A Quiet Word on the 4th of July

Social Distancing

. . . a single stroke of paint, backed by work and a mind that understood its potency and implications, could restore to man the freedom lost in twenty centuries of apology and devices for subjugation.

Clyfford Still

After an hour of reading news and social media posts concerning our Fourth of July and the event last night at Mount Rushmore, I decided to lay all that aside and read for my own edification. While reading a Robert Motherwell biography, I came across the above words from Abstract Expressionist painter Clyfford Still, one who gets little attention because he exhibited very little and wrote even less during his lifetime. Now, throughout the four decades following his life, we are uncovering much value from his work and words.

. . . a single stroke of paint, backed by work and a mind that understood its potency and implications, could restore to man the freedom lost in twenty centuries of apology and devices for subjugation.

I post them again, just in case the reader flew over them too quickly the first time, and I hope what I add enhances rather than diminishes . . .

Standing in pulpits for eleven years, I delivered thousands of words, many of which I would no doubt take back today, if only I could.

Standing in classrooms and lecture halls for thirty-four years, I delivered millions of words, many of which I would no doubt take back today, if only I could.

I meant well, truy wishing to improve lives by what I offered. And sometimes I did, no doubt. But today I think of all the words that were empty, all the words poorly chosen, and even worse, those that were destructive. If all public speakers and social media posters could possibly pause and consider the power packed behind their words, perhaps they would choose more judiciously, as I wish I would have.

I still think. I still write. And I still question. And at this age I am more aware that odds make it easier to be wrong than right, considering the complications of human experience. On this calendar day, if just some people would reconsider their public utterances, there is hope that life in this country could improve.

. . . a single stroke of paint, backed by work and a mind that understood its potency and implications, could restore to man the freedom lost in twenty centuries of apology and devices for subjugation.

As for making art, this quote shook me the most. “A single stroke of paint” . . . if ever I could harness the power of a good thought, saddle it with paint, and then release that pair into this world, then I would believe I have accomplished something worthy.

Thanks for reading. I hope this blog post doesn’t exude depression, because I don’t feel depressed in the least. But I do feel very sobered by what I read this morning. And I intend to do better, be better because of it.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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4 Responses to “A Quiet Word on the 4th of July”

  1. Clarry Hubbard Says:

    I enjoyed reading your post on this birthday of our country. Public utterances. The noise from it all. These days, I find myself, perhaps too much, heading to the woods with my dogs, seeking solitude. I worked most of the week on an essay focusing on my similarities to trees. Trees. I rewrote some sentences many times, trying to capture words in such a way that a reader could see a mental picture of what i was thinking, a cerebral painting maybe. A single stroke of paint. That is something to work toward. I once stood in front of the Mona Lisa, contemplating the smile. I did so for quite awhile. Then I noticed many people doing the same thing, and then I for quite awhile concentrated on them contemplating the smile.That is a lot of thinking going on about why a woman smiled a certain way or why the painter saw it that way. In the years since, I have often thought about that time in front of the Mona Lisa. And all the possibilities.

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for reading and posting, Clarry. I would love to read your essay on trees. I’ve been moved repeatedly at the way Thoreau and Muir could write about nature–I never seemed to have that literary gift, and I suppose I will second-guess the way I render trees and foliage in watercolor the rest of my life. But yes, the public discourse . . . like raw sewage it seems to cover this American Zeitgeist. I still believe that the majority of our citizens are better than that and could be more sensitive when posting the public words. I envy your access to the woods with my living in the heart of endless suburbs (Fort Worth/Arlington/Dallas–an uninterrupted spread of buildings and streets). In a few days we will leave for west Texas and I’ll have immediate access to the canyons I love out there. Where can I read your writings? Do you have a blog?

      Like

  2. David Slight Says:

    Thanks, Dave… the best I’ve read in a while. I’ll pass this one on to those of whom I believe need to read it and those who appreciate your discourse on the power of our patronization of both thought and word!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Thanks, Dave. I’ve been on the road awhile and just now uncovered this response. I’m thrilled if I write something good enough to pass along. Thanks always for reading.

      Like

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