deeply satisfying

Back at work! Still blogging!

Saturday morning, while eating some leftover gnocchi, I read that “For the conventions of cave painting to have endured four times as long as recorded history, the culture it served must have been deeply satisfying.” I am stuck on the hedonistic, Infinite Jesty mindset behind this, with its implicit criticism of all art ever since, and all people—if only we weren’t so fickle! Nowadays everything’s over before it begins; the paint fades before you’re halfway across the cave, and everyone’s moved to the plains. In Brazil, in that restaurant that was also still a video store and at least three other businesses, that had not bothered to stop being any of the things it was before, it felt like they’d solved this—it was the opposite of that Whitehead line, that “You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now” bit. Why can’t it all be solid, the dead and the living? Why can’t I rent a metaphorical video while eating a figurative sandwich? DB said “I remember exactly where I was when I realized that postmodernism had bought it. I was in my study with a cup of tequila and William Y’s One-Half. Y’s work is, we agree, good—very good. But who can make the leap to greatness while dragging after him the burnt-out boxcars of a dead aesthetic?” He was just kidding, though.

Later I went to the soon-to-be-moved Berkeley Art Museum, which was deeply satisfying—I sat in its darkest room and stared at Trevor Paglen’s silkscreened, spinning globe showing the locations of a hundred-some spy satellites and felt in my hindbrain deeply satisfied. The gallery brochure is not too illuminating (“sometimes in images the night sky appears above land”), but if you walk over to the other side of the museum there may still be a spider standing next to one of Robert Irwin’s acrylic discs, and you can look at that and then go back and look at the globe with its little surveilling satellites and then go look at the spider again and that’s pretty good. The Mabuhay Gardens photos are great too, and offer better measures than longevity for the payoffs that place offered. Look at that sputtering, crotch-borne beer bottle! Look at that man—he’s just a streak of light and some spandex pants! Makes me want to go to shows again, almost.

After that I bought at a bad price The Mystic Circle Fortune Teller and Dream Book, which on its title page claims to be “profusely illustrated,” even though it isn’t—I can only find one illustration, and it’s more of a diagram. Still, I’m learning a lot:

SUSPENDERS.—To wear them, precaution; to take them off, some disagreeable event.

SINGING.—For a man to dream of singing, brings hope; to a woman, sorrow.

PANCAKES.—To bake them, intrigues; to eat them, indulgence in sinful pleasures.

Salad is also bad, as is bacon, but foreheads and drowning are good. In general, these premonitory edicts are sitting better with me—the person who sees a salad in their sleep and fears it seems more interesting (more trustworthy?) than the New Yorker who wants to tell me about a shoe store that isn’t there anymore. Not that they want to, really!