Saturday, November 5, 2011

the nothing

Lax Drawing, from a photo by Jim Forest (self portrait?)


by no means mention
what's really
on your mind

nothing is
on my mind

don't mention
whatever you have
to say
will get itself

don't worry

who worries?

that's all i'm
you go out
to the edge
of the universe,

it'll still be
on your


it'll still
be there
you don't have to
try to remember

the fact is, you
can't forget

forget what?

the nothing.
whatever it

-Robert Lax, from the journal A, p. 36

Thursday, November 3, 2011

nothing is on my mind (contemplative art)

Photo by Jim Forest
Not that I could ever afford it, but being captivated by all things Lax, I find this book fascinating.  It seems more like a work of art than a book.   The title intrigues me.  I practice Centering Prayer and one of the things that happens in this prayer is a movement away from "thinking".  Having nothing on your mind.  When thinking happens, you "ever so gently" (as Fr. Thomas Keating says) let go of it.

The book contains extracts from the Lax journals A, B and D.  Only 25 books were made by the German press, Edition Schwarse Seite.  63 hand bound pages on hand made paper.  $1500 each.  If I had money, I might buy one.  The one photographed here is at St. Bonaventure University in Olean NY, home of the Lax Archives.
Photo by Jim Forest
I've always suspected that Lax was a natural contemplative, and his writing, like the artworks of Ad Reinhardt leads one toward this contemplative kind of non-thinking awareness. Lax blurs the line between visual and literary art (and a lot of other things), but ends up with utterly simple utterings.

Prospectus: "Infinity's a pretzel curve. Notes from journals, one of a complete day, wandering, moving in circles, like talking on different levels. Selected parts from notes on other days are concentrated, calm and meditative, with delicate humor. Lax's kind of writing demands a slow reading, the reader has to put syllables together to words. Graphics and texts try the impossibility of capturing in paint or words in song or by any other art or in any other medium the actuality of the object."
Interestingly, during his last year Steve Jobs was interested the art of Mark Rothko.  Rothko's work is considered "spiritual".   He created Rothko Chapel in Houston, a place for non-denominational contemplation.  Jobs was looking for art that could inspire people working at Apple.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Seven Story Mountain Book Covers UPDATE

UPDATE: Brian sent a photo of his 50th anniversary (1998) issue of Seven Story Mountain (see below).  Too bad it doesn't have the price on the cover to compare to the 75 cents and 50 cents copies!  I still have the First Edition hardcover that belonged to my parents, but alas, the jacket is long gone.

I am fascinated with the stuff that Jim Forest saw on his recent visit to St. Bonaventure University.  Jim is an excellent photographer and I would like to add some of his photos to the eclectic collection of the louie blog.  (All of Jim's photos from this trip are on his Flickr site HERE.)
 Photo by Jim Forest
Photo by Jim Forest
Photo by Brian Murphy(1998 50th Anniversary edition)