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Ai Wei Wei, Odyssey, 2017

“Interior decorating with a vengeance.”

Wallpaper doesn’t just decorate a room. Suddenly, without warning, the walls become windows into something else. Early European papers were literally religious icons. In France, Christian icons called dominos were placed on walls in lower-class homes, “where they performed a double function, being both a talisman against bad luck and a covering for the cracks in the walls.”

Iconography changed, and wallpaper soon began to simulate wood, stucco, brick, flowers, and branches. Nature was being eliminated by urbanization and bourgeois industrialization so its spectral ghosts were printed onto walls. Of course, forests and real flowers get destroyed to make wallpaper. …


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This is Chinese Zen master Mu Qi’s famous 13th-century painting of six persimmons. Notice that there’s no table and no shadows. It’s groundless, like the mirror-mind or groundless condition of all things–what Zen Buddhists like to call groundlessness. The floating persimmons also feel timeless and unplaceable.

We might also notice that this drawing is about repetition and order, but it’s also about diversity and spontaneity. Not only are the persimmons all different, but their relationships are also different. The two on the left are just barely touching, such a delicate moment, but then we see a gap. The smallest persimmon is pushed forward, and the next persimmon, the darkest one, is pushed back a tiny bit and almost touches its dark gray neighbor, but not quite! See the sudden visual tension? …


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Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk), Arvina Martin, Ineligible, 2012

Enlarged portraits against a white background by Tom Jones with text: “Arvina and Simone Martin are both Native children. Yes they are multiracial, but many of the family traditions they are exposed to are Ho-Chunk. Both girls are one-fourth “Native blood.” They cannot be enrolled in their Ho-Chunk and Stockbridge nations because neither girl has enough Ho-Chunk or Stockbridge blood quantum to be enrolled in either. They are not recognized as Native children by any tribal or federal governments. Hence they are not Native people.”


Another look at material religion in Japan

I took the high-speed bullet train down to see the Chiran Kamikaze Peace Museum, built at the site where 1,038 Tokka kamikaze pilots gathered, partied, rested and raged before dying in their rocket-powered Okah “cherry blossom” plane-bombs. The museum is surrounded by cherry blossom trees, and the gift shop is filled with cherry blossom-embellished trinkets.

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Memory, Still Lifes, and “living hieroglyphs that stand in some peculiarly expressive way for the unfathomable mystery of pure being.”

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Aldus Huxley described everyday things as “living hieroglyphs” in The Doors of Perception. Likewise, Rembrandt’s tiny drawing of a shell, De Schelp frames the ubiquitous as profoundly significant, in part because of its use of chiaroscuro — the tradition of spotlighting something against a dark background for a more dramatic effect. Imagine a performer on a stage in the spotlight or a storyteller lit by firelight surrounded by darkness. …


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Drawing, dragging, is primarily a form of moving, and there are many reasons human beings synchronize eyes and hands to drag marks across surfaces, or take lines for a walk. Throughout history we see drawing used for tattooing, marking, mapping, praying, meditating; drawing as destruction, as crossing out, propaganda, agitprop, signage, literature, treaties, makeup, puberty rites. Tibetan monks spend days drawing cosmic diagrams in colored sand on the floor and then destroy the drawing as an offering to all beings and a lesson in impermanence.

We find drawing as prophesy, sigil magic, hunting magic, automatism (surrealist automatic drawing) and drawing as medicine: Reiki healing symbols are drawn in the air above a patient, and Navajo healing symbols are drawn on the ground below them. …


Wet. Some guys have multiple wet dreams a week if they stop masturbating, but most guys I know never have wet dreams. They have erotic dreams, sure, but they don’t actually ejaculate in bed because they masturbate and have plenty of sex in their waking lives. Most boys growing up are already masturbating, so they don’t have the big “nocturnal emission” they were told they would have in Sex Education class. But we waited for it. Some of us feared it, because that’s when our parents would find out about our dream sex life. …


The materiality of making out.

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Kissing is like dancing, or speaking in tongues — each person has their own style, their own preferences.

Are you a good kisser? With so many kinks and styles, who’s to judge? Some like it controlled and dry, whereas others like it sloppy and wet. Biologists and psychologists can argue that kissing is a kind of ancient smelling ritual, an easy way to get close and sample a partner’s suitability. On another level, it’s a subconscious chemical and bacterial interview, and maybe on another, it’s a way to get beyond our own minds, a way to take the other person into our bodies. …


Another look at material religion in Japan

I took the high-speed bullet train down to see the Chiran Kamikaze Peace Museum, built at the site where 1,038 Tokka kamikaze pilots gathered, partied, rested and raged before dying in their rocket-powered Okah “cherry blossom” plane-bombs. The museum is surrounded by cherry blossom trees, and the gift shop is filled with cherry blossom-embellished trinkets.

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About

David Titterington

Painter and Art Instructor at Haskell Indian Nations University

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