“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics.
You are all stardust.
You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded. Because the elements, the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars. And the only way they could get into your body is if the stars were kind enough to explode.
So forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be here today.”
– Lawrence Krauss
Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
Today I went to see my psychiatrist but he forgot to tell me he’d be out of town. His office is in a studio behind his house, which has a large front courtyard.
Two beautiful young women appeared in the courtyard and explained that they were houseguests. They invited me inside to have a glass of wine and hang out. I laughed and said no, but when I found out that they were in a band, I changed my mind.
I went into the house and we talked about their band. One girl played violin and the other was a singer. I didn’t drink the wine, but for the next three hours we talked about everything there is to talk about.
We talked about death, family, sex, love, religion, childhood, bluegrass, jazz, fado and lipstick. The singer asked if I was wearing MAC Ruby Woo. Naturally, we high-fived to the goodness of Ruby Woo. I shared my grown-up wisdom with them: Wear shorts as much as you can while you’re young! They were already wearing shorts, so they probably knew this intuitively.
I told them about my sons and they were incredibly sweet and compassionate. Then, they offered to play a song for me.
I closed my eyes and was transported by the sound of a soulful violin and a gorgeous smoky voice that soared and dipped in Spanish, a level of passion and musicianship that blew me away. When the song ended, we were all knocked out by how great it was. They weren’t used to paying as a duo.
They played another song and I imagined a huge career for them. Their beauty would be a bonus, I told them. We exchanged email addresses and it was hard to part. They walked me to my car and we hugged. One smelled like patchouli and one smelled like flowers.
I drove home feeling grateful that I could give myself over to happiness when the opportunity presented itself. I thought about how Max would have loved the singer, who wore winged black eyeliner.
When I got home, no one wanted to hear my amazing story. Regular people are hungry and cranky or exhausted, and don’t give a shit about your magical day. They just want dinner.
After coming across this photo last week, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It’s a stage in Austria’s Lake Constance, for Kieth Warner’s production of Umberto Giordano‘s opera “Andrea Chénier”, which will open to the public in July.
Here’s a description:
The first performance of the four-act opera, based on the life of the eponymous French poet who was executed during the French revolution, will take place on 20 July at the Bregenz festival in Austria.
Lake Constance is often used during the festival as an extension of the stage, which this year is being transformed into a 24 metre-high figure of Jean-Paul Marat, inspired by the depiction of his death in the 1793 painting by Jacques-Louis David.
The stage design also includes an open book from which members of the cast will emerge, and a large gold mirror.
Shit! How wonderful! I love the monumentalness of this enterprise. I wish I could transport myself to Austria. If you find this image compelling, see more here.
Here’s another piece of art that blows my mind. It’s a van I’ve seen around Venice lately, and yesterday I got to see it up close when I went to get groceries and there it was in the parking lot. A slightly-built man emerged and he was very nice when I asked if I could take a picture.
I walked around and around the van, trying to take in all its wacky glory. It’s completely covered in black and white leather, heavily studded and topped off with realistic-looking stuffed tigers. There are religious plaques on both sides of the van, praising the lord. I believe this van is a tribute to the owner’s loved one, Shirley Ann, his “Queen in Life and Death,” “Together for Eternity.”
It’s uplifting to see artistic commitment of this magnitude. Whether it’s part of a prestigious festival or one man’s expression of devotion, real art is transcendent, isn’t it? I’m grateful for these glimpses of it.
*van photos via
I always enjoy the discovery of a scholarly approach to a silly or lowbrow subject. Remember when Camille Paglia used to write about Madonna?
I had no idea that Black Metal Theory is now a philosophy and field of study complete with international symposia and experts who say things like this:
We have been told by the living that the idea of a vital world is that of comfort and warmth. [Writer] Dominic Fox assures us that this is not the case. With an unparalleled militant efficiency, Cold World [a book about Black Metal] blackens the lines between poetics and politics, music and negative resistance. It is a haunting sermon from the world of the dead exhorting the living to revolt in the name of a life whose vitality has been disenchanted by coldness and whose sacredness has been profaned by nigredo. Reza Negarestan – Author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction
God. What the hell is “nigredo,” right? I looked it up and you can, too. But there’s no way that Black Metal Theory can be taken seriously, especially when it’s discussed in dense academic mumbo jumbo of the first oder. Here is Scott Wilson, a professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Kingston University in London:
Black Metal is clearly a form of environmental writing, but one that could not easily be accommodated into current ecological discourse. Participants seriously considered the idea of melancology both as black ecology, exploring black metal as a geophilosophy of real and psychic spaces (the frozen desert is not so much ‘out there’ but inside you), and as an ethos, looking at black metal as the re-occultation of black blood and bile in rituals of mourning and celebration for the death of God and the extinction of his creation, particularly humanity, under the black sun of melancholy. As such, the symposium connected with a new strain in contemporary philosophy that regards extinction as a speculative opportunity for thought. Black metal resounds from the abyss and it is precisely only in relation to its sonic forces that the question of intervention in the environment arises in the articulation of melancology with ethics. That is, in deciding ‘which way out’ we should take, in deciding with what surpluses to dwell, with what waste, what detritus or decay in a process of unbinding with sonic forces that traverse an earth choking in wealth and death.
Ha! Blah blah blah. What a bunch of fucking wankers. All I know is that Varg Vikernes, leader of the band Burzum, was released from jail after serving 16 years for killing a guy from Mayhem, a rival band, and burning down some churches.
Now he has a website, http://www.burzum.org, and two new albums. For some reason he hates Black people, despite all the dark black negredo of his chosen musical genre. He probably needs to study the Theory.
First of all, that Hermes lady is fucking nuts about her photos. She doesn’t want her photos used to mock her. They are there for praise only! They are there for gloating, not for you internet people to copy and ridicule. I found this picture on flickr, Hermes Lady, so relax.
I wasn’t able to force myself to go through 30something pages of her boasting about her Hermes purchases and the attendant ass-kissing. But I think I got the gist of it.
Here is the situation. Hermes is a symbol of wealth and success. Nothing more or less. A woman who spends a fortune at Hermes and then documents it online is a person desperately in need of love and self-esteem. There isn’t enough Hermes in the whole world to assure her of her intrinsic worth. It’s a mug’s game.
Consumption at this level is very sad. All shopping is a defense against the knowledge of our mortality. It’s a stupid distraction that exists to enrich corporations and to numb the appetites of the soul.
Look in your closet and think about which outfits would make you happy if a family member died in a car crash. Look at your shoes and then look at this picture.
The Hermes Lady is a picture of insecurity, distorted by money and self-delusion. She is a waste of our time. Turn your eyes away from that lady and her ridiculous merchandise.
You already have everything you need to be happy.
Don’t worry about shoes or handbags. Listen to music, look at some art or have sex instead. You’ll thank me later.
Few things are more delightful than a well-executed prank. A good prank is a noble creative endeavor – that’s what I tell myself about the ones I’ve engaged in.
The Nat Tate prank was devised by British novelist William Boyd with the help of David Bowie and a few other collaborators, including Gore Vidal. Boyd wanted to create a fictional artist whose underrated work he would introduce to the art world, via a book on the subject.
Bowie held a launch party for the book on April 1, 1998, and read extracts from the book to the collected celebrities and art enthusiasts. One of the collaborators went around asking people if they were familiar with Tate’s work. Poor Tate had burned 99% of his work before his tragic early death in 1960.
In the end, someone revealed the hoax. But William Boyd says that Nat Tate lives on: every so often, one of his paintings comes up for auction.
The more I learn about this prank the more I fucking love it! It reminds me of my Phyllis Willis-Barbour prank with my friend Mark, and it makes me wish we had taken it further. We planned to have our fake poet appear at readings, wearing a mask to hide her face (deformed in a terrible fire.)
**UPDATE: Just found the link to PWB’s bio, one of the greatest things ever written. Ever.
But our best prank, the one that brought us the most joy, was the Ed and Paige Project.
Ed was a guy we had good reason to detest. Among his loathsome activities was an unending search for hot chicks in the personal ads at nerve.com, even though he was married to a woman who supported him. Since we knew his taste in women, we created one as bait. We set up her profile, and waited. It took a week, and we had almost given up when Ed contacted Paige, calling her a “long tall drink of water” and complementing her physique.
Here is Paige, who I found at hotornot.com
But wait: Paige isn’t just hot and skanky looking, she is a commodities broker and a graduate of the Wharton School of Business! Her favorite book is Ulysses.
The resulting email love affair between Ed and Paige was a soap opera that all our friends enjoyed, but not with the delirious religious ecstasy that Mark and I experienced. The email they exchanged was beyond belief. It was like Christmas morning all the time.
I am too tired and lazy to elaborate on the Ed and Paige Project, but I know that Nat Tate would have risen from the dead just to be a part of it.
He’s hot, Asian, and androgynous.
He’s friends with Andrej. Maybe they talk about their hair?
If the Lord didn’t want me to long for David Chiang, He wouldn’t have given me eyes.
No one is antisemitic if you ask them. Not at all!
Certainly not John Galliano, even though you can hear him admiring Hitler in this video. Not Charlie Sheen and not Mel Gibson. These guys were just drunk or stoned and plus, some of their best friends are Jews.
Here is my feeling: Anyone who separates people into Jews and Everyone Else is antisemitic. It is frustrating to argue this point. I tried in another post, when a film reviewer praised an actress for not “trying to mask her Jewishness.” Everyone claimed to be bewildered by the premise that this is clearly antisemitic.
If you tell me about your Jewish friends, you are antisemitic, to my ears. The fact that you distinguish some people as Jews – unless they are orthodox Jews whose lifestyle is defined by religion – then you have a problem.
Me, I’m an atheist but I’m a Jew because my parents and their parents were Jews. The world will always define me as different because the world is nuts. Why the world is nuts about Jews, I don’t know. I’ve been reading about it but I’m not a historian. I don’t need to be a historian to know that most of the world hates Jews.
That’s their problem, though, I’m not going to boycott Galliano because he’s antisemitic. I love his designs and I don’t care about his personal problems. Hating Jews is like hating blacks but more insidious: It’s just ignorance and the need to feel superior. It’s stupid, but evidently we can’t cure stupidity.
Last night I watched a great movie called “The Believer” which caused such an uproar when it was previewed to Jewish leaders that it was released under the radar and disappeared quickly. It’s the true story of a self-hating Jewish student in New York who becomes a neo-Nazi.
Ryan Gosling is the anti-hero. His speech to a group of would-be fascists is so maniacal that it has stayed with me over the years. Each time I see the movie and hear the speech, I laugh out loud at its audacity and absurdity – and because its true. Here it is, copied from the script:
DANNY How many of you think of yourselves as anti-Semites? (All the hands go up.) Good. Actually, the term is a bit imprecise since technically Jews are only one of the Semitic peoples.... In fact, Arabs are Semites, as are the Eritreans, the Ethiopians, and so on.... But for our purposes an anti- Semite is someone who hates or is against Jews.... Now, why do we hate them? He looks around. The room is silent. DANNY Let me put it another way. Do we hate them because they push their way in where they don't belong? Or because they're clannish and keep to themselves? Murmurs of "Yeah. Both." But some are confused by this. DANNY ...Because they're tight with money, or because they flash it around? Because they're Bolsheviks or because they're capitalists? Because they have the highest IQs, or because they have the most active sex lives? The audience, confused... DANNY Do you want to know the real reason we hate them?... DANNY ...Because we hate them. (as people exchange puzzled looks) Because they exist. Because it is an axiom of civilization that just as man longs for woman, loves his children and fears death, he hates the Jews. (smiles) There is no reason. If there were, some smart-ass kike would give us an argument, try to prove we were wrong. And of course that would only make us hate them more. In fact we have all the reasons we need in three simple letters: J-E-W. Jew. Say it a million times. It is the only word that never loses its meaning: Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew....
If it’s not some troll taunting me fives times a day, it’s some guy threatening to sue me, or a new stack of unpayable bills or a photo like this one, of the Man Repeller’s friends.
I hope David Carlo Photography doesn’t mind me borrowing his picture here. It helps to illustrate why I don’t “get” the Man Repeller and why I feel more and more like a stranger in a strange land.
The best way to counter these feelings of existential malaise is a sedative and a long thoughtful look at Godfrey Gao.
He is set to be the first Asian male supermodel. He is 6’4″ and loves to cook. Let’s all forget our troubles for a moment and just be present, ahem. I know Godfrey would want that.