Some Artsy Fartsy Shit

March 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm (Uncategorized)

Today, I just felt the need to get out of the house and write, so I walked to Starbucks (ran into Blue Bulk friends on the way) and got the idea of writing about feces, in the grand Filipino tradition of shiterature. I sat down over the new English Breakfast tea Starbucks is serving now and wrote for nearly three hours. This is the result. I think it still needs some work and comments are appreciated but I’m in love with short story writing again. \:D/

Some Artsy Fartsy Shit

There’s been blood in my shit for the past week. When I go, I’m often left staring at the bright red spots on the toilet paper and watching the red swirls as the the toilet flushes them away to another world. Shitting has become an odd experience. There is no unusual pain, only the unusual feeling that the shit is no longer some discrete being, but something I have shed blood to expel.

I don’t fully understand what’s going on. I’ve yet to consult a doctor because I was hoping it would disappear on its own, like a cold or an itch or a fit of melancholy. Apparently, it’s much graver.

I’ll call the doctor when I start farting blood.

In the meantime, I’ll sit here in my apartment and let it slide. It’s never too much blood coming out and I’ve never felt lacking in blood or anything, whatever that’s supposed to feel like. I still have some Frida Kahlo paintings to “thoroughly experience” for my paper on expression of feminine pain in art. Mrs. Navarro always talks about the need to enter the art to fully experience it. Become its persona, become its artist, become the art. I don’t feel comfortable entering some personae, though. It’s like copulating with darkness, if you will. There’s too much of a mess. There’s too much of a chance that the persona never leaves you. That’s why I never liked theater. I don’t want to become anything too frightful, too far from myself.

I’m not into pain, so this painting of her as a deer with several arrows running through her is not my cup of tea. She seems to stare out emotionlessly, with a stoicism that inspires great admiration and great pity. I like painting things that are peaceful but are quietly intriguing, that invoke subtle feelings of fear, elation or confusion. My most recent, which I called “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” was a portrait of a child in shades of dark blue and pale yellow, his eyes filled with fear under a surface of calmness, walking home to tell the villagers the sheep had been slaughtered by a pack of wolves. It was Mrs. Navarro that assigned Kahlo to me. She said I needed “some passion, some extreme colors and feelings” in my palette.

I was up for some challenge, I guess, but now, sitting at my desk, poring over this large Kahlo book, I feel suddenly very much stuck at the door, unable to “enter” the painting. I close my eyes for a while and think of the metaphor of arrows, of scathing reviews and harsh words launched before they could be packaged politely. I think of fights with broken dishes, I think of suffocating as blood slowly fills my lungs. I think of silence, of the fear of never being free. My heart begins to race and my breathing grows heavy, and I stop and open my eyes, my face covered in cold sweat.

First paragraph:
Kahlo is the quintessential tragic female painter, modern art’s Plath. Her work bleeds with strong colors and visceral depictions of suffering. She was involved in a major tram accident in her youth and lived her life having to undergo many corrective surgeries, even being unable to bear children because of the damage to her body. Clearly, this concept of feminine pain (Hirst 243) is an important factor in understanding the significance and meaning of her work.

Okay. I really don’t know why I had to enter the painting at all. There was no way my brief experience of Kahlo’s pain could be expressed in words for an objective, critical paper on the matter. I know she’s great. I know why she’s great. Over. There is no need to bridge the necessary distance between artist and audience.

I’ve grown tired of working on the paper for now. The other five pages can wait for Tuesday night, I guess, so I’ll just lie in bed and think awhile.
I don’t want to go for a colonoscopy. There’s too much shame in it. I mean, dropping my pants and having a camera stuck up my ass to see what’s wrong? And the doctor smiles as he lubricates his gloves, saying it won’t hurt too much. It’s like being in the gay porn industry, which my friend Marco says is all about being fucked in the ass whether you work in front of the camera or behind it.

We all knew Marco was gay since we were kids, but we never thought a highly intelligent, thoroughly deep person would drop out of a good university to enter such a shallow, mentally and morally retarded industry. He was an intern at one of the small local companies. Marco was in charge of screening models, seeing if they measured up in size and skill to be featured in the site’s videos. He told us one night over drinks how they would offer to have sex with him, if only for a contract with the company, to which he’d reply,
“Honey, if you’re no good for a porno, you’re no good for me.”

Marco told us about models who were actually straight and just needed the money, badly, coming home with their asses bloody, humiliated by their wives who said they bled more often down there than real women. These men’s jobs were to be publicly emasculated. We asked Marco what he got out of working there. He said it felt real. He said the pain and suffering and lust in the studio made him feel alive. He felt that pornography, with its cheap plots and measly objectives that shadowed the great tragedy of its actors, and all the blood and horror the studio burned with, was art. It was art with social relevance, with emotional upheaval, with all the trappings of a real life soap drama, and we all know homosexuals are suckers for good drama.

I don’t want people sticking things up my ass and telling me what they see down there, what the reason for the bleeding is. My suffering is my business. I am not Frida Kahlo. I am not a gay porn actor. I am a heterosexual art student with a normal life studying artistic techniques and periods of art history and I think art should be more about about creating something other than yourself, rather than something to expose yourself.

My cellphone beeps and I roll over to reach for it on the sidetable. It’s a message from Anton. He announces, with some excitement-induced typos that Sandra is giving birth and that I, the soon-to-be godfather should be there.

Sandra and I used to be together, back in high school, and high school is really full of a lot of stupid mistakes and we’re much better off as friends. Of late, she’s been balancing her studies with her romance with Anton, a nice guy she met on a blind date. Her parents were surprisingly cool with her pregnancy three years into college. They liked Anton, and they knew it was only a matter of time before things happened. Sandra was competent, if a little wild and they knew she’d get along fine.

I put on some sneakers, called the concierge for a cab and grabbed my Kahlo book to read on the way. When I arrived downstairs, I told the driver to take me to the hospital. After some restless flipping through the book in the cab, I made it to the hospital and headed straight to the room number Anton had given. I opened the door hastily, with a smile, ready to greet Anton, Sandra and their bundle of joy. I found Anton alone, standing, cradling a bawling infant, in tears himself. I was filled with a sudden horror, as he turned to me with the greatest sadness in his eyes.

Sandra had bled to death. Some abnormality in her uterus that the OB hadn’t seen. I sat down, clutching my book and holding Anton’s shoulder as the grown man fell apart, his beautiful daughter, lying helpless in his arms, with no knowledge of the tragedy that would haunt her whole life, the empty space where a mother should’ve been. She would never know the nurturing love of breastfeeding, nor the endless nagging in her rebellious teenage years, nor the tears as she was given away at her wedding. Sandra had wanted to name the girl Violet. Violet had her father’s serious nose but her mother’s incredibly deep black eyes, eyes that conveyed a world of powerful emotions.

As my mind wandered back to art, as it often does, I marveled at the realization that Violet was Anton and Sandra’s masterpiece. People who were incapable of creating poetry or art did make their own masterpieces, their children. I saw now that children were the greatest works of art anyone could create. Children were inherently imbued with the artists’ traits, the artists’ suffering, the artists’ souls, because they were not only formed from a part of the artists, they were even formed inside the artists. I wept, looking at how beautiful Violet was, but I was glad that Sandra had left something of her beauty in the world, that she would live on in Violet’s eyes, and in Violet’s children’s eyes, and on and on forever.

I left the hospital so Anton could take care of preparations for Sandra’s wake and funeral, and eventually Violet’s baptism. In the cab, I opened my Kahlo book, wanting to distract myself from the shock of Sandra’s death, from thinking of Anton and Violet. It opened to another one of her self-portraits. Kahlo lay naked on a bed, her legs splayed open and her face covered with a sheet. Blood spilled over the bed as she was giving birth, and out of her vagina, her own face had spawned forth, as if she were being reborn from her own self.

I looked at it and thought of how wrong I’ve been this whole time. The artist cannot be separated from the art, as the mother cannot be separated from the child. Art is about tearing away part of yourself and putting it out into the world. Art is about being free, being honest, being naked. It is about creating out of yourself, making something beautiful out of your labor and suffering, even if it kills you.

As I neared the apartment building, my stomach began to grumble. I needed to go, badly. I’d considered going briefly before leaving the apartment, but I’d been too excited to get to the hospital. Eventually, I made it to my apartment, filled with mourning over Sandra, filled with my sudden revelations and filled with the intense desire to shit.

I think all of these things led me to the large canvas I had ready on the living room floor, rather than to the bathroom. I took off my pants and sat down on the blank, white expanse. With a deep breath, I let go and the whiteness of the canvas gave way to splashes of brown and red. The release was exhilarating, it was liberating, like an orgasm of shit coming out from inside me. I sat there, groaning and laughing in pleasure as the shit continued to flow from me to the canvas. This was my work of art, this was me, this was my pain and anger and sorrow in an explosion of chunky brown and bright red.

I began to grow dizzy, and I couldn’t stand up. Instead, I collapsed into a pool of my own shit. I felt helpless and spent and just lay there, smiling. Then, I saw Sandra floating above me, her eyes as black and shiny as shattered obsidian. She frowned a little and said, “Robby, you look so pale.”

I smiled and said a little woozily, “Sandra, you’re so beautiful.”

And I fell into the blackness of her eyes, my whole being swirling into the septic tank of eternity.

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4 Comments

  1. Harvey said,

    Galing mo. Grabe. @-)

  2. Mum said,

    Excellent work. Amazed how you redefined how art should be.

  3. Bong said,

    Tama ka, nag-level up ka nga sa short story writing. Mas dumami yung sapin ng kahulugan. Favorite ko yung mga unang Sandra paragraph.

    Sa ibang balita, binasa ko to habang tumatae (nag-print out ako).

  4. Yong said,

    Wow.

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