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by philip scott wikel
He awoke the next morning to find his painting had been stolen. Just below where it had hung was a charm from Heather’s bracelet.
Later he went into town to look around for people who knew Heather. He thought he saw her everywhere. He’d come up behind someone and call,
“No, my name’s Kelly.”
“My name’s Amara.”
“My name’s Robin, can I help you with you something?”
“My name’s Loren.”
“My name’s Linda.”
“My name’s Diane.”
“No. I’m Mary.”
“No I’m Jeanette.”
“I’m Vicky, is there something wrong?”
“No, it’s just that you look like someone I used to know.”
“A good memory I hope.”
“s’allright, sorry to bother you.”
“No, I’m Kendra.”
“No, I’m Megan.”
“No, I’m Thea.”
“No, I’m Jen.”
“No, I’m Julia, but I know Heather.”
It went on like this for hours. It was if she was everywhere and nowhere at all. He thought of a book he’d read called Native American Testimony. In one chapter they explained their frustration at dealing with Cholera and proclaimed, “If only I could see this thing,” or maybe it was all in his head.”
by philip scott wikel
The moment he completed his first painting the strangest thing happened. Everyone around him seemed to act strange and after a while he noticed a pattern. They were trying to create “triangular desire,” as defined by Foucault. They would find out what he liked; foods, drinks, cars, places, etc. and then they would wave them around him in one way or another expecting they would serve as carrots he might chase. The intent being that he would have to sublimate all of his desires into painting more since none of these carrots could be grasped unless he found success as a painter and began selling.
But he wouldn’t and couldn’t paint more unless it came from within him; from a pure source. There was no tangible motivator for him, it just happened every once in a while; no pattern, no specific origin. He’d long ago thought that if he could figure out what drove him, he would tap into that and he would always be inspired. But he hadn’t discovered it so he waited patiently for the next space in time when he would be driven.
In the meantime he began to become sick with many around him and began to reclude from those who seemed to wish to manipulate him. He could see that their original intent may have been innocent enough but he really just wanted to live a normal life. He’d accomplished quite a lot before he found himself in a sort of warped version of Alice in Wonderland. A solid base of wholesome living had always been his best foundation; a natural world where people acted natural. He’d rather consciously abstain from sex and channel that energy into exercise than let someone think they could pierce his inner sexual power and make it manifest itself as art. Art created from sexual desire or for the love of money was what had made the larger society as decadent as it had become, he thought. He wanted to reach for something higher and he couldn’t paint for people because he felt if people needed saving through art then they should go to church instead. He might just paint because it was what he needed to do, for better or for worse, whether it brought money or comfort. A regular paying job would afford him what he needed to survive. Painting could never be tainted and twisted into work-for-hire.
He wasn’t upset with God, but it did seem that He was sitting on the sidelines. Dylan couldn’t see any action, just talk. The game seemed to have no players, only passive-aggressive spectators. Perhaps making history had ended with Jesus Jones back in the nineties. He remembered then that all things are possible through God, and he rested on this.
Katie would be coming home from college in a few months and he would again have his soul-mate for strength. Grace, he thought, Grace, I’m a stranger in a strange land.
stranger in a strange land,
he looked at me like I
was the one who should run…
- U2, 1980