Nicholas Baxter

Influences 1

“Denial Vanitas” Redux

You know that thing that happens when you stare at a single word for too long, and the letters start to separate themselves, become individual symbols, and your brain starts to mistakenly think you’ve misspelled the word?  The original form and meaning of the word dissolve into the existential void and our primal phenomenological sensing ability comes back to the forefront, from the recesses of our “reptile brain.” (Comedian Chris Farley’s hilarious take on this concept from the incredible movie Black Sheep featuring the word “roads…rooooads…rowads…rroowwads” comes to mind…)

Well, um, anyway. That happened. When I was composing my last blog entry about my new painting, I kept staring at the words “Denial Vanitas,” checking for misspellings before going live with the post, and this psychedelic subconscious shift took place:

Denial Vanitas

Daniel Vanitas

Daniel Vitalis

I’m a huge Daniel Vitalis fan so this is not nearly as surprising as it is amusing. Just thought I’d share.

“Re-wild yourself.”

And while I’m at it, I should share another amusing corollary: there’s an excellent documentary about the death-denial work of Ernest Becker (mentioned in the previous post) called Flight From Death that was envisioned and co-produced by a longtime acquaintance of mine, Greg Bennick.

Painting: the quest for immortality.

I’m also a huge Greg Bennick fan.  But I originally know him from his long run as vocalist for the seminal hardcore/punk band Trial–one of the most inspiring hardcore bands ever. Here’s why, some sample lyrics:

In The Balance

while i choke strangled by the hands of time
my life slowly slips away
the dollars i save aren’t worth the days i’d spend
with images of freedom as lies in my head
the hand that feeds will always bleed me dry
though these hours, these minutes, these moments, are mine
intensify
no one else will guide the way
break the silence before it breaks us…
down to a point from where there’s no escape
where regret destroys whatever life remains
and you, when you’ve told yourself a lie
the path of least resistance destroys you in time
is it heresy to want to live today? that’s not asking too much
so many are barely getting by, and starving in the streets
while in denial of death, yet still afraid to be free
we grovel beneath the pantheon of security
assured as we sell our dreams to buy our pain
that “the meek shall inherit” when only the strong will reign
all life hangs in the balance, i won’t wait until it drops
i can’t wait, they might not have another day
i have to live, i might not have even one more day

Live in Chicago. I am buried somewhere in that pile of humans.

I find it interesting how my influences–both personal and artistic–show up in everything I create. So maybe this is all more proof that everything is connected? There are no coincidences.