Last night I awoke at midnight and spent the next three hours skimming along the edge of sleep.
Instead of discoursing with the demons that like to alight in those hours, I drifted in love and beauty. From a cocoon of comfort, my minds eye watched colors and shapes. Golden columns rose and dissolved. Waves of aqua and emerald and pink flowed and ebbed. Figures twisted into view before fading into mist.
I understood that I was experiencing a history of art. Not viewing art from afar. Not learning about it academically, but being in art as its been created through time.
When I finally fell asleep I dreamed of the fabulous Wyeths. The great illustrator and teacher, NC. His immortal son Andrew, who painted death and madness, sex, suffering, rage and rocky endurance with such subtlety that foolish critics took him for a sentimental painter of quaint Americana. And Jamie, Andrew’s son, who paints everything from presidents to pigs (but I repeat myself).
In my dream they weren’t three generations of a remarkable family. They were brothers. Which, in a way makes sense. They are brothers in arts.
In the dream they were imperiled and I needed to save them. But as is usual, the dream ended with no conclusion.
In the last year I’ve been embraced by art.
I’ve always been an aesthete to my core, and my mother’s family told tales of famous artists and writers somewhere out on the branches of our hillbilly family tree. But I’ve also always been a peasant and for the past 30 years I’ve lived in relative poverty, far from civilization, with very little opportunity to experience art outside of books or videos.
I studied illustration in my 20s, but I was merely good and not great at it and that frustrated me into quitting. Excuses, excuses. Today this is about the level of my skill. And that’s when I’m trying really hard.
But last summer, I had chances to get close to great art, not merely by tromping through museums (though that, too), but by being a guest at the home of a fabled collector, and discovering not only wonders of beauty, but also the wonders of friendship and love on a level entirely new to me.
That experience has grown on me and led me down rabbitholes I’m only beginning to explore.
And speaking of love, the last couple of years have — quite surprisingly to this formerly happy hermit — brought me a love I have never experienced or even dreamed of experiencing.
The dashing blockade runner whose blog nym is Rhett has become such a deep part of my heart that life without him pales. Yet — best of all perhaps — we not only have an unprecedented meeting of minds, souls, and bodies, but we share a grown-up love. No dramas. No games. No desperations, jealousies, rivalries, possessiveness, or doubts. Just two long-time friends who’ve become much more than that and are finding more of ourselves and each other to explore every day.
And we mesh in such odd ways. Give us a problem and he will approach it analytically. I will come at it intuitively. And we will arrive at the same solution. Time and again. It’s amazingly great.
Sometimes I think the swell of gratitude will burst my chest.
Oh. And Rhett is the one who made my immersion in art possible. And he even eventually brought some of that art home, including one piece especially dear to me. I look up at what’s on the walls of his house and I really do think my heart will burst.
Rhett is also a freedomista and a news junkie. Just like me. We ponder whether World War 3 might be on the horizon or whether a society can recover once it’s governed by morons and fantasists.
That part sucks. But it’s us.
Aesthetics and politics. Joint inheritances from my mother. The two fit in my brain like like fighting bulldogs. Gee thanks, Ma.
Sure, art and political/social commentary can go together. See Goya and Daumier and Hogarth and for that matter Jamie Wyeth in his Vietnam-era youth.
But they do not go together for me or in me.
The above is prologue.
It is my way of saying why I’m quitting this blog.
I may post very occasionally from now on, but never again regularly, and not about The Usual Crises. The blog will remain online, but don’t expect frequent postings.
I’ve wanted to quit for some time and the only reason I haven’t is that I love the people who gather here and I don’t want either to lose you or to let you down. Oh, that and that I’ve needed the couple hundred dollars a month the blog still earns and the occasional lovely surprise contribution some dear old friend sends.
But I’ve also noticed that, as readership appears to grow and new voices join the Commentariat, the few hundred in donations grow incrementally smaller month by month.
This is not a complaint. Everybody is under stress. Inflation is sucking away your grocery money and the money to fuel your vehicle. You’ve also got to prep for whatever’s coming — and whatever’s coming, we can’t know what it is, but we know it won’t be pretty. I thank you for every dollar. I thank the wonderful old faithfuls, the people who’ve raised their pledges even when they couldn’t afford it, the amazingly generous, the mainstays and the newbies.
I will be closing my Patreon account in mid-May. If you want to cancel your monthly pledge now (before your credit card is charged on May 1), by all means do. OTOH, if you want to give me one last hearty farewell, I’ll be happy to have one last round of blog funds.
You can also make a one-time farewell donation if you wish.
But I ask and expect nothing. I am brim full with what you have given me over the years, materially, intellectually, and emotionally. I just need not to do politics and news any more and to give more of my time and spirit to the other loves in my life.
I don’t know exactly what form that will take where art is concerned; I’m neither good enough to do art as a profession nor prosperous enough to do it as a collector nor credentialed enough to do it as a critic. I just know I need to stop doing this so that I can have a mind uncluttered for that.
I do know what form it will take in giving more of myself to my relationship and life with Rhett.
Also. I won’t be going entirely offline. You can still meet me — and a crew of wonderful freedomistas and friends — over at The Living Freedom Forums.
Finally … this global mess we’re in.
You already know what to do about it. You don’t need me except for entertainment. You can’t stop the crazies from being crazy, the warmongers from being warmongers, the thieves from being thieves, the plotters from plotting, the elitists from holding you and everything you value in contempt.
But you can … well, do any or all of the things we’ve talked about over the years. Own your own mind. Take care of you and yours. Prepare for survival and “thrival” (as Silver puts it). Hold to your values. Preserve the knowledge and skills of your culture. And laugh at the naked emperor progressing pompously down the road.
As terrible as things are, there are marvelous signs that a backlash is building against the madness and criminal folly that’s dominating our age. And that backlash is shaping up to be a doozy.
The awake are getting wise to the woke. The formerly peaceable and placid are rising up. New tech developments are making it feasible to do what the Internet was always supposed to do — treat censorship as damage and route around it.
You go, parents. You go, Elon. And you, DeSantis. You go, you columnists and bloggers who are finally calling a spade a spade. You go, you professors suing the institutions who cancelled you. You go, creators of alt social media. You go, Web 3 developers and builders of privacy tech.
The hysterical screeching from authoritarians says they’re desperate and scared. Of us. And others like us. They’re scared that others will rediscover freedom and escape from their grasp — and they have every reason to be.
No, whatever happens won’t be pretty. Protect yourself and yours and prepare to build an alternate, reality-based world for your posterity. But it’s nice to envision a glow of freedom on the horizon.
Me, I’ll still be living as much freedom and as much time is left to me. Living it in love with Rhett and surrounded by beauty.