I’m at the bottom of a deep hole.
I have things to do: pieces to write, paintings to finish.
I can’t get to them.
I’m in a hole.
It’s dark down here, torturous. Reckoned in terms of pain produced, each minute spent in the hole equals eight uninterrupted hours of TED Talks.
My descent takes place in the morning. The final time I wake, (I wake several times during the night, the result of sleep apnea or excessive alcohol intake, or both), I remain in bed for fifteen minutes or so, comfy, focused, uncharacteristically calm, not yet dogged by the rage, intoxication, and ADD that color my average day.
I spend these minutes reviewing the last dream in the sleep cycle, taking note when my mother, my third-grade teacher Miss Peterson, Fanny Cornforth, or long-dead pets play a part.
I organize my thoughts, make plans regarding what I’ll write and paint. I leave my bed with a strategy; I’m solid, the prospects are bright.
I shower, throw on my work uniform (tartan pajama pants, local high school wrestling team T-shirt, paint-spattered threadbare sweatshirt), push into a pair of Wal-Mart slippers, swallow a fistful of old guy meds, pour a cup of coffee, lumber to the basement to my studio and office, and promptly fall into the hole.
The day’s strategy and prospects are flushed.
Here’s how the undoing takes place.
I rouse my computer from its sleep and mouse my way to Facebook and Instagram, each of which I check in short order, wasting no more than five minutes per site before I move on. From there, I flit to news sites where I squander approximately 30 minutes reviewing the newest entries in the food, travel, obituary, and real estate sections. I bookmark interesting recipes, (with the exception of those posted by Yotam Ottolenghi, a sadist whose recipes include ingredients unavailable to 99.9 percent of readers, items so expensive that, if available, few but Russian oligarchs can afford them).
If a need for “fact” arises, I speed to Google. Sundar Pichai owns all facts, and he lends them to me, and you, free of charge!
I am at a critical juncture: proceed with the intended schedule, or take a moment to see what else can be discovered on the net.
Else lurks at the bottom of the hole, and a moment extends to hours.
I creep to the rim of the hole and, for the last month or so, I am unable to resist the leap.
What prompts me to plunge?
The irresistible pull of unrelated and mostly unimportant scraps of information, tantalizing tidbits cooked up by conspiracy mongers, podcast trivia, You Tube fluff, and an unconstrained and easily influenced imagination.
It’s dark down here.
I should know better than to jump, since I’m no stranger to the hole. I’ve been here before.
I found myself trapped in the hole a year ago, lured to the depths by porn as I labored in the service of science, doing research for a piece, gathering data. There’s plenty of porn sites in the hole, plenty of holes at the sites, and a shitload of data to be dried off and lugged home.
I quickly discovered that the hole is deep, and dark.
The knee-buckling load of material I mined last year was limited in scope and character, redundant and depressing. Internet porn has redefined sexual relationships, and not in good ways. Most porn videos are brief, crude, and often brutal in content, badly lit, lacking in expressions of affection or delight in The Other — the worst possible examples for the many pre-teens and teens who, with unlimited and unmonitored access to the Internet, view the carnage, learn the drill, and mimic the attitudes. The time is coming when little Bobby finally connects with a real person, and can’t complete the act without choking his partner.
I finished writing the piece, crawled from the hole, and spent a week reading the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Joyce’s Dubliners and Portrait in order to purge myself. It was akin to keeping a mud-saturated catfish in a bathtub filled with fresh water until the brute’s flesh is palatable.
I was fine for a while after that, somewhat positive, and productive. Then, I discovered video podcasts, You Tube candy, and myriad sources of dubious and shocking info.
I’m weak, I admit it. I can’t resist these temptations, just as I once failed to resist an interlude with Raina Love The Love Goddess of the Lower East Side, a chance to spend a week smoking DMT with a red-haired Wiccan from the Boston suburbs, or the opportunity to binge watch The Soupy Sales Show Marathon.
I can’t help myself.
So, into the hole I dive, again.
Is there anything of worth to be discovered in the dark depths of Barzun’s demotic and decadent culture?
For example, this is what I find today, during five hours in the pit:
– Archaeologists working at Herculaneum discovered another encrusted skeleton. In what remained of a young man’s skull, they found black, brittle material, a vitrified substance created by the intense heat of the pyroclastic catastrophe that rolled over the small resort town in 79 AD. It was the guy’s brain, fired to a glasslike state. A solid spongy mass was located in what had been the unlucky lad’s chest cavity — his lungs, liver, and other nasty bits, made stone by hot gas and ash.
A finding like this is rare, so the science geeks are amped up. Saponification is a more common occurrence following death (at less than blast furnace temps), and causes no similar excitement. In these instances, triglycerides in decomposing flesh react over time with charged particles and produce what is known as “grave wax.”
Grave wax is said to fetch top dollar these days from devotees of the hermetic arts, the substance being one of many elements key to a successful alchemical transformation. Grave wax sales are rumored to finance purchases of high-end condo properties in the Turks and Caicos by corrupt Miami morticians and sociopathic operators of South Florida cemeteries. Or so I’m told here in the hole.
There’s no grave wax produced when a mountain explodes nearby. Not even triglycerides can beat that heat.
My conclusion: if the volcano shows the slightest sign that an eruption is pending, get the fuck outta there.
Don’t linger, or your brain goo will be glassified, your lungs rendered hard, your ossified remains left to be examined by alien archaeologists who visit the planet a thousand years from now. Of course, the same fate awaits anyone who registers Republican.
– Crocheted tampons are for sale on the Internet, along with an assortment of equally intriguing poon-related items, including tightening sticks and replacement hymens.
Reports have it that tightening stick sales to aging heavy metal band groupies have soared recently, and tracking data shows that the majority of buyers of replacement hymens are Texas high school cheerleaders.
I’m convinced that crafty sanitary objects are the next big thing. How could they not be: they serve their intended purpose, the ecological benefits are impressive, and production keeps what would otherwise be problematic individuals busy at home or laboring in Bangladeshi sweatshops.
I plan to jump on the craft sanitary object bandwagon. I’ll collect yarn, and when I amass the proper amount I’ll hire GED recipients to weave pads for guys who’ve had prostate cancer surgery and leak uncontrollably, often during important social engagements. At last, I’ll be rich, and able to replicate Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes.
My multi-colored Pee Pad will be guaranteed to provide comfort and a sense of security to distressed, glandless gents who have “the problem.” Of course, there’s always the unexpected cough or sneeze, or the surprise fart that provokes a complex disaster, and no pee pad can handle this event. I’ll work on a design for a product that deals with this predicament, as soon as the Pee Pad hits the market and resulting revenues fund a major R&D effort. In Bangladesh.
While I lack the gland, I won’t need to use my product, since the only encouraging thing that followed my being sliced and diced was secure bladder control. I still have cancer, but thanks to a skilled surgeon and Kegel exercises I pee like a teenager, and rarely expel an unanticipated stream at a birthday party, a line dancing workshop, a seance or funeral.
– There is a candle on the market that smells like Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina, presumably like her twat absent a crocheted tampon, and following a thorough steaming and insertion of a jade egg.
I’ve longed to inspect Gwyneth’s vagina for several years now, but the Big G has not responded to my many e-mail queries. In fact, lawyers representing G and Goop e-mailed me a cease-and-desist order last week. I’ll obtain the candle from Amazon. The scent will have to do for the time being.
I’ll continue to monitor G’s pronouncements and passions, eagerly awaiting the day she discovers the Tenth Century practice of inserting a live fish in the vagina, keeping it there two days, then removing it, roasting it, and feeding it to a lover in order to boost his passion and performance. Ever the clever entrepreneur, G will open Goop tilapia farms and monitor product from creation to delivery. The jade egg will become yesterday’s news, and G will adjust the scent of the candle.
– Freelance haggis smugglers are making a killing. Lambs by the thousands are slaughtered in the cellars of unlicensed Canadian butcher shops, the lungs then schlepped to cooks across the border by cooler-toting criminals, the innards destined to serve as an essential ingredient in authentic haggis. Who doesn’t fancy authentic haggis now and then?
According to an Alt-Right conspiracy site that monitors and reports on government abuses, the loss of our freedoms, and secret communiques sent to the US Border Patrol by the Illuminati, the number of lamb lungs confiscated at the border in the days immediately preceding the birthday of Robert Burns is mind boggling.
The confiscated lungs are said to be incinerated in Border Patrol furnace facilities disguised as UPS stores (Lubec, Maine; Massena, NY; International Falls, Minn.; West Havre, Mont.; Blaine, Wash.), thus providing yet another example of the sinister, wasteful practices of Big Government and the Deep State.
The site moderator notes that, at less cost, the lungs could be refrigerated and shipped to kitchens that provide chow for undocumented Mexican and Central American victims of gang and political violence held in “centers” in El Paso, McAllen, and Brownsville.
Good point. Ever tried lung posole? Trust me, it’s delicious, and brimming with essential vitamins and minerals to boot.
– Dry hot pot. Another possible use for lamb lungs? The lungs are a sensible substitute for traditional ingredients savored by gourmets in Hubei Province. A dark web site offers conclusive proof the virus was hatched during lunch at a clandestine research facility in Wuhan, in a dry hot pot that included chunks of a rare blind fresh water eel, and bat flesh. No such problem with lamb lungs.
- A feeble but venerated (by some) televangelist died last week.
The elder made his name predicting the end of the world, Armageddon, promising it would happen soon, for certain in his lifetime. The guy was revered for his “memorization of the Bible.” Well, I wonder, might he do the same with “Gravity’s Rainbow?” That would impress me: a psalm is one thing, Pynchon is another.
For decades, paranoid Bible thumpers were glued to their TV sets, 7 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday, listening to this pinhead detail the horrible death and everlasting torment due anyone who didn’t fall in step with his vicious, chauvinist, anal retentive take on life. He enticed his followers with the promise that unquestioning compliance ensures their genital-free eternity beyond the clouds, where The Saved sing hymns with angels in stiff 4/4 time, and eat ice cream — any flavor, and all they want! — while nonbelievers suffer unbearable agonies, courtesy of a loving god.
The goof died, and…surprise… the world is still here. There is no mention of a rapture event in the old boy’s obit, though it’s a good bet that one of his craven minions will come up with an eyewitness account in order to continue to chum in halfwits and their money on Wednesday nights.
– People are filming themselves in bathrooms. I have no problem with this, but why send the video to strangers? Your friends, yes. But, strangers? (Note: Since you are reading this, I am no longer a stranger. Send everything you’ve got. I get lonely after 6 p.m.)
– The coronovirus kills old guys. Like me. The numbers of people keeling over is increasing, and officials are sounding the alarm. People are wearing surgical face masks and latex gloves when they go to the supermarket.
This could be it: The Pandemic! Nature’s way of telling us humans, “There’s too many of you.”
I prefer the name “Wuhan Virus” to “coronavirus.” This is what the disease was first called, before sensitive sophomores at Radcliffe determined the reference to the city in China’s Hubei province was offensive — not to the residents of said city, or to the citizens of China, rather to the sensitive souls at Radcliffe who spend their time in safe spaces, at DEFCON 1, ever alert for slights of all kinds.
I prefer the term Wuhan Virus, not because it pinpoints the geographic source of the outbreak of the virus, but because it sounds like a great name for a musical group. We have the Wu-Tang Clan, why not the Wuhan Virus? The T-shirts will be a big hit, and I plan to work on snappy graphics if and when I get out of the hole. I’m sure there’s a sweatshop in Bangladesh that produces shirts for next to nothing.
Given what I’ve learned about the virus, I’ve postponed Karl’s Annual Bat Barbecue at Town Park. I’ll reschedule this popular event at a later date. In the meantime, residents of Siberia With a View should continue to collect bats. Freeze the beasts; they’ll keep for at least six months.
– I’m spotting a lot of harnesses on the red carpet these days, and Boy George is still alive. I suspect Boy George has quite a bit of experience with harnesses.
I inspected a brace of recent photos of Boy George — no longer a lotioned, lithe disco tramp with a passion for penis. At what point does a stylish hat become a sad hat?
– An actress testified that Harvey Weinstein offered her a contract for three films if she would participate in a threesome with him and his assistant. How rich is the assistant? I suspect she’s rich enough to afford the ingredients for a Yotam Ottolenghi entree.
– You can order a $214 grilled cheese sandwich at a Manhattan restaurant (truffle fries not included), brag to envious friends that you ate a sandwich with gold plastered on it … then shit gold for two days.
The hefty sum is not for the sandwich, but for a link with the prestige of the restaurant — a sad waste of funds. A packet of gold leaf can be had for less than twenty bucks from the Dick Blick Art Store; a small brick of Velveeta, a loaf of “artisan” bread, and past-the-sale-date margarine are yours for less than ten bucks. Assemble and cook your own sandwich. Flop on as much gold leaf as you can choke down.
I’m going whip up a bunch of these treats for my youngest grandson’s birthday party. The fact a kid can shit gold will be the hot topic of the year at the elementary school.
– Cat lovers: for god’s sake, don’t feed gluten to your feline buddies. I need to fire off a warning to my dear friend, Roy Starling, since the last photo he sent me showed him feeding cacio e pepe (light on the pepe) to his most recent clutch (“gaggle?”, “herd?”) of rescue kittens.
– Abundant body hair on females is making a comeback. It’s liberating.
– According to the NYT Arts section white males no longer write books.
– Urban romance. A woman meets her future husband as she walks next to him on a city sidewalk, in front of a bank. A thief rushes from the building, a cop car screeches to a halt, the bank robber points a gun at the cops and they shoot him. The perp collapses to the sidewalk, blood and brain matter oozing from beneath his shaven, rapidly cooling, tattooed skull. The woman and man look at each other, their eyes lock…and she realizes she will spend the rest of her life with this guy.
And to think: some people have the audacity to claim courtship is a thing of the past.
- Elaborate traditional costumes are created for children participating in the annual celebration Ptaci kwas — “the Birds’ Wedding,” that takes place in Raeckelwitz, Germany.
– In Texas, where quite a few Sorbs set up residence more than a hundred years ago, the ceremony survives, often part of a bigger event that includes sauerkraut making demonstrations, the consumption of sausages and noodles, the sale of firearms, and hourly recitations of the 2nd Amendment.
– She can’t say “no” to Ugandan men demanding to be breast fed.
– Horlicks. My initial reaction is misguided.
– It’s possible that gravitons have mass. At last, I can stop worrying about the fucking gravitons. The dreams in which Fanny Cornforth and my childhood Boston terrier, Butch, berate me for my association with dark matter will cease.
– Another Hollywood actor has acknowledged he recognizes his privilege as a white, heterosexual male. I hope to someday be as virtuous.
Specialty You Tube videos capture major blocks of my time while I’m in the hole.
The main offenders:
– A young white guy speaks Mandarin and more than a smattering of Cantonese, then visits Chinatowns in various major cities, acting the nerdy kid without a clue, until he shocks residents by addressing them in their native tongue.
The videos are particularly interesting when this dork and a pair of similarly nerdy Chinese-fluent anglo dorks visit restaurants and snack stands as a crew — in North America and abroad.
I am a big fan of well-made turnip cakes and jellied. Chicken feet in soy, and I love it when Chinese folks are surprised that suburban, middle class pinheads know the correct term for soup dumpling. This is prime white privilege entertainment.
I intend to send the host an e-mail suggesting he and his pals travel to Wuhan and video themselves as they devour blind freshwater eel and bat hot pot, then astonish doctors and nurses in the ICU with their knowledge of Chinese medical terms, and the fact they can plead for their lives in the regional dialect.
– A delightful Korean woman demonstrates recipes and cooking techniques. She wears colorful geegaws in her hair, and her sauces and braising liquids include enough salt to bring an elephant to its knees. I assume from the tone of her voice and her frantic hand gestures that she is hyper happy. High blood pressure suits her.
– So-called “reaction” podcasts.
My favorite type of this podcast shows a person or persons watching and listening to music videos. In order to comply with You Tube rules related to copyright, ASCAP blackmail, etc. the hosts and hostesses must break in periodically, and offer astute commentary.
Most of the podcasts I like feature a young to middle-aged woman, man, or couple, most often of the African American persuasion. The music, on the other hand, is usually profoundly white in terms of performer and character of the tune. The banjo takes center stage in many of the videos.
Rarely is the hostess’s commentary negative.
Why is this? I wonder.
Could it be that the number of subscribers to a site determines whether or not the site’s hostess receives advertising money? Curry the crowd, haul in the subscriptions, bank the bucks. Reparations of a sort, eh? Well deserved and long in coming.
Let’s say you’re white and long in the tooth (it’s not your fault on either count, no need to be alarmed): what could be more soothing during your twilight years than affirmation of your fave 60s and 70s tunes and artists by a hip and with-it person of color? This is high rpm click bait.
I continue to watch these videos in the hope that one of the hosts/hostesses will forget to turn off the camera and accidentally broadcast what they say after the honey ceases to flow, the herd is milked, the cream is in the can. I know what I would say. Of course, I would say it without attempting to imitate a host’s dialect or inflection, or to employ their favored terminology. You can’t be too careful: someone at Radcliffe might be listening.
– A prominent conspiracy theorist appears on screen, sweating and jittery, face red as he loudly informs me that the world is indeed flat and the New World Order maintains its headquarters in a secret complex buried far below Denver International Airport.
I have been to that airport many times and I’ve suspected something nefarious is afoot. Why, for example, is it located so far from the metro area? What is the real reason “authorities” are hesitant to land huge jet aircraft packed with hundreds of passengers on runways located in the center of the Mile High City? Huh? You tell me.
And why, shouts the sweaty fellow, does NASA continue to deny the existence of the huge planet Niburu? The one hidden on the other side of the sun that, any day now (much as the dead televangelist predicted), will careen from its orbit and slam into the earth, destroying our beloved, decreasingly verdant home.
The same conspiracy savvy expert also informs me that anyone studying to become a dentist or a radiologist learns during the final semester of their education that following graduation they must attend a private ceremony at which they take a blood oath before a “Council of Elders,” promising to never make public the fact that x-rays reveal the presence of a microchip placed in every baby born in America since 1971 (and inserted in babies born at home by stealthy intruders who incapacitate other occupants of the dwelling with sophisticated vapors, then accomplish their awful task as the newborn struggles in its bassinet). The graduate who complies and takes the oath receives a license to practice and is welcomed into the fold. Those who balk are exterminated, their corpses sent to labs where Adderall-saturated researchers work round the clock to develop new, more sophisticated microchips, and up-to-date methods for their insertion. The labs are in Bangladesh.
– It’s awful. The Israeli government, via the IDF, uses trained sharks to attack and kill Egyptian surfers. The sharks are trained in Bangladesh.
– Oh, the British royals, those spoon-fed, crypto-Teuton, inbred beneficiaries of a misguided sense of history and tradition. What will one of these wacky characters do next?
I can overlook the Prince Harry Pets Sedated African Wildlife scandal. After all, Harry is banging an American gal.
But Andy is another matter.
Several dark web conspiracy sites have thoroughly investigated Andy, and I have no reason to doubt what is reported. If you can’t believe someone who interned with Alex Jones, who will you believe?
OK, so Prince Andrew knew Jeffrey Epstein, traveled to Jeff’s Fountain of Youth Fantasy Island on a number of occasions, and was photographed with underage women at Jeff’s soirees. Does any of this, you ask, constitute proof that the good prince engaged in unsavory and unforgivable hijinks?
Well, yes, it does, as does the FACT (the site moderator shouts whenever he says the word “fact”) that Andy is in cahoots with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, el Salman, Wexler, Dershowitz, Spacey, and the rest of the reprehensible lot, having helped devise the plan to have Jeff murdered by a rogue cop cellmate. A cellmate, incidentally, who now enjoys unlimited conjugal visits from Saudi concubines, as well as meals delivered from several favorite Staten Island Italian restaurants.
Jeff’s fucking hyoid gives it away. Wake up, people! The hyoid!
Here’s what a number of Brit insiders (staid Etonians, therefore anonymous) told the site host: The Wayfaring Windsor dresses in mom’s castoff getups and yodels when he ejaculates.
Unimpeachable inside sources (and isn’t everyone with a Brit accent reliable?) report that Andy has Liz’s twice-worn outfits cleaned and delivered to the Royal Lodge, to which he was recently banished, Bagshot Park being his previous, much dishier abode. One might say Bagshot was Andy’s pre “She was how old?” residence.
Andy possesses hundreds of mom’s dowdy dresses and goofy hats, has drawers stuffed with the plain cotton undies HRH prefers, and has reportedly purloined more than five hundred pairs of her pumps, as well as a generous supply of the used Trueform Sheer Compression Stockings (nude) the queen favors whenever she greets guests at the palace or staggers about the grounds at Balmoral in search of a stag.
The prince regularly dons one of mom’s ensembles, slips on the Trueforms and a pair of color-coordinated pumps, then mounts a wobbly throne in a makeshift throne room created by local craftsmen in the carriage house, there to issue commands in a wavering soprano to a crew of corgis sired by one of the queen’s deceased favorites — Old Ben.
Oh, and Andy masturbates furiously and yodels as he does so, having ingested some Pharma help an hour before.
Nothing odd about this, eh? Just another day in Windsor World.
As if anything more is necessary, the site informs me that surveillance tapes stashed in a safety deposit box in Cleveland show the prince bribing night guards at the Museum of London to allow him access at 2 a.m., and permit him to be alone in the gallery in which is displayed the knit vest worn by Charles I at his execution in 1649.
Andy tiptoes to the case, sheds his clothing but for a pair of pumps and compression stockings (nude), and dons the vest, pausing to caress the stains on its front. Then, he moves to another display case, removes the gloves worn by the unfortunate monarch on that fateful day and, having popped yet another Pharma booster an hour earlier…
The large, empty marble-sheathed gallery provides the perfect echo chamber, and the guards have remarked that the yodeling is “eerie, but quite nearly beautiful.”
You get the picture, and it’s not particularly pretty. This is what happens when cousins breed with cousins. Generation after generation.
Ghislaine Maxwell swears all this is true, confirms the FACTS, yells the site host. A trusted insider reports that she met Maxwell four days ago at a Burbank coffee shop, and The Ghis spilled the beans while savoring two macchiatos and half of a poppy seed muffin. There’s no reason to doubt the insider: she was once one of the most successful coke dealers in West Hollywood, dried out with Stephen Baldwin at Passages Malibu, got a deferred sentence, and now owns and operates a chain of bilingual daycare centers in the Central Valley, each facility receiving a daily delivery of ten cases of “tropical fruit” from Sinaloa. Need bona fides? There you have them.
Andy’s predicament dovetails with the reality of a cabal conspiring to eliminate Epstein before he could spill the beans, or play the tapes. According to another conspiracy site, members of the cabal, including each of the aforementioned geeks — Trump, the queen, Clinton, etc. — are Anunnaki, part of the line of blood sucking shape-shifting reptoids that have occupied the seats of power worldwide since the Assyrians first contacted them in what was then the Fertile Crescent and is now a bomb-blasted wasteland.
So it goes in the hole.
It’s dark down here.
Just as it is dark in the world of the arts. The hole provides plenty of text and video evidence of the predicament.
We’ve sent Wallace Stevens and his ilk packing, and the quality of poetry is now determined by the depth of grievance, and the decibel level of its delivery. It’s been a long time coming, and there are endless poetry slam clips available on You Tube. Check them out; if you like Yeats, you’ll love these videos.
According to experts I encounter in the hole, everybody’s an artist. Art sites abound.
Gather the junk from your closet and nearby dumpsters then stack the shit in a pyramid, and drape the pyramid with Christmas lights arranged to spell out a pertinent and/or poignant statement: “Feel My Pain, It’s Your Fault,” or “Female Identifiers Welcome Here.” Pour polyurethane glop on a sheet of bubble wrap, then nail the object to a gallery wall next to a lengthy, barely coherent post-structuralist diatribe, a trumpeting of the artist’s opinions regarding colonialism and sexist dynamics, and a list of institutions that arranged back-breaking student loans and, after six years, granted the uneducated artiste a master’s degree in fine arts.
If you have difficulty composing a piece of music, just sample something created by someone else, or imitate a style. It’s OK, in particular if you are gender fluid. There’s plenty of tutorials online if you need tips on how to steal ideas.
Congrats, you are an artist.
Everyone is an artist.
Everyone is a critic.
Everyone is a …
More blather about art finally shakes me to my senses; I need to flee the depths. The blather is about The Art World. To be more specific: about art and money.
I click to the Sothebys and Christies auction sites and review upcoming contemporary art auctions. I move through the lots, (“lot” is high-class auction jargon), and inspect the goods. It’s like IKEA somehow got into the art biz.
KAWS? Really? Did Jeff Koons donate to a sperm bank?
Prices seem to follow a price-per-inch formula. For nearly 75 years, it’s been a given that if you paint it big, it’s better. The stuff coming to auction on these sites is predictably huge. As are the prices.
Size matters. Oh, yes, it does.
Scanning upcoming offerings at Sothebys I spot a prime Cecily Brown; it’s sizable, but unlike most other lots, it’s great. The other lots are, for the most part, just big.
And very expensive.
Asare , to be fair, the few exceptions to the size rule, pieces produced in some cases by mighty fine painters, veterans not seduced by square footage. Works such as Frank Auerbach’s Head of JYM. It’s 15×15 inches and might sell for as much as $1.5 mil, (his Head of Julia, a bit larger, went for about $2 mil last year). JYM might rake in the cash, so small isn’t necessarily a drawback. After all, Bacon’s self portrait, at 14×12, lured around $17 mil in 2019.
But big, not better, is the rule of the day.
Some privileged twerp in Dubai or Hong Kong or Bangladesh bids an outlandish amount of money and wins the auction. They now own a large Basquiat or a huge Richter. The piece is of marginal quality once stripped of its veneer of celebrity, absent the lens of correct thought, but hey, it’s Basquiat! It’s Richter!
As another of these giant and most often average productions is hefted off the auction carousel, I wonder: Is someone going to hang the thing on a wall and say, “Wow, I’m glad I just paid $12 million bucks to be able to look at this big thing I don’t understand while I eat my microwaved Jimmy Dean sausage and egg breakfast bun?”
If the thing hangs on someone’s wall (and how many folks have walls that big?) it doesn’t stay there long. It goes to a climate controlled storage facility where “curators” and “archivists” maintain its integrity in readiness for an upcoming auction at a Sothebys or Christies contemporary art auction. With a 30-percent boost in price.
While the lucky buyer is busy licking his or her chops regarding the fantastic profits they’ll realize in the art market, they should Google the Dutch Tulip Mania, 1637. Sundar Pichai owns that information, and will share it with them. Free!
The prices paid for pieces, large or small, are indicative of a disease, a plague that extends beyond the art world to all aspects of our consumer culture. It seeps into every crevice at the bottom of the hole, a plague far more insidious than Wuhan virus. It is as if everyone has a Kardashian living in the guest bedroom.
Art as investment: buy it to resell it, not to enjoy it. Conspiracy theories. Alt Right sites. Woman of the African American persuasion watching a video of The Carpenters performing Close to You, and lovin’ it. Poetry at 85 decibels. Grave wax and condos. Degenerate royals. Pandemics. Microchips jammed into defenseless newborns, jade eggs and live fish into vaginas. Turnip cakes.
For god’s sake…turnip cakes!
How can a hole be simultaneously deep and shallow?
I must get out.
I have things to produce that will never attract a substantial audience, will never be published, and will surely never be sold at Sothebys.
Perhaps help is available.
I look up a few minutes ago and I swear I see Wallace Stevens.
If it isn’t Wallace, it is a guy who looks like him — a pleasant looking old chap waving a Hartford Insurance policy in one hand and holding a decent pour of Johnny Walker Blue in the other.
Perhaps he’ll lower a line and get me outta here.
Then read The Snow Man and Sunday Morning in a normal tone of voice as I’m purged in a bathtub filled with fresh water.