I cut up my collages into ever smaller pieces and arranged them like fragments of a mosaic, or tesserae. I believe it was Kurt Schwitters who said that collage was more than an art technique, it is a state of mind. It helps bypass linear narrative to arrive at a broader perspective that apprehends pattern, rhythms, and wave forms. The Stark juxtaposition of black and white of my tessarae evokes the ambiguous nature of our topsy-turvy, angst-ridden times when our common agreements about truth are constantly being undermined.
John Keats spoke of an art that embraced uncertainty, doubt, and ambiguity as a way to attain a higher Truth that is synonymous with that Platonic ideal, Beauty. Keats called this capacity to tolerate the unease that attends confrontation with the unknown, Negative Capability.
We would do well to exercise our negative capability as a way to negotiate the convoluted, duplicitous drama in which we are now foundering.
So in processing these collages–which, carried to the extreme, might reduce these fragments to total atomization–I search for the most essential kernel of Truth and Beauty at the heart of the Mueller Report. It is a way for me to deal with the maddness; and direct my own uncertainty, fears, and dread into creative channels.
This whale has been here for a week or so. The good folks of Fisheries and Wildlife have been monitoring it for signs of distress. It seems the local gray population has been undernourished, possibly due to climate change and it’s effect on availability of krill–on which these majestic creatures feed. The important work on my libretto has been sidetracked by several factors: this elderly gray, the immanent seal birthing season, and a group of clueless youth harrassing pregnant seals with a volley of rocks from a skiff. All this stress reaches a fevered pitch this time of year, when the birthing season of local species interfaces with Summer Yahoos bent on pleasure in its multifaceted allurements.
These developments will not distract from my most pressing task–the creation of the opera. Stay tuned for the next chapter in which Drumph drafts a brilliant memo–a work of awesome fictive power–explaining his justification for Comey’s firing.
The 20th annual gala for the Russian news program, Russia Today, is held in a massive media complex, attended by big shot oligarchs, Russian intelligence, and a legion of scoundrels bent on fortune, fame, and their fair share of Reality.
Announcer: Welcome to our celebration of Russia’s greatest contribution to the intellectual and spiritual heritage of western civilization: Fake reality. We have, as special guest, the most august and perrenial brand of all time, the soul of Rudolf Gulliani, in whose honor we present the following program–the Moscovite Butoh Trolls reenactment of the great troll revolt. This bleak episode of our nation’s history, so handily quashed by the superior messaging of our great leader, marked a turning point in the history of Russian culture. Well we remember that dark day when, incited by the American propaganda apparatus, the once faithful troll workers stupidly rose against the beneficent ministrations of the state and presumed to create their own reality. Such presumption was soon quelled in the final, virtual standoff between fact and fiction.
Sections of the Mueller Report overlap with Giotto’s allegorical figures of Greed, envy, etc. I cut up my second copy for the collage, and now I’m more confused than ever. How is this not treason? By what measure do we allow such malfeasance to go unpunished? Tune in for the dramatic denoument. Will I be able to create art from this shit show?
Act 1, scene 1–Video projection screen shows a newscaster.
Newscaster: We go now to Bedminster cemetery, old site of the Reality Theme Park and final resting place of the ancient Drumph line, where a meeting of the Executors of Fate are gathered for their annual rites.
The screen lifts to show a rocky, wooded landscape. In the center is a small stone building from which emerges the sounds of the chorus.
Chorus: We bearers of the sacred flame lift our praise to the blessed real and true.
Two cemetery groundskeepers enter and sit down for lunch under Malignia’s tomb.
Juan: As a boy I came to the Theme Park. I got lost in the Deep State Labyrinth, saw the radioactive Butoh Trolls, and rode Mister Moglievich’s Wild Ride. Those were the days.
Rosalita: We had crossed jungles, trod the scorched highways of Mexico, only to be caged by ICE–all for our share of reality.
Chorus: Caged by Ice and detained.
Juan: But then came the fall of Drumph’s brand, and now these weathered stones are fallen; haunted only by wraiths and the ambiguous birds of augury.
George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).