I have developed an aversion to Christmas I told the group. The topic was Christmas cards. Or holiday cards as many of us call them. I made some. Don’t know what this aversion is. Makes me think of when I used to make linoleum block print Christmas cards.
Merry Christmas everyone! That’s sincere, strangely enough. Don’t ask me, I just watch. The image is a representation of the creative life force.
Something unconscious. What is that, the unconscious mind? Thoughts and feelings I don’t know anything about that surface occasionally. What does it mean that there’s an unconscious mind? A big part that is not under my control. Looking back, I’m not in control of the waking part either.
The life goes on, waking or sleeping. Obviously goes on without my help.
I remember the day I came home from spring break, to begin a week of freedom from teaching physical science at Taft High School. Spring break, an opportunity to make art. I had some success as a printmaker. But careless with the solvents, started getting sick. Seeing me wash my hands with lacquer thinner, the teacher said Don’t do that. It’s really bad for the body. Well he actually said it’s really bad for you. But not me really, just the body.
The life lived on, conscious and unconscious currents. Spring break time for art. A surfaced desire, coming from where? I had gone to a lecture on Japanese wood block printing, which uses water-based inks. Okay, I thought, in that other previous moment, maybe I can do that. That spring break must have been 1986.
In Little Tokyo, found wood carving tools and instructions—IN JAPANESE. Bought some ink. Carved. Wood chips flew everywhere, nestled in the olive green shag carpet.
Does the moment move forward or is it a network of thoughts and feelings?
Carved the block in my living room in the company of the cat that left claw holes in the curtain every time he scaled it. I later fastidiously plugged each hole with white acrylic paint so the points of light didn’t show through. The cat was white and stepped in my palette on his way to climb the white curtains, or somewhere else, as desires arise in a cat, from where? I wiped his feet with a paper towel. The same cat that played fetch with aluminum foil balls.
Rice paper, ink, no usable images. Sheets of paper flung about. Despair. Wood chips got mixed with the ink. Utter desolation. The unconscious seized the body, flung it on the bed, hit it with fists. My fists? Sobbing, screaming, God, you have to help me and you have to help me right now!
Knock on the door. Not five minutes later. What happened in between? An infinite number of moments, not part of the story and not remembered. The Japanese missionary stares at me after I open the door. He looks around the room at the litter. Hanga, he says finally. Yes, yes, I can’t believe it. Hanga is Japanese for print. Yes! Yes! Do you know how to do it? No. He wants to pray for me. Sure. He wants me to come to a lecture. Sure. I don’t go. I go on to teach myself painting with acrylics.