The Living Human Body As Art

Here on Earth there’s a sort of planetary economy that used to be based on work. Actual, physical work. You got on your knees and got your hands dirty and planted seeds and if you waited long enough, plants would grow. And if you waited for them to grow tall and proud, you could pick them, turn them into cloth, and weave them into a garment. Or if they were food, you could throw them into the back of a wagon, drive them to the village square and sell them for money.

And then radio came along, and then television. And people don’t want to turn on their set to listen to the rustle of grain or to see a loom clacking away, they want to see a face. They want to see people. In particular, beautiful people.

So began the living human body as art.

We began to dress and act as though we were in a movie or on TV, modeling ourselves after what we saw in the glowing glass, thinking it was a mirror. We thought we could imitate what we saw in the picture, unaware of what was going on just outside the edges of the screen: Massive lamps, heavy cameras, directors doing sign language, a hundred grips running with looped cords, and boom microphones were all posed just outside the line of sight.

We thought we could be like them.

Now people think their lives should run like a movie, that what they say should be gifable, and that the outfits they pick out should be worthy of history.

It takes a lot to make a movie; about one hour of work goes into one minute of film…and that’s for a small indie project. The question is, are you really willing to put that much work into your life? (Apart from the fact that that would be mathematically impossible.)

The living body as art is a decontextualization of life. The body you see on screen, wind-blown hair just so, outfit just so, quips and quotes just so, exists in a certain context. A context outside reality. Redefining beauty standards doesn’t mean you should be fat or just not take care of yourself. It means you should think about what a healthy, happy person looks like in the context of life. Dirty, everyday, mundane, natural life with nobody filming or feeding you lines.


The Three Year Vacation

Victoria Baths via Wikimedia, by GBPhoto27

I feel as though I’m walking into a large, empty foyer with a lantern, and that what I write here will echo blankly across the walls, bouncing back at me to confirm what I already feel: that nobody’s left here to listen to my timid greeting. Which is to be expected; it’s been two and a half years.

I feel as though I am walking into a mansion where fabulous parties once took place and some of the best conversations happened and some of the best meals were served and some of the best guests attended.

It’s been a three year hiatus, I think to myself as I turn on the old gas stove and start looking through the cupboards for canned foods. I see a loaf of bread so covered in mold the only recognizable feature is its shape, and next to that there’s a jar of peanut butter that was left open and was so chemical-ridden it has somehow resisted decomposition. As I start to heat up some Campbell’s soup, I warm my hands over the stove top, listening to the crack of expanding metal, and glance at the photographs hanging on the walls of the guests who used to attend those parties, and realize how much I miss the constant exchange of ideas and experiences.

Taking my warm cup of soup I dampen a washcloth, then move to the kitchen table and wipe off three years’ worth of dust. The last time I sat here thinking up stuff to write was in 2013, June, when I wrote about Introverts and Extroverts. That was a long time ago. I find, though, that there’s still a notebook here, with a pen sitting there next to it wrapped in a cobweb. I brush it off, click it open, and start writing a list of things that have happened between then and now.

Ran a restaurant. Went to China. Finished college.

For a year, I worked at a bank. Then I was an accountant at a seafood distribution company. Then I did archival work at a TV station. Now I’ve been a receptionist at different places, on and off since before Christmas.

Grew a mustache. Moved away from home. Lost most of my plants to weather. Lost dear friends. Made new ones. Learned a language. Got cultured and became disillusioned with it at the same time.

I started a couple new blogs, but it just hasn’t been the same. Frankly, I miss all of you, and I miss the freedom of expression I had on this particularly themeless blog, this particular House of Happy which is now whirring as the boiler in the basement kicks on. I turn on lights in the different rooms and find half-read books on sofas, unwashed coffee cups on side tables, sheet music still open at the piano, the paper yellowed with age and the notes all but faded away.

Gosh, I’ve missed this place.

What is the Price of Barefoot?

A picture of me at the beginning of my Monday hike would show me in a bright green Aéropostale shirt, cheap brown plaid shorts, my bad (bad…bad as in good) bare feet, and a nothing-can-take-this-one-down! sort of expression. Well, by the end of the hike, that picture would be pretty much the same, except for two things…I’d have a pair of sunglasses perched atop my overgrown head (Maybe I need a haircut…but maybe not?), and I’d have sandals on.

First, the sunglasses.

Okay, okay, okay, so I found this really cool pair of sunglasses just off the trail that I found when I stepped outta the hot sun to—

(Together!) SLOW DOWN, JP!!!

Sheesh, y’all can’t untwist my run-on sentence? Well were you expecting, what do you think I am, a writer?

Okay. So, it was like the hottest day of the week, and I stepped off the trail to find some shade. Looking down, I saw among the short, withering vegetation, a pair of totally 90’s wraparound sunglasses hiding in the grass. Normally, I’m not even a sunglasses person, for design and functional reasons.

Fooey on that.

These glasses were EXTRA special! So, I sacked my regular glasses, just for the sheer pleasure of looking like one of the cool kids from Wishbone.

Ok, so now the shades story is out of the way…

Sigh. Truth be told, my bad bare feet weren’t that “bad,” and…Okay, I stepped on a rusty nail and spent the night in the ER getting a tetanus shot.

That’s the short story.

The long story is, while waiting æons for the doctor to show up and bawl me out about walking barefoot, (I tried to avoid it, I tried to explain that there’s a barefoot movement…Yes, I was on a mountain without shoes…No, you’re right, I’m not a Native American, sir…yes, those other scars are from running through thorns last Saturday…) I utilized the ample time that they gave me (and a nice pen) to daydream…all over that paper that they put on the ER bed.

Rusty nail: 1. Cabit: 1. Hospital boredom: 0.

Makes Your Head Spin 2

This is post 4 about my recent trip to New York City. For the rest of this series, you can read post 1, post 2, and post 3 first.

Yesterday, I told y’all about how the buildings in the Big Apple are BIG, how you have to bend over backwards and do a headstand to look up at them, and how the magnitude of it all was enough to make your head spin…wrapping up the whole thing with a very cute “No place like home” conclusion.

Today, I’m going to share with you another head-messing moment I found in New York City.

Anybody been to the Grand Hyatt recently? If you have, you’ll know what I’m talking about, so don’t spoil it for everyone else and save your comments for the end of the lecture. If you haven’t, let me explain—When you walk into the hotel from East 42nd, you will find yourself staring up at what looks very much like a megalithic artifact from a Sci-Fi film. And it looks like this.

Okay, so do you see it? Pretty creepy, huh? Not what you were expecting, huh? If I may, I have to say, first of all, an enormous marble head staring at you as you walk into a hotel it pretty scary just like it lies. Like was it supposed to be a welcome? 😀 The statue was simply a woman’s head carved forever into a block of stone. Not exactly bearing the mystery of the Mona Lisa, or the agony of The Scream, or the anything of anything. It’s kind of plain and straight-forward.

“Ok, JP, so…what’s so head-spinning about this? I’ve seen hundreds of giant stone heads.”

First off, let me say, if you’ve seen hundreds of these, I’d really like to know where you’re hanging out. Wait, no—on second though, I don’t.

The real head-twisting part is that those pictures you see above, I edited. Yes, I fixed the proportions. In reality, it looked like this.


So, yeah, she’s pretty creepy! I have no idea whose idea it was to stretch her poor head out vertically to 200%. But standing there, in 3D, right there in front of the spooky stone stare, it literally threw my eyes out of whack. My brain was trying to distort the rest of the room into proportion, trying to make this stretched out head work, trying to make some sense of it all.

My poor, poor mind.

Guy Billout

In hopes of expanding your artistic palate…

The artist here is Guy Billout, definitely one of my favorites. His art is great, and his straight lines remind me of Tintin, by Hergé—quirky but very sensible at the same time.

His artwork is so creative…so unlike what one usually sees. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Clean cut lines, sarcastic ideas, brilliant fading skies.

This is the way I feel about most things.

Music, for one. I’m a big fan of Owl City, and I like Fireflies (who doesn’t?), Umbrella Beach, and Alligator Sky. Meteor Shower wins points in my book, too. But I noticed that a lot of Adam’s songs sound very similar—almost like the same song with different lyrics. What happened, Owl City? Was it your label, or was it just a lack of creativity? Perhaps I’m just a snob.

Fashion tires me as well. I see the same stuff over and over, and a lot of the time, it’s not even good. There are some nice styles, though. Converse, yes. Ray-ban, yes. Hoodies, timeless. Striped pants, hard to find but yes. But there are the other fashions that are like those “-that wouldn’t die” horror movies. Movie-star sunglasses that make girls look like aliens. Skinny jeans that can’t be good for your circulation. V-neck tee shirts. Halter-tops. And those flopsy, mopsy hairdos that make girls look like boys and boys look like girls.

Lastly—and because all roads lead to Rome—also got my issues with books. I get tired of the same stuff over and over again, to the point where I was at the library recently and it sincerely frustrated me as I read the overview of a fantasy novel. Fairies (or Faeries, or Farees, or Phå’á®êäz, or whichever “creative” way you want to spell it), portals to other worlds, twelve-year-old twins, and the end of the book where the guy gets the girl, gets a little wearying.

But books that offer a fresh view on things, fresh characters, fresh worlds…now, now we’re talking.

A breath of fresh air is more of a relief if you’ve been breathing the stale variety for a while.

All pictures copyright Guy Billout. No stealing. 🙂


Random Thoughts on Screaming & Eyes.

Today, seventeen years ago, Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream,” was finally recovered after a three-month absence. Says

On May 7, 1994, Norway’s most famous painting, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, was recovered almost three months after it was stolen from a museum in Oslo. The fragile painting was recovered undamaged at a hotel in Asgardstrand, about 40 miles south of Oslo, police said.

And the note that the robbers left behind? “Thousand thanks for the bad security!”

Enger was sentenced this time to six-and-a-half-years in prison. He escaped while on a field trip in 1999, and was captured 12 days later in a blond wig and dark sunglasses trying to buy a train ticket to Copenhagen.

This part really intrigued me. People still wear disguises? To disguise myself, I might wear a wig & a huge pair of movie star sunglasses as well. After all, I once learned that a face-recognizing camera caught people by judging their eyes. In a TV series about the face—narrated by John Cleese—he preformed an experiment, trying to disguise himself from a facial-recognition camera. How did he finally get away with it? He wore sunglasses.

The eyes are, undoubtedly, beautiful inventions. (Don’t look at me sideways–God did invent them!) Why is it that animals know to look into our eyes? How to people “Feel eyes” on them? Are the eyes really the windows to the soul? Can someone really “see it in your eyes,” and is that why people who are ashamed/nervous refuse to look into your eyes? Looking into somebody’s eyes too long can be uncomfortable…this is something that I’ve learned to conquer over the years. It can be awkward to stare into somebody’s eyes too long.

I suppose it’s even more awkward when you’ve done something like stolen a national painting…

What Do You Do With YOUR Nutella? Eat It? Bosh!

So…What do you do with your Nutella?

Do you spread it on toast?


Edges on the picture: I spread this around on a plate, so my “Canvas” was round. That’s the ceiling. 🙂

“What’s this? Color and contrast controls? Ooh! Look what it does!”

My apologies for being absent so long, folks. You know how it is. 🙂 (And yet I’ve found time to spread a glob of Nutella around a porcelain plate…go fig)