About John Dishwasher
In January 1994 I dropped out of mainstream society.
Since then I have lived in thirteen different cities stretching from small-town New England, to Alabama, to El Paso, to Los Angeles, to Honolulu. In those cities I have held twenty-three different part-time jobs and met and worked with both parolees and students, both drifters and professionals, both working moms and immigrants, both unmistakable lunatics and borderline suicides. I've mopped floors with them and cleared out warehouses with them. I've fried onion rings beside them and watched them deal drugs. We've celebrated flush nights selling aluminum siding over the telephone, and cursed missing the last bus home. And we've watched out for each other on occasion, but we've also left each other standing in the rain. My neighborhoods have been rough and vibrant. And I've been saved from the street by my credit cards too many times.
I've lived this life for twenty-six years for two reasons: One, because I had a feeling the safe, well-worn grooves of society were not reality; and, two, because I wanted to write about reality.
For the same reason I dropped out of society, I have little interest in begging it to make me famous.
Those people are not my people.
I have come here looking for my people.
If you are interested in truths instead of illusions; if you value revolt instead of conformity; if you honor the chance-takers and the bold; if the big questions haunt you; if struggle and hardship inspire you; if you refuse to exploit or be exploited; if you aim to live truly; if you have the courage to face reality; if you sense something permanent beneath all this fluff that surrounds us; if all this fluff that surrounds us exasperates you, then you are my people.
This website is totally free. Further formulations of the values that drive it can be read in Some Advice for the Rich from the Poor. There are broader treatments of the ideas in these two scenes from The Gods of our Fathers: February 22 and February 26. The most succinct distillation of my worldview can be found here: The Philosophy of John Dishwasher in 136 words. Having a hard time believing I'm for real? Check out my Honest-to-God resume of 23 part-time jobs in 26 years.
Welcome to my world. You can make me a part of your world by adding me to one of your networks or joining my mailing list.
For free access to all my works visit the works page.
Our Art Ourselves, 2016
What would Michelangelo have painted had he not been beholden to the powers of his day for his livelihood? Would he have left something different behind? What would Mozart have composed had he not been hounded by debtors? If instead of dying penniless at 36 he had worked another twenty or forty years free of such worldly concerns?
In the modern developed world, if an artist is willing to live very simply, it is possible to spend most of one's time creating art, creating it free of the distortions of the marketplace, and disseminating that art at manageable expense. It is possible, therefore, to completely remove from the artistic process both the influence of money itself, and the influence of those who wield money's power to affect the artist's work. Such an opportunity has never before been seen. Never before in the history of art has an entire generation of artists had total power over the birth and life of its own work.
The pressures arising from personal needs for money and from those who would exploit the artist to make money are so ever-present in the history of art that it is impossible to tease apart their effects and observe them objectively. We simply cannot know what the artworks we inherit from history would look like if the pressure to be profitable, or to please a particular taste, or to represent or mollify a certain belief system was absent. We cannot know. But we have arrived at a state of civilization where this can now change. There is something absolutely new for us, here, today, to discover. Humans have never before seen it, and it is within the grasp of the 21st Century artist. What will it look like? It is for us the living to unveil. This is the challenge of our generation.
Many artists have already recognized this opportunity and mine it now for everything it offers. But many others, despite the new direction it might take them, still think in terms of the old paradigm. That is, rather than seeing the new tools as a fresh means toward unadulterated and unencumbered self-expression, they see them as just another chance to (hopefully) make money. Money in and of itself is not a problem for art--necessarily. But when the money an artist earns (or, more relevantly, when the money an artist might earn) begins to distort that artist's work, then it is a problem for art--necessarily.
Historically the cost of the production and distribution of art has made the influence of money upon it inherent in its creation. In order for a work to be seen or read or heard it had to sustain itself in some way economically. But this concern no longer saddles us. The most radical step forward we can make as artists today is to step out of these historic trappings of the marketplace and control our art ourselves--not for the sake of profit, but for the sake of our own self-expression.
Conceiving of art as a commodity changes its shape and its meaning. What will art look like if we stop handling it this way? What will we achieve if we stop tailoring our souls to the pocketbook, to the machinery of society? What will we discover if we dare to embrace absolute independence of thought and expression? Where will it take us?
Leading the way are a few great artists of independent means from the past who had the opportunity to say what they wanted without fear of being silenced by poverty or hunger. And others have come and gone who found in some way an independence from monetary pressures because of the largeness of their gifts and the stubbornness of their souls. From these we can hold up a few examples of stunning lasting works, works untainted by the marketplace.
Now the independence of those numbered few belongs to all of us. So perhaps the question is not what would Michelangelo have created had he not been beholden to the powers of his day, but what would other artists who had Michelangelo's talents but not his opportunities have created? And not: What else would Mozart have composed had he lived longer, but what would have some other musician composed had she been given a chance at all? We have an untapped opportunity--never before seen--to seek a greatness--rarely before seen. We are all of us those almost-Michelangelos and those might-have-been-Mozarts who throughout the ages never found their full expression. Now we can find our full expression.