Astral Plane

Posted in alchemy, Art, Photography with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2015 by briancarnold

If it is possible to break the space/time continuum in our consciousness, it can only happen in dreams (or maybe with psychedelic drugs).


There is this documentary film I’ve always liked (calling it a documentary might be a little too generous – a very romanticized type of anthropology), The Dream Wanderers of Borneo. It is the final film in a series made by Lorne and Lawrence Blair, The Ring of Fire, films about their travels in Indonesia.

The Dream Wanderers of Borneo tells of the Blairs’ encounter with the Punan Dyaks, a nomadic tribe in Borneo.  The Punans believe, according to the film, that the human spirit is most active in dreams, and that the lives we lead in dreams is just as meaningful, if not more so, than what we experience in waking life.  In dreams, the spirit can wander freely.

I had two dreams in college that seemed especially important to me.  In one of them, I went to see a production of the Edward Albee play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  Before the play started, I saw James Joyce sitting in the audience.  I was stunned,  and didn’t want to miss the chance to meet someone I admired so deeply.  I knew such an opportunity would never happen again (given that he’s dead).  I approached him, and we both left the play.  We spent the might walking the city streets, and he explained to me how he wrote Ulysses.


In the second of these dreams, I went horseback riding with Friedrich Nietzsche.  In the dream, the two of us were riding, and came to a large stretch of road covered in large boulders, and thus rendered impassable.  After a debate, I found a way around the boulders, something he said we couldn’t do.  It wasn’t until after the dream that I learned about the role of a horse in the demise of Nietzche’s life.


Once, my first serious girlfriend and I had the same dream (or at least very, very similar dreams) on the same night.  And while in different cities.


I always felt these dreams had a mystical quality, that my spirit was able to connect with the spirit of another person, perhaps even traveling across time and space.  I had all three of these dreams around the same time in my life, or at least within a couple of years.  At that time, I was really interested in the occult and mysticism.  I remember reading once back then that when you dream of someone, that person is really with you.  This idea meant a lot to me when dreaming of literary heroes.


I had another dream like these last night.  Perhaps not as epic or heroic as the dreams about writers I admired, but that felt clearly and honestly like another person was participating, was communicating with me through the dream.


In this dream, I saw someone very dear to me whom I haven’t seen in way too long.  We were at a party together, it was obvious she was avoiding me.  Despite that, however, we kept making eye contact.  When our eyes met, I could see her emotions, and knew that her avoidance didn’t speak to all of her feelings.  I could tell that she was torn, and regardless of our lack of communication, he still shared a deep connection.

The Soundtrack of Spring 2013

Posted in Art, music, Photography with tags , , on May 16, 2015 by briancarnold

Some important changes in my life took root in the spring of 2013, really starting on March 5 to be exact.


There were two recordings I listened to obsessively those spring months, that really became a soundtrack for the time.  These recordings spoke to my feelings and needs, and the kinds of changes I wanted to see take place in my life.


Both recordings by Robert Fripp, the first the introductory track on the League of Crafty Guitarists’ album, the Invocation.  Such a beautiful track.


The second recording was side two of the King Crimson album Islands.  It’s kind of a sappy record, but it’s mostly about trying to overcome loneliness, about the need to have a meaningful connection with someone.  More importantly, it’s about the mistakes one has to make in life before recognizing that that connection is what we really need.


And so it goes…..

Solo Subversion

Posted in Art, music, Photography with tags on May 14, 2015 by briancarnold


When I first left college, I ended up working at the Tattered Cover, a very famous bookstore in Denver.  It was actually a great job to have right out of school; I love books, plus there were a lot of interesting people of all ages, artists and intellectuals of every variety.

I became very good friends with a musician named Ron Bucknam.  Ron was entirely unique.  He was utterly inaccessible as an artist, and yet one of the warmest, most genuine and sensitive people I’ve ever met.  He could bring the best of anybody out during conversation.

Out of college, and looking to develop my life as an artist, Ron was a huge influence of me.  Despite all the meaningless jobs he’d held throughout his life, he was steadfast that his real identity was as an artist and musician.  He was so devoted (he was diagnosed with cancer in October, but refused any treatment because he wanted to play music as long as possible), and yet remained completely obscure his whole life.  I loved everything he stood for with his music and art, even if I didn’t always like this music (though the cd Solo Subversion is a wonderful achievement!).

I heard that Ron passed away yesterday.  Hats off my friend, you were indeed an inspiring human being and artist.

Lunch Date

Posted in Art, music, Photography, poetry with tags , , , , , on May 14, 2015 by briancarnold


How IS loving somebody wrong? I mean, Jesus himself said, “I will know you by how you love one another.” It’s what we’re supposed to do. And it is challenging. But like many challenging things it’s also extremely rewarding. Loving people is hard. People are infuriating. They don’t do things my way. But I gotta accept that. I would prefer to be with you and all the messiness that entails than be all by myself trying to make it perfect for this princess.


It’s funny how people come into your life.  At times, it does seem like fate, that someone comes into your life to help you see and understand something a little bit more.


What do I even mean by love? I mean kindness, compassion, respect, forgiveness, being there for each other. I mean a softening in the face of adversity as well as a softening when confronted by beauty. And I think that working on love means working on the muscle to be able to pull back and see a bigger picture than just the most immediate feelings I may be having. I think that working on love means trusting enough to let you inside me and to let you change me while you’re in there. I want to work on a transformational-love-power that is able to do things beyond my imagining. I don’t need to know the destination already, the journey is what’s important.


About half a dozen times over the last 9-10 months, I’ve gotten together with Gretchen Phillips, a musician and artist based out of Austin, TX, always just for lunch or coffee.  She’s been in Ithaca this past year while her partner, Ann Cvetkovich, pursued a fellowship at Cornell.


We have this incredible opportunity and power to NOTICE the world around us. We can actually see the forest for the trees. We have the unique ability to lead the way down the path of love due to our experiences, innate sensitivities, vast courage and ability to fucking think for ourselves and not just follow the herd. Moo. It’s a big world out there. And I believe that individually we can create a life for ourselves that’s big enough to accommodate all of us and our big feelings. Because if nothing else, queers have big ass feelings!


We always had amazing conversations.  Gretchen is a remarkably thoughtful, outspoken, and unashamed to express herself.  We talked about creativity, art, love, depression, and spirituality; no small talk.  We originally got together because she needed some technical help with a photography project she was trying to put together, put the connection we found was much more.



Let me reiterate, yes, people bug me, too. I have big ass feelings myself. But what am I going to do? This particular lifetime I’m a human among humans. And luckily I have found myself fortunate enough to be among you people of Austin TX for years and years and years of this lifetime. I believe that ya’ll are excellent people for me to work with on this lifelong project of being a better lover, being more compassionate, more respectful of our differences, more quick to bond over our similarities, more centered without being just self-centered. I ask a lot of my queer self and I ask a lot of my queer people because I truly believe we’re special and can do a lot. I believe we’re leaders as lovers. Let’s continue to reach for each other!


I felt wonderful after each of lunches, like I both opened myself up in a meaningful way, and learned something valuable.  Given all that has gone on in my life this past year (so many transitions!), Gretchen seems like she came around to help me better understand my life at this moment.

Life Term

Posted in Art, Photography with tags , on May 12, 2015 by briancarnold

The first time I met Emmet Gowin was in 1999.  I was new to teaching, and putting together an exhibition about his work as both an artist and a teacher in our campus gallery.


There are a number of things about that first conversation I still remember.


If you follow these pages at all, you know that I am currently working on a book about handmade photographic processes.  There are a number of great artists contributing pictures to illustrate this book, including Emmet Gowin.


Also included are some pictures by Deborah Luster, specifically some pictures she made from a series called One Big Self, a series of portraits of prison inmates in Louisiana.  They are wonderful portraits, full of humanity.


In that first conversation with Emmet he told me how none of us are different from prisoners, at least in an existential way.  We are all living a life term, bound by suffering and isolation.

Art and Ecclesiastics

Posted in Art, Java, Photography with tags , , , , , on May 10, 2015 by briancarnold

So I’ve been reading a book about ancient Hindu-Buddhist sculpture in Indonesia.


I was reading it before bed last night, and came upon this line I liked a great deal.  In this particular passage, the author Jan Fontein was discussing the synthesis and appropriation of Indian thought and creative styles in Indonesia.  Specifically, the passage was looking at the life of the Buddha, the different teachers he sought out, and then how this story is depicted in the reliefs of Borobudur:

An artist who combines and harmonizes a multitude of diverse stylistic elements acts in a manner that is quite similar to that of the ecclesiastics whose efforts to concentrated on resolving varying, at times even contradictory, points of view taken by their different gurus.


I think this resonated with me for a couple of reasons.  First because of my different interests in photography and classical Indonesian art and philosophy, and my attempts to reconcile these into my own creative voice and vision.  And second because I’ve always thought there is a clear connection between art and religion.  Art is really a fundamental statement of belief.


He Regrets That We Cannot See the Paint Dripping

Posted in Art, literature, music, Photography, poetry with tags , , , on May 1, 2015 by briancarnold

He is not saying, he is painting.

trashcan proof

I spent most of morning scanning negatives I made in Denver a few weeks back and listening to John Cage read some of his work about Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Marcel Duchamp.


The dirt unceasingly does my thinking.

Puddle Trash

It was a rather beautiful combination, actually.


You are then free to deal with your freedom just as the artist dealt with his, not in the same manner, but nevertheless originally.

Brownie Bites

I’ve loved Cage since college, really an essential influence at an essential time.


We are in the glory of not knowing what we are doing.

Spray Paint

I still find his thoughts about life and art deeply moving and inspiring; it was a nice morning, thinking about picture.


A poetry of infinite possibilities.


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