Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meditating on Photographs

My roommates are moving out today . . . They lived with me for three months. I can recall the first couple days we were living together . . . the house abounded with joy, they even gave me a present.

And now? Now there are a lot of muffled sighs. They've hardly spoken to me for the three months they lived in my house. In the beginning, I thought we were going to eat meals together. That never happened.

Things started to go sour the day Julie, one of the roommates, told me they were moving out in a month. She said it so nonchalantly, "Oh, by the way, we found a new place."

"But we had an agreement?" I said.

"Yeah, well, one of our friends broke up with her girlfriend and we're all going to rent a house; it's cheaper."

We never had a written agreement, and therefore I couldn't even get them to forfeit their deposit.

One of the strangest things, while they were living in my house, they never even used the common area. With the exception of eating dinner in the kitchen, they used to come home and run up to their room and shut the door.

It baffled me that a couple who chose to rent a room in a shared house could be so anti-social. But such was the case.

Granted, my living habits are not very typical. I keep late hours and work from home. But in the beginning, they really didn't seem to mind. It was just before they decided to leave that this atmosphere of resentment started to surface.

These photographs by Kim Holtermand sum up my mood right now. As fall approaches, the feeling of beautiful cool detachment comes over me . . . I love fall as many do, and I am detached from the petty worries of my life . . . I love the crisp awareness that fall brings. The large empty spaces in these photographs give me an immediate sense of the hollowness. That hollowness is not a superficial hollowness but the hollowness of consciousness, the emptiness that is pure and large and cannot be destroyed.

These neon lights too reflect me in this moment. I am still illuminated with color, hopeful against the grey, metal background of my surroundings. These neon lights remind me of the lines I make in my art journal, using colored ink.

I love lines, a precise mark is beautiful.

A sort of industrial photograph should remind us of what we've become. We've become machines . . . but engaging this season can help us from remaining machines. Roomates will come and go, but fall endures somehow.

Kim Holterman's Website


Monday, September 28, 2009

The Small Pleasure of Art Postcards

I recently took a trip to Chicago, and almost every time I go to Chicago now, I make it part of my schedule to visit the University of Chicago Seminary Coop Bookstore. This wonderful bookstore has books stacked from ceiling to floor, and you feel like you're walking through an underground labyrinth; the rooms branch out from deeper and deeper tunnels.

One of my significant finds, however, was not books but art postcards. Also known as art cards or art notecards. I looked on the Internet for a unique selection of art cards, but couldn't really find anything like I saw in the bookstore. Some sites, such as Pomegrante and Inkognito have art cards, but the true pleasure is in the diversity. The Seminary Coop has artcards from many different sellers and therefore makes these finds worthwhile.

Attribution: (from the top of the page)
1. Paul Bowles, circa 1949 by Karl Bissinger
2. Max Ernst, La Roue de la lumière (The Wheel of Light)
3. Dorothea Lange, Migrant Cotton Picker, Elroy, Arizona, 1940
4. Michael Sowa, Kurz Vor Dem Fest
5. Paul Gauguin, Nirvana: Portrait of Meyer de Haan, c. 1890
6. Hiroshige, From One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: 82 Moon-Viewing Point (8/1857)
7. Hiroshige, From One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: 27 Plum Garden, Kamata (2/1857)
8. Quint Buchholz, Mann Auf Einer Leiter


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Impossible Patterns: Evgeny Zhelvakov

Evgeny Zhelvakov is Impossible Quality

Found via ChangeTheThought

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gustave Baumann

Gustave Baumann (1881, Magdeburg, Germany - 1971, Santa Fe, New Mexico) was a printmaker and painter, and one of the leading figures of the color woodcut revival in America. (Wikipedia)


Archival Gothic: Illustrations by Fernando Forero

Fernando Forero's Portfolio on Behance
On Deviant Art

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Art, Nature, Destruction: Paintings by Adam Haynes

Visit Adam Haynes's
Behance Portfolio

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Larry Lessig and the Revival of Read Write Culture

I was simply astonished watching this Larry Lessig TED Talk. Not only do Lessig's ideas coincide with my own, but the issues he raises are almost exactly the same as I have raised in several essays on this blog.


"In my view, the most significant thing to recognize about what the Internet is doing is the opportunity to revive the Read Write culture . . ."

From my essay, "Is Social Technology making us Smarter?":

"The shift from a readerly culture which privileges paid, professional journalists to a writerly culture in which anyone can post their opinion and discuss a topic has been underway for some time now."


"Digital technology is the opportunity for the revival [of Read Write culture] . . ."

From my essay, "Is the Internet Killing Culture?":

"To me, the proliferation of artistic expression, the videos on YouTube, the online novels, the loads of bad poetry, cannot be equated with a loss or diminishment of culture but instead a replenishment of it."


"User-generated content, spreading in business in extraordinary ways like these, celebrates amateur culture--by which I don't mean amateurish culture--I mean culture where people produce for the love of what they're doing and not for the money. I mean the culture that your kids are producing all the time."

From my essay, "Is the Internet Killing Culture?":

"'More artists, more culture,' I say--even if the great majority of those artists are naive and unskilled. The individual acts of creativity, that's what's important, and with more people creating, I see the phenomenon of mass amateurism as a boon."


"Remix is not piracy . . . I'm talking about people taking and recreating, using other people's content, using digital technology, to say things differently."

From my essay, "What is Contemporary Art?":

"We are living in the age of the re-mix; where the creative act of re-mixing and combining styles and vignettes claims an originality of its own. This may be scary to some, but to others it means unfettered creative freedom."

We need, according to Lessig, two types of changes:

"First, artists and creators choose that their work be made available more freely; for example, for non-commercial, amateur use but not for commercial use."

"And second, we need the businesses that are building out this Read Write culture to embrace this opportunity expressly--to enable it--so that this ecology of free content or freer content can grow on a neutral platform . . . so that more free can compete with less free . . ."


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meticulous and Wonderful Illustration

Visit the online portfolio of London based illustrator Claire Scully.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Paintings of Vehicles and Auto Shops

Check out Kevin Cyr's site

Design Review

The New York Times just ran an excellent review of six design and illustration books . . . These are some highlights.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Selected Works from the Art Institute of Chicago

Artists/Titles From Top to Bottom:

Correggio: Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist
Hubert Robert: The Fountains
Alexei Alexevich Morgunov: Title Unknown
Fernand Lungren: The Café
Paul Delvaux: The Awakening of the Forest
Peter Doig: Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre
O. Lewis Gugleimi: The River
Joan Miró: Personages with Star
Ed Paschke: Caliente
Joseph Stella: A Vision


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hurricane Ike/ One Year Later

September 12, 2008 - September 16, 2008

One Year Later

This post was adapted from The Big Picture.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marcel Kruger - Fine Art Photography

"Beauty is Relative", the picture of the monkey, was selected by Charlotte Cotton, Curator and Head of the Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), to be displayed at the 2009 Art of Photography Show in San Diego, CA.

Marcel Kruger's Website


Monday, September 14, 2009

Living in Garbage--Photography from Around the World

Image Credits:
G.M.B. Akash, "Life at the Dump Yard"


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Is Interdependence the Future?

I'm recovering from a multimedia kick. I don't know what got over me, but suddenly I wanted music to go with everything I posted . . .

Making the Blog of Innocence Mixtape kept me highly entertained (and occupied) on Friday night. I learned how to use the audio editor, Audacity.

The mixtape I made is not without its flaws. I edited it once and removed some of the (rather loud) songs from the middle.

Now the mixtape is better, but there is still an abrupt transition (into "Alone in Kyoto") that I would like to get smoothed out.

One of my followers on Twitter, Fernando, offered to remix the songs for me if I sent him the single tracks in a zip file. I have known Fernando for less than one week. He is a music producer.

I'm always amazed by how Internet culture is so vastly different from real-world culture.

They say (the Buddhists) we're all interdependent. And on a conceptual level, I think most of us would agree with this . . .

The idea is that everything in nature is interdependent. While I am not a Buddhist, I believe this theory is the best explanation for the existence of phenomena in reality. Western science, in fact, confirms the Buddhist philosophy of interdependence. From a passage in The Sun of My Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh:
Life is one. We do not need to slice it into pieces and call this or that piece a “self.” What we call a self is made only of nonself elements. When we look at a flower, for example, we may think that it is different from “nonflower” things. But when we look more deeply, we see that everything in the cosmos is in that flower. Without all of the nonflower elements—sunshine, clouds, earth, minerals, heat, rivers, and consciousness—a flower cannot be. That is why the Buddha teaches that the self does not exist. We have to discard all distinctions between self and non-self. How can anyone work to protect the environment without this insight?
The Internet only seems to strengthen our capacity for a networked mind. Social media accelerates our ability to organize and produce content in large numbers. "Crowd-sourcing" is the name given to leveraging mass collaboration on the web and its successes include Wikipedia, YouTube, and Flickr.

We're all connected online and off, but online we feel especially connected. By this, I mean, we are more likely to help someone over the Internet.

You can make the argument that we are less (emotionally) connected online, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about our desire to collaborate, assist, and create with others on the Internet . . .

Another friend, Cynthia, who I met through the Escape into Life Moleskine project, offered to prepare a consignment agreement for me. She does not work for my company, nor am I paying her as as a consultant.

Escape into Life was envisioned as a collaborative online arts publication. From the beginning, I have had no shortage of excellent arts journalists. The Internet is teeming with writers, namely bloggers, who wish to write for online publications.

Mark Kerstetter and Aurelio Madrid were among the first writers for the magazine. They continue to write articles and reviews that are as good as the articles or reviews you would find in well-known publications such as ArtForum and Art in America.

Teia Hassey is a reporter on the arts scene in Portland for Escape into Life. The great thing about a decentralized model is that volunteers can write from anywhere. They can report on the arts in their city. So Escape into Life can have a reporter on the Brooklyn arts scene, the San Francisco arts scene, the London arts scene, etc . . .

Tony Thomas, a retired economics professor living in Australia, just wrote an astonishingly erudite essay called "The Place of Fine Art in a Consumer Society".

And there are many other contributors you can find on the Info page.

So what is it about collaboration and the web? Why are so many of us willing to collaborate and help out?

Is it possible that greater interdependence is the future for human beings?


Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog of Innocence Mixtape 1

You got it, here is the first Blog of Innocence Mixtape . . . if you like it, please share with others . . .

Innocence Mix 1


Free Download Available Here

Track List:

1. Surround Me With Your Love - 3-11 Porter
2. Entre dos Aguas - Paco de Lucia
3. Bonnie and Clyde [Herbert's Fred and Ginger Mix] - Serge Gainsbourg
4. Donde Esta la Playa - The Walkmen
5. Oh My God - Mark Ronson feat. Lily Allen
6. Gettin Up - Q-Tip
7. Lost Song - Cat Empire
8. One More Chance [Alex Metric Remix] - Bloc Party
9. Hurricane Jane - Black Kids
10. Future - Cut Copy
11. Alone in Kyoto - Air
12. Young Bride - Midlake
13. Believe - Gus Gus
14. I'll Come Running - Brian Eno
15. Sweet Harmony - The Beloved
16. Les Nuits - Nightmares on Wax
17. Greece 2000 - Three Drives on a Vinyl
18. Fair - Remy Zero
19. La Ritournelle - Sebastien Tellier

Image by Randy Mora



Tiziano Vecelli, c. 1490-1576

Paintings (from top to bottom):

Entry of Mary into the Temple
The Three Ages of Man
The Venus of Urbino
Bacchus and Ariadne
The Worship of Venus

Liffe, Liffe, Lanze Maine

Carro della Morte

Ben venga maggio

(Florentine music that would have been familiar to Titian)

Music selection by Kate Sherrod

Images found at Typott Art


Thursday, September 10, 2009


Metamorphosis 1, Philip Glass

Metamorphosis 2, Philip Glass

Metamorphosis 3, Philip Glass

More MC Escher Images can be found at Thypott Art


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)

Also see "Reflecting on Basquiat"


On Music

There is nothing in this world which does not speak. Every thing and every being is continually calling out its nature, its character, its secret; the more the inner sense is open, the more capable it becomes of hearing the voice of all things.

Hazrat Inayat Khan
Music, literature, poetry, sculpture, theatre, visual art, dance . . . each of the arts interpenetrates every other. That is to say, in poetry you find music, and in music poetry, in novels you find pictures, and in theatre you find stories . . . .

Each artist will feel a certain affinity to her chosen medium, like it is her birthright. But she will also have a deep appreciation for another art form, one that she has dabbled in, or simply admires . . .

This is the way I am with visual art. I draw for pleasure, drawing relaxes me, but you cannot call me a visual artist.

While the things I've just said make perfect sense, there is one exception to the rule and that is music. Music is an art form that wins all of our hearts. We are all lovers of music.

Have you ever met a person who doesn't like music?

So music is universal, across cultures, and persons, music finds a way into everyone's heart. Artists and non-artists alike appreciate music. Music is an integral part of human nature.

We cannot escape our intimate relationship to music. From childhood, we remember the songs our parents sang to us. My father still talks about the lullabies and prayers his great grandmother would sing over his bed.

During adolescence, our identities meld with certain genres, certain groups. The bands we listen to almost define who we are, our favorite songs describe our feelings and attitudes toward the world. Into adulthood, we cultivate different tastes, and broaden our musical vocabulary, we discover new niches and return to old ones . . .

I listen to music with all of my senses. If it is pop music or electronic, I want to be dancing. Vibration is inherent in music and I can honestly feel these vibrations when my body is moving. If I am listening to a plaintive tune, like Willie Nelson or a song by the Grateful Dead, I like to be still. A great songwriter tells a story, and develops a theme, as a novelist or a dramatist would . . .

Classical is perhaps my favorite type of music. I think the reason for this is that classical feels more like poetry to me. The infinite quality I referred to in "On Poetry", is fully described in a symphony.

I let the music seep into my consciousness, and from there, the music cools me down until I am in a relaxed state.

At one point in my life, lying on the couch listening to classical music became a form of mediation to me. I lit candles, closed my eyes, and opened myself up . . .

I used to have a library card to a private college in my town. This gave me access to a full music library. There were thousands of classical CDs and box sets, Haydn, Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Lizst, Rachmaninov . . . and I would sift through the stacks, searching for my nightly medicine.

Similar to reading a novel, I like to enter the world of a symphony, become enveloped by it, and forget everything but the strains of violins, the dialogue of cellos, and whispers of wind instruments . . .

Nothing calms me more than resting my head on a cushion and listening to classical music in the evening. I regret that I haven't done this in awhile.

During the day, my head is full of sounds, but none of them important. Mostly these are the manifold voices in my head, one chattering away about deadlines, the other commanding petty anxieties, a third analyzing and evaluating everything from my next meal to a past behavior.

Music is another form of silence for me, because the voices in my head grow still and then dissipate entirely. That silence is worth more than anything I could earn in a day.

When I was ten years old, my parents sent me to Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. Every summer I attended Interlochen for eight weeks. At first, it was a frightening experience, being away from the family for so long, but then I grew used to it and even came to enjoy it.

One of the things they tried to teach me at Interlochen was how to play an instrument. Despite many years of practice, I could never learn how to play the drums. My teachers used to say that I didn't have the attention span.

All of the students at Interlochen were practicing something. There were little music huts scattered throughout the campus, and you would hear trumpet blasts, timpani, violins, pianos, wherever you went; and it was kind of soothing to hear these sounds.

I never achieved even a mediocre success at my chosen instrument. I was always off-beat, and this became a constant reminder that music was not my calling.

Our counselors took us to many concerts, famous orchestras played at Interlochen, Itzhak Perlman was a regular performer (his son, a camper). While I didn't particularly care for classical at twelve years old; later I would recall these moments with great pleasure. On one occasion, I brought a date to the symphony and we held hands during the concert.

The last concert of every summer at Interlochen was a big event, and they always played the same score by Liszt, Les Preludes. In my childhood imagination, the words "Les Preludes" became synonymous with the end of the summer.

Listen to Les Preludes, approx. 17 min

After the concert, which usually ended around 9:00 o' clock at night, the campers were allowed to say goodbye to their friends and visit the other parts of the campus. There were three main divisions, Junior, Intermediate, and High School; and a separate camp for males and females in each.

Everyone was crying and hugging each other in the main square outside the concert pavilion. At the famous well in the center of the square, a hubbub of voices echoed with the exaggerated emotions of children being torn from their friends. It was dark and the old-fashioned lanterns illuminated the swarming crowds . . .

The music of Les Preludes ended with such strength, such power, but always left me feeling empty inside. I suppose the emptiness came from the fact that it was the end of the summer, and I knew exactly how each summer ended, with the crowds in the square, crying and holding hands, and signing yearbooks . . .

It was both sad and exhilarating. There was a festival quality to the spectacle after the final concert. But I think I was most sad, not because I was leaving for the summer and I had to say goodbye to people; there were very few people, if any, I was friends with . . . I think I was sad because it felt like I was a spectator looking on.

After the Les Preludes concert ended, the campers funneled out of the pavilion and filled up nearby benches and open spaces. They burst into paroxysms, threw up their arms, shouted, and I walked toward the center of the square . . . . I slowed down, witnessing their strange grief, their celebration, their madness, perhaps I was looking for someone I recognized, or maybe there was someone there who knew me . . . I made my way through the crowds, holding on to those last strains of music, I wandered farther and farther away from the crowds, until the voices died down completely, and it was only me walking back to camp.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whimsical Innocence

The Art of Peter Ferguson

On Poetry

A poem hovers between the finite and the infinite. It lives in this place between worlds. If it's too much a part of the infinite then nobody would be able to understand it. But if it's too earthly, too crude, or plainspoken, then it would do little to raise the human spirits, or our level of consciousness.

Poetry, then, is like us. It has a heavenly side and an earthly side. This is not a religious statement. You might have noticed how sometimes you act like a saint, do everything right, and have the purest intentions. But other times (hopefully when nobody is looking) you're selfish and driven by baser needs.

Here is a poem called "Sunset" by Rainer Maria Rilke which embodies the contradiction of being human so well:
Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs-

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
I had a mentor, Alane Rollings, who I haven't spoken to in a long time. She teaches poetry at the University of Chicago.

I discovered a poet named Adam Zagajewski and I fell in love with his book of poems, Eternal Enemies.

One time on the phone with my mentor I told her how much I loved these poems, I said the poems reminded me of Rilke, and that Zagajewski must be Rilke's reincarnation . . .

She laughed and told me that I could meet him if I wanted. She said she'd invite both of us over to her house for dinner. I was so excited that for the next two weeks I tried to learn everything I could about Zagajewski, I checked out more of his poetry books from the library, and I read some of his non-fiction.

The dinner never happened. My heart rose to the stars and then fell like a stone, just as Rilke describes one moment in life to the next. We are up there; but we are also down here. And that's what makes life so hard to comprehend--how can we be in both places at once?

I still think about what I would say to this great poet. I sometimes picture myself showing him one of my poems, and waiting to see his reaction.

Maybe he would hand me one of his poems in return. Maybe he would show me this one:

My friends wait for me,
ironic, smiling sadly.

Where are the transparent palaces
we meant to build--

their lips say,
their aging lips.

Don't worry, friends,
those splendid kites

still soar in the autumn air,
still take us

to the place where harvests begin,
to bright days--

the place where scarred eyes

And now as I open myself up to this poem, my memories come rushing in . . . I recall discussing Zagajewski's poems one evening in a coffee shop. She was a girl I just met and she had loose strawberry blond hair that ran over her shoulders.

I asked her if she liked poetry, and she told me she was a student of poetry at Wesleyan College. I told her about Zagajewski, the poet I admired; but she had never heard of him.

The words were so simple on the page, but when I looked into her eyes I could tell that she was thinking deeply about them. She had her own meanings, different from mine, but I still accepted hers.

We read more poems together and talked about them. I wasn't nervous anymore and I didn't have to accept or reject her interpretations of the poems. There weren't two versions of the poems, hers and mine; there was only one. What neither of us could understand, we just left it at that.
Music Heard

Music heard with you
was more than music
and the blood that flowed through our arteries
was more than blood
and the joy we felt
was genuine
and if there is anyone to thank,
I thank him now,
before it grows too late
and too quiet.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Innocent Tales

Deth P. Sun is a painter/illustrator currently residing in Oakland, California. He's originally from San Diego, California, and moved up to the Bay Area for schooling. He received his BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 2002 in Painting and Drawing.

Found via CGUnit

The Charm of Innocence

I've never heard of the Scottish artist and musician Momus (real name is Nick Currie). But recently a reader left two links in the comments on Escape into Life . . . the lyrics of Currie's song, "The Charm of Innocence", and the audio version of the song.

What did it mean? What was the connection?

You could say that I'm preoccupied with the question of innocence. I've written about my past in a novel called The Novel of Life, which is really the story of my wayward adolescence and how I lost my innocence . . .

On the other hand, I don't believe that we ever fully lose our innocence. I believe the quality of innocence can be retained in adulthood. Here I'm thinking of something akin to the Zen concept of "beginner's mind". It means to live without preconceived notions.

And to be an artist one must remain a child, as Picasso once said.

Momus is the Greek god of satire, mockery, and also of writers and poets. His name is related to "blame" or "censure".(1) Laurence Sterne wrote about the Greek god of Momus in Tristram Shandy.(2)

My past does not haunt me. I am still curious about it. I listen to these lyrics, inflected with a Leonard-Cohen-like melancholy, and immediately that vagrant, aimless youth returns to me. I remember how I was, the self-abuse, the drugs, the misfits I met along the way . . .

Lyrics to The Charm Of Innocence

I was born with the charm of innocence
On my back like a cross
Thorns upon my forehead
Round my neck I wore it
Sometimes a rabbit's claw
Sometimes an albatross

It began at a school that turned boys into gentlemen
Then turned them on to debauchery
I was forced to my knees in front of these gentlemen
If I refused they would torture me
On Sundays I'd stalk the Botanical Garden
And under my uniform something would harden
Whenever I passed a girl of my own age

Or did it begin with au pair girls from Germany
Paid by the hour to look after us?
Did it begin with that first opportunity
To corner a stranger with nakedness?
Maybe the clinical way they undressed me
Stayed with me and deeply distressed me
I think, at heart, I'm something of a prude

I was born with the charm of innocence
On my back like a cross
Thorns upon my forehead
Round my neck I wore it
Sometimes a rabbit's claw
Sometimes an albatross

Then at 18 I decided I wanted
To be a commercial photographer
I rented a studio down by the docks
Which I shared with a friendly pornographer
I photographed models in fluorescent light
Whose veins were so blue and whose breasts were so white
I assumed, like the moon, women were blue cheese

When I left home I already had five years
Of self abuse under my belt
I found certain women who'd let me try anything
Just to find out how it felt
In some garish hotel room with vile decoration
The wallpaper witnessed my first pollination
The paisley patterns witnessed an abortion

I was born with the charm of innocence
On my back like a cross
Thorns upon my forehead
Round my neck I wore it
Sometimes a rabbit's claw
Sometimes an albatross

In the army they taught me to share the abuse
That I'd kept up 'til then to myself
There's nothing like killing
For coaxing a shy boy of twenty-one out of his shell
In the dark continent with a peace-keeping force
I fell in with a bunch of Algerian whores
And promised them I'd try and keep in touch

We met up again in the 18th arrondisement
I remember them well
Their lank stringy hair and their big bulbous noses
Their unmistakable smell
I'd approach all the ugliest, seediest jerks
And ask them to keep a young model in work
Some men, thank Christ, don't discriminate at all

I was born with the charm of innocence
On my back like a cross
Thorns upon my forehead
Round my neck I wore it
Sometimes a rabbit's claw
Sometimes an albatross

I will pass my old age by a pale two-bar fire
Patiently waiting to die
Twitching the lace as the schoolgirls go past
Tracing a page of Bataille
And if you catch sight of my secondhand coat
Leaving behind it a faint whiff of goat
Remember both of us are naked underneath

I thought it would end with the first obscene phone call
The second professional kill
But somehow detached from my actual behaviour
This innocence burdens me still
Up in the attic I pick up the brush
Paint in the crow's feet, paint out the blush
The face this portrait is of is still capable of
The face this portrait is supposed to be of is still capable of
The face this portrait is of is still capable of (Paint out the blush of shame)
The face this portrait is supposed to be of is still capable of (Paint out the blush of shame)
The face this portrait is of is still capable of (Paint out the blush of shame)
The face this portrait is supposed to be of is still capable of (Paint out the blush of shame)
The face this portrait is of is still capable of (Paint out the blush of shame)
The face this portrait is supposed to be of is still capable of (Paint out the blush of shame)

(Paint out the blush of shame)
(Paint out the blush of shame)
(Paint out the blush of shame)

The Charm Of Innocence Lyrics

(1) Wikipedia: Momus
(2) In Tristam Shandy, Laurence Sterne says the Greek god of Satire, Momus, thought that humans should have windows into their hearts so that their secret feelings could be discerned.

Image Credits:


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Broad Strokes of Innocence

I read about Jonathan Twingley in the New York Times Book Review. He has a novel-in-pictures coming out called The Badlands Saloon.

From the Times, "Depicting one summer in the life of an art student in New York, Ollie Clay, who returns to his home state to work in a tourist-town bike shop, 'The Badlands Saloon' is filled with hallucinatory incidents and flamboyant barflies bearing colorful names like Jimmy Threepence and Hokey Carmichael."


Confessions of a Social Media Addict

Admittedly, my last several posts have been somewhat gloomy. In "The End of Solitude/The Dawn of Isolation" I talk about how the Internet is my only island of social connection; in "My Health is Not the Same" I talk about a subtle weariness, a lingering fatigue, which has recently come over me . . .

I think I know what the problem is, and it should come as no surprise: I'm spending too much time in front of the computer.

No guru can tell me what I know in my heart. I am watching myself throughout the day, sometimes more, sometimes less. But I see what's going on here . . . I'm no fool to my behaviors . . .

Let us turn to Michel de Montaigne, who writes:
In comparison with most men, few things touch me, or to put it better, hold me; for it is right that things should touch us, provided they do not possess us.
I have allowed the Internet to possess me.

My temperament is such that I grow hypnotized by the object of my attention. While I have never played video games compulsively, I can see how the Internet has a similar effect on a person.

On a given day, I will bounce from one social media network to another, I'll update my Twitter accounts, read emails, chat on Twitter, read daily feeds, retweet interesting links, and surf more webpages . . . . this becomes my video game.

Consider that even in actions which are vain and frivolous, in chess, tennis, and the like, this fierce and ardent involvement of an impetuous desire instantly casts the mind and limbs into thoughtlessness and disorder: we daze and hamper ourselves.
Sucked into the social web, I can't remove myself for the next three to four hours. My body aches, my mind grows tired, my eyes hurt. I forget to eat . . .

I also put off my real work. Which requires me to then come back to the computer later. But the first thing I do when I come back to the computer is go on Twitter; and the vicious cycle begins again. I'm on the computer all day and all night.

I must learn to touch the Internet and its lavish, electrifying superabundance while not becoming possessed by it. This is my goal.
To know the order of precedence is the beginning of wisdom. (Confucius)
There is an economy of the self. Each of us must learn that economy, or we may find ourselves in a deficit of time and attention.

Attention is becoming a scare commodity in today's world. Every major company, media source, bank and institution wants your attention and is willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get it.

The Internet is a dangerous black hole of attention. You can get lost and never return to your normal self. I gave up reading classical literature for two years.

What I'm learning to do is discriminate between online and offline activities, devoting a certain amount of time to both. My favorite offline activities include reading books and drawing. I started the EIL Moleskine Project without ever imagining that it would become an antidote to my social media addiction.

All is not lost. I can reclaim the part of myself that is not connected to the online world. I just need to realize how easily I fall down the social media rabbit hole, and how quickly the Internet possesses me. Without a conscious economy of the self, I am destined to compromise my life as an artist and an intellectual.


Found via CGUnit


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Innocent Afternoon

Colin Brant

1995 The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
MA, MFA in Painting
1989 University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
Graduate Certificate in Art
1987 University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
BA in Studio Arts
Chancellors Award in Painting

Found via Adam Baumgold Gallery

My Health is Not the Same

Ever since I quit smoking, I've felt a vague sense of my own weak constitution.
I've always had a strong body, usually fit, and spells of tiredness never pulled me into a thin fog during the day.

I wonder, "Do most humans experience a slight weakness during the day? A subtle tiredness?"

It's as if I'm sick with some illness that has not yet made itself apparent.

About four months ago, I started up again on the drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes routine. I tested my already poor health--

I had a hankering for excess pleasure. I forgot what it was like to drink, smoke, and be merry; and I wanted to find out. Like my name, Lethe, from Greek mythology; the River of Lethe, the river in which one forgets, I forgot.

Now my health is not the same. I feel like I have a cold that never goes away.

I can only blame the cigarettes for doing this to me. The last hurrah did me in--

It's physical, my body feels tired and weak; but it's also metaphysical, my soul feels tired and weak.

At different hours, I will have different experiences of my physical self. Some hours I don't think of it and it goes away. I will simply coast. Other hours, it's like going up a mountain trail with a heavy backpack.

I just want to give up, throw my bags down, and sleep under a tree. But usually--and this is about three or four hours into the day--I press on, I get a couple things done.

And then I take my afternoon nap. Such an easy life, it would seem. But to me it is a terribly busy life, and I look at the clock in disgust, with a serious aversion to it. Because the clock never gives me enough time. It always steals time away.

With my lingering sense of a weak constitution, and for several hours of the day, a plain irritation at things, well that leaves me with only a couple good hours to enjoy life, to enjoy being human. And believe you me if I get two hours then that was a good day.

I'm lucky to enjoy twenty minutes of lasting mind/body strength and vitality. And usually it is late, as it is now, in the middle of the night, when everyone is asleep.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Innocent Realism

Denis Ichitovkin

Born 1977 in Perm.

1994 – graduated from Perm Art College.

2001 – graduated from I.E. Repin Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

2001-2004 – probationer at I.E. Repin Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

Paintings for Sale Here

Found via this isn't happiness

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The End of Solitude/The Dawn of Isolation

Hannah Davis, What we had both forgotten

The End of Solitude

From William Deresiewicz's "The End of Solitude", an essay written for the Chronicle of Higher Eduction.

This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible.

The great contemporary terror is anonymity.

If Lionel Trilling was right, if the property that grounded the self, in Romanticism, was sincerity, and in modernism it was authenticity, then in postmodernism it is visibility.

So we live exclusively in relation to others, and what disappears from our lives is solitude.

Reading, as Robinson puts it, "is an act of great inwardness and subjectivity."

For Emerson, "the soul environs itself with friends, that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude; and it goes alone, for a season, that it may exalt its conversation or society."

Solitude becomes, more than ever, the arena of heroic self-discovery, a voyage through interior realms made vast and terrifying by Nietzschean and Freudian insights.

But we no longer live in the modernist city, and our great fear is not submersion by the mass but isolation from the herd.

The goal now, it seems, is simply to become known, to turn oneself into a sort of miniature celebrity.

Visibility secures our self-esteem, becoming a substitute, twice removed, for genuine connection.

Not long ago, it was easy to feel lonely. Now, it is impossible to be alone.

The alternative to boredom is what Whitman called idleness: a passive receptivity to the world.

But the Internet is as powerful a machine for the production of loneliness as television is for the manufacture of boredom.

This is not reading as Marilynne Robinson described it: the encounter with a second self in the silence of mental solitude.

If the Romantics had Hume and the modernists had Freud, the current psychological model--and this should come as no surprise--is that of the networked or social mind.

Today's young people seem to feel that they can make themselves fully known to one another. They seem to lack a sense of their own depths, and the value of keeping them hidden.

We are not merely social beings.

To remember this, to hold oneself apart from society, is to begin to think one's way beyond it.

But no real excellence, personal or social, artistic, philosophical, scientific or moral, can arise without solitude.

Hannah Davis, What we had both forgotten

The Dawn of Isolation

About three years ago, I embraced social networking on the Internet with a passion. I understand exactly what Deresiewicz means when he calls the Internet "an incalculable blessing". I am the kid who "sat alone in front of a big television, in a big house, on a big lot." I was "lost in space" for my entire childhood and adolescence.

The explosion of social networking came as a blessing to me because I have always been alone. I spent much of my college life alone. Even when I went to parties I felt alone.

Drugs became like good company to me, replacing people. Drugs made me feel popular, even though I did them by myself.

As I slowly let go of this attachment to drugs, realizing that there is no possible way for me to lead a healthy, prosperous life and use drugs; I cling to the Internet as my safety.

Not much has changed since high school and college. I am still alone. I cannot stay in a relationship longer than a year or two. I have no intentions of marrying or raising a family.

And unlike the contemporary zeitgeist that Deresiewicz describes, I love being alone, I love being alone more than most people, more than the generation below me, my sister's generation who "has lost the ability" to be alone.

The Internet was/is my blessing. The weight of that loneliness which haunted me my entire life, the loneliness I staved off with excessive drug use and manic behavior, temporarily lifts when I am hypnotized by my online interactions.

Social media networks remind me that there are other people in this world, and many of them, thousands, millions, all with distinct personalities, interests, desires, and motivations . . .

I'm reminded that you exist. Which is particularly important because I do not have a conventional job, I do not go to work, I do not have a family, and most of my friends I hardly ever see.

I chose this life of isolation. Because I value my freedom above most everything else. To be sure, I miss out . . . I miss out on love, friendship, bonding, intimacy. I miss out on a lot!

And believe it or not, Twitter cushions the blow and it does a pretty damn good job. (Better than Facebook).

But when I look at the reality of my life, the solitude is not solitude; it's isolation.

I hardly see people anymore. I used to visit a friend and have dinner over at her house maybe once or twice a month. I'm not even doing that these days.

I called my father earlier today to tell him some bad news, that my housemates are leaving, the couple who rents a room on my second floor. I felt the need to see my father and be with the family. I felt the pang of my isolation. At least these people living in my house provided me with the illusion of a social atmosphere--although we never even ate one meal together.

I told my father I was coming to Chicago for Labor Day Weekend. I'd have dinner with the family and stay the night in his apartment. But after I woke up from my afternoon nap, I called him back to tell him that I didn't really want to be around "so many people". His girlfriend's mother was in town and she'd be eating with us.

I only wanted to spend the time with my father, and maybe my sister and my aunt. But if there were going to be other people, people I've never met, then I'd just rather stay home.

Read this essay, "The End of Solitude." It makes you think. It's making me think right now. It's making me think about my life.

I joke around about my solitude. I tell people it's not voluntary. I really would like to have an entourage, I say, jokingly. My presence on the Internet as a writer demonstrates that I really do want to be visible. I want to be popular . . .

But I also want to be alone. And here is the rub. Give me celebrity, give me an entourage, social events, parties, loads of friends . . . this is how my younger sister lives, how she has always lived, surrounded by a swarm of admirers and friends. I don't think that's what I want either.

The Internet works for people like me. It gives me control over my social universe. I can partake in conversation and pseudo-friendship, but I always have the choice to run away from it, to be apart.

Friendships on the Internet have a certain quality. While there is nothing that says these sorts of friendships won't last, I've noticed with some "friends", there's an immediate attraction and then a fallout. We're talking five or six times a day and then suddenly I never hear from the person again.

What happened?

Life--if it can be said to exist on the Internet--is temporary. Those rare eternal moments we experience in life don't exist on the Internet. If you thought real life was impermanent (the Buddhist view of things), then Internet life is even more impermanent. The Internet is in constant flux, more changing than the real world. Connections too on the Internet are fluctuating, dancing and disappearing.

What will happen to me now?

I'm spending more time with my books. Yes, I'm reading literature again. I needed to return to my books.

Popularity, visibility, in real life are elusive. On the Internet, they are even more elusive.

"The End of Solitude" has done what every great essay should do. It has made me think deeply about my life at present. And it has made me seriously contemplate my future actions.

Who am I becoming?

What is my mysterious goal and is it still worth chasing after?

Illustrations of Innocence

Mari Lomo's portfolio

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

From the Story of the Stone

Are you a poet? Then write down your poem. A novelist? Write your novel.

Our poems and novels live inside of us. Why are we trying to effect things? We only need to begin . . .

I am a slave to anticipation. I anticipate every hour of the day from the moment I wake up. And for as much as my anticipation consumes me, I am always seeking distraction. Secretly I want to be free from my anticipation.

I need my friends to tell me to write. Because I will languish in my creativity, I will busy myself with things but not the thing.

A small fear grows into procrastination. It becomes like a patch of thorns and soon I'll do anything but enter that overgrown hedge--

I set out to write one blog post a day. A simple enough task. But my mind being clever came up with a way to make posts that didn't require me to write. You'll see four excellent lists I created in the last two weeks: the best online art galleries, best art and design sites, best illustration art sites, and best found image sites.

All of this marvelous list-making. I was lucky enough to have a friend who brazenly remarked, "So are you going to go the David Letterman/Peter Greenaway route again tonight, or are you going to WRITE something?"

I am full of anticipation and avoidance. I anticipate what I must do and then I avoid it.

And now, I recall a famous passage from The Story of the Stone by Cao Xuequin (1715-63) . . .

But first some background on the story. An unambitious scholar leads an uneventful life until he encounters a Taoist and a Buddhist in a dream. He asks the two immortals to enlighten him about the workings of karma. They instead allow him to glimpse the "Stone" on which is written the experience leading to his enlightenment.(1)

He doesn't "get it" however until much later. He forgets the dream and the inscription on the Stone. After his daughter is kidnapped and a number of terrible events befall him, he comes across a limping Taoist on the street, chanting verses. Only then is he ready to listen to the wisdom . . .

I won't recount the verses of the Taoist, for that you'll have to read the novel. But I will quote what the Taoist says after he chants the verses:
If you can make out 'won' and 'done' . . . you may be said to have understood; for in all the affairs of the world what is won is done, and what is done is won; for whoever has not yet done has not yet won, and in order to have won, one must first have done. I shall call my song the 'Won-done Song.'

1. Ideal and Actual in The Story of the Stone, Dore J. Levy

Image Credits:


Joel Cocks Design & Illustration

Visit Joel's Site
Buy His Prints

Found via this isn't happiness

Best Found Image Sites of 2009

1. this isn't happiness

2. Outrepart


4. Image Spark

5. Dropular


7. Typeish

8. Color-Noise

9. We Heart It

10. yay!everyday

11. CompFight

Do you know of any found image sites? Add them in the comments . . .

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