7/29/21: In Appreciation of Artists in Small Apartments #poetry

7/29/21: In Appreciation of Artists in Small Apartments #poetry

This is a letter to a friend, and now to you too …

Joseph Campbell lived with his artist wife, a dancer, in a one room apartment in Manhattan for most of his adult life. When he wrote of “sacrifice and bliss” it was based on experience.

( I haven’t read Campbell in a long time, and I’m not sure what I would think of his writing now… but what a huge spirit … he told the sprawling story of his inner life on the only canvas large enough to handle it … the collective myths of the collective world … )


You have done something extraordinary. Even if we just focus on your reading, and ignore everything else for a minute. (Even if we just focus on what you do when the salesmen think that you are doing nothing … )


You have read literature as a mature man —- not as a young person or as an academic, the more usual approaches. So you understand those writers on a level that few people do.

( I grew up around lawyers who came home after 8 pm, and needed quiet. They’d retire to their over stuffed chair in the living room without a TV and they’d read serious novels.)


Then you apply your reading to your art and your teaching of art.

(The lawyers never applied what they read in the novels. They escaped into real life in fiction and then returned to their fantasy lives of mournful longing at the office … never doing the right thing, always doing the “right’ thing … losing their souls and making partner …)


You have worked independently and this has made your work personal and from a unique perspective.


You could not have accomplished your great achievement while earning millions of dollars.


This in no way means that you can’t earn millions now. It doesn’t mean you can’t serve the entertainment industry and work with people like your friend, xxxxx.


Your art and your life can take you in all sorts of directions.


Your response in your argument with xxxxx says it all. Your small apartment is a reason why you know more, not an indication that you don’t.


I identify with all of this, and I think this is one way that we are the same.


Mike Nichols said that Paul Sills was the only person that he knew that saw everyone the same. I’m that way too, and I think it is a big reason that Paul liked me.


There is a difference between excellence and social position. The rewards of society in terms of money and status in certain situations have nothing to do with the actual value of an individual. Sometimes the status and value align. Often they don’t. 


Money and status say more about the person who bestows the prizes than the person who receives them.
Van Gogh was a great painter before his work sold for millions and hung in the great museums.


There is nothing an artist can do about sacrifice. It’s part of the process. An artist serves society with boons that society doesn’t know that it needs. Visionaries pluck artists out of obscurity and lead the world to applause.


The artist’s life is separate from his or her art. Some don’t care about money and fame, some are obsessed by it. Some artists are solitary, some are highly communal … some a mix of both.
The constant is that an artist can’t make decisions or spend his time in any way that doesn’t further his art.

You didn’t need to hear this, but I did … so thank you …

I am going to end my letter by a joke that a lawyer friend of mine often says — he’s a person who does his serious and high pressure work with a certain lightness of being —

“God bless you for the work that you are doing.”

It’s a joke but I kinda mean it …

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

From March 2015 … Art Has Its Day in L. A. and from 7/24/21 … Art and Money, an Introduction … #poetry

From March 2015 … Art Has Its Day in L. A. and from 7/24/21 … Art and Money, an Introduction … #poetry


https://richardsteventhomas.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/art-has-its-day-in-l-a/


7/24/21: Art and Money, an Introduction


The creator and show runner of a successful sitcom was at an artist’s retreat on Cape Cod. He was quite nice and affable. He also hosted a party one night at his big beautiful house on the Cape.
I didn’t think about that nice man when I wrote that his show was “idiotic” —- his friend reads me and I’m sure the description gave him pause.
Sigh … oh well. the show runner is very unlike Jim Belushi. He is, not cultured in the way that many of you, my readers are, but he is very intelligent, civil and friendly.
Later after the Cape Cod retreat, in LA, in Spring 2015, at a workshop attended by many of the Cape Cod participants, I read one of my first pieces of the Rick Blog that I call “real writing” … not a joke, or political opinion or teaching mechanism as were mixed in with my early output. The piece was called “Art Has Its Day in LA” and it focused on a Turner exhibit Paula and I saw at the Getty Museum and a screening of “Nashville” that we saw in Santa Monica. I still think this piece is good, and it is included here, below.
When the group in the workshop commented on the piece, the show runner wondered about the “big words” I used. He was skeptical in tone. His subtext —- how do you make money with this? Only my closest friends in the group had a lively spark in their eyes as they responded. Strangely, their recent work has vacillated between art and sitcom. Perhaps, they are learning the difference. Maybe they want to do both. maybe they want to make one work for the other in some synergistic way.
I woke up thinking about truth and claims … my truth was in the passage, in the Jim Belushi piece, about no one being happy in show business, and the implication that if you aren’t doing art, you are in sales and marketing… and that is untruthful and soul destroying. What’s true is this is what I feel. Of course, some one else can feel differently.
Everything I say about Belushi’s career is a claim. I could make a legal analysis … introducing evidence and higher level thought concepts to make my case … or do a similar academic critical analysis … in other words I could make an argument instead of a claim, but my impulse is to just make the claim …
And I think this is related to “the Rick Thomas” character … that character is art, literary? theatrical …
It’s funny, the tone of the writing is seemingly direct but it really points to something else … it is creative writing … not criticism or scholarship or leadership of some kind … but it may also work on those levels at times …
I am really describing my experience … I had an idea when I started this that I didn’t want to perform, pretend or persuade … I just wanted to put a natural thing into the world like a bird singing outside my window … strangely without purpose … just playing my part …
The material is my subjectivity … the art is objective … that’s why Rick Thomas is a character … this guy who split from Belushi for example … and does that picture point to something bigger? I hope so.
I reach for big themes … Those themes … not as a tell all or memoir … as a way of addressing a higher plane … show biz (but other things too) as metaphor …
I’d love to write million dollar shit. My problem is I can’t — ha … Bernie Sahlins told me , “you don’t want to do shit … you are an artist.” Another time he told me, “Hollywood isn’t interested in effete poetic types”. He was 100 per cent right on both counts.
I could be a lawyer or professor so those were my modes of whoring … only whores and heirs eat in America.
I don’t think that show runner we were talking about is an artist. I think he’s a good businessman. I think the show runner is nice. I think Belushi is a mess, but I see some art in him.
I don’t think entertainment is evil … I’m watching Dean Martin … I love him … an entertainer, not an artist.
When you have the gift and burden of being capable of art … life gets more complicated.
Clint Eastwood used to do “one for them, one for me” and I think he pulled it off. George Clooney looked like he could and then disappointed. I couldn’t watch the sci-fi one he directed recently … brutal! … “Good Night and Good Luck” and “O Brother Where Art Thou” were good …
I think Belushi or Clooney would be OK if they made decent idiocy and then put their energy into art. As I say, I am genetically incapable of doing the trash … when I try I always end up rebelling and trying to make it into art. But I believe that others can compartmentalize …
My art never did well when I was on the edge of survival. It made me too nervous and crazy. So I can’t criticize someone for getting the money to buy a nice house.
An artist should be dissatisfied … there always should be something missing … something to figure out … so how does an artist handle work for money, wealth … I don’t object to the stupid stuff for dough…I object when that whoring compromises the real thing …the important thing.
I want money and big audiences and I would do things to get them but never at the expense of my art … only in support of it in some way …
Don’t forget me when you put together the team for the dick joke project ….
Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

3/22/15: Art Has Its Day in L. A.


Paula and I had an art filled day in Los Angeles yesterday. We saw the Turner exhibit at the Getty Museum and we saw Robert Altman’s masterpiece movie from the mid-70’s Nashville at the Aero revival house in Santa Monica.
L.A. is a city of grandiose intentions betrayed. It sprawls in unfinished disrepair. If a hoarder’s house became an urban landscape it would be Los Angeles. One seedy building of past or imagined grandeur after another passed by us as we drove the crowded, impatient and uncivil streets and boulevards. Every edifice screamed I CAN MAKE A BUCK HERE! I CAN MAKE A BUCK HERE! L.A. is a sprawling drunk who believes he is sober. Its attempts at dignity are pathetic and comical. I really like it. Oh, the humanity!
And then there is the Getty. We park our hulking rent-a-car, a mid-size SUV. The fifteen dollars is all that we will need to spend for our entire time at the museum. This one’s on J. Paul Getty.
The Getty is located on a hill top. Visitors take a monorail from a valley to the pavilions. The hill is meticulously landscaped. The rail cars are spotless. The large crowd in our car is calm with happy and quiet anticipation. Evolved life reigns. Undenied animal natures gratefully subordinate themselves to the gods within. Not one shallow or restless breath is exhaled. The air and all minds present are clear. A community rises above its avarice and fear. The possible happens. A first moment of sobriety.
Art need not be an escape—the cathedral that you are tossed to from the gritty sand storm battle of what is called living. But it is just that because we make it that way. We are all Angelinos. Philanthropy is civic-minded “charity” that bequeaths us momentary glimpses of our birthrights. Our moments of peace are gifts to us from the men like J. Paul Getty who fouled our air in the first place. We have turned essential life into a beggar. Education, health care, art, culture has a pledge drive. The idea is that market forces will create wealth and men of profit will build all the infrastructure we need to sustain it. Our human needs will be met indirectly once we attain our desire for profit. But many stretches of Los Angeles look as worn-out and deteriorated as the streets of the newly liberated republics of the former Communist bloc countries of Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s. Turner and Nashville know that the denial of life is motivated by something less obvious and simplistic than political and economic ideology. Ideologies are sideshow distractions from the essential nature of us all—useful tools in our continuing effort to avoid real thought.
We arrive at the top. Turner on loan from the Tate in London shows us how to be more effectively human. We have so much potential. Turner defies classification. Turner makes no accommodation for our acceptance or rejection. His paintings show a world with few boundaries—where one thing…a man, a whale, a mast of a ship…it doesn’t really matter…one thing at a time stands out in defined relief. The voice on the iPod guide quotes Henry David Thoreau. It doesn’t matter what you look at; what matters is what you see. Our world is as wise and clear and kind and good as we want to make it—our only limitation is the depth of our perception.
Nashville, a satire created in the 1970’s is timeless—with a message for any place and moment. Depth perception. The film’s central comment: authoritarianism is chaotic, ironically. The despotic promise of order from political leaders brings disorder. The narcissism of self-involvement is exploited by those who crave power. Almost no character listens. Almost every talks a lot most often when other characters are talking. Almost everyone is either onstage looking to be pleased by the audience’s approval or in the audience looking to be pleased by the performer’s flattery. The mass cruelly hurts itself in the ignorant pursuit of a non-existent power while the cunning manipulates it from a detached vantage point and dictates all its action. The mass is unaware of its lack of freedom until after a trauma near the end of the movie when it chooses the comfort of a life of denial of reality and a surrender of freedom and even self-interest for the delusion of non-existent pleasure and a good time. Nashville is Los Angeles is Chicago is America is us. The Getty shows us what real life could be attached to the lie that it can only come to us as a gift from the cunning detached voice of real power in Nashville. Turner shows us what freedom looks like for ourselves as individuals and by extension our communities. He looks where he pleases and really sees. As does Robert Altman and company in Nashville.
Art is mysticism plus craft. What do you see and what do you make of it? A painting? A movie? A monorail? A city? A world?
Copyright 2015 Richard Thomas

7/22/21: Remembering Jim Belushi #poetry

7/22/21: Remembering Jim Belushi #poetry

My response to a letter from a friend and to you too …

I was a controversial choice when I was hired for the Second City resident company in Chicago.  I was a young, green outsider.


An older than usual company was disbanding as I came in … during a kind of team rebuilding phase.


When you came into a cast you took over the parts of the departed actor’s review, and started working on your own scenes for the next review in the improv set.


I replaced Jim Belushi and got to know him. The vets coached their replacements. I liked him and have a history with him.


One early memory is when Belushi bad mouthed me to a local critic. I subsequently earned Belushi’s respect. The critic went on the first negative recommendation and panned me in my first show as a full fledged cast member, not as a replacement.


Belushi was mortified and came backstage one night and wept and asked for forgiveness. Of course, I forgave him. He felt so bad.


You compare Jim to his brother, John. I was quite sassy as a young wise ass and referred to him — on stage — as “the Jerry Van Dyke of Second City”  before the critic episode or John’s death.


John did improv sets with our company when he was shooting “The Blues Brothers” in Chicago. He was a phenomenon like a huge pop star. I think Jim was the more talented actor. 


Jim did outstanding work early in his career. “The Pirates of Penzance” and “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” in the theater, and “Salvador” and “Thief” in the movies.


I didn’t look up to Jim, I didn’t look up to anyone but Paul Sills and Fred Kaz, our musical director-plus; but I respected what he was doing … it seemed more than the bad sitcom route which repulsed me.


Jim did a scene called “Piano Bar” at the top of the second act of the show I replaced him in. It was just him and Fred Kaz. Fred silently listened to a lonely salesman in a hotel piano bar. All of Fred’s lines were expressed through riffs on the piano. I think this is the best Second City scene that I know of. It was improvisational in a very sophisticated way, and had a real pathos. It was delicate and had to be played just so to avoid sentimentality.


Fred didn’t want to do the scene with me at first. He was depressed at seeing this novice take over the closest thing Second City ever got to real theater. But, they had to go forward. I played the salesman much differently than Belushi. He had false bravado. I played timidity.


We did scenes for a long time … shows didn’t change that often. I did that scene for months with Fred, a world class jazz musician. I never had an experience that taught me more about improvisation, acting and art … Fred and I became close … I learned a world from Fred and we loved one another …

And Belushi cheered us on. He was genuinely happy for my early success. He liked me. He tried to get me a job writing at SNL. I didn’t want to. We were almost friends.


But we went in two very different directions. We grew to disapprove of each other.


Jim Belushi could have been an artist. And now this dovetails into our business discussion … he  was sold as his brother lite … well paid but exploited … from a grand beginning with Oliver Stone and David Manet and Michael Mann … he turned to German shepherds and Schwarzenegger and idiotic sitcoms …


Jim is the son of Albanian coffee shop owners from then conservative Wheaton, Illinois, and he has run his life like a small businessman.


He has a Blues Brothers tribute band, and he must feel humiliated at every show.


He has always had business interests in things like dive bars ( nothing classy like The West Bank in New York, that business can be an art when done with class, warmth and brains like our friend Steve Olsen creates it) and marijuana dispensaries. 


I frankly look down on all of it —- the schlock business, show business and otherwise. So, Jim Belushi disappoints me. 


And I disappoint him. In his view, I never pursued the success that he believes matters.


Oddly, my memories of Belushi don’t have any emotional content. I am more interested in advocating a way of life —- art. I don’t do it out of a need for self-justification.


I just don’t think that giving business primacy in life works … and I think show business is a prime and extreme example which reveals the truth.


I don’t think anyone is happy in show business … not the people who never make it, not the people who do.


I feel a sad detachment when I remember Jim Belushi now. I think he made smart business moves, that in reality are not smart at all.


He never escaped his Albanian parents, his perversely martyred brother, and the slick money men who never had a thought beyond the next day’s box office.


Jim Belushi ended up living out the pathos of the lonely salesman on the road in the piano bar … thirstily looking for fulfillment in tacky plastic things, ignoring the reservoirs of humanity within.

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

7/21/21: Actors, Fathers, Business and Monsters Part II #poetry

7/21/21: Actors, Fathers, Business and Monsters Part II #poetry

Picture — My Dad, the late Augie Thomas

My response to a letter from a friend and to you too …

My father was very competitive. He could be mean. Once when I was complaining about people who gave me a hard time, he said “it should make you feel good. They do it because they are jealous.” I thought and think that was fucked up even if partially true.


Those people including him were anchors … I didn’t want their competition … I didn’t want to measure myself against other people.


He was jealous and not just because I was smarter. My mother set up a love triangle and put me up against him for her affections. That affected my brother too … I was a favorite …


There was this hint of an incestuous thing in our family that was creepy. We were only a generation away from first cousins marrying in the Italian peasantry.


They did their best. Dad wasn’t only overwhelmed because I was smarter … he also felt inferior because I was accepted as an American and he longed to be … so there was a lot going on … Oedipal, intelligence, cultural …


My parents were both authentic … they didn’t mute what they felt to spare my feelings …


As a result, I am very circumspect about who I let in my life …


And the reason I am a truth teller in my writing is that in my family I knew that I could say whatever I want and would never be rejected. An Italian family is welded together … a lot of security, love, suffocation and rage …


It was OK with my father whatever I was but he didn’t hide what he thought about any of it. But I was strangely more confident than he and I wore him down.


They did OK with money. He would say in Italian “God will provide “ and God  always has in my life. This attitude has been one of his greatest legacies to me.


My father was dying and they were down to $8000. My brother got Dad a lawyer for settlements for the toxic shit he breathed in his shop that gave him blood cancer … he died at 88. Dad filled out the paperwork and Mom got hundreds of thousands in settlement money which financed the last nine years of her life.


We always had a good Christmas , took trips … wrecks came in Dad’s shop always in the nick of time, Mom got needed benefits at the bank.


I have had the same experience… a voice mail job offer from the New York Law Journal when I was down to $200 … my recent surprise inheritance and 100 other times. 


My Dad’s shame was a psychological thing … he’d praise business but everything else about him was sports and movies and coaching and being a human being.


Before Dad died all of these Italian American guys that he coached came to see him in Chicago. He was a life force … he did a lot for a lot of people with joy and humility. He never made a big deal about being good. He just was.


Complex relations with a father is a gift. If I had a “deeper understanding” of life, as he claimed, it was partly because he gave me such a broad and deep life to look at.


Your insight is so good, we did overwhelm each other. 


How loaded is your memory of your great splash in poetry when you were in high school. You have fulfilled and continue to fulfill that promise.


I sometimes hear myself talk as if questions of business, money and success have been easy for me. The opposite is true …


But guys like us live on a different plane … our way doesn’t get advertised … but it’s better … and we are our fathers’ sons…


People liked my eulogy for my Dad because I didn’t talk about him as a sportsman which was his small pond equivalent of a brand … I spoke of the person (no reference to incest) …


We have been focused on what matters, and our fathers, or at least mine, were conflicted about where the focus should be …


Vitalist … your wonderful word … wonderful … your life, your father, my life, my father, art and the lying promise of business … the seduction of marketing promising love and camaraderie and excellence … when it is art that fulfills the claims … nothing good was ever motivated by a dollar … all good was motivated by love … money is a necessity that God provides for people who love as needed, and the pursuit of money for its own sake exiles people from love and all its gifts … bored rich and frustrated poor are miserable bastards … there is another way to live …


A telling line with unconscious meaning in the New York Times article about the recent sale of iO theater … “ the founder changed a marginal art form into a bustling business” … hah! …

Loving humanity supplanted by stupidity and meanness and insecurity in that dump … iO, the Karaoke Theater Bar! Have the illusion of meaningless narcissistic self display while no one pays attention as they fret what they might look like when they take the stage … tell yourself that Tina Fey became a star because she worked out in that building … maybe you can move into her old apartment building too … chart your life course with a map of the stars … get high or be a bum and wait for a casting director or producer to tell you that you are alive … learn anti-art and make all of your choices based on the approval of an audience as dumb as you are … the founder doesn’t speak deeply of life, she talks incessantly about her mortgage. She turned an art form into a 401k and then says that people like me are bitter. I am so glad I stuck with that marginal art form and grew it into my own art instead of cashing it in to sell pathetic dreams of sitcom fame to lost souls and superficial people …

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

7/21/21: Actors, Fathers, Business and Monsters #poetry

7/21/21: Actors, Fathers, Business and Monsters #poetry

Picture — My Dad, the late Augie Thomas

My response to a letter from a friend and to you too …

I saw the actor John Heard riding an almost empty bus in  Manhattan on a summer day in the mid 80s. He was wearing rumpled shorts and a T-shirt, had a bit of a stomach and was studying lines. I didn’t interrupt him of course, but since he was preoccupied I had the opportunity to study him a little. I really liked him … a sincere working man dedicated to his craft, as they say. He was something better than a star. He couldn’t be “big” because he was too focused on being good.


I replaced Jim Belushi, a crude idiot and complete hack at Second City, so I knew him more than a little. All Belushi does is what John Heard couldn’t do as he created art. Belushi made himself into a small corporation. Belushi, is a star, albeit at Target and not Neiman Marcus, like Jeff Bridges. Bridges is an actor, and a damned good one, but business … a lifetime of connections developed by his father Lloyd, his father’s example of how to be a good looking Hollywood leading man … generations of contacts, training and institutional memory … business is a major reason for Jeff Bridges’ renown, beyond his clear hard work and talent. Bridges’ career is a family business that took decades to reach the heights. Jeff Bridges had the leverage to beat other actors to the primo parts when he was still a teenager, and true good for him.

A lot of inventors often have the same brilliant idea at the same time … but one is most skilled at getting the patent and he wins … that is a metaphor for business when a worthy creator like Jeff Bridges also is a winner at business. (Business doesn’t always work so efficiently in the delivery of excellence … but the noble family legacy or the honest but clever operator are happy exceptions … is it true that all rich families rose through criminality? Lloyd Bridges never did anything unethical or illegal to my knowledge, but who knows? Most business flourishes when watered with deceit and exploitation … but I want to believe that Jeff Bridges’ talent which has delighted me so often was born away in a manger. Harvey Weinstein was sent to L.A. for another trial today … what a pig, and how I loved so many Miramax movies … What a shame that Kevin Spacey’s fall from grace preceded the final season of “House of Cards” .. )


Bridges’ art is valid and we can separate it out from his money fame opportunity … the media emphasizes who won the horse race …


Aren’t we lucky that we can appreciate Jeff Bridges and John Heard ..


Heard didn’t have that platform … he couldn’t get the lift … and he was just too damn good. I loved him as a corrupt cop on “The Sopranos”. He was a working actor, an artist … he never became a brand. Belushi the brand got the gig in Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel” and delivered excrement. Belushi had some talent when I first knew him but it was dead when he acted with Kate Winslet. You probably would have kindly suggested that he needed to do more work on his bullying husband cliches if he subjected you to them in a scene study.


The tragedy … check that … farce … of business on top.


My father was a complicated guy in my life. He was full of fun … really funny … a great coach and athlete … he really did whatever he did with enthusiasm from soccer to coaching to playing golf to taking me to the movies. He would praise me and be really tough on me. He was an amateur in the best sense of that word. He did everything for the love of it, and then he would moan that he was unsuccessful. It drove him nuts that I was so disinterested in money. I think he thought it was because I was spoiled. He was freaked out by my poetic nature because it was a part of him that scared him. I remember when I was a little kid and he yelled at me when I cried because I had shampoo in my eyes. He was phobic of vulnerability … a macho tough guy … but he was really as soft as a grape. He was inconsistent. He ridiculed me as “wise” and years later told me “you see life more deeply than other people”. He was an immigrant and a barrel chested physical man … almost a brute … he pounded fenders in his auto body shop for decades and was a local hero for his powerful left footed soccer shot. I loved him a lot, and he loved me. He was a great Dad and an awful one and I think he felt the same way about me. My brother is like my mother, and I am like my father. I wasn’t an athlete, but I improvised the way he played soccer. I was more like him when I was young. I made it my life’s work to get to the aforementioned kernel … that thing that I am beyond who my parents were. My parents are influences but I am something new. They were a mix of Ma and Pa Kent and Joan Crawford. And I am a mix of Superman and Christina Crawford … Norman Rockwell and wire hangars (metaphor … my parents never hurt me physically except maybe smothering me with boa constrictor hugs because they adored me so much and rattling my nerves because I wanted to think up stories while the other boys were becoming businessmen … my father yelled that I didn’t work but what really bothered him was that I wasn’t working on the “right” thing … I choose my happiness without shame, with no concern for his disappointment … )

for my father … in loving memory …

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

7/20/21: In Defense of Unreasonable Claims #poetry

7/20/21: In Defense of Unreasonable Claims #poetry

Picture — Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes Monkey Trial

My response to a letter from a friend and to you too …

Nothing is as instructive to a writer as a deep and serious reader.  There I go again making a sweeping generalization which you subtly and kindly challenge.


I love it. It makes me think and it doesn’t hurt at all. If a criticism or challenge is smart and kind, it feels good. 
There is an art to such criticism and it resides in the character of the critic.


I hope I can give my response in the same spirit, not defensive but rather as a continuation of an exploration.
I know that I make these blanket statements. I say them intentionally.


Two that I recall that you pointed out are about wisdom and business.


In my experience all wisdom, and indeed all learning … the acquisition of insight and understanding or mere knowledge … is painful. Learning is a struggle. Maturation is a transformation. Each hurts. An expansion of knowledge, and or understanding, is relief. In my experience my entire life has been this dialectic.


I think business has a primacy which it can’t fulfill. Business is a secondary thing. It is a practical matter of accounting, management and information sharing. When business is the main objective, the results are always perverse. Art, science, human connection … these are the things that are important. Business is a necessary chore. The grocery delivery person should not supplant the chef in decisions related to the creation of the meal. 


Anyway, I see essences … big things distilled to their essential nature, and that’s why I break with good sense and make the unreasonable sounding claim. I’m glad that you find these assertions provocative and push back … that is a fine part of your art of reading.


And as I have mentioned … I make no claim of infallibility. I’ve always learned by emphatically holding a position with an equal openness to change to accommodate new understanding. 


That understanding comes from experience. I have been watching “Inherit the Wind” since it came up in the Patton piece … the Tracy/March version … only in dribs and drabs … I’ve seen it so many times …


I’m an “experience” guy … I am sensing some limitation to “reason” in Tracy’s character … reason, that process of law and serious study and democracy … the best of all modalities of the mind … and yet … lacking in some way …


God how I love art (I hear Patton talk about war) … reason yes, but in its place … a mysticism made into real things … something animating our lives beyond good sense, handled with all good sense of course …

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

7/19/21: Fluctuating Values and Equities #poetry

7/19/21: Fluctuating Values and Equities #poetry

My response to a letter from a friend and to you too …

This is wonderful writing … it is difficult to respond to in the sense that what I think doesn’t matter. I admire the reflection. Years ago I read a book by a Belgian priest —- Henri Nouwen? “The Wounded Healer”. It was a work of pastoral literature. I remember little more than the title and the main theme … our wisdom, says the pastor, is in our wounds. The pain ignites our empathy —- and metaphor deals with empathy right? This is like this… and this and this is like me. I guess this is why I think everyone is always writing about themselves. What else do we have to work with?


So I read about your relationship with your father and I think of my father —- and there is some congruence, but it is also different. My father did disapprove of me. He didn’t drink away success, but considered himself a failure and then rebelled against that thought with a kind of inconsistent defiance. 
I don’t have to forgive your father for losing his fortune … it didn’t wound me, but of course you do … and I celebrate you for accomplishing so much more in your life than amassing money —- but that doesn’t have anything to do with how you feel about it.


I was thinking this morning about how many “successful” people that I was exposed to … big time lawyers and academics, show biz stars … and I thought about their condescension ( not all of course … some are quite nice) … and I smile. None of it matters. I have my writing and I could care less about their status, in fields that I could care less about.


Money goes up and down … the tide rolls in and out … and at the end of the day all that matters is what your soul resonates as meaning … the people and actions that matter to you …
But the processing of those wounds means everything … processed suffering leads to wisdom leads to sensitivity leads to openness leads to healing … healing which ends in art in all things …


I loved William Blake … he strove for success and was frustrated … had success and lost it, then was lost for a period mid life and finally set up a print shop and wrote his poems and drew his illustrations … he went out in public unashamed in thread bare clothes. One of my favorite lines is Blake’s … “He went to his death singing.” 
Of course, the great failure, Blake, did accomplish the feat of being one of the great poets and artists in the history of the world.


I say the next thing with no reference to your feelings. I repeat … I gladly sit with you and feel your heart … and I know I can’t speak to it … but here is what I feel, for myself, about success and money … I want it, but I would never make a choice to get it … I want it for what, and who, I am on it, and my, own terms … and if I don’t get it, I keep the Blake perspective …


And I also believe that if one does the good and natural thing, the universe rewards one with abundance … and I am not talking New Age … I’m talking physics … life serves connected life …


My modest money is in stocks and the market is crashing today … but here’s the thing , the equity is in the stocks themselves, not their fluctuating value … they go up and down but they are a concrete thing …


The same thing is true of human capital … all of your talent, intelligence, warmth, attributes of good character … is your wealth … their monetary values go up and down, but they support you in all you do …


And the world sweeps in with abundance … in my case pandemic unemployment assistance (financed my last year of writing) social security, Medicare…


Success is just perception, but reality is something else again  … substance takes a long time, endures and consistently flourishes, it doesn’t flash up and down.


My mother, who had a high school education and worked in a bank, was friends with a renowned physicist who worked at Fermi Labs when she lived in independent living in the old folks home. Values rise and fall but equities remain.

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

7/13/21: Patton (1970) and The Last Days of Patton (1986) — How to Act, Live and Die #poetry

7/13/21: Patton (1970) and The Last Days of Patton (1986) — How to Act, Live and Die #poetry

It’s not about being right, it’s about being true. George C. Scott and George S. Patton … flawed men … one in the same … holier than saints.

“The Last Days of Patton” is a TV movie sequel to the famous Oscar winning film, sixteen years later, a professional job for the senior circuit, old hands keeping busy and squeezing a late paycheck for the first two thirds of the show, and then something miraculous happens. George C. Scott delivers a masterpiece describing what it is like to die a prolonged and painful death at the end of a life of fulfillment. Scott does not play Patton in this portion of the movie. He plays Dying Man, a universal figure … you, and me, and everyone we know, or know of, or never met … if we die right. There is a way to die … with dignity and decency and honestly …

Honestly …

A true actor playing true subjects … a general who consciously honored his destiny, and a human being who knew how to die …

I saw George C. Scott on Broadway in a production of “Inherit the Wind”. I was unimpressed. He was old and tired and fat and labored through a role that he didn’t seem in shape to perform. My dismissive attitude was my problem, not Scott’s. He was a warrior in that part. Naked … a weakened George C. Scott … diminished by drink and food, shared his understanding of his role, and his dedication to his art for the benefit of us all … far from past glories. He was an actor and he wasn’t well, and he was going to be both of those things because those were his positions in creation.

I wish that I could have spoken with George C. Scott. I think he would have been nice. He would have studied me and tried to understand the essence of who I am, and he would have encouraged me. If he saw anything in me that would help him understand a script that he worked on in the future, he could have called it up when needed. For Scott, everything was an inspiration. Everything internal … in himself … everything external … in the world.

I remember the ending of Scott’s production of “Inherit the Wind”. He took a copy of the Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” — a heavy tome, and an equally heavy copy of the Bible — one in each hand … and in an act of shocking strength after his almost doddering presence for the previous two hours, smashed the volumes together as if he were clapping little chalkboard erasers in an old school third grade classroom. He silently demanded that the audience consider the scientific and the divine as attributes of the same thing, and that they stopped their foolish conflicts between the two.

WE ARE SPIRIT AND NATURE — GET IT. FINITE AND ETERNAL. ESSENCES TO BE RIGOROUSLY EXPLAINED, AND MYSTERIES TO BE CONTEMPLATED WITH AWE. WE LIVE AND DIE. WE ARE JOY AND SORROW. WE ARE MENSCHES AND ASSHOLES. WE ARE WORTHY OF ADMIRING PRAISE AND IN NEED OF FORGIVENESS.

WE HAVE ONE DECISION … ARE WE GOING TO CONSCIOUSLY BE WHO WE ARE? OR ARE WE GOING TO HUDDLE TOGETHER IN CONFORMIST FEAR, SQUANDER OUR BIRTHRIGHT … TALK AND ACT AT THE DIRECTION OF BOSSES AND CLIQUES … ARE WE GOING TO TAKE THE PAIN AND THE GLORY OF BEING WHAT GOD MADE US TO BE — AS HUMAN BEINGS AND AS UNIQUE SPECIFIC ONE OF A KIND CREATURES?

THE UNIVERSAL AND THE PARTICULAR — ONE THING — PATTON AND SCOTT — DARWIN AND GOD …

Scott may have had a theme to his work involving the reconciliation of essences that are mistaken as opposites … I’ll have to watch more of his movies to find out … Scott uses his creation, Patton, to reconcile life and death. He orders us to see them together — to use each to serve the other.

Scott reconciles his own person and Patton. Actor and part are not separate beings.

I REPEAT MYSELF BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IT … FUCK YOUR RULES … IT BEARS REPEATING … IT’S NOT AN EASY IDEA …

UPPER AND LOWER CASE LETTERS — THE SAME …

DEFIANCE AND EMBRACING … THE SAME …

Scott/Patton has plenty of vanity, but it is honestly arrived at … actor and general make no claims that they can’t back up in action.

Patton believed in winning. Scott didn’t, but he knew that the very fact that he decided not to make winning primary meant that he was the same as those who make victory a reason for being.

WE ARE THE SAME AS OUR OPPOSITES … EMPATHY ALLOWS US TO SEE THAT NO INNER HUMAN EXPERIENCE IS FOREIGN TO ANY HUMAN BEING … OUR IGNORANCE IS A MATTER OF OUR LACK OF EFFORT; NOT A MATTER OF OUR LACK OF CAPACITY.

I don’t think Scott wanted to admit to himself that he craved glory, but he did it because it was part of his job of being Patton. SCOTT KNEW THAT HE COULD CRAVE GLORY AND THAT WAS ENOUGH …

Patton gives a lot of speeches in the first film, and subtly requires obsequious praise from subordinates in one on one contactS. The general softens to kindly, even intimate conversation in the sequel. Scott mellowed over time, because that is a natural effect of aging, and Scott honored all things natural in his own person and in his interpretation of Patton as a human being, far more complex and interesting than any image or myth associated with an icon.

It doesn’t matter what we do. What matters is who we are. Richard Nixon loved the movie “Patton” and one can see why. Patton met life and death as himself just as Nixon did.

NIXON WAS A PRICK, BUT HE WAS ALSO A FASCINATING HUMAN BEING … HE GAVE THE WORLD THE FULL NIXON …

I find photos of the mushroom clouds of detonated hydrogen bombs to be beautiful. Creation is destruction … and they don’t apologize …

I am a moralist, but I know that there is something even more important beyond morality. Like Patton and Scott and Nixon, I take sides. Like Patton and Scott and Nixon, I know that those sides exist to facilitate the horrible beauty of war …

Life is war, and war can be waged with honor … we can emphatically accept who we are and meet the world as an equal … embraced by lovers and friends, undermined and attacked by enemies, winning and losing committed to playING our part … meeting the moments of our parts of a lifetime … waiting for our chances … being self-destructive … being brought low by rivals … restricted by our own limitations … having great victories and aging, failing, suffering and dying …

This is my day to honor conservatives … Pope John Paul II showed the world how to die, as much an actor as George C. Scott … Pope John Paul II didn’t know how to handle the Church’s pedophilia scandal … George C. Scott failed at one of the tasks of a great actor … skillful choice of roles, Scott did many movies not worthy of his gifts … but Pope John Paul II was pitch perfect on Communism … and George C. Scott created an immortal performance as Patton … THE PERFORMANCE SHOULD LAST AS LONG AS SHAKESPEARE … Nixon was a brilliant domestic and foreign policy man, and also murderous and corrupt … Patton did not romanticize war — HE LOVED WAR AND KNEW ITS PURPOSE, HE, LIKE ALL GENERALS WAS A MASS MURDERER, and he was born to be brilliantly useful for the moment of World War II — A TIME WHEN IT WAS NECESSARY TO DESTROY A MASS MURDERER WHO WAS OUT TO KILL US, but Patton’s values became rancid by the time of the War in Viet Nam … THE JUST WAR BECAME AN UNJUST WAR, A SOLUTION OF A MORE PRIMITIVE TIME BECAME OBSOLETE — SCOTT KNEW THAT TOO, SOMEHOW HE DID A GREAT HUMAN CHARACTER STUDY WHILE REALIZING THAT “PATTON” WOULD BE RELEASED IN 1970 DURING THE VIET NAM WAR, MAYBE THE MOVIE WAS POPULAR BECAUSE AMERICA WANTED TO REMEMBER A WAR WHEN WE FELT WE WERE IN THE RIGHT, AND WE WON … BUT SCOTT’S PERFORMANCE TRANSCENDS TIME … IT IS NOT OF THE WORLD WAR II ERA OR THE VIET NAM ERA … IT IS ABOUT SOMETHING MORE IMMORTAL THAN HISTORY … IT IS ABOUT LIVING THE EMPHATIC LIFE …

WE AND EVERYTHING ELSE ARE IMPERFECT, EVERYTHING IS PERFECT THE WAY IT IS. THERE IS NO CONCLUSION EXCEPT LIVE AND DIE — WITHOUT RESERVATIONS.

I still see old George C. Scott seizing his youthful power for a brief moment and smashing pounds of books thought of as opposites together …

The 1970 film is enhanced by the famous martial parade music by Jerry Goldsmith. In “The Last Days of Patton” the general dies accompanied by a children’s choir softly and sweetly singing Christmas music.

LIFE IS PARADOXICAL.

AND NOW ME TALKING DIRECTLY ABOUT ME BECAUSE IN THIS PIECE ME AND GEORGE C. SCOTT AND PATTON AND NIXON AND POPE JOHN PAUL II, AND UPPER AND LOWER CASE IS THE SAME THING …

I have no regrets and bear no hatred for any person. All of my mistakes, and all offenses ever made against me were necessary.

I am not afraid of dying. Let my death honor my life, and my life honor my death.

I never felt that I returned anywhere. I have always felt like an exile, longing for a home for who and what I am. I went back to places to put in my ideas not conform with theirs. Of course, that looks foolish, but I was trying —- perhaps too hard.


I’ve learned a little about the world by not being accepted by it. When they said our way not yours, they always tossed me out or I left. 


I know these things about myself: I tell the truth as I see it, I don’t conform and I’d rather lose out than compromise.
My accusers said I always came back, but I was there because some people liked me and I was trying to get something going. 

MY WHOLE LIFE HAS BEEN ABOUT TRYING TO AUTHENTICALLY LIVE OUT LOUD. THAT’S MY GLORY.

PROUD. PROUD. PROUD. PRIDE AS IN SELF-ESTEEM, PRIDE AS DEFENSIVE SELF-JUSTIFICATION. MASTER THAT PEOPLE LOOK TO FOR GUIDANCE, AND VULNERABLE CHILD.


I don’t know if I learned anything doing anything that I have ever done, or if the thing just represented a part of my PSYCHE THAT WAS ALREADY THERE.


I like poetry about the need to try many things. Some philosopher said 1000 no’s leads to yes. I don’t know how a writer writes without wandering. 


Everything that I’ve ever done was just being a writer… prep work, identifying it and doing the writing.


“Recurring returns” is a loaded concept for me, and I’ve never thought of it that way. I’ve always been struggling to turn MYSELF AND THE MOMENT into what I AND it really is.

 
It is always painful to split … but I felt that briefly in splitting from SO-CALLED CREATIVE COMMUNITIES, higher ed, law practice, old girlfriends … I think that is a larger pattern in me.

IT MIGHT BE LOVE, IT MIGHT BE MERELY ATTACHMENT … BUT BREAKING UP IS ALWAYS HARD TO DO …

THAT’S NATURAL BUT BREAKING UP, THE PAIN, AND THE RELIEF OF IT ALL, ARE YIN AND YANG, DARWIN AND GOD …


AFTER BREAK UPS I becOme afraid that people would think I was THOSE THAT I LEFT … LIKE A REFORMED ALCOHOLIC WHO DOESN’T WANT TO ASSOCIATE WITH DRUNKS AT THE OLD BAR … EXCEPT I WASN’T A DRUNK, I JUST WAS IN THERE PITCHING IN THE BAR BECAUSE I WAS TRYING TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN …


So I SPEAK up and some people appreciated it

I ACCEPT DEFEAT BUT I ALWAYS LEAVE A LAST WORD … I GET TO SAY WHO WAS THERE AND WHAT HAPPENED … THE RIVALS HAVE NO MORE RIGHT TO MY NARRATIVE THAN I DO … I WRITE DOWN WHAT HAPPENED AND I JEALOUSY PROTECT THE TRUTH FROM THEIR AGENDAS …


And OVER TIME I grOw to understand what HAPPENED WITH EVEN MORE CLARITY …


But that didn’t change what I have been doing

 
MY WORK EXPERIENCES, FOR EXAMPLE, DON’T seem part of my work —- THEY SEEM been part of my life … THAT WHICH INFORMS MY WORK …

I didn’t leave and return to MY RIVALS AND ACCUSERS. I was never with them. It may have taken me awhile to understand who they were but I didn’t leave. THEY WERE NEVER PART OF MY LIFE OR WORK. I WASN’T NEAR THEM BECAUSE I WANTED TO COMPETE WITH THEM. I WAS TRYING TO DO WHAT I DO. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM. WHEN IT CAME TIME TO DECIDE WHETHER I SHOULD HONOR MY INNER IMPULSE … WHAT I NATURALLY WANTED TO DO, OR TO LISTEN TO A BOSS OR A GROUP, I ALWAYS FOLLOWED MY INNER VOICE — TO MY GREAT CREDIT …


I outgrew MANY THINGS a long time ago … MANY THINGS THAT SOME PEOPLE STILL BELIEVE THAT I AM PART OF … THAT FRUSTRATES ME … NOT BECAUSE I CARE WHAT PEOPLE THINK BUT BECAUSE I WORRY THAT IT GETS IN THE WAY OF ME CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE WHO I NOW BELONG THAT … OF COURSE, THAT WORRY IS UNWARRANTED, BUT I AM NOT JUST THE WISE WRITER … I AM A PERSON … I GET HURT AND FRUSTRATED AND LONELY … THIS IS ONE GREAT MESSAGE OF GEORGE C. SCOTT’S “PATTON” MASTERPIECE … HE IS POWERFULLY HIMSELF AND VULNERABLY HIMSELF …

THE LEAP OF TRANSFORMATION OFTEN IS FOLLOWED BY A PERIOD OF SUSPENDED ANIMATION IN MID-AIR …


My struggle has been understanding what I am and finding my place … and I am finally getting there and I think everything has been as it should be. I wouldn’t change a moment .

As a performer, as a lawyer, as a professor I was always independent and good at what I do, and I was always attacked by people trying to protect or expand their turf. I NEVER WANTED THEIR TURF. I WANTED A PLACE TO DO MY THING. IT WAS NEVER WHAT THEY DID. IT WASN’T BETTER EITHER. IT WAS HIGHER. And I didn’t want to fight them, but I would tell the truth about who they are, and that always got me a step closer to what was right.


Lawyer was better than marketer, professor was better than lawyer, performer was better than professor, writer is better than performer … that’s the last 15 years.


I doubt myself … is this the way it is? Should I have fought, competed? NO … I DID NOT LOSE OR FAIL, I OUTGREW. I EVEN THINK THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THAT ON SOME LEVEL.

I AM SURE OF MYSELF AND I DOUBT MYSELF. I FAIL AND I TRANSCEND … A MUCH BETTER STATE THAN BEING ONE OR THE OTHER …


I don’t want to be a lawyer or professor or performer … so if I would have won it wouldn’t be who I was …


And each piece had some positives too … PIECES OF ME


Now I want to write and talk without static and I want people around me that aren’t small or threatened… maybe I should have made better choices along the way, but really I just plugged in to what was available.

THE PRESENT IS ETERNAL

THE FUTURE IS TRANSFORMATION

THE PAST IS PARADOX.

COPYRIGHT 2021 RICHARD THOMAS

7/11/21: August Osage County (2013) — A Celebration of Bullsh-t #poetry

7/11/21: August Osage County (2013) — A Celebration of Bullshit #poetry

America go fuck yourself with your Pulitzer Prizes … and Tony Awards … and recognitions of all kinds … and no I am not bitter … I am proud, proud … proud of my body of work and the work to come …

Tracy Letts starts off his screenplay based on his extravagantly lauded play worrying about credit …

“Life is very long … T.S. Eliot … not the first person to say it … not the first person to think it … but he’s the one who gets credit because he wrote it down.”

So Tracy Letts decided that he would make his mark on the world with his pen … and since he is an actor, he wrote a play. And the play must have been flashy … electric … charismatic actors lighting up a theater … the movie not so much … because the movie can’t share the force fields around the temporal bodies of the actors … it relies on the derivative ideas of addiction and dysfunctional families and race and alienation and blocked creativity — and death of course — no way around that one, and most (all?) the other perennial themes of the American Theater … and Letts knew that Eugene O’Neill and many others got there before he did, and did it better … Tracy Letts isn’t stupid. So he shows his facility with all of “his” themes with something like an interminable succession of trumpet solos. None of this should matter, and in truth it doesn’t. But Tracy wants the credit.

What a calculating grasping little prick Letts must be. A Sammy Glick (look it up if you don’t know) for the new millennium, with more charm, and an MFA or its equivalent. I don’t know Letts. I have nothing against him … but I don’t like him. He is everything I am not, and I once felt shame about that fact. Now I feel that Letts should be ashamed. He hoards his gifts for his own intentions, and the world needs what he has to offer if he really tried. Letts should replace his obsession with credit and replace it with a focus on transformation of the world and the human soul.

I’m sure he wouldn’t give a shit if he knew that I disapprove of what he is doing. He didn’t write this play and movie for me … someone who goes to the theater to get intimate with another person … the writer … to consider his or her perspective … to develop empathy and learn something … Tracy Letts doesn’t write for me … he writes for the people who get something out of applauding for show offs. See — you can be rich and smart and sexy … all at once … in the same motion. That’s the thing about success, people cheer it in others because they are cheering the desire for it in themselves. Success justifies all of our selfish impulses. Art is a sacrifice which gives a great reward. Art is more struggle than work. Tracy Letts had a vision for his achievement just like any other entrepreneur, and he took the prescribed steps to accomplish them diligently and confidently. His success, like the success of many other people like him, was built upon many acts of extreme intelligence. Tracy Letts’ rise is breathtaking …

… But it’s not art. Letts’ success is like saving up to buy a car. The satisfaction of the day of the purchase differs only in degree from the satisfaction of winning a Pulitzer Prize. The achievement of art is a bit more like going up on a cross, suffering and dying, and returning a couple days later to find that you redeemed the world. Art leads less to satisfaction and more to participation. Art gives you moments of being totally conscious of your experience of existence.

Julia Louis Dreyfuss is friends with Tracy Letts. He did a guest shot on Seinfeld years ago. She’s impressed by his Pulitzer. Frank Sinatra envied Pavarotti. Admiration is envy’s kissing cousin.

I don’t envy Julia Louis Dreyfuss. I think she is funny. I like her politics. I have no interest in doing what she does, and I find her amusing. I like her a fuck of a lot better than Tracy Letts.

I love Frank Sinatra … I relate to him a lot more than Pavarotti … and I think there is a Sinatra beyond show business … not in the acting … not all the comic personality stuff … but some of those songs … I never paid much attention to Pavarotti …

Tracy Letts makes my life harder. When bullshit gets over as art, it makes things harder for artists.

“August Osage County” drones on in the background, a succession of great scenes for acting classes … loads of emotions to explore and play … an ensemble piece … of shit … great scenes for everybody to add to their reels …

Tracy Letts is in Greta Gerwig’s distasteful take on “Little Women” … Louisa May Alcott as the anti- Emily Dickinson … Letts is well cast as the editor who teaches Jo, the Alcott alter ego, to sell out … the moral is that it is more important for women to have their own money and power than to make art …

Now a scene in “Osage County” is about a character who Daddy believes has talent as a writer … write it down and you’ll get the credit goddammit … Letts might have been a good patent lawyer figuring out how to corner the market in matters involving intellectual property …

Letts plays the plagiarist Henry Ford II in “Ford vs. Ferrari” … perceptive casting directors like him in parts about angling for, or stealing? credit …

Letts got credit for writing the adaptation of the dreadful “The Woman in the Window” … adaptations might be a great line of work for Tracy Letts … his great skill — cosigning others’ ideas … as told to Tracy Letts …

Art is not about being original. The fundamental things apply … the greatest of artists all say the same thing … they touch the ground of being and that never changes. No, art is not about being original, it’s about being true. The way of the sincere artist is different than the way of the careerist. I don’t do what Tracy Letts does …we are not involved in the same endeavor. Here’s a tip for all you young sincere artists out there … your way isn’t through Steppenwolf to Broadway to Hollywood … you take the side roads … you don’t angle for recognition, you are and do something real. There is no separation between the development of a sincere artist and the arc of his or her career. Pursuing success is a task in itself, and it is what gets the awards and attention largely. But pursuing authentic art has its own way of making itself known … art, like life, finds a way.

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

7/11/21: Going It Alone #poetry

7/11/21: Going It Alone #poetry

He says what he wants

He is not political

He doesn’t calculate how his words will be received

If a bridge burns, it burns

If people don’t like him, c’est la vie

He is not a “team player”

He doesn’t collaborate

But he is not a loner

He understands a tier of life that few can see …

A person lives in truth …

he is attracted to other people …

other people are attracted to him …

they connect

and in intimacy they do not so much compromise …

but rather continually separate and unite …

setting boundaries and discovering commonalities …

learning when to work with the other …

and when to provide loving support …

Some artists are like poets and painters …

they live solitary lives and communicate with the world almost psychically

world and person never seeming touch each other

when in actuality a deep community is established on unseen planes …

Some artists are like orchestra leaders and movie directors …

coordinating the voices of many others into an expression of a collective unconscious

These artists and their followers represent the zeitgeist of whole cultures

The solitary artists are more in research and development …

they live on the frontiers of humanity

and bring back the future to the collective …

The leader artists implement the future’s lessons and make it present …

I said some hard true things this week, and a friend worried that the people that I criticized might exact revenge. But they can’t hurt me, because they control nothing that is of value to me. They can’t hurt my reputation in a community that I have left and rejected. And I know that the people who are meant for me cannot be kept away from me by any slander or misunderstanding. We cannot lose the people who are meant for us.

I want to turn my writing into art on a stage … reading and talking. Little creative leadership required. No musicians, directors, set designs … just a chair, a microphone and a music stand to hold my papers, or a small table for my computer. I am old and fat and not commercial. But the right attraction? Someone with a space that would like me in it? That’s how the world really works. It is not transactional … the world is like a good marriage, or close friendships — no assembly required. There are periods of seeming conflict but that is really the work of coming to understand why we love each other and how our love works.

He was born with a great gift … he became physically ill at the thought of self-betrayal.

It is said that a great director gets what he or she wants. That’s wrong. A great director gets the truth.

He doesn’t read anymore … he read for years … it is now his turn to speak. His friend reads voraciously. He speaks about it …

The three temptations of the Buddha are: fear, desire and social duty …

Fear avoids everything in an attempt to survive … secure in possession of absolutely nothing …

Desire says it knows better than the truth … tries to cheat destiny and replace it with something that attracts the dumb ego …

Social duty is the service of authority and a voluntary slavery to the agendas and opinions of others … society is the codification of ignorant fear and desire …

We are born alone and we die alone and in between we form connections with one another, sometimes merging, sometimes viewing each other with loving eyes … and our solitude and intimacy is interrupted at times … we are distracted by fear, desire and social duty … and all of these ignorant and superfluous concerns bring us suffering, but they also teach us …

He writes to get rid of the pain … to understand … to clearly hear the dictates of his heart … to detach from all that does not belong to him and to embrace that which does …

the writer or the reader completes the piece

and places the book upon his chest

sighs

and stares at the ceiling

and that moment is the kernel of life

and eternity

Atonement with the world …

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas