Alan Watts

1940’s or 50’s Autumn Forest Stream When Rich People Were Still a Bit Embarrassed About Their Wealth


2017. Acrylic on loose canvas, 41 x 13″

My friend and I are submitting to a regional show with the theme “abstraction”. I think I will frame this under glass, and sell it for less than what it cost me to make. The frame will be the big expense. It’s usually the case. I just want to see if Americans will barter or purchase a luxury item—it’s visible worth not even detected as a tiny greed smear on a corporito’s brain scan—even when it’s priced cheaper than a Denny’s® brunch and a few gallons of gasoline.

I do not fool myself about the material value of this painting. It is what it is. Canvas, paints, brush use, light overhead, man, man’s thoughts, man’s moods, man’s dreams, man’s hope, and man’s hands in his pockets—No, wait. After “man” it’s mostly a squat pile of private abstract suffering. And very few besides a friend or two would pretend to want a material representation of that big idea!

I can’t blame them!

And yet, people would want it, even more than shaving cream, if people’s desires were real and not abstractions. Not so much in want of the painting as any true thought, true feeling, true expression of another man or woman cut up into pieces, and each piece set on a cultural conveyor belt of behavior controlled and monitored by abstractions.

People would want it if they trusted men.

I don’t trust them either, hence the painting, another in an endless bombardment of material representations of Americans worship of abstraction.

And maybe after my demise, someone will pay a few thousand dollars for that “forest stream” painting. Provided the post-mortem marketing team is sharp and can make some abstract tool think valuable a material fool.



The Not Much Longer Reign Of The Ignorant Emperor Sloth


“Tuna Melts and Cabbage Soup While Channeling the Genius of Lupo Sol” 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20″

Very early yesterday morning I went to the grocery store, like I do most Sundays, to avoid the weekend rush of harried afternoon shopping. Lately, I have been planning ahead dinner meals for the coming week to get all ingredients in one shot. I used to be a daily market visitor until I realized that I hated our supermarket, because it was making me enormously depressed—not good when cooking occupies a large chunk of my day. I have sought liberation and wisdom my whole adult life, and several hours a day cooking for children and wife, makes musing a regularity. More than a thousand life changes, both real and imagined, have been contemplated in the kitchen—Philosophy, for me, began when I got a hold of Nature, Man, and Woman, by Alan Watts, and during the same season, realized that a fabulous soup can be made with cheap, wholesome ingredients.

Picking up rice in aisle three I overheard three men my age talking about the virtues of bottled marinade sauce. All agreed that the Olive Garden brand was best. Of course, it isn’t, and I use the term “men” in strictly its biological sense. What would have been best for supper was if Zeus sent a blazing hot thunderbolt onto their processed conversation, charring them good and proper for Polyphemus the cyclops, to be eaten with sea salt and olive oil. These men were life-haters, non-appreciative, non-nurturing, non-dreaming, self-entitled voracious consumers of anything under the sun that their economic class could afford them. In a phrase, ignorant emperor sloths. To each there is no one wiser, no teacher, no greatness beyond a wife who puts up with their diarrhea moanings from the bathroom after a night of beer drinking and slurping a soup of Olive Garden marinade. Just as soon as the cramping is gone, however, the wife loses her status, and the ignorant emperor sloth is free to pretend all over again that his opinion matters, that diversity is a conspiracy to impoverish Caucasians, that guns don’t kill people, that because it snows in January, global warming is a monumental, liberal hoax.

All economic classes are caught up in illusions so thick, that they also share important opinions on marinade sauce. Once in a while the topic turns to saving the world one savior candidate at a time. But each still wants what the other one wants. That is, to have everything on a straight path without stumbling, and the bliss of ignorance, to cover up the gnawing despair which a linear path reveals. So, they discuss the virtue and vice of a Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, when one is a killer and the other a pervert. Even the the smartest book-smarters don’t see that a people gets the government it deserves. The media did not make these two cowards of the human race. Sure, it’s responsible for Olive Garden marinade, but it’s the individual, you and me fat charlie, who ate the world and now complain about stomach cramps.

I too am an ignorant emperor sloth. I think on it every day. I began thinking it 25 years ago while spooning the oatmeal into my toddler’s mouth. The ignorance and arrogance consummation of modern man has reached its climax. I only visit aisle three for my rice and beans, and occasionally a can of chipotle peppers when the feeling arises. You want to talk about choice marinades while your children watch presidential candidates practically have rough sex on an international stage? Go for it, since you(we) already do, every day, while obtaining choice stuff under the sun, and then blaming the other guy for it.



Time To Go Dark Like William Blake


“While My Dog and Me Were Sailing the Seven Seas, Adults Worldwide Were Stockpiling Nuclear Weapons of Annihilation” 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11″

William Blake to his wife:

“What do we do, Kate, when the visions forsake us?”

“We kneel down and pray, Mr. Blake.”

Then the two might stare into the fire and draw pictures of what each saw in it. Maybe Kate would see a flower in a vase, and Blake would sketch a reaper. Some tea and bread, call of a night bird, the chamber pot and then bed.

It is time to live the life of a mute prophet who expresses himself nightly by ringing the house bell. I married well. I am fortunate. I do not need another president, a television, or a cereal box. I need to live more like William Blake with access to 21st century plumbing. There will always be demons to leap from the flames. There will always be hell is other people. I need a feel from the following verse by Van Morrison in “Alan Watts Blues”:

Well I’ve got to get out of the rat-race now
I’m tired of the ways of mice and men
And the empires all turning into rust again.
Out of everything nothing remains the same
That’s why I’m cloud hidden
Cloud hidden
Whereabouts unknown

Then Kate and I will pray.