The Eagle & The Weasel

I'd prefer not to

Month: March, 2012

10,000 Faces I’ve Never Seen

My dad at the opening of one of his shows, sometime in the 70s. He's the one on the left.

A few years ago I made this radio piece with my dad, who’s an abstract painter. After not painting for about ten years, my dad went into a sudden period of extreme productivity which he’s continued to this day. We’d never really talked about “art” together – not the content, but the idea of making it. It was always just something he did, and I did, and that was that. So one day in January I brought a microphone to his studio and asked him what it was all about. A lot of what he says relates to things I’ve written before and thought about regarding process, creating stuff, and speedy existential crises, so I thought I’d share it here.

Well and Proper and Obedient and Pure

In case you’re wondering, the title of this blog comes from an essay by Annie Dillard called Living Like Weasels. It should of course be read in its entirety, but here are a couple passages:

And once, says Ernest Thompson Seton–once, a man shot an eagle out of the sky. He examined the eagle and found the dry skull of a weasel fixed by the jaws to his throat. The supposition is that the eagle had pounced on the weasel and the weasel swiveled and bit as instinct taught him, tooth to neck, and nearly won.

[…]

I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you’re going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.

If you know me IRL and have ever wondered about my tattoo, this is as close to an explanation as I can get. I’ve considered sending a picture of it to Annie Dillard, but she would probably think it was weird.

tattoo and hyperextended elbow

On Coincidence

Many years ago a friend of mine bought a plant. Because it was the 90s and things were whimsical, she named it Francois. Not that long after, she met someone, a fellow artist, who was also named Francois. Because it was the 90s and things were whimsical, they agreed to send art to each other in the mail, even though they lived in the same city. When the first envelope arrived from Francois, my friend saw his last name for the first time. It was Laplante.

At this point the obvious next line is “and they are still one of the happiest couples I know.” But my friend didn’t really like the guy so much. After struggling with what seemed like her destiny for a while, she said Fuck it. Some signs are big enough that you can ignore them.