Jetsonism is Nirvana?


Lots of people ask me about the spirals I keep drawing all the time. You notice I put a spiral on the center candle. Where did this fascination with spirals start anyway?

Well, truth be told, it started with Kenny Scharf. I went to interview Kenny around 1981 and he showed me a piece of paper about spirituality, religion and the use of icons (which I now call sigils) that he’d recently written while coming down from mushrooms. I was blown away by the insights Kenny expressed in that essay and keep in mind, Kenny was only 23-years-old at the time, just out of college.

I’m looking for the original xerox Kenny gave me of those ideas on art and spirituality. Can’t seem to find it in this immense archive I’ve collected over the last 45 years, but I did locate a copy of the same material that was printed in a 1983 brochure for a solo show at the Tony Shafrazi gallery that may have been Kenny’s breakout moment (see left).

The essay concluded with the line: “Hydrogen God is the creator: sun, planets, earth, man. The sun being hydrogen, fusing to helium as an after product. Man plays God by using atoms, destroying himself in the process: nuclear catastrophe. Jetsonism is Nirvana.”

The one thing in this essay that really stuck with me however, was how a spiral could take you to a higher level. Kenny had stumbled onto this magic after he’d painted one on his ceiling and began staring into it while high on mushrooms. It actually helped him take his art to a higher level and I don’t think he’d deny this.

I grew up worshiping the Merry Pranksters, who created a ton of magic in the 1960s. When they painted their bus Furthur, they made it magic in the process. Then they began painting themselves and everything around them, transforming their world. I don’t think Kenny knew anything about the Pranksters, his magic bus icon probably came from the Partridge Family. But Kenny instinctively understood the magic of customizing everyday objects, ritualizing them in the process. At the time, Kenny had recently customized a vacuum cleaner and was taking it for walks around the neighborhood like it was a pet dog, all part of the magic world he was manifesting.

Today, the specter of nuclear annihilation has diminished considerably, but the threat of environmental and/or social collapse still hangs around, although I refuse to get involved with apocalyptic thinking. Fear is the basis for all mind control.

8 Replies to “Jetsonism is Nirvana?”

  1. Years ago, probably 1993 it took a “mandala” class and learned about drawing and expressing through drawing. I still have those drawings today. Circles are very powerful. Probably why I love the drums!
    The candles you’re led to make now are wonderful. I’m looking forward to meeting mine. Thanks for all you do.

  2. as a former believer in armageddon i enjoy your rejection of it .i grew up in urbana in the 50’s and 60’s. the nuclear armageddon world view was promoted by duck and cover drills at leal grade school. religions teach it and atheists do too. i’ll be glad to provide a link that shows the similarity of both kinds of thinking if you like.

    1. Maybe armageddon will come, nothing is certain, but its better to put your energies on manifesting positive thoughts. Nothing closes down chakras faster than fear. We all grew up in the fifties and early sixties with nightmares of mushroom clouds in the distance. Leal, I went there too.

    1. there is a big divide among the armageddonists and the more optimistic people. i can think of arguments for both but have an insight from another person that may be relevant.

          here’s the link
          . to balance this i recommend barbara ehrenreich’s latest book about how mindless optimism causes all kinds of problems. example. generals in the pentagon and white house said the iraq war would be over in 2 weeks. any “pessimists” were fired.
          what a coincidence that kenny wrote at this moment. just got the latest juxtapose and there’s an interview with him. i ended up with the one that had the other artist on the cover( alternate cover).

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