• The Black Chrysanthemum

    I mentioned elsewhere (see Artist Journal page) that a strange incident might have influenced me to start drawing black chrysanthemums: here's the story.

    Living in a community, we noticed one day that there was no cold water in one of the bathrooms - you turned the tap - nothing. So a couple of us decided to go up into the loft to try and find out what was going on. After wriggling through various holes, we finally arrived in a bigger space, and a couple of large cold water tanks, full of water. What was going on? We peered into them with our torches and picked out a strange sight - one of the tanks appeared to have a flower in the bottom, dark, dark brown, verging on black. For a moment we were stumped - how could a flower fall into the tank? But then there was a terrible moment of recognition... it was the delicate corpse of a bat which had become jammed into the outflow pipe, its wings and ears forming the fragile 'petals'. We removed the bat (which was a long-eared bat), and sealed the tops of the tanks so it couldn't happen again. Extraordinarily, I can picture the scene both before and after the moment of recognition - the flower and the bat. Usually, when I resolve ambiguous visual things, I find it incredibly difficult to return to the (untrue) initial reading.

    Anyway, I searched the internet for 'Black Chrysanthemum' and came across Charles Olson's 'The Secret of the Black Chrysanthemum'. It's very difficult to read, since an attempt has been made to put into type what I imagine were scribbled notes (edited, transcribed and annotated by George F Butterick). I thought the most coherent bit was:

    analogy: Black Chrysanthemum means you. [my full stop]

    knowing that, that you are nothing but yourself,

    and, that which exists through itself

    is what is called Meaning, This is the Golden Pill.

    So there we have it - a choice of red pill, blue pill or golden pill...



Bunk painting

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