It took being hit by a car to understand a big part of the symbolism I was using. Or let me back track and say it was a catalyst for understanding things. I feel a degree of guilt and stupidity when I say that a seemingly generic dramatic event gave me a seemingly generic revelation. But its the truth and a good way of starting.
The day before I was busting rocks with a hammer, my coworker had un installed some bike racks on campus and the bolts had been drilled down into the earth, and the covered with concrete. It was his idea to cut the bolts as close to the concrete foundation as possible and then to hammer the remains into the earth. “Dont worry they’ll slide right in” as he’s cutting he’s telling me stories about his time in the army. Sparks are flying around him and there’s a certain feeling of weight to his stories of how he use to “do shit like this all the time” He’s brief on details of his time and it seems to me he was more eager to leave it behind. Unlike my coworkers, the majority of who are all old army buddies, he feels no need to bring up his time unless in a situation with another man that seems to call for it. When another old guard brings up their time he seems to grudgingly comment, always with a laugh and a sort of anxious changing of the subject. I wonder if for him he feels similar guilt of bringing up a brief stint in the service to men who slept with their guns by their side every night for many years.
The process of busting down bolts isn’t so exact, for the most part they stay stubbornly in place while the hammer does more damage to the surrounding foundation then it does to the bolts. one in every five may slide an inch or two further into the ground, but only after a long period of aggressive beating. For the most part i’m left feeling like this is an exercise in us letting out our anger. Busting something that cant bust back. as the rocks fly and gravel is created I begin to feel a bit stupid in spending an hour of work time doing something that no body on campus or in the organization will ever notice. In just a weeks time construction on this section of the sidewalk will begin and jackhammers and machine will begin tearing up the surrounding foundation to replace it with a new form of gravel and landscaping. His eyes are focused on the blade and the sparks surrounding him so I don’t bring up this fact. And i’m enjoying being outside instead of punching keys on a computer.
The next day as i’m riding my bike back to work i’m hit by a lincon town car. I try to stop in time as he pulls out from a stop sign but all I can really manage to do is utter “shit” and “fuck” as I fly over the hood of his car and hit the ground. I’m reminded now looking back of those pieces of rocks flying everywhere when hit with a forceful object. And i’m sure in the moment I felt a degree of helplessness like I too might become a collection of nothing more than rocks. My legs hurt a great deal and i’m sore. There’s a bit of relief that comes with feeling your legs. I know i’m not paralyzed and that i’m relatively ok. I’ll skip discussing any more of the details of the crash due to the guilt and the unimportance it has to the overall message.
As i’m laying around the house icing my leg and laughing and enjoying my vacation i’m beginning to ask myself why I chose to draw obsessively rocks and plants. In my immediate mind I believed that it was more objective and pretty and that an art world would be more interested in something that can be labeled and has a structural image. But I know its something more than that. There is a reason I chose to address myself as a rock in the majority of my comics, and furthermore a reason I felt that this Texas landscape and limestone were important enough of a symbol to look at.
On the political side of things the rock and plant life represent two foundations of a crucial identity and divide in the country. The un controlled growth of a vine or plant life may be brought up as a symbol for the explanation of the potential that progressive politics or ideas can have on the country, as either a negative or a positive this symbol is used repeatedly as a representation of the effect ideas can have on shaping a nation and its cultural image. Surely the thought of some ancient ruins covered completely in the uncontrolled plant life of the surroundings symbolize a path that many on the conservative right believe progressivism will do to the country. Like wise the steadfast collection of years represented by the rock, and the breaking apart of structure can be used as a symbol for the inherent problem with conservative ideology. The inability to grow and shape itself to anything and the effect of breaking apart when confronted with a singular dynamic force of change is represented in the very existence of a rock or rock formation. These two symbols used in conjunction however can show a unique and complicated understanding of the political system working at its best. That is a strong foundation on which controlled growth expand and exemplify common features. An image of a tree growing out of the foundation of a sturdy boulder is brought to mind. To me the rock and the plant life represent contrasting but similar ideas in life and growth. In the establishment of culture and image they both play an important and dynamic role. The rock and foundation being the geological collection of years of human data. The plant life being a representation of current progress and understanding. And even in this I begin to feel for the conservative ideology, which has always had at its core the problem of appearing old and useless. Of being the rock standing in the way of change.