This painting was made to the sounds of Doo-Wop, my father’s favorite music genre.
I like honey more than blood. Who doesn’t besides anemics and vampires? And I bet if given the choice without dire consequence, Dracula would prefer to dip his toast in bee vomit rather than suck the blood out of new friends he just made. This cultural addiction to the thought habit of following familial blind guilt to the grave, is insane. Human dramas are replete with plots of duty by duress, born from ancient religious texts structured to maintain ingroup order in order to survive. Literally, to live another day, elders had to keep the fear fires burning. Stray from the order and disaster ensues. No more potable water, food, raiment, shelter and fuel for the village or country. Doom on its way, right away.
Today the breakdown of established (gargantuan) religions via the atomization of modern life is nearing completion (thank you western science and technology, and the royal crowning of the nuclear family). We know how to survive better (physically) than all the ancestors of yore consulting their religions. Most unfortunately though, we suffer miserably many of those old (mental) habits that just won’t die off and leave us our freedom.
I feel we are hoodwinked stardust, addicted to gravity and the array of vicious circles suffered by its human hosts. The wheel of suffering. Birth and death. The old codger notion that we come into the world, not out of it, arriving alone and departing much lonelier… I now know that there never were any ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. That was all priest mumbo-jumbo to remind the bone border in the coffin who’s boss, while simultaneously confusing the mourners into more guilt and submission. To begin with ashes aren’t burnt wood, and dust was never the cause of the skin dander and spider leg effect. Philosophers of neutrinos and Vedanta know the big lie is the “I”, with its library bibles and baby name books to bungle our perception of the universe good and proper. Their knowing the truth that you, me and the goldfish in the bowl is the universe experiencing itself in endless variety, they might suggest some spiritual exercises to jolt our pre-born memories and free us from this cyclic guilt prison cell.
The poet Kenneth Patchen tried playfully with words, which I paraphrased in a painting 14 years ago:
I feel of late that I am catching on to the oneness of the universe and then losing the feeling just as quickly. I play mind games to prep myself so when it comes back, I’ll be able to hold on a little bit longer. I try to see from the eye of the rabbit, or squirrel, trout, cat in the living room… I make believe these things can’t see without my eyes, nor the maple tree’s roots sense vibrations without the breeze kissing my skin. There’s a beetle breathing under the shade of a dandelion leaf and I know what it feels like to touch the stamen of a flower with my bee feet.
So honey is thicker than blood. What do I mean?
The proverb says that blood is thicker than water. And by blood, we should say guilt, which remains all too prevalent because of the old religions. It’s earliest use we find in 12th century German literature, when families were the size of popular sporting events and spread out over hill and dale. Even best friends weren’t willing to miss sowing and harvest to care for their consumptive pals (although that might have been the ticket to blissful heaven that they claimed to be seeking all life long). Care duties went to family by social default. Even if some blood relations were the worst type of human beings. Blue Cross/Blue Shield was 900 years away, and pop drops unimaginable.
I don’t buy it. I never have. I think they (we) got it all wrong. One day, long ago, in the re-beginning, sperm and egg met on some moist tissue and strangely, quite suddenly (in mystic time) created the dutiful child racked with guilt for being born again. Today, even pretend agnostics and atheists are still thumb-sucking on ancient attachment philosophies. I think the latter can’t get over being individuals terrified of the lie that they came into the world alone and leave lonelier. You must love your father and mother—even if over half a century they made less outward expression of an inward love than Fido gushes slobberingly before the door can close behind you. One might love his father and mother. Perhaps they were always there to remind him that an individual in society is just another mask god wears while expressing everything all at once. Freedom from guilt, expectation and duty. No generational repetition of duress lazily copied from ancient philosophies. Pointed pathways to natural gentleness of spirit, self-discovered with the guidance of an ever-nurturing, loving family “in the know”.
Probably not though. More likely one is raised to feel like a pawn in the play game of some regional God who is art in heaven.
I think love is a verb that can’t lie in the face of itself, as in the sentence, “I run”. Look, he’s running. We can see it. Or, “I bake”. Look, a cake coming out of the oven, yum. Saying or not saying “I love you” is not love. Love is an action verb which one must be able to feel in order for the experience to be true. Yup, I feel it. Sure enough as the words “I punch you” land on my face.
Making love an action verb, I realize I haven’t loved my origin family very well. I can’t be fully to blame. I think I do all right with my wife, children and cat. I need to express love, not necessarily to voice, but to verb it, more often. I’ll try. As to the rest of humanity, I must nurture a gentleness of spirit else trap myself in sour isolation, breeding misanthropy. Still, I believe that familial duty is a very strong fear hangover from ancient days. This afternoon you will know love when you feel it. It brings forth honey, which is thicker than blood.