02 October 2015

"The Late Dr Heidegger, Nazi II" by D. H. Hermanson

"The Late Dr Heidegger, Nazi H-1 " by D. H. Hermanson, 12' x 12" digital painting, 56 megapixels in 16 bit colour, printed on matte finished Moab 300 gsm archival paper.

This was the second in a series of digital paintings in which I try to convey my ambivalence with the late Dr. Heidegger. As a graduate student in religion and philosophy, Heidegger’s summa, Being and Time, along with a series of essays and seminar papers on the pre-Socratics were at the centre of my work. I was not nearly so eager in my response to his other work, which I found to be soaked to the bone with a ferocious kind of nostalgia, a dangerous romanticism for hearth and race.

01 October 2015

Flight from Newark

This digital painting is ~54 MP and was printed on 16” x16" Moab Entrada 3200 gsm archival paper.

A number of people have asked the source of the painting on the home page of my blog. I must confess. It is of my own making.

I flew from Newark International on the day it reopened following 9/11. In the days after the towers falling I had become accustomed to nervous teenagers with M16 rifles standing guard at Penn Station. They were Army infantry by their uniforms, completely unprepared for the rushing crowds and the masses of pan-handling homeless. These kids with guns could have looked no more shell-shocked had they been dropped naked into Al Qaeda headquarters.

By the time Newark Airport reopened things had changed. The children were still uniformed and armed with automatic weapons, but they were no longer shell-shocked. Instead they had been turned into bullies. At EWR they walked with the swaggering nonchalance of the “authorised,"demanding to see identification and tickets from anyone who looked “out of place.” As Newark is as much or perhaps more a centre of diversity as anywhere in the U.S. of A., these soldiers found many opportunities to exercise their authority, a task they generally took to with loud, mocking voices.

In spite of the “progress” made by women and people of colour in the American military, most recruits do not come from urban areas like Newark. More than any time since the Civil War, our military is dominated by white Southerners. From Texas to Virginia, the American South provides over 44% of recruits in spite of having only 36% of the country’s recruiting age population. In contrast, the Northeast provides only 14% of new enlistments, while having 18% of the recruitment pool. Indeed, in the North, only Maine, the poorest and most poorly educated of the northern states can rival the Old South in terms of recruitment.

I suspect had they known that I had spent time defending a Sikh business just outside of Asbury Park from the misdirected anger of my fellow citizens, these children with guns would have detained me, or perhaps just marched me out the door for a beating in the parking garage.

It took me three hours to clear security that day. I returned a week later via San Francisco International. The scene could not have been more different. There were no armed guards. After checking a bag, I began to walk toward the short security line. An alarm went off, and the PA system began to direct people to exit the building. Everyone, including staff and security simply ignored the announcement. I went outside, but found myself oddly alone, save for the normal rush of passengers into the building. After 15 minutes, I returned and passed through security. I asked two security agents what had happened. The first looked at me quizically, not understanding. The second said, “I’m not sure. I guess it was a false alarm."

I began the painting, one of a small series sharing the title Flight from Newark, not long after, with this trip in mind.

In May of 2009 Harpers published a story titled ““The Crusade for a Christian Military: Jesus Killed Mohammed” in which author Jeff Sharlet described how the subtitle for his piece derived from words written in large red Arabic letters on the side of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle used by American troops in Iraq. Aside from the wisdom of providing such a fine RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) target to hostile forces, Sharlet’s article provides more evidence in a growing concern that America and in particular its military has "left behind” (pun wickedly intended) its once bedrock anti-establishment beliefs.

It is perhaps no accident that this concern regarding the American military reflects the disproportionate religiosity and fundamentalist demographics of the Old South, where 18th Century Anglican dominance has been suplanted by wave after wave of revivalism. The South is still among the poorest, most poorly educated and unhappy regions in the United States: That fervent religion and reactionary politics should dominate this landscape should come as no surprise. This is the land where Mencken once chastised the police for silencing atheists attending to the infamous Scopes Trial:

Dayton, Tenn., July 15. [1925] -- The cops have come up from Chattanooga to help save Dayton from the devil. Darrow, Malone and Hays, of course, are immune to constabulary process, despite their obscene attack upon prayer. But all other atheists and anarchists now have public notice they must shut up forthwith and stay shut so long as they pollute this bright, shining, buckle of the Bible belt with their presence. Only one avowed infidel has ventured to make a public address. The Chattanooga police nabbed him instantly, and he is now under surveillance in a hotel. Let him but drop one of his impious tracts from his window and he will be transferred to the town hoose-gow. 

The Constitution of Tennessee, as everyone knows, puts free speech among the most sacred rights of the citizen. More, I am informed by eminent Chattanooga counsel, that there is no State law denying it -- that is, for persons not pedagogues. But the cops of Chattanooga, like their brethren elsewhere, do not let constitutions stand in the way of their exercise of their lawful duty. The captain in charge of the squad now on watch told me frankly yesterday that he was not going to let any infidels discharge their damnable nonsense upon the town. I asked him what charge he would lay against them if they flouted him. He said he would jail them for disturbing the peace. 

"But suppose," I asked him, "a prisoner is actually not disturbing the peace. Suppose he is simply saying his say in a quiet and orderly manner." 

"I'll arrest him anyhow," said the cop. 

"Even if no one complains of him?" 

"I'll complain myself." 

"Under what law precisely?" 

"We don't need no law for them kind of people." 

The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 15, 1925

I hope the American political and military systems can rid themselves of this enormous danger before it is too late. There are at least a few signs of hope. It is no longer 1925, and Southern youth are abandoning religion, and in particular fundamentalism, at an even higher rate than the rest of the nation.

06 November 2014


between morphine
and mortuary

23 October 2013


Stepping foot
on a field that has gone to grass

29 September 2013

Spectres of the Body

Face headlessness 35

Maine: Spectres of the Body is a digital painting (original is 12” x 12” at 1200 dpi, printed on Moab Entrada Rag Bright).

Judith Butler, in her essay “How Can I Deny That These Hands and This Body Are Mine,” writes:

Language itself cannot proceed without positing the body, and when it tries to proceed without positing the body, and when it tries to proceed as if the body were not essential to its own operation, figures of the body reappear in spectral and partial form within the very language that seeks to perform their denial. Thus, language cannot escape the way in which it is implicated in bodily life, and when it attempts such an escape, the body returns in the form of spectral figures whose semantic implications undermine the explicit claims of disembodiment made within language itself.

23 October 2012


in darkness sounds and movements