Monday, July 12, 2010

Heart Fluttering and Cultural Sputtering

The statue and fountain at the entrance of the West Wing of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 5:17PM, July 11, 2010.


A nice drenching July night downpour here in D.C. -- and not the violently jarring and explosive cloud-to-ground lightning-and-thunder-laced kind, just occasional flickers and grumbles and a nice and VERY needed deluge of rain. D.C. proper missed the heavy rain / t-storms earlier today so this is a nice and somewhat unexpected treat (since I really didn't believe the forecast).


Today was also a good day at work and I felt fine. What follows is a version of the entry I wrote yesterday on my Arcturus blog but that I am also posting here.


This was a bad weekend.

It was not because I had any conflicts with anyone -- I didn't -- but because I now believe there is something quite wrong with my health. And because I have reached a sort of emotional breaking point both as as regards our popular American culture and this D.C. gayborhood.

The Spanish Steps (or at least D.C.'s version of the famous ones in Rome), Washington, D.C., 3:34PM, July 11, 2010.


Concerning the former, I have been having heart flutters / palpitations and I nearly fainted at Windows on Saturday night (well, around 1230AM on Sunday) for reasons I will explain below. I really need a check up. Concerning the latter, I'm just so annoyed and tired of these swarms of 20-something, silly straight girls, sometimes with their boyfriends, who have overwhelmed the bars and other establishments in the heart of the 17th Street D.C. gayborhood. As a group, not necessarily individually, I find them so annoying, esp. when they get drink, loud, and stupid in the gay bars.

Yours truly at the Spanish Steps at the dead-end of 22nd Street, NW, Kalorama, Washington, D.C., 3:36PM, July 11, 2010.

I was not so feeling well.


The bitchy, self-absorbed gay men are one thing, but the straights are just too much. As for the gayborhood, as LP said to me, I am getting a highly skewed and distorted perspective on things by living here with its dreadful values, its insular detachment from the regular world, and being so cut off from any past or any future -- and all the more so now that I'm 40, flabby, and unattractive.


A small table and chairs and other stuff in the tiny front yards of 2122 and 2124, Florida Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 4:15PM, July 11, 2010.


This ugliness was embodied at Windows on Saturday night where an extremely annoying hoard of young straights were shrieking karaoke even as the sound system was nearly broken so the din of conversation was overwhelming, and the TV was tuned to the most disgusting and disturbing movie on TBS, and I actually nearly fainted in front of Gary and my friend Jamie. Our pop culture is severely degenerate, vulgar, violently sensory-assaulting, not to mention mostly void of meaning.

No, I'm not going to explain what the movie was about.

View toward the dome atop the National Museum of Natural History and the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., 5:14PM, July 11, 2010.


I don't know if it was a bad heart flutter / palpitation or a massive anxiety attack. I just don't know. I was at once overheated sweating and clammy, my head swimming in a weird cloudy sea, and my heart racing. I had to go outside for a bit.

I ended up at Cobalt, where my favorite bartender CH was working and I felt better, but I really couldn't drink any liquor.


Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 5:33PM, July 11, 2010


LP approaching the subterranean walkway (running under what is technically the 100 block of 4th St., NW) that connects the east and west wings of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 5:25PM, July 11, 2010.

These days the walkway looks more an entrance way to a Las Vegas hotel and casino.


On Sunday late afternoon, I went with LP to the National Gallery of Art. I just didn't / don't "get" the Mark Rothko "black" phase canvas paintings, circa 1964. I think he was just in a severe depression and didn't know what to paint -- and all the subsequent critical oohing, awing, and amazement is the typical art world group-grope.

If Fifi still read my blog, she could comment on this statement and tell me why I have no idea what I'm talking about. Maybe Hippo can correct me of my artistic misperceptions.

A visitor ponders one of Mark Rothko's black canvas paintings in the "Tower" of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 5:39PM, July 11, 2010.


More Mark Rothko all-black canvases at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 5:39PM, July 11, 2010 in the weird "Tower" room that requires you to take a small apartment-sized, ponderously slow elevator to reach.


Me (looking at sign listing by number all titles the works in the room): "Yeah, but which one is which??"

LP: "Don't worry about it."

And ...

Me (after watching part of a 7 minute video by the curator explaining how much meaning was in Rothko's black phase art work): "You can't tell me these have all that meaning in them - it's just a bunch of black canvases. He was depressed and just didn't know what to paint for that commission."

LP: "It does have meaning. It reminds me of [artist whose name I can't remember]. He's at the outer edge of what I can appreciate."


I guess this is "art" more to my liking ... a gaudy enclosed walkway surrounded by flashing LEDs ... Just kidding.

LP on the underground National Gallery of Art East Wing - West Wing connecting walk way, Washington, D.C., 5:26PM, July 11, 2010.


Returning to my potential health issues, as Kristof has said to me, I need to get a physical to determine if something is really wrong with my health. Ironically, I'm earning too much money now to use D.C. Healthcare Alliance thing -- which I didn't even know about during my massive underemployment / broke period.

To reiterate, though, if this job fails, I will leave D.C. within a month or so of that.

Paul Gauguin's self portrait and one of Paul Cezanne's skull still life paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 5:55PM, July 11, 2010


The LWX radar enhanced base reflectivity mode image at 10:58PM EDT, July 11, 2010 showing a drenching thunderstorm moving SW to NE located smack-dab between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md.


I'm home now watching the Monday night marathon of The Golden Girls on WeTV. I had a nice 70+ minute phone conversation with my mom who lives near Glen Burnie, Md. I need to call my dad, too, but I'll do that tomorrow. I want to get to bed early tonight.



krzysztof said...

But the meaning is not in the canvas. It's in the context. It goes for Cezanne and it goes for Rothko.

I'd send you a philosophical essay that I'm reading, a phenomenological analysis of 17th century Dutch still life paintings if there were a slightest chance that you'd actually read it:-)

к.нео.физ.де.му said...

actually what happened was rothko was working on a series of commercials for coca-cola, got dumped in favor of ernst, and naturally feeling quite upset painted his whole coca-cola portfolio black.

not only this is truth, it also ties in neatly together with your outrage at the popular american culture!

sons of bitches!

i hope - nothing is wrong with you and you feel better today. i agree with krzysztof - go to the dcotor for a check up, if nothing else - it will calm you down.

if i can play a doctor here, i think you are feeling the effects of very stressfull time you had for the past few months...


krzysztof said...

Playing doctor is fun.

Does no one see that Rothko was quoting Malevitch in those paintings? And in a very inventive way I will add. The pure form of Malevitch's groundbreaking Black Square is here transformed into something much more ambiguous. If the Square represented "the zero of painting" (or, in Zizekian terms, the minimal difference) then Rothko shows the structure of the void as it were. The zero has texture. No, these are not bad paintings.
And I only had one beer!

к.нео.физ.де.му said...

Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong are admiring Nina's "Kramer."

MRS.ARM:I sense great vulnerability. A man-child crying out for love, an innocent orphan in the post-modern world.

MR. ARM:I see a parasite. A sexually-depraved miscrient, who is seeking to gratify only his most basest and immediate urges.

MRS.ARM:His struggle is man's struggle. He lifts my spirit!

MR. ARM:He is a loathsome, offensive brute, yet I can't look away.

MRS.ARM:He transcends time and space.

MR. ARM:He sickens me.

MRS.ARM:I love it.

MR. ARM:Me too.



krzysztof said...

Mike, I'm gonna smack you upside the head:-)

I remember that episode!

krzysztof said...

No but seriously, Malevitch's Square is such an obvious frame of reference for Rothko's Black Paintings. It's impossible that nobody would see the connection.

Well, I just found it, someone did make a connection but a pretty cryptic one.

Also from the same article, a rater embarassing quote from Rothko himself:

am not interested in relationships of color or form or anything else," the artist wrote in 1957." I am interested only in expressing basic human emotions - tragedy, esctasy, doom, and so on - and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I communicate those basic human emotions ... The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.

What an unbelievable bunch of Jungian merde de taureau!! Illustrating the fundamental difference between an artist and his work. You can be a brilliant painter and at the same time make idiotic remarks like that!

OK I promise I won't make any further remarks on this unless I'm asked so to do

Regulus said...

Kristof, baby doll, I can't even begin to reply to that. I imagine -- like any good European intellectual -- you were smoking a cigarette when you wrote all that.

Ha ha.

As it is, it's all that is way over my head. I do know I'm not going to TOUCH that frickin' Russian newspaper site. You want to talk about "the zero sum" of something.

Kristof, I just don't understand half the things you say. How is the square "the zero of paining." Is it because the canvas is square?? And I didn't realize you disliked Junge so much. I actually sort of like his philosophy. I think.

Now Mike G's (Seinfeld?) quote is quite funny.

Regulus said...

BTW, Mr. Zizek, this paper -- direct link here -- that gravity "doesn't exist" is causing discombobulation in the physics world.

I wish I were smart enough to know if the guy was brilliant or just a nut. I say the same thing about you, sweetie. Ha ha.

krzysztof said...

You just want me to write long comments, don't ya?

1) To get it out of the way, "the zero of painting" is a term that Malevitch used. To quote LP don't worry about it. I think it just means painting a pure form as opposed to representational art. In 1915 abstractionism was a new thing.

2) It's a legitimate Russian website in English, don't be a baby:-)

3) Jung is certainly interesting. What puts me off in him is that his theory morphed into some sort of shady pseudo-gnostic secular religion which subsequently fuelled a lot of this whole New Age crap. The notion of archetypes is interesting. Hmmm,, I don't know, I just don't buy this yin and yang complementing each other in the universal harmony stuff. I see reality as the site of a [lurality of antagonisms. Besides, I don't see any evidence of Jungian individualization process in my experience. I sure never saw a mandala in my dreams. Also, I don't think his rigid anima-animus theory of sexuation applies to modern times. It sounds sort of patriarchal actually.

4) The gravity thing is fascinating! Of course the paper is waaay over my head and I can't form an opinion. But this holographic Universe idea is just so cool. BTW I suspect that string theory is more a formal math game than a verifiable physics. One string theorist I talked with reluctantly concurred. Physics is entering some very strange teritories

fifi said...

well firstly I must say that I actually am one of the persons who weeps in front of Rothko paintings....quite an experience. Took me by surprise too.
would love to read the essay on dutch painting, certainly..

maay be I am an art wanker? but I do "get" rothko and the whole thing, what he says and what he makes me be at odds but I do love Rothko and love the whole self referentiality and pure form of it as well. Modernism was like that. Took itself so very seriously...

it had not occurred to me that there you were, right near the national gallery...oooh, that makes me jealous....

Regulus said...

Yes, I'm here in D.C. right by the National Gallery ... indeed, I work literally within 1/2 mile of it and within 1,000 feet of the main castle of the Smithsonian. Yet I somehow feel it's lost on me.

Mostly, I was just wondering what you thought of Kristof's maundering on the subject here in the comment section.

Regulus said...

Let me clarify ... I feel as though I don't take full advantage of it and exhibits such as Rothko are sort of lost on me.

No, that doesn't mean I'll be hanging up a velvet Elvis any time soon in my wood-paneled basement family room.