Blanka Pesja

Senior Art Educator - Conservatorium - Amsterdam University of the Arts

Month: August 2015

Who’s your daddy – part 4

Who’s your daddy – Part 4

Did Johnny Cash’s father really blame him for his brother’s death?
Yes. In Johnny Cash: The Biography, Johnny’s daughter Kathy said, “Grandpa always kind of blamed Dad for Jack’s death. And Dad had this, just real sad guilt thing about him his whole life.” ~ Michael Streissguth


Watch his artistic self expression
Original by Nine Inch Nails here covered by Johnny Cash.

Johnny never publicly spoke out against his father. Instead, he said that his father was “a man of love”, who never hit him. In an Academy of Achievement interview, Johnny said, “I don’t ever remember a really cross, unkind word from my father. He was a good, strong man who provided for his family. That was his sole purpose in life when I was growing up.”

The tinge of neglect evident in the last part of the quote may be an example of a repressed bitterness that Johnny felt towards his father. This bitterness crept to the surface again in his autobiography, written after his father died, where he described some incidents of near-physical violence.

This is how it might read when you tell the world daddy doesn’t love you:

“My valuation of myself was much more dependent on you than on anything else, such as some external success. That was strengthening for a moment, nothing more, but on the other side your weight always dragged me down much more strongly. Never shall I pass the first grade in grammar school…. no, I did not fail, and I went on and on succeeding. This did not produce any confidence, however; on the contrary, I was always convinced—and I had positive proof of it in your forbidding expression—that the more I achieved, the worse the final outcome would inevitably be.” ~ Franz Kafka, Letter to my Father.

“The more I achieve, the worse the final outcome would inevitably be” how revealing.
If you ever need to understand self undermining sabotage, whether in art or in sports, ask your self: who’s your daddy?

Who’s your daddy – part 3

Who’s your daddy – Part 3

In 1955 James Dean made his filmic debut in East of Eden, John Steinbeck’s most ambitious novel original written for his two sons Thom and John, then 6 and 4 years old, translated into a classic movie dealing with siblings rivalry for a father’s love. Oh and of course the girl but that is beside the point.


This is how it might look when father doesn’t love you:


james dean

Watch the scene here convincingly

“ Although the New York Times reviewer at the time dismissed Dean’s performance as “a mass of histrionic gingerbread”, most reviews were very positive. Dean’s portrayal of confused vulnerability and a desperate desire to be loved still has the power to engage and touch the viewer.” ~

A mass of histrionic gingerbread certainly has not been the verdict when daddy Cash openly blamed his 12 year old son Johnny for the death of his 14 year old brother in the movie Walk the Line, stating: The devil took the wrong son.

The striving for excellence does seem to brother Sports and Arts. The physicality of both life styles could be their blood bond. The heroic narrative that drives them both forward mirrors a kinship. And then there is that crucible: the pain.

The Greek Olympian reanimated in the Renaissance ideal of the total man: athlete, intellectual and poet could very well father todays principle of the athlete and musician. The distinction however is the Cain and Able crucible: boys don’t cry. They shut down emotionally and go for the kill, they win. Or do they cry, silently, secretly?

In art they most certainly do, however nothing if not loud!




Who’s your daddy – part 2

Who’s your daddy – Part 2

Hardly half a century ago the second feminist wave idealized the liberation of both sexes, girls could kill while boys could cry. The war between the sexes would come to an end, men and women could finally become best of friends on equal footings.
Already in 1979 the Cure denounced our healing and would rub it in: emancipation had failed, there’s no actual change because boys don’t cry and that’s final.

boys dont

Listen to it here if you care to be convinced with Spanish subtitles, why not. Spanish is after all the second world language and besides since we take on machismo, it sounds les whining in Spanish: “Los chicos no lloran.” Admit it, it sounds more manly. Those pale looking, unhealthy living, confusingly Androgynes whined exquisitely album after album.
(Oh and girls can’t kill in combat because men refuse to share rooms with them at least not on female terms The dream of equal partnership shred to pieces.

Who’s your daddy – part 1

Who’s your daddy – Part 1


 Somewhere in 2013 a former world champion speed skater posted a picture of his eight your old son with a bleeding head injury visiting a hospital. His public comment read:

“Children play. Does not cry, flirts with the nurses and tells the doctors tall stories . My hero!!”

The making of an elite athlete in full operation no doubt. Flirting with nurses while bleeding out of a head wound, how attractive. Entertaining males twice your size, how bold. At age eight, being a child, acting like an adult alpha male, ignoring the reality of a physical and emotional situation in order to create an idealized heroic narrative for others to enjoy, could be the definition of a warrior or a daddy pleaser or both. The clown, the seducer, the pain ignorer, vulnerability killer, the competitor and most of all a winner. Say hello to the world of sports.

Almost a century ago, a brilliant writer wrote a letter to his father confessing: “My writing was all about you; all I did there, after all, was to bemoan what I could not bemoan upon your breast.” (Franz Kafka, Letter to His Father). Welcome to the world of art.

Is this the old ‘tough skating farmer boy’ versus ‘sensitive scribbling urban nerd’ story? Maybe. The emotional dark versus the dumb blond, the Nazi’s physical superiority versus the deranged cultural, inferior Jews? No, most certainly not.

It is about todays ideal of integrating the shining sports mentality into the world of troubled arts. Is this a good idea? Who knows.

It all comes down to: Who’s your daddy?



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