Fifty Gallon Drum

(Another notebook dump where the yammers have gathered like little critters nesting in the walls.)

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They didn’t drain the swamp, they drained
the brains. Are the valves not properly labeled?

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The day will come to grind it
And tomorrow comes behind it
Too bad you can’t unwind it
Take comfort where you find it

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I think people who identify as skeptics are overreacting to the error of blind faith, which they rightly fear when they see it take hold of others. They overcompensate in their belief that blind faith is the only kind there is. But evidence is accepted on a reasoned faith—that subtle errors or deliberate deceptions have not slipped into the conclusion at hand. In the end: a little leap of faith, because facts are endless and it is literally impossible to consider each and every one. Reason cannot function without both faith and skepticism.

Faith on its own will likely run rampant without the skeptic to keep it in check. Skepticism on its own is just a brute prejudice, slamming doors shut for whatever notion it latches onto as valid, not at all unlike blind faith.

The third leg of reason’s little stool is called curiosity, or wonder.

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They dismiss the supposedly irrigorous logic as magical thinking, as if the intellect was the retainer and not the retained. As if thinking itself is not magic!

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They say you should choose your fights but I never find any I like.

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How many nihilists does it take to not be?

A nihilist is an eternalist who has resolved the first of the two errors.

A nihilist walks into a bardo…

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We working class white people who do not think ourselves the powerful oppressors of others should still contemplate the level of privilege upon which we operate: I can drive to the store and never have to think about being pulled over, arrested, or even shot, after having been seen doing nothing more than driving down the street.

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When it comes to the sun I try not to look at the bright side.

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If you’re somebody, you better watch what you say.
If you’re nobody, it’s better to keep it that way.

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Worry is an outlier indulgence, mentally going to the place you are afraid you’ll end up, while the remedies to impending troubles are left neglected, undone.

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The knees, they do a thankless job
Midway twixt the heel and hip
Protruding like a misplaced knob
To cap the pavement when you trip

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Sometimes I stick my head in an empty 50 gallon drum and speak loudly the things that might otherwise go here.

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Not being nothing, space fulfills form. Not being something, form fulfills space. Not two, yet not not-two. Not something, not nothing.

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I’m not a pull-string
talking doll, y’all, but
sometimes the things
I say: no way.

The phrase automatic
on instant recall, someone
come finish this for me
okay?

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A lot of people take things for granted, but in stores they call that shoplifting.

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I wonder what would happen if they pressed all my buttons at once and I collapsed without recourse into a short-circuited heap of malfunctioning habitual responses.

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Knee-deep in needy
wit’ a dolly made a hay
all she wanna do be holler
golly all a day.

(to be accompanied by banjo and Jew’s harp)

Where the Paint Don’t Dry

An abstract painting
looked at my kid
and said, “I could do that.”

The conscious mind is trained by nature to seize upon the world and make sense of it. Alas, poor conscious mind!

An Abstract Expressionist spun her palette on a lazy Susan in the dark, like the chamber of a revolver in a game of Russian roulette. It spins and slows to a halt and she begins work. She jabs at the hapless canvas in knowing ignorance of the colors and deliberate non-concern for the emerging abstract forms. The close air sustains the poisonous cadmium vapors and smell of linseed oil. The blackness of the studio like pitch, a dead end in an abandoned coal mine. She executes the work in total darkness.

The painting completed, unseen even by its creator, is quickly sealed in a steel box welded shut. Whisked away to a deep sea fishing charter, it is motored out to sea and hoisted overboard, deposited in the Atlantic by an uncredited boat captain. It makes an ominous sploosh in the salty waves, which is recorded in digital audio for the exhibition, and disappears into the murky depths, bye bye. Fare well, unseen painting! Godspeed!

Take this image for no one’s eye
And stick it where the paint don’t dry

On opening night of the exhibition, the sploosh recording is looped in a darkened, empty room. The guests are asked to stop sipping their wine for a moment and imagine what the painting looks like. An explosion of faux-abstract imagery mushrooms up from the collective unconscious, a glorious, swirling mess of non-objective visions mixing with the ambient sounds of cleared throats and cocktail chatter. The critics bubble over with enthusiastic reviews. The conundrum of the unknown as a medium of expression: the mind is the commodity! It helps to be in the know on these matters, one supposes.

Time passes. Things are forgotten. Fare well, time! Godspeed, forgotten things!

At the retrospective decades later, a well trained docent at the MOMA will explain it all to a bedazzled couple from Topeka while the subtle energy waves from the artist’s original thoughts continue to propagate out into the blackness of outer space, bye bye. Fare well, original thoughts! Godspeed, conceptual art!