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"It is not possible for me to copy nature in a servile way; I am forced to interpret nature and submit it to the spirit of the picture. From the relationships I have found in all the tones there must result a living harmony of colors, a harmony analogous to that of a music composition."

— Henri Matisse
from "Notes of a Painter," published in La Grande Revue, 1908

This page contains various links, essays, tidbits, and printable PDFs for your educational purposes. Some of it has to do with various modes of my livelihood and hints of how and why I do what I do. There is a section on Philip Whalen with essays, links, and a poem.

 

ART

Business is business and one can't escape its necessities, but I'm an artist because I can't help it and there is a duty to the imagination which is more than commerce. What is art and what can it do? What is success, what is failure? I happen to like art theorist Suzi Gablik's point of view—

"There is an entrenched institutional framework we tend to take for granted in our culture, without realizing how subtly and lethally it influences and determines our lives. Within this framework, art has been defined as static objects existing mostly in museums and galleries, segregated from ordinary life and action. The values of the “art world” tend to reflect the values of the culture at large: product orientation, individual competitiveness, winners and losers in the success game, and value-free aesthetics (or “art-for-art’s sake”).

"Within this framework, art is not viewed as a potentially supportive tool that can actually help others to improve their lives. By and large, since our culture still operates from the model of the artist as a lone genius with a disembodied eye, issues of social responsibility and concern for the health of the global environment have not been a significant part of the story we have been telling ourselves about how we should function in the world as artists.

"Yet there are many artists today who challenge this separation of art and life, mind and body, and who have moved beyond the culture’s emphasis on external achievement, money, and position to pursue instead a more spiritual connection that inspires and heals."

Of course the phrase "inspires and heals" sends up red flags of warning against woo-woo and New Age schlock, but the reality of experiencing art causes one to have their "energies, ideals, or reverence stimulated," or healed by having one's emotional center arroused, or healed by having one's intelligence expanded in some unique way. In a recent concert at the Outpost Performance Space, pianist Fred Hersch played an original composition called "Endless Stars" about the night sky above his home in New Hampshire. Both John Tritica and I felt tears well up as he played. We were moved. What are these sensations?

JB BRYAN

Dirt & Photosynthesis— 2007 show of paintings by JB Bryan

Tendrils upon Tendrils upon Light — 2003 show of paintings by JB Bryan

Curriculum Vitae — The gist & the grist


CIRRELDA SNIDER-BRYAN

CC Clay & Cards — Another branch of the Art Tree called La Alameda Press


BEAUTY

Beauty and Judgment — An essay by Alexander Nehamas: "The conversation is never-ending partly because beauty, as I said, is a promise, an anticipation, a hope as yet unfulfilled. To find something beautiful is, precisely, not yet to have finished with it, to think it has something further to offer. But also because the more we come to know the beautiful thing itself, the more we come to know other things as well. Bloom talks of reading 'deeply': I distrust that word, with its suggestion that there is a rock-bottom. Think instead of reading, or looking, or listening, as a broadening of vision. The better you come to know something you love in itself, the better you understand how it differs from everything else, how it does something that has never been done before. But the better you understand that, the more other things you need to know in order to compare them to what you love and to distinguish it from them. And the better you know those things, the more likely you are to find that some of them, too, are beautiful, which will start you all over again in an ever-widening circle of new communities and new things to say. It is a dangerous game, pursuing the beautiful. You may never be able to stop."

Dave Hickey Interview — Here is an inteview which can be found online at zingmagazine but I find the website irritating to navigate and this piece especially hard to read with white reversed type on grayish background split into umpteen different pages. I've reconfigured the layout to make it easier to read.

Beauty's Back in Town — Essay by Susan Yelavich, subtitle "Design Gets a Hickey"

Uncontrollable Beauty— A briefest of excerpts, go buy this expansive book!

A Life in Art — Jane Dalrymple-Hollo looks at Lee Bontecou & art as it really is


DESIGN

Simple but Elegant — Why you should hire me

Clients — Nuts & bolts & people

WET MagazineThe Magazine for Gourmet Bathing. An early influence on me. 34 issues published from May 1976 to 1981 in Venice, California. They also published a collage of mine I sent in a fan letter way back when. Guess what—Leonard Koren. A few excerpts like The Future of Reality by Gene Youngblood and the interview with Captain Beefheart by Kristine McKenna.

Krazy Kat — Innovative and poetic pioneer of comic stripz. Check out some of these layouts, wow. Also links to other Krazy Kat sites which include the essay by e.e. cummings. George Herriman was also the illustrator for Don Marquis' Archy and Mehitabel

Jakob Nielsen and Vincent Flanders — An interview with a hint at the basic premise of websites


ESSAYS & PDFs

PDFs (Portable Document Format) are completely embedded texts. You can click on "PDF" and the file will open and you can print it out. The texts are formatted for standard letter size paper. You will need some version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. This software is a free download at www.adobe.com. This page will eventually have a number of documents and experiments in e-publishing.

AESTHETICS

Book of Tea :: PDF — This is the classic 1906 text by Kakuzo Okakura (1862-1913) who was born in Japan but served as Curator of the Department of Chinese and Japanese art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Originally written to be read aloud by the author at a salon gathering of Isabella Stewart.The author celebrates the Way of Tea from its ancient origins in Taoism and Zen to its culmination in the Japanese tea ceremony. This highly enjoyable book of delicious prose has served for nearly a century as one of the most perceptive introductions to the spirit of chanoyu. "The tea ceremony is more than an idealization of the form of drinking—it is a religion of the art of life."

"Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism — Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life."


PHILIP WHALEN

There isn't enough Philip Whalen tribute out there. Probably won't be except by devotees and it will most likely end up on "The Net" as postings rather than books utilized for teaching. As luck would have it my friend Bruce Holsapple has written two scholarly essays that should be added to what will be the Surf Edition of the Philip Whalen Story.

In recent days, while discussing
his death with friends whom he
thought were treating the subject
too morbidly, Mr. Whalen said:
"I'd like to be laid on a bed of
frozen raspberries."

(Duncan McNaughton, San Francisco, California)

On Phil Whalen (On Whalen) :: PDF"Further, it is the speaker’s voice that gives the poem its compelling unity, and it does so by working—methodically—through a succession of displacements. To insist on decoding the poem for its 'message' misses the point, because a message wouldn’t explain this poem at all, and especially not as an imaginative event. The disjointed play of words and the violations of code are what intensify the work, provoke an imaginative response. Those incongruities, however, ride on an underlying gestural rhetoric, a structure which guides the mind in its motions, and it’s as an imaginative event that the poem can be accurately said to 'graph a mind moving.'"
(also will appear in an upcoming issue of Sagetrieb)

A Dirty Bird in a Square Time :: PDF — " Said a different way, the dynamic form—the motion of the poem—is an explicit part of the content, and perhaps could be said to eclipse propositional content as the poem’s focal concern, even as it transforms that content; again, it’s Whalen’s detachment from the subject position that makes that new focus possible. "
(original appearance in Big Bridge 7)

 

SINCE YOU ASK ME
(A Press Release, October 1959)

This poetry is a picture or graph of a mind moving, which is a world body being here and now which is history . . . and you. Or think about the Wilson Cloud Chamber, not ideogram, not poetic beauty: bald-faced didacticism moving, as Dr. Johnson commands all poetry should, from the particular to the general. (Not that Johnson was right — nor that I am trying to inherit his mantle as a literary dictator but only the title Doctor, i.e. teacher, who is constantly studying.) I do not put down the academy but have assumed its function in my own person, and in the strictest sense of the word—academy—a walking grove of trees. But I cannot and will not solve any problems or answer any questions.

My life has been spent in the midst of heroic landscapes which never overwhelmed me and yet I live in a single room in the city — the room a lens focusing on a sheet of paper. Or the inside of your head. How do you like your world?

—from Memoirs of an Interglacial Age

 

FURTHER NOTICE
 
I can't live in this world
And I refuse to kill myself
or let you kill me

The dill plant lives, the airplane
My alarm clock, this ink
I won't go away

I shall be myself —
Free, a genius, an embarrassment
Like the Indian, the buffalo

Like Yellowstone National Park.

 22:ix.56
—Philip Whalen


PHILIP WHALEN LINKS

(see also the main links page for inteview with David Meltzer)

In Memoriam Philip Whalen — Tom Raworth site with many tributations

Philip Whalen, our dear friend — David Chadwick page with long list of links

Ron Loewinsohn — Intro at Bancroft Library Whalen Archives

Jacket #11 — Joanne Kyger & Philip Whalen issue with loads of great stuff

Mark Other Place — Big Bridge Chapbook

A Month with Philip Whalen — Randy Roark memoriam

Overtime —This is a review of Overtime: Selected Poems and interview with Michael Rothenberg

Philip Whalen in New Mexico — Miriam Sagan & Miriam Bobkoff memoriam with some of his Buddhist poems

Steve Silberman — Another friend's farewell

Alice Notley — "My collection of Philip Whalen books is a mess, beatup, waterstained, old, and overrread."

Intransit — A chance to see a few out of print book covers

John Suiter Interview — Michael Rothenberg interviews the author of Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades