Saturday, January 27, 2018

os180127 Ten reasons why I write my autobiography  
Seven-hundred pages into my autobiography I feel I’ve hit a hollow spot, a slightly dead feeling and I’m having a time getting into the first two and the last one of the eight book I planned. The words of T. S. Eliot come back to me, “We shall never cease from exploration, And the end of all our exploring, Will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time.”
This is from Eliot’s Four Quartets. Another excerpt is:
Do not let me hear, Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly, Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession, Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God. The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
I am an old man, and wise. But, as the poet said: “Do not let me hear.” And so, after a year of writing an accumulation of facts and my fancies about my life, I come to the beginning—1941—and dwell on the question, “Should I write about the bombing of Pearl Harbor 17 days before my mother gave me my birthday?” Shall I dwell on the triggering event that I found recommended on a website about writing good fiction?
Following that advice for a triggering event I employed a fiction about all my life’s work in a dumpster so that our little showroom can be cleaned out and rented or sold—no longer of any use to me, a dead man, after all is said and done.
But there would remain the story of my life so if anyone cared to read it, they would see what was lost. As if anyone would care enough to read a 700-page autobiography of an obscure artist and failed art professor in Seattle.
Get real.
Maybe I was good enough to read about. After all, no artist nor art professor that I know of from around here wrote his or her autobiography—that alone is a unique thing, original and authentic. But is originality and authenticity of any value today?
Today I will try to write ten good reasons to write my autobiography—maybe this will help me out of this dead spot.

Here are ten reasons.

1. Know thyself – to know the place and times better, a self-revelation which can be shared as if a teacher.
2. Family enrichment – by reading my autobiography, my family members might be entertained and enlightened in ways similar to what mom achieved.
3. Friends enrichment – the people whose name are in my autobiography might be interested to see their names in print and in the context of my life story.
4. Valuation – the worth of my legacy, be it academic, the physical artworks, or reputation might be developed in this first step toward making stock certificates out of the physical works in our family collection.
5. Gratitude – a way of acknowledging the people whose lives intersected mine in positive ways, often for reasons they didn’t know about.
6. Reinstatement – there were things a few people did, unknowingly I suppose, which harmed me and my family in subtle ways. Perhaps it was also my fault for letting those things happen but I may claim had it not been for their ulterior motives my family and I would be happier today knowing I should not have been treated that way. By presenting my point-of-view I may reinstate my self-worth as a step toward establishing the worth of my legacy.
7. Create another element to Emeralda: Games for the gifts of life, a game of keeping on top of new developments in printmaking, i.e., the new technologies of information creation, storage, retrieval and distribution.
8. Killing time – if this is not a serious project, then it is play, a way of giving myself a reason to get up in the morning and going to the gallery. By sending a draft to be printed by the Lulu service, I then have a reason to look forward to the mail.
9. Answering old questions – Why resign a perfect job? Why withdraw from the art world? Why leave Triangle Studios? All these can be woven with kindness to the dead into the autobiography with no sense of vengeance or getting even.

10. Money. If the book is online on Lulu, I could get $4 for each version sold for $20. If it were to be better, bigger and got good reviews, it might get $25 each for a $95 book in color.

Friday, January 12, 2018

180112 On the couch again 

Therapist have never seen me, in spite that someone, who I thought was my friend, suggested that I get help. He was a colleague in the art school where we had been working together—and playing—for almost twenty years.
He gave me this advice because I was raising a storm about the way my division in the art school was being run. I thought it was criminal, in the white-collar sense—how the students were being short-changed. It was my belief, after years of study and focused on global trends, that the printmaking division should spearhead a move toward recent technologies. It was 1984.
Printmaking, after all, can be said to be the ancestor of all technologies so it follows that a university of the size and reputation of ours (the UW) should take the lead. The pushback was strong, and some of the administrators resorted to covert methods to stop my campaign.
When I found out about their methods, I became the equivalent of a whistle-blower. It was at this point when my former friend said I was emotionally unstable and that I should get a leave of absence and seek medical help. In his judgement I was nuts, in other words, to think things like video and computer graphics had a place in the art school going forward.
I never put myself on the couch of a therapist. Like most crazy people, I suppose, I didn’t think I was crazy. The year before I presented my contentions (regarding future directions of the printmaking division) I had gone around the world, at my family’s expense, to gather evidence to support my thesis. What I had seen and recorded was evidence I was not crazy at all.
Besides, to offer myself to a therapist would have been tantamount to admitting I was nuts and, having risked my family’s finances, only proved it. I couldn’t bear that. I would no confess my error and as a result my family’s assets and my reputation, were ruined and I was forced to resign rather than apologize for my errors.
Today, as I read a business proposal plan offered to me by a recent buyer of one of my designs—a WeeWoodie Rembrandt Press—I experienced the same feeling of panic when I came to the part about hard facts of costs. The question, “Am I nuts?” reared its fearsome head. It was not a feeling that I was wrong to think printmaking is the ancestor of all technologies and therefore should be integrated into a printmaking teaching method.
It was ta feeling set off when, in reading the business plan template, I came to the requirement that I write down the financial structuring needed: How much will it cost? The budget must be known if I am to proceed. Otherwise I’m wasting mine and everyone else’ time.
I as a mollycoddled art professor who never had to write any more of a budget than an annual forecast of how much kerosene we might need in the etching studio, or what a new press might cost.
I’ve met this monster before and its name is financial ignorance. How would I know how much a printmaking teaching method designed for the cloud will cost?
If I am a subject matter expert, not a financial expert, am I supposed to know the answer? A printmaking SME is supposed to know how many drops of nitric acid one should put in how much gum Arabic when processing a medium-gray lithograph stone—and what considerations, besides the color of the stone, must be taken.
A printmaking SME also knows a bit of history and, above all, the place of printmaking in the world as it is today. He or she should know how printmaking fits in to education of young people above all others.
As a SME who gave a generation of his life to college-level printmaking education should also be equipped to adapt to the age of digital reproduction not only for colleges but also for the population globally. It might be argued that printmaking is the equivalent of buggy-whip manufacturing.
Why bother? Old-world printmaking is dead considering digital printmaking is easier, cheaper, faster, etc., is it not? Tell that to my 250 customers who shelled out thousands of dollars for the etching presses I designed and that my collaborator, Tom, built.
Tell that to the guy—a certified blockchain technology consultant—who provided me with boilerplate text to build my business plan on.
I deeply long for the ability to say what is the budget, but in the financial planning world I do not trust my ability to forecast what it should be. For example, as a SME, what salary or fee should apply to me? What should I pay the man who filled in the parts of the business plan as a gift, as—dare I say—a collaborator? He has not asked for anything, but I estimate, in his field, what he has already given me is of the value of at least $500 for two hours’ of work.

He has paid only $140 to me, which cost me about half to fulfill his order of a press.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

sp160818 Gifts of life

The ultimate gift of a long life is to have reached a state when you can take the pulse-quickening effect and sense of the things you want to do with what lifetime remains to you and have wealth enough to select from those. It takes all the discipline you've learned because there is no rehearsal for the end of your life. The discipline you've learned all your life is needed now. You have to get it right the first time. I am thinking the one thing I want to achieve: A game that serves as an interface for a printmaking teaching method to go online. I think of a screenplay based on the novel, "Rembrandt's Ghost in the New Machine". I think of bits of dialogue for the screenplay, taken from the novel. The very thought of pulling this off quickens my pulse, and gives me something to look forward to as I close out past projects and count the days left to me. Only a project of this scope is large enough to absorb all my legacy and makes room for other people, too, really and virtually.