Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Photo of the Day


Siberian Shaman - Photo Credit: Alexander Nikolsky
(click to enlarge)



Just found in the Siberian Times article, Shamans Rouse the Ancient Siberian Spirits, by Anna Liesowska... I don't condone animal sacrifice, but this story about the "Call of the 13 Shamans" held in the Tyva (Tuva) Republic of Siberia might interest those familiar with my themes.

(Thanks to Grail-seeker at the Daily Grail for the link!)

For your future shamanic news & research, try Shaman Portal (link has also been added to this blog's sidebar).




Monday, October 20, 2014

Alan Moore & Jerusalem

“The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun” - 1807(?), William Blake
(click to enlarge)

"In essence, eternalism proposes that space-time forms a block – ‘imagine it as a big glass football’, Moore suggests – where past and future are endlessly, immutably fixed, and where human lives are ‘like tiny filaments, embedded in that gigantic vast egg’. He gestures around him at the rubbish-strewn path, his patriarch’s beard waving in the wind. ‘What it’s saying is, everything is eternal,’ he tells me. ‘Every person, every dog turd, every flattened beer can – there’s usually some hypodermics and condoms and a couple of ripped-open handbags along here as well – nothing is lost. No person, no speck or molecule is lost. No event. It’s all there for ever. And if everywhere is eternal, then even the most benighted slum neighbourhood is the eternal city, isn’t it? William Blake’s eternal fourfold city. All of these damned and deprived areas, they are Jerusalem, and everybody in them is an eternal being, worthy of respect."

- Alan Moore from Everything and Moore, by Tim Martin, a recent Aeon Magazine article



"Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land."

- excerpt from "And did those feet in ancient time" (aka "Jerusalem"), William Blake, published 1808



Alan Moore
This post is just a heads-up to an article I found today on Aeon Magazine (see quote above) about the writer, occultist, and comic book author (see bibliography),  Alan Moore. If you remember, it was an earlier interview with him that inspired the Trans-D post, The Magic of Art and the Art of Magic.

Apparently he's just finished a "million-word" novel - "Jerusalem" - a decade in the making, and set in his home-town of Northampton, England. According to the article, it is a "tribute to every eternal speck in his universe."

Interestingly, Moore's character in the novel is a female painter!      

One statement AM makes in the article particularly intrigues me:

"Art isn’t doing its job any more,’ he says at one point. ‘It’s not filled with the real and the marvellous. There’s no vision. There’s no William Blake."

I don't know... I figure there may be one or two William Blakes hiding out there... it's just that they're not yet famous... or, have been rendered mute and flameless by the latest pharmaceutical "cure" prescribed by an enforced head-doctor.


***


Regarding my own life's story... well, I'm currently going through the long and arduous process of finding and creating new digs in New Mexico. Yes, as I promised in my previous post, I did venture out again... alone, and in my car... arriving a little over a week ago.

When I've fully processed this, I'll be back with another post... But, meanwhile I'm changing the tunes on the sidebar to reflect my journey. The first is the Pink Floyd album (the entire album) that saved my sanity while driving through the surreal wastelands that comprise much of the midwest... and the second is a tune from an old gem that brought me into New Mexico during the dead of night: Veedon Fleece by Van Morrison. (Note: If you're a Van Morrison fan, this album is a must-have.) (Note two: As it so happens, in - more or less - the title tune (which follows "Streets of Arklow"), Van the Man specifically mentions "William Blake & the Eternals." I just love the odd little synchronistic references life seems to throw in our paths now and again.)

"We're goin' out in the West, down to the cathedrals
We're goin' out in the West, down to the beaches
And the Sisters of Mercy, behind the sun
Oh, behind the sun

And William Blake and the Sisters of Mercy
Looking for the Veedon Fleece"

(YouTube link - YouTube full album link)



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My New Mexican Adventure... (& More Balloons!!!)


New Mexican Souvenir - digital photo - 2014, DS


"Early unmanned hot air balloons were used in China. Zhuge Liang of the Shu Han kingdom, during the Three Kingdoms era (220–280 AD) used airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns are known as Kongming lanterns. There is also some speculation, from a demonstration directed by British modern hot air balloonist Julian Nott during the late 1970s and again in 2003 that hot air balloons could have been used as an aid for designing the famous Nazca ground figures and lines, which were created by the Nazca culture of Peru between 400 and 650 AD."

- Via the Wiki entry for Hot-air Balloon...



That weird, brightly-colored object above is a balloon-spinner; a sort of glorified pinwheel-like contraption that, once suspended, is meant to represent one of the awesome hot-air balloons Albuquerque, New Mexico is famous for. The Fiesta itself doesn't occur till October, but, I bought it in a small shop in Albuquerque's Old Town - which sells balloon-related paraphernalia all year round - while I was visiting New Mexico earlier this month. I couldn't resist it. Hot air balloons, for whatever reason, have become a sort of totemic symbol for me in the past year... as New Mexico itself has been a sort of dream destination for ten years. But, I never knew about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta till I was scheduling my flight.

I had my eye on a purple balloon-spinner as well, and couldn't make up my mind... but, in the end, the New Mexican flag spinner with it's "controversial" Zia sun-symbol won the day. The symbol is controversial, in that it was more or less stolen from the Pueblo of Zia, a Native American tribe, indigenous to New Mexico. The Zia People still live in reserved lands outside of Bernalillo... and they've requested royalties for the use of their sacred symbol. All things considered, who can blame them? On the other hand, there's a satisfying symmetry in all of this: the adoption of the Zia sun symbol as the New Mexican state symbol pretty much declares that New Mexico is the land of the People of the Pueblo of Zia.

Below is a time-lapse video of a past Balloon Fiesta, courtesy of the Roadtrippers. It almost looks like an animation; but, keep in mind, all those tiny balloons darting around are actually gas-filled giants, carrying groups of people in suspended baskets (or gondolas). It has to be pretty amazing, whether you're on the ground, or in the air...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gone Fishing...


"Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" - illustration of unknown origin found here.


"My purpose, however, is not to explore the great cosmologies, but the small ones; and to suggest that art is a process whereby life becomes myth, and myth becomes life....For us, the journey is a central fact of our lives.  Having set out on it, like it or not we have to keep on - to be heroic in spite of ourselves. Sometimes our most courageous act is to get up in the morning.

"I hope the postcards we send back are of some use to those who have only started on their own journey; if not useful, at least pleasurable. Earlier, I asked if we should trust those messages. I should have asked, Can we trust art? We not only can, but I think we must."

- From "Travel Notes" by Lloyd Alexander, (just) found in Travelers' Tales, (Myth & Moor).



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Matrices of Sand; Art Which Heals



"It is possible to undergo a profound crisis involving non-ordinary experiences and to perceive it as pathological or psychiatric when, in fact, it may be more accurately and beneficially defined as a spiritual emergency."
- Stanislav Grof; quote found here.

"Navajo Sandpaintings, also called dry paintings, are called "places where the gods come and go" in the Navajo language. They are used in curing ceremonies in which the gods' help is requested for harvests and healing."
- from Navaho Sand Paintings

(left) Navajo Sandpainting found here.


"The performative power of sandpainting creation and ritual use reestablish the proper, orderly placement of the forces of life, thus restoring correct relations between the patient and those forces upon which the patient's spiritual and physical health depend. The sandpainting works its healing power by reestablishing the patient's sense of connectedness to all of life ( Griffin-Pierce 1991:66)."

- from Chapter 78; Navajo Indians sand painting, The History of Graphic Design, Guity Novin


"After its sanctification, the patient sits on the painting while the chanter performs a ritual to enhance the absorption of its healing power. Immediately afterward, the remains of the painting are taken outside to an area north of the hogan, where they are returned to the earth."

- from Navaho Sand Paintings


"The mandala is a formal geometric pattern showing the floor plan of a sacred mansion. Once the diagram is drawn, in the following
days you see millions of grains of colored sand painstakingly laid into place. The sand, colored with vegetable dyes or opaque tempera, is poured onto the mandala platform with a narrow metal funnel called a "chakpur" which is scraped by another metal rod to cause sufficient vibration for the grains of sand to trickle out of its end.  The mandalas are created whenever a need for healing of the environment and living beings is felt.  The monks consider our present age to be one of great need in this respect, and therefore are creating these mandalas where requested throughout their world tours. When finished, to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists, the colored sands are swept up and poured into a nearby river or stream where the waters carry healing energies throughout the world."

- from The Sacred Art of Sand Mandalas, The Tibetan Monks of Drepung Gomang Monastery (.pdf) 


"The Oglala Sioux Holy Man Black Elk said "You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round" (quoted in Moodley & West, 2005, p. 298)."

- from: Chapter 78; Navajo Indians sand painting, The History of Graphic Design, Guity Novin


"The Mandala is a creation consisting of circles, which start at the center and extend outward. The circle, a primeval natural form – consider the stars, snowflakes, tree trunks – has served as an inspiration to humankind since the dawn of history. People from various cultures discovered that the creation of circular forms facilitated the expression of inner cosmic entities. Native American shamans draw dance mandalas during healing ceremonies; the Shield of David symbol is based on the form of a circle divided into six equal parts; and the Tibetan mandala symbolizes the cyclical nature of life and death."

- Eitan Kedmy, from his website.
 

"Native American Indians regard art as an element of life, not as a separate aesthetic ideal. In indigenous societies, the arts are aspects of public life that bring dancing, poetry, and the plastic and graphic arts together as a single function or ritual as the all-embracing expression. Art is indispensable to ritual and ritual is the Native American Indian concept of the whole life process. Native people see sand painting as indistinct from dancing, dancing as indistinct from worship, and worship as indistinct from living."

- from Native American Art; Sand Paintings

***

I am just about to hang up my "Gone Fishing" sign, meaning I'm going to be off the radar for the next month or two, but I wanted to finish the Matrices thread before I signed off... (unlike a number of other "threads" I've introduced on this blog, only to ultimately leave them dangling).

Happily, the images and quotes I chose for this post adequately describe sand painting, rendering any additional verbiage of my own fairly redundant (and, for this, we should all be grateful). ;-)

However, just a bit about mandalas, sand paintings and the Matrices...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Matrices of Light & Shadow; Alex and Allyson Grey



Spiritual Energy System (left); Universal Mind Lattice (right) - acrylic on canvas - 1981, Alex Grey



"Looking at Grey’s paintings and other works on display, Hoffberger said, “Given the way technology is moving, do we want to become like machines? With each new high-tech invention, how do you download a ‘you’ into an ‘it’?” Grey’s powers-of-the-universe paintings, with their images of trees as fecund bodies, along with choruses of prehistoric animals, suns, eyeballs and planets, evoke an eternal, all-unifying, omnipresent spirit. Grey’s art seems more all-embracing than the ecumenical posturing of those praying, chanting, bead-rattling leaders of so-called organized religions who sometimes pause to look beyond their own belief systems and pay a little lip service to the dream of world peace."



"Love, consciousness, and creativity are the highest refinements of the cosmic evolutionary force."

"The Inevitable consequence of Love is the building of Temples."

- Two quotes by Alex Grey, found on his website.


***



"Secret Writing Magic Square with Mandala Border" - oil on wood - 1990, Allyson Grey



"Language is like a portal through which the inner world of order may pass into the outer world of chaos."

- Allyson Grey, from her website: Chaos, Order & Secret Writing.


***

In terms of the the Matrices (described here) and their relationship to the human body,  I don't think I've seem a better visual description than those presented by Visionary artist, Alex Grey in his amazing Chapel of Sacred Mirrors series. It's almost as if they were made to order for the musings of a Space Pagan, most especially his "Universal Mind Lattice," which he describes here:

 "No longer identified with or limited by our physical bodies, our essence is an individual fountain and drain of Light, interlocked with an infinite omni-directional network of similar energy cells, the interpenetrating consciousness of all beings and things."

The odd thing for me, at least, is - at the exact same time, and the exact same place (New York) - while Alex Grey was painting the huge canvases that would become the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (see video), a far less flamboyant artist (me), was envisioning something along vaguely similar lines...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Matrices of Paper; the Creations of Eric Standley


"Either/Or Circle" - layered paper - 2001, Eric Standley
(click to enlarge)


Inspired by Gothic and Islamic architecture, much like Cristóbal Vila, another "matrix" artist featured on Trans-D, Eric Standley takes the fine art of paper cutting to a new level. That is, approximately 100 of them! 

What appears as one cohesive - and elegant - mandala is actually composed of layer upon layer of intricately laser-cut "windows."

To see the artist in action, David Pescovitz has posted a video found here.

The artist's new website can be found here.

(Thanks, DP!)



Monday, August 4, 2014

Revitalizing Vitalism; A Thought Experiment



"Aura" - digital/fractal - 2012, Renate S.
(Click on all images to enlarge)

Vitalism
1. a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces
2. a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining

 - Definition of Vitalism


"He goes on to show how the particular properties of consciousness might arise from the physical laws that govern our universe. And he explains how these properties allow physicists to reason about the conditions under which consciousness arises and how we might exploit it to better understand why the world around us appears as it does.

For Tegmark, this paradox suggests that his mathematical formulation of consciousness is missing a vital ingredient. “This strongly implies that the integration principle must be supplemented by at least one additional principle,” he says.

- From the article: "Why Physicists Are Saying Consciousness Is A State Of Matter..."


"Barušs wrote: "Scientific materialism assures us that reality is a meaningless, incidental, mechanistic, collocation of improbable events."

He summarized some of the ways in which the materialist interpretation of reality has already broken down: quantum events are seen to be non-deterministic; time is no longer linear, as effects have been shown to precede their causes; particles change position depending on where one looks or what one decides to measure.

Finally, he said, “Materialism cannot explain … the sense of existence that people have for themselves.”

- From an August 20 article: 8 Scientists Contemplate Place of Human Consciousness in Science  (New quote just found, August 22; hat-tip to Bruce Duensing!)


***

"Throughout the ages men have been intuitively aware of such a center. The Greeks called it a man's inner Daimon, in Egypt, it was expressed by the concept of Ba-soul; and the Romans worshipped it as the "Genius" native to each individual..."



"Is the earth dead or alive? The ancient cultures of east and west and the native peoples of America saw the earth as a mother, alive, active, and responsive to human action. Greeks and Renaissance Europeans conceptualized the cosmos as a living organism, with a body, soul, and Spirit, and the earth as a nurturing mother with respiratory, circulatory, reproductive, and elimination systems. The relationship between most peoples and the earth was an I-thou ethic of propitiation to be made before damming a brook, cutting a tree, or sinking a mine shaft. Yet for the past three hundred years, western mechanistic science and capitalism have viewed the earth as dead and inert, manipulable from outside, and exploitable for profits. The death of nature legitimated its domination. Colonial extractions of resources combined with industrial pollution and depletion have today pushed the whole earth to the brink of ecological destruction."

- From "Radical Ecology: The Search for a Livable World" - 1992, Carolyn Merchant.


"But what is it that shamans 'see' or 'know'? Shamanism is a kind of spiritual technology. It is a technology that is based on the animistic worldview much in the way that physical technology is based on the modern scientific worldview. Unlike modern science, however, which is based on the search for uniform laws that work the same way for everyone, shamanism has literally infinite forms of expression -- just as art, inspired creation, can take literally infinite forms and there are infinite cultural styles of art, yet the word "artist," like the word "shaman," has a cross-cultural meaning. (Indeed, art itself originated as a tool and expression of the shaman. Shamans are a kind of inspired artist, channeling a common source of spiritual energy in their own unique ways. Art as merely decorative is a modern, desacralized echo of the real purposes of art.) "

- from an article: Indigenous Shamanism, Animism, and the Spirits (by "Gayle") found here.


***

"Without an active agent, an ordering center, or an Intelligence, "consciousness" becomes a rather hollow proposition; another one of those phenomena which, if merely viewed as another mechanical quality arising from matter, has no intrinsic meaning. It has no "cause" and is no cause. It will not build a ship, invent a car, nor drive it. It will simply exist in a somnambulistic manner as a sort of passive, unspecified awareness. Consciousness, alone, does not create; and, by itself, cannot evolve. Consciousness alone, is not the answer to the existential quandary."

- Paragraph from a post file which never materialized, The Shamans of Spirit & The Shamans of Matter; Dia Sobin, June 12, 2014


"Because, who knows, but, hiding among those four famous "forces of nature" (recently renamed the "Fundamental Interaction") is an undiscovered ordering force, a "shadow" component permeating the matrix: intelligence, but wholly unspecific intelligence - without genre or gender - which, although diversified and expressed relative to the matter which interprets it, is also the architect of the matter it unfolds. I call it: Creatura... (most emphatically) not to be confused with religionist myths and its corresponding characters - example: "the man upstairs."

If "god is dead" religionists (specifically Western and Middle-Eastern varieties) killed it. They gave it limits; limits imposed by their own fears, politics and pathologies."

- Paragraphs deleted from a previous post, and added to a collection of notes; DS, June 28, 2014


"Creatura (singular and plural) - A creative Intelligence: the integrated ordering agent and organizing, self-referential noumenon present in all living organisms."

- A working definition of Creatura from a collection of notes; DS, July 1, 2014, posted July 28.


***

I was kind of on the fence about posting this "thought experiment"... I originally attempted to allude to it with a post containing a brief definition of Creatura. That didn't cut it for me, so I pulled it down (deleted post, July, 28, 2014)

For the past few months however, this concept - admittedly a "Vitalist" concept (or, more appropriately, Revitalist), and not even a terribly original one - has been stirring around in my psyche, coloring just about all of my thoughts. I've drafted (and destroyed) a number of posts, but they all seem to have the same general theme; a theme I was planning to slowly build up to, but now I find I'm not going to have the time (I'm about to take an extended hiatus from the blogosphere). So, it's now or never... 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Creativity? Madness? Restless Leg Syndrome? There's a Pill For That!


"Gauguin's Chair" - oil on canvas - 1888, Vincent van Gogh
(click on all images to enlarge)

"Development of uncontrollable artistic urges has been documented in medical case studies. One 41-year-old woman with Parkinson's disease who began taking levodopa developed what neurologists called a "devastating addiction to painting." Her home became a gathering place for artists, and she began compulsively buying painting materials. She described the spiral earlier this year in a medical journal: "I started painting from morning till night, and often all through the night until morning. I used countless numbers of brushes at a time. I used knives, forks, sponges … I would gouge open tubes of paint–it was everywhere. But I was still in control at that point. Then, I started painting on the walls, the furniture, even the washing machine. I would paint any surface I came across. I also had my 'expression wall' and I could not stop myself from painting and repainting [it] every night in a trance-like state. My partner could no longer bear it. People close to me realized that I crossed some kind of line into the pathological, and, at their instigation, I was hospitalized. Today, my doctors have succeeded in getting my medication under control, and my creativity has become more tranquil and structured."

"Another proposed mechanism lies in the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that moderates a person’s ability to filter out irrelevant stimuli. That is called latent inhibition, and it has been associated with creative achievement. It is reduced in people suffering psychosis but it increases when those people are given antipsychotic medications. Reduced latent inhibition might enhance divergent thinking by widening (or loosening) the associative network, enhancing creative thinking."

"Dopaminergic stimulation is also used in women who have recently given birth and would like to stop lactation, and in people with Restless Leg Syndrome. "I don't think anyone has checked," Inzelberg said, "if people in treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome become creative."

- Excerpts from a July 17, 2014 article: "The Creativity Pill" via The Atlantic



"Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget

Like the stranger that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

And now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free

They would not listen
They're not listening still
Perhaps they never will"

- Excerpt from "Starry, Starry Night", 1972, Don Mclean 


***

Nothing flies in the face of the Mechanistic world view more than the human need to create. Artists, poets, writers, musicians, dancers, filmmakers - our efforts are the monkey-wrenches gumming up the Machine... and if we really do our jobs, the Machine grinds to a halt... or, maybe just transforms. Or, so we'd like to think, if only on a subliminal level.

But, at the core of Mechanistic science (see quotes at the end of the post), Matter is King, and all the mysteries of the universe will be revealed under a microscope, by an x-ray, an electronic probe, or inside the womb of an atom-smashing machine. Like begets like. For the Mechanist, Matter is essentially dead, but, somehow, and at some point, it became organic; having magically sprung to life like the puppet in the children's story, Pinocchio. In the eyes of a Mechanist, Life, as a creative force unto itself, is a delusion. It and its activity can be explained away by the automatic distribution and interaction of chemicals; chemicals which can, moreover, be recreated in a lab. Scientists have not, yet, found quite the right chemical brew to replace you, but they're working on it. And, if they can't do it, the Tech-mechs, with their delusions of sentient computers, will. Or, so they'd like to think.

And, so, I was more amused than surprised when I stumbled across "The Creativity Pill," an article that's recently been making the rounds in cyber-space. More hype than actual content, it's the sort of "news" one comes to expect; endless spins on the latest Mechanistic victory over the natural world, designed to trivialize what many of us might find meaningful. While neurologists are a little slower at developing a true Mechanistic formula* -  the physiology of the brain being a somewhat tougher nut to crack - Big Pharma will provide the necessary tools; it's the gift that keeps on giving. Hence, levodopa (L-DOPA), which, according to neurologist, Rivka Inzelberg, seems to increase creative output in those afflicted with Parkinson's disease...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Pet Store - Creatures as Commodities - (featuring murals by "Phlegm")


"Cat" - urban mural - Sheffield, England - "Phlegm" (found here)
(Click on all images to enlarge)


"The more we exile ourselves from nature, the more we crave its miracle waters. Just as our ancient ancestors drew animals on cave walls and carved animals from wood and bone, we decorate our homes with animal prints and motifs, give our children stuffed animals to clutch, cartoon animals to watch, animal stories to read. We call one another by “pet” names, wear animal-print clothes. We ogle plants and animals up close on television, the Internet and in the movies. We may not worship the animals we see, but we still regard them as necessary physical and spiritual companions. Technological nature can’t completely satisfy that yearning.

But what if, through novelty and convenience, digital nature replaces biological nature? Studies show that we’ll suffer. Richard Louv writes of widespread “nature-deficit disorder” among children who mainly play indoors — something new in the history of humankind. He sees it leading to attention problems, obesity, depression and lack of creativity. Adults suffer equally. Patients with a view of trees heal faster than those forced to stare at city buildings. In studies conducted by Peter H. Kahn and his colleagues at the University of Washington, workers in windowless offices were given flat screen views of nature. They reaped the benefits of greater health, happiness and efficiency than those without virtual windows. But, importantly, they weren’t as happy, healthy or creative as people given real windows with real views of nature."

- From the 2012 NYT article, Nature: Now Showing on TV, by Diane Ackerman *


***

It was a fairly nondescript summer day... hot and hazy, glazed over with that white-gold cast that defines a predominately cloudy sky. I was in my car with no particular destination, but, as is usual, found myself gravitating towards the coast, as if the ocean was some huge magnet and neither myself (nor my car) had any choice in the matter.

Lying between myself and the shore, however, is Route 1, which, in part, is just one long, extended strip mall, punctuated by an endless repetition of shoe-box shaped buildings, identified only by their corresponding rectangular signs. These advertise everything from food to furniture, service stations, beauty salons, craft stores, consignment shops, and the occasional "Psychic Reading". On impulse I drove into the black-topped parking lot belonging to one block of buildings, featuring an outlet of a popular pet store franchise. I'd been there before... I liked to look at the small, exotic fish in the marine-life aquariums, so, I went in...

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Anatomy of a Dream (Intus Natura, Vita Eternus*) (Notice, 8/6/14)


Cast-stone box-lid, taken from a carved plaster original - app. 3" X 5"- 1993, DS
(click on all images to enlarge)


“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living; this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.

This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.”


“But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called -- called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.”


“He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time.”

- Three quotes from: Call of the Wild, the 1903 novel by Jack London.


***


I generally try to avoid recounting dreams on blogs, because, for anybody but the dreamer, they're generally boring. But, in the case of this morning's (July 6th) dream, I actually tried a different technique of dream interpretation and searched its elements online. So, while anyone reading this may or may not find the dream itself terribly exciting, this method of unravelling dream symbols might intrigue.

The Dream:

I was living with my friend, Moo, or, possibly just visiting, but, due to the weirdly circuitous nature of dreams in general, I only became conscious of the dream at the point I'm about to describe.

At this point, someone (?) inquired about the disappearance of Mindy, Moo's family dog. Horrified, I suddenly realized that I had let Mindy out the previous night, but had forgotten all about her! I immediately ran to the door I'd let her out of... it was huge white door, filling one wall of the tall, but narrow, white room it opened from. Oddly enough, I found that it was open and slightly ajar, so, I had never actually closed the door at all. I still felt guilty, but I surmised that the dog could've come back indoors if it wanted to.

At this point the dream convolutes in such a way, that I realized that Mindy has gone far off into the surrounding woods. I can see her. But, the dog I actually see in the woods is a large St. Bernard. Mindy is not, in reality, that breed of dog (although there is a St. Bernard in Moo's son's family), but this didn't occur to me till I woke up. It also came to me in the dream that, perhaps, Mindy had gone up in the woods to die. But, while this upset me, I was suddenly struck by the rightness of such a choice. That is, it occurred to me in the dream, that the most ideal setting for any creature to die is near the earth with nature surrounding them.

In the last segment of the dream, I was proposing to Moo that we establish some variety of fund or fellowship - related in some way to death and nature -  which had for It's symbol (and would be given or carried by its members) a small, leafy twig tied with a bit of fabric.

And then I woke up.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Creatura - What You Can't See, Can Kill You (Update 7/18/14)


Typhoid bacteria found here.

The post - under construction - which originally appeared here: "Creatura - Metamorphosis, Myth & Mirrors," has fallen back into the implicate fold.

Sorry to say, but it's time has not yet come... and may not come. It's the sort of philosophically extravagant blog post I'm avoiding these days, because, in reality, I haven't the time for intensive, online explorations of overwhelmingly dense subjects. In any event, any form of "Creatura Hypothesis" - which, tentatively, was on my agenda - would be premature at this point, and I've decided to parcel out the quotes and images that appeared here into a succession of pared-down future posts.

Blame it on bacteria... that Creatura from the microscopic realm. I am on my second run of antibiotics to rid myself of an upper-respiratory infection, and am hardly in "top form". In a virtual "Battle of Creatura" which one will win?

Hopefully, the one writing this, but don't put your money down just yet! ;-)

***



"Some intrepid biologists at the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered bacteria that survives on nothing but electricity — rather than food, they eat and excrete pure electrons. These bacteria yet again prove the almost miraculous tenacity of life — but, from a technology standpoint, they might also prove to be useful in enabling the creation of self-powered nanoscale devices that clean up pollution. Some of these bacteria also have the curious ability to form into ‘biocables,’ microbial nanowires that are centimeters long and conduct electricity as well as copper wires — a capability that might one day be tapped to build long, self-assembling subsurface networks for human use."

- From an ExtremeTech article - July 18, 2014: "Biologists Discover Electric Bacteria..."


I bring to you the latest in weird biology news... although it appears a Danish group made a similar discovery a couple of years ago. George Dvorsky, meanwhile, reflects on the alien life angle...

As for me... well, electric bacteria might have been exciting news at some point in the past... in the days when biological discoveries added to ones sense of wonder, and an overall respect for the natural world, without necessarily providing support and/or tools ("biocables" and "nanoscale devices") for the Techno-Mechanistic agenda. 

Instead it's just beginning to deeply depress me. As does articles like this one: "Should We Deliberately Edit The Genes Of Wild Animals?"

Should a bear not shit in the woods?


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Creatura - Songs From the Oyster Bed


Oysters on a desk-top - Digital Photo - 2014, DS


"The co-evolutionary story between rocks and life began 4 billion years or so ago, when the planet had only rocks, air and oceans to work with. The origins researchers that followed Miller and Urey’s heady success soon realised that air and oceans aren’t enough to create life, no matter how lightning-filled the sky. Only with the addition of carefully selected minerals will simple, nonliving biomolecules concentrate and combine in complex biologically useful ways.

Life arose from minerals; then minerals arose from life. The geosphere and biosphere have become complexly intertwined, with numerous feedback loops driving myriad critical natural processes in ways that are only now coming into focus."

- from an 2014 article by Robert Hazen, found at Aeon magazine.



"Mr. Gerard further states: 'Just before crossing the boundary of Ludak into Bussalier, I was exceedingly gratified by the discovery of a bed of fossil oysters, clinging to a rock as if they had been alive.'

In whatever point of view we are to consider the subject, it is sublime to think of organic remains lying at such an extraordinary altitude, and of vast cliffs of rocks formed out of them, frowning over the illimitable and desolate waters, where oceans once rolled."

- from Shells on the Snowy Mountains of Tibet, Asiatic Register,  found here.



"... the great power and human destinies are couched in the virtues of Stones and Herbs. But to know from whence these come, a higher speculation is required. Alexander the peripatetic, not going any further than his senses and qualities, is of the opinion that these proceed from Elements, and their qualities, which haply might be supposed to be true, if those were of the same species; but many of the operations of the Stones agree neither in genere nor specie. Therefore Plato and his scholars attribute these virtues to Ideas, the formers of things. But Avicen reduceth these kinds of operations to Intelligence, Hermes to the Stars, Albertus to the specifical forms of things.

...Now consequently we must discourse of Intelligences, spirits and Angels. An Intelligence is an intelligible substance, free from all gross and putrifying mass of a body, immortall, insensible, assisting all, having Influence over all; and the nature of all intelligences, spirits and Angels is the same. But I call Angels here, not those whom we usually call Devils, but spirits so called from the propriety of the word, as it were, knowing, understanding and wise."

- from De occulta philosophia libri tres (Three Books Concerning Occult Philosophy), 1530s, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa









As readers of this blog know, the moment summer arrives, one can often find a peculiar, solitary woman (me) roaming the sandbars on the Connecticut shoreline; every now and then bending down to pick up an object or two... possibly even talking to herself (or the objects) before placing them back down, or, resuming her search (if that's what it is), possibly still holding one prized object (carefully) in her sweaty little paw.

There are no "ordinary" objects at the shore... and some, like the one above (shown from various angles - click to enlarge) are to be celebrated. When I first found these three shells cemented* to a fragment of rock, however, I wasn't even sure what I'd found. Were they some form of barnacle? Had a human glued some shells onto a rock in such a pretty array?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Creatura - The Sentient Seaweed (the Extended Version)


Live scan of an unidentified seaweed - 2014, DS
Note: This scan is a product of a new flatbed scanner... which, apparently had difficulties
reading the black background, hence the weird color artifacts (unfortunately intensified online).
I've tried - and failed - to correct it. Sorry.
(click to enlarge)


creature |ˈkrē ch ər|
noun
an animal, as distinct from a human being : night sounds of birds and other creatures.
• an animal or person : as fellow creatures on this planet, animals deserve respect.
• a fictional or imaginary being, typically a frightening one : a creature from outer space.
• archaic anything living or existing : dress, jewels, and other transitory creatures.
• a person of a specified kind, typically one viewed with pity, contempt, or desire : you heartless creature!
• a person or organization considered to be under the complete control of another : the village teacher was expected to be the creature of his employer.

ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense [something created] ): via Old French from late Latin creatura, from the verb creare (see create).



"In the philosophy of consciousness, sentience can refer to the ability of any entity to have subjective perceptual experiences, or as some philosophers refer to them, "qualia". This is distinct from other aspects of the mind and consciousness, such as creativity, intelligence, sapience, self-awareness, and intentionality (the ability to have thoughts "about" something). Sentience is a minimalistic way of defining consciousness, which is otherwise commonly used to collectively describe sentience plus other characteristics of the mind.

Some philosophers, notably Colin McGinn, believe that sentience will never be understood, a position known as "new mysterianism". They do not deny that most other aspects of consciousness are subject to scientific investigation but they argue that subjective experiences will never be explained; i.e., sentience is the only aspect of consciousness that can't be explained. Other philosophers (such as Daniel Dennett) disagree, arguing that all aspects of consciousness will eventually be explained by science."

- Excerpt from the Wiki entry on sentience.



***

The summer solstice (the pagan holiday of Lithia) approaches, and with it, my inevitable trips to the shore. Sometimes there's an agenda; mostly there isn't. But, when the ocean calls, it never needs to leave a message; I just get in my car - sans towels and sunblock lotion... sans beach blankets, beach balls,  beverage coolers and lounge chairs. I'm there for meditative purposes, investigative purposes, or, more generally, no purpose at all. The ocean calls, and that's enough.

Last week, however, there was a method to my madness as I plodded along the sandbars. My mission was to gather bits of seaweed for an image I was trying to rework and, hopefully, finish. Normally sea plants hold no interest for me, but, for the image, I needed the seaweed's specific organic contours...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

To Decode The Living Matrix... Featuring the Work of Cristóbal Vila


From the video: Isfahan (a detail of this detail) - 3D digital still - 2005, Cristóbal Vila


matrix |ˈmātriks|
noun ( pl. -trices |ˈmātrisēz| or -trixes )
1 an environment or material in which something develops; a surrounding medium or structure : free choices become the matrix of human life.
• a mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, crystals, or fossils are embedded.
• Biology the substance between cells or in which structures are embedded.
• fine material : the matrix of gravel paths is raked regularly.
2 a mold in which something, such as printing type or a phonograph record, is cast or shaped.
3 Mathematics a rectangular array of quantities or expressions in rows and columns that is treated as a single entity and manipulated according to particular rules.
• an organizational structure in which two or more lines of command, responsibility, or communication may run through the same individual.

ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [womb] ): from Latin, ‘breeding female,’ later ‘womb,’ from mater, matr - ‘mother.’


North American Wood Thrush

“As we listen we lose the sense of time—it links us with eternity…Its tones…seem like the vocal expression of the mystery of the universe, clothed in a melody so pure and ethereal that the soul still bound to its earthly tenement can neither imitate nor describe it.”
- Anonymous Twentieth Century naturalist describing the Wood Thrush


"It was dawn and as I lay there listening to the birds w/ my eyes shut I began to see a weird pattern emerging from the darkness... an almost graphic pattern similar to computer graphics... It looked like chopped meat being criss-crossed (sic) by a rapidly moving concentric ring pattern... similar to my cyclocentric* patterns but more intricate. From this emerged what seemed like another darker dimension - again filled with cyclocentric patterns but these were made of various colors of light... and some were large and whirlpooling (sic) while smaller brighter patterns emerged... all of them moving and vibrant and living and all of them revolving and forming harmonics by which even tinier glowing patterns emerged. It was as if I was delving into a series of many dimensions... but I could only glance at certain aspects (of the patterns) for milliseconds at a time (as they were) far too complex and enmeshed for human resolution...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Dog and Pony Show - "Live" from Love Street


"Horses and Hound" - digital mash-up - 2005 DS
(click to enlarge)



"Dog and pony show" is a colloquial term which has come to mean a highly promoted, often over-staged performance, presentation, or event designed to sway or convince opinion for political, or less often, commercial ends. Typically, the term is used in a pejorative sense to connote disdain, jocular lack of appreciation, or distrust of the message being presented or the efforts undertaken to present it."

Dog and Pony Show via Wiki


"Before multi-platinum recording artists and Oscar-winning films celebrated Bloomington, Indiana, the city already occupied an important position in entertainment history. Although these days the term “dog-and-pony show” is usually used ironically, in the late 1800s the Gentry brothers of Bloomington brought glory to their hometown with just such an act.

Having trained a few animals and corralled his three brothers, 17-year-old Henry B. Gentry bought a train car and got a show on the road in 1885. “Gentry’s Equine and Canine Paradox” soon came to feature 40 ponies and 80 dogs in each of two traveling units. Having bought out several of its competitors by 1900, the outfit that was then known as Gentry Brothers Famous Shows lived up to its name with four separate units boasting camels, sacred cows, monkeys, and elephants that entertained crowds as far away as Mexico City."


- via Gentry Brothers Circus, 2006, Yaël Ksander



"She lives on Love Street
Lingers long on Love Street
She has a house and garden
I would like to see what happens

She has robes and she has monkeys
Lazy diamond studded flunkies
She has wisdom and knows what to do
She has me and she has you

I see you live on Love Street
There's this store where the creatures meet
I wonder what they do in there
Summer Sunday and a year
I guess I like it fine, so far"

- from "Love Street" by The Doors, 1968 - (video)



I'd been spending a lot of time in my "black vault" a few months ago... when I first drafted this post; reacquainting myself with old documents from my previous websites: The ShadowBride (poetry), The Circle Zone (geometry), and Araqinta's Gallery of Transmutations (digital illustrations). And, it's specifically that period - from the late 90s to about 2007 - which I've come to recognize as the "good old days."

It was a time in internet history - and maybe you remember -  before the twin scourges of consumerism and commercialism grabbed the helm...  those blissfully private days before the advent of social media and "Smart" devices, when the cyberspace vista was gloriously free of NSA spooks, various trolls, hackers, blogsuckers, bullies, profilers, insidious retailers, and all the myriad other strains of cyberspace creeps. (Update: an example of a particularly virulent UK variety...)

Commerce was merely selling things in those days... now it's become a religion, a philosophy, the manufacturer of social trends... insinuating itself into your private life as a matter of course. Your retailers are now your very best friends; one is prompted to "Like" them on Facebook, waste time scanning their codes into your (Smart) phone, or text-messaging them for their latest promotional deal... all the while trying to convince you that you need them... when the reality is quite the opposite.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Judy Chicago - A Butterfly for Brooklyn - 2015 UPDATE!


A Butterfly for Pomona - Pyrotechnical display - 2012, Judy Chicago
Photo: Donald Woodman 


Noted previously on the sidebar of this blog, fans & followers of Judy Chicago have been doing a lot of celebrating lately... in honor of her 75th birthday (July 20) this year. 

As part of an ongoing tribute to Judy (April 4- September 28, 2014), the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum is presenting a A Butterfly for Brooklyn; an elaboration of her original 1974 pyrotechnic art performance, A Butterfly for Oakland, and an encore performance of A Butterfly for Pomona (pictured above) which was created in California in 2012 (...a great video of which can be found here).




The event is free and open to the public!


***



2015 UPDATE!



Video premiere: A Butterfly for Brooklyn
April 9, 2015, 7:00 PM


The Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will collaborate to host                 Judy Chicago: On Fire, a special two-night event exploring Judy Chicago's works in pyrotechnics.

The April 9th event at the Brooklyn Museum marks the premiere of A Butterfly for Brooklyn, a 20-minute documentary overseen by award-winning film editor Kate Amend and documentary filmmaker Joan Churchill that explores the creation of Chicago's spectacular 2014 fireworks piece in Prospect Park, which was seen and applauded by more than 12,000 viewers.

The following evening, April 10th, MAD will host a conversation with Chicago and MAD curator, Elissa Auther, highlighting some of the artist's earlier fireworks and exploring her long history of creating art with pyrotechnics.

For more info, see Judy's Corner!






Thursday, March 20, 2014

Forevermore, Dr. Evermor - In Praise of a Steampunk Pioneer


"Dr. Evermor's Forevertron, built in the 1980s, is the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world, standing 50 ft. (15,2 m.) high and 120 ft. (36,5 m.) wide, and weighing 300 tons. It is housed in Dr. Evermore's Art Park on Highway 12, in the town of Sumpter, in Sauk County, Wisconsin, United States."
(Photo found here.)

"I don't think there’s any damn need to alter anything at any given point in time, because any kind of shape or form can be anything! It’s all in the way you look at it! I make that vast statement in the many birds I've created here. Those special bird bodies out there – I’ve got electric motors in them. Who says you can’t have electric motors in a bird to make it a power-bird? It’s a rebellious forum that I am presenting in all these things. If an art teacher says, “You can’t do that, you've got to have a bird body shaped like a bird body, I say, “The hell with that, I’ll put any kind of body I want on it!"



"This is a very different kind of art, because there’s never anything imposed on the piece itself - the parts are always used as they are. Thus, you have to put a little twist or torque into it, in order to get some kind of human communication between the finished piece and the more or less rigid, sterile, pre-existing shapes and forms. You have to get some kind of magic going there, and we have a lot of people who have come here, taken pictures, and then they go home and produce things. There are fifteen to twenty people out there trying to do Evermors, but they fail on just that issue of getting enough energy flowing so that the piece has a little magic."

- Two quotes from Dr. Evermor found in this interview.





Tom Every was a depressed man in 1983. At the age of 45, after a disillusioning battle with Big Brother, and in a state of chronic dissatisfaction with the burgeoning commercialism and de-humanizing artificiality he sensed in the modern world, Tom  - a former demolition expert, born in Brooklyn, Wisconsin - turned to the one thing he knew well: scrap metal; vintage industrial machinery. His epiphany arrived in the form of a fictional character - and a story - which emerged in his psyche at the time... the story of "Dr. Evermor", a Victorian inventor from Eggington, England, whose singular purpose was to build a spacecraft to the stars. But, this was no ordinary spacecraft; nor was its proposed destination found on any official celestial map. This vehicle was designed to propel Dr. Evermor to the center of creation - the phenomenal, virtually-timeless lap of "God"- on a magnetic beam of lightening within a magnetic force field, both conjured and fabricated by Evermor, for his first and final solo-mission.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Merkabah and a Sixth Sense - A Practical View (Annotated)





"The idea or reality of the esoteric chakra system may or may not be relevant to the phenomena I am referring to - from what I gather, the chakra centers are considered symbolic and psycho-spiritual and have no apparent physiological manifestation - but, as I am not aware of any other "maps" at my disposal, contemporary "subtle energy" diagrams provide one place to begin the inquiry.

In the tradition of the Eastern mystics - and Western alternative healers - the chakras (Sanskrit for "wheels") are basically 7 main energy vortices or focal points that lie along the spinal column and skull. The uppermost point, and the one that concerns us here, is generally known as Sahasrara, the seventh, or "crown chakra". In some systems, the seventh chakra lies directly at the top of the head, but in others it lies above. In some systems there are a number of energy centers above the head - the uppermost, and the one that corresponds to my sensory zone is sometimes referred to as the "transpersonal point". In all chakra literature, the crown chakra's primary function seems to serve as a conduit for consciousness, generally of the "cosmic" or collective variety."

- from a web article "Non-Local" Causes and Effects on the Human Body (Tactile Sensations from a distance), Dia Sobin, uploaded 2007 (.pdf link at the end of this post)



***


No, it's true, I wasn't lying. I am "exiting the blogosphere." Unfortunately, I spent so much time laying Post-Mac Blues to rest, I haven't had time to deal with Trans-D at all. Meanwhile March has arrived. It still looks like January where I am, mind you, and, yet, it could always be worse... it could look like war. But, as is apparent (and not out-of-character), I was a bit premature when designating "Imbolc" as the "last post". There will be this post and one more to come. I'm aiming for exactly 90 posts. It's a matter of symmetry and symbolism.  Esoterically, the number 9 is the perfect place to tie up loose ends and let loose the finished "product" - ones little spaceship careening towards the galaxy's edge.




How poetic.

But then, my muses - and/or my unconscious self - have/has an agenda... and, generally one I can't figure out till the last phase of a project. The agenda of this post started innocently enough. My urge was to post another scan. On a whim I had scanned into this machine a small crystal Merkabah - a recent birthday gift from my friend, Moo. As we know, I love minerals, and scanning them sometimes provides startling results. So, allow me to explain the scans above and to your left.

First off, Merkabah is an esoteric name given to a certain polyhedron - essentially a triakis octahedron and/or a stella octangula... It has a kind of weird shape that combines both the cubic and the hexagonal - in other words, viewed from one angle it looks square, from the other it resembles a 6-pointed star (hence the "stella"); this is a result of the fact that it is comprised of two interlocking tetrahedrons. Kind of like physical reality. My aim was to capture both angles via my flatbed scanner. To this end I taped my Merkabah - with packing tape - to the inside of a shallow box. Posted above are the results. Posted below (and below the jump) are the same scans with the tape digitally removed.

But, it's the light artifacts in the tape which interest me. While its true that cellophane material will create some cool image scans, I was a little startled by the weird effects produced in conjunction with the crystal polyhedron. Let's just say that, optically, light had a field day. One might also be inclined to consider certain myths concerning the Merkabah in a more sympathetic light.

Originally, the word "Merkabah" arose from early Judaic mysticism and referred to the "chariot of God", specifically that envisioned by the prophet Ezekial.  Of course, nothing is so sacred that it can't fall under the auspices of New Age jargon (or, for that matter, Ancient Alien lore). But, kernals of truth are found in the strangest of places.