Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Starman & The Swan People (Part II)

"Some Sanskrit mystics locate seven planes of being, the seven spiritual lokas
or worlds within the body of Kala Hamsa, the Swan out of Time and Space...
- From The Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky.
Quote and illustration: Swan Initiation.

(All images in this post can be clicked-on for original size.)

"While scientists are still in heated debates about what exactly consciousness is, the University of Arizona’s Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose conclude that it is information stored at a quantum level. Penrose and his team have found evidence that 'protein-based microtubules - a structural component of human cells - carry quantum information - information stored at a sub-atomic level.'

Penrose argues that if a person temporarily dies, this quantum information is released from the microtubules and into the universe. However, if they are resuscitated the quantum information is channeled back into the microtubules and that is what sparks a near death experience. 'If they’re not revived, and the patient dies, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul.'"

- Excerpt from the August 13, 2017 article: Life After Death? - Physicists Says "It's Quantum Information that Transcends from One World to Another." (Inset left: a Penrose tiling)


I never could wrap my head around the idea of death; even as a child. Most especially as a child. My first "dead" person was, in fact, my mother's mother. I never really understood why everyone was so dismal when Grandma died. I was, after all, quite convinced she still existed; I could feel she was still there somewhere. In my mind - my primary reality - she just, well, went away. In other words, she went elsewhere, leaving her sick body behind; which was sad (for us) but certainly not tragic (for her). And, really, if she managed to find a better place and feel well again, that was a good thing, wasn't it?

And, to this day, part of me - the part that never "grew up" - still feels the same way. The adult part, on the other hand, is unsure and doesn't know what to think. The adult part mourns. The adult part can't handle death. So, when David Bowie - our Starman - set sail, the adult was devastated and perplexed. Then, one morning - about a month later - I had a strange dream (described in Part I). Or, perhaps, my inner child had the dream. In any case, in the dream the Starman did not die; he "left with the Swan People"... which, in terms of a child's imagination, is not really an odd thing for a Starman to do. Hardly more odd than, let's say, imagining a flock of swans might carry a person to the moon. But, in 1638, Francis Godwin imagined just exactly that...  and wrote about it (inset right). More importantly, nobody even thought he was cracked; some people (Edgar Allen Poe, for one) thought he was ingenious.

(Very obviously) a young swan.

Now, had my adult self merely accepted the dream and moved on, this post would not have been necessary. Instead, "self" felt compelled to google "Swan People," forgetting that, when researching on the web, one invariably gets sucked down a rabbit hole. Call it "obsessive research disorder," a syndrome peculiar to cyberspace where information is (too) easily accessible, and what begins as innocently clicking on a link leads to a dizzying minefield of other links, each a tiny rabbit-hole all in itself.

So, the Starman and the Swan People - originally intended to be merely one (fairly short) post - somehow morphed into three separate posts. Sorry about that, but I can't seem to wrap things up in a lesser number. Could it be a Tesla kind of thing, that is, the Rule of Three? Maybe. Not that it did Tesla any good...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Starman & The Swan People: A Dream

Swanstar - Prismacolor drawing on Bristol Board - 1976, DS
(Currently in the collection of a friend.)
(All images in this post can be clicked-on for original size.)

"I've been dreaming of David Bowie for the past few nights; they're the first dreams I've had of him since his death in January. Unfortunately, they were so vague and elusive I can hardly remember them. The only one which actually stuck is the one I woke up from early this morning, and DB wasn't even present in it. It was a short dream and different from the others in that it had this peculiar realistic quality about it similar to a lucid dream. At the same time, I felt like a sleep-walker throughout the dream; one who has suddenly woken up in a very strange place with no rational reason for being there.

In the beginning, I seemed to be milling about with a number of people in what resembled an airport type of structure. We had all gathered there for a common purpose, although - initially - I had no idea what the purpose was. At some point, we arrived outside of a glass-enclosed room which might've possibly been some variety of control center... or maybe a television news production studio... with rows of seated people gazing at glowing monitors in the semi-darkness. Suddenly, an announcement was made, and I immediately realized that this was the information that I and the others had been waiting for. Although I don't remember any physically audible broadcast, the news was somehow conveyed to all present... and it went something like this:

"It is now official. We have just learned that David Bowie has left with the Swan People."

And, that was it: the end. I woke up with the words "swan people" reverberating in my head and it seemed imperative that I remember those words."

- A dream recollection, DS, February 4, 2016.


It's been well over a year and a half since the Starman left us, and almost as long since I had the Swan People dream (above), so, it probably seems strange to be posting about it now. I intended to post about it last year - as evidenced by my original Music Box series menu - but, after my last Music Box post in May of 2016, the series was stalled by a number of real-time misfortunes, and, as for the "alchemy of love," well, cats and kitties, I just wasn't feelin' it.

But then, in February of this year - almost a year to the day of the Swan People dream - I dreamt about DB again. The Swan People were not in evidence, but, this time the Starman was. And, he said something in the dream that's stuck with me for months - which I'll reveal later on in the post* - but, it wasn't until I throughly researched swans (and Swan People) that I found a link between the two dreams... and some renewed inspiration!

So, in part, this post is about the mysteries of dream symbolism - specifically the swan symbol - but, it's also a tribute to the mysterious Starman himself; a tribute long overdue.

* I (optimistically) assumed I'd be able to finish this post in one part. The second dream will now appear in Part II... Part III.


In Search of the Swan People

The Lid of the Music Box

"As swan people, these dreamers must have been able to envision the bands as groups of swans flying together along a trail of the seasons. From my knowledge of this and the other empowering stories of Dunne-za medicines, the swan people seem to be the only ones given the vision required to direct the communal hunt. If any of the medicines are to empower the communal hunt, it must be that of Swan. People with "swan power" could look ahead and see events beginning to materialize beyond the imagination of others. They saw in the events of one season omens of seasons to come."

- Excerpted from: Changes of Mind: Dunne-za Resistance to Empire (download), Robin Ridington. Inset right: a vase - Swan Maiden - by sculptor A. G. Quinn.

” Naachin or “Dreamers,” according to Ridington, “are people who have experienced the Trail to Heaven in person. They have known the experience of dying and going to heaven. Unlike ordinary people, who die once and do not return to the same body, Dreamers leave their bodies, grab hold of a song that carries them forward, and then return to earth on the trail of that same song.”

- Another reference to the Dane-zaa from The Dane-Zaa Indians and the Vision Quest (.pdf) by David Martinez.

"The vision has this power over individuals and communities because they believe in the relevance of dreams. Unlike the western intellectual tradition that often feels like it knows more the more it debunks or demystifies things, Indigenous cultures are certain that they have a more profound appreciation for the world by presupposing that the world is ultimately mysterious, in the sense of being sacred and thereby beyond the realm of philosophic reason. Yet, dreams are a source of knowledge. More specifically, they constitute an existential encounter with an alternate mode of awareness.This awareness for the developed dreamer enables him to experience the transformation of his lived world into something mythic and superordinate...

...Because of the fundamental nature of the visionary experience, one cannot satisfactorily interpret dreams because they contain both the known and the mysterious. The visionary landscape and the lived landscape are enfolded into one another... To enter the dream world means, in this sense, to alter consciousness and enter into an implicit dreaming order—the unfolded, psychic potential of the visionary realm— that has a structural, morphological effect on consciousness.” 

- Excerpted from Stories of the Vision Quest Among Dunne-za Women, 1983, Robin Ridington. The wonderful image (inset left) is one of two featured in this post by alchemical artist Karena Karras. The other can be found in the Alchemical Swan section (Part II).

"Did you know that the beautiful Swan is one of the Native American Totems? Sister Swan gives a message of Grace.  She teaches us to surrender to the grace of the rhythm of the universe and to slip away from our physical bodies to enter the Dreamtime. Swan people have the ability to see the future as they surrender to the power of Great Spirit. They are accepting of the healing and transformation of their lives when that surrender takes place."

- From this Native American Totem page.


As you may have suspected, I take dreaming very seriously, but - and, as I've probably said in the past - dreams are tricksy things. The most we can say for sure about them is that they emerge from the unconscious mind and often utilize a language based on symbols. Sometimes they seem informed by recent conscious experiences. For instance, as it was, immediately previous to the Swan People dream, I had just finished (digitally) creating the Music Box panels, the lid of which (above) - although it consciously escaped me at the time - very much resembles a pair of swans making a heart-shape with their necks, as they often do in reality (inset right).

Then again, the dream was in reference to our (beloved) Starman. As It was, it was his unexpected loss to a large degree that propelled me to begin composing my Music Box series to begin with. And, predictably, not long after his fateful day, journalists often referred to his last album, Blackstar, as his "swan song." So, either occurrence may have filtered into my brain triggering the dream. But, somehow, I never really thought so, and now - after further research and a second dream - I suspect something else might have been at work...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

For the Angels - 3:03; the Passions of Angels (Part II)

Psyché ranimée par le baiser de l'Amour (Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss) - marble sculpture - 1793, Antonio Canova, housed in the Louvre.
(All images in this post can be clicked-on for larger views)

"And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it...

And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants."

- From the Book of Enoch, The Watchers, Chapters 6 & 7.

"For all forces are angels! How blind, how perniciously blind are the naive?! If you told someone who purports to be a sage of Israel that the Deity sends an angel who enters a woman's womb and there forms an embryo, he would think this a miracle and accept it as a mark of the majesty and power of the Deity, despite the fact that he believes an angel to be a body of fire one third the size of the entire world. All this, he thinks, is possible for God. But if you tell him that God placed in the sperm the power of forming and demarcating these organs, and that this is the angel, or that all forms are produced by the Active Intellect; that here is the angel, the "vice-regent of the world" constantly mentioned by the sages, then he will recoil."

- Excerpt from Guide for the Perplexed, written by Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher and scholar born around 1135 (and found here). Inset, left, is a pair of statues from the famous Staglieno cemetery found here.

"Reason dies in giving birth to ecstasy."

- Attributed to Richard of Saint Victor, a medieval Scottish philosopher and prior of the Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris from 1162 until his death in 1173.


It was the ancient Celtic holiday of Beltane not long ago, and, for pagans, the night of April 30th is one of greatest celebration. They certainly don't cut corners across the pond - specifically in the UK - but honor the event in its fullest tradition... see Edinburgh's Beltane Fire Festival (a BBC page, where the photo of the devilish darling to your right was found). To my greatest surprise, there was even a celebration here in New Mexico, Beltane Southwest, but I was too late in discovering it. Well, maybe next year... if I'm still living here.

But, in any case, it's an appropriate time of year to be ending our discussion of angelic passions (see Part I), because, essentially, it is within the ancient, pre-Christian world the roots of preternatural and/or supernatural love can be found. It's a well known fact that, across the globe, the ancient gods were a randy bunch - and we love them for it - but when it comes to winged, supernatural entities, well, nobody did it better than the Greeks, and, of their pantheon, none could surpass the primordial love god, Eros...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Where the Wild Things (sometimes) Are

No, I didn't plan on another "interlude post" anytime soon, but, well, we haven't had one in ages, and, as normal posting is stalled - anxiety-produced writers block again, sorry to say - I thought I'd post a photo or two of the latest visitor to my backyard... and one who just arrived today: a tiny baby jack-rabbit! Well, at least I think he or she is a jack-rabbit, as there seems to be a small community of them in the neighborhood. In any case, I've only seen the one; no sign of any siblings. The little critter was munching on a clump of grass outside the window when I spotted it. He (or she) is welcome to what little greenery exists here!

The hare is pictured in front of a small drain-pipe by the side of the house. The opening looks large enough to accommodate a baby jack-rabbit though, so maybe this one hides out there. Meanwhile, I found another wild thing in the yard today... the one and only flower in my barren landscape populated by the odd patch of grass or a troop of juvenile tumbleweeds. So, I thought I'd post it's photo, too. I have no idea what sort of wildflower it is, but, if I have time, I'll look it up.*

As for the hare, well, I did put out some bits of apple and raw spinach leaves just in case it craved something new. As I'm still trying to move out of here though, I probably shouldn't, but I'm a sucker for little furry things with long ears!

* Note: The plant is from the Mallow family, specifically Scarlet, Apricot, or Copper Globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea). It was used by a number of Native American tribes for everything from ceremonial use to poultices, teas and tonics (see here). It also curls your hair!

Update (May 17): No, your eyes do not deceive you. This posting has just been abbreviated from its original form. I decided it was best if I just stuck with the wildlife. And, lo and behold, just as I wrote that sentence, a real-life roadrunner - the New Mexican state bird - ran around the corner of my house not more than 12 feet from me. He was too fast for my camera but if he drops by again I'll add him here. By the way, according to the Wiki article, the Hopi and Pueblo Indian tribes believed that the roadrunner provided protection against evil spirits, while the Anglo frontier people believed roadrunners led lost people to trails.

Monday, April 17, 2017

For the Angels - 3:02; the Passions of Angels

The famous Ribaudo Angel found in the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, sculpted by Onorato Toso in 1910. This monument was introduced to pop culture as the cover image for the (1980) Love Will Tear Us Apart 12" single by the British band, Joy Division. (YouTube video.) For more images from the Staglieno cemetery, try here.
(All images in this post can be clicked-on for a larger view.)

“The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”

- George Elliot, from "Scenes of a Clerical Life."

"A professed belief in angels would, inevitably, involve me in a belief in the supernatural, and that was the golden snare I did not wish to be caught in. Without committing myself religiously I could conceive of the possibility of there being, in dimensions and worlds other than our own, powers and intelligences outside our present apprehension, and in this sense angels are not to be ruled out as a part of reality - always remembering that we create what we believe. Indeed, I am prepared to say that if enough of us believe in angels, then angels exist."

-- Gustav Davidson. from his introduction to A Dictionary of Angels (1967), a compendium of angel lore which served as a major source for this post.

"... But the skies that angel trod,
Where deep thoughts are a duty,  
Where Love’s a grown-up God,
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.

Therefore, thou art not wrong,
Israfel, who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong.
Best bard, because the wisest!
Merrily live, and long!

The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit -  
Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love, 
With the fervour of thy lute -
Well may the stars be mute!

Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely—flowers,
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours..."

- Edgar Allen Poe, from his poem "Israfel". Inset (above) is an illustration for Poe's poem by Edmund Dulac, found here. Another illustration for Poe's poem, by Hugo Steiner-Prag (shown after the jump, inset, right) can be found here.


In my previous installment of For the Angels I wasn't able to progress much further than a brief outline of the general history of angels and a few key points of esoteric angelology.  But, even with what little I provided, there seemed to exist an underlying conflict in almost all of the information. Although difficult to understand in the context of modern life, the theologians, philosophers, scholars and occultists of the past took the existence of angels very seriously; so much so that they developed a vast, complex body of lore regarding them; presumably independently, as the would-be chroniclers could not seem to agree on any one single point. For instance, due to the number of variations on any one single name, any one single angel might be conceived of as either good or "fallen", depending upon the source of the information. Names might also be interchangeable, as in case of the Islamic, trumpet-blowing archangel, Israfel (inset, left, and the contemporary Western interpretation below, inset right), who is sometimes confused with other trumpeting angels, such as Gabriel.

So, there are a lot of variables in the field of angelology and, for a novice, the "angel trail" can became so dismayingly convoluted, one is tempted to move off the subject altogether. On one hand, the general consensus of opinion seems to be that angels were predominately spiritual beings created of light; benevolent, extraterrestrial messengers whose primary goal was to proclaim and/or enforce the will of the One God. At the same time, we get the alternative impression that the celestials were not always so benign and were actually terrifying in many respects: immense, god-like and merciless. Some were referred to as "avenging angels" or the "heavenly host" and these had a distinctly military aspect.

To your left is a diagram from the alleged Book of Raziel - the "medieval grimoire of unknown origin" mentioned briefly in my previous post, which reads: 'He hath given his angels charge concerning thee, that they may keep thee in all thy ways." As it happens, Raziel is a prime example of the beneficent angel who taught humankind languages, agriculture, music, art, and esoteric knowledge. But, in contrast, we learn of Amitiel who, along with archangels Michael and Gabriel, was considered to be an "angel of truth and peace." Unfortunately, a number of Amitiel's noble comrades opposed the creation of humanity and "for this opposition... were burned."

Which brings us to the fallen angels... entities which had somehow "fallen" out of grace with the Godhead - or, perhaps, merely "fell" into the "hell" of the material realm - due to the "sins" of pride, rebelliousness, and the unforgivable crime of mating with humans. We are indoctrinated to perceive these dark angels as "demons" ... the progenitors of all the evils in the world, although, in more enlightened minds, neither pride, rebelliousness nor sensuality are considered diabolical offenses.  Moreover, depending upon the source, life as we know it may not have existed without these offending angels. For instance, according to Gnostic texts, it was due to a "flaw" or a "passion" within the angelic entity, or Aeon, which inadvertently created the material world...

Saturday, March 4, 2017

For the Angels - 3:01; Three's the Charm (annotated)

Angel of Death Victorious - bronze (distressed) - 1923, Herman Matzen.
Also known as the "Haserot Angel," this monument is located in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio. Above is my B/W version of a photograph found here, credited to Steven Jupina.
(All images within this post can be clicked to enlarge)

"Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the hierarchies of angels?
Even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart,
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying."

"Every angel is terrifying. And yet, alas, I invoke you,
almost deadly birds of the soul, knowing about you.
Where are the days of Tobias, when one of you, veiling his radiance,
stood at the front door, slightly disguised for the journey, no longer appalling;
(a young man like the one who curiously peeked through the window).
But if the archangel now, perilous, from behind the stars took even one step down toward us
our own hearts, beating higher and higher, would beat us to death.
Who are you?"

- First stanzas from the First and Second Elegies of the Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien), by Rainer Maria Rilke, 1923. The full English translations by Stephen Mitchell of the first two Elegies can be found here. However, I can't hardily recommend any of the other translations found online. Ideally, it should be read the way Rilke wrote it: in its original German form. Incidentally, Rilke's question "where are the days of Tobias" refers to an enigmatic scripture of ancient origin which relates the story of the youth, Tobias. and the archangel Raphael (See the "A Brief History of Angels" section).

"I turned my sight back to the angel when, suddenly, I noticed his hands - particularly his right hand which was reaching out to me. In English, he said, “Come into my world.” I was wondering why he was speaking to me in English when, suddenly, I heard the translation: “Entre dans mon monde,” and even in German: “Komm in meinem Welt.”

Then, through the music and the angel, I entered into that other world, which exists inside the painting. The whole time, the figures had been calling me there.

The angel changed my appearance, and I became just like one of the little people in the painting. I received a long cape, and I was crowned with coral (just like the woman in profile with the elaborate headdress). It was like a ceremony, initiating me into paradise... I became an angel..."

- Excerpt from Un Autre Monde by Myrette St. Ange (possibly a fictional character) (?) "translated" by Visionary artist, L. Caruna. The painting referred to is an actual painting by Visionary artist Robert Venosa. (inset, above, is a detail from the painting.)

"For painter and philosopher Robert Venosa, art and spirituality were simultaneous. Venosa was a visionary in the most real sense of the word: much of his artistic expression was deeply connected to visions that he had of higher dimensional beings whom he perceived as angels, although a different sort of angel than you might see in popular religious art. At several crucial moments in Venosa's life he was visited by an entity that seemed transcendent of time and space, yet was partially visible in the third dimension. These experiences affected Robert deeply and he attempted for the rest of his life to paint them (example, inset left). Many of his well known works were inspired by these visions, including twin angels Castor and Pollux, and Seraphim."

"Spirit energy, like all universal energy, must manifest itself in form and texture at its own vibratory level. We, in our present stage of time-space evolution are unfortunately limited in our perception of these transcendent substances. But the visionary, in his creative expression, must overstep these limits if he is to resolve his task of bridging the gulf between accepted reality and spiritual postulation”."

- Two quoted paragraphs from Reality Sandwich's article on Robert Venosa {1936 - 2011}: Viva Venosa. The second quote is from the artist and was excerpted from his 1978 publication "Manas Manna." All three paintings posted here can be found on his website.


Sorry for the delay, comrades, but my mental engine decided to stall last week just at the crucial moment... possibly flooded by too much angelology! Then again, maybe I've just been wrestling with my own angels lately... or maybe I've been wrestling with yours; it's difficult to say. Understanding the Language of Angels is a little like understanding the Language of Birds - and maybe they're one and the same - but, one thing I've learned: it's impossible to pin down an angel. Moreover, angels are not always "nice."  But, whether you "believe" in them or not - and, very possibly, they couldn't care less -  it is always they who have the advantage. Like birds - up to an including Rilke's "deadly birds of the soul" - they can merely fly away. (Or, even worse, tamper with your mental engine!)

Of course, there are angels and then there are angels. For some people angels are guised as beneficent strangers; those enigmatic humans who seemingly come to us out of thin air (and just in the nick of time) to save the day. For an artist, the Muse is a kind of angel. For a child, a guardian angel is sensed as a protective force. And, as for mystics, well, they seem to be able to experience them firsthand.

As a matter of fact, it is often artists, mystics and children* who actually see angels. William Blake saw angels... especially as a child, and specifically in trees. The American artist Robert Venosa spent his lifetime attempting to represent the "higher dimensional entities" he saw (inset, right).** And, while the poet Rainer Maria Rilke devoted his Duino Elegies to angels, it is also said that his initial inspiration - and the first line of his poem - came from an angel whose voice was carried to him on the wind. The Swiss scientist (and mystic) Emanuel Swedenborg not only saw angels***, but wrote extensively about his conversations with them in a book entitled Heaven and Hell. He writes (found here):

"On the grounds of all my experience, which has lasted for several years now, I can say with full confidence that in their form, angels are completely human. They have faces, eyes, ears, chests, arms, hands, and feet. They see each other, hear each other, and talk to each other. In short, they lack nothing that belongs to humans except that they are not clothed with a material body."

As for the Christian mystics, Saint Francesca comes to mind. She even convinced Church authorities that her guardian angel was a true, substantial entity. In fact, she was formally declared the Patron Saint of Automobile Drivers, because her alleged angel was said to appear with a lantern to guide her whenever she travelled.

And, then there's the matter of Saint Teresa (of Ávila) - not to be confused with Thérèse of Lisieux - and her "ecstasy," but that's so juicy, I'm saving it for later...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

For the Angels (Part 2)

Photograph of an arrangement of cast angel ornaments (3" in diameter)
and a cast octacyclohedron - © 1993, 2017, DS
(click to enlarge)

Note (2/13/17): I can't believe I started constructing this post almost 10 days ago. I'm so very sorry for the delay, folks! As per usual, what began as a simple "tune"  blew up into a major orchestration. I'd love to have the text up by tomorrow - Valentine's Day (or V-Day to we cynics) - but, just in case I don't, !'ll post a companion piece to the above photo today. This one will eventually appear at the end of the finished post, so, this way, all I have to do is fill up everything in-between. ;-)

Incidentally, the 2 cast angels in the photo(s) are all that remain of a what was originally a Christmas project I undertook in 1993. The original sculpture (and its revised version) were molded and carved in a combination of plaster and modeling clay. As it so happens, I began creating the cyclohedra in the same year, so the juxtaposition of the two are not as weird as it may seem.

Happy V-Day, everybody! If nothing else, the day is a celebration of Love... so, even the most solitary among us can participate. Right?

Give yourself a Valentine tomorrow.

Version 2... All the angels are identical, but note the difference a slight
change in lighting makes.


Update (2/24/17): Change of plans! This post - for whatever it is (or isn't) - is now complete. Stay tuned for For the Angels - 3:01 (Three's the Charm) wherein ALL WILL BE REVEALED!

Well, okay, that's silly... not "all"... just the stuff that was (formerly) supposed to appear here.

Welcome to the weirdest blog on the internet! ;-)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

We the People Have Risen - the Women's March on Washington

Women's March, January 21, 2017
"Hear Our Voice"
(Click on any image for a larger view.)

"On Saturday, January 21, 2017, millions will gather in Washington D.C. and in hundreds of cities around the world. This is a local event for those that will be unable to travel to Washington D.C. - instead, we will march in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington here in Albuquerque.

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.  The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us - women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear. In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers is too great to ignore.  We call on all defenders of human rights to join us."

- Excerpt from the Women's March website - the Albuquerque page.

"Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no telling who that it's naming
For the loser now will be later to win
Cause the times they are a-changing

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's the battle outside raging
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changing"

- Excerpt from The Times They Are A Changin', 1963, Bob Dylan. (A version of this song - sung by Tracy Chapman - appears at this post's end.)


Women's March, January 21, 2017
"Same Shit, Different Century"

I would not be a human - let alone a woman - if I did not somehow commemorate this day.

It rained the day Donald Trump - our reigning patriarch - took office. But, that was yesterday. The good news is that today the sun shines on millions of women and men around the world who have risen against all that he represents.

What a difference a day makes.

And, it only took one woman posting on her Facebook page to awaken this sleeping giant... one Facebook post, my friends, to start a virtual war. But this is a war we can all rally around.  When one half of the worlds population finally frees themselves from an oppression that has lasted centuries, then all of us are made free and whole again.

For a live feed of this world-wide event, click here. For more images, try here, here and here... or there and there.

I've posted some images recently found... including a drawing of my own* from 1979 (below, and after the jump). Nothing defines a movement like its art! ;-)

* Drawing added January 22, 2017.

(This just in: Apparently Trump  is still in denial. He did not win the popular vote, nor were the participants in the Women's March on Washington exclusively from the States... but: "President Trump tweets on Women’s March protesters: “Why didn’t these people vote?”

Los Angeles, January 21, 2017
"We the People are Greater than Fear"

Los Angeles, January 21, 2017
"We the People Defend Dignity"

A tribute to Carrie Fisher - another casualty of 2016
"A Woman's Place is Leading the Resistance!"

Women's March, January 21, 2017

More photos (and videos added 1/24/17) after the jump...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

For the Angels

A detail from a work in progress - with a borrowed element from
Sandro Botticelli's (1489) Cestello Annunciation© 2016, DS

It's the beginning of a new year... and one that is particularly welcome; especially after 2016, the year when, for many people (including myself), everything went to hell. We lost a lot people last year - the death of David Bowie was the first bad omen - and, all in all, it was a little creepy; you'd think they all were "abandoning ship" or something.

"For the Angels" was to be my last post of that year - as opposed to the first of 2017 - wherein I expressed my gratitude to certain friends of mine - the true angels - who helped me out in the past 6 months, literally saving me from an eviction, and figuratively saving me from the wolves howling at my door.

Actual poverty is almost like a disease; it's debilitating in more ways than a comfortably-placed person can conceive of. Society, for instance, treats poverty as if it were a crime; taking the self-righteous position that the impoverished are at fault for their own failure. Very often, those whom we refer to as friends take the same position; they see you drowning and advise you to swim. Your true friends, however, are those who throw you a line at the crucial moment, and it is to these friends - and they know who they are - this post is dedicated.

Artists, of course, are traditionally poor... "the starving artist" is so cliche that even some artists are under the impression they really can live on air alone. The "mad artist" in the garret is another cliche. And, as it was, I blogged about artists and mental institutions quite a lot in the second half of last year, most likely because the idea of residing in one became more understandable as the days moved on.

But, it is a new year... and, thus far, the worse that can be said about it is the surrealistic coronation of multi-millionaire billionaire King Donald in the coming week. As I mentioned in the previous version of this post, a man in Canada has predicted Trump will be behind bars before the end of the year... which would be the best-case scenario, had VP Pence  - known in Twitter circles as the "Man from Glad" - not been waiting in the wings. So, for most Americans - and most people in the free world - it looks like a lose/lose situation. Although I have little more to say about the matter, our friend Hawkwood over Shadows in Eden has written rather extensively (and accurately) about Agent Orange, and so I direct you here (and here).*

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Man on the Throne

Study after Veláquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X - oil paintimg - 1953, Francis Bacon

And, what does this painting have in common with the unfortunate news of this sad day? See my short PMB post here.

(Note: I've just posted a video on the sidebar you might find unusual. Actually, it's an Egyptian Zār band*: primarily female musicians who utilize ancient ritualistic music to heal and purify their listeners...

... because it's never too soon to begin the healing process.)


* "The purpose of the Zar ceremony is to cure mental illness through contact with the possessing spirits which cause maladies. Though there are several methods for dealing with psychological disturbance, the Zar is the last resort which is supposed to have powerful therapeutic effect for several kinds of ailments," writes John Kennedy in Nubian Ceremonial Life. It should be noted that this ceremony is not widely practiced in Egypt. The Zar ceremony is most prominent in southern Egypt and is practiced further south into the Sudan, though in fact it may be performed anywhere in Egypt. This is a region that was least exposed to the many invaders from Greece, Rome and the Middle East, and the ceremony can be considered as a holdover from older African religions when older women were frequently priestesses. 

Regardless of the fact that Zar is a trance religious ceremony that uses drumming and dancing to cure an illness thought to be caused by a demon, it is technically prohibited by Islam as a pagan practice. However it continues to be an essential part of the Egyptian culture. It provides a unique form of relief to women in strict patriarchal societies.

The phenomenon of Zar can be best described as the "healing cult". It involves hair tossing and swaying and it also acts as a means of sharing information among women of these cultures."

-  From an Egyptian tour page; more information about Zār can be found in the Wiki entry.


The day this post was created, a less controversial (but more important) event had recently occurred: the world lost a great treasure: songbird, poet and Lover, Leonard Cohen.

Farewell to a truly great man.

Below is a version of Cohen's Hallelujah covered by Rufus Wainwright (website), who performed this song, in concert, as a tribute to Cohen shortly after his passing. A video of the tribute can be found on this NME page.

The Leonard Cohen videos that accompanied this post (on the sidebar) can now be found after the jump break.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Art From the Outside (Looking In)

An untitled element from Emery Blagdon's Healing Machine. This photo and
the two inset below were found on this Дай зин! webzine page.
(Click to enlarge.)

"As a young man, he apparently lost his parents and three of his five younger siblings to cancer, and he designed his shed––which housed a system of elegant, spindly mobiles and delicate freestanding sculptures made out of baling wire and found objects––to produce energy fields with preventative, restorative, and curative powers. The objects’ reflective, kinetic, and color properties were intended to resonate and release an electromagnetic force to combat physical and psychic pain. Blagdon’s cure also relied on an equally remarkable, but smaller, group of abstract geometrical panel paintings, which display a transcendental sense of color, proportion, and pattern."

- From Rachel Brice's 2009 post: Emery Blagdon and His Healing Machines.

"In the past century the human spirit's great need for the creation of art has come sharply to the fore – not through the commercialized vulgarity that is now the art market (my GOD – could anything so high sink so LOW?), but rather through the intimate obsessive worlds of artists (outsider or otherwise) who create for themselves and themselves alone, without thought of monetary gain, public approbation or acceptance of any kind.

...Compelled to create a world of healing machines to stave off illness, Emery Blagdon gave light and meaning to his life through wire, tinfoil, and a variety of organic and inorganic materials. These machines, and the paintings that helped power them, brought down and focused healing energy to allow Blagdon to continue living. Did he create to live or live to create? As with all true artists, the answer is either elusive, or both - but in Blagdon's case it is particularly poignant because just a few months after his machines stopped working he tragically passed away."

- From composer John Zorn's (2016) .pdf: Emery Blagdon. (Inset, left: another element of Blagdon's Healing Machine.)

"Over the years, the parameters of Outsider Art have expanded dramatically to include art made by a wide variety of art-makers who share this common denominator of raw creativity. Outsiders come from all walks of life, from all cultures, from all age groups.

In recent years, Outsider Artists may have even come to outnumber Insider Artists who have achieved critical validation within the elite art world, and yet who speak with increasingly less clarity and relevance to us about the human experience. Dubuffet's description of officially recognized art has never been more relevant: 'everyone immediately sprinkles it with champagne, and lecturers lead it from town to town with a ring through its nose. This is the false Monsieur Art.'"

- Excerpt from a description of Outsider Art found on this Outsider Art Fair page.


It's probably interesting to note that two of the quotes (above) regarding Outsider Artist, Emery Blagdon, originate from a belly dancer (Rachel Brice), and a musician (John Zorn), as opposed to an art critic or an art historian. And, why is this? Well, it might have to do with the nature of Emery Blagdon himself. Born in 1907, he was a self-taught artist living in the outbacks of Nebraska, who spent over 30 years of his life assembling an art installation (of sorts) - his Healing Machine - which he never intended to exhibit, and one of which he never sold one molecule of. In other words, he was a creator's creator, following his own inner vision and instinct and, pretty much, ignoring the rest of world; specifically the art world. Had his work not been "discovered" in the 1970's by Dan Dryden - a Nebraskan pharmacist who would eventually work as a sound engineer for the Philip Glass Ensemble in New York - his monumental work may have been disassembled for scrap metal after his death and the world would be none the wiser.

Then again, creatives of all persuasions find inspiration in the realm of Outsider Art. Once again, the Outsider represents the true artist's artist... understood more deeply by artists themselves as opposed to the curators, the critics, the categorizers, and the culture mavens who flock to the carcasses of artistic endeavor. So, in the eyes of the world Emery Blagdon was an oddball. In the eyes of a fellow artist, Blagdon is both a hero and an anti-hero; a maverick who left his mark outside the mainstream before the "mainstream" ultimately absorbed him. (Inset, right: a third element from the Healing Machine.)

But, in many respects, Emery Blagdon's story is a happy one compared to many of the Outsiders who came before him. He, at least, managed to stay well outside the walls of a mental institution. In reality, what we now consider Outsider Art was originally the sort created by psychiatric patients, and other marginalized non-members of society. And, it was a genre of art which would've have remained under the radar - possibly forever - had it not been for the fine, observant eye of French artist, Jean Dubuffet, who in the 1940s identified what he referred to as Art Brut - raw art - that is, art created by those on the fringe of society: prisoners, loners, the mentally ill, and, in some cases, children...