Monday, October 31, 2016

Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Shisei (The Tattooer)

Today feels too dense with terrible things. Syria, the election, Dakota pipeline… and so much more. These things create a block in the brain and the heart; ones that need to occur because they have meaning but today, when faced with blogging, I can’t get words out, thoughts out to convey my feelings towards it all.

Instead, a story came to mind. It doesn’t relate to any of this but it popped into my head as I was contemplating my apoplexy towards current events. It is a short story by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki. It was written in 1910. You can find this and other short stories by him in a collection entitled, Seven Japanese Tales. I found this online so this might be off a bit and the spacing is most certainly off.

If you enjoy it read more of Tanizaki. He is a writer I re-read often.

Shisei (The Tattooer), 1910

It was an age when men honored the noble virtue of frivolity, when life was not such a harsh struggle as it is today. It was a leisurely age, an age when professional wits could make an excellent livelihood by keeping rich or wellborn young gentlemen in a cloudless good humor and seeing to it that the laughter of Court ladies and geisha was never stilled.

In the illustrated romantic novels of the day, in the Kabuki theater, where rough masculine heroes like Sadakuro and Jiraiya were transformed into women – everywhere beauty and strength were one. People did all they could to beautify themselves, some even having pigments injected into their precious skins. Gaudy patterns of line and color danced over men’s bodies. Visitors to the pleasure quarters of Edo preferred to hire palanquin bearers who were splendidly tattooed; courtesans of the Yoshiwara and the Tatsumi quarter fell in love with tattooed men. Among those so adorned were not only gamblers, firemen, and the like, but members of the merchant class and even samurai.

Exhibitions were held from time to time; and the participants, stripped to show off their filigreed bodies, would pat themselves proudly, boast of their own novel designs, and criticize each other’s merits. There was an exceptionally skillful young tattooer named Seikichi. He was praised on all sides as a master the equal of Charibun or Yatsuhei, and the skins of dozens of men had been offered as the silk for this brush. Much of the work admired at the tattoo exhibitions was his.

Others might be more noted for their shading, or their use of cinnabar, but Seikichi was famous for the unrivaled boldness and sensual charm of his art. Seikichi had formerly earned his living as an ukiyoye painter of the school of Toyokuni and Kunisada, a background which, in spite of his decline to the status of a tattooer, was evident from his artistic conscience and sensitivity. No one whose skin or whose physique failed to interest him could buy his services. The clients he did accept had to leave the design and cost entirely to his discretion – and to endure for one or even two months the excruciating pain of his needles.

Deep in his heart the young tattooer concealed a secret pleasure, and a secret desire. His pleasure lay in the agony men felt as he drove his needles into them, torturing and vermilioning – these are said to be especially painful – were the techniques he most enjoyed. When a man had been pricked five or six hundred times in the course of an average day’s treatment and had then soaked himself in a hot bath to bring out the colors, he would collapse at Seikichi’s feet half dead. But Seikichi would look down at him coolly. “I dare say that hurts,” he would remark with an air of satisfaction. Whenever a spineless man howled in torment or clenched his teeth and twisted his mouth as if he were dying, Seikichi told him: “Don’t act like a child. Pull yourself together – you have hardly begun to feel my needles!” And he would go on tattooing, as unperturbed as ever, with an occasional sidelong glance at the man’s tearful face. But sometimes a man of immense fortitude set his jaw and bore up stoically, not even allowing himself to frown. Then Seikichi would smile and say: “Ah, you are a stubborn one! But wait. Soon your body will begin to throb with pain. I doubt if you will be able to stand it.....”

For a long time Seikichi had cherished the desire to create a masterpiece on the skin of a beautiful woman. Such a woman had to meet various qualifications of character as well as appearance. A lovely face and a fine body were not enough to satisfy him. Though he inspected all the reigning beauties of the Edo gay quarters he found none who met his exacting demands.

Several years had passed without success, and yet the face and figure of the perfect woman continued to obsess his thoughts. He refused to abandon hope. One summer evening during the fourth year of his search Seikichi happened to be passing the Hirasei Restaurant in the Fukagawa district of Edo, not far from his own house, when he noticed a woman’s bare milkwhite foot peeping out beneath the curtains of a departing palanquin.

To his sharp eye, a human foot was as expressive as a face. This one was sheer perfection. Exquisitely chiseled toes, nails like the iridescent shells along the sore at Enoshima, a pearl-like rounded heel, skin so lustrous that it seemed bathed in the limpid waters of a mountain spring – this, indeed, was a foot to be nourished by men’s blood, a foot to trample on their bodies. Surely this was the foot of the unique woman who had so long eluded him. Eager to catch a glimpse of her face, Seikichi began to follow the palanquin. But after pursuing it down several lanes and alleys he lost sight of it altogether. Seikichi’s long-held desire turned into passionate love.

One morning late the next spring he was standing on the bamboo-floored veranda of his home in Fukagawa, gazing at a pot of omoto lilies, when he heard someone at the garden gate. Around the corner of the inner fence appeared a young girl. She had come on an errand for a friend of his, a geisha of the nearby Tatsumi quarter. “My mistress asked me to deliver this cloak, and she wondered if you would be so good as to decorate its lining,” the girl said. She united a saffron-colored cloth parcel and took out a woman’s silk cloak (wrapped in a sheet of thick paper bearing a portrait of the actor Tojaku) and a latter.

The letter repeated his friend’s request and went on to say that its bearer would soon begin a career as a geisha under her protection. She hoped that, while not forgetting old ties, he would also extend his patronage to this girl. “I thought I had never seen you before,” said Seikichi, scrutinizing her intently. She seemed only fifteen or sixteen, but her face had a strangely ripe beauty, a look of experience, as if she had already spent years in the gay quarter and had fascinated innumerable men.

Her beauty mirrored the dreams of the generations of glamorous men and women who had lived and died in this vast capital, where the nation’s sins and wealth were concentrated. Seikichi had her sit on the veranda, and he studied her delicate feet, which were bare except for elegant straw sandals. “You left the Hirasei by palanquin one night last July, did you not?” he inquired. “I suppose so,” she replied, smiling at the odd question. “My father was still alive then, and he often took me there.”

“I have waited five years for you. This is the first time I have seen your face, but I remember your foot. ... Come in for a moment, I have something to show you.” She had risen to leave, but he took her by the hand and led her upstairs to his studio overlooking the broad river. Then he brought out two picture scrolls and unrolled one of them before her. It was a painting of a Chinese princess, the favorite of the cruel Emperor Chou of the Shang Dynasty. She was leaning on a balustrade in a languorous pose, the long skirt of her figured brocade robe trailing halfway down a flight of stairs, her slender body barely able to support the weight of her gold crown studded with coral and lapis lazuli. In her right hand she held a large wine cup, tilting it to her lips as she gazed down at a man who was about to be tortured in the garden below. He was chained hand and foot to a hollow copper pillar in which a fire would be lighted. Both the princess and her victim – his head bowed before her, his eyes closed, ready to meet his fate – were portrayed with terrifying vividness.

As the girl stared at this bizarre picture her lips trembled and her eyes began to sparkle. Gradually her face took on a curious resemblance to that of the princess. In the picture she discovered her secret self. “Your own feelings are revealed here,” Seikichi told her with pleasure as he watched her face. “Why are you showing me this horrible thing?” the girl asked, looking up at him. She had turned pale. “The woman is yourself. Her blood flows in your veins.” Then he spread out the other scroll. This was a painting called “The Victims.” In the middle of it a young woman stood leaning against the trunk of a cherry tree: she was gloating over a heap of men’s corpses lying at her feet. Little birds fluttered about her, singing in triumph; her eyes radiated pride and joy. Was it a battlefield or a garden in spring?

In this picture the girl felt that she had found something long hidden in the darkness of her own heart. “This painting shows your future,” Seikichi said, pointing to the woman under the cherry tree – the very image of the young girl. “All these men will ruin their lives for you.” “Please, I beg of you to put it away!” She turned her back as if to escape its tantalizing lure and prostrated herself before him, trembling. At last she spoke again. “Yes, I admit that you are right about me – I am like that woman... So please, please take it away.” “Don’t talk like a coward,” Seikichi told her, with his malicious smile. “Look at it more closely. You won’t be squeamish long.” But the girl refused to lift her head. Still prostrate, her face buried in her sleeves, she repeated over and over that she was afraid and wanted to leave. “No, you must stay – I will make you a real beauty,” he said, moving closer to her. Under his kimono was a vial of anesthetic which he had obtained some time ago from a Dutch physician.

The morning sun glittered on the river, setting the eight-mat studio ablaze with light. Rays reflected from the water sketched rippling golden waves on the paper sliding screens and on the face of the girl, who was fast asleep. Seikichi had closed the doors and taken up his tattooing instruments, but for a while he only sat there entranced, savoring to the full her uncanny beauty. He thought that he would never tire of contemplating her serene masklike face.

Just as the ancient Egyptians had embellished their magnificent land with pyramids and sphinxes, he was about to embellish the pure skin of this girl. Presently he raised the brush which was gripped between the thumb and last two fingers of his left hand, applied its tip to the girl’s back, and, with the needle which he held in his right hand, began pricking out a design. He felt his spirit dissolve into the charcoal-black ink that strained her skin. Each drop of Ryukyu cinnabar that he mixed with alcohol and thrust in was a drop of his lifeblood. He saw in his pigments the hues of his own passions. Soon it was afternoon, and then the tranquil spring day drew toward its close. But Seikichi never paused in his work, nor was the girl’s sleep broken.

When a servant came from the geisha house to inquire about her, Seikichi turned him away, saying that she had left long ago. And hours later, when the moon hung over the mansion across the river, bathing the houses along the bank in a dreamlike radiance, the tattoo was not yet half done. Seikichi worked on by candlelight. Even to insert a single drop of color was no easy task. At every thrust of his needle Seikichi gave a heavy sigh and felt as if he had stabbed his own heart. Little by little the tattoo marks began to take on the form of a huge black-widow spider; and by the time the night sky was paling into dawn this weird, malevolent creature had stretched its eight legs to embrace the whole of the girl’s back.

In the full light of the spring dawn boats were being rowed up and down the river, their oars creaking in the morning quiet; roof tiles glistened in the sun, and the haze began to thin out over white sails swelling in the early breeze. Finally Seikichi put down his brush and looked at the tattooed spider. This work of art had been the supreme effort of his life. Now that he had finished it his heart was drained of emotion. The two figures remained still for some time. Then Seikichi’s low, hoarse voice echoed quaveringly from the walls of the room: “To make you truly beautiful I have poured my soul into this tattoo. Today there is not woman in Japan to compare with you. Your old fears are gone. All men will be your victims.”

As if in response to these words a faint moan came from the girl’s lips. Slowly she began to recover her senses. With each shuddering breath, the spider’s legs stirred as if they were alive. “You must be suffering. The spider has you in its clutches.” At this she opened her eyes slightly, in a dull stare. Her gaze steadily brightened, as the moon brightens in the evening, until it shone dazzlingly into his face. “Let me see the tattoo,” she said, speaking as if in a dream but with an edge of authority to her voice.

“Giving me your soul must have made me very beautiful.” “First you must bathe to bring out the colors,” whispered Seikichi compassionately. “I am afraid it will hurt, but be brave a little longer.” “I can bear anything for the sake of beauty.” Despite the pain that was coursing through her body, she smiled. “How the water stings! ... Leave me alone – wait in the other room! I hate to have a man see me suffer like this!”

As she left the tub, too weak to dry herself, the girl pushed aside the sympathetic hand Seikichi offered her, and sank to the floor in agony, moaning as if in a nightmare. Her disheveled hair hung over her face in a wild tangle. The white soles of her feet were reflected in the mirror behind her. Seikichi was amazed at the change that had come over the timid, yielding girl of yesterday, but he did as he was told and went to wait in his studio.

About an hour later she came back, carefully dressed, her damp, sleekly combed hair hanging down over her shoulders. Leaning on the veranda rail, she looked up into the faintly hazy sky. Her eyes were brilliant; there was not a trace of pain in them. “I wish to give you these pictures too,” said Seikichi, placing the scrolls before her. “Take them and go.”

“All my old fears have been swept away – and you are my first victim!” She darted a glance at him as bright as a sword. A song of triumph was ringing in her ears. “Let me see your tattoo once more,” Seikichi begged. Silently the girl nodded and slipped the kimono off her shoulders. Just then her resplendently tattooed back caught a ray of sunlight and the spider was wreathed in flames.

Monday, October 24, 2016


It’s October and I’m a witch.

Below are some potions that might be fun to make. These are from the internet so yeah…the internet…proceed with caution.

Happy fall.

For Prophecies:  Fumes made of linseed, fleabane seeds, roots of violets and parsley doth make  you to foresee things to come and conduce to prophesying.

For Youth:  Make a powder of the flowers of elder, gathered on Midsummer’s Day, being before well dried, and use a spoonful thereof in a good draught of borage-water, morning and evening, first and last, for the space of a month; and it will make you seem young for a great while.

For Invisibility:  On Midsummer’s Eve gather some fern seed between eleven and noon. Whenever you carry it, you will be invisible. But you must take care not to lose any of it; else you will not regain your proper shape.

To Find Out a Thief:  To discover who they are that have stolen from you and make them confess: take quicksilver and the white of an egg. Mingle them together and make an eye upon the wall with it. Then gather together all whom you suspect, and tell them to gaze upon the eye. His or her eye that stole from you will water.

To Improve the Appearance:  If you wish to make hair grow on your head, anoint it with milk and honey and fennel seed. Do this twice a day.

Damnation Powder: Burnt ashes from palm leaves, Holy water, Beer, Myrrh      Lavender, color: Black. Another very powerful powder used for hexing an individual you dislike. Sprinkle on burning incense while repeating his name nine times. Use with extreme caution.

Easy Wrath Powder:  Ashes, Red Pepper, Rose, Jasmine, Sandalwood color: Blue. Toss on any person who is angry over something you have done. Eliminates all feelings of animosity. Also good for overcoming hatred.

Goddess Bath: Obtain as many as you can of the following ingredients.  If you can't find each and every one of the ingredients don't worry, do what you can.  Florida Water [floral cologne] Fresh basil, Champagne Rose petals, One small can of evaporated (NOT condensed) milk, Vanilla extract, Coconut milk, Orange leaves, Fresh lettuce, Fresh aloe. The fresh herbs and the lettuce should be thoroughly crushed in a basin of water which is then strained as it is poured into the bath. The Florida water, champagne, a few drops of vanilla extract and coconut milk can be poured directly into the bath water.  Scatter the rose petals on the water's surface.  Light a white or pink candle and bless the water before you bathe. Keep the water pleasantly cool, or at least not too hot. 

Healing: Love, water magic, feminine mysteries
2 parts Willow tree bark
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
1⁄2 dried Apple or a dash apple juice
A pinch of Rosemary
Boil and drink.

Strength: Energy, fire magic, masculine mysteries, lust and resistance.
1 1⁄2 part white Oak bark
1⁄2 part Mint
1⁄2 part Orange peel
en pinch of Nutmeg or Cinnamon
Boil and drink.

Make an enemy move: Cayenne pepper, white pepper, 1 pinch sulfur, 1 pinch dill. Mix and burn. Concentrate on the goal while it burns.

Potion to ease a broken heart: You will need the following ingredients (be sure to charge them all before you begin):
Strawberry tea (one bag)
Small wand or stick from a willow tree
Sea salt
2 pink candles
A mirror
One pink drawstring bag
One quartz crystal
A copper penny
A bowl made of china or crystal that is special to you
1 teaspoon dried jasmine
1 teaspoon orris-root powder
1 tsp strawberry leaves
1 teaspoon yarrow
10 plus drops apple-blossom oil or peach oil
10 plus drops strawberry oil

On a Friday morning or evening (the day sacred to Venus) take a bath in sea salt in the light of a pink candle. As you dry off and dress, sip the strawberry tea. Use a dab of strawberry oil as perfume or cologne. Apply makeup or groom yourself to look your best. Cast a circle with the willow wand around a table the other ingredients. Light the second pink candle. Mix all oils and herbs in the bowl. While you stir look at yourself in the mirror and say aloud:

'Oh, Great Mother Goddess, enclose me in your loving arms and nurture and bring forth the Goddess within me.'

Herbal sachet for protection from negative energie:
1 tsp dried Anise seed (any kind of Anise)
1 1⁄2 tsp dried whole Cloves
petals of 1 small dried red Rose
2 tsp dried Rosemary
6 dried Bay leaves
9 inch by 9 inch square white cotton cloth
6 inch purple cord or yarn

Mix all ingredients well, then place into the center of white cloth in a pile. Bring each corner up to the center one at a time, in a clockwise motion. when all corners are up and touching, there will be four folds sticking out. In a clockwise motion, bring the corners of these folds to the center as well. Take the purple cord or yarn and wrap it around the cloth 3 times, just above the high spot of the herbs. Tie three knots, and let the ends hang. 

To stop someone who's being unfaithful:
By burning this in the evening, your partner will loose all sexual interest in others. Ex: When he/she wanders out at night to meet another partner, he/she looses interest when they go to bed.

You'll need:
1⁄2 cup of sandalwood powder
1⁄2 cup of lavender
2 cups of cinnamon powder
1⁄4 cup of lilac (crushed)
2 tsp of tobacco
1 cup of power seeds (crushed)
1⁄2 cup of orris root powder
2 tsp of allspice
1⁄4 cup of vervain
1⁄2 tsp of saltpeter

Mix it in a wooden bowl and cover it with a piece of cloth when not used. This special love blend has to be mixed really well or the result will be bad.

Dream of the future
1⁄2 cup of sandalwood incense
2 tsp of myrrh
1⁄2 cup of orris root (crushed)
3 tsp of frankincense powder
1⁄2 cup of moss
2 tsp of oregano

Mix well in a bowl, put on a tight lid and place it in a dark corner until it is to be used. Take 1 tsp and burn before bedtime. Take some of the mix and put it in a small cloth bad, sow it shut and put it under your pillow.

Psychic Simmering Pot:
If you wish to link your conscious mind with your psychic awareness, if you wish to use tarot cards or rune stones or other tools to glimpse possible future events, create this blend and simmer to stimulate your psychic mind.

3 tbsp of galangal
1 tbsp of star anise (or 2 whole)
1 tbsp of lemon grass
1 tbsp of thyme
1 tbsp of rose petals
A pinch of mace
A pinch of real saffron

Mix and charge the herbs in a small bowl. Visualize your psychic awareness as being under your control. Smell the fragrance rising from the herbs. Inhale the energies. Relax, chant the following words, and foretell.

'Starlight swirls before my eyes
Twilight furls its wisdom wise
Moonlight curls within the skies
The time has come to prophesize'

Love Apple Cocktail:
This cocktail is meant to arouse desire. Stir together in a saucepan 2 cups of tomato juice, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of basil, and a dash each of dill and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer the mixture for three minutes, then chill it in the refrigerator. Strain the beverage before serving. Dill is powerful enough to bring on proposals of marriage, so if you're not interested in marriage, you substitute with celery salt!

Aphrodisiac I - Passion Drink:
1 pinch of rosemary
2 pinches of thyme
2 tsp of black tea
1 pinch of coriander
3 fresh mint leaves (or 1⁄2 tsp dried)
5 fresh rose bud petals (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp of dried lemon peel
3 pinches of nutmeg
3 pinches of orange peel

Put all the ingredients in a teapot. Boil about 3 cups of water and pour it into the pot. Sweeten with honey if you prefer
Aphrodisiac II
3 parts rose petals
1 part cloves
1 part nutmeg
1 part lavender
1 part ginger

Boil water and let it steep for at least 5 - 10 minutes. You can mix it with another tea or drink it as it is.
Magic Tea - Birch Moon
Matters of beginnings and children; purification.

3 parts ginger
1 part lemongrass
A pinch of dill
A splash of lemon juice
Magic Tea - Ash Moon
Matters of the intellect; magic, healing. 2 parts angelica

1⁄2 part sage
1⁄2 part black cohosh
A pinch of rosemary

Do not use black cohosh during pregnancy, as it can cause miscarriage. Black cohosh is a sedative and not to be taken in large amounts.

Magic Tea - Willow Moon:
Matters of the Otherworld; healing, love, water magic, feminine mysteries.

2 parts willow bark
1 tbs vanilla extract
1⁄2 part dried apples
A pinch of rosemary
Magic Tea - Hawthorn Moon
Peace, sleep, dreams, prosperity, happiness.

1 part hawthorn
1 part catnip
1⁄2 part rue
1⁄2 part champagne

Do not use rue during pregnancy, as it can cause miscarriage. It can cause sensitivity to the sun and is toxic in moderate to large amounts.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Yesterday as I was recovering from another unfortunate night of self-immolation I was checking my Facebook feed and a post by Leah Dixon and Lauren Christiansen popped up and it grabbed my undivided attention. The post is entitled: JERRY SALTZ- THE DONALD TRUMP OF ART WORLD SOCIAL MEDIA and it had me literally grinning and laughing out loud. Essentially it is a take down of Jerry Saltz, an art critic at New York Magazine. He has been around NYC for a long time and my first anecdote of him was relayed to me from a doyenne of the gilded Soho era describing him as an ingratiating twit. This probably colored my constant distaste for all things Saltz but over the years Saltz has proven himself to be deserving of that prejudice.

Do I know him personally? No. Do I follow him on social media? No. This has been by choice because even without any of this direct contact Saltz still seems to ooze into the art world landscape even when you are trying to avoid it. The thing about Saltz that makes me so dismissive is his writing. It is bad. But in the art world that doesn’t mean much anymore. You can be really bad at something but still have a miniature power and Saltz has capitalized on this with an impish relish that luckily has faded away like that terrible reality gallery TV show he was on.

I’m going to say something a bit mean and crass: Roberta Smith is Jerry Saltz’ dick.

I have said this to many people over many years. What I mean by this is that the only real power/legitimacy that Saltz has is the fact that he is married to Roberta Smith who is an art critic for the New York Times. She is a good writer. She is respected. She has the chops and influence. I say it because without her I really have no other explanation of how/why Saltz has lasted and has been as vaunted as he is.

When I read Dixon and Christiansen’s very thoughtful and honest articulation of the massively pervy behavior of Saltz on social media I thought back to another thing I would say about him. When people would ask why I don’t read Saltz’ reviews or care to I would say it’s like watching Fox News. I don’t need to watch it just to say I have and if I do then it will only infuriate and perpetuate something that is vile and frankly stupid. The comparison of Saltz to Trump in their post really hits the mark.

I’m delighted that Dixon and Christiansen took the time to write this and they are better then I, and most of us, for not just pretending it doesn’t exist by ignoring it. It’s high time that sexist men in the art world are called out publically. Thank you to the writers and here’s hoping that the art world starts clearing out and taking responsibility for all this white male privilege garbage.

Below is a copy/paste of Dixon and Christiansen’s post. Enjoy!

October 15, 2016 4:28pm via Facebook

Leah Dixon and I [Lauren Christiansen] sat in our living room in Chinatown and wrote this. We had to get it out- for we are both angry and in a state of utter disbelief that we are here… and that we are both participants in its legacy. We both make casual comments to each other from time to time about how we can’t believe what Jerry Saltz gets away with… and why? On the heels of Michelle Obama’s speech in New Hampshire, we decided to finally put it in words- and to admit that we are fed up, confused, and ashamed that we are a part of an art world that is letting this behavior continue.

You would think by looking at Jerry Saltz's instagram, and viewing his general media presence, that there is nothing going on in the world besides the fact that half of the population owns a vagina. We have waited to see if he would eventually evolve… if eventually he might become interested in communicating something besides other people’s genitalia, and move onto a more relevant topic- his obvious and continued mid-life crisis. It only takes thirty seconds on Saltz’s instagram to see how destructive and trivial his interests are. How he is using his power to openly fetishize female bodies, in lieu of actually presenting valid cultural critique. Honestly, one out of every three of his posts is a vagina. LITERALLY… maybe even more. The even bigger problem is that you could spend not just thirty seconds, but three hours on his instagram- because it goes on and on. We just did it. It was awful, and most of all, really stupid. It is basically his entire personal brand… a brand that is brazen and unconsidered, and is hard to separate from his criticism.

So we have to admit that one of the first things we thought of when the tapes of Trump's lewd comments leaked was, "THANK GOD, finally this is going to make Jerry Saltz stop." We barely even payed conscious attention to Saltz on social media prior to this. However his weenie-ness somehow manages to noodle its way into our periphery... and then 1500 people "like" it. The more that social media uses optimizing tools, the harder it is to avoid him. That is why when the media became completely overrun by Trump's horrifying sexist remarks and scandals, we thought that it would finally drown out Jerry's irrelevant vagina obsession. But somehow- he just kept it up... like the sad clown at the county fair who keeps juggling even when no one is looking. But our misogynistic art culture continues to prize persistence and consistency over awareness. Like the more male artists/writers/critics who go into a white room, or their bedroom, and do the same thing over and over- the more we are supposed to praise their heroic pursuit of their own neuroses? Ok fine- but then they had better come up with more relevant content than representing a body part that 50% of us actually own in the flesh. We get it Jerry. We have one. If you want to know what it’s like, we would say just ask us- but please don’t. You have already creeped us out.

What is even more upsetting is that he is highly aware of what he is doing… so aware in fact, that he sometimes demands permission for his tendencies. “Please allow me one geezer sexist moment: EVERY time EVERY straight man sees a woman naked in person he thinks 'What a miracle. I am SO lucky.' Every time; every woman; every time. - I suck the cold air deep inside of me..." He says this as if women are mythical creatures inhabiting a far off land. How did he possibly manage make the female form about him and his luck?! The sucking air reference is apt, for it is a perfect metaphor for misogyny- which often times shows the buffoonish man claiming the role of both the aggressor and the victim- commodifying women, and then claiming misunderstanding, or a misguided attempt at adoration, as the excuse. This behavior is dangerous- and conceptually violent, for it allows the misogynist to inhabit both roles in the exchange. It leaves no space for the women at all... figuratively sucking up all the air in the room. Unfortunately in Saltz's case, when he breathes the air back out- it is tinged with a sour odor, that everyone is somehow supposed to be ok with smelling. Well we are here to tell you Jerry that your shit stinks.

Upon a bit of further research, it is easy to find instances of people in the art world calling Saltz out for his blatant sexism and de-valuation of women. It is also just as easy to find his responses. Here is an example of one of his responses to people denouncing his Facebook page’s portrayal of women… “I hope that all of these finger-pointing little Napoleons get a grip and go elsewhere." Sorry Jerry. We have vaginas. We have brains. And we are here to stay. And truth be told, we'll be here a lot longer than you will be.
Yet un-surpringsingly, every time someone calls him out- someone else zooms to his defense. ArtNews co-executive editor Andrew Russeth praises the “gutsiness” of Saltz. Russeth has this to say… "Everything would say that as an art critic, you should be serious, you should be really considered, extremely deliberate... He was willing to experiment and make himself a character in the public sphere."

Uuummmm…… WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We would like to ask, what's the experiment?! To see how much white men can get away with??? We already know that answer... a lot. Jerry has always been in the seat of someone who was going to get away with too much. He has nestled himself inside of a womb of entitlement. There is nothing bold or “gutsy” about being a misogynist in public. It's as if by calling Saltz a "character" it relieves him of all ethical and critical responsibility. It's like praising the idiot savant. He is an idiot when it comes to his representation of women, and a savant at taking advantage of a system that enables people to get away with it.

Since the beginning of Western art history, our cultural story has virtually ONLY been told by white men… so in fact, letting another one flail around un-checked is absolutely the LEAST “experimental” thing one can do. Why are we continually giving this behavior so much space? There is something borderline sociopathic about how this operates in the art-world, because like many educated men, Saltz proclaims himself to be a "Feminist”- therefore blocking him from criticism of the exploitative ways that he is displaying his so-called admiration of femininity. But a critical responder can see that by displaying his "admiration" for women, he is backhandedly attempting to define them… and he is doing so in the most carelessly flat, horny, groveling way possible. We aren’t even given the chance to have an open discussion with him. We would never want to sit in the same room with him, since he has consistently made it apparent that our words would be drowned out by his fixation on our nether-regions. It is violating and lazy. He is using attempted shock value to deflect responsibility away from himself as a contemporary voice, and justify his misogyny and commodification via shallow art-historical references. It’s blatant sexism hiding behind a shell of empathy and institutional allowance, with none of the accountability.

We are projecting that just like Donald Trump, his inevitable defense would to this would be “No one loves women more than I do!” Well Jerry. We don't care what you love. Shut up. You’ve had your time.

Saltz has said that he sees his work as flattening the hierarchy of art criticism. This is highly hypocritical coming from a person who told his detractors to “get a grip and go elsewhere.” On the other hand, the hierarchy is somewhat successfully being flattened- not by him, but by the thousands of hopeful voices out there, who are actually doing the hard work. With the increased empowerment and networking of artists- specifically artists who are women and or minorities, art critics have never been less important. It is fitting that a person whose critical tendencies leave him continually returning to more bigoted times in art history, might turn to shock value and “character” building as a way to keep the old dog from having to learn new tricks.

Jerry, we are not asking you to go away. We are simply asking you to employ the same level of imagination, awareness, and adaptability that is crucial to participants in the art world right now… especially the ones with vaginas. If you can't manage to update your schtick, then potentially retirement is an option. You are no victim Jerry. You cannot claim to have misunderstood. You don't get to say "whoopsies!" You have been very successful and had a long career. We are now going to spray some Febreeze, open the windows, and allow more air in for everyone else. There are so many other people whose voices and opinions are coming from a place of actual power… one that has been earned by doing much more than constantly noting each other’s anatomy.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Reminders Unremembered

There is this thing on my phone (most of you probably have it too) where you can list reminders to yourself. I don’t use it well. I occasionally jot down things in it but then I usually forget that I wrote a note and then forget what that note referred to when I do read it.

I’m thinking about this because I’m reading a book on memory, The Art of Memory by Frances Yates. I am interested in the idea, science, philosophic questions related to memory and the retrieval of it. For someone who is so interested in it, I have a really bizarre memory. I remember some things so clearly while others I really have no desire or imprint to recall.

I was thinking today how my instinct to jot down a note on my phone or on a slip of paper is a means in which I allow myself to forget. Once expelled from brain and jotted down, I can move on. Perhaps that’s a coping mechanism or a subconscious permission slip to be uncurious. I’m not sure but today I thought to look at this list on my phone and reading through it I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. Laugh at how much the notes did and didn’t trigger recollection of what it was for; its need or where I was in life when I wrote it.  

In a way, this is a bit revealing. I have also been thinking about this too, the strange dances and performances, I/You/We do in revealing ourselves to ourselves and to each other. That whole thing is a bit cringe but it is also ridiculous so I feel relatively safe that it won’t reveal anything actually so what’s there to lose?

I love looking at other people’s notes, lists, jots and markers on a page, gum wrapper, or ballpoint ink on the hand. I love the idea that something is important but also easily forgettable and our quirks and habits in trying to remember/forget both of those things is endearing and at times revealing.

From the looks of it, this list goes back a few years. As I said, I don’t use it often because I forget I have it most the time… well without further ado here goes (Spelling mistakes etc. left uncorrected. Some addresses and emails omitted for privacy of third party):

-       Schopenhauer world as will and idea
-       Wh auden
-       Edward levee. Suicide
-       Geore Oppeny
-       Henri Bergson creative evolution
-       Alfred jarry ubu roi
-       Bach c minor sonata violin christian tetzlaff
-       Tulume mexico
-       Animal architecture
-       Xenophon – march of the ten thousand
-       Nyc 219”x10 feet
-       Kiliam perfume
-       Hildegard von bingen
-       Falling angels
-       Orestia
-       Catullus and horace
-       Money spider webs
-       Albert york show davis and langdale gallery
-       Fallen angels
-       Fourteen nineteen
-       Green river cem
-       Through improvisation there is no failure- hypothesis
-       Jerry lewis branding. Success money kings of comedy adoptiok rejection. Charles lim scientist or theor. Affirnation sign of success. Photo. $ affirmation auccess.
-       Melting tiger lily
-       Baudelaire flowers of evil
-       What the use of dissonance?
-       Warhol “silver was narcissism-mirrors were backed with silver”
-       Silas marner george elliot
-       Adorno aesthetic thory
-       Art is funny show
-       Painting as form of bosy human emotional connection
-       Perly gates of cyber space
-       Allen ruppersburg
-       I have a drinking problem
-       Eugene (address omitted)
-       Wilthsire farmers market s Vermont ave and Wilshire blvd
-       Farmer market 6333 west 3rd st
-       Turrell. We create the reality which we live
-       Mary corse
-       Netsuke
-       Tony matelli ff
-       Erewhone
-       A box with fur and story headphones
-       Performance of female porn sounds. Words
-       Mercado wrapped goods in tarp
-       Balloons in a corner
-       Buy table T mercado when it is wrapped
-       Water lover luce
-       Muay thai boxing
-       Make a book about art world stats. Consensus
-       Jean Cocteau
-       30 x 4 : 8x8 : 50.5
-       Jeremy parker
-       Norm heather
-       Pc music alex cook
-       Heads up
-       (email omitted)
-       Driads
-       2 ravens odin though memory
-       Espn jeers show
-       (number omitted) max
-       Fishion herb center
-       Groove is in the hall
-       Idea of teeth and mouth in surrealism
-       1311 pacific st 402 between nostrand and new york ave
-       Nostaligia is the handmaiden of fascism. Mary Gordon.
-       (email omitted)
-       (email omitted)
-       Open office
-       I reflected that culture was simply the condition that precluded a mentality that tried to measure it. Adorno
-       Jean Etienne leotard. Trome l’oil
-       Food and art  food in art
-       (email omitted)
-       (email omitted)
-       (email omitted)
-       Bookworm podcast
-       Hsbc pin phone (number omitted)
-       The cell hackney
-       (email omitted)
-       Uk numb 074 3890 5355
-       (email omitted)
-       3 crown. Jack. Rohit.
-       Sad funny ironic is all i have
-       Horace (number omitted)
-       (email omitted)
-       (email omitted)
-       (email omitted)
-       (email omitted)
-       In praise of folly. Erasmus rotterdamn
-       Holbein the ambassadors
-       Its not a head it's the middle of a tree. “Or something”
-       Chris french. Population stereotypes.
-       sklhcvxf
-       Movie about Cambodian killers reenacting memory “the act of killing”
-       Jo rm 203
-       (email omitted)
-       Café des spores, hoopla geiss, colonel, le wine bar du sablon marolles, le clan belges, pei & mei.
-       House of vintage. Brick lane. Archive. Paddington
-       (email omitted)
-       (number omitted)
-       Norwegian slow tv
-       Feelings affect emotion
-       Simulation of desire
-       Whitehead. (Chang) speculative ecology
-       Decadence. Bosch. Collective. Hooror vacui. Synthenetics. Voice primary. Catherdral of sound
-       The hand. Feelings. Grasping. Known one as well as back of. Focus on research? Aesthetics of and past current art examples? Limbless in greek art. What dows that mean?
-       (email omitted)
-       They call me an investor of the arts. The dark art
-       Meipai
-       Camden art center
-       27.2
-       258 bus
-       Le Chartier commi food
-       You sound sad 3x
-       5164 (6 page)
-       Johannes painter yellow beard glasses. Rebecca lived in a flat till 2009. Was here for 6 months after opening. Leave as is. Artists/cyratirs stay only 2nd time used. Left as is. 3 bedrooms.
-       791 cerdit
-       24/7 book carey
-       166 wide 182 back wall 9 feet high
-       Moving sickness (prologue) 4 mins
-       Reclining women in art
-       Stendhal