Monthly Archives: June 2017

Photography site (near) back up and running after hack.

Been working these past few days on restoring my photography site after it was trashed by some drop-kick hacker in April. It’s far from complete with new content needed, typos to fix and pages that need redesigning but despite that it’s looking promising. Comments are welcome.

djinnproject.org

Cheers.

Mea Culpa – I trashed the Pell post as having relied on memory I got some historical details wrong. I should know better!

Democracy, T-shirts and why people don’t buy newspapers.

Working on getting work which increasingly is less about scanning the classifieds and other employment websites for a nine-to-five job but rather will have to involve creating the money machine myself. Business, books in progress and not forgetting the art and photography entirely – suddenly there are not enough hours in the day and often I’m still at it in the early hours of the morning.

Part of ‘the plan’ involves reviving my t-shirt business of years ago but this time rather than just airbrushed shirts, I’m also adding screen-printed into the mix. Sounded easy enough but a few hours research was enough to discover it’s actually quiet involved if you aim to make anything someone might actually want. The technicalities of getting a design onto cloth in such a way it is somewhat similar to what was intended is difficult enough but before that one needs to be a creative genius, especially in these days of gross oversupply, and come up with colors and shapes that displayed on the wearer’s chest will satisfy his or her need for peer approval.

So full of enthusiasm and putting leftist philosophies aside I decided to engage in some capitalism, ordered equipment I no longer had due to past bills and later garage sales and then and after setting up the accounting software – oh the horror – got stuck into doing some designing. Well, couldn’t help myself and after churning out a series of sentences, images and jotting down other ideas for shirts that would for sure rake in the orders, the question of what I was actually doing came to mind.

Designing shirt graphics of course but beyond that and seeking ideas it occurred to me that a ‘good idea’ is one that adds to a human debate that is ongoing and probably started as soon as humans realized there are aspects to their lives they knew to exist but could not grasp sufficiently to fully understand. How many texts are there about Love for example? Starting from the first recorded which could be ancient Greek such as the writings of Homer or Plato and up to “Pretty Woman” or present day debates about gay marriage? The important thing is not arriving at a final answer which is beyond our abilities anyway but rather is the perfection of the debate. It must include all voices and be unlimited in scope and working on a seventies style counter-culture design and realizing I was self-censoring and have less freedom than the artists of the mid-twentieth century, it occurred to me that just as climate change could already be a runaway process, if in the simple act of designing a T-shirt I feel a need to exercise caution then all those important social debates have been closed by ill-informed legislation and democracy is already in an advanced state of decay.

And in Paul’s “also” section – a thought on why people don’t buy newspapers anymore. I was going to make this the subject of a post but a few examples are sufficient to make the point that the Internet is not solely responsible for killing print news.

From the BBC style guide a few examples of what we get these days in broadcast and print,

Dying more than once…

For the second time in six months, a prisoner at Durham jail has died after hanging himself in his cell.

A suicide bomber has struck again in Jerusalem.

It’s a sad and tragic fact that if you are a farmer you are three times more likely to die than the average factory worker.

Running out of celebrity rapists? No problem for this writer, the dead can do it as well.

Sixty women have come forward to claim they have been assaulted by a dead gynecologist.

OK – now compare the above to the beautiful piece below,

The boy’s spindly body sank slowly to the dusty gravel road. He lowered his head to the pebbles, resting his sunken cheek on his hand. His dry cracked lips did not close. He tried to cover his bare feet, but the torn dirt encrusted rags he wore were not long enough. He placed an empty tin can, his only possession, near his stomach. And then he started to cry.

Afghan Children Die in Streets of Hunger. James Sterba. New York Times 1972

Notice the rhythm created in the repetitions,

He lowered his head – His sunken cheek – on his hand – His dry cracked lips – He tried to cover – he wore – He placed an empty tin can – his only possession – his stomach – he started to cry

Poetry in prose in which the repetition of “he” and “his” in this single paragraph achieves the writer’s goal of drawing readers into the tragedy of the 1972 Afghan famine and in a way that establishes a personal connection between the reader and this Afghan child whom we know, in the following moment, died of starvation. He forces the reader to make that conclusion his or herself and hopefully write a letter demanding humanitarian intervention. (Which by the way, had we done at the time we would not be fighting the Taliban today.)

I’d buy a newspaper everyday if writers such as James Sterba filled its pages.

 

True Art is Truth – an explanation and Go Japan!

I thought I should explain the byline ‘True Art is Truth’ which is a Spartan proverb and has nothing to do with realism in the visual arts as some assume but rather is about the need to speak truth to the extent that is possible in speech and writing. I found that Aristotle had covered the subject and much better than I possibly could and I also added part of an essay on writing by Robert Louis Stevenson in which he also speaks about the need for truth and honesty.

Aristotle.

The first rule of good speaking is to know and speak the truth as a Spartan proverb says, ‘true art is truth’; whereas rhetoric is an art of enchantment, which makes things appear good and evil, like and unlike, as the speaker pleases. Its use is not confined, as people commonly suppose, to arguments in the law courts and speeches in the assembly; it is rather a part of the art of disputation, under which are included both the rules of Gorgias (Sophist) and the eristic (Eris – goddess of discord and conflict) of Zeno (philosopher best known for his ‘paradoxes’). But it is not wholly devoid of truth. Superior knowledge enables us to deceive another by the help of resemblances, and to escape from such a deception when employed against ourselves. We see therefore that even in rhetoric an element of truth is required. For if we do not know the truth, we can neither make the gradual departures from truth by which men are most easily deceived, nor guard ourselves against deception.

You probably have heard much mention of fake news and alternative facts recently or proposed laws presented as ‘protecting’ us from evil when in fact it is to protect established power from civil society.

Robert Louis Stevenson.

Man is imperfect; yet, in his literature, he must express himself and his own views and preferences; for to do anything else is to do a far more perilous thing than to risk being immoral: it is to be sure of being untrue. To ape a sentiment, even a good one, is to travesty a sentiment; that will not be helpful. To conceal a sentiment, if you are sure you hold it, is to take a liberty with truth. There is probably no point of view possible to a sane man but contains some truth and, in the true connection, might be profitable to the race. I am not afraid of the truth, if anyone could tell it me, but I am afraid of parts of it impertinently uttered. There is a time to dance and a time to mourn; to be harsh as well as to be sentimental; to be ascetic as well as to glorify the appetites; and if a man were to combine all these extremes into his work, each in its place and proportion, that work would be the world’s masterpiece of morality as well as of art. Partiality is immorality; for any book is wrong that gives a misleading picture of the world and life.

I like that last line in which he states that partiality is immorality. Ever try discussing religion with a fundamentalist or an atheist, politics with a member of the far right or left or gender relations with a militant feminist?

Also, you know I’m pretty militant when it comes to civil and political rights and so I was happy to see the reaction in Japan to the passing of new ‘anti-terrorism’ laws. Violent protests and funny that in a matter related to democracy we in the West can now start taking lessons from the East. Rather than go over the details myself, just click HERE to go to “The Guardian” article which covers it all pretty well.

More fear and thoughts on ‘Wonder Woman’

Like many I often have the television switched on in the next room so I can listen to the news channel whilst doing something hopefully constructive like writing a book, working on the animation project or cleaning the kitchen. Usually what’s coming from the flat box is not all that interesting but the other day something did make me put down the mop to pay more attention to what was being reported. Namely, our prime minister together with state premiers and first ministers fronting the media at the end of their COAG meeting. COAG, for those who don’t live here, is the ‘Council Of Australian Governments’ which are the state and federal government. What struck me listening to each premier (head of a state government) and the federal prime minister was the level of agreement on giving our law enforcement and intelligence services yet more power, “the tools and powers they need to keep us safe” was more or less how they all put it. Not a dissenting voice and no mention of a sunset clause nor how these extra tools and powers would be independently managed.

Benjamin Franklin’s words come to mind,

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Thinking about Britain, recent terrorist attacks and the slippery slide towards becoming a nation governed by fear something else comes to mind and it is that in WWII Britain could have surrendered to the Nazis and avoided 67,200 civilian casualties and the greater part of their 383,700 military casualties. But they didn’t because for a nation that has strong beliefs with courage to match, surrender to tyranny was not an option. They stuck it out, took the blows and won. With help of course from like-minded nations but it is true that had the British given into fear and surrendered, the world would be a worse place and to this day. No nation has ever stood proud of its fear. Terrorism? Nothing new and not a reason to give away freedoms and rights that cost all wars and nations combined, literally millions of lives.

The problem we have is that we are fighting an idea and don’t have a better idea and strengthening state, history has shown, weakens nation.

OK and I also wanted to draw attention to an article on the al Jazeera website about the hypocrisy of Hollywood. You might have seen “Wonder Woman” and you may remember the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza which killed over 2500 thousand people including 511 children. Here’s what the little actress who somehow landed the role of ‘Wonder Woman’ had to say,

As quoted in the al Jazeera article.

I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children…We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom! 

Hiding? Like cowards? The ‘boys and girls’ risking their lives? Does she mean as in dropping bombs from a great height and shooting shells, from heavy tanks and at a safe distance, onto schools and hospitals? Brave indeed and as for ‘hiding’ behind children and women (sexist comment that implies women are as helpless as children btw) instead of fighting would she also say the Jewish heroes of the Warsaw ghetto were ‘hiding behind women and children’? Sorry but Gaza and that WWII Jewish ghetto have a few disturbing similarities.

This ‘Wonder Woman’, whose name is Gal Gadot, was an Israeli soldier and a ‘settler’ on land stolen from the Palestinians. A feminist idol maybe but also clearly a member of the ultra-right – the same from which her fellow citizens had to be liberated by others – and is an outspoken supporter of land theft and genocide.

Now, remember the Oscars and all the outrage about the lack of females, of non-white actors, directors, etc? You could be led to believe the arts community has a morale concious and is socially progressive but – apparently not when it comes to children surviving as best they can in the world’s biggest prison.

I’m not anti Israeli – honestly – but strongly feel that enough is enough, we need to fix this puss-oozing sore and that means Israel needs to respect the international law that created it and withdraw to the 1967 green line as it has been repeatedly told. If it fears further attack then the United Nations can disarm both sides and put peacekeepers in place for as long as it takes for the extremists, on both sides, to die of natural causes. Happy days for all.

Brrrrr – too cold

The winter bike trip, as it turned out, was a nice idea. The one thing I didn’t anticipate was that overnight temperatures would drop to sub-zero. In the early hours of Thursday and unable to sleep, I realized the sides of the swag were frozen. I was told next morning by a security guard from a nearby power station and who probably feared I was some greenie intent on doing evil to the coal-fired station, that it had hit -5. That’s OK if you have a sleeping bag which I didn’t because there was no room left on the trailer and I thought the swag and sleeping fully dressed would be sufficient. Anyway, learned a few things and the next attempt will be in Spring.

Hill on the way to Lithgow with mountain bike and trailer in the foreground.

Steep and a long 2.5 kilometer pushing the bike and trailer.

Dead Wombat on the highway west of Lithgow.

Felt like a dead wombat myself – the hills are a killer!

Swag, mountain bie and trailer by the side of the highway to Mudgee.

Setting up camp by the side of the Mudgee highway. In the early hours of the morning I realized the swag’s canvas was frozen.

Also, just have to make a comment about president Trump’s latest act in ‘make America great again’. In what is the gravest threat to ever confront the human species, he decides to align the United States with Syria and Nicaragua and has effectively surrendered leadership in solving this problem to China. I’d be very surprised if the nations who did sign off on the Paris agreement accept a renegotiation and the way they will most likely deal with the United States will be with a punitive carbon tax slapped on everything it tries to export. Net result? More rust in the rust belt.

The fact is that, and regardless of America’s greatness, at the very least we have to bring the carbon level back to 350 parts per million or less for life on this planet to continue. I’m an optimist, it will be done with the only question being, at what cost? Climate catastrophe is just not going to happen.