Sickness Unto Death


oldenburg“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Despair is the Sickness Unto Death: Despair is a Sickness of the Spirit, of the Self, and Accordingly Can Take Three Forms: in Despair not to be Conscious of Having a Self (not despair in the strick sense); in Despair not to Will to be Oneself; in Despair to Will to be Oneself” – Soren Kierkegaard

“No one is free who has not obtained the empire of himself. No man is free who cannot command himself.” –Pythagoras

“We are not supposed to all be the same, feel the same, think the same, and believe the same. The key to continued expansion of our Universe lies in diversity, not in conformity and coercion. Conventionality is the death of creation.” –Anthon St. Maarten

“Personal disintegration remains always an imminent danger.” – Christopher Lasch

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”- Thomas Paine

More on Brexit, which all the above quotes are germane to:

“Nobody seems to understand it’s not about Cameron or Nigel Farage, or Michael Gove vs. Boris Johnson, it’s about voting for or against the EU, for or against Juncker and Tusk and five other unelected presidents having a say in one’s life.

And that’s not all either. It’s about voting to leave, or remain in, a Union that is already dead and preserved only in a zombie state. Brexit is just one vote and many more will inevitably follow. Brexit is not the first, Grexit had that ‘honor’ hast year. Later this month, elections in Italy and Spain have the potential to turn into preliminary Italix and Spexit votes. And then there will be more.

The reason why these things are taking place, and will be, going forward, is that the economies of all these countries are fast deteriorating. The sole reason why people have accepted the rule of Brussels coming from far away over their daily lives, is the promise that it would make those lives better and more comfortable. That promise has been shattered. The EU has made things worse for most Europeans, not improved them. And when seen in that light, why should people agree to continue to be told whta to do by those who’ve made them poorer? There’s no democratic model in which that remotely makes sense. There are only undemocratic left…

An economy in decline means the end of decentralization and the end of existing political power structures. This is inevitable.” –Automatic Earth

It also means an absolute end to the pseudo-art nonsense that the art world is uniformly engaged in. This art is all neoliberal and embodies neoliberal notions and propaganda. All of it. It’s deader than a doornail. Nihilism, escapist pleasures, interior decoration, spectacles of all sorts (i.e. Entertainment for the decadent wealthy.) All of it politically correct. Much of it specifically anti-Christian as the Christian right are the bad guys. Anybody believing in Christ is a moron, naturally. Atheists or pseudo mystical jackasses like Rothko and Clyfford Still are immortal geniuses and enlightened beings.  Does anybody actually think that a world totally bereft of natural resources due to the corporate rape that we’re all subsidizing will be looking back fondly at silkscreened Coca Cola bottles and Marilyn, gigantic buttplugs, Chia Pets, and Ice Cream Cones on the tops of buildings? That they’ll be sitting in a Turrell light tunnel or praying in the Rothko or Ellsworth Chapels?

Dream on. By all means

Do any of you Contemporary Avant-Garde artistes out there even have an opinion? About anything? Are you aware that there is an entire world of artists directly opposed to you all over the country who consider you moronic lamebrains? Do you see anything at all outside your little ivory tower fantasy world where you all preach the same empty slogans (Holzer, Nauman, Kruger, ad infinitum) considering it to be fantastically insightful? Everyone is a John Dockus type with their head buried completely in the sand. The kind who become furiously angry and start writing insults to me if their fragile realities are challenged.

My writing has turned this despairing and despondent from the experience of writing it over the last 5 years and realizing nobody has the faintest interest in the content of art. All they’re interested in is the surface appeal. Just as Warhol stated: “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am.” It’s the art of the narcissist. The art of the corporate psychopath. Totally cool. Totally dehumanized. Void of any kind of individual (see quotes above) Is there anything else but narcissistic art in the “Avant-Garde” world or Family values nostalgia Old Master/French Academy copying in the “conservative art world’? Of course the family values art has crossed over, some of it, as in 1 million or more for a Norman Rockwell illustration for Saturday Evening Post covers. Anything the Capitalist class can convert into big bucks is up for grabs.

None of this art makes any sense as it’s a meaningless tower of Babel. And it’s collapsing. All of its terrified inhabitants, just like those aboard the Titanic are beginning to realize that the people crushed and locked away below decks are pounding on the doors as the hull of the ship cracks apart.

And they’re too terrified to even speak. Too terrified to even read what I’m writing. Baby time out there, right? Suck on your pacifier. Worship your Buttplug. Hardy, har har. Life is hilarious. Take another line of coke. That’s what fuelled all the Schnabel/Haring glory back in the 1980s. I was in art school then. Everyone was snorting coke like there was no tomorrow. Turns out there isn’t thanks to all of it.

Go down to the video at the bottom of this column and skip the writing if it’s too boring. Just watch the video. You’ll get the picture of where art is at. At what intellectual level it currently resides at. And don’t kid yourself, you’re no different than those brilliant artists. That’s why none of you can bother to read or comment or discuss what is happening today in reality.

Donald Trump pitches his speeches to 4th graders. Hillary is at 7th grade level. The candidates who lost were those above those grade levels. Rand Paul (7.5), Jeb Bush (8), Rubio and Christie (8.6), Ted Cruz (8.9), Fiorina (9.6), Huckabee (10), Sanders (10), Chafee (8.5) What grade level does anyone think today’s artists pitch their work to? I’d say around 6th or 7th grade as a rough estimate.

John Alexander Parks sent me a link to his new show after I’d posted his work, which I like. He’s an art teacher. Big gallery name, I presume within New York. Didn’t bother to comment on my blog or anything else as no doubt his only interest was in promoting his own work to my readers. No doubt not understanding I have all of 5 of them. Art is all about selling, though, isn’t it? Or is there something I’m missing about con art? Is anybody capable of getting real anymore? Tell me then, what grade level is a painting like this typical Parks painting is pitched to:

How about this other Brit artist, Banksy? What grade level?


Or this Gage Taylor, one of which I took down when his fac totum wrote in to denounce me for showing his work for reasons I am unclear on since I was showing it because I liked it. I liked it as nice Max Parrish kind of childish illustration. I don’t think of childrens book illustration as great art, by and large. Although there are, of course, many exceptions. But those exceptions aren’t among artists whose entire body of work is aimed at 6th grade level. Like Dr. Seuss. I love Dr. Seuss. But I don’t consider him a serious artist. Sorry, art world kids. I’m a meanie, that way.


gage taylor



What grade level are these artists talking at? And these artists are absolutely representative of nearly every other American artist I can think of. They make work for children. They talk in the language of children. Fairy tale art. Fantasy art. Art thoroughly disconnected from human reality and the pathos not just of our current condition. But that has always been part of the human condition.


About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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11 Responses to Sickness Unto Death

  1. sydsart says:

    It is said that our children aren’t mature until they reach the age of 30 years. Could be it is true, that would account for fairy tale art because they still believe in Santa Claus. They group up with their babies.

  2. trueoutsider says:

    Article in the Washington Post from Oct. 24, 2014 has these poll numbers. 70% of Americans believe you can influence the physical world via positive thought (in New Mexico it’s closer to 88% from my anecdotal research most of them centered in Santa Fe and Taos area); 62% believe advanced like Atlantis once existed; 58% believe that dreams can foretell the future; 52% believe houses or rooms can be haunted by spirits; 48% believe Satan causes most of the evil in the world; and 32% believe in global warming.

    From my experience in New Mexico, I’ve found very few adults that have ever matured. When I used to draw at Borders there were groups of retirees reading the Harry Potter novels. Adults reading Teen or Childrens literature is quite common in many bookstore reading groups in the West. In the entire time I lived in New Mexico it was an extreme rarity to ever see an adult reading adult literature. If they were even reading books at all

    We are in appalling decline. We’re a nation of morons who will not admit it or do a thing to rectify the situation. And so down we spiral. Money is all that counts. As Stephen Hawking said recently, Humankind is still greedy, stupid and the greatest threat to Earth. I will add that America is at the forefront of the greed and stupidity.

    While we crack jokes and laugh hysterically at each others wit on Twitter, we flush ourselves down the Shitter. And we adults are responsible. Not our poor children. Not to mention our grandchildren who will have what to console themselves with? Decadent Warhol and Rauschenberg and Johns artworks?

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, Russian aircraft are bombing American-backed rebels in Syria.

    And US backed rebels attack US Special Forces:

    And perhaps Russia is bombing American-backed rebels in response to NATO having Germany lead the 30,000 troop Anaconda War Games in Poland? “The provocation is the single largest buildup of foreign troops in Poland since WWII, and is also the first time German soldiers have been stationed in the Eastern European nation since the fall of the Nazi regime”? Note the video of NATO troops wearing German SS symbols. What kind of a horror story has this country turned itself into. But let’s all shut our eyes tight!

    What kind of game do the lunatics Obama and Hillary along with their moronic NATO puppets think they’re playing at? How did we become this moronic? How did we become so totally out of touch with human and planetary reality? The American Entertainment Artworld, as I’m indicating here on my blog, certainly bears deep responsibility for acting like buffoons and clownish entertainers while not just Rome burns but the entire world.

    Art assholes won’t even bother informing themselves about what is happening, much less lift a finger or raise their voice to interfere with our headlong plunge into full on disaster. They just take whatever they are spoonfed by the mass media as Gospel. They’re too busy making their innocent childlike art to console tired businessmen or entertain them with Banksy-style idiocy.

    I can see from the hits on different articles I write that most of them are jackasses simply looking at the artworks of old dead artists I post. To be honest I doubt many artists are even literate enough to read or understand the posts I’ve been making. As we move closer to Armageddon, the more my writing intensifies. All I can do is pray we somehow can escape our clear urge for self-destruction.

    So hats off to you Syd, and the few other artists and general readers who bother to read my posts. Without you, I’d just chuck the whole thing because I could give a flying fuck about art at this point. America has poisoned it to death, and the entire world along with it.

  3. wewordsmiths says:

    Great quotes! Especially the St. Maarten. I’m always tenderly suspicious of excessive agreement. Whenever you have that, it is the first Big Clue you can be assured no one is thinking or even attempting to perceive anything in a fresh or genuine manner.

    Of course, this would also be true if everyone was idolizing nothing but Old Master manque(s). Or Near Old Master (Cezanne, etc… )

    But we are offered certainly nothing with subject, let alone substance. As remote from human pathos as a rusted door nail at the bottom of the sea.

    What do we end up with at the height of art? A public warehouse bursting with obsessions of antiseptic gesture; the easy fetish of the merely lurid; or the primary color play of design & decoration suitable for display at any dentist’s office or waiting room.

    We wait for the genuine…

  4. trueoutsider says:

    Almost total agreement, Wm. Or perhaps I would just add something you might have left out for brevity sake. I do think everyone is idolizing nothing but OM manques, Early Modernist retreads, etc. They just pick the cult of their choice. Pick up one of the 550 How To Paint like the Old Master or Ecole des Beaux Arts at Barnes and Noble. Pick up Art Forum and select your post-Modern style. It’s quite extraordinary that I’m the only artist I’m aware of that paints/draws just like Lautrec or Bellows or Goya did for that matter. Not in their styles. But portraits, genre scenes, cityscape/landscape/ a few hundred sketchbooks filled with observations and notes (as in Turner) visionary constructions through trance like states.

    I don’t call what I do art as I have no idea of what “art” is. I have no theories about it. The only work I respond to on any kind of visceral and psychic level is outsider work. Goya was an outsider. So was Ensor. So was Pollock. Pollock next to no discipline and did interesting enough work but he also managed to thoroughly destroy the Western tradition of painting, as Americans saw that the big bucks were in being an “original”. Pollock was certainly genuine. He just had very little talent because he hadn’t the discipline to mine his potential. De Kooning had talent but no vision whatsoever. All he did was synthesize Gorky and Soutine. He was a commercial artist to begin with. And that’s what he ended up, as well as turning himself into a vegetable well before he had Alzheimers.

    That’s my opinion, anyway. Whether others agree or disagree is fine with me. I’m no more interested in forming a definition of what is or isn’t art than Daumier or George Grosz were. I’m interested in documenting the life I see around me. As Zola remarked “Art is nature viewed through a temperament.”

    Pollock came up with that bullshit, “I am nature, and instead of looking at the splendor around him in the Hamptons hit the bottle and danced around like he was God’s gift to the wonderful world of art.

    The only subject of art, as far as i’m concerned is the human condition. The human being as part of nature. Not as some egomaniac building their Rothko or Matisse or Kelly chapels. Manichean Clyf Still or Theosophist Mondrian or “mystic” Resnick and Kandinsky or decadent Pleasure dome bores Warhol and Harings (multiplied by tens of thousands). Off their rockers as far as I’m concerned. Whatever marbles they might have had lost long ago. All of them. Disrespect and arrogance before nature is a poor approach to becoming an artist. Disrespect before all this pomposity is mandatory in my book. Nothing whatsoever arrogant in what I’m saying, as I make no claims for myself as a replacement for anyone else.

    But imagine what a Blake or a Titian would think if they saw any of those “chapels” and/or the various monuments to our hubris. Slabs of metal as high as a building. Buttplugs. It can’t get any more ridiculous. So it’s finished. As far as the earth itself? Well, we must wait and see what happens and do our best to follow our own spiritual paths as best we can. I am certainly not posing as a “master mystic artist” in the way the Mondrians and Duchamps did. And everyone is free to take whatever I say with as many grains of salt that suit them or hit their mousepads to find more pleasing diversions than I have on offer.

  5. Eric Wayne says:

    Thoroughly enjoying your posts. They are making my day. I thought I was a bit too vituperative. Agree with a lot of your positions, and love hearing someone else say it. Great stuff about the making art for elementary school mentalities. Oh, the butt plug. That was MY teacher, Paul McCarthy. Check out my parody of him talking about his butt plug.

    Girlfriend just got home. Have to pry myself away without making a decent comment. Key’s stuck in the lock, and I can’t get it out.

    • trueoutsider says:

      You’re not vituperative enough. I recall seeing McCarthy’s first stuff at Andrea Rosen gallery along with Currin and the rest of the crap. That was the point at which I stopped going to art galleries. I thought it was boring then. You can only imagine what it feels like to see the stuff now. I think there are plenty of people with your and my disgust for all of it. They’re just too chickenshit to say a word as they think it will blow their chances of getting into MoMA or keeping their positions as art teacher authorities. After all, as soon as they start taking shots at McCarthy and Currin and Koons how are they going to stop from going back to the original load of bullshit that these jokers are merely repeating. The entire thing falls apart.
      Have you read that Duchamp lied about the urinal? It wasn’t even his work. He lied about all of it, not to mention so much else which is easily detectable if one bothers to read his interviews with a skeptical eye. Duchamp no doubt expected to get caught. The research was by guys like Kirk Varnedoe and Julian Spaulding. So it’s not “conspiracy theories”. It’s inside baseball. The art worlders just don’t want to hear any of it as it smashes their entire delusional edifice.

      • Eric Wayne says:

        McCarthy was my teacher at UCLA. We were barely on speaking terms when I was in his “New Genre” class, because he really didn’t care much for painting, and accused me of being “locked in the rectangle”. I’ve always had a bit more pluck than is necessarily good for me, so before the next class I constructed a large wooden rectangle which a person could be physically locked into, and locked myself into it in front of the elevators of the art building, nude, with signs flanking me that read, “Paul McCarthy says I’m locked into the rectangle”. After that all my performances were guerilla performances, and I refused to schedule them, and they were never critiqued. Nevertheless I got an “A” in the class for beating him at his own game. I am ambivalent about his art, and have had lots to say on my blog.

        You might get a kick out of a lot of my posts in which I lampoon people like McCarthy, Koons, Hirst, Emin, Christopher Wool, Newman, Ryman, Prince, and certainly Duchamp. I’ve got posts about all of these characters, and parodies as well.

        I don’t mind shooting down the blue chip conceptualists, who are alwasy bieng sued for plagiarism, as the slippery slope between radical appropriation and plagiarism is overgrown with moss. But really my problem isn’t so much with their art or the critics who fawn on them. I prefer a world with all kinds of art in it, and all kinds of art audiences. The problem is the underlying rubric which positions conceptualism as evolving out of painting and rendering it obsolete. The war between conceptual art and traditional image-making was started by the conceptualists, and there tends to be a backlash from conservative painters. I’m not a conservative. But I think eradicating painting (or, image making, as I say, because it doesnt’ need to be tied to physical mediums, doesn’t need to be made from grinding ones own pigments and using the palette of Goya!) is as foolhardy as eradicating music in the name of conceptual “sound sculpture”. Image-making and conceptual art are two different kinds of art practices. I wrote about this extensively here:

        While music was extremely rich in the late 60’s and early 70’s, probably due to all the mind expanding drugs (as well as political revolutions), ‘art’ was going through a really cerebral and dry conceptual phase. Where was the visual equivalent of the Beatles, or Zeppelin, or Airplain, or whomever? There was no real equivalent movement in visual art, which is rather shocking. Instead we had stuff like Joseph Kosuth’s “One and Three Chairs”. The musicians were tripping on acid, searching for enlightenment in India, and fucking like bunnies while artists were making props for mental masturbation one-liners. Art did not have the power of music, and as guess the crowning example is the comparison of Yoko Ono’s ouevre to John Lennon’s. Art had steered offcourse into insular claptrap while music soared and had everyone’s ear. Art didn’t give us much at all to look at.

        And that’s the crux of visual art = something to look at. The tradition spawned by Duchamp gives us precious little to look at, and just because we can see a conceptual piece doesn’t mean it merits looking at, in which case something is not “visual art” merely because it’s not invisible. It has to reward looking at it, and looking at it some more.

        So, essentially, I try to hammer home the point that visual art has nothing to do with conceptual art, and is a tradition that will never die. And then of course I try to make captivating new images in that tradition, even if I don’t grind my own pigments, or even use physical mediums anymore.

        Which is why I’m trying to be less hard on conceptual art, and more focused on revitalizing a space for properly visual art.

  6. trueoutsider says:

    Love the parody. Is that how he actually sounds? I heard Ball-duh-sari (sp?) talk c. 1973. He struck me as a complete moron and charlatan. Unbelievably stupid. But hey, Californian geniuses had elected him their Marcel Duchamp. Who was I to question? Senile dementia is par for the course for these conceptual geniuses. Worked for De Kooning in his late masterpieces. I had a friend tell me that I just don’t understand the painting of “no mind.” What’s to understand? Oh, right. One needs to be at that level of spiritual enlightenment to see it.
    Anyway, I’m pretty senile myself at this point. .. Hope I don’t get that bad though. I do think that these characters are pretty accurate reflections of the mental landscape of the people who have voted them the greatest artists of all time. Otherwise, why would they be so singularly worshipped while common nobodies like myself who paint and draw are considered insignificant nobodies. It used to bug me, but now I’m perfectly fine with it. No crowds of admirers to fight off. Who needs that kind of shit if one is trying to do some real work?

    • Eric Wayne says:

      Yeah, that’s the way he sounds. I learned to impersonate him when I was his student. You can see him in action in this video about his piece, Captian Ballsack:

      Imagine having a 10 week course with him, plus three weeks in another course that was split into three. By me it’s just not my cup of tea anymore than I got into art to do interpretive dance. Of course there is the irony that the brilliant conceptual minds behind conceptual art aren’t much more articulate than the former most ridiculous president (I hear there is a new contender). Bye the way I enjoy the way you mix your art rants and political rants. Makes me sick how Hillary is peddled as a revolutionary step forward because she’s a woman, even if her policies would look good on Dick (Cheney).

  7. trueoutsider says:

    Seen enough of Macarthy. But thanks. Want to see all of your parodies. I’ve seen way, way too much of all these guys more than to last a lifetime. As I perhaps mentioned, I was in Chicago for 4 years and NYC for 16 years or so… I moved to Albuquerque to get away from it all permanently.

    Obama/Hillary are worse than Cheney/Bush as the latter’s war lust and imperial ambitions were kept somewhat in check by Liberals pseudo-opposition. You can see it was pseudo-opposition because as soon as Obama got elected he went up bombing Pakistan, which is something that Cheney/Bush were constrained from doing by Dems.

    Liberal Dems are perfectly fine with war criminals and violating the Geneva Conventions and destroying basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution. As long as Democrats do it and not Republicans. Most Lib Dems haven’t a clue to what the government is doing as they’re too busy listening to NPR and health fitness gurus, sports news, celebrity interviews, new pop groups, Mr. Science… and every other brand of pablum that fascinates them.

    Anything but pay attention to what our military is up to or what the banking class is doing or how the earth is turning into an inferno and entire countries are going belly up…

    But, of course, none of it has anything whatsoever to do with American behavior on the international stage. What we stand for is bringing peace and democracy to the savages who threaten civilization.

    MaCharthy, Prince (Richard or just plain), Faux Naifs, Haring and all the rest of the puerile and infantile are the perfect artistic backdrop for our descent into hell.

  8. trueoutsider says:

    Interesting to hear about McArthy. Appreciate that story. I had my own run ins during my rebel phase in early 1970s. Splatter painted the entire studio where drawing classes were held with a housepainter brush and cans of housepaint. I was arrested by the Richmond Police. I called it my 360 degree Jackson Pollock painting. Didn’t go over too well with the entire painting faculty, if you can believe that… all those experimental artists and conceptualists considered it to be vandalism! I was just a graffiti artist ahead of the times. I’m still the avant-garde now, only nobody seems to realize it. They’re content to make grid paintings, do the Watusi with Ai Wei Wei, paint photos, pretty much anything but draw and paint what is going on around them in the real world.. which still exists, believe it or not. Of course, you wouldn’t know it did if you spent your life walking around art galleries and contemporary art museums.

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