Being and Homelessness: Notes from an Underground Artist

Being and Homelessness Notes from an Underground Artist John Sibley was a homeless artist living in winter on the streets of Chicago for six months The terrain is Chicago s Loop Near Westside and the now abolished Maxwell Street open air market between

  • Title: Being and Homelessness: Notes from an Underground Artist
  • Author: John H. Sibley
  • ISBN: 9781468016086
  • Page: 393
  • Format: Paperback
  • John Sibley was a homeless artist living in winter on the streets of Chicago for six months The terrain is Chicago s Loop, Near Westside and the now abolished Maxwell Street open air market between 1989 and 2005 His aim in these philosophical essays is to shed light on a growing global problem Being and Homelessness is not as much concerned with the cause but the wretJohn Sibley was a homeless artist living in winter on the streets of Chicago for six months The terrain is Chicago s Loop, Near Westside and the now abolished Maxwell Street open air market between 1989 and 2005 His aim in these philosophical essays is to shed light on a growing global problem Being and Homelessness is not as much concerned with the cause but the wretched anxiety and pain of being homeless, which forces one to live, to exist in an in authentic mode of being in the world Sibley uses an existential lens to focus on this ghastly problem because the homeless being in itself is forged in rootlessness, displacement, and their lives are governed by the existential D s of death, dread and despair After his dark night of the spirit Sibley believes that being homeless in the world, displaced and rootless, is one of the most terrifying challenges that a human can experience I gazed down into the underbelly of the abyss I am blessed that I escaped the stygian darkness of the nether world of alleys, bridge viaducts, vacant cars and subways caverns To escape that region of dread and despair teaches you that pain and suffering are central to the human condition, he writes In these essays Sibley uses the term being in the world as an experience that makes one acutely aware of that gap between consciousness and objects in the world Being in the world makes the homeless aware of a distance, an emptiness, a gap that separates them from the region of things This essay is a plea to maximize this nation s resources, both public and private to help the wretched existence of the homeless I cannot recall the exact day to day or month to month suffering that I endured, but the existential feeling of dread, despair, hopelessness, wretchedness and loneliness still clings to my consciousness I write to illuminate the plight of the homeless so that when you see them in libraries, on subways, city busses, local train stations or standing in front of missions like they had stepped out of painter Edward Hopper s canvas, you won t judge them, as Anatole Broyard noted, as creatures of the darkness, where sex, drugs, gambling and other crimes are directed against a bourgeois culture that despises them The homeless problems have become a Malthusian nightmare not just in Chicago but in urban cities across the nation and worldwide The large population of homeless men, women and children give most urban cities a Third World urbanscape It would be disingenuous to state that the homeless only need shelter when the problem is much deeper than that The Government needs to invest in creating a new Integrative Holistic Rehab Center IHRC to combat the multiple cause of homelessness We need to heed the words of the homeless, Danish genius, Kierkegaard, who believed philosophy must recognize the presence of man in the world The reality is that for millions of us in our times we are only a lost job, a breadwinner s disability or death, a business failure, a lawsuit, a divorce, a long term illness or natural disaster away from homelessness Let the experience of John Sibley inspire you with its honesty, faith and redemption.

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    One Reply to “Being and Homelessness: Notes from an Underground Artist”

    1. This courageous and inspiring work of non-fiction by artist, John Sibley, gives a human face to those who live underground among America's homeless. "Being and Homelessness" dives deep into the existential nightmare of having no place to call home while the Arctic wind, known as The Hawk, blows off the lake into Chicago. This book is philosophically wise and challenges us to take better care of those who live in our society with intellectual capital to offer like artists and writers. Among all t [...]

    2. Do not read this book, unless you’re prepared to lose your place in line, to have your applecart overturned, your ideas upended. As with the harsh Chicago wind, The Hawk*, this book knocks over ideas like trashcans. Forget everything you thought about philosophy, art and “the homeless.” They turn out to be individuals, not a collective noun. Some are painters. Some, philosophers. This one is both, and a writer. Only this specific homeless painter could have written this book, a work with r [...]

    3. A Multi-faceted Look at the Life of an Underground Artist John H. Sibley's new literary work, Being and Homelessness: Notes from an Underground Artist, is an important and welcome contribution, arriving as it does, at a time when the scene of the art world is mostly cordoned off to all but the privileged elect. From my nosebleed seat in the bloody colosseum of the arts—being an underground artist myself—I often found myself cheering along as John attacked the giants, demons and all fierce ba [...]

    4. I saw a priest on the Tavis Smiley show, and he was arguing that the church should be like the book of Acts, believers going out into the world, speaking the truth, getting arrested. What the priest was doing was calling into question people who attend Sunday services and primarily receive religious entertainment. Similarly, Sibley questions the passive "emotionalism" of the contemporary church in addressing deep injustices and poverty.What do communities of faith have to offer the homeless besi [...]

    5. (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)If John Sibley's name sounds familiar, it's because he's the author of the over-the-top urban post-apocalyptic actioner i>Bodyslick, which I named a top Guilty Pleasure here in 2011; but it turns out that Sibley himself has had an even more sobering and fascinating life out in the real world, becoming homel [...]

    6. Insomnia and I have a very sick relationship. I damn and curse it for making me feel like I am wandering around in an altered state of unrest. I secretly invite it into my bed chamber as it gives me a peaceful respite from the world and my mind to sit and become absorbed into awesome books. After a restless night a few missed slumbers ago, I had my heart touched by John Sibley's amazing book, Being and Homelessness.Wow!! This book is deeply profound. John is one of those rare souls that one is l [...]

    7. I received this book from the author for a review. I had previously read his fiction work and was very interested in an opportunity to read his non-fiction.John Sibley is an intelligent man, an artist and philosopher who has experienced life through many lenses and filters. He has seen the highs and the lows. The lowest point, which is the focus of most of this book, saw Mr. Sibley become homeless.'Being and Homelessness' is a series of essays that discuss a myriad of social issues (from poverty [...]

    8. I completed the first draft of Being and Homelessness at the Fox River Hotel in room 24 at 306 N.River Street,Aurora, Illinois on March 25,2010. It is a Hotel where Edgar Alan Poe would had felt at home.Beacon-News. January 6 ,2012 1:08 pm"Hesed House experience contributes to writer's being" beaconnewsntimes//twice-hom

    9. *I received a free copy of this book through the GoodReads First Reads Giveaway.This array of essays from John H. Sibley shows a different side of Chicago. It's a side not everyone has seen, a side not everyone wants to be privy to. But it exists. The author's time living on the streets as a homeless artist offered him a new perspective from which to view the world. "I looked at them with indifference as they gazed at me. I had seen so much violence in this subterranean hell that I was numb. Ane [...]

    10. I feel that John Sibley's "Being and Homelessness – Notes From An Underground Artist" is an important read. What I enjoyed about his book is that it wasn’t what I expected thus forcing me to reexamine my perceptions and images of who the homeless are. An artist and writer, John Sibley unexpectedly found himself homeless in the late 1970’s. Despite what you think, this book is not about John Sibley’s journey in, through, and out of homelessness. While I would have liked to hear how he man [...]

    11. It was impressed upon me in childhood that homeless people choose that path, either because they don’t want to work or are otherwise rebelling against society. Of course, now I understand about mental illness, addiction, and other contributing factors, but it never occurred to me until after I read John H. Sibley’s incredible story that ending up on the street could have easily happened to me or you or anyone dealt a crummy hand in life. Many of us would not overcome such an ordeal as he pai [...]

    12. Sibley addresses the issue of homelessness from an intellectual standpoint in a brutally honest way. I should mention he studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he’s a painter, and he wrote the science fiction novel Bodyslick. His love of art, literature, and music shine through at various points in the book. It’d be easy to talk about his beautiful chapter on Maxwell Street in Chicago, or the insightful and timely chapter on Obama’s 2012 dilemma. I feel that John Sibley's " [...]

    13. Anyone who pays attention to the news knows race relations in the U.S. have been especially tense. That’s just one dimension of the problems written about like John Sibley, who shares in his book, Being and Homelessness: Notes from an Underground Artist, his experiences while homeless in one of the most prosperous nations on Earth. He calls homelessness a fate worse than death.The author uses vivid descriptions to show you around the Chicago streets he lived on, letting you see the city from h [...]

    14. Have you ever thought how easy it would be for your life to turn around in an instant? That someone else's mistake, one circumstance of ignorance, can take away everything you had – your family, your friends, your career, even your home?Do you ever think you could lose all this, just because you’re not the “right” skin colour?Being and Homelessness follows the journey of artist John Sibley, who, due to unfortunate circumstances, found himself without a home and without family, pursuing h [...]

    15. Thank Goddess, I’m not homeless anymore! I was from 1984 to 1999. And I certainly hope YOU are not ever homeless! John Sibley writes about the 6 months in which he was homeless in Chicago. John Sibley is an internationally acclaimed author and artist and is a substitute teacher. He studied at the School of Art Institute of Chicago and he served in the US Air Force in Vietnam as a security policemen. As an online friend, I wrote a review of John Sibley’s first book, BodySlick. It is a fast pa [...]

    16. I met John Sibley on a cold winter day, right around the holidays, when we shared a table at McDonald’s to talk about his new book, Being and Homelessness. I wrote a story about his efforts and experiences for the local paper. As John told me more about his homelessness experience, I looked outside and wondered what that would be like here in Aurora, and in nearby Chicago. Winter weather can be brutal on the walk from your car to the store. Now try and imagine living permanently in that enviro [...]

    17. Being and Homelessness - Notes From An Underground Artist, John H Sibley's discussion of homelessness in Chicago, doesn't take the more usual voice of the victim listing the reasons why he found himself living on the Chicago streets. Despite his extended time existing on the street, there is no victimization in his voice, no rage against the machine (readers familiar with Chicago understand 'machine' takes several meanings in this case) and he makes it clear he found no glamour in being homeless [...]

    18. Got this in a first reads giveaway.I feel like Mr. Sibley is really onto something in his seeming assertion that one cannot really examine his own existence until he is financially or emotionally destitute. In this book, the author becomes homeless and manages to survive, unlike so many others. He has a unique viewpoint that is not often heard from, and the ease with which he weaves the subjects of racism, poverty, isolation, philosophy, and even music, together is impressive. Some people crumbl [...]

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