Thursday, October 18, 2012

Life. It's Flashing Before Your Very Eyes

Many years ago, when I was a university-aged student, I attended a show at the behest of a friend. It was at the beginning of my "art as exploration" stage and, like now, I was trying to open myself to the myriad of ways in which art, and artistry, could change people's perception of their world. It should be noted that the artist whose show we attended, Annie Sprinkle, had an eclectic aesthetic: she was a performance artist who used to be a porn star. Sprinkle's goal, we were told in the program we were given before the show, was to "use the vast frontiers of sexuality to explore, share and document my experiences and findings with explicit films, photography, writing and performance." The art world, she went on to tell us, was a refuge, where, surprisingly, she was made to feel quite welcome. "There was much more creative freedom, less censorship, and more legal protection." Who knew, I thought, to myself as I settled to watch the show.

(SPOILER ALERT! From this part forth, those of you who are squeamish or may want to skip forward to the next paragraph. It ain't pretty!)

Halfway through her performance, Miss Sprinkle inserted a speculum and invited the audience members to line up and each individually have a look with the aid of a flashlight. Although, I was enjoying the show, I decided to decline. (I was 19 and from a small town outside of Sudbury, for Christ's sake! Baby steps, right?) This was followed up with a beautiful ‘sacred sex magic, masturbation ritual’ that included, a board in which giant dildos were attached. Miss Sprinkle went on to show us the best ways to... AGH! You get it, right? I was shocked but, by the end of the show, felt that I had experienced something that was shocking, yes, but artfully executed. It also dawned on me that if we had attended this show 25 years previous, we probably would have quickly found ourselves arrested, found guilty of breaking about half-a-dozen obscenity laws and possibly have gone to jail. Success!

As we exited the theatre, I was enervated. I turned to my friend in order to gage how he had enjoyed the show. He was white as a sheet and looked incredibly disturbed. Are you all right, I asked him. He nodded in the affirmative and then told me, with a worried expression spilling over his face, that he was  afraid that one day - when he died - that the image of Annie Sprinkle's cervix was gonna pop in to his brain and that, no matter how hard he tried,  he would not be able to banish the image from his psyche. I assured him that such images did not, as far as I knew, come to us on our death beds. It took myself and several of our other art-loving friends the better part of an evening and several pitchers of cheap beer to get him to switch his thinking otherwise.

But the theory has stayed with me ever since. Is it possible that images that leave us disturbed or confused could pop up randomly to us on our death beds? And, if so, is there some way to counteract it? Was there a way in which we could hedge bets and find a way to seek out good images that might outweigh the bad? And so, this is what I have done. Over the years, I have made a mental list of images that I can conjure up when needed. The hope is that one of these might, when the time comes, help stave off, or at least outweigh, the image of a porn-star-turned-performance artist going down on a board of pleasure implements.  I wanna suggest you do the same because you never know, right?

Here are a few examples:

  • The sparkle in my son's eye when he's telling me a funny story
  • Sunset at my cottage
  • My father's handwriting
  • Seeing my friend, Dave Brown, try to water ski off the dock from a standing position and too much lead rope. 
  • A raspberry
  • My first bike
  • A clean kitchen floor
  • My husband rocking my kids to sleep
  • Seeing the Rockies from an airplane
  • The look my sister gets on her face when she's exasperated
  • Water moving swiftly over a rock
  • Poppies in bloom

Time to start your own......

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Mofo.

cat with dead mice by pyl213
cat with dead mice, a photo by pyl213 on Flickr.
Oh! Good Morning, Cat.

Sheesh! I didn't see you there, five inches from my face. Nice to see you.

And what's this you're trying to place on my bed where my husband has only just left his peaceful slumber? A dead mouse? Lovely. And thank you for removing the head for me. I always find that to be such a nuisance to do on my own. Maybe I'll save it for later.

Oh! And please do not take my screams of terror as a sign that I'm not grateful! Maybe I've seen The Godfather one too many times but I am pleased that you thought to bring me something as interesting and useful as a dead mouse. Really! I know you enjoy eating them and leaving them all over our property for my bare feet and lawn mower to enjoy so I should be grateful. Plus, it's food, right? And a present, correct? I love both of those. Plus, I give you store-food, water, and affection, and this your way of returning the favour.

So, thanks.

Oh! Hello, again, cat. What is it that you find so interesting with our bathroom sink? How endearing it is to be heading towards this area with the hope of washing the sleep out of my eyes only to find you staring into the drain as if it contained the answers to the mysteries of the universe. You are a thoughtful one. To avoid disrupting your peaceful meditations, I will wash my face in kitchen sink instead. Carry on!

Oh, Hello again, Cat-Who-Lives-In-My-House-And-May-Soon-Sleep-With-the-Fishes! What is this crazy thing you are doing with your water bowl? Slapping, slapping, slapping the water and spreading it all over the floor for every- and anyone who passes by? There is no sea creature in that shallow bowl, you silly beast! No animal, vegetable or mineral in there that will clog your throat passage and keep you from swallowing yet another mouse's innards. Drink it up, you scamp! Oh, and don't you worry a moment about these cashmere socks! They will shrink in no time from the water you left everywhere.

And why are you scratching near this bowl where we keep your store-bought grub? Are you trying to bury it beneath the linoleum? There is no need! It will be here like it is every day. Same place. Same time. Remember yesterday? And the 1200 days before that? Not gonna change, Mofo. Not gonna change.

What is this? Why are lying peacefully in my lap sharing your warmth with me as I try to avoid watching a cooking competition show? Again. Is it that you see that I was contemplating your death after you spilled my wine onto the carpet? No, you purr in response. It's because I love you and I want give you my thanks in the only way I know how.

Sigh. All, right, God dammit! I give.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.