Tuesday, September 23, 2014

a little turbulence

A year or so ago I posted some pencil sketches under the titles of storyboarding this and that. What I've been up to just recently has been a process of refining and actually turning some of those ideas into watercolor paintings. The funny thing is, other than a vague concept, I don't actually have much of a story to draw from. So what I'll do is paint the pictures and see where they lead. This is one.

Other than the fact these images are kind of compelling in themselves, the main reason I've decided to work on finishing some of them now is to allow myself to get comfortable with using full spectrum color again. Paintings done just well enough to provide something entertaining to look at before a blog post have made me lazy. Besides, some practice is essential before I begin work on that real story illustration project I mentioned earlier this month.

If you're in the mood to read something both interesting and relevant to the political, financial, and social turbulence we're currently exposed to every time we get out of bed - those of us who are lucky enough to have beds and roofs to cover them, that is - I highly recommend the recent articles on Golem XIV under the title, The Next Crisis. The articles are long but his points are valid for anyone who believes, or suspects, as I do, that partisan politics are simply another method used by the rich and powerful to divide and so conquer the rest of us. His premise is as follows:

1) The Over Class must retain and consolidate their control over the global system of debt.

2) The power to regulate must be taken from nations and effectively controlled by corporations.

3) Professionalize governance. Democracy can be and must be neutered, and an effective way of doing this is to insist that amateur, elected officials MUST take the advice of professional (read corporate) advisors. Expand current law to enforce this.

4) The financial system badly needs un-encumbered ‘assets’ to feed the debt issuing system. A new way must be found to prise sovereign assets from public ownership. Such a new way is suggested.

5) In order to facilitate the political changes necessary, the public mind-set must be changed. National Treasures such as the NHS in Britain must be re-branded as evil State Monopolies. Choose your own examples.

6) Effective ways must be found to convince people that democratic rule is no longer sufficient to protect them.

7) An alternative to Democracy must be introduced and praised. 

Okay, if you've read the above (or even have bookmarked the website for later), now it's time for the uplifting and entertaining part of the post - this time a short video piece about the great benefits of re-introducing carnivores to the US. In the past couple of weeks I read again two of Jack London's most famous stories: The Call of the Wild and White Fang. Who wouldn't prefer a real wolf to the one who wears a hand made suit and a $50k watch?

I hope you've excused George Monbiot for his somewhat overly excited presentation.

Monday, September 15, 2014

post modern irony with Crow

me: Anything interesting in the mail today?

Crow: Not really.
Here's a 'You're not covering the cost of all these mailings' charity request.
You got a 'You're not attractive enough' women's magazine with an article on swimsuits that minimize all your bodily flaws.
Here are some 'You're not stylish enough or ostentatious enough' catalogs - and coincidentally, an invitation to go deeper into debt from a credit card company.
And here's a news magazine to identify the trend of the week you're missing.

me: Yikes! Why do I get the feeling that society is trying to make us discontented with everything about who we are?

Crow: I suppose if people thought about real issues and needs instead of manufactured desires, the economy would collapse and we'd have total anarchy.

me: So pitching this junk would make me some kind of terrorist, eh?

Crow: Yes, it's your patriotic duty to buy distractions from a simple life. *

* Our conversation is a slightly revised version of one between Calvin's (of Calvin and Hobbes) beleaguered parents in 1994. It ends with this:

Calvin: Hey, Mom and Dad! I just saw a bunch of products on TV that I didn't know existed, but I desperately need!

It would appear things haven't changed much, but for the fact all this arrives online too :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

other thoughts - Alan Watts

Having recently rediscovered Alan Watts I'm wondering why he hasn't always been on my seriously Wise Person radar. The book itself is on my purchase list, but in the meanwhile I downloaded 'On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are'. Here is a story which he said was for children, but that doesn't really seem to be the case.

"There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night, waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can't have any one of these without the other, because you wouldn't be able to know what black is unless you had seen it side-by-side with white, or white unless side-by-side with black.

"In the same way, there are times when the world is, and times when it isn't, for if the world went on and on without rest for ever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don't. So because it doesn't get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It's like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It's also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it's always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn't always hide in the same place.

"God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear.

"Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that's the whole fun of it—just what he wanted to do. He doesn't want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.

"Of course, you must remember that God isn't shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If there weren't, we wouldn't know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn't any outside to him. The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as 'he' and not 'she,' God isn't a man or a woman. I didn't say 'it' because we usually say 'it' for things that aren't alive.

"God is the Self of the world, but you can't see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can't see your own eyes, and you certainly can't bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.

"You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that he isn't really doing this to anyone but himself.
Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It's the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world." 

What the story contains is a description of the essence of Advaita.
What do you think?

Now for something different, or maybe it's not all that different - a man and his dog dancing:

I liked that :)

ps: The painting at the top is a quick watercolor sketch from a story (written by the daughter of a friend) that I'm in the process of attempting to illustrate.