I’m Glad I Don’t Have A Tail


  Please, please, please don’t repeat this to anyone.  Last Friday wife and I rode our bikes along the river to a brew pub for dinner.  On way home via a different route just before dusk she (up ahead) exclaimed: “Is that what I think it is!?  Let me have your knife!”

  I did so and then watched as she cut the tail off of a dead black squirrel.  Jeesh.  Unfortunately I’ve many times found myself part of that peculiar sort of excision separating tail from torso of skunk, deer, raccoons, and more.  All in service to art.  She makes fine brushes with the hair.

  Jung wrote some interesting stuff about artists: “The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts for two forces are at war within him (her) – on the one hand the common human longing for happiness, satisfaction and security in life, and on the other a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire”.

  Furthermore: “The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his (her) own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him (her)”.*  Mission for god as the Blues Brothers put it.

  Demanding a muse might be, but a grand thing which to follow should an audience later manifest.  What a way to live if people would cathect emotion and fork over dinero in response to what might express from the depths of one’s soul through a trained and tamed skill set.  Two examples:

  Mick Jagger arranged for Lucien Freud to paint his then wife Jerry Hall and baby.  Sitting for Sigmund’s grandson is an arduous process and Mrs. Jagger spent many many hours in his studio over the course of four months. 

  One day Freud called his dealer William Acquavella: “I want you to be the first to know, the painting’s had a sex change.”  “What!” Acquavella responeded.  “Well, Jerry didn’t show up for two sittings so I changed her into a man”.  Jagger rang up Acquavella but there was nothing that could be done.** 

  Similarly, if not quite as obstinately, architect Peter Zumthor picks his clients not visa versa.  “Normally architects render a service.  They implement what other people want.  This is not what I do.”  What he does is to take the measure of a site and client from which to distill his vision.  Not theirs.

  Actor Toby Maguire hoped for a Zumthor house in the LA hills.  The architect said he’d look at the site if Maguire’d educate himself by visiting several projects in Europe such as his spa in Vals Switzerland and museum in Bregenz Austria.  House went ahead.  Maguire asked for a basketball court, but apparently got a garden instead.***

  Uhm, I’m glad I don’t have a tail.

*Both Jung quotes are from his book Modern Man in Search of a Soul

**WSJ Weekend April 2011 by Tom Vandrbilt

***New York Times Magazine by Michael Kimmelman


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