Truisms, 1979-1983

If it is possible for truisms to be truer now than before, some of these, many of these, are. Jenny Holzer started out in 1978 pasting these up in the streets, but reading through them, they seem written for today. Which is the one Jenny Holzer thinks bloggers should read? In an interview with The Gentlewoman she says it is: “PEOPLE ARE NUTS IF THEY THINK THEY ARE IMPORTANT”.

TRUISMS (1979-1983)
A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE CAN GO A LONG WAY
A LOT OF PROFESSIONALS ARE CRACKPOTS
A MAN CAN’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A MOTHER
A NAME MEANS A LOT JUST BY ITSELF
A POSITIVE ATTITUDE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD
A RELAXED MAN IS NOT NECESSARILY A BETTER MAN
A SENSE OF TIMING IS THE MARK OF A GENIUS
A SINCERE EFFORT IS ALL YOU CAN ASK
A SINGLE EVENT CAN HAVE INFINITELY MANY INTERPRETATIONS
A SOLID HOME BASE BUILDS A SENSE OF SELF
A STRONG SENSE OF DUTY IMPRISONS YOU
ABSOLUTE SUBMISSION CAN BE A FORM OF FREEDOM
ABSTRACTION IS A TYPE OF DECADENCE
ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE
ACTION CAUSES MORE TROUBLE THAN THOUGHT
ALIENATION PRODUCES ECCENTRICS OR REVOLUTIONARIES
ALL THINGS ARE DELICATELY INTERCONNECTED
AMBITION IS JUST AS DANGEROUS AS COMPLACENCY
AMBIVALENCE CAN RUIN YOUR LIFE
AN ELITE IS INEVITABLE
ANGER OR HATE CAN BE A USEFUL MOTIVATING FORCE
ANIMALISM IS PERFECTLY HEALTHY
ANY SURPLUS IS IMMORAL
ANYTHING IS A LEGITIMATE AREA OF IN VESTIGATION
ARTIFICIAL DESIRES ARE DESPOILING THE EARTH
AT TIMES INACTIVITY IS PREFERABLE TO MINDLESS FUNCTIONING
AT TIMES YOUR UNCONSCIOUS IS TRUER THAN YOUR CONSCIOUS MIND
AUTOMATION IS DEADLY
AWFUL PUNISHMENT AWAITS REALLY BAD PEOPLE
BAD INTENTIONS CAN YIELD GOOD RESULTS
BEING ALONE WITH YOURSELF IS INCREASINGLY UNPOPULAR
BEING HAPPY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE
BEING HONEST IS NOT ALWAYS THE KINDEST WAY
BEING JUDGMENTAL IS A SIGN OF LIFE
BEING SURE OF YOURSELF MEANS YOU’RE A FOOL
BELIEVING IN REBIRTH IS THE SAME AS ADMITTING DEFEAT
BOREDOM MAKES YOU DO CRAZY THINGS
CALM IS MORE CONDUCIVE TO CREATIVITY THAN IS ANXIETY
CATERGORIZING FEAR IS CALMING
CHANGE IS VALUABLE WHEN YHE OPPRESSED BECOME THE TYRANTS
CHASING THE NEW IS DANGEROUS TO SOCIETY
CHILDREN ARE THE CRUELEST OF ALL
CHILDREN ARE THE HOPE OF THE FUTURE
CLASS ACTION IS A NICE IDEA WITH NO SUBSTANCE
CLASS STRUCTURE IS AS ARTIFICIAL AS PLASTIC
CONFUSING YOURSELF IS A WAY TO STAY HONEST
CRIME AGAINST PROPERTY IS RELATIVELY UNIMPORTANT
DECADENCE CAN BE AN END IN ITSELF
DECENY IS A RELATIVE THING
DEPENDENCE CAN BE A MEAL TICKET
DESCRIPTION IS MORE VALUABLE THAN METAPHOR
DEVIANTS ARE SACRIFICED TO INCREASE GROUP SOLIDARITY
DISGUST IS THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO MOSE SITUATIONS
DISORGANIZATION IS A KIND OF ANESTHESIA
DON’T PLACE TOO MUCH TRUST IN EXPERTS
DON’T RUIN PEOPLE’S LIVES FOR THEM
DRAMA OFTEN OBSCURES THE REAL ISSUES
DREAMING WHILE AWAKE IS A FRIGHTENING CONTRADICTION
DYING AND COMING BACK GIVES YOU CONSIDERABLE PERSPECTIVE
DYING SHOULD BE EASY AS FALLING OFF A LOG
EATING TOO MUCH IS CRIMINAL
ELABORATION IS A FORM OF POLLUTION
EMOTIONAL RESPONSES ARE AS VAULABLE AS INTELLECTUAL RESPONSES
ENJOY YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU CAN’T CHANGE ANYTHING ANYWAY
ENSURE THAT YOUR LIFE STAYS IS FLUX
EVEN YOUR FAMILY CAN BETRAY YOU
EVERY ACHIEVMENT REQUIRES A SACRIFICE
EVERYONE’S WORK IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT
EVERYTHING THAT’S INTERESTING IS NEW
EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE DESERVE SPECIAL CONSESSIONS
EXPIRING FOR LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL BUT STUPID
EXPRESSING ANGER IS NECESSARY
EXTREME BEHAVIOR HAS ITS BASIS IN PATHOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY
EXTREME SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS LEADS TO PERVERSION
FAITHFULNESS IS A SOCIAL NOT A BIOLOGICAL LAW
FAKE OR REAL INDIFFERENCE IS A POWERFUL PERSONAL WEAPON
FATHERS OFTEN USE TOO MUCH FORCE
FEAR IS THE GREATEST INCAPACITATOR
FREEDOM IS A LUXURY NOT A NECESSITY
GIVING FREE REIN TO YOUR EMOTIONS IS AN HONEST WAY TO LIVE
GO ALL OUT IN ROMANCE AND LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY
GOING WITH THE FLOW IS SOOTHING BUT RISKY
GOOD DEEDS EVENTUALLY ARE REWARDED
GOVERNMENT IS A BURDEN ON THE PEOPLE
GRASS ROOTS AGITATION IS THE ONLY HOPE
GUILT AND SELF-LACERATION ARE INDULGENCES
HABITUAL CONTEMPT DOESN’T REFLECT A FINER SENSIBILITY
HIDING YOUR MOTIVES IS DESPICABLE
HOLDING BACK PROTECTS YOUR VITAL ENERGIES
HUMANISM IS OBSELETE
HUMOR IS A RELEASE
IDEALS ARE REPLACED BY CONVENTIONAL GOALS AT A CERTAIN AGE
IF YOU AREN’T POLITICAL YOUR PERSONAL LIFE SHOULD BE EXEMPLARY
IF YOU CAN’T LEAVE YOUR MARK GIVE UP
IF YOU HAVE MANY DESIRES LIFE WILL BE INTERESTING
IF YOU LIVE SIMPLY THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT
IGNORING ENEMIES IS THE BEST WAY TO FIGHT
ILLNESS IS A STATE OF MIND
IMPOSING ORDER IS MAN’S VOCATION FOR CHAOS IS HELL
IN SOME INSTANCES IT’S BETTER TO DIE THAN TO CONTINUE
INHERITANCE MUST BE ABOLISHED
IT CAN BE HELPFUL TO KEEP GOING NO MATTER WHAT
IT IS HEROIC TO TRY TO STOP TIME
IT IS MAN’S FATE TO OUTSMART HIMSELF
IT’S A GIFT TO THE WORLD NO TO HAVE BABIES
IT’S BETTER TO BE A GOOD PERSON THAN A FAMOUS PERSON
IT’S BETTER TO BE LONELY THAN TO BE WITH INFERIOR PEOPLE
IT’S BETTER TO BE NAIVE THAN JADED
IT’S BETTER TO STUDY THE LIVING TFACT THAN TO ANALYZE HISTORY
IT’S CRUCIAL TO HAVE AN ACTIVE FANTASY LIFE
IT’S GOOD TO GIVE EXTRA MONEY TO CHARITY
IT’S IMPORTANT TO STAY CLEAN ON ALL LEVELS
IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO RECONCILE YOUR HEART AND HEAD
IT’S JUST AN ACCIDENT YOUR PARENTS ARE YOUR PARENTS
IT’S NOT GOOD TO HOLD TOO MANY ABSOLUTES
IT’S NOT GOOD TO OPERATE ON CREDIT
IT’S VITAL TO LIVE IN HARMONY WITH NATURE
JUST BELIEVING SOMETHING CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN
KEEP SOMETHING IN RESERVE FOR EMERGENCIES
KILLING IS UNAVOIDABLE BUT IS NOTHING TO BE PROUD OF
KNOWING YOURSELF LETS YOU UNDERSTAND OTHERS
KNOWLEDGE SHOULD BE ADVANCED AT ALL COSTS
LABOR IS A LIFE DESTROYING ACTIVITY
LACK OF CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL
LEARN THING FROM THE GROUND UP
LEARN TO TRUST YOUR OWN EYES
LEISURE TIME IS A GIGANTIC SMOKESCREEN
LETTING GO IS THE HARDEST THING TO DO
LISTEN WHEN YOUR BODY TALKS
LOOKING BACK IS THE FIRST SIGN OF AGING AND DECAY
LOVING ANIMALS IS A SUBSTITUTE ACTIVITY
LOW EXPECTATIONS ARE GOOD PROTECTION
MANUAL LABOR CAN BE REFRESHING AND WHOLESOME
MEN ARE NOT MONOGAMOUS BY NATURE
MODERATION KILLS THE SPIRIT
MONEY CREATES TASTE
MONOMANIA IS A PREREQUISITE OF SUCCESS
MORALS ARE FOR LITTLE PEOPLE
MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT FIT TO RULE THEMSELVES
MOSTLY YOU SHOULD MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS
MOTHERS SHOULDN’T MAKE TOO MANY SACRIFICES
MUCH WAS DECIDED BEFORE YOU WHERE BORN
MURDER HAS ITS SEXUAL SIDE
MYTHS MAKE REALITY MORE INTELLIGIBLE
NOISE CAN BE HOSTILE
NOTHING UPSETS THE BALANCE OF GOOD AND EVIL
OCCASIONALLY PRINCIPLES ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN PEOPLE
OFFER VERY LITTLE INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF
OFTEN YOU SHOULD ACT LIKE UOU ARE SEXLESS
OLD FRIENDS ARE BETTER LEFT IN THE PAST
OPACITY IS AN IRRESISTIBLE CHALLENGE
PAIN CAN BE A VERY POSITIVE THING
PEOPLE ARE BORING UNLESS THEY ARE EXTREMISTS
PEOPLE ARE NUTS IF THEY THINK THEY ARE IMPORTANT
PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT THEY DO UNLESS THEY’RE INSANE
PEOPLE WHO DON’T WORK WITH THEIR HANDS ARE PARASITES
PEOPLE GO CRAZY ARE TOO SENSITIVE
PEOPLE WON’T BEHAVE IF THEY HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE
PHYSICAL CULTURE IS SECOND-BEST
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE IS ESCAPISM
PLAYING IT SAFE CAN CAUSE A LOT OF DAMAGE IN THE LONG RUN
POLITICS IS USED FOR PERSONAL GAIN
POTENTIAL COUNTS FOR NOTHING UNTIL IT’S REALIZED
PRESENTATION IS AS IMPORTANT AS CONTENT
PURSUING PLEASURE FOR THE SAKE OF PLEASURE WILL RUIN YOU
PUSH YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE
RAISE BOYS AND GIRLS THE SAME WAY
RANDOM MATING IS GOOD FOR DEBUNKING SEX MYTHS
RECHANNELING DESTRUCTIVE IMPULSES IS A SIGN OF MATURITY
RECLUSES ALWAYS GET WEAK
REDISTRIBUTING WEALTH IS IMPERATIVE
RELATIVITY IS NO BOON TO MANKIND
RELIGION CAUSES AS MANY PROBLEMS AS IT SOLVES
REMEMBER YOU ALWAYS HAVE FREEDOM OF CHOICE
REPETITION IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN
RESOLUTIONS SERVE TO EASE YOUR CONSCIENCE
REVOLUTION BEGINS WITH THE CHANGES IN THE INDIVIDUAL
ROMANTIC LOVE WAS INVENTED TO MANIPULATE WOMEN
ROUTINE IS A LINK WITH THE PAST
ROUTINE SMALL EXCESSES ARE WORSE THAN THE OCCASIONAL DEBAUCH
SACRIFICING YOURSELF FOR A BAD CAUSE IS NOT A MORAL ACT
SALVATION CAN’T BE BOUGHT AND SOLD
SELF-AWARENESS CAN BE CRIPPLING
SELF-CONTEMPT CAN DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD
SELFISHNESS IS THE MOST BASIC MOTIVATION
SELFLESSNESS IS THE HIGHEST ACHIEVEMENT
SEPARATISM IS THE WAY TO A NEW BEGINNING
SEX DIFFERENCES ARE HERE TO STAY
SIN IS A MEANS OF SOCIAL CONTROL
SLIPPING INTO MADNESS IS GOOD FOR THE SAKE OF COMPARISON
SLOPPY THINKING GETS WORSE OVER TIME
SOLITUDE IS ENRICHING
SOME STONES ARE BETTER LEFT UNTURNED
SOME WOUNDS NEVER HEAL
SOMETIMES ALL YOU CAN DO IS LOOK THE OTHER WAY
SOMETIMES SCIENCE ADVANCES FASTER THAN IT SHOULD
SOMETIMES THINGS SEEMS TO HAPPEN OF THEIR OWN ACCORD
SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT IS ANTI-SOCIAL
STARVATION IS NATURE’S WAY
STATIS IS A DREAM STATE
STERILIZATION IS THE WEAPON OF THE RULERS
STRONG EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT STEMS FROM BASIC INSECURITY
STUPID PEOPLE SHOULDN’T BREED
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST APPLIES TO MEN AND ANIMALS
SYMBOLS ARE MORE MEANINGFUL THAN THINGS THEMSELVES
TAKING A STRONG STAND PUBLICIZES THE OPPOSITE POSITION
TALKING IS USED TO HIDE ONE’S INABILITY TO ACT
TEASING PEOPLE SEXUALLY CAN HAVE UGLY CONSEQUENCES
TECHNOLOGY WILL MAKE OR BREAK US
THE CRUELEST DISAPPOINTMENT IS WHEN YOU LET YOURSELF DOWN
THE DESIRE TO REPRODUCE IS A DEATH WISH
THE FAMILY IS LIVING ON BORROWED TIME
THE IDEA OF REVOLUTION IS AN ADOLESCENT FANTASY
THE IDEA OF TRANSCENDENCE IS USED TO OBSCURE OPPRESSION
THE IDIOSYNCRATIC HAS LOST ITS AUTHORITY
THE LAND BELONGS TO NO ONE
THE MORE YOU KNOW THE BETTER YOU ARE
THE MOST PROFOUND THINGS ARE INEXPRESSIBLE
THE MUNDANE IS TO BE CHERISHED
THE NEW IS NOTHING BUT A RESTATEMENT OF THE OLD
THE ONLY WAY TO BE PURE IS TO STAY YOURSELF
THE SUM OF ALL YOUR ACTIONS DETERMINES WHAT YOU ARE
THE UNATTAINABLE INVARIABLE IS ATTRACTIVE
THE WORLD OPERATES ACCORDING TO DISCOVERABLE LAWS
THERE ARE TOO FEW IMMUTABLE TRUTHS TODAY
THERE’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN INFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA
THERE’S NO SENSE BEING ANYWHERE BUT THE TOP OF THE HEAP
THERE’S NOTHING EXCEPT WHAT YOU SENSE
THERE’S NOTHING REDEEMING IN TOIL
THINKING TOO MUCH CAN ONLY CAUSE PROBLEMS
THREATENING SOMEONE SEXUALLY IS A HORRIBLE ACT
TIMIDITY IS LAUGHABLE
TO DISAGREE PRESUPPOSES MORAL INTREGRITY
TO VOLUNTEER IS REACTIONARY
TORTURE IS BARBARIC
TRADING A LIFE FOR A LIFE IS FAIR ENOUGH
TRUE FREEDOM IS FRIGHTFUL
UNIQUE THINGS MUST BE THE MOST VALUABLE
UNQUESTIONING LOVE DEMONSTRATES THE LARGESSE OF SPIRIT
USING FORCE TO STOP FORCE IS ABSURD
VIOLENCE IS PERMISSIBLE EVEN DESIRABLE OCCASIONALLY
WAR IS THE PURIFICATION RITE
WE MUST MAKE SACRIFICES TO MAINTAIN OUR QUALITY OF LIFE
WHEN SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENS PEOPLE WAKE UP
WISHING THINGS AWAY IS NOT EFFECTIVE
WITH PERSEVERANCE YOU CAN DISCOVER ANY TRUTH
WORDS TEND TO BE INADEQUATE
WORRYING CAN HELP YOU PREPARE
YOU ARE A VICTIM OF THE RULES YOU LIVE BY
YOU ARE GUILELESS IN YOUR DREAMS
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CONSTITUTING THE MEANING OF THINGS
YOU ARE THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE
YOU CAN LIVE THROUGH YOUR DESCENDANTS
YOU CAN NEVER OUTRUN YOURSELF
YOU CAN PULL YOURSELF OUT OF ANY HOLE
YOU CAN’T EXPECT PEOPLE TO BE SOMETHING THEY’RE NOT
YOU CAN’T FOOL OTHERS IF YOU’RE FOOLING YOURSELF
YOU DIG YOUR OWN GRAVE
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S WHAT UNTIL YOU SUPPORT YOURSELF
YOU GET THE FACE YOU DESERVE
YOU HAVE TO HURT OTHERS TO BE EXTRAORDINARY
YOU MUST BE INTIMATE WITH A TOKEN FEW
YOU MUST DISAGREE WITH AUTHORITY FIGURES
YOU MUST HAVE ONE GRAND PASSION
YOU MUST KNOW WHERE YOU STOP AND THE WORLD BEGINS
YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT PEOPLE REALLY THINK ABOUT YOU
YOU ONLY CAN UNDERSTAND SOMEONE OF YOUR OWN SEX
YOU OWN THE WORLD NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
YOU SHOULD TRAVEL LIGHT
YOU SHOULD STUDY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
YOUR ACTIONS ARE POINTLESS IF NO ONE NOTICES
YOUR OLDEST FEARS ARE THE WORST ONES

 

920 O’Farrell Street

Harriet Lane Levy, in her book 920 O’Farrell Street, show how many different nationalities were mingling on the streets of San Francisco in the 1880s:

“On Saturday night the city joined in the promenade on Market Street, the broad thoroughfare that begins at the waterfront and cuts its straight path of miles to Twin Peaks. The sidewalks were wide and the crowd walking toward the bay met the crowd walking toward the ocean. The outpouring of the population was spontaneous, as if in response to an urge for instant celebration. Every quarter of the city discharged its residents into the broad procession. Ladies and gentlemen of imposing social repute; their German and Irish servant girls, arms held fast in the arms of their sweethearts; French, Spaniards, gaunt, hard-working Portuguese; Mexicans, the Indian showing in reddened skin and high cheekbone—everybody, anybody, left home and shop, hotel, restaurant, and beer garden to empty into Market Street in a river of color. Sailors of every nation deserted their ships at the waterfront and, hurrying up Market Street in groups, joined the vibrating mass excited by the lights and stir and the gaiety of the throng. ‘This is San Francisco,’ their faces said. It was carnival; no confetti, but the air a criss-cross of a thousand messages; no masks, but eyes frankly charged with challenge. Down Market from Powell to Kearny, three long blocks, up Kearny to Bush, three short ones, then back again, over and over for hours, until a glance of curiosity deepened to one of interest; interest expanded into a smile, and a smile into anything. Father and I went downtown every Saturday night. We walked through avenues of light in a world hardly solid. Something was happening everywhere, every minute, something to be happy about… . We walked and walked and still something kept happening afresh.”

Alice Neel and the Rat Race

Fuller Brush Man

Alice Neel painted most of her paintings in the living room of her apartment on 107th Street in New York. She sometimes painted a painting each week, living off of $100 a month from the Works Project Administration, until it ran out in 1943, after which she lived on welfare, and 23 years later, found a patron who paid her $6,000 a year. She had four children with four different men, and was investigated by the government for her involvement with the Communist Party. Her son, Richard, became a lawyer and said, “I don’t like bohemian culture, frankly.”

I like to paint people who are in the rat race, suffering all the tension and damage that’s involved in that, under pressure–of city life and the awful struggle that goes on in the city.

U.S. Congress Takes a Momentous Stand Against Human Trafficking

child-prostitution

I have for quite some time done what I can to help children who are used for sex. I am a contributor to organizations that fight sex trafficking, and I follow much of the law surrounding it. So I was very happy to see that the JVTA, which has been sent today to Obama to sign, passed our Congress. Here is the writeup from CATW:

New York, May 19, 2015 – The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) applauds the U.S. Congress for passing the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA), the first comprehensive bill to address domestic human trafficking. It now awaits the signature of President Barack Obama to become law.

The JVTA creates a new funding stream to finance services for U.S. trafficking victims. Up to $30 million of the innovative funding mechanism will come from $5,000 fines on perpetrators of crimes ranging from human trafficking to child pornography. The legislation also redefines federal law to clarify that sex buyers of children and human trafficking victims can be prosecuted as traffickers.

“Not only will the JVTA finance services for U.S. victims of trafficking, it puts the onus on sex buyers who cause the devastating harm. We finally have strong federal legislation that aims to prevent the demand for sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation,” says Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of CATW.

One of the JVTA’s most important provisions requires the Department of Justice to incorporate demand reduction strategies into all human trafficking training programs. Survivors have been key in demanding more accountability from commercial sex buyers who cause extensive harm to those they exploit. As a result, the JVTA also creates a new U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, with at least eight survivors, to make recommendations to the US Government on anti-trafficking strategies.

“This victory is not only the result of successful collaborations across political and ideological lines, but it is a testament to the power of survivors enlightening us with the best solutions to end trafficking and exploitation,” says Bien-Aimé.

Bluebells and buttercups eliminated from childhood in favor of celebrities and chatrooms

There was a recent update to the Oxford Junior Dictionary, and someone noticed that many words describing nature had disappeared. The Guardian says:

Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail.

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