in the name of what it lacks and in the name of what it sometimes is.
Camus, The Rebel

When I first read this, I noticed an ambiguity in the English translation which I assumed would not exist in the French. As the likely pronominal antecedents (une exigence, and le monde) are of different genders, it would be clear in French that the first refers to 'artistic creation,' or rather, its 'demand,' and the next two, to 'the world.' But {this demand) rejects the world in the name of what ( the world) lacks and in the name of what (the world) sometimes is. However, I find that there is something to be said for the ambiguity and for the creative misreading it allows. If we understand 'world' and 'reality' as synonymous (as Camus apparently does here), make 'artistic creation' the subject and turn 'demand' into a verb with 'writer' as its object, we will have pregnant formulation of the problematic of realism and representation. .

Artistic creation demands of the writer
that he/she reject reality
for what it lacks
and for what it sometimes is.

To this I would add, that artistic mimesis, what we think of as 'representation,' the very possibility of artistic realism, arises out of an encounter with what reality 'lacks.' What constitutes realism--what any work of art represents ( pictorial, dramatic, literary, musical) is not 'reality,'' but its 'lack,' the artist's endeavor to complete reality, to make real what was not...to give to Airy Nothing a Local Habitation and a Name. Which means the distinction between 'realism' and whatever name you would give to its antithesis, is false. There can be no distinction, and any criticism over-determined by the assumption that there is, will fail in its encounter with the work. With this in mind, let me turn--or return to, the story I've set out to review.
In an EARLIER POST, I wrote that writing:
is a process of negotiation with the material at hand and every act, each engagement with that material translates both material and intention. ... because the author's intentions have been in a continuous process of translation along with the writing as it evolves, what existed in the beginning, and at every point to the completion of the work, is a continuum of difference that moves both forward and back.
We can't recover the process or recreate the stages as they evolved in the continuing encounter, but I believe we can identify imprints of that encounter, evidence of the reality which shaped the elements of the writing as it emerges in its final form.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014

#277 Three Who Found Truth

15x48 Oil-stick, acrylic, dirt, sparkles on weathered plywood

Friday, September 26, 2014

#274

Mounted fragment from house fire, acrylic. 29.5x25

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#273 Fish


28x35 acrylic, street trash cardboard on scrap plywood

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Appropriation of art by the Master Machine



So many variations on how the Master Machine appropriates, dilutes, and controls what is alien to it. For art, some of the mechanisms are mediated by the benign face of NGO's and grants, others are ground up in the maw of naked capitalism, like the gallery-to-investor system for the visual arts (and make no mistake, galleries, if they are to be successful, are there to serve investors and commodification of art, not the artist)--but the end is the same. Even when the message is subversive, in the institutional setting of a museum or high end gallery, it's digested and reconfigured in its AESTHETIC robes, teeth pulled and declawed.
"But how will we make a living?" the captive artist cries, like any cubical wage slave. So we sell our children to serve the Master Machine, and call it freedom.