Worked on the new paintings yesterday. I had to leave them in a discouraging state. This happens nearly every other night. But that means at the end of today's efforts they will probably be more acceptable. It's a price I'm happy to pay.
Painting is endless risk-taking. Something I've never been fond of. What sane person likes risks? I think I've been too sane to be a contemporary painter. Even though people might disagree.
But painting is different than rock-climbing, or alligator wrestling. It's not a physical risk. It's not even a spiritual risk. It's a mental risk. You have to be willing to look mentally unstable, even though you're not.
A text message from Gina. She's in LA, but I haven't seen her. I like the uncertainty of our situation.
She wrote "sweetheart" because I used that term in my last text to her. Then I explained it on the phone the other day.
When she wanted to talk about "aliens" I told her about a man I once knew. He told me all about the "space brothers." Some kind of extra-human beings who he claimed to be in touch with. He said they were "beautiful." They exist a little outside the normal range of human visibility, although they can "incarnate" if they want to, and are given permission. They assist humans in this world. They even cured his wife of a fatal disease, after they responded to his prayer as he was driving across the Mexican desert in search of a doctor. He stopped and turned around and drove home. Three of them showed up at his door. They had a blue glow from their skin.
The space brothers are as fascinated by humans as humans are about them. And one of the words they love is "sweetheart." It sounds irresistibly attractive to their ears.
I told this to Gina, and I guess it registered. There's more to the story, but that's all I mentioned.
I'm pleased that Gina seems to be somewhat attuned to my present style. For example, I prefer about three hour stretches with women these days. Anything longer than that makes me restless. I have other projects that vie for my attention. My time increases in value day by day.
I've more or less divided up the 24 hours into sections: for online surfing, painting, women, reading, writing, pondering, studying, eating and drinking, sleeping . . .
I'm ready to begin a new chapter in my art. Today is like the shoot-around before the game. Just limbering up. Reminding myself of what's important. And what's ignorable.
The image is a painting I made about 25 years ago. It's taken from a photo of Hans Scholl, a WW2 German war-resister, one of the leaders of the White Rose movement. A young man who spoke against Hitler and his henchman and paid for it with his life. He was murdered, decapitated. He's one of my heroes.
It takes balls to resist tyranny. Big balls. But not everyone can fight oppression in the same way. I make art, and have never been inclined to join in protests, movements, rallies, or anything that involves groups or crowds. I am an individual, above all. And the art I make is designed to exist a little outside of history. It seeks to be timeless. And doesn't let itself be carried along with the flow of today.
Here's a way of explaining my vision: the world exists, and some of the world is beautiful. I find that beauty, but realize that it was there before I found it. I didn't create it. God made it. I respond to it, though. And I then try to nourish and sustain that beauty. This is what love means to me. To foster, care for, preserve, and grow the beauty that exists. Art is a way of dedicating oneself to the beautiful, which has its source in God.
To love a person is to work at conserving and liberating the beauty that they have, and to find ways of amplifying it. Love is the intensification of another's beauty.
I looked at my iPhone when I awoke yesterday. At 2:00 in the morning I apparently had a call from Gina. I must be sleeping harder, or maybe my ringer was turned off. I heard nothing.
I'm starting on a new batch of paintings. Already four of them are spread out on the concrete floor, partly done. How far along are they? Impossible to say. If I died right now they'd be finished. But I'm still breathing. Still working.
My final commission piece was approved. He loved it. Just two more incidental tweaks. Then....freedom. A degree of freedom, but an important advance for me. Not total freedom, which is impossible as long as you have a physical body.
Later in the afternoon I called Gina back.
"I went outside and the city looked weirdly empty," she said. "Even the apartment houses seemed deserted. No one was on the street. I was standing there and shouted. Something I never do. Where is everyone? What is happening? Then a man walked up to me and told me it's all going to be okay. I didn't see him approaching. I said I keep sensing the presence of aliens. He smiled and asked me in a calm voice what do I imagine aliens are? They're no different than you and me. Then he walked away. Don't you think that's strange?"
"Sure. There are times when everything seems strange. Hyper-strange. During a crisis."
Gina was beginning to frighten me a little. But was I frightened on her behalf, or was I thinking of myself? We talked for awhile. She keeps coming back to this business with "aliens." I told her there was a time in my life like hers. Around the same age as she is today, when we talked a lot about such things. I told her about a man I knew who was obsessed with beings he called "the space brothers."
"But he wasn't lying," she said emphatically. "He experienced them. They're real."
"No, he wasn't lying. I was completely convinced of his experience. Even though no one has ever walked up to me and introduced himself as a space brother."
"How do you know that? They may have different ways of introducing themselves."
"Where are you right now?"
"I'm in Burbank."
"Burbank? You're back in LA?"
"Well . . . come on by. Is the wolf with you?"
She said she'd drive to the studio. I hustled around and tidied up. Then waited. And finally went to sleep around midnight. It's morning. She still hasn't arrived.
A few days ago I announced my irreversible decision to only paint what I judge to be worth painting. That is, only what comes directly from my own consciousness, or, to give it a more religious tone, only what comes from my own evolving soul.
So, I'll be taking no more requests. No more dog portraits. No more copies of my earlier, surpassed work. No more paintings to match someone's new curtains, sofa, or dishtowel. No more painting to fit into special spots on blank walls. Etc. Enough!
What a coward I've been. I should have had more faith in my own vision. What a trembling dweeb I've been. No longer.
Listen....I know what I must do. Step aside. I'm cutting myself loose.
Well, before I made this decision I had one more piece to finish for a guy. We made an agreement a month ago and I'm nearly done with his. It's pictured here in my studio. An abstract piece, based on an earlier one of mine, somewhat minimalist, in black, white, and blue-gray, but "without stencils or text." I would prefer screens and writing, but he doesn't . Okay, so about to hit the finish line.
I've done my best to accommodate his taste.
I really have only myself to blame for this thorny path I've chosen up until now. I feared going permanently broke, homeless, shattered. Forced to spend my last nickel on a piece of rope which, before being evicted, I'd tie to my rafters and hang myself.
It was an unfounded fear, like nearly all fears. My vision is strong, able, effective. I work for that vision. And the vision never lets me down. I've delivered myself over to the vision, hook, line, and sinker. Finally.
"Man, is everyone on drugs except us?" I said to my daughter yesterday.
"It seems like it."
"Or is it just our friends? Are we drawn to druggies? Or are they drawn to us? I used to have a neutral attitude towards drugs, but lately I'm am becoming more negative toward them."
"Oh. By the way, here are your blood pressure drugs," she said, handing me a sack from CVS pharmacy in the Fairfax area. She picks up my monthly prescription for me, since it's close to her apartment.
"Well, it's obviously a complex issue. But I once believed that drugs were going to save the world. I can't say I feel that way today. For every Steve Jobs or John Lennon who dropped acid there must be a hundred thousand nameless junkies who died with a needle in their arm."
"No news from Gina? Speaking of drugs."
"Actually she called last night. I could feel it building. She sounded good. Alert. Clear. And in love with her new wolf puppy."
Gina told me that the occasional street drug seems better for her than the legal ones. I once believed the same. But only briefly. Two or three years at the most. But Gina's been on a daily diet of dope since she was twelve.
I wonder what it'll be like 200 years from now. Maybe you'll take one drug on the day you're born and it'll last a lifetime.
Maybe this is what we're actually experiencing today on earth. The result of a drug given to the original humans, to Adam and Eve, a million years ago and still in everyone's system. A drug so unbelievably powerful that it's modified the genetic structure of the entire human race forever.
Questions leading to more questions leading to more questions. Still no answer. Just hazy speculations. Like fireflies on a summer night.
I posted this work on IG and FB yesterday. I took the photo with my iPhone in the direct morning light outside the studio. You can see nearly every gesture.
I thought of a few names for this style: industrial abstraction. Sounds about right. Or industrial expressionism. Maybe better.
The name of the style is unimportant. Even for the style to have a name could be a way of further obscuring the meaning.
A hundred years ago Picasso and Braque invented what was soon called cubism. They didn't think of it like that. An art critic of the time said the two artists were making paintings of "little cubes" and the term stuck.
So what were Picasso and Braque doing, in their own minds? That's not so easy to say. If you could really, fully, and lucidly say it, then it, the canvases made up of little cubes, would never have been painted.
That is, painting is a way of expressing something that can't exist otherwise. In any another form.
Painting is subjectivity made objective. Or, more accurately, it's outwardness absorbed inwardly and reassembled again externally. After always undergoing necessary changes.
Or as it has been suggested, the world seen through a temperament.
Painting is the combination of my existence and the world's existence. Each has its irreplaceable value. Each will contribute something to the overall new reality called art.
Social media has become an important development in my life. I've taken to it naturally. It's part of my daily routine.
But other people I know don't feel the same. They have little or no interest in online activities. You couldn't have predicted who likes it, and who ignores it. What determines this predilection, or its lack?
Hard to say. But in my case I have an urge to share myself. Sharing who and what I am, always hoping to entertain, and above all, not to bore.
Nearly impossible. What one person likes, another finds dull. But this fact doesn't stop me from expressing myself.
Once at the gallery a girl came in and said she liked to read my blog. I had never met her, and wasn't aware of her existence. She even enjoyed my descriptions of the weather. I was flattered, but puzzled.
When I write about the weather I'm merely copying what great writers have done. They reveal an atmosphere. I think I understand how the best ones pull it off. They simply use their senses and report what they literally see, hear, and smell. You'd think this style would be easy to adopt, but it's harder than it looks.
For example: outside my open back door I see the green leaves of bushes and a corner of a white, crumbling stuccoed wall.
It sounds acceptable because it's real and accurate and shouldn't rub anyone the wrong way. I'm not trying to pass it off as either beautiful or ugly. It's simply what it is.
If I wrote every sentence objectively and clearly I'd probably please a sufficient number of readers. It'd mean I wasn't showing off or attempting to sell them something. I was only transmitting my actual perceptions, and presenting myself as neither enviable nor pitiful.
Anyway. I painted yesterday and will finish a new one in a few hours. So far, so good. It points to an area that demands improvement. I can't take my eyes off it: "fix me!"
Lately I went through a day where I thought it was a different day, such as Wednesday which really was Tuesday. It was caused by having the freedom of no commitments. Combined with my age, where things become a little foggier.
But I always realize that Sunday is Sunday. The rhythm of the seven day week cuts deep. When the French revolutionaries tried to establish a ten day week they failed. No surprise there.
Sunday puts me in a somber, meditative mood.
For example, I had this idea: either stop painting, or stop everything else.
Don't paint, or only paint.
Painting is such a difficult thing that it requires every drop of your being. If you aren't prepared to grant it every waking minute, then do something else. Leave painting alone. Everything will go better if you realize this.
I'm prepared to paint, and only paint.
I understand the contradiction of writing as well as painting, but I could easily stop scribbling and concentrate exclusively on painting. No problem.
Women. They've been the subject of my painting, as the other half of my fixations. Painting and women. This has been the story of my life. Up till now. Of the two which would be the most practical to renounce? The answer is obvious.
I have this dream. I will live until 100. That means 25 years to go. I'm three quarters of the way there. How will I spend this final quarter? Simple: I will paint.
Reaching 100 is an uncertain goal. The odds are against it. But I've lived against the odds. I've always been a long shot. How so?
First of all, at 27, I chose to never again take a job. To refuse to be employed. Secondly, at 41, I chose to never put my art on consignment. Either buy, or good-bye. And, most recently, I now refuse to paint anything except what I desire to paint: no commission work. This final decision is leading to my most original, personal painting.
Life, for me, has been a series of a few tough, irreversible, forward-looking choices.
"I'm going to be traveling for the next two or three weeks to Japan. Could you hold off delivery of the paintings until I return? I hope you'll have received the check sometime next week. Let me know when you get it."
It was from the man who recently bought 21 of my most up-to-date paintings. They still hang in my studio, and when they're gone they'll leave a big hole in the room. Especially the large ones.
I might have to hang them at the new location, a business in El Segundo. Dante has already visited the site and says they have two new office buildings with very high -- 30 foot or more -- ceilings. It'll take three of us to install them properly. Jackie, Dante, and myself.
So much of life is concerned with the perimeter of reality. I love painting, but as for selling, shipping, negotiating, installing......not so much.
The same is true of, say, sex. The act is always fun, but not all the incidental stuff that envelops and nearly crushes the life out of the orgasmic nucleus.
Everything connected with the goodness of beauty needs to be robust enough to distribute this flavor throughout the situation.
The meaning of the event will send its enthralling sweetness as far as it can into the less significant portions. The is the importance of rituals, which delay, but ultimately enhance, gratification.
Step-by-step procedures exist for a reason. The little things that appear at a distance mean a lot. Their overriding purpose: to make everything become everything. To see that all is all. So that nothingness is denied a foothold.
Still reflecting on Gina's visit. We're not on the same page. This is clear. But must a man and a woman always be on the same page? Isn't it enough to be in the same book?
When I wake up in the morning and feel refreshed, unhurried, and glad to be alive, I realize that it's due to my freedom. Nothing disturbs me. I can lay there until nightfall if I want to.
Freedom rises in value whenever it's threatened or, worse, wrenched away. Freedom, like health, is more or less an unconscious state. Something taken for granted, a given. Like breathing.
When another person is in the room as I awake, I immediately feel less free. This is especially true when I'm used to waking up alone.
When Gina was here, along with her wolf-dog, I observed freedom draining out of my world.
But a woman in my room, even in my bed, means companionship, desire, and even love.
So there are two great values in my life: freedom and love. But they have trouble harmonizing.
"That's a difficult one," Dante said. "Love can mean entanglement, and entanglement works against freedom."
"But is love necessarily entanglement? I see love as an interweaving, a coming together with orderly threads of trust being placed beautifully around each other. Not a mad snarl."
Gina and I were talking, and she described how she feels since her last boyfriend died. "I'll always be alone." She held back her tears.
"I've never felt that way," I replied, quietly, trying to be as understanding and helpful as possible.
It's true that I've never considered aloneness as a deprivation. I've never feared it in the slightest. If anything, I'm uneasy with the idea of being imposed upon by other humans. That has often caused me distress. But as for solitude? I cherish it. It's the condition, the necessary ground, where artistic creation flourishes.
I didn't bother telling Gina that nothing is more comforting and joyful than being alone with God. It sounds too religious. Too spiritual, and can be exasperating to a person devoid of certain epiphanies.
But neither did I mouth a tiresome cliche such as "I'll always be with you." I'm no liar.
I took a pic of Gina's wolf-dog and sent it to my friend who owns a very similar breed. He wrote back: "It's hard to tell without a close examination, both physical and behavioral. It does look like my Wolfie looked as a puppy, except for the ears. Do I hear you crying Wolf?"
Aside from the failed attempt at humor the reply was interesting. Gina then asked if she could give her creature a bath. I agreed, and the two of them hopped in my tub, splashing and enjoying themselves.
"I'm thinking of naming him Jack," she said.
"Well, a little common. I don't like human first names for animals. Not original enough. Plus he looks so aristocratic."
"Yes, he does. What about Royal?"
"Royal. I like it."
I then went online and read about the laws regarding ownership of wolves. It was disturbing. The USA regards them as a dangerous menace. The laws vary from state to state, even if the wolf is a hybrid. I read paragraphs where the police have a right to seize any wolf-like animal off the street, take it for a blood-test, and if it turns out to be a wolf, immediately euthanize it, and possibly lay a heavy fine, even imprisonment on the owner!
What! Really? I actually felt I was reading one of my Holocaust testimonies. The Gestapo hunting down, locating, and murdering Jewish children. But this time it was wolves. Strange. (Although the comparison is absurd, between children and wolves. Still it crossed my mind. It points to another irrational, power-based, hierarchical system that decides who gets to live, and who is slaughtered.)
What about rights?
Gina was already preparing to put up a battle against anyone who might try to lay a finger on Royal. She'd move to another country. But where, and how?
We said goodbye, once again. But this time it was lingering, sweeter, more emotional. With none of my inappropriate smiles. I'm not the Dalai Lama. It's more acceptable to feel a little unhappy when parting, and to show it.
It was Gina on the phone. She hadn't left LA yet. And was in town for another night. Would it be possible to stay at the studio? She could always drive to her aunt's house down in Orange County. I wasn't doing anything except laying in bed with a book. So, come on by.
She said she was in Pacific Palisades, and traffic to the east part of town was still heavy. She'd leave around 8:30.
Each time I see her I assume it'd be the last. I hadn't expected to hear from her for a month. Maybe two. So it was unusual.
This particular woman is overturning my preconceptions about women. Ideas that were the fruit of long experience and deep concentration. She made the foundations of my world tremble . . . for a few moments. Like one of those LA earthquakes that always throw us.
But earthquakes end and everything soon returns to normal and is forgotten.
I set my book aside. "The Gift of Death" by Jacques Derrida. A difficult philosopher, but with something important to say. What did the French thinker's theories have to do with a woman driving back to my studio for the night? More than a little. He was writing a long section on a new kind of responsibility, and how modern civilization has been losing its grip on this essential form of behavior.
I decided to intensify my responsibility toward Gina when she arrived. I wasn't going to give way to the slightest irresponsible action.
An hour later I saw her standing in my darkened doorway. She was holding something large silhouetted in her arms. I walked nearer to the iron gate. It was a dog. A white, handsome puppy that looked exactly like a wolf.
"Isn't he incredible? He was given to me."
The shy, silent wolf-dog made it easier to act responsibly.
I made this Marilyn painting a few weeks ago. I've posted another version online a while back. She's a little over-exposed, but still symbolizes the perfect woman, at this stage of historical evolution. A kind of Eve figure. A mother-goddess lover.
Anyway. I was discussing with Dante my interpretations of last week, where I entertained a guest.
"Gina is somewhat indifferent to physical beauty, at least when she's living outside of LA. But then yesterday she drove to a beauty supply store in the Valley to buy some hair dye."
"This is what happens when you go to Malibu and look around. You realize how many good-looking people there are."
"It's hard to feel secure in your own skin at that point."
"I felt that when we left New York. We lived there for a few years and then came back to LA and were shocked. You forget what LA means when you leave it, but you can't return without feeling it. Even Stephanie, after living in Orange County for a few months, is surprised. She said she hadn't realized how people look much better here."
That sensation of being a famished outsider pressing your nose against a candy store window is a little distressing. No one likes to feel excluded from a very appetizing world.
If you don't let yourself be tempted it's one thing. If you look straight ahead and refuse to stop at the window. But you can't always do that.
No one is beyond temptation. (Oscar Wilde said he could resist anything except temptation.)
No one is proof against absolute beauty. It will always knock you back a few steps.
If it didn't floor you it wouldn't be absolute beauty.
My guest left this morning. It was an eventful stay.
It impelled me to consider another person, a woman, someone basically very different, coming from a different generation.
Gina challenged me on issues and I expressed opinions that I usually keep to myself.
The truth often emerges from frank discourse. It's what's left standing, after other views are battered down in argumentation.
My private conclusions are put to the test and invariably modified in the heat of verbal battle. But they can remain upright and enduring, though changed. Bloodied and scarred nearly beyond recognition.
Looking over my library, which Gina asked me about, I said, as she was packing up to leave:
"You can't become wise by being a bookworm. Books are full of intelligent observations. The best ones. But the intelligence found in books is not your own intelligence. It's the intelligence of others. It's their wisdom. Not yours. You can gain facts and knowledge from books. But that isn't wisdom . . ."
"Because wisdom comes from experience," she said, pausing.
"This is true. Experience plus genuine knowledge can lead eventually to wisdom. The only wisdom in a book, in any book, no matter how important it is, would be in a book you personally write. If you haven't written that book don't expect it to make you wise. It can make you somewhat knowledgeable, but never wise. For that to happen you need to form your own insights."
I was relieved to give Gina a hug and say goodbye. My goodbyes are never sad. No matter what the occasion, or who I was with.
The time together was good, but times apart are just as good. Or better.
I compared my mood yesterday when she was here to my mood today when she left. I detected a slight, but unmistakable, feeling of being happier today. This shadow of difference isn't something to crow about.
I would prefer to be evenly happy on both days. It's something I strive for, although I can't claim that it's a realistic idea. Or an attainable one. Maybe one more illusion. Another imperfect attempt at living the best life.
"I had an odd discussion with Gina last night. It was about romantic love."
"You must have enjoyed that," Dante said. We were sitting at the studio. My guest had left for the day. She went to Malibu to meet some friends. Gina used to live in LA.
"She doesn't quite understand my view of romantic love. She said it's bullshit."
"Romantic love is not knowing if you're loved."
"That's an interesting definition. I said it was impeded love. Love that's checked by obstacles. Not knowing if the beloved actually loves you would certainly be an obstacle. Married love, for instance, doesn't suffer in this way."
"It can suffer, though. Romantic love is invalidated love."
"I like that. Gina thinks my version of romantic love is just promiscuity, or mere philandering. I can tell that she doesn't get it. She says I claim to become bored after seven years and move on to a new woman. But that has nothing to do with the philosophical concept of romantic love. I was only describing the events in my own life. Rather than some ideal kind of love."
"People don't like our ideas. But Proust would have liked them. I finally finished the last book."
"A long read but worth it, right?"
I had a peculiar sensation yesterday. Gina was in Malibu, but was coming back to the studio.
I sensed that I was waiting for her.
Previously I've always believed that waiting was an annoying, occasionally painful state. But I actually found ways of enjoying my waiting for Gina.
This was new to me. I've become much more patient, and circumspect. I can see how waiting can be a source of pleasure. I felt a special kind of tingling as I waited. My feelings changed from wanting someone to leave, to wanting them to return. I observed this fluid activity in my blood, how it shifted from one pole to another. Curious.
Waiting must be conditioned by whatever it's waiting for. Waiting for Godot, waiting for the check in the mail, waiting in line at an overpriced, crowded restaurant, waiting for a plane to take off, waiting for the game to start, waiting for summer.....all less than delightful forms of waiting.
Waiting for someone intriguing, someone who's on their way, who fills you with complicated enigmatic feelings.....this type of waiting can be subtly entertaining.
Many of today's roads, even super-highways, were once narrow dirt trails. They were paths for years, maybe thousands of years.
And they will be paths for just as long, if not longer.
But someone had to start the path. Lost in the increasingly dim fog of time was an original footprint. A person, or maybe animal, chose that way. And made it easier next time, for whoever followed.
Probably originally a creature, who was then tracked by a human, in search of food.
I realize that I've carved out grooves in my nature, in my brain, and they've established a pattern. Patrick's manner, his style, inner landscape, his way. And it becomes harder to stray from this groove. It's now second-nature to find myself trudging along in the same well-worn, smoothed down, life-path.
This is why any change, however small, is a big change. To wander, or be called from my familiar pattern is eye-opening. It can't be otherwise.
The last few days with a woman living at the studio is one of those periodic eruptions. Those bumpy detours.
Like when the Good Samaritan hears a cry for help and he leaves his journey and walks over to the side of the road and offers assistance.
But all this is done on a more invisible, half-conscious level today. Plus, who is the helper and who the helped?
A woman can correct some of my accumulating errors. The foibles, and eccentricities, of a loner as he goes about his quiet business.
The gaze of a new woman reveals how different I've become. How I've managed to neglect certain parts of myself. Not essential parts, but perhaps socially appropriate parts.
Gina calls my world my "freedom cell." It's not quite solitary confinement, but rather "solitary refinement." She's clever.
I'm on an unusual break from painting. It won't last long.
I might gather up a few pieces that I have sitting around the studio and drop them off at my friend's store in Beverly Hills. She wanted some replacements for the ones she's already sold. I finished them but will have to inform her that this is the end of a phase.
No more commissioned paintings.
I recall a story where a group of wealthy businessmen wanted a painting made for a building project and asked Picasso to submit a sketch. They never heard back from him. Imagine asking Picasso to enter into a competition. They were even offering an insulting price if he won. What idiots. I like to imagine the great painter's thoughts about this naive crew with its infantile plans.
All of these practices work against real creativity. Even if a third party wants me to use a certain predominant color it gets in the way of the act of creation. I could go further: if the collector wants a special size, that, too, can harm the process.
Everything external to the creative action between the painter and the painting will mean an intrusion that will be necessarily weakening and corrupting.
All of this understanding has come over time, and a result of firsthand experience. I've put everything to the test and now I'm as sure as I can be of the findings. It's one thing to accept something as an article of faith, but another when it's based on living activity in the sensible world.
The essence of creativity is the transmission of energy between the eternal and the temporal, between spirit and mind. This is an exclusively personal communion. The second part of this elevated communion is the interaction between inspired mind and brute matter.
The fewer things that enter this unfolding drama the better. It only has a small number of parts. It calls for privacy. A successful creative process needs to be religiously observed from start to finish. The sacred element in art must be obeyed.
All masterpieces follow this pattern.
All kitsch ignores this pattern.
To even grasp what I'm saying requires some hard-won, lengthy, intelligent application.
Yesterday was thickly filled with incidents. More like previous times in my life.
First of all someone came by early and bought three paintings. If anything is on my agenda early it means I wake up two or three hours before my usual time. Just as an unconscious precaution. I can never sleep soundly before, say, a plane flight. Or someone showing up at the studio before eleven.
It makes for a long day. I sold the paintings to a man who now owns a collection of mine. "I think you're very talented, and your paintings are going to be very valuable some day," he said. It's always nice to hear something good that could come to pass. But this points to a distant future.
For the whole day Gina was on my mind. I hadn't heard from her since the last phone call as she was on the road. But I saw that she posted a video on IG: a car driving down a two lane highway in California. It was speeded up. Taken from the dashboard. I watched it several times and it soothed me. My fears were unjustified. But the swiftness of the images rounding the curves still made me a little concerned.
She finally arrived.
Naturally I was stuck by her new haircut. The sides of her head were shaved, leaving a hunk of falling locks on top. Fashionable, in a way. It's the second twenty something I've known who've adopted this look. Both have been going through some disturbing shit.
"You probably don't like it," she said smiling.
"It's still you and you look great."
We talked late into the night. I experienced intermittent rushes of new understanding over the next few hours.
"Something's been happening to me, and I want to know exactly what it is. So I've gone off all my medication. No street drugs, no drinking. I want to get this thing rationally, logically, solved."
"If that's your intention, you're bound to clear up the mystery. It's your own mystery. It has nothing to do with the mysteries of others. I see myself drawn into your mystery, but only as a vaguely external figure. After all, I have my own mystery, too."
Gina was pretty much accepting of this remark. I wasn't trying to talk her out of her overwhelming, obsessive, plight. Telling her it was nonsense, crazy, a delusion, etc. It was all too real to her. That's what mattered most.
I suddenly began to see that each of us really does inhabit his or her own universe, complete with its structure, its rules, its problems and solutions, the meaningful rhythms, topography, myths, heroes and demons, strictly personal heaven and hell.
Life was far bigger, and far more complicated than I had previously acknowledged.
It's morning and Gina is still asleep. I'm typing this in the studio shadows. I'd switched on the overhead lights earlier like I always do, but it seemed to affect her and she called out some unintelligible words in her restless dreaming. After turning the lights off again it's very peaceful.
I finished work for the day. Gina is napping. It's a good time for an involuntary break in my world. I never take vacations or holidays. And even paint through weekends. I have enough money in the bank. Am caught up on the art. Why push it?
She's sleeping so soundly, and hardly moving. I had to bend down over her and see if she was still breathing. She is. Wouldn't want a beautiful corpse in my bed.
I am beginning to wonder what she expects of our situation. I don't think she sees it as "our" situation.
Maybe now and then you're called upon to give someone rest. To let them feel secure and sufficient as time nearly stops its mad racing.
I notice daily a new kind of interweaving taking place in my life. A braiding, if you will. This braiding of relatively separate strands of interest is very engaging. It takes up my full attention, like nothing else in my past.
Braiding is a spiraling together of different strands that increase the strength as well as the beauty of the single elements.
I read about an escape from prison that happened not long ago. Over a period of months a convict bought a large number of packages of dental floss at the in-house store. Then he wove these together and made a rope strong enough to support his weight. He tied this improvised rope to a window bar, lowered himself to the ground, and took off from there.
Very cunning. Adding weaknesses together until they produce a strength. And then -- freedom.
A cotton thread isn't much by itself, but many together can make a canvas. And the canvas can lead to a painting. The painting can reveal a previously unknown world. An answer to a question that wasn't even raised, but turns out to be very significant.
Gina hasn't made it to LA yet. Or at least not to my studio. I received a call last night that she was en route. But I had a call earlier that she was leaving home at that point. The time between calls was seven hours. She was only a hundred miles down the road.
"If it's too late I may just go to my father's," she said. Her father lives in LA. She doesn't have the closest relationship with him, it seems. The stories are kind of odd.
I hope she's all right. Why wouldn't she be? It's an adventure for her. She's spending too much time alone in her small, cramped apartment. Get out and let the sun shine in.
It's much different today for young people, but they can establish a meaningful style, a way of going about things. It's always there. It's up to them to take it by the horns.