Sunday, November 27, 2011

sunday with Crow

I thought you might enjoy seeing a picture of Crow relaxing in his sanctum earlier today when I carried in our tea and a package of dark chocolate digestive biscuits to share. Such small luxuries can make grand occasions of life and we enjoyed some conversation about the world as it is and as it used to be. It seems to both of us that although the past is gone and much about it is best forgotten there are still many things to learn and carry into the future.

Crow likes to surround himself with some of the artifacts he's collected over the course of a very long life. Naturally, some of them he left in place because even though they were originally dedicated to him and his friends moving them would have been impossible as well as rude.

You'll probably laugh as I did when he told me that Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun weren't such bad guys to hang around with once you got to know them. He made a good point when he mentioned that at least they did their massacring, raping and pillaging right up front rather than being sneaky and dishonest about their activities and real motives.

Some of his happiest memories are of the times he spent in company with William Morris who was worried about English society for similar reasons we worry about our own culture now. He said that, in a "true society", where neither luxuries nor cheap trash were made, machinery could be improved and used to reduce the hours of labour.  Rather than the clamor made by futurists for faster machines, progress, capitalism, competition and the creation of wealth Morris thought the function of the machine should be to free workers from drudgery rather than displace them. His aim was to create as much beauty as he and his associates could for as many people as they could. It's strange to think that in our own times there's no designer, politician or industrialist who would dare to make concrete proposals for improving the lives of ordinary people.

After a happy autumn spent watching and participating in OWS events we were saddened about the feeding frenzy we heard about this past Black Friday. People get confused and desperate, all the more so when they're being told the only hope for the economy to rise, and perhaps for their jobs to return, is that they max out their credit cards. Crow mentioned it wasn't unlike the peasants rushing to the bakeries to buy cake just before the French Revolution. I have a feeling Occupy will return with the spring flowers..

It wouldn't be a surprise to any of us to see a world economy based on the false premise of infinite supplies of fossil fuel grind to a serious slowdown in the near future and there's no doubt there'll be trouble. It's more than likely we'll see a near future where 2012 is just another date on the calendar, the Singularity is forgotten as people figure out how to grow vegetables on their balconies and keep chickens in the extra bathroom, and the Rapture leaves everyone behind. Then again, as Crow said today there's always the possibility that in the longterm a larger world will be more comfortable for everyone.

We'll just have to wait and see - or at least Crow will.


  1. I love and so admire your drawings, Susan, so fluid, confident and full of fascinating details. Do you use a pen?

    And I wish I could have been a fly on the wall listening to your conversations on so many interesting topics, especially on Wm Morris and today's troubles. Wise thoughts.

  2. the tapestry of Crow's life is vast... and the rich details take my breath away sometimes... Wm Morris is among the people i admire most... that Crow knew him leaves me in awe. perhaps Crow is even privy to some of the lost secrets of textile dyeing that Morris unearthed and rediscovered. one of my favorite quotes of all times from Morris... "have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." he also said rugs should never be so large that they cannot be quickly rolled up and moved aside with the furniture to allow for dancing. it's one of the things i hold against wall-to-wall carpet. hate the stuff. the face in all of Morris' stained glass angels is that of Jane Burden, his wife. Willy would indeed have had some interesting things to say about OWS, would, most likely have been one of its voices.

  3. I totally want to hang out in Crow's sanctum. Funny how there's all this technology to 'make things easier/more efficient' yet for most, still 8/day, 5/week.

    Besides food & water, what's more valuable than time, and so much of it is wasted on pursuits that are decidedly non-creative.

    At least Quetzalcoatl is coming.

  4. People are not all bad or all good - it is a matter of perspective - Atilla's mother always called him hun.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  5. As for Herzog's film: The trailer is lousy, the film itself remarkable.
    As for Morris: He's dead.
    As for the problems: They exist ... to be solved, or not.
    As for this very post: Its protagonists are down-to-earth, rooted to the soil, which is the more remarkable as one of them has got wings ...
    ... and I am not talking of Quetzalcoatl.
    By the way, Randal: When will he arrive?

  6. gfid - Yes, Crow is very old and has seen much. William Morris was a wise man for any epoch but like most utopians was disappointed with the way things were going a century ago. There have been ups and downs ever since but all it takes is reading a few Dickens' novels to know things were bad enough for the majority then. Crow tells me wall to wall carpets were an invention of the wicked vacuum cleaner manufacturers and I believe him. It's interesting you should mention Morris's wife Jane Burden. According to my friend theirs was a very rocky relationship after the first decade.

    randal - I'm sure Crow would delight in your company. The interesting thing he's often noted about tech is that it's updated so often there's no sense in trying to keep up once you've understood the essentials.

    The assembly line was the death of normal human creative abilities.

    I thought our last reward was to be the boundless demon Azathoth.

    ol'buzzard - It's always so much easier to blame it all on them and depressing to imagine that them might be us. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of them.
    (paraphrasing T. Pratchett)

    sean - Herzog's film is wonderful but I could only post the trailer.
    Morris may be dead but everything he designed now costs a mint.
    It's okay to be aware of problems but best not to dwell on them.
    It's amazing that art was better 32,00 years ago.
    Only Randal knows.

  7. What must it be like to be able to draw like that, to create a being so rich with life and life experiences that I push my mind right into the scene (as best I can) to dwell there for awhile. Loved this post, your writing, and the fine links. When that movie came to the art theater in Salem I kept the newspaper article about it on the dining table so we would not miss it. We missed it. I should look for the dvd because I know I missed something special (especially if it comes recommended by crow, to whom it was dedicated!).

  8. Reflection can be damn depressing when looking at a present that does not seem to offer much of a future. But somehow you managed to avoid that. Well done and another damn fine drawing.

  9. I love the drawing especially. As for the film about the caves, I mean the trailer thereof, I don't think I could go and see it if the man on the screen asks for complete silence and yet there is all that intrusive soundtrack music.

    Is the past really gone? Yes, much about it is best forgotten, but the same goes for the present.

    OWS = Open Water Swimming?

  10. Ah, ignore my question. should have input OWS and not "OWS events", which Google took rather narrowly.

  11. lydia - I think the Crow drawings are my favorites because his character is so true I simply fall into them. Your poetry flows in much the same way.

    We either missed the movie when it came to Halifax or it never did. Happily, we found it for rent on blu-ray a few days ago and I didn't miss the 3-d at all.

    mrmacrum - The drawing came very easily but I must admit the written part took three separate tries. As you've inferred so many times in your own posts what we have is here and now.

    vincent - I'm glad you like the drawing. As for the film I would recommend you see it even if you feel obliged to turn off the sound. Herzog is somewhat famous for his dour attitude about humanity but the paintings themselves say something else about our race. They are joyous and very magical.

  12. How have I missed all this time the Steampunk elements to Crow? I feel like such a dumbass!

    That sanctum of his is perfection to me. Just the kind of place I'd love t hang out.

    I got a perverse chuckle from your joke about Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun. I'll bet they didn't have to buy entire legislatures to get their way either.

  13. That is a very fine window crow has in his library! I too enjoyed all the wonderful little details of this drawing.

    It is past my bedtime, so I didn't see the film clip of the Werner Herzog film. I am not a fan of his at all, which makes Wayne a little twitchy because that "wrath of god" film is one of his favorites. I hated it, which probably shows my lack of sophistication in some way.

    I do like William Morris, though! But you probably would've guessed that.


  14. Jian Ghomeshi interviewed Werner Hertzog live on CBC Q Radio Sept. 12. You can link to the live streaming here.

    He has an uncanny ability to see behind people's facades and bring what's being window dressed to the fore, naked.

  15. lisa - Although there's a certain Steampunkish element to the modern eye, in reality Crow has preferred the Edwardian era for its sense of style and comfort. Somehow, I just can't imagine him in Ikea surroundings.

    Genghis and Attila had a different way of dealing with recalcitrant governments.

    gina - He's fond of stained glass too. One of these days I'll show you his lounge.

    Generally speaking I have mixed feelings about Werner Herzog's films. Some I like - for example Fitzcarraldo - and others I wouldn't watch simply because he's strongly inclined to take a harsh view of humanity and life in general. Still, I enjoyed watching Cave of Forgotten Dreams in spite of his somewhat grumpy attitude and poor taste in its musical score. The artwork and the cave itself are so resplendent I can't help but feel grateful to him for making the effort.

    gfid - He's definitely a very powerful personality and I'm sure the interview was fascinating. I must admit I'd be afraid of being seated next to him at dinner - not that I expect an invitation any time soon.

  16. hi dearie, how do you do this? do you sketch it and then pen it or do you just freehand it and hold your breath?? it's a wonderful drawing. it makes me smile when i look at crow's boots, very lived in...loved his tales of peoples past...and loved reading about morris here and on gfid's comment not knowing it was he who said that about carpets that i wholeheartedly agree with....looking beneath old used-up wall to wall is well, ugh....... i can only imagine the drawings i have never seen! hoping you are well. xoxox

  17. linda - I'm far from being confident enough to ink something even as simple as this freehand. The main parts were pencil drawn before I began inking - thank goodness for erasers. I'm so happy you like Crow and pleased to tell you he feels the same about you.

    William Morris was definitely a very gifted man.

  18. dat Crow... he sure gets around....which is a good deal for alla us. ;)

  19. okjimm - He gets around all right. I haven't seen him in three days.

  20. jams - When I'm not with him so do I.