Black Box. Cipher. Plums.

I do not know who I am.


Is this what adulthood is like? You find yourself being carried along, heading somewhere, somehow, surprised how it all seems to keep happening, with or without your best or feeble efforts to make it one way or another?




I am painting the plum tree in our friend Tom’s amazing garden and a friend of his asked me if I was painting “just for fun.” It stumped me. Because, basically, yes? Since I don’t have a gallery, or anything resembling a career at this point. Except, no? Because I take what I do more seriously than “just for fun” or, god forbid the dreaded word, a “hobby.” And, *self-hatred/pretentious ass alert, despite saying I’d never prop up my ego with this, I did go to Yale. So I hedged, saying, “Well, I do teach painting,” in an attempt to give myself some faltering sense of legitimacy. But seriously. Saying that you teach to give yourself cred as an artist is putting the cart before the horse, big time. And wicked lame.


Ego, ego, ego.


But the truth is, painting the plum tree is 'just' for fun. It gives me great pleasure to paint outdoors, in the sun and fresh air, negotiating the boundless complexities and subtleties of stuff in the flesh. I like being overwhelmed by all the visual information in the world, how it forces me to simplify, omit, choose. And fruit trees just make me happy.  I like painting leaves and fruit. There is no conceptual angle to put on this, no way to make it more complicated or sophisticated.


I just hope I can manage to pull a decent painting out of it.






Having been feeling blog-blocked recently, I resumed my old habit of dictionary browsing:


black box: 1:  a usually complicated electronic device that functions and is packaged as a unit and whose internal mechanism is usu. hidden from or mysterious to the user; broadly:  anything that has mysterious or unknown internal functions or mechanisms


cipher:  1: the symbol 0 denoting the absence of all magnitude or quantity:  NAUGHT, ZERO  2 a: a method of transforming a text in order to conceal its meaning (1) by systematically replacing the letters of the plaintext by substitutes in the same sequence either singly or in pairs or other polygraphs (as by writing 1 for A, 2 for B, etc., or F for A, S for B, etc., or QL for AB, etc.) or (2) by systematically rearranging the plaintext letters into another sequence (as by writing them normally in a rectangle and then copying them off from the columns taken in an arbitrary succession) — called also respectively (1) substitution cipher and (2) transposition cipher; b: a prescription for a cipher system:  a key or memorandum that enables decipherment c: a message in cipher:  a text in secret writing  3: an arabic numeral:  NUMBER, FIGURE 4 a obs: a symbolic character (as a letter, hieroglyph, or astrological sign) b: a combination of symbolic letters; esp:  the interwoven initials of a name:  DEVICE, MONOGRAM c: a sign in Karl Jaspers’ existentialism serving to mediate between the existent and the transcendent  5: one that has no weight, worth, or influence:  NONENTITY 〈doomed to die as a 〜 in some vast statistical operation in which our teeth would be counted . . . but our death itself would be unknown — Norman Mailer〉  6: the sounding of an organ pipe caused by a mechanical defect


2 cipher:  1: to use figures in a mathematical process:  do sums in arithmetic:  FIGURE  2: to produce a cipher—used of an organ pipe  1 a archaic: to express (as thoughts or words) by written or graven characters  b obs: to show forth:  make plain by visible evidence:  PORTRAY  c: ENCIPHER d obs: DECIPHER  2 in shipbuilding: BEVEL, CHAMFER 3 a: to compute in figures:  calculate or figure arithmetically—sometimes used with out 〈a sum -ed out〉b dial: to figure out as if by calculation:  solve by pondering


Some random notes I jotted down in my Human Development Psychology class, about one’s Thirties:

-consolidate identity -come to terms w/ personal limits -”sometimes I would like to be everything and I’ve learned that I can’t. You have to work with what you have.” -deeper awareness/consciousness of self -”I found something that I had before but I had no way to get to, like a new room. -Yeah, I can compete at X job, but maybe I just plain don’t want to. -create a new dream or modify an old one


Why am I taking a psychology class, you ask? Maybe now that I've mentioned it (and that the course is over) I’ll finally get my act together and write a post about it. I’ve only been procrastinating for about three months now.


plum palette