401. September 2nd…Are the strings getting pulled or….are there no strings….

“Ghosts on a Wire” 2010

“Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” – Denis Diderot

I thought early on this morning about the “things”…that come into a life…if they are fatalistic in nature…predestined…or is it all very arbitrary and paths cross because they do…events happen because we might be at the place the event is happening and we become a part of it….

this made me began thinking about hitting every stop light on some days while other days…driving the exact same street and getting nothing but green lights….were the red lights stopping me from something ahead…and the constant delay caused me to avoid what might have happened….and like wise were the green lights allowing me to continue on…getting further ahead of what might have happened…..or were they just lights changing color as they do….and my experience was nothing more than lights and me…..nothing else…..

what about people…do people come into our lives for reasons or do they just show up because they….just show up….does everything truly happen for a reason…or has that become a way of saying the arbitrary makes sense….now it is no longer arbitrary but predetermined….but we’ll still call it random of sorts…keep a little mystery just in case….

when I taught school…one of our semester projects was to keep a diary…an arbitray diary…one that the student had no control over other than entries….they were required to let someone else make many of their decisions….the ones they would normally make…..they were also required to act in random ways…fundementally they had to relinquish their choice and rely on the arbitrary and unknown choices provided for them…without any consultation or discussion regarding their desire…..while at a restaurant…they could order food…drinks…etc in three ways….

1. close their eyes…open the menu and point their finger at something….
2. let someone who was with them order for them …without a discussion about likes and dislikes
3. just say to the server….”Bring me anything you want”…….

anything they bought…..clothes…cds….grocery shopping….etc.. at least some of it had to be arbitrary or determined by someone else…..I took all of my students out to lunch close to graduation from the program….when the waitress began asking each what they wanted…I interrupted….. counted the number of students…which was 9….and told her to bring us 10 meals on the menu….and I didn’t care what they were…..that…she was to make that decision for us….with a little frustration…she did….I chose a number between 1-9…asked one my students to pick…until one of them picked the number…they were #1…the person to their left was #2 and so on…..on returning with all of the meals….the waitress handed whatever she wanted to…to the person in the #1 position and so forth…..we all had a great surprise….and a gastronomic experience that most would not have ventured into…those waters because of their unfamiliarity of Vietnamese food…..some ate…others did…not…others adapted…and traded….some shared their meal to try the other meals….some were happily suprised….others swore off this project to never do again in the ”Real world” as long as they lived…..overall it was a great experience….

their final project was to keep their journal current…and write what they learned from letting go of somethings…and allowing other things to happen that were out of their control……most felt the experience was to much because they felt the nature of not knowing and allowing someone else a “power”…over them was uncomfortable and unsteady….a few did get what this was about and saw that by letting go….and lessening their grip they were moving easier with less anticipation and expectation…..

and so maybe the idea that what happens is a loosely tied string…and if fate does play a role….perhaps it is just the music that we hear……

“Usually I am on a work for a long stretch, until a moment arrives when the air of the arbitrary vanishes, and the paint falls into positions that feel destined.” – Philip Guston

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8 thoughts on “401. September 2nd…Are the strings getting pulled or….are there no strings….

  1. Robert, what a grand experiment! I’m going to try that out! I wonder what class you were teaching and I wish I’d been one of your students.

    With everything else you’ve mentioned, it’s brilliant, like you’re turning a crystal in the light to see inside its world.

    The only thing I’m secure about is uncertainty, a thing I’ve sobered up to since moving to New Mexico.

    Happy Thursday!
    Aloha 🙂

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  2. I was teaching at a vocational school…this particular class was a massage class…..and my point in doing this was to get my students to realize that a body will tell you what is going on…and what it needs regardless of what the therapist thinks it needs….

    most people don’t listen to the words….let alone the unspoken ones….

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  3. “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” – Denis Diderot
    Now that’s a quote I can relate to.

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  4. I love the arbitrary. Okay, is it wrong that I read what you write and respond with “I”. “I” can’t help it. “I” am all that “I” know. “I” feel that I’ve been taken on a most interesting ride by “I”. “I” am a most fascinating mystery to “I”.

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  5. I…I…I. indeed…and I must say the strangulation of kings with the entrails of priests…. I too migrate right to the heart of this one…..perhaps the subversive in me…Guston’s floats in my mind quietly each minute i paint….

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