Saturday, November 17, 2018

Robert Lee Haycock writes

Art tips, Rat spit, Tar pits

-- Bruce Nauman

Rat spit and donkey balls
She prattles on
About my pratfalls.

I hurt
From hurtling
These hurdles.

But does she care?
No, she's finished
Before I've even startled.
 Photo of Keoki's Donkey Balls - Kailua Kona, HI, United States. Half Ass and Frosted Half Ass


  1. In 1972 Bruce Nauman made an indoor version of an outdoor work that he proposed for a retrospective of his art. It would have encircled the walls of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits, a paleontological site famous for its well-preserved fossils. The sculpture combined the name of the site plus 2 anagrams of "tar pits" in neon tubing.

  2. A donkey is actually an ass, not a half-ass. Equus africanus asinus is a domesticated member of the horse family. However, jacks (male donkeys) are often used to mate with mares to produce mules, and jennies (female donkeys) are more rarely bred with stallions to produce hinnies. Donkeys were the most-frequently featured animals in Greek proverbs, including such statements of fatalistic resignation as "the donkey lets the rain soak him." Both "donkey" and "ass" have derogatory or insulting meanings in many cultures, generally meaning someone who is obstinate, stupid, or silly; in the US, "dumbass" and "jackass" refer to a stupid person.

    The moral determinism espoused by 14th century philosopher Jean Buridan was satirized as "Buridan's ass" -- a donkey that was placed exactly midway between a pail of water and a stack of hay that would die of thirst and starvation since it could not make a rational decision between the two. Buridan himself may have been a bit of an ass, since he received a Master of Arts degree and spent his academic career in the faculty of arts of the University of Paris rather than obtaining a doctorate and was therefore forbidden to write or teach on theological subjects, and unlike most philosophers of the time he remained a secular cleric (one who did not join a religious order). Apocryphal stories about his amorous affairs abound, including hitting the future French pope Clemens VI over the head with a shoe while competing for the affections of the wife of a German shoemaker, and being executed by king Jean II le Bon by having him tied in a sack and thrown into the Seine river because of his love affair with queen Joan of Auvergne (although in the 15th century, in his "Ballade des dames du temps jadis," poet François Villon attributed the affair to the earlier Marguerite de Bourgogne).


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