155, 2020-06, Black Hula (Satellite Serenade/Brightness Hiding), oil on linen, 82 x 90″ (208 x 228cm) (detail, 1)

This piece will be one of seven large new works as part of the “Untitled Enthymeme” exhibition at Chaos Gallery, Portland, Oregon, opening reception July 2, 2020 6—10pm, through August 23, 2020

“Satellite Serenade”— consider Marcus Aurelius’ metaphor for the universe, where we are all “gathered around the central fire”:

From Satellite Serenade, by Keiichi Suzuki:

(Tsuki ni tamashii wo kaeshite moraini)
To get my soul back from the moon
(Sekai no hate made kawa wo nagarete)
I’m floating on a river to the end of the world
(ichiban ii omoide dake totte)
I pick up only my best memory
(mizu ni haritsuite)
I stick to water
(kusa wo tabe nagara)
and I eat grass
(tsuki wo miagete)
looking up the moon
(sekidoh zutai ni)
along the equator
(izumi ni tamashii wo shizumete moraini)
To get my soul sunk in the spring
(sekai no mukou made kawa wo nobotte)
I’m going up a river beyond the world
(ichiban warui omoide oite)
I take my worst memory
(sokoni uzumete)
I bury it at the bottom
(kusari makitsukete)
and twine a chain
(boukire mitai ni ukabiagaru)
I rise to the surface like a old stick
(ichiban ii omoide dake totte)
I pick up only my best memory
(mizu ni haritsuite)
I stick to water
(kusa wo tabe nagara)
and I eat grass
(tsuki wo miagete)
looking up the moon
(sekidoh ni modoru)
back to the equator
(ichiban warui omoide oite)
I take my worst memory
(sokoni uzumete)
I bury it at the bottom
(kusari makitsukete)
and twine a chain
(boukire mitai ni ikiteyuku)
I lead my life like a old stick

In my attempt to unravel the meaning from the imagery of Satellite Serenade, one with such a prosaic mind as my own, easily flummoxed by riddles, may wonder whether the protagonist, or voice, is an insect, like a grasshopper, or even a horse somehow, or some other beast of burden. Because of the haunting vocal refrain and the truly iconic guitar motif in unison it wasn’t possible to really disassociate the idea of the stick from being a guitar… (?!) The current favorite idea is that the protagonist is a baby in its womb, an old soul reinstantiated into human form, and yet another lifetime (the chain being the umbilical cord), and the moon is kind of a source of souls. One would consider illustrating some of these symbols more explicitly in the painting, but for my part it’s better that the viewer not worry too much about what anything means, and that there be the essence of simplicity.

Marv Newland’s, Black Hula was central in my field of vision while making this painting.

Then there was the especially felicitous casting of I Ching 36 — Hiding Brightness (Ming Yi):

Brightness Hiding. The Dark Sun.
Trial: Hardship is advantageous.

Hide your light, accept the difficulties and find the hidden beginnings. Don’t appeal to authority. Supervise things from hiding. Beware of pushing yourself forward, being incautious or responding to provocation or temptation. Preserve inner calm and inner development. Take no risks.

The old characters show the Sun and the hero Yi the Archer who shot down the ten suns that threatened to destroy the world by fire.

Spirit Helpers: Earth over Fire. Mother and Middle Daughter, the Midwife and the Visionary, find the hidden beginnings. Hide your light to protect yourself and begin a difficult new endeavor. Conceal your intelligence by entering what is beneath you. There is a real possibility of injury now. By dimming your presence you can avoid being hurt. Accept the drudgery and the difficult journey. You can deliver yourself and inaugurate a new time. This will bring you profit and insight in the end. Hide yourself in common labor and accept what confronts you. You are being excluded from the center of things. Carefully watch common desires and ideas so that you can control them from hiding. Brighten your innate pattern. Use this enveloping obscurity to clarify your ideas. This will make you an inspiration to others.

Spring (36): Rouse new growth by hiding your talents and accepting the difficult journey. Though you feel held back, have no fear. You are connected to others through a network of spiritual beliefs. Be clear and simple. The dark time is ending.

Summer (22): Ripen the fruits by letting appearance reflect inner worth. Be brave and independent. Don’t run after impossible desires. Do the inner work. Don’t take the easy way out.

Fall (52): Harvest the crop by meeting others with generosity and care. This is the end of your isolation. Cut through pride and complication and you will signal to your true kin. Lead by example. Let your actions speak, not your words. Learn from the lessons of the past.

Winter (15): Find the seed of the new. Work hard at this and keep your pride out of the way. If you master your words you can influence people. Work on quietly to prepare the future.

It’s time now for me to turn my attention to other things in life— thank for your love and friendship