House of Love



"Hello, blank page. We meet again. Each blank page is like a new day, a gift that comes with responsibility. What will I make of you? You scare me, but I love you. It’s appropriate that scared and sacred are virtually the same word, because those two walk hand in hand.

The blank page feels especially scary and sacred today because I’ve decided to respond to a question that’s been asked of me with some frequency: 'Glennon,' people say, 'you were a bulimic for twenty years, an alcoholic and smoker for ten, and a drug user for five. You quit all four cold turkey, without working the twelve steps. That’s unusual. And I notice you’re quite skinny. Are you sure you’re better?'

Better is a troublesome word for me. Better suggests increased value, and I think I was worth exactly the same when I was a fall-down drunk as I am now: a sober, loving, creative wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend."

"I prefer the word healing to the word better. To me, healing means aligning myself—my mind, body, and soul—with the rhythm of the world. It means relaxing into the way things are, floating with the current instead of desperately trying to swim against it. Healing means surrendering to and following the world’s truest rules, the rules created by God.

When discussing God with people of different faiths, Love is a good word to use because most people believe that Love can be trusted. It has been said that the opposite of Love is Hate, or perhaps apathy. Yet, I’m fairly certain that the opposite of Love is Fear. I think the root of all evil is fear.

Love and Fear are opposing voices, opposing ways to live, opposing platforms on which to make daily decisions, view the world, and build a life. The battle between Love and Fear is at the heart of my healing, my recovery, my progress toward heaven. My better.

There are two voices in my head. One jumps up and down, waves its arms, clamors for my attention, and generally annoys the hell (heaven) out of me. That voice is Fear. For twenty years, I heard only the voice of Fear, so I believed fear was the truth. I thought Fear was my voice. Here is what Fear said to me, all day, every day: [...]"

"There is not enough for you. Hurry. Grab food, grab money, grab attention and fame and validation and praise, and hold on tight. These things might never come your way again. The more for her, the less for you. Get what you can while you can and hoard it, hide it. Actually, forget it. Take nothing. You don’t deserve anything. And stay away from people. If anyone really knew you, they’d be horrified. There is something very, very wrong with you. Look at your life, your body, your face! Humiliating. Grotesque. You are beyond repair. You have nothing to offer. Life has nothing to offer either—nothing you deserve, at least. Life is terrible and soul crushing to weaklings like you. You will not be able to handle it. Stay quiet and hide until the end.

I followed every one of Fear’s directions for nearly twenty years."

"Then, when I got pregnant, I was certain it would end badly, because Fear told me that an unhappy ending was exactly what a girl like me deserved. But it didn’t end badly; it ended miraculously. I found myself holding a beautiful, perfect baby boy—a completely undeserved gift. And a kind, giving, gorgeous man decided to marry me. ME. And after the decades of pain I caused my friends and my family, they still surrounded me and loved my little family and wanted to help us.

It occurred to me, Could Fear be wrong? I said, Are you a LIAR, Fear? Is there another way to live? Is there another voice?

As soon as I figured out that Fear wasn’t my only voice, it faded into the background. Something else emerged. This presence had been sitting quietly and solidly, with a voice as tall and deep and wide as a redwood tree. This voice, I understood quickly, was Love. I call him Jesus, and in my mind’s eye he sits, smiling softly, still as a rock, and knowing.

I couldn’t hear Love because I was never quiet enough. Fear does not want you to hear what is said in the quiet, because Love and Truth are there. So Fear yells and jumps relentlessly, like a desperate actor on an infomercial. But Love is patient. Love waits until you are ready to tune out Fear. When I was ready, I could hear Love speak.

Love said:

Stop grabbing, sweetheart. Stop holding your breath. Breathe. There is enough. I’ve created an abundance of acceptance, attention, recognition, joy, peace, money, energy, clothes, food. I will never leave you without enough. And there is nothing to be afraid of. No feeling, no circumstance, no person. These things come and they go, and you can live through them, without running, hiding, numbing, or hurting another of my children. And did you know this, my angel? There has never been anything wrong with you—not one day in your life. You are exactly who you were meant to be, right now, as you are. You are not to be ashamed. You punish yourself, but you have no reason to be punished. You have done just fine. No one wants you punished. You can stop that now. You are free. Now listen carefully, because this is important: When you were born, I put a piece of myself in you. Like an indestructible, brilliant diamond, I placed a part of me inside of you. That part of you—the very essence of you, in fact—is me; it is Love, it is perfect, and it is untouchable. No one can take it, and you can’t give it away. It is the deepest, truest part of you, the part that will someday return to me. You are Love. You cannot be tarnished by anything you’ve done or that anyone else has done to you. Everyone carries this piece of me—this perfect Love. You are all a part of me, and I am part of you, and you are a part of each other. The essence of each of you is Love. Your first job is to know that: to float and swim in that knowledge, to believe that the Love, the spirit, the God in you and in everyone, is equally brilliant and unmarred. Your second job is to help other people know about their brilliance, their essence, their perfection, their core—which is perfect Love. When they speak to you from their fear—speak past their fear and directly to their love. Their Love will step forward eventually. It’s one of my Rules. Be patient. Do not worry. Come out of hiding, because you have these two jobs to do: be still and know, and then help others know. Since you carry me with you, you know what to do. You always know the next right thing. Be still and ask yourself, What would love do? Then get quiet, and I, I, inside of you, will tell you. You will take the next right step. Love will reveal itself one step at a time, the whole way home. Along the way, accept my blessings and give them away freely. You are worthy of giving and receiving. Believe. You are new, every moment, new. Your time, your energy, your mind, the people who come into your life—they are all gifts from me and they are infinite. They belong to you and to everyone else."

"In one of my favorite books, Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott quotes William Blake: ‘We are put on this Earth to learn to endure the beams of Love.’ Enduring Love burns at first. The Love voice is nearly impossible to accept, because it seems too good to be true.

But I really wanted Love to be true, so I decided to give her a chance. Love promised that I didn’t have to run or hide or numb myself from life anymore. Love told me that I could live through my feelings with her help. I decided to test these promises one at a time. I stopped smoking, drinking, bingeing, puking, and drugging, all at once. I read somewhere that 'the truth will set you free—but it will piss you off first.' That certainly proved to be accurate. I shook and sweated and cursed Love for two weeks. Eventually, though, I stopped shaking. The world became brighter and clearer. I saw my first sober sunrise in decades.

After I gave birth to Chase, I felt myself loving my baby, giving myself to him, caring for his needs, as if I had something to offer. I wasn’t sure I actually had something to offer him, but it felt like I had to pretend I did. So I just pretended. But he responded to my offering by loving and needing me. Me. And I knew he wasn’t pretending because he was just a baby and babies haven’t heard fear yet. The love between Chase and me became very, very real. So I tried loving my husband too. Loving Craig, a real live grown-up, was harder—but he responded too. I could tell that he was starting to love me back.

These two people, they needed me. Me. If two such good, kind, full people needed and wanted and loved me, could I really be so worthless? Suddenly it seemed that there might be parts of life that were beautiful and good and that were meant for ME. I became even more suspicious of the bastard from whom I’d been taking orders for twenty years.

So I started listening harder. I looked closely at people and nature and read books about God and Love. Without all the bingeing and purging, my skin cleared up and my cheeks, bloated from years of broken blood vessels, flattened out. As the tobacco loosened from my lungs, I was able to take deep breaths again. I needed those deep breaths. I felt sad and terrified and angry, and with nothing to dull those feelings, I learned to just let feelings be—because eventually they pass. I learned that all things pass; that life is hard to endure but not impossible. I discovered that after the enduring, if you choose not to run away, there are prizes. Those prizes are wisdom and dignity. I learned that Love and I, We could do hard things.

Next, I tested out Love’s claim that I had nothing to be ashamed of. That promise was the hardest to swallow, but since Love had not lied to me yet, I had to try. I started writing and publishing all of the secret thoughts and feelings that Fear had promised I’d be shunned and despised for having. I published my insides on the Internet. The Internet is read by many, many people, you know. Many people whose anonymity allows them to be especially vicious. Still, I did not become despised. Very few were vicious. It turned out that sharing my secret self made me more beloved by others than I’d ever been in my life. Then I saw that when I allowed Love to set me free through my writing, my readers decided to set themselves free too. Another miracle: people wrote, not to say that they were disgusted or horrified by me, but that they saw themselves—their own battles and triumphs—in my experiences.

And I realized the secret of my writing is this: the voice I use to write is not really my voice. It’s Love’s voice. I say what she says; I write what she prompts me to write. And that’s why you recognize the voice. Because you have the same voice inside you. My love voice speaks directly to yours. We are the same. At our core, we are exactly the same. We are Love. The heart rejoices when it hears the truth. Namaste—the divine light in me recognizes and honors the divine light in you.

Next, I decided to test Love’s claims about giving. Craig and I gave away all of our money, twice. Once to an orphanage and again to our mortgage company. With nothing, we were happier than we’d ever been. That’s the thing about losing it all. You realize you’re fine without it. For the first time in our lives, we felt secure. It was a miracle. When you give it all away—the stuff—you learn that it is impossible to lose whatever it is that you cannot live without. Love was right. The thing you need is unshakable, untakable. What you need is not in things, it’s in you. It’s Love."

"The more fiercely I believe what Love says and the more boldly I live out her promises, the healthier and stronger and realer I become. So, for me, it’s not a question of better. It’s about a daily choice: the constant battle to listen to Love and silence Fear. Of course, even though I choose Love daily, I can still hear the reverberations of Fear’s voice, like a bell that keeps echoing even after it’s been stilled. Right now I am neither Fear nor Love, but the one who chooses between them. However, I have a feeling that after years of choosing Love, after decades of ignoring Fear and tuning into Love, I will turn into Love. I pray that she and I will become one, that eventually all the words that come out of my mouth will be her words. And that when I slip into the arms of God, it will be as if there were no break at all in our eternal conversation. When I die, God will look at me and say, 'Now where were we, Darling?'

But for now, I feel myself rising, rising, rising. I am free. I am healing."




Dream, an anecdote by Marc Camille Chaimowicz







Drink Freely: "Drinking: A Love Story" / "Clean & Sober"





"The problem with self-transformation is that after a while, you don’t know which version of yourself to believe in, which one is true. […] For years my therapist said to me, “Sit with the feelings. What happens when you just sit still, by yourself? What happens when you just sit with the feelings?” I suppose he was trying to get at those very questions: What kind of person was I, really? What was I afraid of, angry about? Who was I when I didn’t have other people to cue into? I couldn’t answer, of course, because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit still for ten minutes without a drink, without the anesthesia; I really couldn’t."

"One of the first things you hear in AA—one of the first things that makes core, gut-level sense—is that in some deep and important personal respects you stop growing when you start drinking alcoholically. The drink stunts you, prevents you from walking through the kinds of fearful life experiences that bring you from point A to point B on the maturity scale. When you drink in order to transform yourself, when you drink and become someone you’re not, when you do this over and over and over, your relationship to the world becomes muddied and unclear. You lose your bearings, the ground underneath you begins to feel shaky. After a while you don’t know even the most basic things about yourself—what you’re afraid of, what feels good and bad, what you need in order to feel comforted and calm—because you’ve never given yourself a chance, a clear, sober chance, to find out.

Alcohol offers protection from all that, protection from the pain of self-discovery, a wonderful, cocooning protection that’s enormously insidious because it’s utterly false but it feels so real, so real and necessary."

"The movie Clean and Sober is a somewhat simplistic look at addiction and recovery but there’s one very vivid scene, about midway through, when Michael Keaton comes home from rehab and spends his first night alone in his apartment. He scrubs the place until it gleams, light from halogen lamps glinting off the chrome furniture, and then he sits. Sits on one chair for a few minutes, then gets up and sits on another. He’s restless and edgy and you can tell from the way he keeps getting up and sitting down that he feels completely at sea, clueless about how to comfort himself, or entertain himself, or just sit there comfortably in his own skin."

"I saw the movie in 1989 when it was released, and during that scene I flashed onto the various apartments I’d lived in by myself over the years, and I squirmed. One of these days that’s going to be me, I thought, forced to figure out how to live alone, without the armor."

"The armor, of course, is protection from all the things we might actually feel, if we allowed ourselves to feel at all. Although he doesn’t quite claim that abstinence from alcohol led directly to the depression he documents in his 1990 memoir, Darkness Visible, William Styron vividly describes what happens when a drinker is suddenly left without the armor, left without the self-constructed wall that stands between the self and acute self-awareness: 'Suddenly vanished,' he writes, 'the great ally which for so long had kept my demons at bay was no longer there to prevent those demons from beginning to swarm through the subconscious, and I was emotionally naked, vulnerable as I had never been before.' Without liquor, which had 'turned' on him suddenly, Styron felt numb and enervated and fragile, subject to 'dreadful, pounding seizures of anxiety.'"

"Over the course of my last years of drinking, I lived in another studio apartment, this one in Boston’s North End, New England’s version of Little Italy. On nights when I had no plans, I’d stop on my way home at the Prince Pantry, a convenience store on the corner near my building, and pick up a bottle of white wine. The store had next to no selection—a cheap Italian Soave and a couple of overpriced California Chardonnays—but there was something about buying wine in a convenience store, as opposed to a fully fledged liquor store, that helped me feel like I wasn’t really shopping for booze, just picking up a little something on the way home, the way you’d pick up a quart of milk or a box of cereal for breakfast. The wine would be my primary staple for the evening, but during those last few years I began to understand that a single bottle wouldn’t quite suffice, wouldn’t quite do the trick, so I’d usually pick up two beers while I was there as well. Not a whole six-pack, just two lone bottles of Molson Golden, which always looked perfectly innocent sitting on the counter beside the wine when I went to pay.

As soon as I got home, I’d crack open the first beer and drink it with a deep relief. In ways, I acknowledged that my little stockpile of booze was an ally, just as Styron described it: a defense against my own subconscious, against the demons that threatened to swim up from wherever they hid inside. Sometimes I’d actually think about that scene from Clean and Sober, about the way Michael Keaton just sat there in his apartment, restless and staring. My place was modern and high tech the way his was, with halogen lamps and cool gray carpeting, and I’d understand that the beer, and the one after that and the bottle of wine after that, served a very specific purpose: it kept me from that piercing consciousness of self, kept me from the task of learning to tolerate my own company." 

"Without liquor I’d feel like a trapped animal, which is why I always had it. Without liquor I didn’t know what to do with myself, and I mean that in the most literal sense, as though my thoughts and my limbs were foreign to me and I’d missed some key set of instructions about how to use them. I used to feel that way on Sunday mornings, when I’d wake up alone in the apartment with nothing before me but unstructured time. Here I am, in my apartment. Here I am, puttering through the kitchen. Here I am, washing a dish and setting it on the rack. Here I am, in my apartment. Here I am, puttering through the kitchen. Here I am, washing a dish and setting it on the rack. Here I am . . . conscious of being alone, conscious of my own breath and my own skin and my own thoughts; here I am, waiting waiting waiting and if I keep doing this, if I don’t find some way out of my own head, I’ll die of boredom or go insane or explode at any moment."




The World of Lisa Frank




"There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
       The earth, and every common sight,
                              To me did seem
                      Apparelled in celestial light,
               The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
                      Turn wheresoe'er I may,
                              By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.


                      The Rainbow comes and goes,
                      And lovely is the Rose,
                      The Moon doth with delight
       Look round her when the heavens are bare,
                      Waters on a starry night
                      Are beautiful and fair;
       The sunshine is a glorious birth;
       But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth."



You Have To Pay For Everything: Felix Gonzalez-Torres III

[ED: Feel free to contact Emilie Keldie at]

"TR: It’s obvious that you aren’t as interested in the battle between form and content as you are in method: how the work is made, distributed, and shared. Where did the stack-pieces come from?

FGT: It’s really difficult to say. I don’t really remember, seriously. The first stacks I made were some of the date-pieces. Around 1989 everyone was fighting for wall space. So the floor space was free, the floor space was marginal. I was also interested in giving back to the viewer, to the public, something that was never really mine to start with—this explosion of information, which in reality is an implosion of meaning. Secondly, when I got into making stacks—which was the show with Andrea [Rosen]—I wanted to do a show that would disappear completely. It had a lot to do with disappearance and learning. It was also about trying to be a threat to the art-marketing system, and also, to be really honest, it was about being generous to a certain extent. I wanted people to have my work. The fact that someone could just come and take my work and carry it with them was very exciting. Freud said that we rehearse our fears in order to lessen them. In a way this ‘letting go’ of the work, this refusal to make a static form, a monolithic sculpture, in favor of disappearing, changing, unstable, and fragile form was an attempt on my part to rehearse my fears of having Ross disappear day by day right in front of my eyes. It’s really a weird thing when you see the public come into the gallery and walk away with a piece of paper that is ‘yours.’

TR: What is the function of duplication and repetition in your work? The stacks of paper or piles of candies that through accumulation comprise a work are internal forms—each individual piece of paper or piece of candy exists as a piece on its own. But they also exist as external forms when you place identical pieces in different sites and contexts.

FGT: All these pieces are indestructible because they can be endlessly duplicated. They will always exist because they don’t really exist or because they don’t have to exist all the time. They are usually fabricated for exhibition purposes and sometimes they are fabricated in different places at the same time. After all there is no original, only one original certificate of authenticity. If I am trying to alter the system of distribution of an idea through an art practice it seems imperative to me to go all the way with a piece and investigate new notions of placement, production, and originality.

In terms of different contexts, well, that’s a very complex issue that needs to be nailed down to a more specific example. As we know, context gives meaning. The language of these pieces depends, to a large degree, on the fact that they get seen and read in art contexts: museums, galleries, art magazines.

TR: Are the works a metaphor for the relation between the individual and the crowd?

FGT: Perhaps between public and private, between personal and social, between the fear of loss and the joy of loving, of growing, of changing, of always becoming more, of losing oneself slowly and then being replenished all over again from scratch. I need the viewer, I need public interaction. Without a public these works are nothing, nothing. I need the public to complete my work. I ask the public to help me, to take responsibility, to become part of my work, to join in. I tend to think of myself as a theater director who is trying to convey some ideas by reinterpreting the notion of the division of roles: author, public, and director. Your question is more puzzling to me than I had previously thought because, yes, an individual piece of paper from one of the stacks does not constitute the “piece” itself, but in fact it is a piece. At the same time, the sum of many pieces of the identical paper is the “piece,” but not really because there is no piece only an ideal height of endless copies. As you know, these stacks are made up of endless copies or mass-produced prints. Yet each piece of paper gathers new meaning, to a certain extent, from its final destination, which depends on the person who takes it."

Excerpt from an interview with Felix Gonzalez-Torres by Tim Rollins, 1993; via, originally published in Felix Gonzalez-Torres, A.R.T. Press, Ed. William Bartman, 1993




"MC: […] If public and private are so interconnected, where do you think this need to separate them comes from?

FGT: Someone’s agenda have been enacted to define “public” and “private”. We’re really talking about private property because there is no private space anymore. Our intimate desires, fantasies, and dreams are ruled and interpreted by the public sphere.

MC: You mean like on the Internet?

FGT: Internet included. The explosion of the information industry, and at the same time the implosion of meaning. Meaning can only be formulated when we can compare, when we bring information to our daily level, to our ‘private’ sphere. Otherwise information just goes by. Which is what the ideological apparatuses want and need. ‘You give us thirty minutes and we give you the world”. A meaningless one. So public life is private life. In our culture, we live in a world of interrelations. As Lenin said, ‘everything is related to everything’."

Excerpt from an interview with Felix Gonzalez-Torres by Maurizio Cattelan, published in MOUSSE No. 9




"RS: What about ideas of a puritan anti-aesthetic?

FGT: I don't want that. No, between the Monet and Victor Burgin, give me the Monet. But as we know aesthetics are politics. They're not even about politics, they are politics. Because when you ask who is defining aesthetics, at what particular point - what social class, what kind of background these people have - you realize quickly again that the most effective ideological construction are the ones that don't look like it. If you say, I'm political, I'm ideological, that is not going to work, because people know where you are coming from. But if you say, "Hi! My name is Bob and this is it," then they say, that's not political. It's invisible and it really works. I think certain elements of beauty used to attract the viewer are indispensable. I don't want to make art just for people who can read Fredrick Jameson sitting upright on a Mackintosh chair. I want to make art for people who watch the ‘Golden Girls’ and sit in a big, brown, Lazy-boy chair. They're part of my public too, I hope.

RS: How do you think about the issue of engaging in explicitly social forms of art making with respect to your involvement with an activist collaborative project like Group Material? What's the relation between the work you did with them and what you do as an individual artist?

FGT: I always worked as an individual artist even when Group Material asked me to join the group. There are certain things that I can do by myself that I would never be able to do with Group Material. First of all, they are totally democratic entity and although you learn a lot from it, and it's very moving, it's very exacting, everything has to be by consensus, which is the beauty of it, but it is much more work. It's worth it 100%. But as an individual artist there are certain things that I want to bring out and express, and the collaborative practice is not conducive to that.

RS: Group Material's installations were generally a form of public address. How does that differ from what you've done on your own in other circumstances?

FGT: Well, if you think of the stacks, especially the early stacks, that was all about making these huge, public sculptures. When I started doing this work in 1988-89 the buzzword was public art. One thing that amazed me at that the difference between being public and being outdoors was not spoken about. It's a big difference. Public art is something which is really public, but outdoor public art is something that is usually made of good, long lasting material and is placed in the middle of somewhere, because it's too big to be inside. I was trying to deal with a solution that would satisfy what I thought was a true public sculpture, and that is when I came up with the idea of a stack. It was before people started making scatter art and stuff like that. So when people walked into the gallery at Andrea Rosen's and they saw all these stacks, they were really confused because it looked like a printing house, and I enjoyed it very much. And that's why I made the early stacks with the text. I was trying to give back information.

For example, there are ones I made with little snippets from the newspaper, which is one of the biggest sources of inspiration because you read it twice and you see these ideological constructions unravel right in front of your eyes. It wasn't just about trying to problematize the aura of the work or it's originality, because it could be reproduced three times in three different places and in the end, the only original thing about the work is the certificate of authenticity.

I always said that these were public sculptures; the fact that they were being shown in this so-called private space doesn't mean anything - all spaces are private, you have to pay for everything. You can't get a sculpture into a public space without going through the proper channels and paying money to do that. So again I was trying to show how this division between public and private was really just words."

Excerpt from an interview with Felix Gonzalez-Torres by Robert Storr, via; originally published by A.R.T. Press, January 1995