The introduction to my latest book, The Pleasure at Being the Cause:
A book and art show using for its title some words from the overused and flat out wrong concept of “cause and effect” is probably not the best place to denounce cause and effect once and for all. Oh well. If I feel the need for enlightenment I had better at least try to abandon wrong-thinking physics invented by Newton and “cult”-ivated by billions upon billions of human-only followers for the last 350 years. This summer I revisited Vedanta philosophy and know, but do not yet feel how to waste my self and rediscover awesome contentment which I’m told is nothing much really. I read that it has something to do with the birds and bees, and every other living/non-living thing in the universe, including the silly big-talk human beings. Like I said, I know it now, but just can’t feel it. Although I should be able to, because it’s made up of my inside-outside skin, all the invisible quarks “inside” as well as the infinite Hercules-Corona Borealis Walls on the “outside”.
So this summer was bad timing for working on an art and life concept partly responsible for bringing deeper meaning (therefore attachment) to the self, while at the same time wanting to squoosh the self up into a little ball and throw it away while contemplating the oneness of the universe, which could be called God, the big it, the song of the world, what have you. Everything as one. Yes, the rocks and bunny rabbits too. Call this a nature-loving pantheism. Call it whatever you want to. It doesn’t matter because it’s just another symbol pointing to something human-defined, like elephants and ice cream, neither of which think on their selves as those things.
Also bad timing for me to let go of art, as a vocation. No more straining to finish things that start right up again, over and over. Like painting for reward in the form of some museum purchase, or dopamine shots from hearts clicked on Instagram®. Still, it’s good that my original concept was about fighting duress that darts at us from every conceivable angle. Self defense is a must, no matter what state of mind we’re in. We accept duress as always there, written in the gospel of bibles and treatises on Newtonian physics. Duress of every significance—as work deadline or getting dinner ready by five. It’s all the same. But its simply not true. Power does not exist. It’s a human construct, one built of millions of labels and words that give us society, but also make us slaves to systems both seen and unseen, severely limiting, often erasing, our connection to the oneness of everything.
Yesterday, my long time friend texted me that he has an advanced cancer. We’ve been cold to each other the past couple of years due to political disagreements, which, thankfully, ended in a face-to-face visit recently with the snap-crack of satori (maybe for both of us). I called him and he told me the bad news with that same voice I used to hear on the telephone, before the invention of insta-woe apps gave us the impetus to avoid love more regularly than our neighbor.
When we were teenagers, he used to tell us lies to make our time hanging out as delinquents and friends more interesting. It could be a story about kissing a girl under the train trestle or his father winning the lottery. He would see how far it could go before one of us shouted out “You’re playing the game!”. Initially he would deny it, and keep spinning the yarn until he lost interest, to finally admit, “Yes, it’s the game”. So even while texting, he had to presage the greatest true event to happen to his self since birth as definitely “not the game”.
But it is the game. The mortal game. And each of us has the opportunity to play it any way we like. I cannot play it for my friend, but I hope with all my heart and soul that he doesn’t waste this opportunity to die. I think on it, but just can’t feel it yet. The reason why I am slightly changing course with my concept for this show, which is just another lie in the ongoing and always changing game of my own invention.
I believe now is the time to admit that I do not like art as a material thing. It can be very interesting to look at, like a pigeon or a wrecking ball, but I don’t necessarily want these creatures to decorate my living room. I love art made by friends and acquaintances. Any art or craft. It doesn’t matter what it is, or if I even like it aesthetically. Picasso can live on for eternity in his own self and sycophant-made hell. I loathe celebrity art because it expresses the karma corner I am always painting myself into. All the envy, desire, one-upmanship that spills out of art made for a purpose—the human posturing, self-indulgence and self-importance… It’s not just art making karma every second, but the grand poobah presidency too, and the wild speed dreams of derelict meth addicts.
Humans do not make beauty. They are it. Artists cheat on purpose in a game that is impossible to cheat at! How does beauty make itself? How does everything everywhere view a work of human expression? All the best renderers can do is copy the wide world revealing itself every breath we take. But facsimile is not beauty. It’s a copy, a still, just another symbol pointing to what is all about you this second.
I want to move toward practicing art as an ongoing process of life/death. Painting is just a vehicle, a breathing exercise using my hands, meditation, contemplation. It works for me, for now. But I don’t think it would work without people. I need you much more than you need me. That is my illusion, my lie, my game. And I’m gonna play it for a while. The meditative painting helps me. There are brief moments of true connection with the universe, and also many knock down, drag out fights with the most arrogant and ignorant culture to ever exist on a living rock. Some days I fall out of my chair and cry on the floor. Some days I leap up and down in the studio dancing to distraction. Some days I paint a picture while every emotion I have ever experienced flows by practically unnoticed like an autumn breeze through the leaves.
So how does all this “my friend has cancer” ranting fit into a painting exhibition about duress?
I want you to do everything in your amazing power to lesson the duress in your life. There is no right way and every way is the right way. Play your game. Make the rules. Change them any second, or once a year. And just for the sake of society, don’t hurt anybody or join the upper echelon of the political mafia presently wasting the earth’s crust. Stop this afternoon and contemplate what you think is a tree. Accept that you are dead wrong and living right. All power outside of you is illusion made up of words and symbols in another liar’s game. It might take a whole lifetime to push power away. It’ll certainly vanish when you do. And please, most importantly, stop humanizing earth. Get over yourselves. Humans admit that it’s impossible to know all the numbers and diversity of life. There are “scientific” guesses ranging from 5 million to a trillion species existing at any moment. And I bet they’re not even counting the rocks and scented toilet paper! We must pull back on our forceful invasion into the private games of infinite life. There isn’t a raccoon out there who thinks the humans are playing fair. This latest deadly microbe (along with the trillion other non-domestic house pet species) probably got really pissed that the humans beat it at its own game. All the universe was rooting for King COVID to knock the human beings out once and for all.
I’m glad we made it through, as I’m sure you are too. How very fortunate to be dues-paying members of the super power species!
These paintings are a small sample of Ron Throop playing his game in 2022. To back up the concept I have made the exhibition a fundraiser in order to experience the pleasure at being the cause of a new floor for the Kirk Beason Gallery, along with a few “bistro” tables and chairs to make the downstairs a more inviting place for members to play artist. All paintings have a donation amount fairly set by another concept from an exhibition last November entitled “How to Price a Painting” (essay included). Every dollar raised will go toward these improvements at the AAO.
Finally I dedicate this show to my lifelong friend Scott Patrick Bradley. We’re walking down the tracks old man. See, hear, smell that? It’s everything, all at once, like eternity. Thank you for playing the game over and over and knowing when to stop. I love you.