observations of today after days of learning and leaning into the soul of Francis Bacon


Look at Bacon here … Francis Bacon … the man who always mentioned hating his face, his look (thanks in great part to disparaging parents). And here, now, today, this man, dead since 1992 … a year I was likely correcting my family’s grammar and generally being a little cow to everyone around me thinking I knew everything. And here, now, today, his face fills me with intense life, sitting here now before me like a most beautiful parakeet sensing its own difficulty with intensity and color.

My sweet love, Don bought me the Michael Peppiatt biography of Francis Bacon titled, Anatomy of an Enigma. It is apparent to me that this book is written by a man who shared much time with Bacon since it is written so genuinely and compassionately, but also truthfully as only a friend could see and tell truth. I am finding myself staying up into the wee hours unable to pull myself away from Bacon, what I am beginning (and only beginning) to decipher of the true Modern genius.

In reading the biography, articles, and staring intently at his work, I am finding the world to be a different place in my eyes. This is the moment, for me, when art turns into the capital “A” Art … when it questions, alters, and forces one to reconsider their perceptions.

So today, I am in a coffeehouse in Chicago, watching the hipsters flit around like little birds manifesting absurdity. I say this being a poet and an artist myself, knowing there is a level of narcissism in me, and definitely absurdity and all of this is okay as long as there is a great amount of time you walk out of yourself as if you would a room, moving through the doorway, shutting the door, and out to see, to be, without any in BE-ing in mind at all.


Bacon’s main predilections that give life and intensity, and that uncomfortable Truth, to his work are the elements of Chance, Disguise, Pleasure / Pain, and Chaos. As this photo of his studio illustrates, Bacon thrived and needed chaos … in his room to work, in his life to function. The revolving door of pubs, lovers, and gambling was a necessary aspect of Bacon, necessary to explore and that he did, amid massive chaos all while his nanny (who lived with him till her death in the 1950s) slept on his kitchen table.

Chaos in my life is necessary as well. As a child and a teen, especially after 16 when I was diagnosed with Bipolar, I created chaos, drama, anything to keep my world from getting right-side up. And everyone around me suffered because of it — family, friends. I avoided lovers until I was 22 years old … having had only a couple “dates” which basically meant I was perusing books at the local bookstore with my “date.”

In college, I was told again and again to cease my chaos in my poetry. And tried. It was so unnatural for me. Herb Scott at Western Michigan University where I received my MFA, allowed me again, encouraged me, to have that chaos if it was needed. Chaos can still be chaos even if it is controlled chaos. And in higher education began the lover card, my little shows of intensity to a man who was attracted to my chaos, and as the first man to break my heart put it whilst screwing another woman behind my wild back, my eyes are always “scavenging”and for a while it is nice then awfully bad. I only remember for sure his word “scavenging” to describe my eyes. I remember also thinking it was wondrous for him to say that, but then realizing it would doom me for years with men, especially the textbook narcissists who flocked to me and I to them.

And like Bacon, part of my chaos has been hating my face, my body, especially the unduly tearing through my chest by strange men. I don’t want to hate them, and especially do not want to hate myself, my face, my body as I often do.

Bacon may have disagreed with my view of Chaos, something I had not thought much of until now, till learning Francis and Chaos. He probably would not have agreed that to me, Chaos to be pure, pure Chaos, must also have a level of peace, or trying for peace, just never pure peace. There must always be the chaos but the wiles of it must be permeated also by a seeking for peace. I have been making peace with my body, my face, my hair as I tangle it into “sculptures” of pins all over my head. I will wear my chaos and be it.

Chaos for me is necessary because it is the only moment in my daily life that I feel my heart be mangled like a piece of paper. As if my heart has been taken out of me, put on the top of an open door and then closed upon till I can “control” the chaos again, in poetry, in my artwork, in looking at the mirror, in the mirror, to myself, as I now look also to Bacon, my sweet Francis, he and I standing in my tiny bathroom looking in the mirror at ourselves and each other, at chaos. Me making a sculpture in my hair and Francis piling on the lipstick and rouge. Ah, lovely chaos.

And in this vision, I also feel him staggering somewhere in my upper right arm right now. This moment, coughing out his desires and his missives of chaotic beauty.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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