Friday, June 15, 2018

a lifetime of forgery

James Mason
An internet dictionary throws up two quickie definitions for the word "forge:"

  1. make or shape (a metal object) by heating it in a fire or furnace and beating or hammering it. Synonyms: hammer out, beat into shape, fashion (and more.)
  2. produce a copy or imitation of (a document, signature, banknote, or work or art) for the purpose of deception. Synonyms: fake, falsify, counterfeit, copy, imitate, reproduce, replicate, simulate (and more) 
Funny how the same word forms the underpinning for what can be used and useful and true and what is false and deceptive and untrue.

I guess what got me off on this tangent was a longish Guardian article about James Mason, a man billed by the article as the world-class detective when it comes to art forgery. Mason, who sounds wonderfully like a nerd's-nerd is the guy who doesn't care what an artwork might be worth (a centerpiece for those who buy and sell so-called art). He cares what the science says. In other words, he's the guy who knows how to do the researcher's heavy lifting. Spotting a fraud is like any other research endeavor -- you gotta break a sweat... dig and dig and dig ... dig past what is legal or illegal, dig past the cultural hopes and fears, dig through the subsoil that lies beneath the subsoil of whatever topic is at hand. Back and back and back ... where the lies fall away, where even the truth falls away until you are left with a conclusion that is ... what is it exactly?

Mason looks at art, but I caught myself curious about my own intersections with various pretty good researchers when it came to stuff that interested me -- eg. Buddhism or spiritual endeavor or whatever you want to call it. I look back at intersections with guys like Brian Victoria and Stuart Lachs, both people willing to take on the wonderful-wonderful confines of Zen Buddhism and peel back the layers of hagiography and detail the riotous and sometimes subservient tommyrot that dwells within the wonderment of spiritual adventure. Or Kobutsu Malone, who, while participating in the Zen tommyrot universe tucked in his well-informed take on the Roman Catholic Church and its pedophile proclivities... and this before the Boston Globe claimed a wondrous scoop.... whose discoveries, like Malone's, were preceded by the Catholic church itself and references to boy toys that burrow as far back as 300 AD at least (can't immediately find the list, but my computer went down ... I'll look later).

All of this by way of a longish intro to the idea of research and who sweats and what anyone might have after having sweat the sweat of the researcher.

If someone truly loves and idea or position, isn't there a built-in responsibility to research it ... to sweat? I think there is, but I fear I am in the minority. Some are willing to burrow down to the bad apples among the good ones ... and then stop... and congratulate the fact that there was any digging at all. But is it enough? I doubt it, but I fear I am in the minority. Deeper and deeper and deeper into what began as love, burrowed through disgust and kept on digging until ... until ... until....

Until, like the little joke bird that flew around the mountain peak in ever-declining circles until at last s/he flew up his/her own asshole and disappeared, s/he reverses course and flies out his/her own mouth and reappears with a personal persuasion s/he is willing to live with.

"I love it" is just "I love it." Or "I hate it" is just "I hate it."

So if personal preference is where anyone begins and where anyone ends, why do the sweat-invoking research in the middle? Isn't it just that you'd prefer not to become a bigger asshole that you know you can become?

No biggie. Live a little, sweat a little ... and hope the asshole quotient is held in check. If others prefer not to research ... well, do what you can not to be like that. Make the forgery come true if you must, but I hope you won't leave your dogshit on my front lawn.

What a forgery I am.

1 comment:

  1. Research operates on the assumption that there is a truth to be discovered. Certainly facts trump fairytales, but is there a truth to uncover? Maybe it's just trying to wring out all of the experience a moment can offer, and likely doing it the hard way. Maybe research is only good for stated goals, to sort this or that. But research is a methodology applicable to any exploration. But applying it broadly may do it a disservice. Sometimes experiencing something might be more informative than researching it.