Friday, October 28, 2005

Crazy Horse

An hour until yoga and I got a nice chunk of sleep last night. Except the wacko dreams: learning that in calligraphy, you dot your i going from right to left (something totally made up in dreamland - not official calligraphy rules!); eating fruit tart in front of Jessica DelMauro and finally offering some to her (ok, this is part of tonight's performance, so it's not like I was being mean in the dream), and then moving to another dressing room and scolding Jessica Simpson b/c she was late for her entrance and it was b/c she was totally strung out on who knows what....mmm, now I forget the rest.

But I am a little concerned about the performance tonight. I feel like more than half the workshop was just doing crazy logistical stuff that the gallery didn't take care of, and yesterday was kind of a panic mode and no one knew what was going on anywhere at any given time. At least AJ was nice enough to get us food since all the gallery gave us was bottled water for dinner. [FYI - my diet has gone to hell these two weeks, but I'm not getting upset about it b/c I know it was b/c of the workshop and I'll soon stop eating out of the vending machine, eating fried chicken, eating gross "chewy" chips ahoy (that's just WRONG), etcetc.] But it will be all over soon enough, and then I can concentrate on the BIG PERFORMANCE in November.

I feel pretty decent about that one, though. I did a run of 30 sheets of watermarked paper yesterday morning for it, and was like, oh, if I just did 30 a day and did it three times a week, I'd be about almost done w/all the papermaking...that is, if I stick w/the original plan of just having one sheet of paper act as a "book" rather than having multiple pages and covers. Don't let me try and make 100 real books!

I've been listening to Mazzy Star incessantly and totally engrossed in the book Jill gave me. This end of a chapter killed me (and then I swear I'm going to get dressed and run to yoga class):

Personally, I love Crazy Horse b/c even the most basic outline of his life shows how great he was; because he remained himself from the moment of his birth to the moment he died; b/c he knew exactly where he wanted to live, and never left; b/c he may have surrendered, but he was never defeated in battle; b/c, although he was killed, even the Army admitted the was never captured; b/c he was so free that he didnt' knowo what a jail looked like; b/c at the most desperate moment of his life he only cut Little Big Man on the hand; because, unlike many people all over the world, when he met white men he was not diminished by the encounter; b/c his dislike of the oncoming civilization was prophetic; b/c the idea of becoming a farmer apparently never crossed his mind; b/c he didn't end up in the Dry Tortugas; b/c he never met the President; b/c he never rode on a train, slept in a boardinghouse, ate at a table; b/c he never wore a medal or a top hat or any other thing that white men gave him; b/c he made sure that his wife was safe before going to where he expected to die; b/c although Indian agents, among themselves, somtimes referred to Red Cloud as "Red" and Spotted Tail as "Spot," they never used a diminutive for him; b/c, deprived of freedom, power, occupation, culture, trapped in a situation where bravery was invisible, he was still brave; b/c he fought in self-defense, and took no one w/him when he died; b/c, like the rings of Saturn, the carbon atom, and the underwater reef, he belonged to a category of phenomena which our technology had not then advanced far enough to photograph; b/c no photograph or painting or even sketch of him exists; b/c he his not the Indian on the nickel, the tobacco pouch, or the apple crate. Crazy Horse was a slim man of medium height w/brown hair hanging below his waist and a scar above his lip. Now, in the mind of each person who imagines him, he looks different.

I believe that when Crazy Horse was killed, something more than a man's life was snuffed out. Once, America's size in the imagination was limitless. After Europeans settled and changed it, working from the coasts inland, its size in the imagination shrank. Like the center of a dying fire, the Great Plains held that original vision longest. Just as people finally came to the Great Plains and changed them, so they came to where Crazy Horse lived and killed him. Crazy Horse had the misfortune to live in a place which existed both in reality and in the dreams of people far away; he managed to leave both the real and the imaginary place unbetrayed. What I return to most often when I think of Crazy Horse is the fact that in the adjutant's office he refused to lie on the cot. Mortally wounded, frothing at the mouth, grinding his teeth in pain, he chose the floor instead. What a distance there is between that cot and the floor! On the cot, he would have been, in some sense, "ours": an object of pity, an accident victim, "the noble red man, the last of his race, etc.etc." But on the floor Crazy Horse was Crazy Horse still. On the floor, he began to hurt as the morphine wore off. On the floor, he remembered Agent Lee, summoned him, forgave him. On the floor, unable to rise, he was guarded by soldiers even thn. On the floor, he said goodbye to his father and Touch the Clouds, the last of the thousands that once followed him. And on the floor, still as far from white men as the limitless continent they once dreamed of, he died. Touch the Clouds pulled the blanket over his face: "That is the lodge of Crazy Horse." Lying where he chose, Crazy Horse showed the rest of us where we are standing. With his body, he demonstrated that the floor of an Army office was part of the land, and that the land was still his.

--Ian Frazier, Great Plains (pp. 117-119)

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