Monday, February 09, 2009

Being, Having Been An Outsider

Since childhood, I've come to see myself as 'On The Outside', an 'Outsider'

We had no such word for it in the decades of the 30's and 40's. Back then, the word that worked was 'Rebel', as in 'Rebel Without A Cause.' The title to a star-making movie with James Dean. If I thought at all about defining myself, it was as 'The Rebellious Adolescent'. My parents could connect with that. Also as I learned of it in Brooklyn College: 'Defiant Of Authority'.

I wore Such a puerile sense of my own rebelliousness without the compensation of notoriety of being any kind of celebrity. Long decades went by. I sought other aspects of who I was by searching for my origins. Who was my 'Real Mother?' There was in 'identity' a child born to a woman I never knew about, was never told of?. The searching of this aspect of 'My Who' led down many other paths.

Given the documents and records that I was indeed my father's son, there was this ambivalence as to which woman better deserved credit for who I was and how I turned out. Legitimacy and illegitimacy made a mess of my psyche. Was not ever to find closure or complete composure as to finding my Who. Not as a Jew, nor as boy or man 'believing' I 'Belonged.' Not really anywhere except in the precincts of my own home with my own wife and daughter.

No affirmation, nor dedication at any moment in space and time to G-d or Country.

Through the twenties, thirties, forties, even till now, I've despaired of emotionally feeling capable of anything real authentic 'As A Member Of'. No sense of being 'A Member Of'. More 'Impostor.' The feeling is what I'm referring to. The sense of the word, my choosing it. 'Outsider'.

At times it felt merely inappropriate. A secret I kept. I'd smile secretly. Say silently 'Imposter. ' Tongue-in=cheek. Too much sorrow and grief. Anger, too. Shame. Yes. (Self denigrating.) It was about my insignificance. My being in other people's lives 'On The Periphery.', A status in society that had my name thus ordained.

Anger, inadmissible and outrageous: unpardonable, intolerable.


Obscene. More invidious than outright torture or brutish punshment! Anonymity. Had I ever wanted celebrity -adulation? Ha! My oxygen. How often have I felt stifled at its absence. What I needed was my name in The Paper, my name in the History Books. Ha ha!

Now, years gone by, those deluded aspirations not nearly gratified< I am who I am. Not quite 'a Shapiro', not a 'Jewish jew'. After a fashion am 'a full time' artist mathematician.

A New Yorker. A Long Islander... Husband. Father, Old Timer,

A 'Loner' still (Nothing denigrating.)

In the art world the loner comes in many grades -short of qualifying as an 'Outsider' in the art marketplace or Museum Row. Capitol 'O' outsiders are au currant, designate the naive, the unschooled, the primitive maker of art objects, highly sought after. Ubiquitously on exhibition.

In my case a misnomer. My stuff (Book Art, Mail Art, Copier Art, Algorithmic Drawings. etc). I'm an entirely 'Other-kind- outsider. (small 'o'.) Unknown, unpropitiated. The old guy, the too advanced in years to be lumped in with the unexhibited new-be emergent artists.



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