Generalized Thought Patterns

(Un)fortunately, I lost (as in the relationship was destroyed) a family member last week over a disagreement over some words that were uttered by this person.  I felt the need to point out something  I felt was wrong with the statement made. I probably should have kept my mouth shut, but what’s done is done. The result was for me to be called brain dead and told to fuck off.  After being told to do so, I made a comment about epistemic closure (a bit of a misapplication of the term, but I felt it was apt in this case) and the “friendship” on Facebook was terminated by the family member.  I was attacked later that day by the same family member over something unrelated.  After a bit of a back and forth, it was done and I went on with my life.  It was a couple of days later I was showed a comment made on the original thread where I was called brain dead and told to fuck off a 2nd time.  Only this comment was made immediately before the Facebook relationship was terminated and the privacy controls were set to prevent me from seeing it.  To say I was angry is an understatement as I felt what was done was something that is usually relegated to the elementary school playground in terms of maturity level, not to mention cowardly.  I had the opportunity to respond directly, but I chose not to do so.  Instead I made a snarky comment on my own Facebook page using language ambiguous enough so only those who knew what happened would get the reference.

I’m not really sure how I feel about it at this point.  I mean, I looked up to this family member and never had a bad thought about him.  Unfortunately, something happened a couple years ago that caused the relationship to begin to sour.  Over the past few years a transformation has taken place to the point where he is no longer the person I admired as a young adult.  I realize that people change and I’m not so naive as to believe that changes in my own life have affected my outlook on people, events, etc.  On the one hand I’m hurt that our relationship has gone bad.  But then again, do I really need this source of stress in my life?

The Fall 2014 semester started out with me and one of my professors having an adversarial relationship.  I’m not sure why, but there was definitely a tension between us that lasted a good portion of the semester.   It started to dissipate late in the semester as we both seemed to back off each other.  It was unspoken and just sort of happened.  The anger I felt was powerful (and I want to thank my friend Claire for putting up with me through it), and letting it go allowed me to breathe again.

In terms of the adversarial relationship with the professor, I wondered out loud on many occasions if art school actively tried to cultivate adversarial relationships as some sort of twisted method of fueling inspiration.  The theory has legs, but those details would need to come in another entry in about 20 years.

I was having a conversation with my friend Shannon Duncan outside her studio space this past weekend and she mentioned something about strong personalities.  That particular phrase seemed to crystallize things for me.  Strong personalities tend to create adversarial relationships, even when views and goals are somewhat aligned.  It reminded me that my own hardheaded nature can sometimes be detrimental.  I already knew this, but sometimes a reminder is necessary.

Facebook tends to amplify those strong personalities because it’s much easier to snipe at people from the relative safety of a keyboard (especially when one is 1200 miles away).  Face-to-face confrontations tend to be a lot less dramatic and people are more easily swayed into accepting compromise when their counterpart is right there.  I’m not saying I’m immune; my opening paragraph is my testimony that I’m not immune to that phenomenon.

As I was laying in bed the other night, for some reason a particular moment from 1991 came into my mind’s eye.  I was on the confidence course at Lackland AFB enduring my basic military training.  I was on the very last challenge – monkey bars over a pond.  I failed the previous challenge (after successful completion of the 13 that lead up to that point), where I was to catch a rope and swing across a pond (I missed catching the rope).  I was very wet and very tired.  Monkey bars were never my strong suit on the playground growing up, and this was a long set.  The bars were also wet from previous airmen who had failed the rope swing.  I got just under halfway done negotiating this obstacle.  I was having trouble gripping and my forearms were burning.  I knew I would pass the confidence course portion of basic training even if I failed this challenge.  In one instant I just said “fuck it,” let go of the bars, and dropped into the pond.

I had given up when I had a chance to really and push myself beyond anything else I had been capable of prior to that moment.

I don’t know why that moment flashed in my mind when it did.  All I know is the phenomenon are related somehow.  My job at this point is to figure out why.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking this journey with me into my own mind.  A lot of art is about thinking, and I’ve been doing a lot of that over the past 2 weeks.  An exploration may be in order soon.  To that end, I will leave you with 2 images – 1 made by me and the other made by the aforementioned Claire.  We all made a book a few days ago in one of my classes.  I called mine “Something Had to Change/Undeniable Dilemma/Boredom’s Not a Burden/Anyone Should Bear.” This entry is definitely different from any other…  I wonder if that day was prophetic?

IMG_5456 IMG_5458

Claire Gage

Shannon Duncan

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