Friday, October 30, 2009
However unlikely it may be that humanity in general has been wondering where I am and what I've been doing these past few days, I thought it only fair to let a couple of my best friends know. I don't co-pilot many of the video games my husband enjoys playing but there are some very special ones I'm just so grateful to be able to witness (and sometimes help puzzle solve). Among a few others like Zelda, Ico, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and Persona 3 we've been fans of Ratchet and Clank. The series began in 2002 shortly after the introduction of the Play Station 2 and the last major game called R&C Future: Tools of Destruction with its cliff hanger ending was released in 2007. Two years is a long time so you may understand we've been very eager for the latest and likely the last ever of the series that arrived in the mail a few days ago - R&C Future: A Crack in Time.
There seems to be a shortage of video games that are challenging, witty and beautifully designed and it's true to say that most of the ones that fit those qualifications aren't made in the United States. However, Insomniac Games, the group responsible for the design and production of Ratchet & Clank, is based in Burbank California and even though they're contracted to produce games for Sony they are American, if not necessarily the apple pie kind. Imagine the Marx Brothers as high tech gaming wizards and you might come close to understanding what these guys are up to even if you don't play or have access to a 16 year old's button pushing skills.. or one who's much older but keeps up the effort.
How could anybody not appreciate titles like: Going Commando, Size Matters, Secret Agent Clank or my favorite - Up Your Arsenal? So for the last few evenings I've been swept up in the sheer chaos and hilarity of outrageous battles against the destructive plans of evil overlords who want to destroy the universe. We've been rail riding, flying, solving puzzles and just plain enjoying the fun of using outrageous weapons (a giant burping monster gun or Mr. Zirkon, a flying robot weapon who talks, 'Mr Zirkon needs no nanotech to survive; Mr. Zirkon lives on fear') against hordes of monsters all in the effort of reuniting a pair of friends. That's a worthy enough goal in my opinion. Just in case you'd like to see a little bit of the action here it is. Happy Halloween.
and yes, I will be visiting.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I drew her reaching out to something:
A parting in the sky looking toward a disastrous landscape was just too weird
Then there was a lotus but that was just too affected. I'm barely a Buddhist.
The tiny elephants marching in a line looked silly.
The lioness curled around her I'd done too many times before.
So she sits in one of my drawing books today still looking towards nothing in particular. She may wait forever for me to return and place in her in a watercolor that suits her strange aspect and that's okay. Long ago I got to the point with painting that the borders meant more to me than the central image and, having spent a few more days looking at the Red Book, I can clearly see that in reality it's the chaos at the border of our imagined selves that's the territory we most need to explore.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Yesterday we came home to find an enormous box leaning against our door. What it contained is a book that's become legendary to people interested in the work and discoveries of Carl G. Jung - a perfect facsimile folio copy of the Red Book.
I'm no scholar and it's probably silly of me to want such a thing but I have been interested in why we are as we are for many years and a number of Jung's books have found a place in my smallish library. This one is something I never expected to see, never mind own. It's staggeringly beautiful with every page illuminated with his fabulous paintings of his personal journey to individuation. No, I don't read German but happily, the latter part of the book is a complete translation of the text.
Who are we as individuals according to Jung? We are the sum of the five archetypes that define our selves in this world. Briefly put:
The Persona is that which we present to the outside world.
The Ego is the centre of consciousness but not the totality of the psyche.
The Shadow is the box for all of that which we have disowned.
The Anima is the female soul image of a man, the Animus the male soul image of a woman. According to Jung a person's soul image is gender opposite.
The Self is simply the centre and the totality of the entire psyche. It is the archetype which contains all the other archetypes and around which they orbit. It's something of a paradox, and extremely difficult for the conscious ego to accept.
The years … when I pursued the inner images were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life.
Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then. C.G. Jung
I know the pictures above don't do the book much justice but they're the ones I took earlier today in dim light. You'll know where to find better ones. For me, opening the pages is like seeing the work of William Blake for the first time.
Now all I have to do is wait ten years for my husband to finish reading it.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Okay, I borrowed cousin Fred's sailor suit and I'm heading off to make a few visits. Cuba is nice this time of year. Before I go I thought I should tell you about my friend Chris Hedges who has a few things of interest to say about the climate change crisis your government would prefer you not notice.
In case you don't have time to read the article (not long and well worth a few minutes) there's one paragraph to remember which I'll change just a little. He does a very enjoyable rant:
"You can cut our consumption of fossil fuels. You can use less water. You can banish plastic bags. You can install compact fluorescent light bulbs. You can compost in your backyard. But unless you dismantle the corporate state, all those actions will be just as ineffective as the Ghost Dance shirts donned by native American warriors to protect themselves from the bullets of white soldiers at Wounded Knee."
It's not your fault, people. I'm thinking there might be another world not too far from this one where human industry never went high tech. I'm off to the Bermuda Triangle to see if I can find it and if I do I'll be sure to come back and bring you the map.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Crow here. I've been wondering if the human species has too much natural ability to dominate (both one another and the environment) without the wisdom to use such abilities for the promotion of life. It was John Maynard Keynes who pointed out that for most of human history - essentially up until the 18th century and the invention of the steam engine - very little changed about the way people lived on the planet. Before that people had learned about fire, language, music, cattle, the wheel, the plow, the sail and pottery. There were banks, governments, mathematics and religion.
When humans began digging up coal to fuel steam engines and metal ships the modern age came about. After coal came oil, then natural gas and all of a sudden things started going much much faster than they ever had in human history. Things became more efficient and, yes, life became much more comfortable for those born in western industrial states but the big question now is - at what cost? After WWII economic growth in the United States in particular became exponential. Growth became America's mantra, and then the world's. There were all kinds of technological advances to come: plastics, cheap cars, television, air-conditioning that opened whole regions of the country to masses of people. This was the richest country in the world, the most powerful.
That simple, cheap, concentrated power lies at the heart of our modern economies. Every action of a modern life burns fossil fuel; viewed in one way, modern Western human beings are flesh-colored devices for combusting coal and gas and oil. "Before coal," writes Jeffrey Sachs, "economic production was limited by energy inputs, almost all of which depended on the production of biomass: food for humans and farm animals, and fuel wood for heating and certain industrial processes." That is, energy depended on how much you could grow. But fossil energy depended on how much had grown eons before, on all those millions of years of ancient biology squashed by the weight of time till they'd turned into strata and pools and seams of hydrocarbons, waiting for people to discover them.
The down side of all this growth is that nobody nowadays can argue that putting massive amounts of carbon waste into our atmosphere for the past 100 years or more has effectively changed the climate. The amount of carbon dioxide that scientists have determined is a safe level for our atmosphere and continuation of the planetary climate to be safe for human beings and all creatures is 350 parts per million. It's been just two years since leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 parts per million. Unfortunately, the level now is 390ppm and it's still rising.
Only the United States refused to sign the original Kyoto Climate Protocol because it doesn't require any action from the developing world, including China. Now the agreement is likely to be allowed to expire in 2012 and meetings are scheduled in Copenhagen later this year to see if a new policy can be agreed to by all. The common belief has been that we have until 2050 before insurmountable difficulties with climate change will be apparent to all. Armada storms are a good name for what we could experience in a man made planetary climate. Last Thursday the UN's top climate scientist, Rajendra Pachauri, urged a key conference on global warming to set tough mid-term goals and warned carbon emissions had to peak by 2015 to meet a widely-shared vision. One thing he said was essential is that the United States cuts its carbon waste by 100% in ten years. Forgive this Crow for smiling at the idea.
October 24th is scheduled to be an international day of action to put pressure on governments to change their stance on continuing the massive use of fossil fuels. Copenhagen in December of this year may well be the pivotal moment that determines whether or not we get the planet out of the climate crisis. To learn more check out 350.org. In the meantime I'm going to see if I can find susan one of these handy little units designed by America's biggest corporations and advertised by my friends The Yes Men.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Please visit Ces's blog to be see the beauty of her artwork and read her inspiring posts. She dedicated the first of these awards to her friend Deborah who is a poet and mother of a son posted in Afghanistan. Below is part of what she had to say.
“So today I am planting another tree. The Quercus shumardii or Shumard Oak. It is a handsome large tree with straight axis and broad, rounded open crown. It withstands strong hurricane winds, extreme heat, is tall and straight and just plain beautiful. I have more trees to plant but rest assured those who have virtual trees and acorns planted and distributed in their honor have one common virtue, they are loyal friends regardless of race, creed, political affiliations and geography. Here, I honor womanhood and friendship and there is nothing more wondrous a blessing for anyone than for a friend who came and never left your side.”
Friendship isn't about who you have known the longest, but who came and never left your side.
Three on Linda's list of sisterfriends are already longtime members of the phantsy blog roll and must be noted as dear friends of mine too:
Gina the Pagan Sphinx whose history of art posts, photographs and political opinions are always a delight to read.
Lisa of That's Why who writes absolutely side-splitting dialog and beautifully pointed descriptions of contemporary life.
Belette known as La Belette Rouge. She's an incredibly talented biographer able to describe her life in a way that models the experience of many different women.
I have other friends on my blog roll I'd like to present the award to as well. Some I've known for a long time and we still visit regularly. Others I've known a long time but we don't often manage to spend much time visiting. That's the way things go in this world of diamonds dancing where we flash facets at one another and move on through the gavotte. There are some new friends too. It's always good to see how others see the world we share and what it is they do to help make it a better place for everyone.
There's the Border Explorer who stands in the margins shoulder to shoulder with the marginated at our border with Mexico. She's a brave and strong lady.
Sera of Encore Seraphine is a graphic artist of extraordinary ability who shares subtle and wise insights of the complexity of modern life.
G-Fid, aka Granny Fiddler who lives in the far north of Canada, is a concert violinist and the proud powerhouse of a new Habitat For Humanity Re-Store. She's not that old either.
Freida Bee of Freida Bee, MD who may or may not be a doctor but who does write hilarious posts and hopefully, will one day get paid for writing.
Nunly of Bad Habit is a very good Catholic girl who calls 'Bullshit' when she finds it. Nunly makes me laugh and that's a good thing.
Jams O'Donnell of The Poor Mouth is Irish (as you likely guessed) and posts about politics, art, music and European culture.
CDP of CDP. She writes with discernment and humor about her life, family and working for the Man - as well as continued school. Yow.
Liberality of Liberality is a librarian, liberal, mother, feminist and Buddhist. What she writes is worth reading.
Kirie of Three Little Chickies is a poet, writer and mother. That last word says a lot.
Nancy, whose Life in the Second Half was named a Blog of Note last year is a woman of peripatetic interests. She likes to initiate discussions about philosophical topics that inspire people to think outside the box.
Marja-Leena has a blog named Marja-Leena Rathje is a well known print artist in Canada. You can link to the beautiful photographs of her work but her blog is much about her travels, friends and thoughts.
Suzi of Suzi Riot may be a lawyer by now and if she is she's out there raising a shit storm over our not very socially responsible government. You go Grrrl!
Martha is Sofie One Crow and should be a poet known to everyone. She writes beautifully about many subjects with deep meaning to all our hearts.
Utah has a blog called Utah Savage who lives in and writes about that great bastion of bizarre culture, Salt Lake City. She is also the author of a magnificently heart rending novel about growing up as the beautiful daughter of a jealous mother and other assorted traumas. She is still beautiful and brave too.
I offer this lovely award to all. Thank you.
ps - Boys can be sisters too if you want.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Ah well, since I'm just plain bored with looking at an unfinished silk painting this morning I think I'll re-post a watercolor I did a few years ago. Partially done things are out of date, behind the times and irrelevant the very next time I pick up a brush. The Rolling Stones knew that decades ago when they sang 'Who needs yesterday's paper? Who needs yesterday's girl? Who needs yesterday's paper? Nobody in the world.' Come to think of it - remembering a little history might no go amiss.
Hope it's a good day where you are. Me? I have to go to work if I can avoid this hole in the floor :-)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I spent the day painting what will be the next silk bag and then I took a picture that looked like this when it came out of i-photo. Then I decided to see what it would look like if I played with photo shop elements:
This is what it it looked like with normal diffuse
and this is how it looked as a poster.
I think this one is my favorite - just plain with all the color switched to sepia. Maybe I'll paint it in sepia next time and then play with colors. Makes you wonder what's real, doesn't it?
Ahh, this one is nice too - invert suggested by Marja-Leena:
Having too many options confuses me.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Crow here. I've been flying back and forth from Europe the last few weeks checking in with old friends and new ones who are looking at the current economic situation from a different point of view. Things aren't just going to change. They have changed but there's no reason we (and you) can't be part of making things better without even bothering about the banks and the government.
"Those who opt to make history and change the course of events themselves have the advantage over those who decide to wait passively for the results of the change"
This was said an old friend of mine after the Spanish Civil war. He was a young priest called Arizmendi who was sent to the Basque country after Franco's defeat and what he found there was severe unemployment, a region badly damaged by the war and a populace in serious financial difficulties. He wasn't a particularly gifted speaker but he was determined to assist his parishioners in spite of the fact they didn't much like him. You can't let a little thing like that get in the way. He decided to focus on the economic development of the town, settling on co-operative methods to achieve his goals.
In this small town, whose name translates to Mondragon, he started a democratically managed polytechnic school and in 1956 several graduates began the first of the cooperative businesses that have become a model for a little known but world wide democratic cooperative revolution. Three years after the inception of the small manufacturing business they went on to set up the 'People's Worker Bank' which allowed the co-operative members access to financial services and subsequently provided start-up funds for new co-operative ventures. Since then it's worked out very well. The associated companies give preference to fellow co-operatives, workers manage their finances, hold health insurances and pension funds and have discounts at cooperative stores. When a cooperative has got in economical trouble, workers preferred to take pay cuts over layoffs and if the situation worsens, redundant workers are provided with positions in other group co-operatives.
In the United States right now there are more people involved in cooperative movements than there are union workers. You can read about it in a book called 'America Beyond Capitalism' by Gar Alperovitz - a political science professor at the University of Maryland. It's a few years old but, hey, there are always a few folks ahead of the curve and he saw something coming. There are 11,000 worker owned companies in the US and 120 million people involved in cooperatives of one kind or another. The best of them are one person one vote places but true democratization of the cooperatives is still at a minority level here. Still, it's something to look forward to as we all move toward the next thing.
Kim Stanley Robinson described the potential of a fully functioning Mondragonian Cooperative system in his science fiction epic series of Mars books (Red, Green and Blue) where people owned their personal possessions but not property. That was held in common. It may sound uncomfortable but think for a minute of the freedom you could have if you didn't have to make mortgage payments or pay property taxes on one single place. What if you could go to live anywhere and be guaranteed a job once you arrived? It might be similar to the way my friends and I live. As it is now your society holds slavery as anathema but what is practiced is oppression of a subtler kind - it's called serfdom.
There are other alternatives to Capitalism than Communism and Cooperatism might just be the best way to a better future for all of us since it's based on fair use and sustainability rather than greed and destruction. My brothers and sisters with four legs or wings are definitely in favor of anything like that.
I see susan has my fruitcake on a little plate and a snifter of nicely warmed Remy Martin so I'd best make myself comfortable on my perch and look out the window at Mars. I will tell you more next time if you're interested.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I did do something new last month that I haven't mentioned yet and that was to finally go live with the etsy on-line craft market site. Over the course of the past couple of years I've occasionally been asked about whether or not various pieces of my work are for sale and the answer to that is both yes and no. My guideline is that I'll only sell things I'm currently working on and right now that's silk bags. The watercolors aren't for sale even though I occasionally paint a new one.
It was a very difficult decision for me to decide on marketing my stuff in public as I go through all sorts of anxiety attacks at the very idea. I don't know why that is since once upon a time I was very involved and active in promoting myself as an artist and my list of gallery showings in New England was important to me. It helped me to define myself as a 'real artist' when the essential truth of what I was doing to earn a living in the daily world didn't suit my ego. I stopped coddling my sense of self importance so long ago I know longer remember when it disappeared.
All I know is I like to draw and paint. I set up phantysythat at etsy last May, posted a couple of items in June, took them down a week later and finally set it up (and left it up) on the Labor Day weekend. So far I've sold one bag and that was to Liberality who found the shop on her own. Thanks Lib! There are only a few pieces for sale and there'll never be lots because each one takes as much time as required and I can't be a factory. If I'd rather read a book, write a story or visit my friends here or in the real world, that's what I'll do.
Now I'm off to finish a new Adventure story. It's been a while :-)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The funny thing about the little girl is that I've been looking at her in the treetops outside my bedroom window most of the summer - well, on those mornings when I can linger in bed with my cup of coffee. There are a number of benefits to being slightly myopic, one of which is being able to visualize things only half seen (also handy in not seeing wrinkles and acne :-)). The interesting thing is watching her move in rhythm with the sound of the breeze. I'm not sure my drawing has done her perfect justice but I think I've caught the essence.
Changing topic here, I'll have a new computer by Friday. Jerry bought a new Mac Book last year while I took over our by then 5 year old G4 Power Book. Now it's 6, the newish battery only keeps it running for half an hour at most so I've kept a separate power cord plugged in at my end of the couch. Recently it started burning through the power cords. ooops. Buying another Mac Book would have been easier and cheaper but I hate the high flash, glossy plastic screens. It turned out the new Power Macs all have glossy glass screens and I was very disappointed and, apparently, not alone once I discovered a number of artists have complained and were recommending refurbished Books from a few years ago - or companies that charge several hundred dollars to replace the screens. Turns out they're a very hot item. damn.
Anyway, unbelievably, after hopping around the Googlesphere for a couple of weeks I read in a blog that as of August if you order a 15" Power Mac you can also order a matte screen as a separate configuration for just $50. Apple does not advertise the fact but it turned out to be true. I clicked on 'buy now' and then 'configure'. Hurray! Half way down the list of special odds and ends was the choice of a matte screen. I'm far from being the computer genius my husband is - more of a Luddite if truth were told - but we both see the benefit to having a really good computer as part of our essential household goods. Now I'm looking forward to the multi-fingering touchpad and learning how to right click without a separate bar. It should be interesting but one thing I do know I'll enjoy is being able to look at high level visual blogs again.
If I haven't been by lately, I will be soon.