Mr. Big at the End of Either, Or… Or—Ambivalence Kills.

Mr. Big at the End of Either, Or. Litho, monoprint, decorative paper, 40″ x 28″, 1991.

The Socratic Dialogues used discussions to arrive at a truth. It is the dialogue form that has been with me in my own ruminations through the world of thought. As I write these posts, figures from my imaginal or real life pop up for me to dialogue with. Sometimes it’s a public figure present in the news, sometimes an old friend, sometimes an old girlfriend, sometimes one of my children. But always, the nature of this “mind theatre” takes place on a mental stage I’ve created. There is often a dramatic fulcrum, tipping from one idea into another. I ask these questions to my invisible interlocutors: Like Mr. Big. Just who is Mr. Big? What is the nature of the path he’s been riding? Is it the rational/imaginal dichotomy? If you look in the bibliography link in the header, you’ll see it weighted to the sciences, especially the life-sciences. As well, poetry has figured deeply in these musings—here’s a bit from my main-man Wallace Stevens, his poem This Solitude of Cataracts

He wanted the river to go on flowing the same way,
To keep on flowing.  He wanted to walk beside it,

Under the buttonwoods, beneath a moon nailed fast.
He wanted his heart to stop beating and his mind to rest

In a permanent realization, just to know how it would be,

Just to know how it would feel, released from destruction,
To be a bronze man breathing under archaic lapis,

Without the oscillations of planetary pass-pass,
Breathing his bronzen breath at the azury center of time.

“Without the oscillations of planetary pass-pass….” ?!!! Sheesh! I mean there is the rational and imaginal in ONE LINE!

A particular hobby-horse I’ve been riding forever, includes this spiritual/practical divide. Take for example two artists—Marcel Duchamp and Wassily Kandinsky. Kandinsky wrote in Concerning the Spiritual in Art the following…

“The work of art is born of the artist in a mysterious and secret way. From him it gains life and being. Nor is its existence casual and inconsequent, but it has a definite and purposeful strength, alike in its material and spiritual life. It exists and has power to create spiritual atmosphere; and from this inner standpoint one judges whether it is a good work of art or a bad one. If its “form” is bad it means that the form is too feeble in meaning to call forth corresponding vibrations of the soul… The artist is not only justified in using, but it is his duty to use only those forms which fulfill his own need… Such spiritual freedom is as necessary in art as it is in life.”

Duchamp on the other hand was contemptuous of all that spiritual fol-de-rol, at least on the surface—cool to the max. Suave is the best word. Some would say snarky to the max. In art school you wanted to be that frosty intellectual, at least I did. At the same time there was a very gooey mystery presented to me. I’d been a meditator since 1967 and so, in touch with something beyond the practicalities and strivings of the careerism…it became more and more clear that in that meditative space there was a toe dipped into what felt like a universal well, a source of imaginal inspiration. So this is the space Mr. Big is straddling. And since my trepanning (I had brain surgery 11/2021 to relieve a troubling set of symptoms that included cloudy thinking), I feel I can inhabit that thinnest of spaces between the adamantine logic of Duchamp and the cloud land of the spirituality of Kandinsky, where the colors themselves are characters in his personal drama of touching high spiritual being.

“Hey, Ma, where do you get these ideas? I mean, like, how does a person think?”

“Well, sweetie, ideas seem to come through the cracks, between this and that, at the end of either, or.”

“You mean you have to stop thinking to start thinking”

“Well, my dearest, you and Mr. Big seem to be on the same page.”


Like all the work from this period (late 80’s, early 90’s) I started with a B&W litho. In this case I drew the head of a mockingbird I saw in the Galapagos onto a litho plate. The bird was then printed mutiple times, making several appearances with different bodies. His body was done as a monoprint in a quick flash of wet paint. The arms and legs were drawn then cut out of some decorative papers. I liked working this way, often not having any meaning in mind, just what pleased me to look at in a process of creating pictorial objects. Thirty-some years later, this writing pops out of the picture. I have a hunch the dialogues with “Ma” are going to make more appearances. Stay tuned.

One thought on “Mr. Big at the End of Either, Or… Or—Ambivalence Kills.

  1. Pingback: A Year of Living…Period. – 90:ojime

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