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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Zen and the Art of Modern Art

For a while I worked as an modern artist and I would like to tell you now about what I felt was my greatest achievement in that field. Ever since Marcel Duchamp signed that toilet seat a large theme of modern art has been considering what is art. So we had people submitting bricks, old food, elephant dung and even mathematical instructions as artwork. So I Cornealius Drake decided to take this to its logical conclusion. I created a piece of art that had no physical element to it, it was nothing. I called it Zen and the Art of Modern Art and set about getting it exhibited in a local gallery.
I made a big show of building up expectations for my master piece. I put a curtain in front of area where it was to be displayed but told no one what was behind it. Only that behind the curtain was my piece and that it would revolutionise the art world, it would change the way people perceived existence forever.

When it came to the grand unveiling of my master piece I had managed to gather quite a crowd of art students and critics(who else goes to exhibitions?) eager to see how I would live up to my earlier boasts.
“Welcome people.” I said “I Cornealius Drake now present to you my newest masterpiece, Zen and the Art of Modern Art.”
Slowly I pulled back the curtain, the crowed gasped with surprise as behind the curtain there was Nothing. Just the wall of the room. There was silence. Eventually someone from the crowd asked. “But where is it? Where is the piece?”
“Where is not the piece.” I replied.
Then someone else asked “What is the piece?”
“What is not the piece.” I replied.
“Is there actually a piece?” someone else asked.
“Yes,” I replied “it is both everywhere and nowhere, but that which is, is not the piece.”
There were murmurings from the crowd as they attempted to comprehend this. They stared at the empty space trying to unearth its secrets. One art student brought out her sketchbook and tried to sketch a copy of it. I offered people the opportunity to buy a share of the piece for £10 and upon handing over the money I would say “The piece is yours, piece be with you.”

My piece was declared a huge success, the art world lapped it up. I was an overnight sensation. Photographs of my piece appeared on the covers of all the top arts journals. Eventually the Tate modern bought my piece out right for £10 million. The delivery man turned up at my house one morning to collect the piece.
“Alright,” he said “I am here to pick up the piece, where is it?”
“Where is not it.” I replied
“What?” he said
“What is not it.” I replied
He stared at me.
“That which is, is not the piece,” I added
After much baffling conversation he eventually understood and got back into his van to take the piece back to the Tate Modern. But then tragedy struck. an armed gang had been tipped off that this multi million pound artwork was being transported to the Tate and ambushed the driver as he drove across London.
The gang disabled the van and broke open the back to find, nothing. The leader of the gang went to the driver and held the gun against his forehead.
“Look mate,” the gang leader said “we know you’ve got a priceless artwork in this van and unless you want your fucking head blown in I suggest you tell me where the fuck it is.”
“Where the fuck is it not.” Replied the driver.
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“What the fuck am I not talking about.” Replied the driver.
BANG!
The gang leader shot the driver in the leg.
“You best not fucking play around with me, you Cunt cause ill fucking kill you, now tell me where it is.”
“Where is it not?” Replied the driver between sobs of pain.
BANG!
Again the gang leader shot him, this time in the other leg.
“Was that supposed to be some sort of joke you bastard, you laughing now?” said the gang leader.
“Look please don’t shoot me again, im trying to convey to you the piece.”
“What?”
“Try to understand, The piece is both everywhere and nowhere, that which is, is not BANG!
Now the gang leader shot the driver in the shoulder.
“Please don’t kill me, try to understand what im saying. What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
“What?”
“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?”
“What are you talking about?
“What did your face look like before your grandparents were born.”
“Why?”
“Please the piece is a metaphysical construct. A challenge to conventional views of Art and existence, based around idea of Zen and concepts of being and nothingness.
“Don’t insult my fucking intelligence.”
BANG!
This time the driver was shot in the head and after a few moments he died.
The gang fled and the police arrived soon after. They combed the crime scene for clues but as hard they tried they could not retrieve the piece and it was assumed the gang had made off with it. Over the next few years the police managed to track down the gang and bring them in for questioning.
“Where is the piece?” asked the lead investigator to the gang leader.
“Where is not the piece,” replied the gang leader
“Are you trying to be smart?”

The piece was unfortunately never recovered and due to complex legal issues the Tate Modern was able to retract its payment to me based on the fact the they had never actually received the piece. I tried in vain to explain to the judge that the piece was both everywhere and nowhere and so it was impossible for them not to have received the piece but he had me thrown out of the court.

I tried to reproduce the piece by my reproduction was dismissed as an inferior rip off and I was laughed out of the art world, never to return......

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Joe

I will here take a few moments to introduce Joe to you. He is for want of a better word my friend. To look at he is a hideous specimen. Only 5 foot tall his face is covered in all manner of scars and warts from a combination of childhood abuse(his father used to use him as a dart board, the big wart is worth 50) and his ineptness with kitchen utensils. He lost 2 of the fingers on his left hand in a bizarre chop sticks accident. Last month I cut off 2 of the fingers on his right hand because I found the lack of symmetry so very irritating.

I can still remember the first time we met, it was in the music room of the college we both attended. As I entered that room he scampered over to me, head bowed, and muttered some kind of syllable which I assumed to be hello. I considered simply ignoring the gimp but something made me reply.

“Hello, I am Cornealius Drake” I proclaimed.

In response he muttered something else inaudible, but after some gesturing on his part(what is it Lassie, is something wrong boy?) it became apparent that he wished to show me something. First he moved over to a nearby violin and proceeded to play a rendition of Bach 1st violin sonata, it was stunning. The moment that finished without pause he moved over to the guitar and tremolo picked his way through a perfect Spanish folk song. Then again not hesitating he moved to the piano and went straight into a lightning speed version of rachmaninov’s 3rd piano concerto. Again I was astounded never before had I heard the piece played so fast yet so accurately and with such emotion. With a trill he finished and turned towards me. He tried to look at my face to gauge my reaction but was to nervous to look at my eyes and so stared at my chest.

I started clapping. Loud slow claps that echoed through the music room. “Astounding” I said between claps, “simply astounding.” At this he met my gaze and started to smile, then I continued. “It astounds me that you can be so desperate to be liked that you put that much effort into learning to play. You must be a deeply pathetic person. It astounds me that you thought that being as ugly and social maladjusted as you are you could somehow redeem that by playing music. That this would somehow cause people to overlook your hideousness. What you thought if you played me a nice enough song I would became your friend?” At this I burst out laughing. He looked down at his feet. “Simply astounding. Thank you thing, what ever your name is, You have broadened my horizons never before have I seen a pathetic specimen of the human race sink quite so low.” At this point I expected him to rush out of the room, in tears I hoped. But he didn’t move, he sat there staring down. “What, will you not leave? Or do you intend to remain here and absorb more of my insults.” He shuffled on the spot. It was then that I realised that for a person as hideous as this it was unlikely any one ever said even a word to him. My verbal assault was probably the most human contact he had had in years. In my attempt to hurt him I had inadvertently caused the first human connection he had ever felt.

Quickly I exited the music room, horrified at how I had helped this vile thing. But as I feared he followed me out. He continued to follow me every time I came to the college. With this thing in my tow it became impossible for me to succeeded in the other friendship I had started to pursue at the college, which would surly have otherwise been very strong as I am a handsome witty charming intelligent person and when I want someone to like me I have the strength of character to ensnare them. Also the women I had started to make acquaintance with now also avoided me because of this thing, and again I am 100% certain that were the thing not following me I would have succeeded in fucking every women that I please, as I am a handsome witty charming intelligent person and when I want a women to sleep with me I have the magnetism to ensnare them.

I tried desperately to be rid of the thing, I ran from him, hurled abuse at him, beat him first with my fists and then with an iron bar. But still on coming out of the coma he returned to me with anew vigour. Eventually I gave in. I accepted his pursuit of me and ceased fighting. I made an agreement with him that he could be in my presence if he made an effort to conceal his face and after about 2 years of this I even let him tell me his name “Joe”. After another few years I was even kind enough to let him remain in my presence without hiding his face, so long as no one else was around.

I found in many situations he was useful to me, I could steel from shops safe in the knowledge that he would always take the fall for me. I could concoct schemes in which I had an accomplice I could rely on. He was Watson to my Holmes, robin to my batman, Himmler to my Hitler. We were a classic duo. Of course after the loss of the 2 fingers he had to give up the piano and now I’ve cut off the other 2 he cant play the violin or guitar either. But as you may already have guessed given his disgusting appearance and complete lack of social skills he now works in IT. A place where his very inability to construct coherent sentences allows him to charge clients twice as much. I spent last night with Joe picking up chicks at the aids patient ward.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Cash back

Last week I attended an alcoholics anonymous meeting where I witnessed a scene that I feel is worth repeating. A somewhat elderly man was speaking. He had the red nose of a hard drinker, dirty scuffed jeans and a red woollen top that looked like it hadn’t seen a wash this side of the Kennedy assignation. His accent was hard to place, at first I thought it to be an usual Scottish dialect but the more I listened the more it started to take on a south African twang. He informed the group that his name was John and surprise, surprise he was an alcoholic. He had been sober for fully 13 days. The group leader, his name was Reginald Cumber asked John “What is the worst thing you have ever done because of your alcoholism.”

Before he replied John took a long pause and looked down at his feet, perhaps to inspect his toes through the holes in his shoes. It seemed he might remain like that until the end of the meeting but after an interminable wait he looked up and began.
“I guess ill have to start right at the beginning,” he said “I was living abroad at the time, in Thailand, this was many years ago. I had a house with my wife and daughter, she was 4, and I loved them both very much. But I was drinking. I was drinking hard, I was out of control. Drinking everything I could get my hands on. And well, One night I was penniless and desperate for a drink. So I, I sold my wife and daughter to a local mafia boss.” Everyone stared, the group leader was about to say something when John signalled that he wished to continue.

“Well see then 10 years later they came back to me. My daughter was now grown and my wife horribly scared across the face. They had a look in there eyes of the most unspeakable horror, a blackness, impenetrable. They had lived through hell as slaves for 10 years all because of me. I cant even imagine the pain I must have caused them. The guilt its still terrible, the torment of it all. But still after all I had done to them, even after how unforgivably I had wronged them. Still they had returned to me. Still there was love between us… But then I got drunk and sold them again!” The group looked on horrified. John simply stared into nothing. Then a faint smile flickered across his lips and he said “Cash back” and then burst out laughing, or it might have been crying, it was hard to tell. He then sunk to his knees and put his head in his hands and Sobbed. This lasted for a for several minutes as the members of the group looked to each other unsure of what to do. But eventually Reginald, the group leader, gathered himself enough to speak “John I am so sorry, that is the worst thing I have ever heard of.”
“Oh no,” replied John, suddenly alert “No, that’s not the worst thing I ever did. The worst thing I ever did was when they got back again 12 years after that.”