Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thoughts Amidst the Show

December 1, 2018

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My Booth on the Ground Floor (formerly a bowling alley!)

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Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm Street, Dallas

The crystal sphere of thought is as concentrical as the geological structure of the globe. As our soils and rocks lie in strata, concentric strata, so do all men’s thinkings run laterally, never vertically. Here comes by a great inquisitor with auger and plumb-line, and will bore an Artesian well through our conventions and theories, and pierce to the core of things. But as soon as he probes the crust, behold gimlet, plumb-line, and philosopher take a lateral direction in spite of all resistance, as if some strong wind took everything off its feet, and if you come month after month to see what progress our reformer has made,–not an inch has he pierced,–you still find him with new words in the old place, floating about in new parts of the same old vein or crust. The new book says, ‘I will give you the key to nature,’ and we expect to go like a thunderbolt to the centre. But the thunder is a surface phenomenon, makes a skin-deep cut, and so does the sage. The wedge turns out to be a rocket. Thus a man lasts but a very little while, for his monomania becomes insupportably tedious in a few months. It is so with every book and person: and yet–and yet–we do not take up a new book, or meet a new man without a pulse-beat of expectation. And this invincible hope of a more adequate interpreter is the sure prediction of his advent.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Method of Nature”

Wow. Just wow! I had a few moments to read this morning before leaving for Dallas for the second day of our 40th annual Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Art Show at the Sons of Hermann Hall. Last night was such a special time, as this time of the year in this place always is. I feel that throughout this day, I’ll be thinking on these remarkable words of Emerson that have truly rocked my thought-world this morning.

Wish I had time to write more, but I have to dash. Thanks for reading.

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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Voyage Dallas Just Published Me

November 28, 2018

Below, I have posted the link to an interview just published on Voyage Dallas.

http://voyagedallas.com/interview/today-wed-like-introduce-david-tripp/

 

Morning Coffee with Dave, Ezra Pound, and a Swirling Fog of Tasks

November 28, 2018

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Genius… is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one.
Ezra Pound

Clouds of thoughts thicker than swarms of mosquitoes greeted my waking moments this morning. Having now showered, dressed, made coffee, finished breakfast and taken a seat at my favorite writing desk, I assumed the clouds would have dispersed, or at least thinned by now. Not to be. Two large queues of college work wait for grading, and my self-imposed deadline says “Get that done today” (I also sent a promised email to all students last evening). The Brodnax and Friends 40th Annual Christmas Show opens at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas Friday evening and I have devoted this entire day to packaging my latest inventory. Tomorrow I load the Jeep and leave for my gallery in Palestine to gather the rest of my freight for a Friday morning load-in and set up. A stack of 100 stamped greeting cards lies at my elbow. A Mail Chimp invitation still needs to be composed and emailed out to the rest of my online friends who have registered for updates. I am three-quarters finished with reading  Hiking with Nietzsche and yesterday I picked up a copy of Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf to read for the second time in about thirty years. No matter how busy my day, I force myself to read for awhile in the morning to get my mind “centered” somewhat. And there is still this Ezra Pound 5 x 7″ collage that I haven’t quite decided whether or not is finished or needs further attention.

So, if Ezra Pound’s quote above is to be taken seriously, then I am a genius. Since I have my last Logic class of the semester tomorrow morning, I supposed it is also appropriate to  begin thinking in terms of propositional logic and convert “If Ezra pound is accurate, then I am a genius” to symbolic form:

E ⸧ G

Now, having done that, I am going to finish my coffee, read awhile, then attack this fog of tasks that will not go away.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Sifting through the Layers

November 26, 2018

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Beginning an Ezra Pound Collage

Pound turned a jumble of good and bad passages into a poem.

Helen Gardner, speaking of Ezra Pound’s editing of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

Monday morning, 27 degrees and dark, has found me unable to focus on preparations for tomorrow’s class, so I decided to go to a coffee house and set up my “office” for awhile.  After a couple of days reading 127 pages of Hiking with Nietzsche (and enjoying it profoundly), I decided this morning to graze from some other books. Returning to Howard Gardner’s Creating Minds, I resumed the chapter on T. S. Eliot and found some fascinating details concerning his lost manuscript to The Waste Land, having been rediscovered in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. It was Ezra Pound who convinced him to cut the thousand-line draft to about half its size. Helen Gardner uttered the immortal words posted above.

After reading awhile, I was seized with the impulse to begin a collage of Ezra Pound, and immediately pushed aside my books and pulled my file of collage scrap papers from the carry-on bag. Getting lost in the drawing of Pound’s portrait and then pasting a text from my Greek New Testament on one side, and then tearing papers and pushing them around the 5 x 7″ composition, my imagination began trekking over the landscape of thoughts and images from years gone by. I stopped the collage, put it away, and drew out my journal to catch the fleeting thoughts quickly before they had a chance to evaporate.

I welcome moments like this. Visitations. In the midst of a busy schedule, a door unexpectedly swings open, inviting me to enter a spacious chamber of memories and sit for awhile with a cup of coffee and listen to them. This is the Proustian moment that cannot be summoned. All we can do is adjust our sails to catch the breeze of the muse when it stirs, and let it take us to another place. The occasion may last only a few minutes or endure for a few hours. But it is always a gift, gladly received.

This morning I was taken back to days of study at the seminary (the late seventies and early eighties). I also lingered in classrooms and lecture halls at University of North Texas and Texas Christian University, and saw in my mind’s eye the study carrel on the top floor of Texas Wesleyan University where I spent winter evenings reading and occasionally gazing out the window into the darkness, fixing my eyes on lovely Christmas lights outlining homes in neighboring residential areas. Thoughts of Christmas seasons past warmed me in these moments as well.

At this stage of my life, I am grateful for good thoughts, good memories, as I sift through the layers of past chapters in my life that now come to the present and invite a fresh visitation and interpretation. People whom I have known and loved reach out to me, and I touch them again with my memories and thoughts of profound gratitude.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to excavate.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Morning Coffee at Dave’s Diner

November 24, 2018

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Dave’s Diner, High Ridge, Missouri

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Completed another Kerouac Collage

Most men, the herd, have never tasted solitude.

Hermann Hesse, Zarathustra’s Return

Thanksgiving with my parents was not as long as I would have liked, but I give thanks for what we shared this year. The day after the Great Feast, we were greeted with rain and darkness, but my Dad, who turned 90 this month, was in the mood to travel into downtown St. Louis, so we went to the Left Bank book store and did a swan dive into the enormous collection inside this independent book store.

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Bronze Bust of William Burroughs

American Beat writer William Burroughs grew up a few blocks from here, at 4664 Pershing Avenue. I don’t think I’ve ever entered this store without pausing before his bust and admiring its overall look. Inside I always find the latest published monographs that I will never find inside a national-chain bookstore such as Barnes & Noble. This time I picked up Hiking with Nietzsche, published just this year, and after two chapters, am delighted with the purchase.

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Breakfast with Dad has been a rare treasure early this morning. I’m glad we got to be together again before I have to hit the road. By the time you read this, I expect to be halfway across Missouri, On the Road again.

Thanks for reading.

Thanksgiving Gladness

November 22, 2018

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A New Kerouac Collage

Kerouac saw On the Road as a story of America, and the split in his own character–between his wanderlust and his desire to “work and make your life” . . .

John Leland, Why Kerouac Matters

The highway rolled out as an endless manuscript and the American landscape punctuated it with chapters and illustrations. For days now, I have found delight filling my journal with observations from roadside parks, truck stops, cafes and gas stations. All of this came together in collage fashion in my mind’s eye, and the ideas of William Burroughs and his “cut-ups” were refreshed. All of us cut up the world differently with our visions and our thoughts.

Thanksgiving offers a warm, welcome embrace after countless hours and days on the road in recent weeks. I have enjoyed my lifestyle, balancing college responsibilities with gallery, studio work and personal life. But I never dreamed of rolling out so much time on the road. One of the better results of this has been a return to the writings and life story of Jack Kerouac, and a fresh look at the work of the other Beat writers. The romance of the American highway and landscape has remained with me throughout my life, but not until this past year have I had opportunity to experience it fully.

From time to time, I have reached into my bag of scraps to explore collage techniques. Recently, it has been difficult doing plein air watercolor on the road, and the temperatures have been quite frigid as well. Collage-making has been a nice change of pace for me.

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My Messy Work Area

I am enjoying a second read of Why Kerouac Matters, particularly the dualism of his character, as he vacillated between his road odysseys and the desire to build something permanent with his life. I have known that tension for years, but am living more contently with it in recent days. I am old enough to know that I cannot accomplish all I wish to accomplish. Perhaps coming to terms with that reality has made things better for me. At any rate, I am enjoying the serenity now of the holidays, and am spending much of this leisure time playing solitaire at the kitchen table. I occasionally lay aside the deck of cards to read another chapter from my book, or scribble out a few more pages in my journal, or build another collage, or chip away at this evolving blog entry.

Thanks for reading. I wish you the happiest of Thanksgiving.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with thoughts concerning The Word

November 15, 2018

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Excellent Morning Poring over Pages from Karl Barth

. . . as the gaps between my digital tasks disappeared, so did the opportunities for depth.

William Powers, Hamlet’s Blackberry

Sometimes, when ideas are not clicking at home, I load the Jeep and drive away, looking for a friendly environment for reading and writing. Yesterday, I had an engagement to meet my dear friends in Keller, Texas at noon, so I decided to get there two hours early so I could have some time and space to reflect and write.  The activities and chores and responsibilities at home cluttered my morning, and I could not stop to reflect.

I force my mind to become self-absorbed and not let outside things distract it. There can be absolute bedlam without so long as there is no commotion within.

Seneca, On Noise

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

When I force myself to write, even when I feel that I am writing junk, I often find that good ideas will eventually emerge. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the water pump initially brings up the dirty water before the clean. I find that true in writing; I often have to flush the junk from my mind to cleanse it and hope for epiphany.

As I wrote, I returned to an idea I broached recently on the blog that often consumes my thinking–the power of the genuine Word. My mind reached back to the writings of Karl Barth, a Swiss theologian whom I studied during seminary years, in fact I took a one-year seminar on his work during my Ph.D. studies. Returning home, I pulled the first two volumes of his Church Dogmatics from my shelf, and opened them to texts I had annotated back in 1983.

The distinction between word and act is that mere word is the mere self-expression of a person, while act is the resultant relative alteration in the world around. Mere word is passive, act is an active participation in history. But this kind of distinction does not apply to the Word of God. As mere Word it is act.

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Volume 1, The Doctrine of the Word of God, Part 1

Studying the biblical writings, I recall that the creation of the world is described as a series of God’s spoken words: he spoke the world into existence. He spoke, and it was so. I recall also the Isaiah passage where God says his word will not return void. In the prophetic works, when the words are translated “the word of the LORD came”, a better rendering of the Hebrew is “the word of the LORD happened.” In the Semitic mind, it seems that the word was an event, not just a noise articulated or a mark on the parchment.

Why am I thinking of this? Because our culture is polluted with words that either mean little to nothing, or even worse, are used as weapons to wreak havoc on life. I shudder when I think of a child hearing words directed at him or her that say: “You will never amount to anything,” or “you are weak,” or “you lack intelligence.” Words contain the power to effect change. Words are actions, a most powerful resource.

I am writing a blog. Some people actually read these words. And often I second-guess whether I have made a contribution, or if my writing has any effect on a reader at all.

–What are you reading Hamlet?

–Words, words, words.

Our culture is media-driven and digitally-driven. That translates into billions of words pouring into our consciousness. We cannot stop the verbal deluge, but we can find a way to sift the mud from the pure, the hate from the love, the excess from the essential. And I will endeavor to write blogs that have value; I don’t want to waste readers’ time. Time is precious.

Barth

Karl Barth: Acrylic Collage on Canvas, 30 x 24″

During my years teaching high school, this collage hung in the back of my classroom, in my line of vision when I addressed my students. I recently sold a paper collage of Barth at an art festival, happy that a patron knew what she was purchasing. This morning, I found this larger canvas and hung it in my living room so I could spend more time in its presence. I hope that over the holidays I can create some space to make new art. I am feeling the urge to create.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Jack Kerouac

November 14, 2018

Time changes things. Like the fruit stand that turns into a filling station. But the footprints and signs from the past are everywhere.

Voice of Jack Nicholson narrating the film “The Two Jakes”

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Morning Kerouac Reading and Collage Planning

The great escape into the Oklahoma wilderness still abides with my spirit, though I have returned to the joyless suburbs of the metroplex. This morning, as I resumed my reading of Kerouac’s Visions of Cody, I could see in my mind’s eye the vanishing America that is painted so ably in Kerouac’s prose. I drove through vestiges of these small towns while returning from Oklahoma day before yesterday, and they called up the memory of Jack Nicholson’s narration posted above. I have named my company Recollections 54 because of my birth year and the things I saw as a small boy in the Midwest that are disappearing from our landscape, though not from our memories.

I am thinking about a new series of art projects to pursue during this holiday season that will continue this Recollections 54 theme. The Kerouac collages are a part of that picture, and the more I read from his works, the more the ideas percolate.

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Fort Worth Santa Fe Depot painting finally went home yesterday

Yesterday, I finally delivered the above painting to the gentleman who commissioned it back in April. I worked on it during the summer, and finished it just about the time school began in the fall. But I was just as busy traveling as the new owner was, and finally we managed to get together yesterday. He expressed great pride in the piece, and I felt it as well. It was an honor working on it. I now have limited edition prints available, measuring 24 x 17″ and priced at $100.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Leaving

November 12, 2018

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Hickory Hill Cabin, Beaver’s Bend Resort–a Comfortable 4-Day Respite

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. . . but now I’m a big seacaptain again, lookout–that is, faroff eyes in the gray morning . . . 

Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Wrapped in a 36-degree gray rainy Monday morning, I’m fortunate to be in this warm, cozy cabin with my friends. Check out isn’t until 11:00, and we’re all agreed that when the cabin is paid for, and the weather outside is uncomfortable, we may as well postpone the 3 1/2 hour drive home till we are forced to leave. What I enjoy most about my friends is their love of quiet space and time with books and leisure. As I write this, we are scattered about the cabin with our thoughts and pleasant sentiments. I am enjoying Kerouac’s Visions of Cody, a book he worked on while creating On the Road, but Wow! what a different kind of book! On the Road has been described as a horizontal narrative of life on the road, with the narrator (Kerouac) recording his bemused observations of his hero Neal Cassady. Visions of Cody is described as a more vertical, metaphysical exploration of the same heroic character Neal Cassady. I am enjoying this second book much more, because of its stream-of-consciousness presentation, much of it reminding me of the writings of Joyce or Proust.

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Patio Fireplace

Yesterday, we decided we needed to burn up all the firewood that was delivered for our four-day stay at the cabin. There was still a considerable stack remaining. So, beginning around 11:00, we started the fire and it burned all day as we continued to add logs, finally leaving it for good around 5:00. Throughout the day, we enjoyed its warmth as the winds poked around the perimeter of the patio, and temperatures hovered around 31 degrees. The coffee seemed to taste better, the books tended to read with more intimacy, and when I finally felt ready to doze in my chair from all the reading, I decided instead to work on a second Jack Kerouac collage on the picnic table.

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Kerouac Collage at Patio Fireside

Since I was outdoors, I felt freer to spatter colored inks with a toothbrush and experiment with torn papers. That, along with sketching, made the experience enjoyable. On my second night in the cabin I worked on a different Kerouac collage. While reading Visions of Cody on this trip, I have felt the tug to experiment more with this medium.

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Kerouac Collage on the Second Night

I was notified on my smart phone that Amazon has delivered my package–a volume on Homeric Greek. I had purchased the grammar twenty years ago, and it somehow got away from me. So, I finally ordered a replacement. I always liked using this book when probing Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Homeric Greek doesn’t come easy for me, but thanks to my learning Koinē Greek, I can manage it with a little work. As we prepare to leave this wonderful retreat and transition into the holidays, I feel a sense of leaning forward into an epic adventure. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and already anticipate good things on the road ahead.

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Thoughts in the Winter Night

November 11, 2018

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The symmetry of form attainable in pure fiction cannot so readily be achieved in a narration essentially having less to do with fable than with fact. Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial.

Herman Melville, Billy Budd

Oklahoma temperatures are dipping near the freezing point as I sit up and write this. My friends have retired to bed, and the cabin is still. The outdoor patio fireplace is providing more than enough warmth as the fire continues to burn brightly. While the hours extended into the cold night, I finished reading Billy Budd, and our conversation drifted to reasons why we all love to read when we can find the leisure (and all of us being retired are now very grateful for those more frequent moments that we can spend poring over the printed word).

In the heat of our conversation I tried to express something that I have probably tried to express at least once in the history of my blog entries. And I don’t feel that I successfully nailed what I was trying to say. Now that I am alone and still not yet sleepy, I thought I would power up the laptop and see if I could find a more accurate way to express what is on my mind.

Since the age of eighteen, while in college, I have been in quest of the Oracle. I have always sought a Word of guidance, some kind of navigational aid, a pole star if you will. In my college days, I was poring over the Bible daily, a practice that would land me eventually in the Protestant pastoral ministry. Believing that the Bible was the Word of God, divinely inspired, I approached it daily, prayerfully, seeking a divine Word to direct my path. I was very seldom disappointed. If I stayed with it long enough, patiently, some Word would come, and I would write fervently, seeking to clarify what it was I needed to do in my life.

About twelve years later, I left the ministry, but did not leave the conviction that a Word was always available for anyone who sought it. The only thing that changed was the medium; I came to believe that revelation was everywhere, in great literature, in philosophical treatises, in comic strips, in conversation, in walks through the woods, in modes of semi-sleep. I believe passionately that a Word is always available to anyone who seeks to hear and understand.

In my days of theological study, I was always captivated by the idea uttered by Swiss theologian Karl Barth. He argued that through the act of preaching, the Bible had the potential to become the Word of God. When I was a pastor, I worked in conservative circles, and my colleagues continually raged against those words, arguing that the Bible is the Word of God. I felt then that they were not really listening to what this theologian was saying. What I came to believe Barth was proclaiming is this: the words of the Bible become the Word when the listener genuinely connects with the message. There are so many interpretations  concerning how exactly this phenomenon occurs. The moving of God’s spirit on the listener, the openness of the listener, the spiritual preparation of the preacher, etc. The point that interested me was this: the event of words becoming a Word for the listener is an occasional one. A reader can read thousands of words and nothing significant happens. A listener can listen to an hour of preaching and nothing happens. Words fill the space, but no defining Word occurs.

In my senior years, my views on this have not changed. I am aware that I can read pages and pages of text with no significant encounter. I can write pages in my journal and find no significant truth flowing out of my pen. I can listen to hours of discourse on the television or on YouTube and not feel strangely moved. But it is accurate to say that seldom if ever does a complete day unfold without my being touched by a jolting Word that stops me in my tracks, holds my attention, and convinces me that I have been quickened by a higher truth. Revelation has occurred. Enlightenment has dawned. I consider this a gift; I cannot make it happen. I cannot create the encounter that I so richly seek. I can only trim my sails in an effort to catch the wind once it blows.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.