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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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13 August 2012

gratuitous image

No. 8,481 (cartoon)

A gift!? You shouldn’t have.

It’s just a little thing.

I know. You shouldn’t be so cheap.

14 August 2012

Diogenes Backward

Diogenes of Sinope was quite the hombre. I don’t know much about him for a couple of reasons. First, I’m too lazy to do the least bit of research. Second, he died over two millennia ago, so there’s not much in the way of factual facts. There are, however, anecdotes and attributions, such as this alleged quote: “He has the most who is most content with the least.” As for anecdotes, he’s said to have wandered around with a lamp ostensibly looking for an honest man.

I thought of him when I noticed that over half the people on the street tonight were staring into some sort of light-emitting electronic device. The light shined on their faces, not on the world. I wonder whether that practice actually provides illumination, or just a blinding glare. Or, more accurately, I wondered for almost a minute before moving on to some other trivial concern.

15 August 2012

Raticide Repercussions

Minnisha reported a murder in her home today, a death that presented her with a moral dilemma.

“I killed a rat in a trap, and now I’m trying figure out what the right thing to do is,” she reported.

“You just killed a fellow mammal, what other quandary could there be?” I asked.

“Here’s the situation,” she explained. “The rat was so mushed up that I put the rodent and the trap in a couple of plastic bags.”

“I don’t see what the problem is,” I replied.

“It’s a combination of landfill, compost, and recycling,” she continued, “so I don’t know what to do. I should really separate everything, but it’s too icky.”

“You certainly do have a problem,” I agreed. “Once you start killing, one thing leads to another. Always has, always will.”

16 August 2012

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Gratuitous Photo of the Weak: John Lennon 12/5/69

Go to the corner of Fell and Stanyan streets in San Francisco and you’ll find John Lennon’s signature written in concrete. Or maybe you won’t. What you will see are seventeen barely decipherable characters scratched in what was then wet concrete.

John Lennon 12/5/69

The date is ambiguous; it could be either 12 May or December 5. Lennon was in England on the latter date, so it has to be the former. No one knows for sure where he was on 12 May, but he did fly from London to Barbados on 24 May. Why Barbados? The U.S. government wouldn’t give him an entry visa because of his anti-war activities.

And so, it’s almost certain that the signature is a forgery. But, since it’s rather entertaining as forgeries go, who cares?

17 August 2012

Public Hair

Once upon a time in the previous century, a museum administraitor sent a letter to the photographer Edward Weston explaining that his work could not be exhibited because it showed “public hair.” After that, Weston never used the term pubic hair again.

It’s hard to imagine what life in those times must have been like, but even administraitors at the Museum of Modern Art in New York were worried about showing Weston’s innocuous work. Here’s an excerpt from a letter Weston sent to Beaumont and Nancy Newhall at the museum’s photography department.

By all means tell your Board that P.H. has been definitely a part of my development as an artist, tell them it has been the most important part, that I like it brown, black, red or golden, curly or straight, all sizes and shapes. If that does not move them let me know.

Now that’s what I call an artist’s statement!

18 August 2012

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Comparative Gravity

Many years ago I came across The Weighing House, an engraving William Hogarth made a quarter of a millennium ago. I was struck both by the image of nine people in various stages of defying gravity as well as the curious labels for characters A through I.

A. Absolute Gravity.

B. Conatus Against Absolute Gravity.

C. Practical Gravity.

D. Comparative Gravity.

E. Horizontal, or Good Sense.

F. Wit.

G. Comparative Levity or Coxcomb.

H. Partial Levity, or Pert Fool.

I. Absolute Levity, or Stark Fool.

I resolved to write about Hogarth’s piece, but have always failed to think of anything to say every time I tried. I decided to finally remove commenting on The Weighing House from my conceptual folder of Ideas Allegedly in Progress today, and this is the result:

I give up.

19 August 2012

Mars Time

National Aeronautics and Space Administration workers monitoring the current exploration of Mars live on Mars time. A Mars day is thirty-nine minutes and thirty-five seconds longer than a day on earth, so Earth time synchs with Mars time approximately every fifty Earth days or so. Or every forty-nine sols—Martian days—if you prefer.

I know the engineers live on Mars time for simple, pragmatic reasons, but the practice strikes me as better performance art than most activities alleged to be performance art.

Anything that needs to be labeled as art usually isn’t.


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©2012 David Glenn Rinehart

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