Wednesday, March 11, 2009

a kind of steve mcqueen

So...this does not actually look like the portrait of Steve McQueen, the artist and director, who was featured in the New York Times this past weekend - but I get attached to these drawings. And, as I said when I was painting it, 'It looks like someone', which is often the most that I am able to say about my pictures. In this one I particularly like his right hand.

I just started reading The Gospel According to America, by David Dark. I think I'll be quoting from him a lot for a long while. The following is from the first page of the introduction (actually, Instead of an Introduction), where he writes about his father:
'The Bible was always in the back of his mind. Like a leather-bound black hole, it pulled on his thoughts, painted the matter-of-fact a different color, called into questions whatever anybody nearby described as common sense, and uproariously unsettled the agreed-upon obvious of every scenario. It was the measure of authenticity for all speech, and speech that presumed to have its backing ("It's biblical," "According to the Bible," "God says...") was to be viewed with particular scrutiny and suspicion, because the Bible belonged to everyone and no one. It was nobody's property. Always dangerous, a double-edged sword. Like absolute truth, it's out there, but anyone who presumed to own its copyright was criminally insane.'

And from the second page, an inherent challenge that I need to hear and that encourages.
He spent too much time exchanging jokes and anecdotes at our near-by Waffle House and holding forth in conversation with Muslim gas station attendants for the public/private distinctions in political and religious matters to ever really hold absolute sway. And in the deepest sense, he didn't think it polite or even friendly to pretend that certain elephants aren't in the room; that Jesus of Nazareth has very little to say about a nation's wars on terror or that the demands of Allah or Jehovah upon humankind can be conveniently sequestered with the "spirituality" section of the global market. Without a costly commitment to candor among family and potential friends, the possibility of truthful conversation (a preprequisite for the formation of more perfect unions) begins to tragically diminish, and responsible speech that communicates what we're actually thinking and believing has become a lost art.'

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