1 For The Price of 2

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1 For The Price of 2

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Jasper Johns had it right, though: the reason the American flag worked so well is because it was always right there. It could always be taken to do anything. It could be called the most perfect tool, supremely portable, ubiquitous. It could be called a prop, applicable for the actor's range of scenes. It could be called upon. It didn't matter what it represented. Jasper wasn't making work about Americanism. If he needed a thoughtless something-to-draw, the flag could be chosen and worked into any composition. Just like a driver moving down the highway sees the flags at every tollbooth but feels nothing—he doesn't rethink fifty states and thirteen colonies, nor does he constantly remind himself of his current position within national borders, nor does he feel a sudden burst of patriotism—Jasper could evoke the flag to serve simply as a form, a form representing any form, the permanent pictographic equivalent of Lorem Ipsum. It can be drawn in any instance.

This was a quasi-love. It meant nothing, and that made it important—always there but only waiting for him to use it. Its immediacy was important to him, but Jasper never gave anything to the American flag. The flag never used Jasper, Jasper used the flag, reaping benefits but never reciprocating because it doesn't actually mean anything. It existed before Jasper used it, and he didn't redefine it, but he could take it for anything and accept it solely as something to be used. The flag didn't ask for this, it didn't really have a say in the matter, but in a way, it was waiting to be used all along.

I think this is the image before it's alive: accepted as a regular object until life is breathed into it.

The target felt similarly. It was never quite clear whether it was a target, or simply five concentric circles, or layered dimensions, or zeroing in on the center, or this within that within this within that (a geometric definition of nesting ideas within one another within one form). The target, too, was Jasper's prop, his love affair; though unlike the flag, which could form anything, the target was formed by everything. Each circle depicted a wholeness, which contained another circle of wholeness; until the last circle, which changed the nesting to an icon and came to encompass everything (everything within the initial circles, everything the target represents). The target complemented the flag. It gave him everything the flag couldn't. The target meant something, and that made it important. Where the flag constantly gave to Jasper, Jasper constantly gave to the target; but it was hidden within the icon.

So here Jasper is. One love for the price of two.

Do you ever wonder if Jasper ever realized how much the target meant to him romantically? Or how much he meant to the flag?

I wonder if this is why Robert painted their bed bright colors and Jasper didn't like it.

This flag was flown from July 4, 1867 to July 3, 1877. It's the closest I've gotten so far. Maybe Jasper didn’t have it right.