Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Cure for Creative Panic

I suddenly recognized that a particular state I was in had to be called "creative panic."  I wondered what to do about it.  It seemed such a ready term that I wondered if it wouldn't show up on Google -- Google serving as one of those fortune telling balls you shake where the answer you seek floats up and appears under glass.
The top of the list of possible sites was "creative pancakes."  Then
               creative pancake ideas
               creative pancake recipes
creative pancakes out of sight.
And I had already eaten biscuits earlier.


I doubt if the New York Times will publish this letter I sent them in favor of a sane personal environment:
Thinking thrives in silence, while we are assaulted by continuous noise.  Hoping for silence before sinking into Herzog’s CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, instead I heard 25  commercials.  Let it not be forgotten that there was a time when movies were not preceded by commercials.  In every public place, you are undermined by some monotonous beat.  Even your doctor’s office has an undercurrent of music that no-one can hear clearly, yet it never ceases.  There are now twice as many loud television commercials in spite of the efforts of Representative Anna Eschoo.  Have people’s brains  been so deadened by continuous noise that they are unable to defend themselves against psychological damage?  Why am I unable to get friends to join me at the movies to generate a chant of “No more commercials!”?  Is there no sound citizen left alive to defend against this danger, among others, from greedy exploiters -- in this case, sound pollution?  CHANT WHEN THEY PLAY COMMERCIALS IN YOUR LOCAL THEATER!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

(1) The Greatest Vice (2) Military Suicides


  At first, Muslims were blamed by the mob for the mass murders actually commited by those clean-cut young native sons of the U.S.A. and Norway, Timothy McVeigh and Andrew Behring Breivik.  As McVeigh was murdered by the state we will never have the opportunity to see if in the future he would have comprehended his own actions, or how society might have learned from observing him how to prevent future McVeighs.  Fortunately, the Norwegians are not so murderous, and Breivik will not be killed by the State, while he has stated that he knows he will serve life in prison.  We will have a chance to see if he ever wakes up to the reality of what he has done, or tell us how he got there.
       One thing that these two young men have in common is what is universally considered a “virtue,” but what is actually the worst vice on the planet:  self-righteousness.  In simple old common sense language, they were “so right they were wrong.”  Beside the factors in their personal psychology histories – which are as important as anything – they were clear in their statements about what had aroused their righteous indignation, which, for them, justified the most extreme reaction. 
           Even those not directly harmed by their acts are apt to be seized by the vice of self-righteousness and will call for their murder by the state, a state of mind no different from the state of the mind of the murderers they want to murder.  But will the people who call for their deaths recognize that they are the same as those they wish to murder?  How many people possessed by the vice of self-righteous will openly celebrate or smile in private when they hear of the murder of a doctor who provides abortions.  While in other parts of their lives they may be loving citizens who personally would never murder, when it comes to whatever makes them feel full of a supposed virtue of self-righteousness, they will feel justified to celebrate a murder.  Bless Norway that seems to know the poisonous nature of feeling righteous.  Look at every sick situation on the earth, in the nation, and in our personal lives, and you will see that the root of the conflict is this vice of self-righteousness.  The robber feels that, compared with others, he is not getting the share he deserves, and feels righteous about a rough achievement of equality.  Some will react negatively if I say that resentment and envy justifies in the rapist’s mind his violent act.
Does anyone do wrong?  Or, rather, is the wrong they do not done with a sense of self-righteousness that empowers?  I have certainly in my life not been free of this so-called virtue which is the worst vice, and I always hope I can face up to my fear of examining how it exists in my life, past and present, but I do know that enjoying a sense of self-righteousness is the opposite of being one who helps create a world of peace and love. 
Postscript:  I have to add this about another matter – military suicides.  It is heartbreaking to hear the “sleepy” reaction of relatives of service people or veterans who commit suicide:  “I don’t understand.  He seemed O.K.”  Will the time ever come when they will understand the decency of their child being troubled by murdering people (let alone if they awaken to the fact that they have been manipulated by the sordid motives of nations and war profiteers).  Here is a human with a conscience reacting with horror at murders he or she has been forced to commit. Around them, there is no one to celebrate them as the true heroes, and they are far from people who might have told them the thoughts that lead to their suicides proved their greater humanity, not that they were failing some primitive definition of manhood or  spurious patriotism.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Impression of Werner Herzog's CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS

IN Werner Herzog’s film CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, the caves in themselves are incredibly beautiful, crystalline with rock like folded meringue, surfaces like crystallized sugar, and old bones seeming turned into enamel.
     Perhaps, like me, you have many special feelings about caves, from many connections, real and metaphorical, but my strongest feelings derive from reading anthropologist, Geza Roheim’s writings about the significance of caves to aborigines of Australia as the residence of The Eternal Ones of the Dream, central to their myths and rituals.     ( .  Except for one significant story he tells about the caves in Australia Werner Herzog does not seem aware of Roheim’s wonderful, but obscure book, The Eternal Ones of the Dream, and it is perhaps just a common feeling about caves that caused him to name his film, CAVE OF THE FORGOTTEN DREAMS. 
     The meaning Geza Roheim gathered from how the aborigines felt about their cave of the Eternal Ones of the Dream is sublimely rich:  a cave that is both womb and tomb, end and origin, where the bones of the ancestral past feed the present what it needs to sustain its soul. 
Perhaps intending to allow us to have that experience of the cave where real and myth are at last fused, toward the end of his documentary Herzog allows us a time of wordless meditation as our eyes travel over the images in the Chavet cave, and our own thoughts wander and wonder.  What is the power celebrated in these big-chested animals?  Why the panache of their curling horns?       The amazing artists of that time, almost 32,000 years ago, lived with more powerful antecedents of the current descendants of those animals, as drawn on the cave walls.  And the trick that hits home is that a recurring pair in human history and myth are joined here “at the beginning,” a figure that is the head and torso of a bull blending with the lower torso of a female human.  
In the case of this movie, the 3D adds immeasurably. 
DO SEE See a short, incredible interview with Herzog where he speaks about the film’s postscript about radioactive albino crocodiles:
The only thing not answered for me is how they painted the figures:  Was if from the charcoal on the burned end of a stick?  Were their earth dyes?  The drawings are done with an easy swing of the arms, but where a hand-print was made, I guess all the people who did that thought up the same thing:  To chew some material until it was pulp, then, through puckered lips, spray at the hand outstretched on a rock.
I guess it was all done with “charcoal,” but I need to go and check that out.  The movie should have told.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

SOME DAYS IT FEELS LIKE (...a rough-hewn sort-of-sonnet)

The following was a private venting of the bad feelings of the times -- a means for catharsis, but someone urged me to place it on my blog:


My heart is more than broken.
It is pierced by shards
Of human toil and turmoil.

All that may be spoken
About all the broken accords
Cannot redeem our soil.

But dirt is just where it ends
And where it all begins again,
Trucking through this bloody muck.

From somewhere something sends -- 
When you decide to begin again --
Something as strong as the word Fuck,
Stronger than the idea of God,
Something inside you -- Call it pluck.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

6 July 2011 -- Clarion Alley, San Francisco

Walking with Leslie Angeline and Martha Hubert to have lunch at PicaPica (serving variants on maize) we passed Clarion Alley, and stopped to look at the art -- more and more, alleys and buildings are covered with murals, art, graffiti as art.  Click on title above if you would like to see what we saw.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

5 July 2011-- J and J Create a Drawing

Jim Breeden came over from San Francisco with the plan that he and I, Jim Eilers, should make a drawing together, trading stroke by stroke.  What should we name our first attempt?

4 July 2011, with S.F. Mime Troupe

Lloyd Stensrud suggested seeing the San Francisco Mime Troupe in Dolores Park on the 4th of July.  The Mime Troupe always skewer the ills of the system, an antidote to the blind patriotism that sentimentalizes the blood sacrifice of America's youth for leaders who are little more than the pimps who whore us all -- and that was the theme of their little musical -- how to survive capitalism with any sense of integrity.  Consider how their audience can sometimes be 50 to 100 people sitting on the grass before the stage, this 4th of July, the attendance was EPIC (as shown on the slide show you may watch by clicking on the title of this section).  Afterward, on my way to the 24th Street BART station, for my return to Oakland, I walked down Osage Alley, which is becoming another of the many alleys devoted to graffiti art.