Therefore, as the grid-decimating tide of Sandy recedes and the power and lights have been restored to our East Village, fifth floor walk-up flat, I sit at my writing desk, and I am staring down the scope of my cerebral cortex, desiring to unload both barrels into the delusional asses of climate change deniers.
This mutant strain of hurricane (that has inflicted much disruption in our lives and a great amount of stress on my six month, pregnant wife, Angela) was caused by changes in the Gulf Stream, wrought by manmade greenhouse gasses.
Personally, I'm done with attempting to persuade idiots by intelligent discourse and fools by plying them with common sense...finished with issuing reasoned warnings to dissemblers and dimwits who claim the iceberg directly in the path of our ocean liner is simply an ice dispenser, conveniently located to refresh our beverages.
Sandy (as did Katrina) reveals, how tenuous the grid work of final stage capitalism is...how rapidly it comes unraveled by nature's impersonal fury.
While composing the first draft of this essay (pre-Sandy)--as I was writing the following lines, "Often, the soul is forced to get your attention by guiding you into situations that serve to open your heart by means of breaking it. Closed off from the temptation and tumult "" -- I received a phone call bearing the message that my best friend in this breathing world was dead.
The next lines I wrote were: Alright then, soul, you have my full attention, although my eyes are blurred and scalded by tears.
After inexplicable and heart shattering events, one's mind searches for deeper meaning"even when there can be none gleaned from quotidian tragedy. In this case"a fall involving a bicycle, and a friend, a brilliant artist, a vivid soul, a warm, passionate human being, a generous, compassionate companion has been forever lost.
Meaning is an ad hoc, flimsy structure"erected of metaphysical eggshells"convictions garnered from happenstance, the traumas of early life, books happened upon, chance meetings, misheard advice, friendships lost and cultivated.
In the presence of death and in the aftermath of great storms, we apprehend how vainly we cling to the illusion of certainty and permanence. Yet, deep down, we know how insubstantial our constructs are"How fate and circumstance can intervene, and can leave us staring into the indifferent maw of eternity.
"For in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow" --Ecclesiastes 1:18
To John, my departed friend: I'm not going to allow you to travel too far away from the realm of the living without your soul glistening with my abundant tears.
As Sandy raged around our home and then departed, I stood in grief's
dominion. There are empty spaces here -- graceless voids -- torn into
the hours of the day after a person close to you has been, suddenly and
without warning, taken by death.
John, you and I spoke often and for long durations about the necessity of artists and writers allowing themselves to be undone by life and remade by creative choices. For me, your sudden death has accomplished the primary. Through, our perpetual dialog, we explored the interplay of polis and ecosystem, and how this essential criteria was absent from so much current day art and curation e.g., how in art one might limn New Orleans' ragged (yet vividly alive) grandeur -- the city's alluring, dangerous, vitally alive character -- its crumbling agora -- and the forever living, always dying nature of the bayous and wetlands that surround the city. And the manner one might merge and express those elements in one's aesthetic. (Apropos: Much of the city of New Orleans itself was comprised of swamp land that was drained, thus creating the city's familiar crescent shape and susceptibility to deadly flooding.)
In John's art work and curation, he desired to evoke a dialog between the ghosts of the past and the living present, human beings and nature, cityscape to backwater, brain to gut, beating heart to eternal moment, phantom to flesh, memory to heavenly fire, compost to possibility, possibility to fruition.
John was driven to entice the individual artists out of his/her prison of enshrinement/exile of hyper-individualist alienation "to bring the work of an individual artist into a broadening dialog with the work of other artists"to create the affect of a vital agora. He grasped that art does not exist alone; it is not an embalmed corpse, but a living (and dying) thing; hence, it must share common space and communion to be fully alive as well as decay to compost (and therefore be granted renewal) when it dies.