On Vandalism, Ownership, Masturbation, and I/O
In April I visited the Cy Twombly museum in Houston. The door was open and there was no one at the desk. I walked around the series of rooms that form a rough circle by myself for twenty minutes before I saw or heard anybody else. I felt like at many points I could have done anything I wanted in those rooms to myself or to the paintings. I didn’t do anything but look.
In 2007, at another exhibition of work by Cy Twombly, a woman named Rindy Sam kissed 1 panel of the triptych titled Phaedrus, a set of all white canvas, getting red lipstick all over it, altering the white. She was arrested and tried in court.
The prosecution, calling it “A sort of cannibalism, or parasitism”, while admitting that Sam is “visibly not conscious of what she has done”, asked that she be fined 4500€, compelled to an assorted penalty, and to attend citizenship classes. The art work, which is worth an estimated $2 million, was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Avignon. In November 2007 Sam was convicted and ordered to pay 1,000€ to the painting’s owner, 500€ to the Avignon gallery that showed it, and 1€ to the painter.
While I was in San Francisco a couple weeks ago, I also looked at a lot of paintings and installations. There was Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 14, where homeboy climbed using an apparatus to suspend himself and draw under strained conditions while dressed as General MacArthur.
I did not notice at the time how the light coming through the windows into the room made as much of its own mess as Cremaster-dude did. That mess revealed itself only as preserved there in the above picture. After the picture, it continued to alter its influx on the room’s pattern and its color while the exhibited piece itself stays still.
After I looked at that I went into the men’s room and went into a stall. Someone had shit all around the rim of the seat and left an enormous bloody discoloration liquid in the bowl unflushed. I pissed on it and left it there. Usually I have a Sharpie marker in my pocket that I use to write on my hands with to remember things, a flesh desk, but I had left it in my other pants. I really wanted to write a title on the stall wall and mark and name and date it. Maybe it’s still there. Maybe some other people have pissed on top of it.
Later we walked around outside behind where the Barney thing was and sat on some blocks while Kristin smoked. I couldn’t tell if the installation in the smokeyard behind us was supposed to be good art or not or just a thing that was there because there was no sign and it looked pretty weak as an object I should need to see or think about or remember. And yet here I am talking about it anyway. It still shows up in my head.
For Drawing Restraint 15, Barney got on a boat and drew with fish flesh and fish blood.
The image just above this was stolen from the internet and uploaded to the servers here. I don’t know who took the picture or who owns the site the picture came from. Ostensibly they could write and ask us to take it down. If we didn’t take it down they could maybe sue us if they actually had the rights but litigation costs are so high it’s usually just a fear move on the internet when people try to say “take this down or I’ll sue you.” We’ve already had at least half a dozen instances of this happening and so far there have been no summons appearing at any of our doors. You also are looking at the image and can see it and it will be there even if in a few weeks somehow we take it down.
I wonder how many people have forgotten about Morganna the Kissing Bandit these days. She had a 60″ chest and got famous for running out into baseball games and kissing dudes. The first one she kissed was appropriately Pete Rose, the future “ineligible” baseball player, who afterward said weird shit about her and then supposedly went to a bar with some roses and tried to, or successfully did, fuck her. She kissed more than 40 players from several sports including hockey, and franchise owners, umps, a mascot. She always kissed them on the cheek. “It’s more sanitary than the lips, and that way their wives don’t get upset. Besides, who wants tobacco stains all over your teeth?”
Later she ended up in Playboy, though she claimed to think of herself as a comedienne, and not a sex star. Her naked body, likewise, is less sexy, unless it’s your type, and more something unusual to look at both for how it’s just like yours and not at all.
I didn’t insert the image of the naked body here unlike the other photos because for some reason a body of such nature has restrictions for viewing, whereas the image of the Barney things, which to me are way more “inspiring of dirty thoughts,” as pertains to the definition of pornography, than something that passes us in the street everyday, if under cover.
It’s funny how the nature of a day changes when you masturbate or have sex to begin it versus when you do not do that or when you wait until the end of the day. I can often see in my writing after a day I have cleared myself before doing anything else as being much less edgy, perhaps enveloped or even disarmed. This could work for or against you, depending.
“Morning wood” is common for dudes, like you are being asked to either assuage the urge via self friction and thus begin the day somewhat deflated, at a remove, or alternatively, to wait for it to go back down on its own time, an arrow pointing off of your body around the room to lead you forward until it is pointing again straight down and you put on pants. Eventually it returns.
Recently I’ve liked to think of writing as vandalism. All those people recently calling attention to what they consider the novel’s death has been something I’ve started to respond to more attentively, each time realizing that ultimately it’s a preaching to the choir. The bored want to hear the more bored say they are bored and thus the thing itself must be dying, though usually, if you step back to the source of their own art, you can see why they are bored. The not bored don’t need to be told the bored are boring because they already know there are always places you can look to find the walls discolored or waiting to be altered or admired or otherwise reamed.
If I can make myself laugh in fear or power or feel like I am attacking myself inside a sentence that is probably when I feel the best.
Kathy Acker famously would get a dildo and put it inside her and write while on the verge or in the midst of orgasm, which in reading, in my body, seems to highlight or assault her output’s vision often right in the midst of the page. I don’t find it hot as I do find it a gesture of opening a mode intent on aggrandizing the self within the self. Calling the fuckself to come fuck the front self funny and get the spill all over the white.
These bored and boring novel-dead people and other people are bored because they have forgot about destruction and only want to create and create and create. They have forgotten the meat around the center in favor of pulling out the center and calling it a name.
If your novel is dead, kill your novel. Bury it, bring it flowers. Treat it like the dead you would respect, like it’s your mother. You would not write an article in the Guardian about your mother being dead and James Wood says and tra-la-la.
I will visit my own dead.
For me, even not having ejaculated or masturbated while writing much lately (though as a child I would sometimes write porn text games on my computer in BASIC that I could get off to, then delete), getting into that space is a forum much like being in a gallery by oneself. I don’t think I write for other people, but I also don’t write for me. I write maybe for the people in me that aren’t people more than they are Morgannas and they are people who shit in bathrooms and leave it. Or people who would call themselves a god enough that they would mark a room in such a way that it would call to be demarcated with a placard for posterity, or however long the building lasts. It’s equally a vain and godwanting move, and the anterior, a kill-self and kill-god desire that in me broils blood all bigtime while I am sitting perfectly still. I don’t respond to art often except to look at it, and yet how much of that time can I remember and feel in my face and arms when I am typing.
Right now there are three almost empty glasses on my desk. Two of them contain a half an inch of water. One has just enough to coffee to wet the bottom perimeter of the container, so you can see the gleam that remembers it was there, and it puddles in the corner when I lift it up to verify it still does stink.