honoriartist (honoriartist) wrote,

Research Concept: Ray Johnson's last two years of mail

this query was posted on to IUOMA yahoo list:
Seems like Ray made it big now that he died. Just what he wanted?

Bill Wilson responded with this reflection on Ray's death:
The language is innocently coarse. "Made it big" is a crude expression. Ray ceased to exist on January 13, 1995. Nothing happened to him afterwards
because he was annihilated. Nor does he "rest in peace." If his dying is to be mentioned, care should be taken to get the facts right, and to read the facts as images like the images in his art. On the question, "Just what he
wanted?," I was friends with Ray for 39 years, and would and could never predict what he wanted. The only regularity was that I was regularly astonished by something he did or said. How would I dare speculate on his motives about which he was silent?

Evidence is slowly appearing of visual work during the last two years before his drowning. I can't say much about material which isn't mine to publish, but I can say that someday his long visual suicide-note and/or farewell letter in pictures will appear. A problem arises because people project their desires for fame and money into Ray, rather than developing his precise images which convey his precise ideas. Another problem is that amateur analysts project their anomie into Ray, giving him their motives for killing themselves. Ray was always thinking about thinking---about visual and verbal thinking---so that an appropriate memorial to him is an act of thought: Bill Wilson

Research concept:
It would be an important project to piece together the last two years of Ray's life through the mail that he sent out from 1993-1995.

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