Saturday, January 15, 2011

Moving Pictures: A Prequel, or Church Was a Neuroscientist

(Originally Published on January 5, 2011)
In the 1850s, Frederic Edwin Church was commissioned on two occasions by Cyrus West Field, of the Atlantic Telegraph Company, to travel to South America and to produce work as a chronicle of his journeys. Sometime after returning to New York, Church began work on Heart of the Andes, a monumental canvas of nearly ten feet in width that strung together elements from various sketches and paintings he made on the continent. Accounts of its theatrical unveiling and exhibition, in 1859, seem almost mythical.

The painting was displayed in an oversized walnut frame onto which curtains had been strung so that the unveiling would give the effect of a window being drawn open. The space was dimly lit with dark fabrics draping the surrounding walls to absorb the ambient light. The painting was lit by gas lights that were directed onto the picture by silver reflectors, and being the only object in the room receiving direct light, the picture reflected light back onto the audience giving the impression that the thing was being lit from within. Some accounts claim that Church filled the space with indigenous flora he had brought back from South America, but there is some discrepancy on that. It is known, however, that viewers were required to sit on benches and were provided with opera glasses to examine the painting's details from afar.

Among the first installation pieces in the history of Modern Art, the picture was a

Church's canvas had a significant effect on its viewers; a contemporary witness wrote:

women felt faint. Both men and women succumb[ed] to the dizzying combination of terror and vertigo that they recognize[d] as the sublime. Many of them will later describe a sensation of becoming immersed in, or absorbed by, this painting, whose dimensions, presentation, and subject matter speak of the divine power of nature.

For the three weeks it was on display in Church's studio, more than 12,000 people flocked to see it, for which they would willingly pay a 25-cent admission fee. The painting would soon thereafter go on tour, first of London then of the United States. When it reached St. Louis, it was seen by Samuel Clemens, who would rave that, "You will never get tired of looking at the picture, but your reflections--your efforts to grasp an intelligible Something--you hardly know what--will grow so painful that you will have to go away from the thing, in order to obtain relief. You may find relief, but you cannot banish the picture--it remains with you still." He was 25 at the time.

The thing eventually sold for $10,000, the highest price anyone had ever paid for the work of a living American artist. But that may be the least interesting part of the story for me. It's a story I think of so often when looking at art today, and while I can't remember seeing it then, or even before then, when I think back on that day and The Quintet of Remembrance, the moving image that in a dark room felt like a living painting, my thoughts quickly shift to the audiences who sat in the dark staring into the Heart of the Andes(a painting!) feeling themselves overcome by an emotional and physical response which they could barely even begin to classify, and I feel so fucking jealous. Not of Church, but of his audience, of their experience and, maybe more to the point, their capacity to have it. (And yeah, I'm probably pretty jealous of Church, too.)

It's not so much that I am jealous of their opportunity to view the piece in its original installation (although that would be pretty cool, and if anybody at the Metropolitan is reading this, just remember who it was that gave you the idea: Me that's who!), what I mean is that, even in the dark and with the assistance of tiny binoculars, part of me seriously doubts that I would even allow myself to be open to the kind of reaction the contemporary accounts describe. Maybe I'm too cynical, or maybe the opposite is true and I take the descriptions of the accounts too literally, but when I read phrases like "the dizzying combination of terror and vertigo" I can't help but look for that kind of reaction to a piece in my personal history, and I don't know if I can find it. And I really wish I could. I'd like to know that feeling.

There's a chapter in Jonah Lehrer's Proust Was a Neuroscientist that deals with the 1913 opening of
Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (Lehrer later retold the story to Jad and Robert for an episode of Radiolab). From the book, Lehrer describes the scene:
But spring, as T.S. Eliot pointed out is also the cruelest time. No sooner do lilacs emerge than the sweeping dissonance of Stravinsky's orchestral work begins, like "the immense sensation that all things experience at the moment when Nature renews its forms." In one of music's most brutal transitions, Stravinsky opens the second section of his work with a monstrous migraine of sound. Though the music has just started, Stravinsky is already relishing the total rejection of our expectations. Stravinsky called this section "The Augurs of Spring."
The "Augurs" don't go well. Within seconds, the bassoon's flowery folk tunes are paved over by an epileptic rhythm, the horns colliding asymmetrically against the ostinato. All of spring's creations are suddenly hollering for attention. The tension builds and builds and builds, but there is no vent. The irregular momentum is merciless, like the soundtrack to an apocalypse, the beat building to a fatal fortissimo.
This was when the audience at the premiere began to scream. The Rite had started a riot.

"For the audience," Lehrer claims, "Stravinsky's new work was the sound of remorseless originality." He goes on to weave this story and others into an interesting discussion on the topic of neuroplasticity and about the human brain's adaptability to new stimuli that may initially come as a shock. As proof, Lehrer offers that audiences did indeed warm to Stravinsky's new sound and The Rite, within a short time would be hailed a great success.

I bring this up because it's a great story, but also because I think it's analogous to the initial reactions toHeart of the Andes and how, today, I really question whether or not I could ever be affected in the same way. So much about seeing the Church would have been new to its audience. The scale, the subject, and the manner in which it was displayed, would have all felt distinctly foreign, even shocking. But the sad truth, if Lehrer is right, may be that our brains, or even our collective unconscious, have evolved beyond the point that we could even hope to will ourselves to see any of it as new again. Maybe it's not that we're cynical, but that we have become desensitized to the sublime.

But these stories, really whether they're true or not, remind us of what art can mean to us, of what it can be. They remind us that art itself can be a force of nature. They remind us of its bewitching power not simply to seduce or move us, but to shake and even startle us. To wield the disorienting force of spectacle, and to take us out of ourselves and will us to go in a direction of its choosing, often further than we would have ever been prepared to go on our own. And even today, there's got to be some hope in that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moving Pictures

(Originally Published on January 4, 2011)

The first time I went to The Museum of Modern Art was for a Gerhard Richter retrospective in the winter of 2002. It was my final semester of college, and a couple of friends and I had made the drive up from Greensboro to visit some grad schools, see some art, and to become better acquainted with the city. Looking back, the experience is a bit of a blur (rimshot). We had gone to MoMA at the end of long and exhausting day that we'd spent at the Met, which happened to also be a suggested donation evening. Unlike the Met , MoMA is almost always an unavoidably expensive place to go (currently $20 required admission), but for a couple of hours on Friday evenings the museum is opened up to a suggested admission price, and these are reliably the busiest times you will ever see the place. On that evening, for one reason or another, public access to the permanent collection had been closed off, meaning that all comers were being filed through the handful of galleries that housed the Richter pictures. It was a mad house; way too crowded to feel comfortable stopping to look, so nobody really did. We all just sort of walked through, giving each picture a cursory read and moving on to the next and the next and the next, until we were let out into the gift shop. I didn't have the money or the inclination to buy one of the books they were hawking, so today, it's almost as if I was never there.

There you have it. My first trip to MoMA was not a memorable one. But it wasn't a total loss. It was also the day I first saw Bill Viola's The Quintet of Remembrance.

At the time, I hadn't been exposed to a great deal of video art. I was an art student sure, but I had a sort of quixotic affinity for the handmade; plus I was living in central North Carolina in a period that predated YouTube, so there wasn't a great deal of opportunity. I had seen a bunch of stills in books and magazines and a few old black and white reels in college. Early William Wegman, some Richard Serra, Dennis Oppenheim, and a few others, but beyond that, mainly student work. I found a kind of adolescent charm in some of it, but I was never really a fan. I had never been pulled in, never felt as though I was in the presence of something that was worth the time it was asking me to spend looking at it.

Video sort of emerged as a viable artistic medium during a period when artists had really begun to fetishize the concept of the conceptual and place the idea behind a work of art so high above its execution that it's often difficult to discern the difference between the real art of the period and its numerous parodies. And while I have little doubt that it was an exciting time to be an artist, the art that it produced so often falls into the realm of an amateurish spectacle of self-indulgent excess which fails to connect on either an intellectual or emotional level to anyone living outside the cocoon of space and time in which it was made.

Video artists had chosen moving pictures, a genre that presents so many opportunities of which we're all aware, but in their urgency to cast off so many the format's conventions, they were unwilling, uninterested, or, so often, incapable of even beginning to harness its potential. And, if you ask me, a lot of bad art resulted. But the medium was young, and as you'd hope, with experimentation comes experience, and with experience most living things have a habit of coming of age.

The Quintet of Remembrance is one of four videos created between 2000 and 2001 that were inspired by the artist's study of late medieval and early Renaissance Italian and Flemish paintings and their iconography. In each, a group of five people undergo a range of emotions while the camera records every nuance of their physical reaction.

Here, Viola specifically references Hieronymus Bosch's Christ Mocked (The Crowning with Thorns) (ca. 1490-1500, National Gallery, London), Andrea Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi (1495-1505, Getty Museum, Los Angeles), and Dieric Bouts' Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowing Madonna) (1470-75, Art Institute of Chicago). Bosch's painting acts as the visual template for the composition of this work and the strong emotions conveyed by the five people that vacillate between compassion, shock, grief, anger, fear, and rapture. Although they share a close physical space, each person is fully absorbed in his or her own emotional experience. Shot with high-speed 35-mm film, the actors' performance, which lasted approximately sixty seconds, is extended in the finished video to a little over sixteen minutes, accentuating the power and depth of each emotion.

Viola embraced the visual, specifically the aesthetic, attributes of the medium in a way unlike any video artist I'd ever seen. He seemed intent on placing the work, and the medium, into a new or, rather, much older context, engaging in a dialogue with art history while seeming to turn a deaf ear to the solipsism that had plagued the contemporary dialogue for so long.

The installation space, which you can see in the link, was sort of a box of a room, not too small, but dark with two rows of benches facing a screen onto which the glowing image was being projected. The first thing you notice is how very much like a painting it is. Viola looked to the early Renaissance for his composition and inspiration, but he lit his subjects with the dramatic flare of the Baroque, and, if not for their contemporary dress, The Quintet may at first be mistaken for a group populating the work of one of the Caravaggisti. And the piece is quiet, like a painting. There's no audio track accompanying the video, just a very low electronic hum of the projector working.

But the longer you look, the more you realize how unlike a painting it is. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the piece is changing before your eyes. It moves. The figures, who seem frozen at first, are shifting, at a snail's pace, yes, but continuously nonetheless. Captured, the moment has been prolonged, so that each of its subtleties, every minute change of expression or posture can be seen, can be read, and can be felt by the viewer. No, this was not a painting, nor a photograph. It was something else entirely. And it had me mesmerized.

While there were people constantly filing in and out, I felt the uncanny sense of being alone in there beneath a shroud of darkness and anticipation, as though I had become so entangled with the piece with the experience of experiencing it, that everyone in the space had become part of it, as though we were all players, surrounded, but each of us lost in our own encapsulated moment. And something strange happened: I stayed for the duration.

I don't know whether or not it would be right to say that I was moved. I was surprised. Sometimes that's just as good. I left the space in silence, still not sure what I had seen, but feeling as though it had been something special, something that I would not soon forget.

We spent most of the rest of the day at the Met. I remember there was a really nice show chronicling the lives and work Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, and that one of my friends was especially taken by an exhibition of small works by Paul Klee, of whom he was a much bigger fan than I. And there was, of course, the permanent collection: Van Eyck, Velázquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Poussin, Goya, Chardin, Manet,Cezanne, Van Gogh, and on and on. It's really far too much to see in a day, and it's no wonder that I could barely stand to look at anything for more than a moment when the day was done. Before we made the trek down to MoMA, I'm sure we found our way to the American Wing of the Met where we would have looked for Madame X or The Gulf Stream, or some other such thing that we would have known by heart, but when I think back on that day, on sitting in the dark and the feeling of being enveloped by the glow of The Quintet, what comes to mind is a picture I don't even remember seeing until much later. The story of which, I will get into soon.

Note: The video above is not The Quintet of Remembrance. It is clip from The Quintet of Astonished. A still of the QoR can be seen in the link accompanying the blockquote.

The Cloisters: A Good Place to Start

(Originally Published on January 3, 2011)
Several years ago, I was living with my wife and one-year-old son in a three-bedroom apartment we were renting in Queens. I used the third bedroom for a studio, which was actually more difficult than it may sound seeing as the entire apartment had been painted bright orange with green trim. It was not an ideal color scheme for a painting studio, but I made do as best I could. Every day I commuted to midtown, where I worked an entry-level job at an investment firm in the Chrysler Building.

It was early March 2008, when I met a friend, and painter, for a drink after work at a bar beneath Grand Central. He had just come from the
Whitney Biennial, which had recently opened. The experience had left him drained and a bit cynical. I hadn't seen the show, but I knew the feeling.

There are shows that leave you so invigorated that all you want is to be back in the studio, feeling as though you could work through the night without tiring. Then there are the shows that leave you empty, pondering the foolish choices and childish ideals that led you to choose the life of an artist. And you leave these shows knowing you're supposed to want to go back to work. But who can work when there's so much drinking to be done?

So we talked for a while over some beers about the things two painters talk about when they feel the world is backwards and that nobody makes art for the right reasons. And somewhere in there, we realized that though we'd both lived as painters in the city for the better part of a decade, neither of us had ever been to
The Cloisters. Finally, a problem that could be solved!

And so it happened that the following morning my friend and I met at Columbus Circle, and headed north seeking some form of creative purification or rejuvenation at a medieval monastery on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

If you've never been to The Cloisters, it's really quite remarkable. The subway lets you off outside the gates of Fort Tryon Park, which is a gorgeous patch of hilly green overlooking the Hudson just to the north of the George Washington Bridge. From there it's a bit of a hike through the park's gardens and wooded passes, and by the time you finally reach the abbey you're so taken out of your surroundings that it's almost a surprise to realize that you haven't even left the city. It's a feeling you rarely get in any of the other major NYC parks, and for this place, it's an appropriate sort of artifice. For it's there, hidden away at the northern tip of Manhattan, that you can find a museum that houses what is probably the greatest medieval art collection in the New World; including, most famously, the Unicorn Tapestries.

The building is a sort of amalgam comprising architectural elements taken from various medieval European abbeys and transported to New York, in the 1930s, by John D. Rockefeller Jr., for redesign by Charles Collens. The interior is stone, and a bit cold. In the heart of the building, there's a 12th century arcade (hence: Cloisters) surrounding an open-air garden, which is closed off during the colder months, as it was then. At opposing ends of the garden, there are two chapels, built centuries apart, lit by a cool expanse of ambient natural light. The tapestries hang in more dimly lit rooms adjacent to the arcade, but the bulk of the collection on display, e.g., illuminated manuscripts, ivory carvings, early Flemish masterpieces, can be found on the lower floors.

We walked through this space with thoughts of the Biennial and of the emptiness of its brand of celebrity still fresh in our minds. I stopped before an elongated glass case that held a small ivory relief. There were two panels with hinges in the center allowing it to open and close like a book. Opened, the piece displayed four miniature scenes carved into the ivory. On the left was the Coronation of the Virgin. On the right: The Last Judgment. In the lower third of both panels, souls were being lined up, the lucky being welcomed to Paradise, the rest were being banished to damnation. It had been carved by an anonymous Frenchman in the mid-13th century.

I've seen a lot of medieval art and artifact in my life, and I have little doubt that I've walked past similarly crafted works before without taking notice. And shame on me for that. But not on this day. I remember being struck by the scale of the thing. In a world where we can become so accustomed to the over-sized, to the pretension of the monumental, here was this thing, this tiny object that I could hold in my hand, smaller than a paperback, but carrying more weight than anything I'd seen in I-don't-know-how-long. And what was this weight? Whatever it was, it seemed to flow through those halls like lava: dense and slow, but hotter than you can imagine. And it filled those spaces with a power to preserve the old as new, and leave the new cowering in shame and in awe.

The diptych was but one object of many that made us stop and just look. But it's only one of literally dozens of ivory carvings and miniatures, each sharing many of the same attributes. It was the same with the Gothic sculptures adorning the walls of a crypt from which they looked down on a variety of gorgeously rendered sarcophagi. And it was the same with the paintings. Shit. The paintings!

The Merode Altarpiece by Robert Campin may be the greatest painting I've ever seen. Humbly displayed in a quiet room the color of limestone, it sits on a perch and whispers, "Come closer." I obeyed, and I found a picture I'd seen a thousand times before in reproduction, but as is so often the case, I had yet to really see it. Three panels: the Annunciation of the Holy Motherhood by the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin in the center, flanked on either side by devout onlookers to the left and Joseph the Carpenter in his workshop to the right. A technical marvel, it's masterfully rendered in oil from a time when the medium was still in its infancy. I have yet to find a reproduction that will do it justice, but the picture is revelation, both literally and figuratively.

I've heard stories of people breaking down before a Mark Rothko. Now, I like Rothko as much the next guy, but give me a break! You want a reason to weep, go stand in front of the Campin Annunciation for twenty minutes and really look. Afterwards, try to remember why you ever thought Mark Rothko was a painter of note. Maybe you can do it. Maybe a lot of people can. I sure as hell can't. I couldn't that day, and I can't now.

I don't mean to say that the Campin has no equal, or that the Rothko lacks the power to move. I've stood in the middle of a room full of Rothko pictures and bathed in the depths of his blues and oranges; I have stood there, closed my eyes, filled my lungs with air, and felt myself falling into those fields of color, and I have been moved. But on this day, as I stood before that gloriously crafted and unassuming triptych, I stared into its turbulent world of spatial anomaly, of allegory and riddle, of symbolism and iconography, and of blind humility in the presence of the extraordinary, and I was pulled in, and my eyes were opened. I've since found that I do some of my best looking when my eyes are open.

There's a terrace with a well-manicured garden upon which museum visitors can walk out and sit while enjoying panoramic views across the Hudson and into New Jersey. It was on the terrace, while looking at a peculiar shrub whose branches had been manipulated over the years to grow like the arms of a candelabrum, that my friend and I began to piece together what we'd been seeing. And why it was all so profoundly different from what we'd become accustomed to seeing.

Had either of us been religious, then we might have been tempted to look at all of these distinctly Christian masterpieces and attribute their power or pathos to some form of divine inspiration. We are not so disposed. Nor are we of the type to be persuaded that the Old Masters were endowed with mystical secrets or otherworldly abilities. They could not, as an eloquent professor of mine once put it, shit marble. They were not, in any objective sense, special. They were just people; people with an admirable level of skill, which was innate, and a brilliant technique, which had to be learned. But they had something more.

When I mentioned to my friend that I would be writing about this, he reminded me that the word-of-the-day had been "Devotion." We decided on the terrace that afternoon that, more than skill, technique, or inspiration, the current that reverberated through the halls of that abbey and those of so many of the great museums of the world, yet so few of the places where new art is still being made and shown is nothing if not the lingering vibration of the profound and unshakeable devotion of the makers. Not to God, but to the work itself.

Think of the nameless Frenchman who, with large hands and diminutive tools, more than seven hundred years ago peered through a primitive magnifying glass to deftly carve tiny Bible stories into a fresh block of ivory that had been harvested from a slaughtered elephant somewhere across the known world. He could have had no ambitions for museum exhibition. There was no such thing. The object he toiled over was not even meant for display. It had utility. It was small for a reason. It was meant to be held, to spend most of its time clasped shut, and to be opened privately by its owner who could then contemplate its lessons in solitude. That was its purpose.

It had a purpose! It wasn't even art in the modern sense of the word. Certainly no more so than a chair or a desk. But it breathes with life even today. Through a pane of glass it was never meant to be behind, it speaks. Christ! It has the power to speak to nonbelievers about life, about meaning and faith, and about devotion. It's nothing short of magical. That it is art is undeniable. But more than that, I've come to believe that it is what art, what all art, should be. What all great art has ever been. Not what it should look like or be about, but what it should strive for, and sadly what so much of art today fails to even consider. That it was made by, probably, a man with no ambition or even concept of fame only serves to underscore how far our expectations have fallen.

The art world, whatever else it is, is an insulated place. I spent the Thanksgiving prior at the home of a friend of mine who owns a gallery. Towards the end of the night, a conversation between the host and a guest I didn't know turned to an argument over who was more relevant: Jeff Koons or Matthew Barney. Koons, the host argued, was more relevant, and this was evidenced by his having had a float in that morning's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I don't really remember the argument in favor of Barney, but it probably had something to do with the Guggenheim. "Relevant to whom?" I recall asking nobody in particular. After all, while it's true that, short of being the subject of a major motion picture, Koons and Barney are probably as famous as any two living artists can get, I couldn't help but feel as though I was watching two adults heatedly argue over the relevance of two people to a world that had never heard of them, had never seen their work, and could, consequently, never be expected remember either. Relevant indeed.

Artists today are, in a way, like the 13th century ivory carver. That is to say, we don't—or shouldn't—have any illusions about being remembered by history. But unlike the ivory carver, we live in the 21st century and have therefore been endowed with a very keen sense of celebrity, which, when historical relevance is out of the question, will do in a pinch. And this brings me back to The Whitney Biennial.

It should be said that there's nothing extraordinary about hating the Biennial. Indeed, almost everybody always does. The idea, if you don't know, is a large multi-floor group exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in which the curators take their best stab at defining that moment in the world of art-making and, theoretically, distinguishing it from the moments two, four, and ten years prior. The result is almost always a cacophony of the fashionably novel, a noisy mess of the superficially new.

But somehow nothing ever feels new. It's always the same things being said in slightly different ways. A grand creative dialogue, which began in earnest at some point in our distant past, has devolved into an exercise in which everybody sits quietly, waiting patiently for their turn to chime up in agreement, to take their brief solo in the endless chorus of "Me toos!" A periodical exposition of shabby cover tunes, a loud and over-hyped episode of American Idol every couple of years is all that remains of what used to be called the avant garde.

Devotion, in art as in other arenas, is a virtue to be cherished. And even if we assume at the outset that it's always been a rare commodity, it's hard to walk the halls of The Cloisters, filled as they are with centuries old masterpieces produced by human beings of whom history has little or no memory, and then find even trace amounts of that kind of devotion in the shallow pitch of "Me too." It's as though we as artists have forgotten what we are capable of doing. Or as though so many of us have simply stopped caring. But so often it seems to be that devotion—more than talent, craft, inspiration, or even time—is what separates them from us.

The work mattered to them in a way that it doesn't matter to us. Their work was precious, and their work had meaning. They had no concern for being remembered, yet their devotion moved them to create things that have bridged the centuries and can move us still today. For our part, we seem to have responded to the news that we will almost certainly be forgotten with the conviction to stop caring altogether. After all, if we can be reasonably certain that the day will come when our names will be uttered for the last time, where are we to find the motivation even to try to make something actually worth remembering?

For those who still have the energy to look, I offer The Cloisters as a good place to start.

BreakerBaker 1-9

(Originally Published on January 3, 2011)

First things first. I am of course obliged to thank our generous host. I am genuinely flattered by his invitation to spend the week up top, as it were. Like many here, I've spent the last couple of years finding my way to Ta-Nehisi's space most days, multiple times a day, and I deeply appreciate the vote of confidence I think he's given me.

Now, based on a handful of comments and suggestions I've made down below over the life of this blog, TNC's asked me to talk a bit about visual art. I spent a while turning it over in my head trying to figure out what that means, or what it should mean in the context of this space, and what I've decided makes the most sense for this blog and this readership is a sort of illustrated meditation on art, the act of creation, and the experience of looking.

There will be an unavoidably autobiographical element in this, and while I feel like I know a lot of you already, I think I should provide a bit of background on me. I have good amount of art history, but I come at this from the perspective of a maker as opposed to a scholar. I studied drawing and painting, first at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, then at the New York Academy of Art. I lived and worked in New York off and on for seven years, and I continue to paint today from my home outside of Atlanta, which is more or less where I grew up. Everything I say here is from my perspective, and it's not really meant to challenge your feelings, as much as it is to express mine. I hope I am able to keep your interest, and you'll forgive me when I go a bit long.

Also, I already have the week more or less mapped out, but I am open to suggestions.

The Atlantic

I had the opportunity last week to act as guest blogger at Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog on The Atlantic website. It was pretty cool, although after the second or third day I began to wish I had been allowed a bit more time to prepare. It was the first week after the holidays, after all. I was originally offered this week, but within hours TNC asked if I could take the week of the third instead.

My assumption is that Michael Chabon (who's one of the guest bloggers for this week) was too nervous about having to share the space with me. It's understandable. He's a Pulitzer Prize winner, but I'm a pretty intimidating guy. It's a shame, though, because I'm confident that we could have coexisted for the week and thus avoided this collision course he and I now find ourselves on. But I'm not going to focus on that now.

Right now, I am going to focus on reposting the stuff I did last week here. That way, when I begin to try to write more new content for this space, it will feel as though I've already started.