Stare.
     
 

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  2030 Vision
 
 
 

 
 
P E R I O D  II  1 9 9 8
 
   

17 January 1998
2030 Vision
A six pixel by six pixel grid changing one pixel seventy-two times a second would take just over thirty years to display every possible image. (Each pixel would only have the option of being either black or white.) If the display of all possible images began at midnight on 1 January 2000 all possibilities would be exhausted at 17:26:17 on 30 March 2030.

(This seems like an improbably long time, but here's the math: two to the thirty-sixth is 68,719,476,736, which, divided by seventy-two times a second, sixty seconds a minute, sixty minutes an hour, twenty-four hours a day comes to over thirty years. Did I miss something?)

(This is also available in the PDF format, there's more about that in the dreaded technical notes.)

18 January 1998
Mass, Preordained?
John is writing a mass. I presume he's doing it for the money, although I could easily be wrong again. I suggested that he call it Mass X or X Mass. The former name will appeal to all the "art meets science" types and the latter will be performed every xmas, ensuring a steady stream of royalties for him and his new heiress.

I offered to help with the libretto, but he hasn't replied. Not knowing anything about masses, I fear I may have made a faux pas: do masses have all the words preordained (so to speak)? Maybe he could do a blasphemous mass; that would certainly get noticed.

19 January 1998
Depressingly Attractive
I told Leah she looked more attractive than usual in her new short dress. That was the wrong thing to say.

"I don't want to look attractive; I've got to tell Chad we're not renewing his contract. It's going to be depressing."

"When I said you looked attractive, I meant attractive in a depressing sort of way," I lied.

It wasn't a very good lie, but I'm not a very good liar, especially when it comes to improvising. You have to be smart, or at least have a good memory, to be a good liar.

20 January 1998
Spring Flower of Delight
Li Chin is dead, murdered. Lynched, more like it, by half of population of Haigong. His crime was a crime against nature, the Spring Flower of Delight.

The Spring Flower of Delight was a cheap battery-powered orgasm-inducing gadget that, when attached to the ankles, provided immediate sexual climaxes. Li Chin and his fellow villagers discovered that electronic orgasms on demand meant fewer of the more complex, more time consuming and wetter orgasms that humans have enjoyed over the millennia. So they killed him and burned down his small factory.

If you ever come across a secondhand Spring Flower of Delight, buy it: they're rare and thus valuable. Whether or not you use it is another question entirely.

21 January 1998
The Wormwood Scrubs Portraits
I saw some remarkable photographs in Edinburgh; they were made in Wormwood Scrubs Prison circa 1880. The clever bureaucrats managed to get both the prisoner's face and his profile on one sheet of film by hanging a mirror at a forty-five degree angle behind the inmate's head. Once again economy was a catalyst for creativity.

What I thought was brilliant, though, was that each prisoner had pressed his hands against his chest, palms down. What a great idea! Yet another idea to plagiarize, and so little time.

Gotta go!

22 January 1998
Schizophrenic and Agoraphobic Bits
Fearghas pointed out a newspaper article that talked about a man with ten kids (and the eleventh on the way) whose family was subsisting on government welfare payments because the father's claustrophobia prevented him from working.

I thought the story sounded improbable: "What would a claustrophobic man be doing inside a vagina?" Fearghas opined that the man may have been somewhat schizophrenic, with his mind claustrophobic and some of his other bits agoraphobic.

That sounded reasonable to me.

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23 January 1998
Cookie Problems
I saw the most beautiful cookie in the world: it had icing in both sides! When I told my friends about my elation, they just laughed at me. It turns out that the cookie only had icing on one side; the other side was covered with a piece of rice paper. They laughed at me again when I tried to peel off the rice paper; they told me the rice paper is meant to be eaten. So it was a type of icing all along!

Never eat cookies with people who are more sophisticated that you are. Never ever.

24 January 1998
A 7.7 Percent Audience Increase
I received an email note from an extraordinarily beautiful woman from Los Angeles. (Even though I've never met her or seen a portrait, I know from watching the television that every woman in Los Angeles is extraordinarily beautiful.) She announced that she was in love with me after seeing my work on the Internet.

Wow!

That's exactly how life should be. When I was younger, much younger, I used to try to impress women by showing them my art work. After all, "come up and see my etchings" is a pickup line that's worked for centuries. I believe Orson Welles' postulate that displays of cleverness are the source of contemporary civilization, such as it is: "If there hadn't been women, we'd still be squatting in our cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization to impress our girlfriends." I think Orson was mistaken--or perhaps just misquoted--in making a gender specific observation; I've had the pleasure of being awed by some brilliant women much more often than I've impressed anyone.

And so it was a pleasant surprise to hear from a stranger who thinks I'm clever; it was an overdue pat on the ego as well as a confirmation of the teenage theories that have always served me well.

I used to create work for an audience of thirteen people, now I have fourteen people who see my work. That's a 7.7 percent increase.

25 January 1998
Superior and Inferior Mozart Balls
After I'd written about a disappointing reunion with Mozart balls, a man named Reggie wrote to me to advise "there are, in fact, at least three different brands of the little things. The ones you had were inferior. The best ones are made in Salzburg."

That sounds like a rare case of confectionery justice. I doubt Wolfgang A. would have wanted his best spherical namesakes to come from Germany. Thanks Reggie!

26 January 1998
Not Very Smart
A new locale means a new dentist. I always like going to have my teeth cleaned and examined. Getting a clean bill of toothy health means I can continue to masticate with impunity. I suppose my appreciation of dentistry goes back to when I was a child: the dentist always gave me a five-cent toy.

My new dentist said "I see you've had your wisdom teeth out."

That confused me; I thought wisdom teeth were invisible. I asked him how he could tell.

"Well, you're not very smart, are you?"

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27 January 1998
Little Knowledge
I haveth little knowledge and spareth not my guilty words; I slayeth them as I would the redundant sperm.

28 January 1998
Tiptoe Stress Test
Some friends met a man who was a professional airplane inspector; he's the person who has to certify that rebuilt jets are safe and airworthy. "We do things to planes that your average customer wouldn't appreciate."

He said that the only part of the job that's interesting is the stress test, which involves turning off the engines and going into a freefall. He can tiptoe down the aisle, almost weightless.

What a great job! It's not even close to being as fun as the life of the worthless artist, but floating weightless down the aisle of a huge jet miles above Earth has a certain charm. (I know this is true because I've done it, albeit only with the help of lots of whiskey.)

29 January 1998
Edward Weston at Schiphol Airport
I saw Edward Weston at Schiphol airport this morning. Edward Weston dies six days before my second birthday. I don't think I ever saw Edward Weston.

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30 January 1998
Spudulike!
I found some attractive plastic cutlery with the designer's name stamped on the reverse. I thought this was a clever idea until a friend told me the designer was the son of a famous designer. The plastic people got a famous signature cheap by hiring the famous signature's son.

It happens all the time.

31 January 1998
Titanic Ambition
I saw a perfect headline on the cover of a film magazine: "James Cameron's Titanic Ambition."

Titanic Ambition! Perfect! That says it all!

(Since contemporary cinematic criticism is apparently impossible without mentioning the budget, I feel obliged to note that the film cost some U.S.$200 million.)

1 February 1998
Photography Twaddles On
When I first became obsessed by photography in 1972, I remember the name of Herbert Keppler. He was the editor of Modern Photography , a publication that later merged with Popular Photography and now publishes under the name of the latter title. (I am reminded of the old truism: there is no modern photography in popular photography and no popular photography in modern photography.)

I was surprised to find a copy of Popular Photography in a friend's bathroom. Since there was nothing better on offer, I read a few pages, and was even more surprised to discover that not only is Herbert Keppler still alive, he's still writing twaddle about photography. And what mindnumbingly stupid twaddle!

    Reading a multipage, no-holds-barred, gloriously illustrated brochure for a new SLR [camera] sometimes seems almost as satisfying as owning the camera itself. The display pictures exploring the seemingly infinite possibilities the camera offers bring tears of joy, a quickening of breath and, admittedly, a yen to own, cherish, and adore the camera like a fine jewel, even though you may never use half its documented features or shoot pictures one-tenth as good as those shown in the brochure.

    No SLR pamphlet worth its salt is ever complete without an exhaustive listing of every camera specification you could possibility want to know.

    Admittedly, I never tire of flipping through my own vast collection of such literature, new and old, always marveling at the brilliance of the photographs, the near poetry of the text, and the splendid designs of the brochures.

And photography twaddles on, with or without Herbert Keppler.

2 February 1998
The Steinhom Metaphor
Last week the Norwegian fishing boat Steinhom sank when a shoal of netted herrings dived for the bottom; the crew didn't even have time to cut the ropes before the ship was pulled beneath the waves. All the people aboard the Steinhom survived, as presumably did most of the herring.

A revolution that involves no loss of life (but perhaps some inevitable property damage) sounds like my kind of revolution. Nevertheless, I still had herring steaks for dinner. We live in complicated times.

3 February 1998
Fetal Monogamy
Shelley asked me if I wanted to feel her twin-laden belly. The taut thumping flesh was tempting, but I resisted. Years ago Maia let me touch her pregnant throbbing bulge, and I decided then and there that I'd remain fetally monogamous. (I didn't see that resolution as a violation of my engagement by parental proxy to the embryo that later evolved into first Amanda then Celeste.)

4 February 1998
Older Than John
I heard a John Lennon song, and it depressed me terribly. I'm sure there were/are lots of creative geniuses this century, but the only two who now rise above the horizon of my wine ocean are John Lennon and the omnipresent Marcel Duchamp. I am now older in chronological years that John Lennon ever was, and even if I live another x decades I'll never be one as inspired or prolific. Oh well, I didn't write any symphonies when I was a teenager either.

Still, it's enough to drive a person to drink. But I think I'll walk.

5 February 1998
Fuzzy Triumphs Over Binary
Scott, who lives here at the lab, brought me an unsolicited beer. The clock on my computer says it's 17:02; Scott says it's beer-thirty; I guess that's the difference between binary and fuzzy logic.

6 February 1998
That's All
Rita and I have been drinking wine all afternoon. Inexplicably, it's even good wine.

Rita chopping onions exclaimed "I love sharp objects when I've had too much to drink!"

I told her I quite agreed: "Quite right; I'd never think of getting drunk if there weren't any sharp knives around!"

Mistake.

"I'm not drunk," Rita corrected, "I've just had too much to drink, that's all."

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7 February 1998
Brilliant Teaser
I saw a tequila advertisement that advised it was "part of a brilliant teaser campaign." I never found out what new tequila I'm supposed to buy, but I did appreciate the advertisers telling me I was being manipulated. The tawdry consumer process doesn't seem so bad when the pushers are unashamed of and unambiguous about their motives.

8 February 1998
U2 Means Mediocrity2
I'm at a party and the host is playing some bouncy background music. I made the mistake of listening to the lyrics and heard drivel like "I kissed your lips and broke your heart," "a heart as empty as a vacant lot," et cetera.

I asked who was playing; the host said U2. Of course!

I've always disliked U2, and not just because of their snivelly adolescent popness. A few years ago the group sued a far superior ensemble--Negativland--for publishing a parody recording. (It was actually one group's record company suing the other, but the result was the same.) After listening to U2, though, I have some sympathy for the musical hucksters. Negativland probably shouldn't have done a parody of U2; U2 is a parody of U2.

9 February 1998
Doesn't Look As Good As It Sounds
She said "I think sometimes that it is about my ego. Somehow the other person fills my ego--that doesn't look as good as it sounds." I missed her ego reference because I kept thinking "that doesn't look as good as it sounds."

Wow!

10 February 1998
The Decent Daves
Some twenty-five years ago David Wiles, David Wheeler and I founded the Decent Daves. There are a plethora of Decent Daves, but all of the rest of them serve at the pleasure of the board, i.e. the three of us.

Only now it's the two of us. I just learned that David Wheeler "drank himself to death" last year. Drank himself to death? How do you drink yourself to death? I drink more than is perhaps prudent, but I can't imagine how I could drink myself to death.

And so now it's down to Dr. Wiles and me. I tip my whisky glass to Dr. Wheeler. That's probably an inappropriate remembrance, but I'm sure he would have appreciated the poor taste.

11 February 1998
Doonk! Dank!
Out of the Berkeley subway station to hear doonk! dank! doonk! dank! doonk! dank! doonk! dank! Purple Haze! Jimi Hendrix! Eleven in the morning, time to party! Doonk! dank! doonk! dank! doonk! dank! doonk! dank!

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12 February 1998
Al's Big Truck
Al has a big truck. It's more than a truck, it's his ark. It's got lots of food and plenty to drink. It's protected him from earthquakes and monsoons; it's a really big truck.

13 February 1998
No Art
A friend of an associate of a friend of an associate of a friend of an associate of a friend of an associate reported that Ken Russell appeared on the set of the movie he's making wearing a t-shirt with No Art printed on it. I haven't seen enough of Ken Russell's work to know whether or not he was trying to be ironic.

14 February 1998
Trees Threat
A friend received email from "The Trees." It wasn't the usual email, it was an extortion letter. The Trees said that unless clearcut logging was halted immediately, they'd kill one celebrity a week. They added ominously that "there are no skiing accidents."

(To put this threat in context, a number of famous people have recently died--been killed?--in downhill skiing "accidents.")

15 February 1998
A Clever Marketing Strategy
I overheard a marketing huckster talk about selling photographs over the Internet. He said "If someone loves an image they'll pay more for it."

What a clever marketing strategy! It's not one for me, though. Who wants to appeal to popular lack of taste? I prefer to target an unpopular lack of taste.

16 February 1998
The Three Meanings of Life
A surprisingly large number of unrelated friends have recently been talking about The Meaning of Life, What Does It All Mean, et cetera. I don't know what the catalysts for these debates are; I guess it's just that time of the century.

I have three contenders for the meaning(s) of life. First, there's Marcel Duchamp's observation: "There is no solution because there is no problem."

And then there's The Scheme of Things, from an Allen Wheelis novel of the same name:

    "The scheme of things is a system of order. Beginning as our view of the world, it finally becomes our world. We live within the space defined by its coordinates. It is self-evidently true, is accepted so naturally and automatically that one is not aware of an act of acceptance having taken place. It comes with one's mother's milk, is chanted in school, proclaimed from the White House, insinuated by television, validated at Harvard. Like the air we breathe, the scheme of things disappears, becomes simple reality, the way things are. It is the lie necessary to life. The world as it is exists beyond that scheme becomes vague, irrelevant, largely unperceived, finally nonexistent."

And finally, there's Kurt Vonnegut's pronouncement from Timequake: "Listen: We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anyone tell you any different!"

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17 February 1998
Street Level Viciousness
The San Francisco seagulls are killing the San Francisco pigeons. Life on the streets is vicious, short.

18 February 1998
I'm a Survivor
Even though I said it first, Andy Grove is credited with the quote "Only the paranoid survive." Andy Grove made his reputation and fortune by stealing my ideas. That doesn't bother me: I never wanted to be famous and/or rich.

I recently discovered he's hired teams of private investigators to follow me everywhere I go. On my last flight every passenger and every member of the plane's crew was employed by Intel. They even had a spy with oxygen tanks in the cargo hold to study my baggage during the flight.

But now Andy's gone too far. He's programmed his chips to read my mind and steal my ideas before I even consciously think them. (Even though none of my computers use Intel chips, they're everywhere; I can't get away from them.)

Everything here is bugged and everyone's watching me and I can't even think aloud but I'm not worried. I'm a survivor.

19 February 1998
Ignore the Photographer
Victor has advised me that a black sweatshirt with "IGNORE THE PHOTOGRAPHER" in light grey lettering (font: Frutiger Black) would be a good seller. I think he's right, but I am again too lazy to do anything about it. If someone does use this idea, please contact me to arrange royalty payments.

20 February 1998
The Thrilling Formula
John Baldwin came up with a formula for a best selling "thriller" book. Here are the ten points:

  1. The hero is an expert.
     
  2. The villain is an expert.
     
  3. You must watch all the villainy over the shoulder of the villain.
     
  4. The hero has a team of experts in various fields behind him.
     
  5. Two or more on the team must fall in love.
     
  6. Two or more on the team must die.
     
  7. The villain must turn his attention from his original goal to the team.
     
  8. The villain and the hero must live to do battle again in the sequel.
     
  9. All deaths must proceed from the individual to the group: i.e., never say that the bomb exploded and 15,000 people were killed. Start with "Jamie and Suzy were walking in the park with their grandmother when the earth opened up."
     
  10. If you get bogged down, just kill somebody.

The resulting book, The Eleventh Plague, was panned as "styleless" by Kirkus Reviews, a comment with which the author agrees. The author made a million dollars or so from his formulaic approach.

I might be formulaic if someone paid me a million dollars. I'm glad no one has; I expect my luck to hold.

21 February 1998
Masa's Doesn't Exist
I'm sitting in a car looking at Masa's restaurant in Novato. The driver is on the car's telephone trying to find Masa's phone number. The phone company says there is no Masa's restaurant in Novato. We're going to have to eat somewhere else.

22 February 1998
A Bazillion Quadrazillion to One
I've had a brilliant revelation. I'm going to write down my brilliant revelation. You're about to read my brilliant revelation. If you don't think my brilliant revelation is a brilliant revelation you can go back to your boring job. My brilliant revelation is this:

My honky contemporaries always decry the marketing campaigns that mislead poor kids--OK, poor ghetto kids--to think that a brief career in professional foot-base-basket-tennis-ball will deliver them from grinding poverty to the promised land of fast and hot women, fast and hot cars and fast and hot food. Yeah, right. Yeah sure. Don't these kids know the odds against them getting big sports money are a bazillion quadrazillion to one?

And then I had my brilliant revelation. Are you ready? Here it is:

Artists are as stupid as ghetto kids. Artists are stupider than ghetto kids. But wait, there's more: artists are ghetto kids. We artists think we're going to beat the bazillion quadrazillion to one adds against "success" in the art world and end up drinking champagne from Jodie Foster's pumps. That's not going to happen! Ever!!!

We're in our ghetto forever.

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23 February 1998
Another Think Coming
There's a huge new computer at the lab. The latest in digital technology came in a box made of trees; the box was so heavy it had to have a pallet base made of tree pieces. If the trees thought they were going to have an easier life in the computer age they have another think coming.

24 February 1998
Dream Control
I heard that if you can see your hands in a dream you can control the dream. I'll have to try that one of these nights.

25 February 1998
Good Advice Wasted
John advises, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." That sounds like good advice, although I can't be sure since I don't have any enemies.

26 February 1998
Not Recording Quite a Bit
Today was the day I should have completed Drinking Quite a Bit During a Four-Week Trip to San Francisco, a visual record of all the alcoholic drinks I had en route to and during my most recent trip to San Francisco.

I abandoned the piece after six days and dozens of entries; the project turned into more of a cataloguing project than I'd imagined. It was too much work for too little art.

27 February 1998
No Free Coffee
I was walking down a downtown Boston street when I heard coins fall on the pavement. The effect wasn't at all what I'd expected from my experience with Found Pound Sound: I turned to look around but no one else did. I saw a woman bend over, pick up her purse, and continue walking. I thought I saw change on the street, but I couldn't have. But I did. There it was, $1.22 in change just sitting there, or whatever money does when it's stationary.

Everyone walked by it, even though it was on a clean dry bit of pavement. I didn't pass it up because I didn't see it as a pile of change, I saw it as free coffee.

I later found that a downtown Boston cup of coffee cost $1.45. So it goes.

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28 February 1998
That Cold
Buddah's wearing a sweater; it's that cold.

1 March 1998
Portrait of the Artist as a Focus Group
Today's New York Times Magazine has a great two-part headline:

Portrait of the Artist as a Focus Group
Too often these days, the creative types have only the courage of their audience's convictions.

It was such a good headline and subhead that the article itself was redundant.

2 March 1998
Mr. The Scary Guy
Mr. The Scary Guy used to be called Mr. Earl Kenneth Kaufmann until he legally changed his name to The Scary Guy. Mr. The Scary Guy has tattoos over eighty-five percent of his body; many of them are autobiographical.

The next piece of Mr. The Scary Guy's fleshy canvas to get an image is his neck, which will soon be sporting a ring of fire. Unlike his other tattoos, the latest art doesn't represent anything. Yet.

I like Mr. The Scary Guy's aesthetic approach: "Maybe I'll get in touch with the symbolism later." Act first, rationalize later: that's the ticket.

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3 March 1998
Can't Be Done
You can't put a square picture in a round hole.

4 March 1998
Nasty Government Dog
I got bitten by a nasty government dog at the airport. The dog was looking for illegal drugs; it bit me when it discovered I didn't have any.

I later learned that government customs police addict dogs to various illicit drugs, then force them to find their next fix in passengers' handbags and luggage. The beagle who bit me just went crazy after going without methamphetamine for too long, that's all.

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©1998 David Glenn Rinehart