Hammer Museum

This time we are going to talk about play and victims. By saying we are going to talk about these subjects, I am playing: I am the one talking, you are listening. It is play because I imagine your response. And then I respond to your imagined response. I imagine that your response challenges my words. Otherwise there is no game.

Instead there is a relationship between my talking, and your listening. If I ask a question, it is rhetorical: I don't expect a challenge, only want to reassure myself that I am not alone in my inquiry.

At the Hammer Courtyard yesterday, a man sitting at a table by the fountain, wearing a jaunty white straw hat with a wide band, catches my eye, and remarks on the small yellow tent that cautions "wet floor" but itself incautiously is being blown like a kite across the pavement of the courtyard. Typical waste of money, he says. He invites me to join him, and I do, especially as I like to be near the fountain.

It is made up of welded together children's toy sleds painted a clean white, and formed into a spring like shelter suggesting cupped hands, clam shells, valleys between waves of the sea....

The man begins talking about himself. He likes to come to this courtyard. He returned recently to Beverly Hills where he grew up and worked. What work? As an investor. He traveled. He loves the women in Europe, loves looking at them sun themselves naked on the beach in Nice. He loves French women. He's had young women, older woman. He's had an adventurous life. He's started businesses. He's been in the pornography trade. He's been around. Now what he looks for in a women is TLC. Trust, Loyalty, Co-operation.

That sounds suspiciously like a business transaction to me, but I make no comment. I'd been reading about this view of his: between men and women there is a negotiation: a list of requirements on both sides, and if most can be met between them, its a deal. Used to be people stayed with each other because they loved each other, and the problems that arose were solved because they had to be solved, or you lived without love. And that was a fate worse than death. Literally a fate worse than death.

My friends tell me I am a victim of my loves. What does this mean? It means that those I love, knowing that for me, giving up on love is a fate worse than death, and not believing that themselves, take what they can get, and go onto the next fool who fears suffering the same fate worse than death.

Those who make TLC deals are protecting themselves against this danger. I don't think this is wrong, if you only live in that world.

Which brings us back to play. When you are a child, play your game, and lose your game, you are not a loser as a child when you leave the game. In fact you are a winner, you have won the opportunity to learn something about what you were playing with. You are not a victim of your opponent, even if you always lose, because you have another life outside of the game.

In one true sense there is a game played between men and woman: learning how to live with one another. We are all children in this game. But it is game, because our true life is not in winning, losing, or in how we play the game, is not even in fair play. It is in love that the relation of man and woman is capable of keeping in our lives better than anything else we can do. We are travelers through our relations to other people on the way home to love.

We play with our relation to other people. We don't talk to them like we talk to ourselves, asking rhetorical questions they are not meant to answer because they are only with us as presences, companions as per deal made.

The fountain, according to the museum brochure, is a play, a model, a toy, a transition from one state to another. Typical for this kind of writing, the metaphors used are not related to each other and are in some ways contradictory. A model of a building is not a toy building, unless it is played with. Use it to construct an actual building, it is simply a tool. But generally modern artists are not interested in being exact in description. They are about transition, transgression, ecstasy: about getting out, going across, getting there. Someplace better, healing, more true. It is about seeing the place left behind as played: not unreal, but not the destination either.

The play assumes opposition. There are no victims, only those who want to learn how to get home, and those who don't. We learn how to play the game, while learning how to get out of the game.

The game adult men and women play with each other is unlike childhood games in this one essential, astonishing respect. Those who want to learn to get home do learn, and do get home. It is the knowing what is real that gets you there. That's all it takes.