Altered Digital Photograph, 2017

James Bradley is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the California College of the Arts in 2009.

Direct all correspondence to:
jamesbradley [at] startmail [dot] com



Riverside, circa 2005.

Once again, reality was on fire with its self-generated flame, but it was more intense than ever this time. My heart was pounding and I was sweating as I entered the empty house and, though finding myself in the familiar surroundings of the messy living room, and then the hallway that led to my bedroom, it was clear to me that nothing could ever be truly familiar again, forevermore. That’s how it feels when you’re in the middle of it, but it fades. In the middle of it all is timeless beauty and eternal mind. All abstractions shrivel up and die like tumors deprived of their energy source, which is falsehood cultivated in the mind. I stepped into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror. I thought that I should shave my head, just to do something, just so that this moment, which I knew to be fleeting, would leave some kind of mark behind in the physical world, the world of causality, after it was gone, like one dimension reaching out to touch another. I stared at my image on the glass. My haircut, the style of my “thrift store clothes,” my entire projected selfhood, all fell away and became nothing. But still I didn’t do it; the mundane conditioning won out. For the sake of ego-image and vanity, I didn’t shave my head because I didn’t want to look that way. I remember this moment vividly. I was 25. I should have done it. I think just a little bit of applied detachment could have helped me greatly at that point in my life, and who knows what other, more substantial renunciations it might have triggered? My bedroom was sparse. It didn’t have a full bed, just a mattress on the floor, alongside several old video game systems whose tangled wires connected through loaded power strips to a small television perched on an orange crate, and a brass Buddha statue I had gotten a couple of years earlier from one of those trinket shops in Chinatown in Los Angeles. The Buddha statue was the only decorative element I’d allow. Everything was bathed in the clear golden-white light of the afternoon, streaming in through large windows. I threw myself down on the mattress and, shutting my eyes, watched as red and orange patterns of light and shadow danced on the insides of my eyelids, filling me with a serenity I have known only rarely in this world, but still I was troubled by a nagging thought: “Where are the other seers of reality?”

June 19, 2017