Memories are, in the words of Alan Watts, “dead because fixed” and are thus “the corpse of an experience.” Hmmmm. Although I am an admirer of Watts, Tolle, Wilber and am an advocate for Being in the Now I remember a quote I once read to the effect of “never let a philosopher watch your plants when you are away.”
“never let a philosopher watch your plants when you are away.”
And it’s not that I set out to disprove Watts or anything so preconceived as that, it’s just that this thing happened to me on Sunday, December 4th at 7:40 p.m. I trapped a daemon.
My memories are not so much in color as they are of color, that is to say the things I like most to recall are likely to be because they were of a color that attracted me strongly and inculcated in me a desire to live in its company. In her introduction to Color: A Natural History of the Palette, Victoria Finlay writes, “The first challenge in writing about colors is that they don’t exist. Or rather they do exist but only because our minds create them as an interpretation of vibrations that are happening around us.”
“The first challenge in writing about colors is that they don’t exist.”
Thus naming a color for a reading audience is tricky, for example, when in 1969 Ford offered customers a color called “Anti-Establish Mint” in a punny corporate effort to sell Mavericks to wavering hippies, it’s really not about hue, chroma and tint. But nevertheless I’m going to call my color “Limefire Green Metallic” and I have memories of that color that have accompanied me for more than four decades, and the color has been so wildly insistent upon my consciousness as of late that I felt I had no choice but to address it, physically, materially. Ask it why.
In 1970 my family returned from Barcelona, Spain and moved into a small house in Newton, Kansas. My maternal grandfather’s first act, as I recall, was to take me directly to the Duckwall’s Variety store downtown, just across Sand Creek, to buy a toy. I was six years of age and I’m guessing about four feet tall. It was at that age and height that I saw my first “Red Line” Hot Wheel, an Anti-Freeze Green Beatnik Bandit with bubble-top roof, chrome mag wheels and jutting engine – and very importantly – encapsulated in a clear, blistered bubble attached to a flaming graphic hang-card. Albert Camus writes of “…the first two or three images in whose presence one’s heart first opened…” well, this moment was one of the three. Fast forward maybe two years, we’re living in Salem, Oregon now and while sitting at a service station filling up our family Volvo, some dude drifts through the station’s lot in a lime-green metallic ’68 Olds Cutlass 442, replete with shackles, traction bars, Cragar S/S mags and topped off with – yet again – a clear plastic hood scoop showcasing 8 (probably fake but who cares) chrome velocity stacks. I was ecstatic. Another Camus moment.
Throughout 2017, the memory of this green color and the iconic automotive forms in which it has been made manifest to me has followed me so doggedly and insistently that I finally decided to chase it back, like some character in a noir film who, weary of looking over his shoulder, reverses the tail and begins to pursue the shadowy figure perpetually upon him. I imagined that if I could somehow chase these memories into my studio and not let them out until I had captured their likeness, that I might finally satisfy the daemon – or at least get a look at it. It was the great H.C. Westermann who wrote once to his sister Martha, “I guess I’ve got a real demon in me and I’m glad, he can use me to death.” I get that.
On Sunday, December 4th at 7:40 p.m. I cornered my daemon. It is green and it’s shaped like a car under a clear-plastic bubble on a graphic expanse. Here are images of the pursuit: