Posts Tagged ‘heroes’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 193: The Wind of our soul… Part Three

June 8, 2019

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of the Creator
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Yeah, I’m getting mileage out of this image…it did take a while to finish.
This coming Sunday, June 6th, is called Pentecost Sunday in a majority of Christian denominations.

The Christian holy day of Pentecost, which is celebrated on the eighth Sunday after Easter, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1–31). In Christian tradition, this event represents the birth of the early Church.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecost

I don’t plan these writings ahead of their writing, so, if there is some Planning involved in the image above happening at this time, the Planning isn’t mine. I don’t live my life by Church holy days. Some people do. The Monday following Pentecost is the beginning of Ordinary Time, in the liturgical calendar. In terms of religion, I consider most of my life to be in Ordinary Time, hence the title of this blog. Even after forty-six years on this Faith journey, I mostly consider myself to be a ‘converted pagan’ rather than the member of some denomination… I know a lot of people who would define themselves as a Lutheran or a Presbyterian. Technically I am still a Presbyterian Elder—apparently a lifetime ordination. I haven’t been to a Presbyterian church in a long time.

A few days ago I read an article in the Atlantic, describing the journey of Mike Pence to the White House: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/gods-plan-for-mike-pence/546569

The article raises the question I keep asking, as politics works its way deeper into the life of Faith—how do people reconcile the “porn-star President” that is applauded by evangelical leaders; and the clear teachings of Jesus? The President will be prosecuted for his crimes, eventually. The breadth of his crimes grows weekly as investigations continue. Mueller was simply one investigator.

“At least 14 Democratic-led House committees have been investigating various aspects of President Donald Trump’s businesses, campaign and his presidency since the beginning of this year, an NBC review shows. In all, those committees have launched at least 50 probes into Trump world.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/house-investigations-trump-his-administration-full-list-n1010131

“If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not… Robert S. Mueller III

The Justice Department may be unwilling to indict a sitting President; but that condition will change. The Constitution guarantees that he won’t always be President, in spite of what he may think. When the change occurs, there will be a lot of people who will attempt to justify their support of the man—this always occurs when wrong-doing is discovered. It starts in childhood, when we lie about who ate the cookies… My guess is that evangelical leaders will lie and say that they did not realize what kind of man he is, because he was so skillful in hiding his faults…Perhaps some will confess that they chose politics over Faith. I don’t expect to see much of this; I’m cynical.

From Os Guinness:
“…a few years ago, my son and I were in Singapore, Southeast Asia’s vibrant “intelligence island.” An economist from the University of Singapore was outlining his vision of the post-Cold War era world from the perspective of the Pacific Rim. His argument was unambiguous.
“What we in Singapore want,” he said, “is the modern world, not the West. We want the Asian way, not the American way. We want to follow Confucius, not Christ.” Continuing, he explained, “Having given rise to the modern world, the Jewish and Christian faiths have now been reduced to ruins by the modern world.” Asian countries, he concluded, should take a different path. They should pursue the best opportunities of modern capitalism, industrialized technology, and telecommunication within the setting of their own beliefs and cultures…”
…the modern world quite literally “manages” without God. We can do so much so well by ourselves that there is no need for God, even in his church. Thus, we modern people can be profoundly secular in the midst of explicitly religious activities. Which explains why so many modern Christian believers are atheists unawares. Professing to be believers in supernatural realities, they are virtual atheists; whatever they say they believe, they show in practice that they function without practical recourse to the supernatural. An Australian business leader once told me when he shared his faith with a Japanese CEO, the response was dismissive: “Whenever I meet a Buddhist leader, I meet a holy man in touch with another world. Whenever I meet a Christian leader, I meet a manager at home only in this world like I am.”

There is another world. We all have the capacity to live in this other world, because the ‘instrument of change’ is already inside us. Can we take everything we are, into this other world? Probably not. For me, living in this other world requires, among many other things, that I become more compassionate toward strangers. I can do this for short periods of time; I have yet to be able to live this way all the time.

The Spirit of the Creator lives in all of us; and possibly empowers the soul. I believe that the Creator has known the entirety of our lives since the Creation of the World. The Creator lives in Kairos time; not in Chronos time, as we do. Unlike many of the Creator’s followers, the Creator does not demand our belief. At the same time, if we ask the Creator for help in changing the person that we are, the Help will be here. But no magic. Change requires time, and a desire to change.

…and the monstrous creatures of whales_3.1

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #17: Self-Image, Part 2

You will most likely become the person you tell yourself you are. This is sort of how it works. We become the person we expect to be. If you don’t like the person you are now, you need start changing the way you talk to yourself; talking the person you want to be, into existence.
This sounds like a platitude from a Self-Help book [and it is]; however, I was able to do it myself. Have I arrived at some mystical level of the Universe? Nope.

I dislike encounters with absolute strangers.
Consequently, I live in a forest.

My forest happens to be located in suburban Portland…
I’m sure that neighbors complain about our lowering of the neighborhood property values;
I really don’t care.

Thankfully, I have a son that is willing to keep the yard from getting totally overgrown. I built the house right after I graduated with my degree in Architecture. I knew nothing about building houses, and truth told, I knew little about designing houses. I built the house for my parents, planted all the trees and shrubs that didn’t magically appear on their own. We live on the side of a volcano [Portland is surrounded by volcanoes]; the ground underneath the topsoil is pure clay. Since I knew nothing about building a house, I did not instruct the excavator to set the topsoil aside, when the hole for the foundation was dug. Consequently, our topsoil ended up underneath 2000sf of clay. Every ‘growie’ I planted was placed in a separate ‘pot’ dug into the clay and rooted itself into the potting soil I made, filling in the hole. After that, I was done with landscaping. I’d kept my parents’ yards in line since elementary school.

I digress.

My first job placed me in front of customers all day long, in a lumber yard. I hated it. We paid bills and ate because of that job. I did not want to work for an architect. Eventually, I started a construction company and began associating with people who wanted to better themselves. My construction company eventually died; and I ended up working for the Bureau of Buildings in Portland, assigned to the Permit Center. A new customer every 20 minutes; most of whom did not want to be there. I didn’t want to be there either.

I hyperventilated in the rest room on breaks. I ate lunch by myself every day, listening to relaxing music. I drew; I wrote in journals. I came to work late and went home late—it was a good way to avoid people.

Benjamin Franklin carried a diary with him every day. In that diary was a grid listing Personality Traits he wanted to achieve. He marked down, each day, whether or not he had improved in acquiring his Personality Traits, or whether he’d blown it entirely.

I followed his example. It works.

I read self-help books and listened to self-help stories every day for five years. I mostly did not watch television or movies [back when dinosaurs ruled the earth]. Every day, self-help input. If you read something often enough, it is possible to believe it. I did not believe myself into wealth through selling stuff. My goal was comfort with people; especially with certain people I admired, but rarely met. A different story.

I worked in the Permit Center for nine years. By the time I gave myself permission to go upstairs and review commercial plans for multi-story buildings, I was teaching classes. After I left the City to become a consultant, I taught classes for architects and engineers. When I went into sales, I taught classes in stuff I really didn’t know all that well, sometimes using interpreters…I’d say three sentences, and it sounded like I had said far more, when it came from the interpreter. I have no idea what I supposedly said.

I did not change my aversion to strangers. I learned to get past my aversions and practice new behaviors.

Sherlock’s Mind

This is all metaphor.
Inside the maze of nerves and neurons and electro-chemicals that make up our minds, we have two hamster wheels. At some point in our lives, nearly everyone gets stuck on the hamster wheel. There are two hamster wheels—the one we use most often has gotten dingy from staying in the dark attic of our painful memories; the other wheel is new and shiny because it hardly gets used, and Mrs. Hudson comes on a regular basis to keep the lighted attic room clean.

The two wheels are next to each other. Going from the dark and dingy part of our brain to the clean and bright part of our brain ‘simply’ requires that we stop running our static-filled brain and stepping across to the light side of our brain. We can climb onto the shining hamster wheel and jog in the sunshine of our mind.

It is an act of the will.

You can do this; it isn’t easy. It’s simply doable.
With a lot of work and determination, you can become a new you.
You have to change the way you think. You need to continually reduce the negative self-talk and learn positive self-talk. You are going to talk to your mind all of the time anyway; learn new ways to think.

Changing the way we think, in this world, with ALL of its problems, is incredibly hard; but it can be done. We are surrounded by people on the Hero’s Quest who are working to make a better future.

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 192: The Wind of our soul… Part Two

June 2, 2019


The Spirit of the Creator
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Last time I wrote about the Star Wars aspect of the above image…
We are not ‘a long time ago’ nor ‘far away’.
We are here, and now. Governed by an American government that is every bit as corrupt as the Galactic Empire. The Rebel Alliance here seems to have trouble getting their stuff together.

A question raised by Season Four of Madame Secretary: why would one follow the Muslim path when the world hates you? The question in that story is brought about by the plight of the Rohingya People; and the plight of the Muslim people in Palestine; the Muslim people in China; the Muslim people in the Middle East and across the globe. The Muslim people in the United States of America. Here we celebrate ‘Freedom of Religion’ while our President wants to ban all Muslim people from our country.

This was the same question raised about the first followers of Jesus. Why would you believe, when to believe means that you will die as entertainment in the Roman Coliseum?

I believe there is one Creator of the entire Universe. The God that the Muslim people pray to, five times a day, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the One God of the Jewish race; the One God of those who follow the Christian Way. I believe that anyone who worships the Eternal, who worships the Divine, worships the One God, worships with equal devotion, regardless of the name they pray to. The Jewish nation was taught that the Name of the Creator is unpronounceable. The Name of the Creator in Hebrew, if this Name was ever written, uses characters that are four ‘breath’ sounds, in Hebrew; the Name of our Creator is the sound of our breathing.

The Creator is within every person who has ever lived; the Gift given to all; but understood by so very few. When I asked the Creator into my life, there were no ‘tongues of fire’—not even a business card falling from the sky. Nothing entered me from the outside. I simply became ‘woke’. I experienced some of the ‘religious circus’ stuff in the years that followed, but nothing came into me from the outside.

The Creator gives us the power of Choice, Knowing the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up. The Creator gives us the Choice to see the world with new eyes [the actual meaning of the word translated as repent]. And yet, so many encounter a religion that divides people by rules.

Some Biblical language instruction:
In the Hebrew scriptures, aka The Tanakh, Creation happens by means of the Spirit of the Creator, who is described as ‘ruach,’ a wind…

Hebrew | ruach: breath, wind, spirit | Original Word: רוּחַ |Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
Transliteration: ruach | Phonetic Spelling: (roo’-akh) | Definition: breath, wind, spirit

The New Testament was written in Greek [or translated from the Aramaic, into Greek]. In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, the Spirit of God promised by Jesus arrives among the followers of Jesus in the sound of a rushing wind, with ‘tongues of fire’ [there are no mentions of fires being started, or people being injured by flames]. The Greek word for ‘wind’ is pneuma [from which we get the word ‘pneumatic’]…

Πνεῦμα
Greek | pneuma: wind, spirit | Original Word: πνεῦμα, ατος, τό | Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
Transliteration: pneuma | Phonetic Spelling: (pnyoo’-mah) | Definition: wind, spirit, breath

In traditional Chinese culture, qi or ch’i is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity…

qi
Qi translates as “air” [wind] and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force“, or “energy flow“. Qi is the central underlying principle in Chinese traditional medicine and in Chinese martial arts. The practice of cultivating and balancing qi is called qigong.

If humans miraculously survive for another thousand years, Star Wars will have become a legend, as well as a fantasy. The Star Wars saga may become a fairy tale read to children [possibly Star Trek, as well…].
The stories found in Holy Books will become a thousand years older…
Here’s where I get in trouble, according to many:
While the Tanakh and the New Testament, are said to be ‘the Word of God’, it is important to realize that when the events described in these books occurred, there were no journalists, no voice recorders, no pencils for that matter, nor were there notepads.

   It was not unusual for ancient narratives, poetry and rules to have been transmitted orally for several generations before being committed to writing. Before the Aramaic-derived modern Hebrew alphabet was adopted circa the 5th century BCE, the Phoenician-derived Paleo-Hebrew script was used instead for writing, and a derivative of the script still survives to this day in the form of the Samaritan script…The oldest manuscripts discovered yet, including those of the Dead Sea Scrolls, date to about the 2nd century BCE. The common traditional dating of the Pentateuch suggests it was written between the 16th century and the 12th century BCE…
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Hebrew_writings

In short, men [probably] whose only job was memory, told stories around campfires; and it was believed that these stories told the histories of people of Faith. Eventually these stories were written down on various non-acid-free scrolls, parchments, scraps of leather; and none of the original documents exist. Scripture that exists today are copies of copies of copies of copies, translated from one language to another. The Hebrew and Greek texts were translated into Latin in the early centuries of Christian history; Martin Luther was the first person to translate scripture from Latin into his colloquial language: German. Martin Luther, with the help of Gutenberg, invented the first wall posters—illustrated passages of Scripture printed on large pieces of paper, to decorate houses. The King James version of the Bible was translated from Latin into the colloquial English of the time. At present there are MANY versions of the Bible:

The Bible has been translated into many languages from the biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As of October 2018, the full Bible has been translated into 683 languages, the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,534 languages and Bible portions or stories into 1,133 other languages. Thus at least some portion of the Bible has been translated into 3,350 languages.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_translations#Differences_in_Bible_translations

The Prophet Isaiah

The Point: The point is that good people, with the best intentions, do things poorly; because ‘poorly’ is the best they can do. From a lot of reading, I’ve learned that English is a crummy language for translating ideas. My usual example: Greek has four separate and distinct words for connections between people that get translated in the English version of the New Testament as ‘love’. My love for ice cream is entirely different than my love for my children.

There are a lot of religious people who believe that a particular version of the Bible is the only correct version [because they believe someone who told them this]. There are a lot of religious people who believe that because ‘the Bible is the Word of God,’ they can pick out any verse in the Bible, by itself, and expect other people to believe that the sentence is absolutely correct, and appropriate to any given situation—’a teaching from the mouth of God’. Language does not work that way. The fact that someone talking to me believes they are correct, does not make it so.

I believe that the Bible is entirely true, in the original languages, for the purpose that was intended; and the time for which it was written. I cannot think of a single instance today for which these verses are true [Psalm 137: 8,9]:

8 O Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, blessed is he who repays you as you have done to us.
9 Blessed is he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

And yet, they are in the Word of God. And there is probably someone in the world who takes these verses to heart; probably as they perform genocide. They are ‘excused by god’.

There are religious people who are cheerfully heading down the Road to Armageddon, because there are specific prophetic passages in Scripture that ‘state’ that at the Right Time, Jesus will return, and the entire world will be made new. And the Right Time is ‘very close’ [it was very close, forty years ago; and long before that]. There is nothing in Scripture that presents the idea that Jesus would be returning in 2000+ years from Jesus’ resurrection; the authors of the New Testament never expected that two millennia would pass before the prophecies take place. Many of the peoples of the New Testament had expected that Jesus would raise an army to kick the Romans out of Palestine.

There are people in Congress who believe that ‘there is no need to worry about Climate Change, because Jesus is going to fix everything at the second coming’. I heard the statement myself.

Religious people do tremendous harm by making verses from the Bible apply to current events in the Americas. No one east of the Pacific Ocean in Biblical times, had a clue that there was land on the west side of the Pacific Ocean. The Americas might have even seemed like Heaven; until the invaders showed up.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #16: Self-Image

The hardest work that someone can do is to decide to change ‘who I am’ into ‘who I want to be.’ Frequently, the internal message is, ‘there must be something wrong with me, because I feel like I’m failing.’ In my opinion, you are too close to the problem to see it clearly. It is necessary to somehow ‘step back’ from the situation, so that you can gain perspective.

Remember/realize that everything that you struggle with/against is a construct of your brain; a construct of your mind. The fact that you are reading these words is a demonstration of the problem.
If you are like me, you are looking at this screen as if there is somehow a hole in the front of your brain, that is projecting these words onto the screen; and you are reading a projection.
There is no hole. Light enters your eyeballs; the lenses in your eyeballs flip the image of this screen upside down [the nature of lenses]; light shines on your retinas; light-sensitive ‘neurons’ turn the information about the light into electro-chemical signals to your brain; portions of your brain turn that electro-chemical information into a construction which appears to your mind as if you are seeing through your eyes—as if you were looking through binoculars. What you see, what you are reading, is constructed inside your brain. When you close your eyes, the light stops; the message isn’t retained for more than a moment, inside the mind associated with the closed eyes.

Because of the ‘magic’ of computers, you are probably reading something that doesn’t really look like what I’m typing. I’m typing in a specific font, with ‘black’ ‘ink,’ on ‘white’ ‘paper’. You may be bored with black on white, and instead have your computer set to show these words as dark green on beige ‘paper’ in some sort of font that looks like calligraphy.

Who you are, to a large degree, is a construction in your brain.

Commercial Art is very much like Performance Art. You create your work for an audience of some sort. The results of that performance [often measured in dollars] determine your sense of ‘success’.
I received another Award this last week. The third Award this year from the same organization. My Amazon KDP royalties for this month total… [drum roll]

$0.04

I can usually buy a cup of coffee with my royalties, as long as I don’t do it at Starbucks.

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, there was a clear distinction between Commercial Art and Fine Art. Art created for commerce was somehow beneath the ‘great’ artists. Norman Rockwell, easily one of the great illustrators in America, was always ashamed that he created Commercial Art. He was taught to be ashamed of his success. As time went on, the necessities of printed magazine art required him to use tools [like an opaque projector] and photographs, in order to meet deadlines. He loved his work; but always felt that he should be painting from life, as his heroes did.

When I ventured out on this Illustrator gig, I wanted to illustrate Adventure Stories. I studied the great illustrators of the 19th and 20th Centuries; and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I wanted to use realism to illustrate adventure stories. The sort of books one could find in libraries, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
I spent about 10 years, honing my skills, and learning to illustrate digitally. Sadly, the Children’s Illustration market left me behind. There are few illustration opportunities for Adventure illustration for children, using adult characters. There was a time when Children’s Books were just about the same as books for adults, but with illustrations and less gore.

I have an improbable goal of bringing it back.

Artie Shaw [his anglicized name] was one of the most popular musicians in the ‘Swing Era’ of the 1930s.

   Well, the minute you became a big, big, smash hit, it became very confusing. Nothing in life can prepare you for stardom. Success is a very, big problem. Bigger than failure. You can deal with failure; it’s tough, it’s hard, you fight like Hell to get going. But success is an opiate. You get very confused.
Things happen that you have no preparation for. Money comes in, and popularity, and people throw themselves at you. You don’t know what you’re in to. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t know what to do with it.
The basic truth is that popular music has very little to do with musical value at all. I still wanted to play music. And the audience was saying ‘play what you’ve been playing. Play the same thing over and over. We like that.’ They could never get it through their heads that what they liked was what I was playing on my way to getting better. That record that they liked, “Begin the Beguine,” was like an albatross. It became a millstone around my neck.
The overwhelming success of “Begin the Beguine” would eventually propel Artie Shaw past Benny Goodman in popularity. But in 1939, Shaw disbanded his orchestra in frustration. “I’m unhappy in the music business,” he said. “I like the music; love and live it, in fact. But for me, the business part plain stinks.”
Artie Shaw, “Ken Burns’ Jazz”

During World War II, Shaw re-formed his band and toured Army and Navy bases throughout Europe. The reactions of the soldiers and sailors, as they heard swing music from home, stunned Shaw. He had no idea what he had created.

Vincent van Gogh, one of my heroes, was a total failure as a painter. He sold only one painting in his lifetime. He started his career as an evangelist; he found that he identified so closely with the people working to survive, that he could no longer see a path out of that life. He thought he could capture the life of the people in his paintings and show the world what he saw. The world wasn’t ready to see what he saw.

“Prices realised for just his nine paintings listed below, when adjusted for inflation to 2017, add up to over US $900 million.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings

Portrait of Dr. Gachet This painting is the first version of this motif Portrait of Dr. Gachet was painted in June 1890 at Auvers-sur-Oise, during the last months of van Gogh’s life, before his suicide. He made two versions of the painting, which differ in color. Both are oil-on-canvas and measure 67 by 56 cm (26″ by 22″) in size. The first (this picture) was sold to a private collector in 1990 for $82.5 million; the second painting is currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.
This is one of the most expensive paintings created by
Vincent van Gogh.

We mostly do not know the importance of our lives. Your importance is not measured in money. Your importance is measured in the quality of your living. Your importance is measured in what you bring into existence.

A message to the President of our country; one he will not read; and may not even be able to understand:

“Tonight, there will be few Americans who will go to bed without carrying with them the sense that somehow they have failed.
“If in the search of our conscience we find a new dedication to the American concepts that brook no political, sectional, religious or racial divisions, then maybe it may yet be possible to say that John Fitzgerald Kennedy did not die in vain.”
“That’s the way it is, Monday Nov. 25, 1963. This is Walter Cronkite, good night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 189: Pain

April 24, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used to think that emotional pain was somehow different from physical pain. As the years have passed, and as I’ve learned more about how the brain functions, I find I was mistaken.

Emotional pain and physical pain are processed in the brain by synaptic connections; and the information is stored in the brain; and the brain prompts a reaction to that pain. The connections the brain makes, and the pathway the connections take will be similar. Sometimes pain becomes attached to a memory. If the emotional pain and the physical pain happen at the same time—an ‘accident’; an assault; someone getting pushed down a stairway after receiving a near-fatal blow [I watch a lot of British cop shows]—the memory of physical pain can become attached to an emotional pain.

The Japanese boy in the image above is minutes away from dying from the radiation poisoning that killed his his sister. An illustration from a Hiroshima Diary—the encounter occurred. After the bomb destroyed Hiroshima, what was left were children wandering through the rubble, trying to find their parents, who had already been killed by falling construction debris or ‘shrapnel’; or simply had disintegrated. The teacher who wrote the Hiroshima Diary [a genre in Japan] was looking for her niece and nephew. She had been away from home when the bomb dropped; upon her arrival home, and learning about the missing children, she entered the blast range. She survived, and lived to an elderly age, scarred by radiation.

There are no winners in a nuclear war. Certain Politicians often seem to ignore this fact.

In Hiroshima and Nagasaki there are ‘shadow people’ who have been ‘enshrined’. People destroyed by the blast; and before their bodies disintegrated, they provided ‘shade’ on buildings that were ‘bleached’ by the blast. The only thing remaining of these people was their shadows.

There are no winners in a nuclear war.

Lyrics from Jason Gray:
…wounded’s a part that I’ve learned to play well; though the wound may run deeper than I know how to tell.
Where pain’s an addiction that keeps me buried alive; but when it’s all that I know, I’m afraid to leave it behind. And bring my heart to every day and run the risk of fearlessly loving without running away.

I have a CD in the car, about 18 songs, that always plays while I’m driving by myself. Lyrics I want myself to remember; lyrics that help me define who I am. “Without Running Away” is on that album. Fearlessly loving, without running away, is one of my life goals.

I’ve mentioned this before, in spite of my inward desire to be anonymous; a desire that I am training toward transparency. I had a trampoline mishap in a PE class in my 3rd or 4th year of high school. I was supposed to bounce up and land on my belly; instead, I landed on my upper chest, and my legs flew backward over my head—my face on the trampoline fabric. Sort of like an Ω with my head on the right leg of the omega. I heard/felt the sound of a zipper as my vertebrae ‘popped’.

Being able to get to a doctor, there apparently was no need, in my parent’s view, for me to see a doctor. For a long time, I could not rotate my head to the side; when someone was next to me, I had to rotate like a door on hinges in order to face them.

I majored in architecture, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and we used actual pencils and paper for drawing. One spends most of their time while drafting, bent forward at the waist. By the time I graduated from college, and started building my parents’ house, I found that excavating dirt by hand was very uncomfortable. The back pain disappeared, for a time, after my future wife and I went to an evangelistic Crusade. I felt a compulsion to go to the stage despite my desire not to go. I chose obedience. I wasn’t aware of anything happening, while I was lying, embarrassed, on the stage floor. A day or three later, I realized the pain was gone. A Grace gift to encourage me on the strange Quest I had decided to take.

Three totaled automobiles; years of being a stupid contractor; working in a lumber yard and going back to drafting brought the high school injury back.

My first migraine happened in the winter of 1979; I spent a day on the floor of a house my partners and I were remodeling. Having gone to my doc, and having received pure caffeine as a medication, I continued to work on the following days, using the bathroom a lot, and my stomach being unhappy. Self-employed people don’t get sick days.

The migraines eventually became weekly, continuing until the early years of this century. I spent a lot of time on weekends in a darkened room with Blue Ice encasing my head. My brain apparently knew that I needed to work; my brain apparently considered being unconscious to be the equivalent of recreating.

The Neuropathy arrived in 2008; took up residence in the spring of 2009; and has taken residence in larger areas of my body, every two years. So, while my sensory nerves degrade, the degradation is accompanied by continual internal nerve pain. At present, I have no reflexes, and my feet no longer feel that I’m walking on a flat surface; there is an invisible ‘step’ on the underside of my feet. One of the good things is that my sciatic nerves no longer function well—I no longer have sciatica. I no longer wear a black wrestling glove to deal with tendonitis in my right hand.

The above is way more than I usually say. I refuse to define myself by pain.

Refusal isn’t always successful. There are a lot of days that I feel as though I’m addicted to pain. Unlike my past addiction to barbiturates, I don’t have solutions to the addiction to pain. And I continue to refuse to be defined by pain, or by my inability to walk on an unpaved surface [my ‘z’ axis is difficult to find—too little information from my feet]. It’s becoming harder to not define myself by being ‘uniquely abled’ [I refuse to use the d-word].

I distract myself from the pain by focusing on illustrations or client work; or by being engrossed by a video. Nowadays, I find myself limited by my inability to sit in one spot for very long. This requires more variety in my distractions.

Forty-six years ago, I began a Quest to find a new self by connecting with my Creator. There have been instances, like the Crusade thing above, where I have found a Grace gift of decreased pain. By and large, the pain has continued despite my connection with my Creator, and despite stupid things that church people say, ‘proof-texting’ [take a Bible verse out of context and claim that verse as a promise]. One of the oldest books in Hebrew scripture is the Book of Job—two-thirds of which is declared BS by the Creator. Job is about ‘shit happens.’ The Human Propensity to Fuck things Up continues throughout history. I learned that I can trust my Creator to enable me to get past the shit. Sometimes it means going right through the shit; but it isn’t permanent. While I am sometimes surprised by the events of my life, I know that my Creator is never surprised; I know that the shit doesn’t have to define me. It won’t be there when I die; and death is a doorway into a much larger life. That is a promise we are given.

There are people, some of whom are friends of mine, who talk about ‘the Victorious Christian Life’. It isn’t my life. Unless Persistence is the equivalent of victorious. I didn’t get into this gig expecting Victorious. I got in because I was lost; I had no clue how to live a life. One of the deficiencies of not talking with my parents—but I did not want their life. My wife and I have inherited all of their houses, consecutively; but I did not want their life. I didn’t see meaning in their lives; like Alonso Quihana, I sought a life that I read about in books. I wanted to follow a Quest. I wanted higher goals; I wanted something heroic; I wanted to stop being afraid of people; and to be willing to take risks.

In a post from a few weeks ago, I talked about Benjamin Franklin’s Quest to become a different person. I invested five years of my life learning how to become a different person. The reason I took on that task didn’t have the ending I’d expected; but the learning was immensely valuable.

Enough of that.

A thought, via Functional MRI

  • Illustration Tip #13: Repetitive Stress Injury

It’s a thing. IT IS POSSIBLE TO DAMAGE ONESELF BY ‘MOUSING’. I learned this a couple of years ago. I was attempting to help an author/illustrator to digitally publish a children’s book on Amazon by what used to be called CreateSpace—Print on Demand. There was an upcoming presentation, for which a stack of books was desired.

At the beginning of the project, I ordered one of my books for myself, so that I would know the turnaround time between the order and the delivery. That time frame because the calendar for progress on the book. The problem was that the author/illustrator was a perfectionist and kept changing the illustrations. There are rules and guidelines for printing in a book that aren’t applicable to printing a single page. Every time the illustration changed, I needed to tweak the illustration. For the last week or three I was probably working on the book continually, 6 hours a day; clicking my mouse button hundreds of times per day. Before we hit the ‘finish line’ I was using all sorts of methods to stop the burning pain in my neck. My trapezius muscle, which connects to the muscles of the neck and scalp was contracting on my right side. The back of my neck, on the right side only, had developed folds of skin because the underlying muscles were contracting. There were pains in m arm and hand as well [despite the Neuropathy].

I finally decided to try acupuncture. I went to one of the local schools’ clinics. On the first visit, needles in my feet made 90% of the pain go away. The next three visits, with different practitioners, had no discernable impact. I forced myself to avoid the computer for 2-3 weeks. It got better. It changed. The grooves in my neck flattened out again.

I still have repetitive stress issues; I found a CBD lotion that I use every night, and as needed during the day. An hour from now, the alarm on my phone will go off, reminding me that I need to stop working before 2a.

Mariana John Everitt Millais

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 186: When does an Idea become a Fact?

March 25, 2019


An Idea. The most powerful force in the Universe.
When does an Idea become a Fact; and when does a Fact become an Idea?

In this context, I have to explain what I mean: I believe that Ideas drive us further than simple Facts. “Naia” above, is a fact; her DNA consists of combined Asian and Siberian strains in a pattern that is not found west of the Alaskan longitude. Her DNA is consistent with all the Indigenous peoples that populate the Americas [some of this information comes from the study of a younger skeleton, a male child found in Montana, which did not have a representation of his face constructed]. The face above is not what most of us would call, ‘an American Indian’. Naia’s face is not our Idea of an American Indian. But “Naia” is a fact. It requires an Idea for us white folk to understand that all the Indigenous people, throughout the Americas, are Naia’s forebears’ descendants. One family. This Idea is shown, scientifically, to e a much earlier time.

In human genetics, the Mitochondrial Eve is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans, i.e., the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve

Does science therefore prove that the Bible is correct? The Older Testament contains a Hebrew story about how the world began. Many civilizations have similar stories. The Book of Genesis also talks about the Creation of the sun, moon and stars. Stars that were light years away from Earth. Starlight from stars that take years to reach Earth.

The two [nearest] stars [to our solar system] are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, which form a binary pair. They are an average of 4.3 light-years from Earth.
https://www.space.com/18090-alpha-centauri-nearest-star-system.html

How many stars are there within 1,000 light years from our Solar System? The space within 1000 light years is (1000/50)³ = 8000 times as large. Assuming a homogenous distribution you can expect 7 to 8 million stars in this range.
https://www.quora.com/How-many-stars-are-there-within-1-000-light-years-from-our-Solar-System

Scripture does say that to the Creator, one day is like a thousand years; and a thousand years is as a day…

People throughout history have overcome the Facts of their lives by focusing on an Idea that carries them beyond the Facts. An Idea that becomes the driving force of their lives.

For generations, there has been an Idea that all mankind are members of one family, our brothers and sisters. A Fact.
For generations there has been Idea that only those people within our generation of people are our family—often the people who our grandparents sired, or the people sired by our great-grandparents. Another Fact.
Research into our ancestry can enlarge our view of how we came to be. An Idea.

You are an Idea.

You are more than an Idea; however, when someone asks for information about yourself, you probably describe yourself by your job, or your role in life. You possibly identify yourself by your passions—sports, gaming, mountain climbing; the person you are married to, your children, your famous relative…these roles are facts about you. Or facts that you wish were about you. What you choose to do with these facts can become your guiding Idea.

People with a mental illness struggle with finding their identity—a post-medicated identity that doesn’t match the person they were before the medication. Being unable to reach a personality they no longer have. The struggle to understand who they are now. They need to find a new Idea of who they are going to be.

People with physical illness struggle in the same fashion—they can no longer participate in a life they enjoyed before. The athlete who is missing limbs, the singer who can no longer sing, the musician who can no longer play their music. The ‘ordinary’ [I believe we are all extraordinary—but we have been taught not to be] person who can’t walk anymore, or can’t climb trees, or walk along a mountain path. They need to find a new Idea of who they are going to be.

When one is a high-achiever by nature or learning and can no longer achieve to the level they consider necessary, they struggle with finding value in lesser achievements. The person with large dreams for the future who finds that the dreamed-of future will never happen.

I currently deal with an unexplained fatigue, on top of my Polyneuropathy of Unknown Cause. I can’t do what I used to be able to do. To a degree, I can’t do what I could do last year, and this is only March. The wrist that won’t support my weight without collapsing. The pain involved in getting out of bed. The morning walk that drains more energy than it did months ago. I won’t go through the details.

However, I refuse to describe myself by the things that I cannot do. This refusal is an Idea. The Idea that I have a choice about the way I see myself; succeeding or failing. On many days, I don’t succeed; I still refuse to accept the Idea of failure, as my self-definition. I am uniquely able, rather than using the dis- word. Life was simpler when I thought life was about facts.

Each of us is an Idea. We all make the decision as to what that Idea is.

The reality is that a large portion of the world’s population has no Idea at all. There are those who never seem to make it past adolescence, no matter how many years they have been around. There are many who are never permitted to have an Idea of who they could be. There are those who have lived in Privilege [however that is defined], whose world collapses underneath them; and now that have no privileges at all. The ones who have the weight of the world on top of them, when they were on top of the world last week. Then there are people who are uncontrollably damaged through no fault of their own. Shit Happens.

Who we become next is an Idea.
Where do we find the Ideas?

This is going to upset some people:
The Creator [aka God] is an Idea. I happen to believe that the Creator is also a Fact; perhaps The Fact of human existence. But I can’t prove this to be true. Countless wars have been fought, are being fought, because opposing peoples can’t reconcile their Idea with someone else’s Idea. Frequently wars are started because opposing peoples cannot agree on how a Book should be read. I’m a heretic. My most substantial evidence for the existence of the Creator does not come from a Book or Books; my evidence comes from my experiences. The Books back up what I’ve learned by way of the Spirit of the Creator.

I think one starts with ‘painting a mental picture’ of who you want to be; imagining what characteristics the who you want to become would have. How that person would act instead of how you react without being that person.
In 1726, at the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin created a system to develop his character. He created a ‘score card’ with thirteen character traits he wanted to have. He kept this list with him at all times and marked his chart whenever he demonstrated that characteristic. Over time, more of the characteristics were marked. Over time, he changed who he was. It works; I’ve done it myself.

http://www.thirteenvirtues.com/

There are two men in my life who are very important to me. Fifty years apart in age, they struggle in similar ways with the question of who they are going to be. Both of them explore the concept of ending their existence. I know that I can’t ‘fix’ either of them—we can never ‘fix’ another human being; the most we can do is provide an environment where change can occur, when the person decides that change is necessary—and yet I know that they can change. They don’t yet have a new Idea for their lives. I can’t download an Idea from my brain to theirs; and I know this wouldn’t work either, because it would be my Idea, not theirs.

Where do we find the Ideas? For me, the Ideas come from a search for new truths. I have a soundtrack that plays through my head for most of my waking hours. Perhaps during my sleeping hours as well, since the music plays 24/7. Maybe my ears pick up sounds while I’m asleep, better than when I’m awake. A soundtrack for the person I want to be, even if I’m not there yet. Last night I was listening to an artist I admire; however, his music is mostly from the ‘pop charts.’ I find songs from pop charts to be fairly vapid; and yes, I’m a music snob.

I continually read. Each morning I read something specifically related to my Idea; during the day I read about what’s happening in the world. I read novels a few times a week; I’m a fan of hero stories. Before going to bed each night, I watch hero stories on the black rectangle in the living room.

I believe the Ideas we accept for our lives begin with our upbringing; whether positive or not. I’ve come to the realization that what parents assume is being taught to their children isn’t what their children are learning. I realize that I didn’t spend enough time engaging my children as they were growing. Partially because I never talked with my parents; but that is simply an excuse. The reality is that I placed a higher priority on my own struggles than engaging with my children and their struggles. We can’t go back and correct our mistakes. I’m a fan of time travel stories; however, I also realize that time travel is science fiction.

Find an Idea. Make it yours.

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #11: More Marketing

Being self-employed, I need to be marketing my work all the time. I hate marketing myself; the guy that mutes commercials on the black rectangle; the one that hides all the ads on Facebook. I usually quit reading Fb when I’m tired of deleting spam. I mark all the spam as Irrelevant; my magical thinking expects that someday, I will reprogram the Fb algorithm.

So, this guy who hates commercials needs to create ‘commercials’ for myself, in order to make my presence known. I’m this guy:

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and the internet did not exist, we needed to use print advertising to get our message out to the world. The rule of thumb at that time was that only 4% of our ads would create a response by a prospective client. To put that in a better perspective, if one sends out 199 fliers, one should not expect to receive more than 4 inquiries. If one sends out 220 fliers, one might hear from 8 prospects. The average number was an average; it wasn’t a guarantee.

According to the Netcraft January 2018 Web Server Survey there are 1,805,260,010 (over 1.8 billion) websites. Yes, the Internet is very big. However, most of those websites get almost no visitors. If I was really into marketing myself, I would tell you that “I have the formula for bringing thousands of customers to your website,” but I would be lying. There is no formula. MY guess is that the 4% number is probably still accurate.

Among the things I do, I make videos:

You may, or you may not, realize that most, if not all of the ads on Social Media now feature videos. The concept being that movement attracts attention. Movement does attract attention. For me, movement signals that I probably need to delete the ad…

I struggle with the Idea of what my business is. Creating videos is fun; it’s also tedious. If you follow the image link above to my mjarts.com home page, you’ll see a video that I enjoy, conceptually, but there is movement in the titles [vertical words] that shouldn’t be there. Correcting the movement is tedious. I think the plan was to do something different, rather than making the correction; my life being what it is, I forget what the plan was.

Even more than making videos is ‘photo manipulation’. When dinosaurs ruled the earth, and digital images did not exist, one sometimes ended up with a paper photograph that did not do the subject justice. Or one ended up with old photographs whose image degraded due to sunlight or other forms of abuse. Back then, it was called ‘photo restoration’. The need still exists, because people have old photographs they want to be proud of, and the photo is no longer cooperating:

I have just illustrated for you one Idea about marketing your business. Did it work? You tell me: marty@mjarts.com

[OMG: I posted my email address on a webpage. Yeah, that’s pretty much the point…yes, I get a lot of spam]

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 185: The Audience of One

March 15, 2019
“…mushrooms, 30-40 feet high” from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth

Nature has that in her which compels us to invent giants.
C.S. Lewis, ‘On Stories’, Of Other Worlds

Clive Staples Lewis is in my opinion, one of the most brilliant theologians of our time; perhaps of all time. Of course, my opinion and $5.00 might enable you to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Lewis died on the same day as John F. Kennedy; my guess, since I was only eleven years old on that day, is that Lewis’ passing did not warrant much media attention. He probably would have liked it that way. Lewis was a scholar, and he was a professor of English Literature, which also made him a scholar of history. He disliked the ‘celebrity’ which hounded him. He wanted to be able to quietly read.

Raised without a concept of personal faith, although a student of many forms of religion, Lewis came to faith at University; much like myself. An academic who found himself thrust into the limelight in England during World War II, presenting concepts of faith to ‘the common man’; and then across the world, through the publication of his theological works, his science fiction and his Chronicles of Narnia.

C.S. Lewis on The Modern View:

The whole modern estimate of primitive man is based upon that idolatry of artefacts which is a great corporate sin of our own civilisation. We forget that our prehistoric ancestors made all the most useful discoveries, except that of chloroform, which have ever been made. To them we owe language, the family, clothing, the use of fire, the domestication of animals, the wheel, the ship, poetry and agriculture.

The Problem of Pain, ch. 5

Between Jane Austen and us comes the birth of the machines…This is parallel to the great changes by which we divide epochs of pre-history. This is on a level with the change from stone to bronze, or from a pastoral to an agricultural economy. It alters Man’s place in nature…

I conclude that it really is the greatest change in the history of Western Man.

De Descriptione Temporum’, Selected Literary Essays

‘It is the same with all their machines. Their labour-saving devices multiply drudgery; their aphrodisiacs make them impotent; their amusements bore them; their rapid production of food leaves half of them starving, and their devices for saving time have banished leisure from their country.’

The Pilgrim’s Regress, bk 10, ch. 6

It took me as long to acquire inhibitions as others (they say) have taken to get rid of them. That is why I often find myself at such cross-purposes with the modern world: I have been a converted Pagan living among apostate Puritans.

Surprised by Joy, ch. 4

In the early years of this century, I illustrated a Korean children’s book based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia. The story of a King who is being blackmailed for his dalliance with an American opera star, Irene Adler. She who was later described by Holmes as The Woman; the only person to outwit the Great Detective. I was chosen as the illustrator because the Korean publisher wanted the book to have a ‘western’ design, rather than an Asian design. I have no idea where they found me; typical for my projects. People inquire about my availability, and they rarely seem to remember how they found me.

The book was published; the publishing house was purchased by another company; and that company went ‘bust’. However, I own all the art that went into the making of the book. In the years since I illustrated the Korean children’s version of Doyle’s story, A Scandal in Bohemia has entered the Public Domain. A couple years ago, I decided to publish a digital version of the book, illustrated the way I would have liked to illustrate the book, all those years ago; using Doyle’s manuscript. Being a project for myself, it always takes second- or third place in my time priorities. So, most weeknights find me working on A Scandal in Bohemia while I listen to MSNBC’s coverage of the Scandal in Washington DC…

Os Guinness [yes, that Guinness] wrote a book entitled The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life; one of his stories comes from his own family history. His great-great-grandmother found herself widowed at a young age; her foolish husband having been killed in a duel in Scotland. Destitute, she had taken her children to a bridge, from which she intended to jump, along with her children. While gathering her courage at the bridge railing, she became entranced by watching a farm hand plowing a field. The farm hand was plowing his rows as carefully as a painter would have painted the scene. She realized that if a farm hand could take that amount of care in his plowing, perhaps she could make something of herself. She left the bridge railing; eventually found Faith and eventually married one of the Guinness sons; and is known to have prayed for the generations that would follow her, for the rest of her life.

She learned to live for an Audience of One.

Also from The Call:

Yehudi Menuhin, the renowned maestro and violinist, has held audiences all over the world spellbound with his conducting and virtuoso playing. Like many great musicians, his gifts were precocious. He made his violin debut in San Francisco at the age of seven and launched his worldwide career at the age of twelve with a historic concert at Carnegie Hall. In his memoirs, Unfinished Journey, Menuhin tells the story of how he began his long love affair with the violin.

From the time he was three years old, Menuhin’s parents frequently took him to concerts in New York where he heard the concertmaster and first violinist Louis Persinger. When Persinger broke into solo passages, little Yehudi, sitting with his parents up in the gallery, was enchanted.

“During one such performance,” Menuhin wrote, “I asked my parents if I might have a violin for my fourth birthday and Louis Persinger to teach me to play it.”

Apparently, his wish was granted. A family friend gave the little boy a violin, but it was a toy one, made of metal with metal strings. Yehudi Menuhin was only four. He could hardly have had the arms and fingers to do justice to a full-sized violin, but he was furious.

“I burst into sobs, threw it on the ground and would have nothing to do with it.” Reflecting years later, Menuhin said he realized he wanted nothing less than the real thing because “I did know instinctively that to play was to be.”

Stories like that are common lives of creative artists. Artie Shaw, a famous clarinetist in the old Big Band days, shared his heart with an interviewer. “Maybe twice in my life I reached what I wanted to. Once we were playing ‘These Foolish Things’ and at the end the band stops, and I play a little cadenza. That cadenza—no one can do it better. Let’s say it’s five bars. That’s a very good thing to have done in a lifetime. An artist should be judged by his best, just as an athlete. Pick out my one or two best things and say, ‘That’s what we did: all the rest was rehearsal.'”

I get up each morning and create illustrations for an Audience of One—the One to whom I gave my life 46 years ago. I opened my heart to my Creator and said, ‘here, take my life. I’ll only screw it up on my own.’ And my hope is that today I will create something beyond ‘rehearsal’; knowing that one can’t create ‘best’ without rehearsal.

This is not to say that I create religious illustrations or illustrate religious books. I mostly don’t. I’m not fond of religion. At the same time, I want all of my work to be a work of Grace—“unmerited favor”—humans do not merit the Creator’s favor—we are a cruel and monstrous lot. If you don’t believe that you should be counted in this cruel and monstrous lot, you haven’t read enough history; you haven’t read the news today. There is only one race; it is called “human” and every day, our government is in the process, directly or indirectly, of killing our brothers and sisters. I did not do anything noteworthy today to stop the murders. I signed some petitions; I’ve donated some money. I put the needs of my family above the needs of others. This isn’t ‘wrong’, per se; while I have been focused on the needs that I value, my fellow humans have been harmed. I bear that guilt, even if I don’t want to. I did nothing to stop the killing.

When the future Mrs. Guinness stepped away from the railing on that bridge, it was because she had decided to live for the future, rather than dying because of the past. She decided to live for an Idea.

I live for an Idea. I can’t prove that there is a Creator who guides my steps, although I believe this is true. I get out of bed each day for an Idea. It has become painful to get out of bed each day; I take a lot of medication—not nearly as much as some people—enough that my body now has a different smell than it had years ago—and my sense of smell is rubbish. There was a time, long ago, when my doc had to say, ‘take the damn pill, Marty,’ because I didn’t want to live medicated. Pain can be an addiction. It doesn’t seem that different from the barbiturate addiction I used to have.

I get out of bed for an Idea; that Idea is my Audience of One.

Who we individually are is Idea; nothing more, nothing less. As I keep writing, over and over, our bodies are collections of atoms that are largely composed of space, and electromagnetic forces; consequently, even though we seem to be solid, we are mostly space, and the electromagnetic forces that create an illusion of solidity. We are energy; when the shells of our body die, we remain energy in the form of Identity. How this all works is something we really can’t understand on this side of Life.

I believe that the Idea that is us, exists in a spiritual dimension; which is also an Idea. I believe that this Idea is also called the Soul. Ideas can build magnificent futures; Ideas can rob us of the future we might have had, were we willing to trust the Idea of us.

One of my mentors once said: ‘If you have to move 12 inches in order to be happy, you will never be happy’. People who live in chronic physical or emotional pain have a difficult time finding ‘happy’—happiness is largely circumstantial. Joy is a more achievable emotion, one that is less dependent upon circumstance. Living in Joy can happen even when happiness doesn’t occur. Joy is a decision. Joy is an idea.

How do we find our Audience of One? I think that we must first decide that we cannot do this life on our own, without screwing it up. For many of us, we have been proving this to be true for decades.

There have been alcoholics in my family; I have grown fond of the Twelve Steps. Steps 2 & 3 are:

[I] Came to believe that a Power greater than [myself] could restore [me] to sanity.
[I] Made a decision to turn [my] will and [my] life over to the care of God as [I] understand Him.

https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/12-step-programs

Overcoming the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up.

I realize that there are a lot of people who just can’t believe in the concept of a Creator [an Idea]—the sciences explain ‘everything’ without the need for a Creator. The sciences don’t explain everything, any more than religion explaining everything. I believe that the sciences are a language of the Creator. My understanding is that before he died, Stephen Hawking proved that the creation of the entire Universe could be explained by Gravity. I don’t know that he explained the existence of Gravity.

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #10:

Marketing. I hate marketing myself. People who spend weeks at a time, alone in a room, creating something, aren’t particularly social. To market oneself, one must learn to be more sociable. For me, Social Media and the internet are ideal ways to be sociable. I am anonymous; my interaction with people is structured; a fairly effective way to avoid saying things I don’t want to say [it’s called proofreading]; and I can deliver images.

ONLINE PORTFOLIOS

Websites that currently have my images [if you find a bad link, please let me know] are below. The websites marked in bold have brought verifiable sales or customer inquiries. Something more than “likes”.
The $ means that I pay a fee for the service. These fees are far less than I’ve paid for print advertising. Of course, at this point in time, my business income is less, which makes the fees a larger part of my income.

mjarts.com                       Society 6 Retail Store
MJ Arts website
              https://society6.com/mjartscom
http://mjarts.com/portfolio.html

Artist.com Retail Store
https://artist.com/name-lt-marty-jones/arts-list

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/mjartscom

about.me                                    The Creative Finder        $
https://about.me/martyjones       http://thecreativefinder.com

childrensillustrators.com     $
http://www.childrensillustrators.com/illustrator-details/martyjones/id=62

Dripbook:
http://www.dripbook.com/mjartscom

picture-book                 $
http://picture-book.com/mj-arts-illustration-2

hireanillustrator.com             $
http://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/portfolio/marty-jones

behance.net                                    deviantart.com
https://www.behance.net/mjarts    http://mjarts.deviantart.com

Pond5 Stock Media
http://www.pond5.com/artist/mjarts

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators          $
https://www.scbwi.org

localsolo.com
https://localsolo.com/portland-or/profile/18258

Chronicles in Ordinary Time         Facebook
https://mjarts.blog       https://www.facebook.com/mjartscom

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mjarts

Twitter
https://twitter.com/mjarts_com

youtube: mjartscom’s channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgJQUsjr0nmHieNcNpa8oeg

pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/mjartscom

Artists Info          $
https://www.artistsinfo.co.uk/artist/marty-jones

Amazon Author pages:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B016GG2LPS
UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B016GG2LPS

IMDB
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur68910572

Redbubble
http://www.redbubble.com/people/mjartscom

Dribbble
https://dribbble.com/mjartscom

The collection above represents a huge amount of my time for uploading information. Every portfolio page has different sizing requirements. Nearly all of them require the use of keywords. I generally don’t create images that are designed only for the purpose of selling images. In the process of creating larger/more complex images, I create small images which, in theory, can be used as stock art. Apparently, I’m not good at selecting images that sell well.

Is it worth it? To be honest, I don’t know. I want to do illustration/graphic arts work; searching job boards takes a lot of time.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 182: The Blind Spot, Part Three

February 18, 2019

Yes, same image, one more time. If I could have chosen my profession, I might have chosen to be a Medical Illustrator. The above image is not signed; and isn’t entirely original. I have ‘adopted’ and altered portions from unsigned illustrations found on Google. Much of it is my own.

Blind Spots. The importance is somewhere other than the idea in front of us. Our brain ‘hides’ the blind spots in our vision; our brain also hides the blind spots in our thinking.

My goal in life, in all the different ways that I interact with chronos-life is to help people catch a glimpse of Kairos-life; and possibly encourage people to see ‘with new eyes’. We live two lives—the one you and I are reading this in; and the world of Eternity. The Creator lives in Eternity, without the hindrance of Time. The English language is deficient, in that there is only one word for ‘time’—in Greek, there are two words for time—chronos—clock time; and Kairos—Eternal time. ‘Eternal’ does not mean, ‘a really long time.’ Eternal means existence outside of Time. In the time-controlled-to-an-incredible-degree 21st Century, the concept of ‘life outside of time’ falls into the realm of science fiction. I wrote more on this subject in my previous post. I believe we were created to live Eternally; just not all in this place.

I am a man of Faith; I also believe in science. Headlines and social media rhetoric to the contrary, these two aspects of life are not contradictory. I believe that the Laws of Physics, Time, and Space didn’t just ‘happen’. The Laws of the Universe are Laws, not because Science says they are Laws—ideas proven by repetition; they are Laws because they are products of the Creator of the entire Universe. It is merely lack of imagination that attributes these Laws to ‘Nature’ instead of attribution to a Creator. Quantum Physics was understood by the ancient Hebrew scholars, who also recognized the scientific contributions of the Greek philosophers. They used a different vocabulary, but the information is there. The Bible was never intended to be a physics text. The Bible is the story of the Hebrew people, who provided the foundation for the Creator’s entrance into Time and Space in the form of a single cell, planted into the womb of a teenager. Human history is centered on that single cell. Most of human history has been oblivious to that single cell; ‘oblivious’ does not mean, ‘mistaken’. It usually means, ‘too busy’.

I learned, a long time ago, that my brain works along pathways that many others don’t. Not ‘better’—simply different. I fail to understand the ideas most people have, and the things most people do. This notion is possibly best stated in the concept of ‘clubbing’. I don’t know why people dance, I don’t know why people get drunk. I’m not offended by either idea; I am simply incompetent in these activities, and they don’t make any sense for me. This morning in church I realized that while I can recognize harmony, I have no idea how it is created vocally. “Competence” is what drives me; “incompetence” is among my FEARs. False Evidence Appearing Real.

I don’t try to ‘convert’ people to my way of thinking; to try to ‘convert’ someone implies that I know more about someone else’s life than they do. Another example of my incompetence. HPtFtU. The Human Propensity to F*ck things Up [the asterisk is for those who may be reading these words; I don’t particularly care]. The word has a strange history. The World has a strange history. I’ve been intentionally interacting with an old guy, nearly every week for almost four years; in some ways, I probably know things about this guy that his children aren’t aware of. However, he’s in his 80s; what I know is a small sampling. While I can see patterns from his past, he can’t see them. His relationship with his family is contentious. And there are nearly 80 years of his life that I haven’t seen first-hand. All I hear is his side of the stories.

We live in a society that categorizes life to an incredible degree. If we can categorize someone, we don’t need to think about them anymore. This is probably why people don’t listen; truly listening to someone—not waiting for your turn to talk—is one of the most powerful therapeutic tools that we all have at our disposal. If we made the effort to listen, we might solve some of the issues that face us. ‘We don’t have time’ to listen. ‘We don’t have time’ to save the planet…

We also live in a time of moral crisis. Politicians have always lied. Some portion of the lying has been to protect sensitive information—we don’t need to know information regarding international negotiations at the time the negotiations are taking place.

Now we have Government Leaders who simply lie; when they get caught in a lie, they cover it up with a bigger lie. Our current President doesn’t even hide is ‘misdeeds’—he does them in public all the time. He seems to believe that he is the CEO of Trump America, rather than President of the United States of America; a country bound by the Constitution of the United States. In the days before declaring a National Emergency that does not exist on Friday, February 15th, he tried to coerce the Tennessee Valley Authority into funneling money to one of his large contributors…

https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/times/

Rachel Maddow asks a very important question:

“Yes, this is the story of just another destructive tributary of Presidential corruption that is flowing though U.S. government policy out of this White House. But it is also another element in this age of — sort of — moral bewilderment we’re now in as citizens. There’s no way to embarrass somebody [the President] if they’re happy to be seen in public selling the government for cash. And if you can’t embarrass or shame anybody about it and increasingly, you can’t shock anybody about, then what do you do with it? How do you stop specific government actions like this, if there is no shame from public officials doing it; but also, how do we once again become a country where that kind of thing would at least be a scandal?… If it doesn’t matter anymore, if we’re not surprised and nobody is embarrassed, how do we not just become that?”

Can we once again become a country whose leaders understand honor? If our leaders do not act honorably toward the citizens of the country, how can we expect the citizens themselves to act honorably toward each other?

Enough of that.

Humor: Still Life, with Sea Urchins

A correction to:

  • Illustration Tip #4:
    “As an editorial note regarding Windows:” this should have said “Word”.
  • Illustration Tip #5:

Provenance. Copyright. Publication. Pixilation.

Digital “Provenance”—the art world is always concerned about the ‘provenance’ of artistic works—who made it, who did it get sold to, how often did it get sold before it landed here; is there any external proof—sketches, etc. to establish a link between artist and seller?

I now create digital images as opposed to painted images; I publish these images on the Internet; I ALWAYS ASSUME that my internet-published work will be ‘adopted’ by someone. Even when I sign the work. I have a Physical Therapist who seems to have been born with an incredibly high set of ethics—she says she is incapable of lying, and I believe her—I was not born with that gift. I’ve ‘always’ [not, ‘since birth’] believed Ethics are Situational.

Upon entering into Church Culture when I did, I could never understand the furor over “Situational Ethics” that was stirring in the 70s. However, I’ve never believed that the Creator has ink stains or granite dust on His Hands, from having created Tablets of Stone or original documents. The first use of graphite for drawing appears to be somewhere in the 1500’s A.D.; an entertaining description of a forerunner of the brush can be found here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pencil#Camel’s_hair_pencil

My suggestion is that if you are REALLY concerned about the ownership of your work, and the notion that you deserve to get paid for every hour you work, DO NOT publish your work in a reproducible fashion on the Internet. I know illustrators who invest a lot of energy into the subject of Copyright. I’m not one of those guys.

ALWAYS use a resolution of 72dpi [dots per inch] for images published on the Internet. 72dpi images will pixilate when printed.  If you do not know how to reduce the size of your images, it would an excellent thing for you to learn. Images that are published on the Internet will get copied by someone, at some time. It’s unavoidable. I’m a prime example. I download images from the Internet all they time; I use these downloaded images instead of hiring models. Hiring models requires the paying of models, which requires more money than I’ve been able to earn in my 20 years of work as a commercial artist. I earn enough to pay bills. I download high-resolution images, digitally cut them into pieces, and create a new ‘photo’ of something that does not exist. From that ‘photo’ I create new illustrations.

For what it’s worth, Norman Rockwell used a similar technique, using an opaque projector to project an image onto a canvas; which he then traced. Rockwell, however, hired models and a photographer. It’s possible that Johannes Vermeer used a similar technique with a camera obscura; many of Vermeer’s paintings have a photographic quality to them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim%27s_Vermeer

I only aspire to be in the same category as Rockwell and Vermeer. It will never happen. There was a time, when I could still paint, that I thought some sort of miracle might happen. I’ve resigned myself to simply being a commercial artist who specializes in digital images.

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 172: Apparent failure does not have to be final

November 5, 2018

Feeling a tremendous sense of despair last week, as I tried to find something hopeful in the media, without much success; I turned to a film I ‘happened’ to bring home from the library [I don’t believe in coincidence]. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015) starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, is the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a poorly educated, Indian, mathematical savant; who, in the years before 1920 constructed completely original mathematical formulae that are being used today to study Black Holes. Sadly, he died at the age of 32, as a result of what was probably amoebic dysentery.

A deeply religious Hindu, Ramanujan credited his substantial mathematical capacities to divinity, and stated that the mathematical knowledge he displayed was revealed to him by his family goddess. “An equation for me has no meaning,” he once said, “unless it expresses a thought of God.”

His mentor, R.G. Hardy, was a self-avowed atheist:
G.H. Hardy:  You see, I am what you call an atheist.
Ramanujan: No, sir. You believe in God. You just don’t think He likes you.

I often find ‘the footprints’ of the Creator in science.
The Cambridge scholars, for the most part, did not believe that Ramanujan’s calculations were flawed—only a few could even understand them—they did not believe anything worthy of being at Cambridge could spring from an uneducated Indian.
When I read the Facebook posts from people who claim to have a knowledge of God, I can fully understand why people who have been trained in Critical Thinking would never consider ‘God’ as something worth thinking about.

Been there. Done that. Here’s what I found [if you are an Evangelical Christian, you probably won’t agree with most of what comes next. Save yourself some grief]:
I prefer science to the American Civil Religion; commonly called “Evangelical” in the media, but that term is so far away from what the Christian term actually stands for, it really shouldn’t be used.
From Gerald Schroeder: Genesis and the Big Bang:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005KB0V62/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Nahmanides’s account of the first seconds of the universe [written in about 1200 AD, 200 years before Galileo] reads like this:
“At the briefest instant following creation, all the matter of the universe was concentrated in a very small place, no larger than a grain of mustard. The matter at this time was so thin, so intangible, that it did not have real substance. It did have, however, a potential to gain substance and form and to become tangible matter. From the initial concentration of this intangible substance in its minute location, the substance expanded, expanding the universe as it did so. As the expansion progressed, a change in the substance occurred. This initially thin noncorporeal substance took on the tangible aspects of matter as we know it. From this initial act of creation, from this ethereally thin pseudo-substance, everything that has existed, or will ever exist, was, is, and will be formed.”

Back to Schroeder:
“Nahmanides’s reference to a grain of mustard is the traditional way of saying, “in the language of man,” the tiniest imaginable speck of space. Nahmanides taught that at the beginning, all that is on and within the Earth and all the heavens, in fact all the universe, was somehow packed, compressed, squeezed into this speck of space, the size of a mustard grain…”

We know this description as the Big Bang. The expanding Universe. About 200 years before Galileo, Nahmanides described the Expanding Universe. Nahmanides learned this description by his extensive study of the Jewish Scriptures, where the shape of every character in Hebrew can add to the meaning of a word. The Church in America rarely studies the Hebrew Scriptures in Hebrew.

Imagine, if you will, the hydrogen atom:
hydrogen-atom

The hydrogen atom consists of a single proton, and a single electron which continually orbits around the proton. Atomic hydrogen constitutes about 75% of the baryonic mass of the universe.
If the proton/nucleus in the diagram above was the size of a basketball, the diameter of the electron’s orbit would be about two miles. To put the idea in a more understandable context, imagine a water molecule—two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom:

stadium

If the nucleus of the molecule was the size of a baseball, the orbits of the electrons would create a ‘boundary’ something on the size of a baseball stadium. A space the size of a baseball stadium with a nucleus at the pitcher’s mound and nothing inside the stadium space, beyond a few electrons bouncing around. Each hydrogen atom, each oxygen atom, being comprised of atomically large, empty, spaces filled only with electromagnetic energy.
The ‘atomic model’ is the basis of nearly everything that exists; electrons almost endlessly orbiting protons and neutrons and subatomic particles that are still being discovered. Duplicated at enormous scale by the orbit of planets around a sun. The Universe is comprised mostly of empty space.

Like the Universe, at the atomic level, we are comprised mostly of empty space, filled with electromagnetic forces. It is this electromagnetic force that creates the illusion of our solidity.
Hence, my preference to thinking of the Creator and the movement of the Creator’s Spirit within us as being something like The Force in Star Wars.

the-force-1

Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you, hmm? And well you should not, for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. [looks around him] Life creates it. Makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Everywhere. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between the land and the ship.

the-little-known-nebula-iras-054372502-an-enigmatic-cloud1
The little-known nebula IRAS 05437+2502 billows out among the bright stars and dark dust clouds that surround it in this striking image from the Hubble Space Telescope. It is located in the constellation of Taurus (the Bull), close to the central plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Unlike many of Hubble’s targets, this object has not been studied in detail and its exact nature is unclear… This image was taken with the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys on Hubble. It was part of a “snapshot” survey. These are observations that are fitted into Hubble’s busy schedule when possible, without any guarantee that the observation will take place — so it was fortunate that the observation was made at all.
https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2018/hubbles-lucky-observation-of-an-enigmatic-cloud

My understanding of the Creator is that of a ‘being’ comprised mostly/entirely of Energy; a ‘being’ so unlike human beings that we cannot begin to understand the Creator’s nature. Everything that ‘religious people’ [those that believe in Creation] say about ‘God’ is an abstraction [there are so many, sometimes-strange beliefs about ‘God’ that I prefer Creator]. A large percentage of these people do not even understand the concept of ‘abstraction’.
My greatest understanding of the Creator, and the subject of Faith, takes place in a Christian environment. I believe that ‘serious devotion’ [more abstraction] to the Creator, in whatever form this devotion takes place, is equivalent to ‘serious devotion’ to the Creator in any religious form [Evangelical Christians are aghast]. This equivalency occurs, because there is only one Creator; the name by which one ‘speaks’ to the Creator is irrelevant—because devotion is about the Creator; not about us. If one is devoted, in a spiritual way, to Nature, one is devoted to the Creator, who created all of Nature.

The Abrahamic Faiths [Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in chronological order] refer to the ‘Children of Abraham’ as the Chosen People. In terms of world history, my view of having been ‘Chosen’ is mostly bad news. The portions of the Hebrew Scriptures that Christians largely ignore, are about the Creator, through Prophets, telling the Chosen people that they act like ungrateful whores. HPtFtU—the Human Tendency to F*ck things Up.
Because the Creator already knew, when the Creator created human beings, that we would have Free Will and the resulting HPtFtU; we were given a Grace Gift. The Creator of the entire Universe entered time and space in the form of one cell, implanted into the womb of a teenaged girl. From there you have the Jesus story. The story that ends with Jesus walking through walls and eating fish [think about it. How does that work? Jesus apparently was able to turn His solidity off and on].

Every sports broadcast shown has someone in the bleachers holding up a sign with the most famous Bible verse in history: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The verse has a context; and according to some translations, John 3:16 and following are written by the writer of John but aren’t necessarily Jesus’ words [designated by not using the traditional red font for Jesus’ words]. The writer of the Book of John apparently was present when Jesus had His conversation with Nicodemus. However, it’s the next verse that explains the most famous verse:
John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

This is how you know that Apparent Failure does not have to be final: you win in the end. You already are ‘saved’ if you want to be—it has nothing to do with you. This is what Luther understood as ‘salvation by Grace’. However, even the Creator will not force one to spend eternity in the presence of the Creator if it isn’t desired.

Because of HPtFtU there are Christians all over the planet that have all sorts of explanations as to why this promise does, or does not, apply to you. Their opinion does not matter, because the Creator of the entire Universe entered time and space on Earth, to compensate for our HPtFtU.

If we ever encounter a sentient species from another world [I’m of the opinion that the are “WARNING: PLAGUE” signs floating in the space around our Solar System], I believe we will find that they, too, will have a totally improbable story about how the Creator of the Universe entered their time and space in the form of a single cell…

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 170: What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?

October 9, 2018

My wife mentioned to a friend of ours that ‘even after 45 years together, I still can’t read Marty’s mind’. Our friend’s response was, ‘read his blog’. Thanks, Eunice; it’s true.
I write because my digital self is far more sociable than my physical self. I think this means that part of me wants to be a different person than I am. The hope is to mix my ideas about the Universe with my life as a commercial artist.
This particular chapter was ‘inspired’ by a general request for a column; this will no doubt be far too long…

unfinished sketch River PilotIncomplete sketch, Norman Rockwell’s River Pilot

Mine isn’t a story about how to succeed as a commercial artist. At this point in history, I’m not even sure what ‘succeed’ even means. As a country, ‘we’ [the American Republic] have just confirmed to the Supreme Court the least popular jurist in the history of the Court, by the closest margin in history:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/06/senators-representing-less-than-half-us-are-about-confirm-nominee-opposed-by-most-americans/?utm_term=.d5c4393fa61e&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

This confirmation process made the Clarence Thomas confirmation seem like a ‘cakewalk’ and displayed one of the most partisan processes ever witnessed; and the possible coverup of criminal actions. Ironically, last Friday morning when the Senate had their first vote of Confirmation of the new Justice, the Nobel Committee issued the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to two figures who have worked to bring attention to ending sexual violence in armed conflicts: Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege.
I am reminded of the quotation by Thomas Jefferson:

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

Our President has managed to twist reality by comments made at campaign rallies that have caused the Victim in these last uncivil weeks to become a punch line; and the Accused to become some kind of hero. Trevor Noah has some very astute comments that probably derive from his living in South Africa during Apartheid:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LZ3P1sv9jE

The political trials of this week were simply a backdrop and a distraction from my office trials. I have been my own Tech Support for most of this century; mostly because I’m unwilling to pay for services I can learn. Up until last week, I’ve had 5 computers: two desktops and 3 laptops. I recently upgraded one of my desktops; it had become annoyingly slow. It now hibernates in a closet. Last weekend, my oldest laptop, a Sony VAIO, died peacefully of old age. One of the laptops was inherited, and as a backup, it went into service. In various ways unknown to me, I managed to kill the Operating Systems in 3 of my computers. I have spent the entire week doing 18-hour days, wrestling with Operating Systems and reloading computers. I owe a debt of gratitude to a Dell Tech Support person in The Philippines. One week later, I’m back up and running, and am trying to remember what I was doing a week ago. ‘Fortunately’, this has been one of those ‘0 billable hours’ weeks—no client work needed. Due to overlapping backups, I didn’t lose any data beyond a few days’ worth of email. Just lost a lot of sleep; and there is a residue of snarkiness.

I have worked as a full-time commercial artist [a term that only dinosaurs remember] and Building Code consultant since 1998. Something like twenty years.
Disclaimer #1: ‘full-time’, to an independent contractor working in the image-creating world does not mean the same thing it means in the normal business world; and the meaning is centered in the term ‘billable hours’. When I use the term ‘full-time’, it means I don’t have another job. ‘Billable hours’ per week vary from 0 to 30-something, most of the time. Time in my office? Basically, from 2p to 3a, six days a week, with breaks for eating, and for spending time with my wife before she goes to bed. She works permanent part-time for a local School District and lives on ‘day shift’. My circadian rhythm has been off-kilter for decades. I don’t do mornings. Working for the Bureau of Buildings was a pain. I kept moving my arrival time as far back as I could, preferring to work after the office had officially closed.
Disclaimer #2: I am a dinosaur. I began my commercial art career in the 1970s while in college, when computers did not exist, and the only means of communication beyond the telephone [attached by a wire to a wall] were pieces of paper upon which one wrote words, or possibly typed words. These pieces of paper were tucked into something called an envelope; and a small sticky rectangle was applied to the outside, before dropping the envelopes into a blue box. The world was very large and distant, back then.

I nearly died in 1988 at age 36, from a ruptured appendix. It changed my life.
For a number of years prior, I was continually confronted by mentors with a question:
What would you do with your life, if you knew you could not fail?
The reality is that I fail, all the time—I don’t meet my expectations, which, by my nature, tend to be unreasonably high. I’ve learned that apparent failure does not have to be final.

I’ve been a freelance commercial artist and designer for over 40 years; primarily working on commission for individuals as sort of a “professional hobby” while working at college and construction jobs, until 1998, when I took a Medical Layoff from my fourteen-year career with the Bureau of Buildings in Portland. There I worked as a Commercial Building Plans Examiner. During my college years, I exhibited my artwork in non-juried shows but found little time for “serious” illustration until my brush with death caused me to re-evaluate my goals and priorities. I realized that my future wasn’t as predictable as it appeared; and that the Creator has given me a talent intended to be used for the benefit of others. In 1990 I decided it was time to get “serious” about my career as an illustrator. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators [SCBWI] and began learning about the career of Illustration.

River pilot
Norman Rockwell’s River Pilot

My goal was to emulate the illustration style of the Golden Age of Illustration; Norman Rockwell’s paintings became my mentors, as well as the work of Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I spent about eight years focusing on my illustration skills; when I left my work with the City, I discovered that the world of Illustration had changed. Children’s Book illustrators had become cartoonists and photographers had become illustrators. There’s nothing wrong with cartoonists; I just don’t have the talent to be one. I’d spent something like twenty years studying drafting and Technical Illustration.

I’ve illustrated five children’s books that few have read; illustrated books for adult audiences that few have read, created book jackets, illustrations for cable television; worked as a web designer; created videos; have my own website [mjarts.com], and have portfolios on a bunch of retail sales sites [Society 6, Redbubble, for example]. I’ve designed houses across America and one in England. I’ve designed schools. I am a digital publisher, with books on Amazon US and UK.

From the perspective of fame and income—the primary measurements of ‘success’ in America today—my experiment with self-employment has largely been a ‘failure’. I’ve had one-man art shows that few remember; I have illustrations in a museum in Dallas, Texas I’ve never visited [I don’t even know if they are on display]; I’ve created thousands of images as a commercial artist. I’ve spent so much on advertising over the years—money I borrowed from creditors—that I can’t afford to ‘retire’, now that I am at that age. My dependence on pain medication to enable me to meet my own overly-high expectations may have caused permanent damage to my body. I thought I would become famous, in spite of the fact that I am ‘asocial’ to the point of being antisocial. I have a hard time imagining how I would respond to actually being famous. I’m not comfortable around strangers; unless I am able to put my ‘public’ mask on…the mask I learned to wear while working for the City of Portland. I’ve often said that writers and illustrators are people who are comfortable in, and accustomed to, working alone in a room for days at a time. This isn’t a career for those who thrive on social interaction.

I can’t imagine doing anything else.

My wife and I survive because I worked for the City of Portland. My Medical Layoff was ‘supposed’ to become a partial disability retirement. Six months after I was ‘kicked out’ [I did not fully understand the nature of setting a ‘retirement’ date], during which time I could not work [it’s hard to justify a disability retirement while working], I finally learned that my partial retirement, and its Appeals, were denied. I had, upon my doctor’s orders, given up a very-well-paying job, at age 46, with no other job options at hand. Once again. Never leave a job without knowing where you are going.
In 1999 became a consultant. Architects who called me every day at the City, for [free] Building Code advice, weren’t interested in paying for my advice. Over the years, it worked.

I sold my first book jacket that year. My first b/w children’s book was published in 2000; my first color children’s book was in 2002 for a major publishing house; the book was sold only as part of an elementary school curriculum. I was the third choice for the book, because the first choice had to back out. I don’t know what happened to #2; I learned about the existence of #1 & #2 because an agent tactlessly sent the ‘score sheet’ along with the manuscript. Two names crossed off ahead of mine, and the list wasn’t in alphabetical order. My favorite project was the illustration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia for a Korean publisher. The book had a Korean manuscript, but the publisher wanted a Western illustrator. The Korean book design was better than I imagined…and the company went out of business. My contract gave me ownership of the original art; I am in the process of remaking the book, now in Public Domain. My plan is to republish the book on Kindle by next summer, using Doyle’s original manuscript.

When I turned 62, I finally started collecting that ‘partial disability retirement’. When I turned 65, I started collecting Social Security, and experimented with not doing Code work. Another failed experiment. I have a collection of failed experiments. Now, at 66, I have more time for illustration.
I have a degenerative neurological condition that is affecting my ability to draw. I can still hold onto a computer mouse. More of my work has become digital. I draw faces; I rely heavily on a collection of hands, eyes and faces created over the decades.

I enjoy creating illustrations with female heroes. I grow tired of old white men running the world. They suck at it. I am an old, white man; an immigrant son. Second Generation on my Mom’s side of the family; Third Generation on my Dad’s side. My family emigrated here from Norway and Sweden.
I recently created a Wonder Woman illustration protecting a woman from Cancer, a tall ugly looking creature. A gift for a very brave woman, I know; one of many in this world and in my family.

My fascination with BBC’s Doctor Who is part of the reason I’ve been so engrossed in creating “The Unwritten Adventures of the 13th Doctor”—illustrations I began creating during the summer of last year. One of my latest illustrations has become a favorite of mine—Jenny Flint of the Paternoster Detective Agency, located in Victorian London:

Jenny Flint

In this unwritten story [you can find illustrations from other Unwritten Stories at my Redbubble store [https://www.redbubble.com/people/mjartscom/collections/971115-the-13th-doctor]. The Doctor returns again to Victorian London, shortly after regenerating; as The Doctor did once before. Having overcome their confusion, The Doctor begins an adventure with The Great Detective and her Paternoster Detective Agency: Madame Vastra, the lizard lady from Earth’s ancient past; her companion Jenny Flint, martial arts expert and swordswoman; and their Sontaran servant, Strax. He looks rather like a baked potato in a suit. Sontarans are cloned; Strax has difficulty understanding genders. Once again, The Doctor has managed to bring prehistoric creatures forward in time.

I’m not often pleased with my work. I managed to get this one right. The original is something like 2ft wide.

The 13th Doctor and the Paternoster Detective Agency

The reality is that I fail, all the time—I don’t meet my expectations, which, by my nature, tend to be unreasonably high. I’ve learned that apparent failure does not have to be final.

Failure is only final when you allow it to be.

More about that next time.

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 169: HPtFtU [part 6]

September 30, 2018

Francis Spufford, in his wonderful book, Unapologetic, uses the term HPtFtU for the Human Tendency to F**k things Up. If you watch any legitimate news outlet today, you will see countless examples of HPtFtU on display; especially in Washington DC in the last week.
The Confirmation Hearing appeared to be about politics; the composition of the Supreme Court is intended to be above politics. The Human Propensity of F**k things Up.

Ford Kavanaugh GrahamWe once again know that one person can change the world.

I don’t know which one is telling the truth— Dr. Christine Blasey Ford or Judge Brett Kavanaugh; one is, one isn’t. Hopefully an unbiased FBI investigation will provide the answer. It’s already rumored that an unbiased investigation won’t occur. Rumors say that the President is limiting the scope of the FBI investigation. Sadly, the rumors seem credible, based on the President’s past behavior.
Lindsey Graham is a mystery to me. The impassioned Congressman who waxed eloquent about ‘restoring the honor of the Office of Presidency’ during President Clinton’s impeachment hearing, does not seem to see the Office of the Presidency in the same light, now that he is a Senator. But he was right in his pre-election opinion of above; the Republican party won’t be the same again.

The selection of a new Justice to fill the 9th seat in the the Supreme Court does not appear to be about bringing impartiality to the Court; perhaps it hasn’t been about impartiality for a long time. If I ever had to appear before the Supreme Court—and I can’t think how that might happen—I won’t care about conservative vs. liberal; I will want impartiality.
To confirm as a Supreme Court Justice, a sexual predator with an anger and alcohol problem would be a crime, in my opinion. If the Judge proves to be innocent of all the allegations made against him, he will be owed a large apology by the American people. The American people may never be able to forget the allegations, true or not. Based upon his most recent appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I would never want to appear before him on a bad day.

It is possible that the Judge has grown beyond past failings but fears the exposure of the man he used to be. People can change, people can receive Forgiveness; but real Forgiveness is a Gift from the Creator. Humans are generally rubbish at offering Forgiveness without some form of retribution—especially when it comes to politics—Forgiveness doesn’t often happen in public life. The true nature of Forgiveness is not about retribution. Retribution is a human failing; one of the prime examples of HPtFtU. The Creator provides Redemption.
If the allegations are true, the family of the Judge may not know about the man he used to be. A ‘panic mode’ reaction may have been the cause of his angry display last week; he may not believe he can be forgiven for his past. In human terms, and in the terms of those who have been damaged, forgiveness might not be given. The important part of Forgiveness is not its effect on a job opportunity. Forgiveness is a pathway toward wholeness.

If the allegations are true, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s life will never be the same again. I imagine that this last week has been a second assault on her psyche—another memory lodged in her hippocampus, one that will also not be forgotten. If the allegations are true, her attacker cannot remove the fear, the guilt, the shame of that incident. Only the Creator can help her to make new connections in her neural pathways.

However, nothing can happen without Confession. Not necessarily Confession to a public audience; the important Confession is that between person and their Creator. The other Confessions are window dressing.

We tell our children that in America, one can be whatever one wants to be, if they put enough effort into making that goal happen. A large part of the ‘doing’ is Character. There is a myth that says people of bad character will always be found out. It’s a myth.
History shows that one person can change the course of ‘the world’—be it a nation, or a people or a time—by their actions in the world. Despots, tyrants, heroes of both genders, leaders of nations…or one woman who faced death threats against herself and her family, in order to fight for justice. One woman in many parts of the world facing unforgiving male dominance, young girls who have been assaulted and blamed for their being attacked. My hope, especially for my daughter and granddaughter, and for all women, is that finally the world will realize that the time for Equality has come. Treating all people in the same manner without regard to race, religion, political affiliation, or wealth. A time when the Tribalism will end. The planet Earth needs for Tribalism to end. We need to work together to effect global change.

We all share the same Earth; and it is severely damaged. There is no Planet B.

Earth Scientists warn that natural disasters will increase, as the planet warms, as greenhouse gases become trapped in our atmosphere. Polar ice caps are losing their volume far faster than predicted. The level of the sea is rising, and coastal communities are losing ground.

Religious people of the Christian persuasion have a tendency to consider the state of the Earth as being somewhat unimportant; because Scripture says that when the End of Days comes, the Earth will be remade. If we ruin the Earth we have, we will simply make the End come sooner…
Scripture teaches that we were created to be Stewards of this world that the Creator gave to us. If the Creator remakes the world, that’s the Creator’s decision; remaking does not give permission for destruction.

We now know again that one person can change the world.

We know that a President can, by strokes of a pen, destroy all of the progress made in the previous eight years toward slowing the damage to the Earth. Protection for the environment granted by Presidential Executive Order can just as easily be torn up by his successor.
Somehow, the super-rich don’t seem to realize that all their wealth won’t buy them environmental security. The United States is the only country in the world that has rejected the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and has promised to withdraw from it. That withdrawal, unless it is stopped by Presidential order, will occur next year.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/11/syria-is-joining-the-paris-agreement-now-what/545261/

In the last few days I’ve spent several hours reading and responding to the concerns of victims of sexual assault; women who are reliving their assault because one woman has the ‘audacity’/bravery to stand up to a room-full of old white men determined to confirm a new Supreme Court justice, whatever it takes. The bravery to relive an attack that happened thirty-ish years ago. When I write comments to other people on Facebook, I always hope that my comments will be ‘messages in a bottle’—messages I send out with hopes that no one will comment back. I don’t enjoy conversations with strangers. At the same time, I have decided, in my personal life, to reach out to those who are damaged in order to help them to heal.

Fearless Girl

The only way that I know to help is prayer.
Not ‘magical thinking’, not waiting for some supernatural genie to grant my wish.
Prayer helps us align our thinking with the Creator of the Universe. We do not ask the Creator of the Universe to align with us.
People ask the question, ‘how could a loving God allow the awful things in this world to happen?’
I think the better question is, ‘how could a loving Creator even bother with human beings? As a mass, we are cruel, we are divisive. We are tribal. But, as individual human beings, I believe, with Dr. King, that we can do better…

“I believe it because somehow the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice… With this faith we will be able to hue out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood…”

The Creator of the Universe entered time and space in the form of a single cell embedded into the womb of a teenaged girl. The Creator of the Universe experienced the life of woodworker, an itinerant preacher and His undeserved death in the Roman Empire’s harshest form of execution. Just to show us that death isn’t final. We can be renewed.

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 163: That’s just Fiction, isn’t it?

August 12, 2018
Lagoon Nebula_Smiling Galaxy Cluster
A Galactic View of my Wife and I When I Start My Day

Leaving Presidential politics for a moment and returning to one of my favorite topics: the make-up of the Universe. On the left is the HST-Smiling-GalaxyCluster SDSS-J1038+4849-20150210 with an Einstein–Chwolson ring; on the right, the Lagoon Nebula [my wife could not see the frowny face—hence the sketch]. An Einstein–Chwolson ring…

“predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Instead of light from a source traveling in a straight line (in three dimensions), it is bent by the presence of a massive body, which distorts spacetime. An Einstein Ring is a special case of gravitational lensing, caused by the exact alignment of the source, lens, and observer. This results in a symmetry around the lens, causing a ring-like structure.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein_ring

Einstein never expected that we would see this effect; the optics of telescopes being what they were in the early 1900s. The Hubble enables such marvels.
My usual statement about things astronomical—I’m a follower of Jesus, and not very religious. I believe the Universe has a Creator. Stephen Hawking determined that the only thing necessary for the Universe to exist is gravity [which no one really understands]; therefore, a Creator is not necessary.
—Or, an example of good engineering design. Creating a system that is self-sustaining.

However, this isn’t something I’m dogmatic about. I don’t believe that humans are fully-capable of understanding the nature of the Creator of the Universe; we don’t have the brain power, nor the imagination to understand.
The Big Bang theory is believed to have been first proposed in the 20th century, but was actually proposed much earlier by biblical scholars, taken from information in the Old Testament/Torah/The Tanakh.
The earliest existing reference is in a commentary on the book of Genesis written by Nahmanides (1194-1270):
From Gerald Schroeder: Genesis and the Big Bang:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005KB0V62/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

“In the thirteenth century, Nahmanides quoted a commentary on Genesis written 600 years before him, noting that prior to the existence of the universe, time did not exist. This was learned from the wording of Genesis 1:5, “. . . and there was evening and there was morning, day one.” It is not stated “the first day.” For the use of first would have implied an already existing series of days or a continuum of time when in fact on this “day one” there had been no prior time to this one day. Not a before and not an after. There was nothing to which one could relate this day. It stood alone as “day one.” For all the remaining days in that week of Genesis, the ordinal terms, second, third, etc., are used and. logically so. By day number two, and thereafter, a series of days had been established. Although it is difficult to comprehend, the creation of the physical universe brought with it a concurrent creation of time…

Nahmanides’s account of the first seconds of the universe reads like this:
At the briefest instant following creation, all the matter of the universe was concentrated in a very small place, no larger than a grain of mustard. The matter at this time was so thin, so intangible, that it did not have real substance. It did have, however, a potential to gain substance and form and to become tangible matter. From the initial concentration of this intangible substance in its minute location, the substance expanded, expanding the universe as it did so. As the expansion progressed, a change in the substance occurred. This initially thin noncorporeal substance took on the tangible aspects of matter as we know it. From this initial act of creation, from this ethereally thin pseudo-substance, everything that has existed, or will ever exist, was, is, and will be formed.

 “Nahmanides’s reference to a grain of mustard is the traditional way of saying, “in the language of man,” the tiniest imaginable speck of space. Nahmanides taught that at the beginning, all that is on and within the Earth and all the heavens, in fact all the universe, was somehow packed, compressed, squeezed into this speck of space, the size of a mustard grain.”…

…and became, the Big Bang/the Expanding Universe.
And the Beginning of Time.
Okay, you don’t believe that Time could have a Beginning. Why not? The nature of Time is a progression.

Assume for a moment, that Time began at the moment the Universe began Expanding. All things being relatively equivalent, this would imply that Life began at about the same Time throughout the Universe. Consequently, those processes that eventually created Life and Evolution happened at about the same Time throughout the Universe. I don’t know; how long does it take for a Universe to expand? It appears to be expanding still, away from us.
At this point in Time…

The earliest fossils of anatomically modern humans are from the Middle Paleolithic, about 200,000 years ago such as the Omo remains of Ethiopia and the fossils of Herto sometimes classified as Homo sapiens idaltu.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human

…we are unable to travel space at faster-than-light speeds. We really aren’t able to travel within our own Solar System with any human efficiency.
So, these aliens we keep hoping to see—they either need to travel in not-as-fast-as-light craft comparable to cruise ships—travel to our Solar System is going to take decades or centuries. Or, they have managed to accomplish something with much greater facility than we have and have cracked the Code to faster-than-light travel with Warp engines or Einstein-Rosen Bridges [wormholes] or some technology that Earth’s scientists and science fiction writers haven’t figured out.
Maybe the Expansion of the Universe involved some great amount of Time, and we are on the tail end of the Expansion; enabling some lifeforms from galaxies far, far away to be heading to our neighborhood.

Solar System_mj

One of my favorite theories is that somewhere beyond the Kuiper Belt, perhaps around the relative location of that galaxy sitting above the Sun, there are space beacons warning all incoming visitors to avoid this Solar System, because we carry an infectious plague of violence and hatred not found in other star systems.

Look at our country after a year-plus [I did say earlier, only for a moment]:
1 year, 204 days, 6 hours, 24 minutes and 15 seconds from when I typed this.

http://howlonghasdonaldtrumpbeenpresident.com/

Yes, someone is keeping track.
The infection runs deep; it was not caused by the man that sits behind the Resolute Desk, but it has been enabled by him. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave has become the country that kidnaps children from their parents and does not have the courage to stand up against our enemies, both foreign and domestic. Many of those enemies have well-padded lives in the Senate and in Congress.

Aliens: stay away, lest you become infected.
There’s a reason it’s called Science Fiction.
Science fiction is written by humans that are limited to their knowledge at the time; and there is no book of rules that determines what information is included, and what information is omitted. Science Fiction is ideas. Ideas about how life could be; both could be good and could be bad. We always hope for the former. People in this country with skin colors other than pink have always found the latter and are a long way from finding the former. Northern European Stock is greatly outnumbered by people of color; birth rates among office-oriented job types are much lower than those whose occupations are more agricultural; it’s simple economics. Children within a family make for free labor [if you’ve ever had children, you know it’s not all that free…]

Klaatu Gort_First Contact
Gort and Klaatu from the 1951 movie    | Zefram Cochrane and unnamed Vulcans, Star Trek First Contact

If you watched the original Star Trek series, Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the Warp [faster-than-the-speed-of-light] engine, was portrayed by Glen Corbett, and presented more-or-less like NASA’s version of the Right Stuff. First Contact’s version of Cochrane is more like the not-so-right stuff. He did it for the money he’d make.
In 1951, Klaatu the astronaut, and his space-cop companion Gort [he does not give out traffic tickets—you disappear] arrived on Earth after we had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and therefore posed a threat to the Universe, which apparently had some sort of Federation of planets…
In the Star Trek universe, explorers from the planet Vulcan arrived in the Solar System shortly after Zefram Cochrane made his first faster-than-light trip across the Solar System. The Vulcans came to usher us into the Universe that eventually contained the United Federation of Planets. But, without Gort’s limited interventions, the Vulcans were basically space-cops. The Vulcans were aware of our Infection. We had been broadcasting our Infection by television broadcasts for centuries, by the time the Vulcans showed up. Star Trek First Contact takes place after Earth’s Third World War, which wiped out hundreds of millions of inhabitants.

But, that’s just Fiction, isn’t it…

 

 

 


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