The Oroville dam is about to bust. Somewhere near 180,000 people had to be evacuated, but that is just the start of the problems. People are losing their homes and there’s no telling how far that water will spread once it is set free. Water is like power is like money. It flows freely and seeks its own level. It is only with major acts of engineering or natural acts of geography that it is ever stored in one place in large amounts. So many of the tragedies we see today are actually symptoms of deeper problems, of engineered imbalances. Building border walls is like building nuclear power plants is like building dams: all bad ideas with consequences nobody wants to experience. Meanwhile, here in little ol’ Santa Cruz the morning was preceded by flash bombs and helicopters. Was it a raid in the planning for 5 years designed to arrest truly violent gang members, or was it a raid on immigrants without the right legal paperwork?
One day, sometime not too far away, this cave will collapse. It kinda makes you appreciate it more when you think of that.
- Loyalty is a rare value, today. Values in general are scarcer and scarcer in this age of vanity and digital complacency. What is loyalty? It’s both what you will and won’t do. It’s with whom you will and won’t share your time and energy. Loyalty is the foundation of trust. If you are loyal to me, then I can give you the best of me, because I know if I need it, then it’s coming right back. Loyalty is what makes families strong and the lack of it is what causes us to falter. Being loyal is vowing to never betray those who matter most to you.
Making art is a form of rebellion. It’s a way of expressing my dissatisfaction with the status quo. Whether it’s writing, painting, or making videos, it’s something I do because I am in pursuit of something better than what was given to me. I feel it in my marrow that there is a power in communication and expressivity. What exactly am I rebelling against? Making art is an expression of dissent against conformity and control. It is a form of freedom.
That’s why it’s so important to be mindful about the process. It’s easy to fall into all kinds of traps that will take away your freedom. The worst kind of unfreedom is the one that you impose on yourself. If you sit down to write or draw and you think about how it’s supposed to be and not how you want it to be then you are not free. That’s one of the great examples of Picasso.
The break from representation had to do with finding more room to be yourself, to create from a place of power and not in the service of making it look like some other cowardly fuck thinks it should look. Artists have visions and they find a way to make them real. Picasso is one of the greatest ever to do it because he succeeded in making the art world his bitch. Even Michaelangelo had a master. Sure, he painted him as a skin without muscle, bones or organs on his way to hell, but he still had to compromise his work for the god-damned Medicis.
One thing that Barney helped me to remember is that there’s nothing more valuable in art than freedom. In order to achieve space to make things that come from a free place you have to be brave enough to do bad things. I don’t mean morally corrupt actions, but making things that people won’t understand and probably won’t like. When you are comfortable making bad art, then and only then can you make art that is free, which is the only kind of art that matters.