Monday, March 31, 2008

Jon Sarkin

I just heard this really sad episode of This American Life about a man named Jon Sarkin , who was a chiropractor and environmental scientist from Massachusetts, until he suffered a sever stroke, that effected every aspect of his life and caused him to have a disjunctive relationship with the outside world. in 1988. Unable to work as he did before, he became a visual artist. Describing his condition on his website, he writes:

Why am I unable to be reflective about how my stroke affected my work?
Our physicality and perception are how we access and negotiate and navigate our environment and surroundings.

When these were paradigmatically and physically altered, so too was my understanding of, and my relationship with, the outside world.

There exists a connection with the external world and my "internality" that is truly intimate. TRULY.

When this balance is disturbed, the resulting disequilibrium changes everything. EVERYTHING.

Here are some samples of his art (note the reference to Edward Said):

The Free Cheese Is In The Trap
Private (Margaret E. Weiberg) collection
14" x 17"
Comments: "best-
laid plans"

11" x 14"
Felt tip pen on paper

He's no longer able to fully connect to his family and friends in the way that he used to, and the show described him as resorting to a childhood state of mind. This is terribly said, but from his art he seems to lack inhibitions. I'm tempted to wonder if strokes, or the kinds of pathologies that have started to haunt us over the past few centuries, are our bodies ways of allowing us to escape our contemporary realities, by allowing the mind to disengage from the atrocities of our adult world. In interviews, his wife describes his children as slowly growing up to realize that their father isn't normal. Clearly, he's just not considered normal by the standards of contemporary adulthood.

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