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Issue 102: Life Intervenes
Louise Stigell, Mai Ryuno, Alan Moore, Etniko Bandido, Byopia Press, Taylor & Crabapple, Noguchi & Hasegawa, East Wind Books, Stromae, & Rhiannon Giddens.
I was going to write about Walter Benjamin on art and the age of mechanical reproduction in relation to art and AI (I even drafted an article). I was going to write about this . . . I was going to write about that . . . But life intervened when I came down with an ailment that put me through a period of feeling physically miserable and exhausted. That extended to last night, when I just couldn’t get the newsletter out. But somehow (thanks to a second doctor visit and second course of meds) I’m feeling much better now.
I had some time to think about things like “burnout” and ask myself if there’s anything I can change to ease some of the pressure created by my work habits and choices and bring more pleasure and “breaks” into my life. A newsletter post from Louise Stigell in Confessions of a Terrified Creative helped me to check those “perfectionist” impulses, and if I feel like it, I’ll even mention the “b” word here.
For short periods, during this limbo, I found myself being oddly creative. Focusing mostly on tasks and minutiae that were relaxing also distracted me from my condition. I made some art and I worked on my Neocities website [https://jvengua.neocities.org] fiddling around with code and correcting some issues. I finally figured out how to make the site accessible on both desktop and mobile phone, and I experimented with the header image and came up with something slightly psychedelic. It reminded me of when I was a teen, inspired by a Grateful Dead poster to draw as though improvising to music. So, what the heck—why not embrace the psychedelic boomer in me?
My Six Questions for Mai Ryuno was republished in Voices of Monterey Bay (also known as VOMB) recently! Mai is a local artist who recently introduced me to the work of Harrell Fletcher. I am reading his book, An Incomplete and Subjective List of Terms and Topics Related to Art and Social Practice Volume One.
OK, here’s some art:
“…I think our mistake has been thinking, in the 20th and 21st century, of the big cultural providers, like television or Hollywood, as culture. They’re not. They’re commercial entities which may occasionally or accidentally produce culture. But, they’re not culture. We are culture. Just ordinary people, what they do. You’ve only got to look at all sorts of areas around the world at present to see people taking things into their own hands. That seems to be the trend politically and I think it’s a very good one.”— Alan Moore. From the Anarchist Library’s “The Honest Alan Moore Interview.”
Etniko Bandito Infoshop does not trust the authoritarian right, nor the authoritarian left. But they will provide concerts, art shows, mutual aid, and free food in Pasig City, Metro Manila.
Artists Isamu Noguchi and Saburo Hasegawa in their own words (video, Asian Art Museum):
East Wind Books in Berkeley has closed—but maybe not forever.
Speaking of which, big thank you to Celine Parrenas Shimizu for sending me this lovely print from East Wind Books (sparking memories of a reading I did there years ago).
I saw an amusing video of Stromae and a friend on the making of “Alors on danse.” I didn’t know what the two on the video were saying, and thought of it as a cute dance song. Yet, watching the official video, and several others, I was struck by the sense of irony and social critique in it and in many of his other songs. Here he is on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert:
Rhiannon Giddens in northern Ireland singing Wayfaring Stranger. I admit it brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps I was thinking of my father, spending so much of his life at sea, and all the Filipino workers traveling far from home.
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