Wednesday, July 16, 2008

so what's with all the pop art...i grade at night, until i keel over. i grade in the morning before i ride the bike to work. i walk down the stairs and over to the swimming pool; this allows me to meditate a bit on the beauty of the japanese garden (which they are cleaning up) and the wild weeds in the construction area right near it. i can't write; i grow impatient with reading. i do pop art when i'm near a computer...it's soothing, it works.

the images of my daily life come out and i can squeeze various colors out of them, or intensify them. see the poor outline of the figure below? this outline has been at the bottom of the stairs of my own building for the entire fourteen years i've been here. usually i don't think about it much, but i have to say that the various shapes, lines, etc. of my daily life have made a kind of imprint in me, and i'm working with this a lot, especially in the fanerpop series, which is now up to about 13, though not all are up in the gallery. to most people, faner is a bleak, grayish, concrete behemoth which is confusing on top of everything, and terrible when the airconditioner pipes drip or the condensation works its way in and molds up the ancient carpets. to me, it's got new life, now that i can work with the shapes and change the colors of its bushes.

the outline at the bottom of the stairs is small, the size of a kid, and that's tragic, except that, if it were real, they would have found a way to get rid of it long ago. faner is such that vandalism is hard to get rid of; sometimes people scrawl on the concrete, and it lasts for years. someone once put a paul simon bumper sticker about 15 feet up on a concrete pillar and it stayed for about ten years (that i know of), until somone else put an "Indiana Univ." bumper sticker up there, and then finally the maintenance workers were shamed into taking them both down.

the point is, this poor outline could of course have been that of a real kid, in which case he/she may have fallen two stories, from creative writing (this would not have caused death) or, more seriously, from cesl/linguistics, where kids and pretty much all innocence and light-hearted gaiety is doomed. or, more seriously still, from economics, way up on the fourth floor, where, if one takes a good hard economic look at life, one jumps from four stories just on general principle. or, one takes a good hard look at life, and...how could anyone think like this? perhaps it is just one's innocence, a childish enthusiasm, that has fallen over the railing, landed below, and become some police outline, put into the rubber mat, where maintenance workers are unable, or too busy, to remove it. who knows what happened... all i can say is, it makes an interesting outline for pop art- for the contrast button- and it happened long before the oil crisis, it's been around so long, i'd almost forgot it was there.

at the bottom of the stairs a long glass window looks out on the woods, which are gentle, and easy on the eyes, but home of a famished population of deer; overpopulated, these deer occasionally have their babies too close to the action, or come out looking for the mulberries that drop right there at the entrance. this was the home of the violent deer episode that my students wrote about a few years back; as we speak, i'm making them write a midterm about the very same dilemma, namely that there are too many deer these days, and as the university cuts down more woods in its relentless colonization of its wilderness, what many are left, are forced into increasingly smaller areas. this would cause more car accidents, but nobody can afford to drive anymore (my students are writng about this also)- and i myself ride a bicycle almost every day, oppressive heat or not. but as i was saying, i have now begun to look at these images- sculptures, statues, bushes, old photos, as possible topics of pop art, and have been grabbing them, in my free minutes, as i catch my breath from one bike ride, and get ready for a class- i use picnik, which simply allows me to rotate a photo, sharpen it, more or less contrast, exposure, saturation of color, or make it redder or bluer. ingenious. it's all flash; it's all on the desktop. it's great to do the symbols, the images, the lines of modern life. andy warhol is my new hero.

the world continues around me. cesl gets forty five, fifty hours out of me; pays me a paltry dime; we spend ten times as much putting a second story on our house; take kids to dentist, float around in the oppressive heat, listening, these days, to spanish music, on request. learning the pinata song (will learn how to make an enye, one of these days)...dale dale dale...don't lose your aim, or you'll lose the way, it says. don't want gold, don't want silver, just want to romper the pinata....in fact, the weather hasn't been so bad, and, construction forced me to walk today, around the usual steps, around some new statues, down by the mulberry tree at the edge of the kamakura japanese garden- where, sure enough, scores of ripe mulberries hung over a parking lot at the coal research place, in the back there, where nobody goes or looks. i was in a hurry- i only get half a swim as it is, what with a midterm and so many hours of teaching, but, if big ripe mulberries hang in front of you, i'm as greedy as any deer, eager for the purple hand, willing to experience and bleed the rich color out of life. life is good, life is short, and, i'm not going to let the long, drawn out summer hours of grinding over bad grammar, difficult listening, poorly constructed sentences (life sentences) get me down. sharpen, is what i say. put it into a a single haiku, a single moment, in a single spot, a single berry, rich in color, quick, before the deer get it.

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