June 15, 2024


I have some writing to do that I have procrastinated about because it cuts to the quick. My father was an awful man perhaps the worst person in my life . He was an immigrant,third grade education an alcoholic and an abusive cruel man. I won’t get to caught up in the details suffice it to say he was everything I wished not to be. My fear of him of his influence of his many cruelties was greatest when I was a child. During those years I was very scared of his violent temper his drunken outbursts his beating my mother very and over her cries finally at some point she fled , perhaps too late but she was gone. For several years after we had no idea where she was or whether she was safe . Like I said in the beginning the details are not the story, the story is the wretched feelings I had for my father and the way he preyed on my mother, my sister and I. His cruelty was a measure of his pain, he was a laborer eventually a Union painter but mostly he was a nightmare. The shape of my soul was deformed by his wickedness. The sweet and sour moods of an addict , whether he ever really understood the negative impact he had , I can’t say , he seemed to be a bit of a Jeckyl and Hyde but even when he was sober he was mean and unfeeling towards my mother. My refuge was my art such as it was and as it became more and more the center of my life. 
  The poverty we suffered was both financial and very deep emotionally ,every time we thought things would change they seemed to only become worse. I worked very assiduously to go through technical high school and the eventual art school education trying to find a means to survive my tragic beginnings. Even when I did well it always seemed that failure was imminent as if I was born with the same curse as my mother that my psyche was damaged , perhaps an inheritance of my mothers schizophrenic condition. Oddly the energy that came with my madness drove me to make something of myself to escape this early deep dive into the horrors of our family . After I succeeded in finding employment rpthat would allow me to pursue my artistic dreams I slowly found my life hurling towards psychological collapse. After several hospitalizations and interventions I stabilized on lithium carbonate therapy but the haunting continued throughout my years as a teacher. I thought I found some degree of salvation in my pedagogical practice but little by little I realized the price in time I was paying for my work. I was a very critical voice, sometimes unwelcome but I tried to be honest about the meager rewards ahead for young people in the fine arts. But the nagging reality is I was never really well, I was preyed upon the memories and sad outcomes in my families and my work. Finally I was dismissed and lost the steady income that had allowed me to treat my psychological and physical woes. I was free of the burdensome work of teaching but having to reinvent myself at middle age into a new life of uncertainty and risk..

           to be continued 

The next day , morning , I reread an email my youngest son wrote me than I had saved to remind me how deep the wound was that we all have been suffering in one form or another , the message still has a sting. Indeed it’s part of why it has been so difficult to find our way back to the days of our closeness. I want to see my adult children and their children but things have been static in terms of a recovery of these people. The break seems all the more real when I know the cause is complex and deep in the nature of families split asunder by madness and grief. I have been dying slowly since I fell and had my first MRI , the first two years after the accident were perilous and full of pain and sorrow for all our lives changed. I was on some level absent in the midst of my steep decline. The bones healed , the healing more of an improvisation, one arm marginally functional , a neck that turns much less and worse of all the treatments brought back my madness in the most profound breakdown in decades. I wound up in treatment that was at best difficult but again a reckoning with the continuing reality of being a medicated madman. The tangle back then I witnessed from the peculiar perspective of the one who is departing a former incarnation. My partner’s caregiving was taking away her life her time, the sacrifices went unseen by the children. The tangled web that resulted even to this day resembles the Gordian Knot of the ancient mysteries. Everyone has a viewpoint , a reality of diminishment in big and small ways. I take responsibility for the outcomes , after all this present state of affairs would not exist if not for my fall down the stairs. But it is deeper , more convoluted and bizarre. I know I am not normal, I know my behaviors were not always the best  and I know one can’t turn back time. Time is the essence of this like, the fruit of the tree as the Kabbalists wrote in the Spanish exile . I feel I lost nearly everything that I loved and treasured and that it was all my own doing. The way my mind was twisted in those first few years after the accident was deeper than other breakdowns I suffered. Putting myself back to gather like the proverbial Humpty Dumpty was at best a collage loosely held together. Now all the various estrangements and separations make me think that this is a tragic outcome for everyone. No one escapes culpability and everyone is injured by my accidental life. I would like to repair what I can before I enter the endless night that seems closer every day. But I am feeble compared to the task. I have tried to understand how my irresponsibly is at the core of all these myriad sufferings but like my father before me I am not a good and virtuous man, I am a broken person trying to stay in this world to make my silly pictures , the same foolish work I have done all my life. The ridicule , the blaming and the sadness I suppose will always persist because I have only ever felt my keenness responsibly was to this work which has been the fabric of my survival. I used to tell students that art was not for everyone a path to comfort and peace that indeed art working can have a very sad outcome and maybe that is the central reality of this day that I can’t fix my broken life , I have to accept the brokenness as the dance I danced long before now when i was a frightened child surrounded by sickness and despair. My father’s crimes maybe bigger than mine but I am still not off the hook and I shall depart this life minus the loves I once cherished and I stumbled into my own tragic outcome alone and perhaps that accounts for my obsession with making sense of the nonsense of art as our feelings incarnate . Or as the rhyme I love to hear my babies sing “ all fall down”.