I Will Fly Away II

“He put on a little knapsack and he walked through Indiana and Kentucky and North Carolina and Georgia clear to Florida. He walked among farmers and mountain people, among swamp people and fishermen. And everywhere people asked him why he was walking through the country.
Because he loved true things he tried to explain. He said he was nervous and besides he wanted to see the country, smell the ground and look at grass and birds and trees, to savor the country, and there was no other way to do it save on foot.”
John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

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I can fly, but today, I will walk.

Ringing in the New Year

Today I took the Christmas tree down.  This is usually one of the first signs than I’m ready to embrace a new year.  I’m looking forward to what is to come.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.
– Neil Gaiman

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My Blue Blue Highways – IV

“The moon is brighter since the barn burned down.” – Chinese Proverb

Sometimes in my travels I come across barns.  I travel a lot.  I photograph wherever I am. My job has required me to get around locally and regionally as well and there are farms all over Western NY.  I have friends that live all over the area too.  Naturally, I see a lot of barns when I travel to visit them.  As an artist, I’ve always been drawn to blue highways and photographing rural landscapes (like this one).

And sometimes I do come upon scenes like the ones below that make me stop and take a photograph of a barn, as so many people do.


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“No one sees the barn,” he said finally.

     A long silence followed.
     “Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”
     He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated side, replaced at once by others.
     “We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.”
     There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

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“Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be a part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”

– from White Noise by Don DeLillo

“The Future is not Written” – Joe Strummer

As 2012 comes to an end I naturally find myself thinking about what is to come.  The late Joe Strummer has been on my mind lately because the 10 year anniversary of his death was this month.  Strummer projected a forward thinking attitude about change and taking control of our own destinies, which I like very much.  I’ll be ringing in the new year with the music of Joe Strummer and the long line of musicians he is associated with including Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Bob Marley.  Happy New Year!

“And so now I’d like to say – people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks – I am one of them. But we’ve all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything – this is something that I’m beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanized. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing. That’s my spiel.”
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Facebook, Internet Memes and Situationist Slogans

When aliens try to learn about Earthlings by looking at facebook, they will think we are all ecstatically happy and that we compulsively “like” just about everything we encounter. Even our status updates about life, love, politics and the world around us are delivered at a pace resembling a frenzied heartbeat. Multitudes of saccharin comments accumulate like deep breathing methods, but they can’t tame the palpitations that fuel our compulsion to remain engaged in this kind of super-charged, yet ultimately empty communication.

At the end of the day, I am the first to admit that I enjoy facebook. I appreciate all that it has to offer, especially when it comes to staying in touch with friends and associates in the arts and of course family. For the most part, I use it solely as a networking tool and it’s negative aspects are easily kept at bay. You can specify a certain audience for each bit of content you put out there, so you don’t have to worry about offending your boss or your grandmother. Since my expectations about the level of meaningful interaction within social media in general are low, I’m rarely overly disappointed with my experience using it.

With all of that said, I also think it’s important to look at the big picture where these kinds of phenomena in our lives are concerned. There are endless contributing factors to how we got here. Facebook itself has contributed greatly to the recent rise in popularity of internet memes who’s culture jamming effects are reminiscent of the impact the Situationist International’s slogans had on daily life, mostly in Europe in the 1950s and 60s. As part of a specific agenda associated with opposing capitalism, the SI’s slogans were a big part of the 1968 uprisings in Paris. The slogans became a part of daily life in the form of graffiti when quotations from two situationist books, The Society of the Spectacle (1967) by Guy Debord and On the Poverty of Student Life (1966) by Mustapha Khayati, were written on the sides of buildings and subway walls of Paris.

Many of the SI slogans could easily be internet memes of today:

Actual Graffiti Found on Paris’ Walls in May, 1968

Don’t beg for the right to live — take it.
Those who make revolutions half way only dig their own graves.
No replastering, the structure is rotten.
The passion of destruction is a creative joy.
Conservatism is a synonym for rottenness and ugliness.
Those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking.
Unbutton your mind as often as your fly.
Professors, you make us grow old.
Terminate the university
The bourgeoisie has no other pleasure than to degrade all pleasures.

Below is a gallery of images I pulled randomly from Google Images with the search query “Situationist Slogans” typed in.