Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’

Dear Mom and Dad-

Posted: December 11, 2015 in Letters
Tags: , , , ,

 

 

Photo by Alvin Trusty of Findlay, Ohio.

Photo by Alvin Trusty of Findlay, Ohio.

 

Dear Mom and Dad-                                                                                 12/11/2015                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Pat gave me the boot. I don’t fit her quasi-criminal plans. She’s living off her second husband’s pension, her recluse daughter’s disability check and her own green thumb as gardener growing pot indoors. She has sun-lamps, timers and techno-wizardry in her bedroom closet. She learned horticulture at a local nursery and she learned underground economy from her jailbird son. Or maybe she taught him. Or maybe it’s in the blood.

I miss her too much. It’s an embarrassment to pine for the life-long scamp. An ex-stripper on the small town circuit in the hills of Western Pennsylvania. Still cute as a button. We used to zig-zag through the streets of Philadelphia like Bonnie and Clyde on their honeymoon. Fun. Fun. Fun. Of course, she loved to quote her Jew-Guru in the far suburbs, dropping phrases like “non-ego”, “Jungian Oversoul” and “world as illusion”. She thought it gave her intellectual cachet. Reverting to the mean, she called the Catholic Church “The Whore of Babylon” while at Sunday brunch with myself and a pal. Bravo! More heart than brains! But a whole lot of heart, nonetheless. My Italian-gigolo-writer pal, a connoisseur of women and a freelance know-it-all, liked Pat quite a bit because she alternately flattered and insulted his intelligence. Even while fully dressed, she’s good at holding a man’s attention.

Too bad that she gave me the boot. I’m feeling blue. Dear old Carol, who’s had just as much difficulty in her life without seeking the devil’s help, has come to my rescue. She cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for myself and another lonely bachelor. A thoroughly demoralized truck driver who’s too nice for the dating game. He brought a handgun to dinner. He has no illusions about man’s beastly nature. Yet he sees woman as the embodiment of pure love and bores the seasoned whores he chooses to elevate. Of course, he courts in bars instead of church. The racier the woman, the more he sees her inner-homebody.

Carol is as nuts as everyone else but walks a straight line. She’s hysterical yet steeled like the toughest of men. A devout Italian Catholic, she thinks that Human Beings are Almighty God’s #1 mistake. As if Man is an embarrassing flaw in The Creator’sBeautiful Catholic Design that’s been patched-over by the myth of Original Sin. Still, Carol does God’s Work in true womanly measure. Like the US Marines step toward the gunfire, Carol steps towards the day’s insane pain. An angel of mercy even as she bitches about “fuckin’ niggers” and “assholes in government”. Raised in a small Italian enclave in the Black ghetto, Carol has learned to mother everyone except for those she’d like to stab in the throat. It is, I think, a lingering mafia sensibility

I have to find myself a wife before it’s too late. I’m a handsome old guy until I rise from a chair like an arthritic dinosaur. My market value is declining. But as a writer, I’m getting better and worse at once! More reckless. More poetic. More vicious and more tender as I channel Carol’s spirit into the ink. I’ve found my voice!

Your dear son in Philly-

J.J.

_____________________________________________________

Fire Crown copy

_____________________________________________________

Advertisements

Gordie Howitzer

LIFE IN THE HOCKEY IMPERIUM:
ST. JOSEPH, GORDIE HOWE AND THE BARBER’S PART

THE REAL IDEAL 

I had true modest heroes, well suited for a good life. Catholicism provided the fabric and measure. My elders were cut from the very cloth of St. Joseph. He was a family man and carpenter.  A Workaday Joe.  And, most of all, a servant to a higher authority that he didn’t question.

Such background saints mind their rank. They’re God’s jobbers from start to finish. In the family fold were such worthy Joes as Stan Jarzoski: a former US Army scout who landed on Omaha Beach and stalked behind Nazi lines until V-E Day. A strapping 6 footer, quiet as a prayer, he worked in the field of death even as he pushed a lawnmower. Then for every true light there was a stray shadow. Like my Uncle Art who was a closet homosexual, a self-taught painter of lurid scenes, and a butcher in my dad’s shop who only arrived drunk when sobriety was needed most during the holiday stampedes.

There you go: hero and drunkard balanced to turn the eternally unfinished wheel of parish life. But it’s too quaint. What about about the haloed giants, taller than church steeples, visible from afar? Gordie Howe was such a landmark Joe. He was a monumental model of Christian piety who, when the puck dropped, became a hunter-killer-thriller with tufts of otherworldly grace.

All the locals loved Gordie. He was the real ideal.

THE PAGAN-CATHOLIC HOCKEY CALENDAR  

In sportswriter’s terms, Howe had a dominant presence on the ice. In boy cosmologist’s terms, Howe had much, much more. He had numinous presence, a legendary presence, a muscular-mystical presence in the flatlands of SE Michigan where the sewage from the steel-mils seeped into the swamps of Lake Erie.

Howe’s fame was the same on the Canadian side of the shipping channel where my sober uncle owned a tug-boat company. Tugs are the St. Joe’s, the brawny and dutiful seconds, of the Great Lakes fleet. Furthermore, gulls are angels if you’re privy to the backwater animism and nature worship written into Roman Catholic legalese. Strange but true! As far as life goes, I had to start somewhere. I started in the cradle of Pagan-Catholic-Borderline stuff.

Tugs and gulls were hyper-real. So were whispers in the wind and specters on the water. So was my loneliness. Incubating as a baby-faced Joe in a crystal blaze of winter, I had a hunch. Uh-oh. I had a badly heated, angry adolescent hunch that my dear childhood heroes were letting their wives, priests and politicians do all the talking. Of course, that’s what real men-of-action do! But still. What about the reflective child, not the usual narcissist, who sees his face in mirrors of ice? It has a cold-cold attraction. And while every hoary Joe knows that cabin fever is bad, only a few very disturbed Joes know that cure in the open air, sparkling with light at the nadir of winter, can be worse.

Call it what you want. Psychological disturbance. Psychic disturbance. Maybe a fairy tale blend of both. But even as a minor rube with my balls shrinking in the cold, I had a big hairy hunch that my folks needed a hyper-voice to speak to the world and speak for themselves. It happened one day! Yes, it happened one ordinary day in the ordinary life of an ordinary Joe walking a fresh carpet of snow. I suddenly had a hunch, quite disturbing for a Child of Jesus, that my folks needed a borderline Wagner to chart the rolling mists, crackling ice-flows and razor-backed currents of the Detroit River in January. The site-specific haunt! The metallic Rhine Jr! The steel grey soul-scape for Gordie Howe’s hammer arms, Red Wing jersey and flashing skates.

It was too much. It was an aesthetically sound but morally iffy glimpse into the Sacred Heart of Time. The magnification of Creation’s core pulse, wherein avatars are beat into shape, was a-okay for a religious kid. But the exaggeration of my own creative impulse was as problematic as egomania in the Renaissance. Let me put this in proper Catholic terms. Every Pope with a scepter knows that heresy is a truth taken too far. And every altar boy at a pisser knows that if you shake it more than twice you’re playing with it. What I’m saying is that it was fine, within customary limits, to see Gordie Howe as seasonal hockey god. But it was very, very touchy to see him as was seasonal hockey god who was dormant in summer when there was an abundance of florid glee and birds ‘n bees in the bushy air. A cyclical Wotan! Yes, I saw Mr. Howe as a cyclical Wotan, with local accents, who appeared in the dead of winter when all was lost.

Very, very touchy. A synthesis of real poetic genius to retard the instant I put it in words! No wonder, in drunk’s terms, I didn’t know whether to shit or puke. Now, as a learned hick, I can defend my awful silence with Rilke’s line, “For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror”. But as a kid I was dumbstruck by the timely synchronicity. I just didn’t have the lyrical spit for Howe’s redressed avatar’s fit into the Church-Hockey-Astropagan calendar. Staring into the heavy northern heavens, I only had the vision. It meant something.

TROPHY  EUGENICS AND THE BALD TRUTH

Yes, I had true modest heroes. Easily overlooked between the ends of NYC and LA. From the heights of a Shyster’s jet: an underwhelming land for an underwhelming people! A pale settlement for goyim! A static pool of yeoman nobodies with purely economic fluctuations between good debt and bad debt.

My country within a country. My cold and hearty people. Furthermore, my overlooked species of inbred White Country Folks with no more hyprid-vigor than a lean hillbilly iron worker crossed with a stout Irish-Catholic wench. That’s God’s Plan for agile defensemen and power forwards. Every rutting Joe knows. So does every dear girl in estrus. Only the town barber knows, as a comber of truths, that it’s also the non-Nazi secret of Trophy Eugenics in the Hockey Imperium.

Howe Holycard IIThe Hockey Imperium, for those on the inside, is a Medieval State of Mind that religiously rules from lower Michigan to upper Ontario. A subconscious Holy Roman Empire with shrines, banners, spires and festive tournaments. My mono-culture! Maybe evolved. Maybe devolved. Maybe timeless. Most certainly a custom-made Pucktopia of spirited sport in glove: city, state and regional jousts with trophy of virgins, if you’re lucky, in the bleachers. Like anything else in life, it’s all hooey until the moment of truth. My brother is testimony to that. He played goalie on a championship team that asserted authority, like deputized knights, all along the frontier. He renewed the dynasty. He upheld the realm and family standard. He verified the lore like a saintly enough Joe on a mission that was much, much larger than himself. True to his calling, he nailed it!

Too much Medieval chew on my bib? Too much gah-gah from the cradle of Dark Age élan? Just take the high moral arc on the Rainbow Express between NY and LA. Just look down on my homeland as a hotbed of neo-Klan and trigger-happy militia. A dysgenic fucktopia of pogromatic hicks! Papists, bible-thumpers and cross-bred racists! Then you can trash, even White Trash, my boy-to-man travelogue.

THE CRITICAL CRISIS 

 Now for the critical crisis. Not the usual crucible in the so called “Multi-Cult”. That’s marquee code for race mix-up. Preached by pulpiteers who’re born to rule: inbred intelligencia, sticky IQ fetishists and embedded reformers at a price.

God bless ‘em. The righteous fuckers have, at least, an ongoing class. A hip allegiance to their own rich stock. Furthermore, I’m not privy to Grand Design outside the Hockey Imperium built upon the remnants, lakes and ponds, of the Ice Age. I’m geo-teleptically limited. So I can’t be 100% sure that there’s no treasure at the end of Rainbow America’s overarching, messianic and tutti-fruity arc. I luv-luv-luv anyone who really believes that lore. But I have enough problems with my own Pagan-Catholic proof. Which, as my brother knows, is nailed in the living.

Trust me, I tried be the strong silent type. But at the first blush of crisis I saw fairy dust in the powdered snow and gold lamé gowns in the scavenging carp. Wagner was in the leaden grey clouds but something else was in the skirts of snow. A fluffy-fickle soulfulness! A girly-girly joy in the bosom of Winter’s Hag. All of Mother Nature colder than a witch’s tit yet, no heresy intended, “redeemed” by majestic-angelic kisses in flurries. Uh oh. This was a mated peek into the Sacred Heart of Time. Which is to say I was showered with a motherlode of bridal laundry, streaming white veils with silver stitches, at Zero Hour when all was lost. Thanks but no thanks for the glimpse into the cosmic wheel! There’s been a mistake! For one thing, I wasn’t ready for the executive poet’s vocation to see the Nature of Woman as more than pussy and, within that nascent study, to see any stout homegirl as more than an incubator of agile defensemen and power-forwards. I lacked this. I lacked that. I had no maturity, even, to fuck-up! And so I froze, painfully dumbfounded, in a swirl of laced sugars that you’d have to be a Mozart, a buck sissy, a real Olympian amongst all kinds of flakey flakes to master.

This wasn’t normal. It was miraculous at best and cruel at worst. I’d been given a very big job without blue-prints. With only a model failure, Uncle Art, to provide range in the werks that mocked my intestines. Mea-culpa. I’m so sorry. I’ve never recovered from the Pagan-Catholic-Poet’s epiphany. If only my critical crisis had rushed me to the threshold of Social Justice work. I coulda-woulda-shoulda been a slick New Age Joe bringing the Human Family to my hometown! And I’ll be the first to admit that there’s much to be said for going wide in the well-rounded world instead of going deep-deep-deep into your own cold interior.

No such luck. Instead, I was fated to receive the miracle heft of Virgin Mary flurries and war-cloud Valkyries that buried Uncle Art. No wonder he didn’t know, given a glimpse of super-beauty, whether to shit or go blind. Sure he was a homo. So what? You’d have to be a spiritually spent shrink, a techno-humanist-clinician connecting dots on a godless chart, to say that his critical crisis was “penis” as such. Please!

Uncle Art was called to be an artist. In curator’s terms, he was called to be a painter of local color. In cosmologist’s terms, he was called to be a wizard with a provincial palate. More than a craftsman and less than a saint, he was given to be a psychic medium. A wand smith. A wand smith with a tuft of wet XXX hairs at the far extreme of his brush with an eternally recurring canvas of pure virgin potential. That was the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, of his sorry life.

It was too much.

SQUARING THE WHEEL 

Uncle Art heard the call deep inside the crotch of fate. He tilted like a half-hearted sport with a sorry thrust and guess what? He made his non-splash in the common pool and/or bum toilet. Put plainly, he died as both a failed Joe Normal and a failed artist.

Howe Family III copy

No guts, no glory. No raw heroic effort, no epic-operatic tragedy. That’s the cold-cold law of Pagan Nature that’s worked into Roman Catholic mythos. Furthermore, to release Uncle Art from the afterlife of burning slander, very few men manage to “Square the Wheel” of parish life. Very few men succeed as Regular Joes and Stellar Joes at once. Like Gordie Howe. He was a shy Canadian farmboy who, moved by destiny, got his start at Olympia Stadium in Detroit. He became a hockey god. He realized his towering 360 degree genius for pretty goals, borderline cheats and ugly brawling.

And Howe let his wife, an astute reader of small print in hockey contracts, do all the talking. Everyone loved Gordie. Everyone, in the milky white bosom of the Hockey Imperium, loved the Howe family. They nailed the evergreen dynamic.

                                                                              THE BARBER’S PART

I’ve tried to convey the spirit of my grooming along the shore where the smoke stacks padded the clouds. And where the local color faded under the dead-weight of winter. If you don’t get my hyper-drift? If you think that I’m mythologizing too much about cold-grey horizons downwind from Detroit? Then talk to a starving deer, a young buck, at the edge of an ice-pond at sunset. He’s knows the legendary chill of winter in the sticks. He’s a living symbol of the haunt.

The town barber, for his part, remains a shapeshifting constant. In backwater poesy, he’s a super-animated anchor whose job is to be as deep or shallow as the guy in his chair. In fair language, he’s a two-bit shrink who diagnoses heads within the limits of the hippocratic oath and frontier codes. In all cases, he’s tempered by seasoned knowledge. He knows that, like timeless masterpieces, one can hardly say what makes his fishy mono-culture whole. There a single congenital spiral in the lakes, rivers, swamps, and air. You’re born into it. Customer A says a soulful prayer to primordial shore gods after shooting a deer for venison steaks and trophy antlers. Customer B blushes with venal pride, exquisitely mean, after shooting a rogue squirrel with a .22 rifle, through a steel reinforced milk chute, who dared crawl down the rusty chain to raid his wife’s bird-feeder hanging from a lilac bush outside her kitchen window. And so it goes.

Inside the tinted door of Gino’s Barbershop, not at all transparent in the Liberal Democratic way, there’s a deeply seated commerce in individual styles within the local fold. Sharing a mirror, Gino puts every man’s prize pagan cowlick in place with a final dab, after all, of Christian Morality. And that’s that. See ya soon!

Gino has solved himself and more. He’s squared the Wheel of Parish Life in his own modest style. He’s a model man even as he ruptures the template and yaps like a diplomat’s mistress. Who cares? Go for it! Show us how! He’s been groomed through the generations since his great-grandpappy drew first-blood on a pink ear. Gino has aced the proofs! He has a barber’s license, an ex-Marine’s license, and a full-blooded Italian’s license to magnify touchy feelings like Paganini or Caruso gone North. Not bad work if you can get it! And the barber get’s it right.

Boy oh boy. Man oh man. As far as my life goes, from start to finish, I can’t say more. I just hope, with all the sincerity that a rambling Joe can muster, that I’ve nailed it.

___________________________________________________

This piece first appeared in Counter Currents Publishing 

___________________________________________________________________________

love-beaker4
An inferior version of  The Pagan Fire was published in Metropolis.  The editor was a good-guy.  I rewrote it for him three times, but that wasn’t enough.  So after getting spanked by a female critic who goes to the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League School, I’ve rewritten and republished the piece here.  Hopefully, dear reader, it’s finally as coherent as it is crazy.  That, combined with truth, is the grail.
_________________________________________________________________

 THE PAGAN FIRE 

                           

You see these kiddies who leap from sidewalk-square to sidewalk-square. Everyone knows the stakes: step on a crack and break your momma’s back. And then you see these homeless magi who conduct the cosmic clockwork from a park bench. The sunrise. The sunset. They’re also deeply staked. They know that all it would take for the world to end is one false move. Like crossing left-leg over right-leg, or breaking their daily pigeon feeding routine.

Its funny and not so funny. Personally, I have rarely flattered an artist or a comedian by calling him “crazy.” When you have mental illness in your blood-lines, you develop an insider’s concern.

Imagination is like fire. Only the controlled-burn serves a sane purpose.

Okay. Okay. I live in a rooming house in Philly. I’ve got stories of drifters who found their way back to “reality”, and drifters who succumbed to their haunt. It’s a place for men on the bubble. One could even say that it’s a place for men straddling worlds: the realm of Newtonian physics and the realm of pagan metaphysics. Let me break it down. You have the dominant daily realm of cause-and-effect that makes business and The Golden Rule the “working” mentality. Practical thinking! The Modern Way! Then there is the ancient realm of woof and warp, fickle-fates, and divine humors. That is the pre-Modern way. Even learned Philadelphians, men of science, appeal to the latter when buying lotto tickets, betting on horses or playing an inspired game of poker.

Well, I had a hunch the night before the roaring fire. It led me to YouTube videos of lions devouring wildebeest calves, and then hyenas massing-in-force to drive the lions from their kill. A lesson in merciless nature. I thought about it at yoga class in the morning. I know. I know. I was supposed to be dovetailing into an urbane Judeo-Christian idealist. Lions lying down with lambs from the Old Testament, the meek inheriting the earth from the New Testament, and All of Creation converted into Eden’s long lost twin. But I kept thinking that maybe Nietzsche was right. Maybe we’re not living in a Moral Universe and maybe love can’t rule the field. Maybe the dominant force is Will to Power. Which like fire, can serve or get out of control.

Too much heavy thinking. I was taking a post-yoga nap when the fire alarms rang. Do you ever tire of tech’s stimuli? Do you ever pull the covers over your electro-shocked head? When I finally left my bedroom, there was black smoke lacing the air. Ashen negligees streamed like ghosts in flight. I walked against the current. I went towards the source. I experienced a slow-motion rush as time swirled in a bubble. Meanwhile, the corridors and doorways pulsed as prime archtypical forms: passageway and threshold.

When I stepped into the ol’ cigarette puffers room at the aft end of the rooming house: flames dancing on the bed and blankets, and flames traveling atop the dirty clothes stuffed between bed and walls. Flames that weren’t scary because they were large. Rather, flames that were scary because they were liberated from any kind of man-serving purpose, accelerating with wild abandon, and hypnotically beautiful on their own fierce terms.

Well, this was it. This was the danger foretold by YouTube videos. I might as well have been looking into the jaws of a lion or hyena. There was no moral appeal. There was no petitioning for mercy. And though my physical life wasn’t in danger because I had ample time to flee, my metaphysical life was in danger along with my yoga-mat, my library and my altar that takes me back to the future of Paganism. Maybe a television is your centerpiece. I’ve constructed an altar using the Secrets of the Parthenon: Sacred Geometry, Divine Ratio and all that esoteric engineering that synchs the material and ideal stuff. My altar: a manifest table of visual harmonies that have, at least, therapeutic value. Music for the eyes and a plum composition to contemplate before facing the goddamned mirror. The Big Issue: is it me or the Modern World that’s nuts? Ha. Ha. Not so funny when flames are threatening a pal’s similar, but different, chapel: sports calendar, VFW magazines and beer bottle sentries atop a television with a tin-foil antenna. No mercy. No pity for any man’s stake.

And let me say this in deference to the ol’ Roman Catholic doctrine: the fire was pure appetite. Pure lust. Pure gluttony. Pure self-immolating fire, if you’ll excuse the redundancy.

I fought the fire and the fire won. My deputies were a buck-naked drunk who’d been warned against smoking in bed, and a 50 year old idiot savante with foggy eyeglasses, crumbs in his beard and pee-stains on his tennies. My fraternity. My clique of rooming house insiders. We beat the fire down twice but it continued to travel underneath the surface of things while smoke, the silent killer, poisoned the air. I left for a breather. I returned to get a blast of fire-extinguisher spray in the face. Perfect slap-stick comedy under extreme pressure. It took a cop to pull us away from the madness and, another silent killer, the tug of lost victory. Like gamblers, we wanted to stay. Keep trying. We almost had fortune in hand!

After a round of interrogations on the street, we landed in a Red Cross Shelter in West Philly for a month. They treated us well. I got post-traumatic counseling. The social worker suggested that I write about the burn. Well, okay. I’ve had trouble sleeping. When I turn to the right I’m an hero who contained the dragon until the firemen arrived. When I turn to the left I’m an infernal priest who merely molested the fire, beautiful as it was, with a promiscuous glee. Either way, I survived with questions intact: am I an abysmal loser or the master of my own tragic-comic fate?

I did good? I did bad? I’m on the bubble when it comes to defining reality. And I’m not talking about the Metaphysical vs Nominalist rub between theologians and scientists. Neither am I talking about the Heart vs Mind rub between artists. Or the Lucky vs Good rub between sport fans. I’m talking about the abnormal vs normal rub that blisters deep inside myself.

Happily, fate has put me in my place. I’m back in the rooming house where everything and nothing is understood. There’s a smokey mindcraft here, always on the verge of inflammation, and it feels like my home in the world.

Fire Crown

Pleasure-Dome Police State

“We should expect tyranny to result from democracy, the most savage subjection from an excess of liberty”.

-Plato, Republic, Book VIII, 564 a

—————————————————–

Camille Paglia says that there is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.  She was talking about the obsessive nature of European Man.  All men must master trajectory or they’ll piss on their shoes.  Within this Universal there are cultural variants.

Which brings me to Spengler and the Faustian-thrust that’s a variation the beastly prowess common to all men.  All men carry rockets in their pockets.  Only a specific breed of man has the obsessive motive-force to send rockets into outer space. From which he gets a god-like view of the Planet Earth.  A confirmation of genius!  And also an invitation to all kinds of nasty conceits.

In regards to will-to-power, Mr Hackard offers a  guideline when he  says, “politics must be conducted in fidelity to the moral law, whose Author is supra-natural. All power derives from God, and to Him shall it be consecrated.”  Hackard could be the Catholic writer E. Michael Jones, or the Eastern Orthodox writer  Fr. Matthew Johnson, talking about Logos.  He could also be the anti-Christian writer Savitri Devi, talking about the evil cupidity of a Man-Centered-Universe, wherein Whites and Jews with hyper-trophied forebrains affect to hijack the Divine Order for their own seamy glory.  I am neither scientist, politician, priest nor philosopher.  My interest as an artist: how to maintain that virile Faustian momentum, how to  rise above the downward pull of the lower orders, how to tickle the upper reaches while remaining integrated into the fold.

Paglia says that Rousseau leads to Sade,  just as Plato said that democracy leads to tyranny.  These maxims, as Spengler teaches, only seem to be universals.  That’s because races don’t course through space and time in the same way.  The tests are different and so are the answers seen into existence.  Visionaries are seeded into ethnic fields of art, religion and science. Predicting variable outcomes between riveting brackets is a strictly Faustian quest.  Like quantum physics, the sets are “it”.  Equating Mozart to Jack the Ripper,  Rousseau to Sade, and democracy to tyranny takes a subliminal knowing that’s native-borne.

Now, “with  the NDAA, our policy elites have appropriated a mask of legality to manage the chaos they themselves engineered.” It’s form following content, bled of  folk aesthetic, and butt ugly. One is tempted to piss on it.  But, I guess,  Faustian trajectory demands higher aim.

Dear Paintress L-

Posted: September 23, 2011 in Letters
Tags: , ,

Dear Ms. L-

Just one thing.  Okay, just one thing amongst many things…

JS Bach came from Northern Germany and so was Lutheran.  They occupied the old Catholic churches and so retained something of the Catholic haunt.  My understanding is that Luther’s rejection of Papal authority set the stage for the modern hyper-individualist farce of “doin’ your own thing.”

With each man interpreting the Bible directly for himself, pious Protestantism led to crass individualism.  It was only a matter of time.

This is just a sketch.  I’ve tried, in quick strokes, to capture the  character and outline of something.  The Face of History!

Have  fun at PAFA today.

JJ

ps

I saw “The Mill and the Cross” yesterday.  A film by Lech Majewski.  It’s  a creative and historical investigation into the making of Pieter Bruegal’s painting,  “The Way to Cavalry.”

I’ve been told that William Burroughs kept a reproduction of Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” above his desk. I’ve been tempted to copy Burroughs‘ example. But I could just as craftily paste my walls with any Breugal’s masterpiece.  All his paintings have similar folkish flavors,  soiled purity and metaphysical throw-weight.

In any case, “The Mill and the Cross” was a meta-artfilm.  An artfilm about making art.  On that level it was excellent.  One gets a sense of the artist at ground-zero.   Which was, in Pieter Bruegal’s time and place, the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands.   The viewer is led to see the calloused Spaniards as a metaphor for the Romans.  The Romans in turn, are directed to be a metaphor for “oppressors” through all time. So it’s a fine liberal piece of work, with  Judas as a touch-stone for treason amongst the natives.  He sells-out for money.

If there is any reference to the Pharisees, I didn’t get it.   There is some rhetorical dialogue, sure to flatter an artist’s ear, about rebelling against the old ways and standards. But it’s said in the abstract and is directed at the Spaniards/Romans who represent Imperial Macho Government.  More pat liberalism.  When I make my movie about The Way to Cavalry, I’ll include the inter-tribal rift amongst Hebrews under Roman rule.  And I’ll do it in a way that doesn’t point my finger at Jews as Christ-killers. Rather, I’ll do it in a way that boomerangs schism, indictment and crucifixion  back at my own pastey race of gentiles. This is easy to outline.  I’ll  match Euro-Americans doing business with Big Brother and the Corporate State against Euro-American’s who’re communing underground.  I’ll match the doctrinaire, larded and “learned” against the instinctive. Finally,  I’ll match the city-mice against the country-mice.  This gives me lots of internal woe  to antagonize, and it thrills me.

Majewski knows Art. He is as fine a poet as he is a technician. For instance, through dialogue he explains why the personage of Jesus Christ is omitted from the center of Bruegel’s  painting.  As God he is The Great Unspoken.  The eternal vortex from which all form and content flow as temporal phenomena destined for death. Furthermore, as if explaining the latent beginnings of abstract-art, Majewski shows how symbols embedded in Bruegal’s paintscape have Jesus as the Prime Referent. The symbols are sign-posts.  Intermediaries.  Translators.  They are relays between the supernatural and natural, the ideal and the vulgar, the heavenly and earthly realms.  Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”  But in Bruegal’s painting, a windmill that turns on the spirit of the wind, and grinds life’s harvest in its gears, could never be just a windmill.  It is a sacred symbol in service to the field, really the Jesus Field, where God and Man share Being.  So one can see an extended compatibility, underneath the surface, between Bruegal’s old fashioned narrative art for the illiterate, and today’s abstract art for an intellectual/spiritual elite.  Provided, of course, that the arch-forms are aligned gracefully.  Divinely.  With a legible cosmic granduer.

I must say one more thing about Majewski’s rich tutoring.  He shows how Bruegal’s painting is roundly mapped as a spider’s web with the “muted” Savior as the point-of-rest in his, and All of Creation’s, web.  This web-business is as much an insider’s wink to modern existentialism as the general symbolism is a wink to modern art. All in all, the resonant poetry of the film and painting are very good.  The cross.  The wheel. The windmill on the mountaintop. The tree-of-life and the tree-of-death. The City of Light and the  City of Darkness in the floodplain.  They are all structured into Bruegal’s paintscape without the strain of an amatuer petitioning for his genius.  I’m talking about a master’s mode.  Relaxed.  Sure.  Supple even if acrimonious against the crucifiers and the sheepish rabble.

I learned as much as I needed to learn.  Which means I learned a lot.

J.J.