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Placing Paint on Paper
"Painting is an essential function of human life. Wherever human beings live, painting has existed and exists. Painting is a language, as with words." -Diego Rivera
I started painting again. The impulse seemed to emerge from nowhere or maybe it came from someplace deep within. Great American novelist Kurt Vonnegut (a master doodler) believed in practicing the arts in order “to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” Is there a better reason to put paint to paper?
When I’m painting, I’m able to get into the zone right away and let myself go. For the most part, I find it’s an unrestrained act to make a painting. This is totally different from writing, which I come to with training, expectations, and thus some level of built-in stress.
As an adult, I’ve relied on words for so long—to express myself and also to make a living—that I now need another non-verbal means of conveying my ideas. And when I pick up the brush and begin applying the paint, I’m not thinking about doing it right, or who I will impress with my style. I’m just doing it for the joy of doing it.
Since I started painting last week, I find that I make one or two new pieces a day. Here’s a peek at some of the results.
You Are History
James Baldwin wrote a brilliant essay in which he offers the best reason to study history that I’ve ever seen.
White man, hear me! History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.
One person who understands how true this is is the Dutch King Willem Alexander, who has officially apologized for his country's role in slavery—something we could do and one day must do in the United States.
When we fail to acknowledge the moral failings and wrongdoings at the root of so much American wealth, we’re not moving the democratic ideal forward.
It’s Good to Know What A Poem Is
The summer issue of The Paris Review features an interview with poet Sharon Olds. She is asked by Jessica Laser what the difference is between a poem and a diary.
Olds answers brilliantly: “Poems and diaries are so different. A poem becomes, it represents conflict, ambivalence, mental strife—while working with syncopated rhythm. Poems are things. I like when they’re jagged—long lines and short lines next to each other. Now, how is that therapeutic?”
One of my good friends is an exceptional painter of scenes from the American West.
The lake. The people. The food. Grand Marais looks like an incredible place to visit.
The Ogallala Aquifer running dry would have devastating consequences. The aquifer provides water for about 30% of the nation’s irrigation systems, boosting up the farms and ranches that supply a quarter of the nation’s agricultural production. And for 82% of the people who live within the aquifer’s boundaries, it supplies their drinking water too.
Rebecca Traister on RFK, Jr.’s run for POTUS: "...it’s quite a band he has put together: crunchy Whole Foods–shopping anti-vaxxers, paunchy architects of hard-right authoritarianism looking to boost a chaos agent, Nader-Stein third-party perma-gremlins, some Kennedy-family superfans, and rich tech bros seeking a lone wolf to legitimize them.”
Do you plan to use Threads, the new Twitter-like micro updates platform from META’s Instagram? I’m @dburn over there, but I have yet to use it.
Notes is the new space on Substack to share links, short posts, quotes, photos, and more. Of all the Twitter substitutes, I like it best.
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