Recent Work By Eric Beeny

I would like to proactively begin this essay with Supplemental Materials to this essay:

OIL ON CANVAS

Jackson Pollack was less an artist than a psychic predicting the Exxon Valdez disaster. Or the captain of that ship, Joseph Hazelwood, drinking all night, wanted to pay tribute to his favorite painter, getting loaded and crashing his vehicle bigger that same way.

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” —Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

The sky was blue as an Autobot’s eye, and I felt stupid enough without my real car breaking down. I’d been to Target and Toys ‘R Us a bunch of times just to hold these things in my hands, turning them over to see how the light bounced off the clear plastic shrink-wrapping when I moved them, how enticing the packaging made them look. But I hadn’t even thought about Transformers since I was a kid, even though the show and toy line had undergone several alterations since then, since I thought I’d grown up.

Here are some quick, belated thoughts on why the Star Trek universe (which should be celebrated) is appropriately analogous to Columbus Day (which should not be celebrated):

One of Star Trek’s main purposes is to revise the tenets and practices of imperialism and colonialism, to promote the idea that humans can perhaps explore the world (the universe) around them without actually conquering it.

Humans like to say things like ‘the human spirit’. They like to think it means something, that it’s what’s special about them. That it separates them from other animals. There’s that new movie out, 127 Hours, starring James Fracno, about that guy, Aron Ralston, who got his arm caught under a big rock when he fell into a canyon, and he had to cut the arm off with a really dull multi-purpose knife. The movie’s about, like, ‘the human spirit’.

The latest Target ads show a woman (comedian Maria Bamford, whom I will refer to simply as ‘the crazy Target lady’, as I’ve seen her called in some comments on YouTube) ‘gearing up’ for the approaching Black Friday sales. There are several commercials portraying ‘the crazy Target lady’, most often dressed in red and exhibiting physical strength which she’ll no doubt need to trample on other people while running maniacally through the aisles of Target, maybe for an XBOX Kinect™ for her husband, a Fisher Price Imaginext Bigfoot the Monster™ for her son, or maybe Disney Princess and Me Dolls™ for her daughter. These commercials seem ‘cute’ and ‘funny’, but the subtext is clear: We, the consumers, are insane—and that’s what corporate America is counting on.

This semester, I’m taking a Representative Authors course on Toni Morrison. My professor is a white woman. There are two black students in the class, and the rest are white. One of the white students frequently comments in class and, though it’s usually in context, I’m beginning to suspect that he registered for this course because he wanted a safe place to say the word ‘nigger’. I’ll come back to that.