Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween

Hello Dear reader

Since Halloween is supposed to be scary I thought I might just scare the Hell out of you.

We live in a world that lifts mediocrity to the level of iconographic, attempts to squelch originality for the sake of consumerism, has all but succeeded in medicating originality totally out of existence [and I’m actually waiting for it to be a criminal act] and votes people in charge that cater to the religious right wing conservatives who wish to re manifest a world that if it existed at all was based in ignorance, prejudice, deceit and maintaining some status quo that didn’t actually exist. They will not rest until we live in some weird culture that is half way between “little house on the Prairie” and the surface story of “Father knows best.” I’ve recently been listening to the news…I listened while Bush’s personal lawyer was denied even a hearing concerning consideration for the Supreme Court…because nobody knew how she’d vote on issue’s like Roe vs. Wade…i.e. reversing the legalization of a woman’s right to choose whether or not she can handle being a parent. Now I don’t have a problem with denying Bush putting his friends in office, Hell after the debacle in Iraq, his complete hands off approach to the Enron scandal, his standing by while his cronies leaked the identity of a CIA operative over to the Press because her husband wasn’t a TEAM player, and the fact that economy is in such a state that I’m working more hours now but actually making less money in spending potential then 2 years ago with no hope of a raise in pay cause my boss can’t afford it: I want to know why he hasn’t been brought up on charges of Treason, Crony-ism and profiteering at the cost of us Taxpayers. But his supporter’s thank GOD we have a god fearing, right to life, missionary/Empire building mentality (Our Christian/profit by exploitation beliefs or total annihilation of your culture) and they refuse to see the truth. For starters we are borrowing the money to put fourth this Fool’s agenda by borrowing money from Communist China who doesn't believe in any God, whose slowly stealing the manufacturing capability from this country and lending us the money to continue down that road. These fools are losing their jobs and supporting the idiot that’s getting indebted to the thief.

If that doesn’t scare the Hell out of you then nothing will.

Lets start (yet again) with a woman’s right to choose to be a parent. We have had Abortion in this culture since the very beginning of it. Women that were the vehicle of birth control have been burned, tortured, imprisoned and treated like criminals. What is it about this one concept that keeps hanging people up? Because God said we were to be thankful for every child that was sent to us...That might have been true when 7 out of 9 children would die before they were 10 years of age. Not that every child isn't a miracle...but a child should be wanted and loved. And we aren't dealing with a CHILD here. An abortion deals with the "potential Child" i.e. the fetus. if I had a lump of uncooked dough lying on a table I could make bread, pizza, pretzels, or for that matter art out of has the potential to be many things...but one doesn't eat the must be baked first...and in the process many things can happen...many many things. Of course there's the concept of the Parent to be...

There are member’s of everyone’s personal Circle that has a couple of kids that you find yourself thinking “…there ought to be a law against people like that having the right to have kids.” Well there isn’t. And the need to reproduce is in our reptilian part of our brain so I doubt that there is going to be. However the hormones to wish to pursue the activity that leads to reproduction start early in a human are strongest when our ability to reason is not fully matured probably because if you really knew what the out come would be the chances of us having any kids at all just wouldn’t happen. Trying to get teenagers to not think about Sex is almost as pointless of trying to hold back the ocean’s tides with a sandcastle. It is how they are programmed, that’s why teenagers and 20 year olds look the way they do and why old men like me find ourselves remembering that we were once young. SO instead of teaching people how to deal with these feelings and how to prevent becoming a Parent before we’re actually mature enough to deal with making another person (YES we have that technology!) we feel teaching it is immoral. Immoral is having sex with animals…teaching a teenager about birth control is educating the kid about how it all fits together (for lack of a better example.) However, these Christian right wingers are the same people that don’t want birth control taught in the schools, so they don’t want to teach it themselves and don’t want it taught in schools. They want to teach abstinence. Well ok. I have a good idea...why don't you fast for a week and try not to think of food. One is a hunger just like the other.

They want their trust in God’s plan to be their complete and absolute answer to all things. A group of them were holding up anti abortion signs along Church Street a few weeks back. I actually considered pulling over and engaging one of these people in a debate on the subject. But I realized that attempting to educate people that have decided not to think for themselves is a fool’s errand. This isn’t the issue however. As I have stated in the past for the Record, I am not a big fan of abortion. But then I will never need one. I will never be a single woman who in a moment of passion made a mistake and will now be responsible to raise a child. If it were my sister who wanted or needed one then I’d figure that is her decision and as an American Citizen she should have the best medical care that is available to her to accomplish this, the moral issue is one she will hafto deal with-I don't need to decide this for her. The bottom line is this…by making it illegal you will not stop it, you will just make it unavailable to someone who can’t afford to pay a doctor to do it for them under the table. Thus possibly destroying 2 lives.
I have a friend who’s almost 60 and admitted to me once that he and his brother were lucky…his mother had aborted the 4 siblings that came before them. And I’m sure that it was illegal in the 40’s. Just remember that God himself said that it was up to him to judge and not us. This is what is meant between a separation between Church and State.

And here's another one of those moral issues that leave me shaking my head. I can recall as a child my parents wanting me to avoid any communication or contact with an individual in the next neighborhood over. He was reviled as some sort of deviant of massive proportion, a danger to me and those around me, I’m amazed that he wasn’t stoned regularly and that his house wasn’t burned to the ground knowing how the local society felt about him. Even to mention his name was an invitation for glares at best and being harassed about it at worst. This man’s unforgivable crime was that he was a homosexual. Or so I was told, as I never saw him with another man…I never saw him outside his own yard, my m other assured me it was true and as I got older I found many faults with my mothers ability to apply guilt. These same folks would like to have a man like this to be totally expunged from society. It is immoral behavior. Do lower forms of animals have morals because it happens in them all the time? There is a mountain of evidence that shows homosexual behavior in all forms of life available to this world…it’s probably a genetic hold out from when we were bisexual like worms and slugs. They point at the bible and declare it to be against the will of god, however if they were to read further in that chapter the same feeling is held for people that handle and eat pork…and for some reason that part’s up for interpretation. What this guy did with another consenting male was between the two of shouldn't be part of the public forum.

People are so unwilling to think for themselves that even these “Christian’s” don’t want to actually approach reading the bible with an open mind, they want somebody else to read it and interpret it for them. I used to work with a Baptist a few years ago and occasionally we’d lock horns on this issue. We’d debate evolution…I’d win the debate. We’d debate the actual feasibility of the things mentioned in the bible… I’d win the debate, we’d debate racism (yeah for some that’s part of the bible too…The Klan is supposedly Christian organization) I’d win again. It finally came down to him admitting that he was taught to believe these things despite the fact that he knew that they were wrong. I recalled Mark Twain’s comment that “Faith is believing in something you know ain’t so.”

Christianity is a swell faith when the whole thing is considered-where it falls apart is when people pick it apart and apply parts to fulfill their personal agenda. However we must remember that at the time all this was written down we were just mastering the production of Bronze, working out the details of Iron, living at the whims of Nature and not traveling more then a few miles where we were born and would die. We lived with our animals and we planned on having a whole lot of children hoping that a few might live to be adults. And we needed help on the farm. Disease was caused by demons. The earth was the center of the universe and all the other planets including the sun revolved around it. And oh yeah the world was flat. IF anything bad happened it was either God’s will or the work of the Devil. And as soon as we figured out who was the one responsible for being in league with the devil that somebody would be stoned for it! If you had a disease you would consult with your local holy man…a doctor was a wizard and in league with Satan, a woman's menstrual cycle was considered uncleanliness and they were expected to go and deal with it outside society on the other side of the city walls...I would love it if some poor Southern Baptist man attempted to throw his wife out of her house and told her to pitch a tent on the outskirts of town until this nonsense of her 28 day cycle was at an end. I get this feeling that's another one of those things that's up for interpretation. There was this movie on last night that I watched most of after my bladder woke me up at 3 am. The plot was that a tomb was discovered in modern Jerusalem that supposedly held the actual body of Jeshua bar joseph, or as we know him from the Greeks…Jesus Christ. And of course the Church was in an uproar. They had to prove that this was not so…it threatened the faith. The Israeli’s were trying to be helpful to the Christians and this relationship made the Moslem Palestinian’s nervous. The Jews were under the impression that if this was a Jewish burial then it was not to be touched and everybody just wished the whole thing would go away except the archeologist who discovered it who really couldn't see what all the uproar was about. It was Science i.e. Truth and all this other stuff was conjecture. The one thing that kept going through my mind was that Jesus was sent with a message. The miracles that are attributed to him were to assure us that the message was divinely inspired and should be seriously considered. The message was one of Love and Tolerance. That all were equal in the sight of God, which each choice a man made was between himself and God, that Man was no more nor less a part of the whole system and that should he be respectful of that place. That we were a family and that this sorta bickering amongst us and this “I’ll tell daddy what you said/did” accomplished nothing. Did Jesus performing miracles make this message any more or less true? When will people realize that the people that set themselves up as knowing what God wants from them have some other agenda in mind? We are all individuals, we are all unique to quote the life of Brian.
Its up to the individual to choose if he will stand on his own two feet and let God’s gift of free will allow him to run his own life or if he will hide behind a doctrine that had a lot to do with what we were 4,000 years ago and should be used as a guide to what we should be.

Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Da Vinci, the legacy

Salutations dear reader,

There was a program on PBS last week concerning the Modern applications concerning the drawn fantasy devices of Leonardo Da Vinci. They attempted to build his cross-bow catapult and one of his thousands of designs for flying machines. I, as usual, was a captive audience.

If the subject is Da Vinci, the world stops and I’m there. I usually get another piece of information to add to my overwhelming collection of information concerning this man.

I’m sure that those who know me are aware of this fascination with a man who has been dead for over 500 years, a man who skated along the dangerous edge of the established religious rigors of proper thought and action. Funny thing about established religion, thinking for ones self is not something it employs. Established religions function is to lay down rules and direction for what is and isn’t acceptable thought and activity, according to its interpretation of what it believes God wants. It prefers ignorance and dogma to explanation and knowledge. I had a belly full of it early in life, I attended Parochial school for the first 5 years of my scholastic endeavors. Brother was that a disaster. We all learned early just what a serious problem I have with authority and the spoken order from one I don’t respect (or is holding a gun) “Obey!”

To this day the sight or subject of a Nun comes up and I find myself growling. However I choose not to go into this right now…the subject is Da Vinci.

I ran across my first book about Da Vinci when I was transferred into a public school and for some reason I was sent to the Library as some form of punishment. I don’t recall the exact form of my infringement of that society’s rules that I had violated but I thank God that I did it. I was intrigued by this man and his drawings of what he saw and what he thought. Up to that point his was the first original mind I’d ever ran across. He was an outsider to society having not been born on the right side of the sheets so to speak, because his parents weren’t married he was barred from higher position in society thus forced to receive a tradesman’s education. His spelling was an atrocity. His Math skills sucked. He didn’t follow the rules…he followed his heart, he allowed his mind to work. He followed his mind, pushed the boundaries of what he knew and kept a record of this thought process. He allowed his mind to collect information and develop a new idea from what it had learned. He was, my father would like to say, ‘ not staying in step with the program’. The church believed that human Anatomy was the business of God and only God…Believing dissection was a criminal act…Necromancy was the term used…maybe if a man figured out how one worked he’d want to build one of his own and really piss off God. Better to live in ignorance and bury the dead then to piss off God. Leonardo needed to know why these little bumps under the skin moved when the person moved. He needed to know why people and animals had similar features with some extremes appearing in the animals that contributed to their special abilities. He was always collecting information and using it somewhere else. At the time he was revered as brilliant but dangerous.

Today we see his drawings and discover that at least one in 5 of our modern discoveries were made by him first, well over 500 years ago. What I got from this program that was on last week was this: It seems that it was only recently discovered that the blood flowing through the heart makes a vortex that helps close the valves. And Yupper Da Vinci not only noticed this but constructed an experiment to prove it to himself, then he designed an artificial human heart valve that is indistinguishable from one “invented” in the last 10 years. He also discovered that the heart “wrings” itself out when it beats. We just re discovered this in the last 5 years. Trained as an Artist, he was an architect, astronomer, anatomist, botanist, civil engineer, designer, mechanic, military engineer, musician, geologist, etc. etc. He even invented technical drawing-the exploded veiw and multiple veiws. In fact when we speak of someone who has more then one talent we refer to him as a ‘renaissance man’ in the tradition of Da Vinci and other men like him…and yes there were others, dear reader, he was just the best.

It’s been estimated that less then a fourth of the books and drawings of Da Vinci have survived. Most of his legacy ended up in possession of 2 church leaders; a monk and a cardinal. The collection that was owned by the cardinal had pages torn out of it and sections destroyed…probably because it challenged church doctrine. Da Vinci wasn’t in step with the program according to the church. And we never learn... established religious based authority still wants to dictate what is and isn't truth. Is "Intelligent design" based in Science or theology? I want to also assure my reader that I do believe there was intelligence behind the design of the Universe and the things in it, but I didn't learn that in school, and have a problem with it being taught in school. School presented me with the facts as they were known...I reached my own conclusion.

I write this for my Nephew Ben.
I've met the lad once when we baptized him oh so many years ago...I don't get to England that often and my sister doesn't come to NC ever.

My sister has reported that Ben has declared war. He doesn’t want to learn French. She’s had some problems with Ben’s education…seems he wants to learn what he wants to learn and doesn’t want to stay with the “program”. All reports are that he’s not a stupid boy, he's stubborn about what he wants to learn- just knows what he wants to know and follow it where it may lead. I would NEVER tell my sister how to raise her child. She wouldn’t hear of it, just as my father wouldn’t hear of how to raise his son. But I write this with a sparkle in my eye. I get this feeling my Nephew Ben will be taking over my role in the family as the “different one,” the one who follows his heart and pursues the education that will teach him what he wants to know and not what “the program” dictates. The one who won't color inside the lines, whose sentences run perpendicular the lines provided on the 8 1/2 x 11 pre printed lines on the notebook paper. He’ll be the one who collects stuff that no one has any use for because he sees potential in it. The one his friends and peers watch with the look of shock as the most complicated physical problems are solved simply and with stuff he finds around him and in the trash. The one that will find that Leonardo is his patron saint and will collect all the information he can about him. You go Ben, You go with my blessing.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

An Art Primer, what is Art?

Hello dear reader, Instead of leaving you with a personal entry marked for the eyes of “Le Fay” I thought I’d blow off some firecrackers for you. Another Art Primer…this time What is Art? Yeah I know I promised the next one would be design...but I've been working on it. Design is sorta the religion aspect of Art. It's done with a feel, with a sense. To teach it is always done in hindsight, one takes successful designs and dissects them to find out where they work and why. My design books give formula's which when I boil them down I will be happy to share but it has to be handled delicately. It’s sorta like scientifically proving a miracle.

I think now would be a good time to discuss the Subject of Art. What is it? What isn't it (if you will allow such statement to be made)? The shortest definition of Art is that it is a collection of materials assembled in such a fashion that the sum is more then the parts. But then the same thing could be said of 1957 Buick. To add to that definition it can’t “do” anything unless that doing something is the part of the piece. Now that seems odd. For instance, Alexander Caldwell made art that moves…his first pieces were done with motors and gears and drive mechanism…however one really wouldn’t use it as a timer, although one could. His later things in this Vein were what we call “Mobiles": they move according to a pattern that is within the reach of its construction but unpredictable. It moves at its own whim and the whim of whatever breeze may be passing by it. I guess this old chestnut still works best...a famous example is Rauschenberg’s mattress. Robert Rauschenberg did a painting on a mattress. Now if you were locked in the gallery over night, you could take this mattress off the wall and sleep on it, thus using the materials for their initial purpose…but according to Aesthetic theory (aesthetics is the Philosophy of Art) when Rauschenberg painted on the mattress, the mattress as an object ceased to exist. It became an element of the painting. Thus if I were to take a 1957 Buick into a museum and light it on fire as an expression of Art , I’d document the fire and show it with the end product, then the vehicle would no longer be a vehicle but a piece of Artwork.

Now, we’re getting into the Avante Garde uses of Art, and it’s a place that I personally try really really hard to avoid. In my opinion Art requires discipline and the motivation to a finished product. The product of Love between two people is a baby, although the Process is indeed unique and I might add as an enjoyable a process as most of us has come across it is completely separate from the finished product, it is the end result. (I get this feeling that if one were to know that at the end of every sexual act one would instantly have a baby, we'd have a lot of one family single parent house holds, and sex would take on a completely different reputation.)

I think I'll stay with this...It proves a point that I'm trying to make...bear with me.
If one were to visit some new parents and ask to be shown baby pictures we would expect pictures of the child after it was born…rarely have I been shown the video of its arrival, as miraculous as it is and never ever been shown video of its conception. That sorta film is a completely different sorta experience and rarely does one wish to follow from conception through the process of its arrival and then be shown the product. It just isn’t done, that sort visual is private and rarely seen by any who weren’t initially involved. Personally if I had been shown a movie of my conception and my mother’s Labor (which was extremely difficult as she related to me when ever she wanted me to do something that I didn’t want to do) I’m just sure I’d need a whole lot of therapy to put it into perspective. It’s the same with Art. Seeing Art done might be interesting, and Artistic, but the process is private and personal. It’s the finished piece that one sees as Art...I think that I, an old stick in the mud must separate Art from Performance art and put the latter in the category of "drama."

It might be more enriching to watch Michelangelo Paint the Sistine and watch him make his decisions why it was done that way, but for Michelangelo it was personal and private. No one was allowed to see him work, not even the Pope who hired him. I’m sure I’m getting a lot of other Artists upset by this but, you know what? I don’t care…My opinion. And THAT dear reader is what art is. Art is an object or experience that adds to the humanity of the person viewing it, based on their opinion. Art triggers the same aspect of our mind that sees objects in clouds, images in ink blots, the Virgin Mary in a cheese sandwich, or redemption in a De Kooning Painting.

For me Art is a structured response. Art is planned and has “happy accidents” that are more powerful then the planned movement. I once compared ART to doing a dance on stones in a pond. In order for it to be a dance it must be planned. Freedom without discipline is chaos.
Unfortunately I'm in the minority on this particular field. Oh wouldn't be the first time.

A friend gave me something that Nature produced. It looks like some sorta fish. It’s actually the knot of a branch that got buried and had the rest of the branch except the knot worn away, the sand and wear of the weather changed the nature of it so that it took on the appearance of something unique; my hand was drawn to were my eyes. I had to have it and it was given to me. It looks completely natural but unlike a piece of wood. I’m designing in my head a box for it that is totally opposite of this object. I want the box to constructed out of man made materials, have angles and sharp edges to counteract the organic-ness of the object. This will enhance the organic qualities of the object. It’s in process…we’ll see if it’s ART when I’m finished. If I can accomplish marrying these two things so that both are viable on their own, but incomplete without the other then I have accomplished Art. The subject is more complicated then these…trust me. But this gives you something to think about next time you’re looking at something and asking “is this Art?” I might delve further into this subject later. We’ll see.
IF you really want to impress somebody take a painting and turn it upside'll lose the image and the way it's "built" will come into view. I do this with Hokusai prints all the time...that would teach you more about design then I could.