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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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9 October 2015

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No. 3,759 (cartoon)

Little things can mean a lot.

All you ever talk about is your cancer cells.

10 October 2015

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I Suppose It’s a Violin

Peter Schumann gave an incredible performance here at the Internet Archive last night. He alternated between ranting in his Silesian accent and sawing on his violin like he was auditioning for Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat.

I didn’t understand why he called his performance a “Fiddle Talk,” so I visited him after the show where he was serving bread he’d baked earlier in the day.

“Why do you call your instrument a fiddle and not a violin?” I asked.

“Because the violin is a classical instrument,” he explained.

“But since you’ve been doing this for over fifty years,” I continued, “doesn’t that make it classic?

He gave an ambivalent shrug.

“Then I suppose it’s a violin,” he concluded.

11 October 2015

The False Promise of Expensive Equipment

Lorenzo asked me to photograph the shiny thingie he fabricated, so I reached for some very expensive floodlights I use for my occasional video work. I’m fortunate to have so many tools available, including lights that cost over a thousand dollars each.

Even though I’m far from incompetent when it comes to lighting, I couldn’t get the diffuse, shadowless light I needed. After trying several unsatisfactory arrangements, I put the lights away and came up with an ideal source of diffuse lighting. I simply went outside and photographed Lorenzo’s doodad under an overcast sky.

I felt like such a hypocrite. Although I decry materialism (except when it comes to tools like cameras and computers), I nevertheless started with the wrong approach because it involved the most esoteric hardware.

12 October 2015

Gender Questioning

I was confused when Portia told me that these notebook entries were, “too genderist.” I pointed out that I learned decades ago to use “her or him,” “s/he,” et cetera. Apparently, though, I haven’t been keeping up with the times.

She gave me a list of almost fifty different gender categories I should seriously consider before writing too much more. The classifications included agender, androgyne, androgynous, bigender, cis, cisgender, cis female, cis male, cis man, cis woman, cisgender female, cisgender male, cisgender man, cisgender woman, female to male, gender fluid, gender nonconforming, gender questioning, gender variant, genderqueer, intersex, male to female, neither, neutrois, non-binary, other, pangender, trans, trans female, trans male, trans man, trans person, trans woman, transfeminine, transgender, transgender female, transgender male, transgender man, transgender person, transgender woman, transmasculine, transsexual, transsexual female, transsexual male, transsexual man, transsexual person, transsexual woman, and two-spirit.


What’s the difference between a cisgender female and a cisgender woman? I fear that I may have offended members of one or both of those groups by even posing such an insensitive question. And anyway, I’m not sure that I really want to know the answer.

I promised Portia that I would write more thoughtfully when I picked up my pen again. I didn’t add that I haven’t touched a pen in years.

13 October 2015

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Twenty Desiccated Archival Banana Peels

A couple of months ago I made the mistake of writing about work in progress. Since then, I kept getting occasional queries about, “how the bananas are going.” One of the reasons I completed Twenty Desiccated Archival Banana Peels was to stop talking about long, curved fruit.

I like to make series of images, and I rarely start out with a definite idea of what the final number will be. Boredom is usually the deciding factor. As Paul Ambroise Valéry noted, “An artist really never finishes his work, he just abandons it.” I never counted how many banana peels I dried on the windowsill of my studio window, I just stopped when drying the banana peels became more work than fun.

I’ll never make the mistake of talking about work in alleged progress again until the next time I do.

14 October 2015

Humane Saudi Crucifixion

There’s only so much freedom our freedom-loving allies in Saudi Arabia will tolerate. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr learned that the hard way when he allegedly attended a protest rally in Qatif. After torturing the seventeen-year-old, Saudi judicial officials sentenced him to be crucified.

At first glance, that might be a rather disproportionate response to a demonstrator in the country whose representatives will soon head the United Nations Human Rights Council. But, as usual, things are not as they first appear. Unless Saudi bureaucrats heed the calls for leniency from world leaders, they will in fact crucify the young man. That won’t cause him any pain, though, since they will first cut off his head.

The moral of this story is simple. When our perceived enemies crucify their perceived enemies, they’re heinous barbarians. When our perceived allies crucify their perceived enemies, they’re people from a different culture who sell us their oil at the lowest price in the world.


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©2015 David Glenn Rinehart

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