31 March 2009

Ironic, and in keeping with today's theme.

Here i am, all "people should talk about themselves" and "navel-gazing is great"... I have just now been inadvertently reminded of proof that perhaps my thinking is flawed, in this respect.
I was asked out on a date of sorts a while back. It was a fairly lovely evening, if you discount the facts that said gentlemen left his cell-phone on and actually answered it three times over the course of 4 or so hours, stated on two separate occasions that this convening of ours was one of three events he was expected at for the evening, and managed to tell me oh so nonchalantly that one of his books had been reviewed (or something) for the New York Times.
We ended up at some point back at my little home regardless (these are tough times, dear reader(s)), where said gentleman told me about his latest novella, and when I responded that it sounded very interesting, he said "you should read it, I have it right here!", took a USB key out of his pocket (yes a USB key) and saved said novella onto my desktop. 
Two days later he emailed me asking if I had read it yet, as well as forwarding links to the latest additions to an online project he works on, and an interview he did with someone of great notoriety (or so he indicated) that I had otherwise never heard of.

This insistence on my attentions from a gentlemen who does not show up at book launches himself, and didn't even see his way to asking what I get up to when not AT other peoples' book launches.
Conclusion: navel-gazing=acceptable, but it should perhaps be acknowledged that it is the height of rudeness to carry your navel around on a USB key and presume other people are interested in looking at it, especially when you have no interest in looking at theirs yourself.

Also, judgement is inevitable. Let's face it, never date an artist. No, Really.

Now holy FUCK do I ever need to get back to some real work. Bloody blog.

and, pursuant to the previous posting...

And this is why, dear reader(s), fiction, embellishment, and lies will always make the world go 'round. Whether I like it or not.

the answer to the below.

Well, that was quick. I went to wash my dishes and discovered, somehow, the answer to my very own question.
People don't want to be judged harshly. 
And worse still, silently.
And who, really,  could blame them?

Why does navel-gazing get such a bad rap? (skip past pictures for actual post, my dear english reader(s))

First. My own bit of navel gazing. In a foreign language.
I did this German presentation last night; my first attempt at writing something in German beyond an email here and there. It's the first thing I've written in german First (as opposed to translating from english) and tho' what you are seeing has been corrected to death, I remain rather proud. (I would like to point out this will be exactly of No interest to the reader(s) of this blog, being in german, but at some point when I am eighty I would like to look back and see what all the little dead-end expenditure of my time actually accomplished, so  here we are. My motivations are entirely self-serving.)

NOW. For the actual post.
So far, my favourite presentations in this class have been by one student on her part-time work as an actress, and another (who is a flight attendant), who played travel agent and took us through all the necessaries for our dream-vacation in Germany. All the presentations have been a blast, don't get me wrong, but my fondness for these in particular was to be given a tiny somewhat personal window into some of the people I've been sitting next to in the past year or so. I suppose if I was more discerning I could see the personal details in a presentation of a historical monument or a cultural entity, but these ones were a more open doorway, so to speak.
I've been glum over the past four days, and last night I was pondering the above. (In english).
What I would like to know is why navel-gazing seems inherently to have such a bad rap (sp?). People make Such a concerted effort on a daily basis to say Nothing personal about themselves whatsoever. We all sit and socialize and discuss world events, the weather, other peoples' gossip, but tactfully avoid talking about ourselves at any cost. (This is, incidentally, a reason why I was so thrilled with that "25 things" meme that was going around on fb some time back) Those of us who do talk about ourselves are considered selfish, self-absorbed, disinterested in the rest of the world. (And I am not, incidentally, speaking of those who feel the constant need to regale us with extensive lists of their accomplishments and badges of distinction. I am speaking of people who speak about personal moments in their lives.)
I do very much appreciate that there is a time and place for discussing one's dysfunctional family or dissatisfaction with one's life choices, and around the water cooler is not that time or place. But "professional" hour has to end sometime in the day, does it not?
And isn't there a possibility that people who do have a tendency to navel-gaze might also be intrinsically interested in the belly-buttons of others? That they are hoping, with their own discussion of personal details and tid-bits from their own daily lives, to find out more about the people they are surrounded by, and therefore feel a little less lonely?
With some amount of realistic temperance, it just doesn't seem like such a crime to me. 

29 March 2009

Frozen food.

So a few weeks ago I noticed a book on a friend of mine's shelf entitled "Eat Me", and commented on it. He said he hadn't read it yet, actually.
Then a few days ago he told me the book had been lost. 
["The book you hadn't read yet?" 
"Well, I decided to start reading it, and then I lost it. I just can't figure it out."]
Then yesterday he sent me an email—he had just found the book in his freezer. 
He couldn't fathom why, and then remembered spilling water on it and putting it there to get rid of the sogginess. 
Utterly Novel.

28 March 2009

Thumbnail drawings.

Like having the same argument between lovers, in a thousand different ways, where the lover never gives in, and rarely compromises.
Paper stronger than rock. Where are my scissors?

Kathy H., are you out there?

A few weeks back, I received this mystery postcard in the mail:

(address taken out 'coz in these days of wine and google, nobody's safe!)

I asked the handful of people I know who are living in NY, but none were responsible. I found out, incidentally, that a friend of mine who teaches comic stuff in NY in fact gets his students to make comics based on overheard/unfinished conversations of strangers.
Anyhow. The handwriting is Really Familiar. And tho' the mystery is half the appeal, I can't stop wondering. I've had it perched on the shelf above my drafting table since.
Then this morning I think I got it.
I have all your other postcards somewhere, SOMEWHERE, but I have four suitcases of old letters and can't find them to double check. SEVENTEEN YEARS, if so. COOLLL!!!!

How Proust Can Change your Lie...erm...Life.

One of the chapters of this Alain de Botton book that I am presently re-reading is called "How to Open your Eyes". 
It starts with the following sentence: "Proust once wrote an essay in which he set out to restore a smile to the face of a gloomy, envious, and dissatisfied young man
Proust had a theory that seeing a painting by Jean-Baptiste Chardin could quell said young man's need for the lush and opulent goods he was so often seeing (and missing from his own life) in other works at the Louvre, and how he could learn, through seeing this artist's subject matter, how to see the beauty in simple things such as a sideboard, a loaf of bread, or a coffeepot, just as much as in villas and kings and diamond-studded door handles. Because, with this diversion, the man could once more associate himself with the greatness of art, and an art that actually lay within his corporeal grasp.

...beauty is something to be found, rather than passively encountered...it requires us to pick up on certain details, to identify the whiteness of a cotton dress, the reflection of the sea on the hull of a yacht, or the contrast between the color of a jockey's coat and his face. It also emphasizes how vulnerable we are to depression when the [painters] of the world choose not to go on holiday and the pre-prepared images run out...
The moral? That we shouldn't deny the bread on the sideboard a place in our conception of beauty, that we should shoot the painter rather than the spring and blame memory rather than what is remembered...

25 March 2009

Vanity and scissorial remorse.

This photo found whilst going through reference material. Don't remember it being taken AT ALL, or who took it, even. I always find it odd when that happens.
Why, oh Why did I take the scissors to them?!?!
LOOK at those Glorious Dreadlocks! 

Fundamentally process.

So I am involved with an art show taking place in Connecticut this September, showing process and finals from my Details books. And I am Pleased as Punch about it. 
Now. I have this preoccupation with making sure (that my tiny corner of the world anyhow) remains aware that art=Work. It adds to its legitimacy, and it sheds some of the bullshit illusions that are out there that we art sorts live a charmed and lazy life, especially where worktime and funding are concerned.
So. I spent about a half day just going through all my process material for the book, and this is some of the stuff I found. And I mean Some. I would say about a quarter of it.

Because I am not being paid for the show, nor are they paying the shipping of the work, I have already had to put together a grant application to get said funding, and accept the fact that I've been handed an opportunity with a potentially up to 1200$ price tag (and that was just the estimate for shipping!) 
I'm not complaining about this (well, not really), but I think it's important information that never makes it up onto gallery walls. There's always a method (and a price tag) behind the magic.

Anyhow. Beyond any of the administrative rubbish, looking at Process is SO.Cool. 
I usually just tuck this stuff away and keep going. But look at these little doodles! This is one of a Tonne of these pages! WHO KNEW! (click on image for full size)

24 March 2009

Morbid Anatomy. Blessed blog followers, blessed Morbid Anatomy.

Sally Smith knew, (thank you, Sally!).
A stray posted comment from a fortuitous stranger led me today to Sally Smith's blog, which led me to a list of blogs she follows, which led me to this Other Blessed Gem: Morbid Anatomy, which couldn't BE more perfect. Thank you thank you, Sally Smith, from Deepest, Darkest, Essex.

(I should clarify, I'm new to the world of blog following and such things, I don't click around too much on the internet, I find it too easily overwhelming. But in this case, Most Happily Overwhelmed. GLEE!!)

I could lose years of my life

to the smell of old books. 

Thank you Doctor.

There is no indignity in being afraid to die, but there is a terrible shame in being afraid to live.
(THE Doctor, that is.)

Das Leben einer unbekannten Kunstlerin

So I'm putting together a presentation for my german class, and have, of course, decided to do it about me. And, while feeling lame and abashed for once again caving in to navel-gazely (sic) tendencies, there is a certain honesty to knowing that I am the only thing that I can really speak with any honesty about, and even here I cannot speak with learned certainty. I have no knowledge of german beers, german landscapes, german film history. But I have some sense of what I get up to when I'm not learning german. And maybe it's a bit interesting. Maybe.

Anyhow. Whilst looking for old pictures/drawings to create my little chronicle, I came across this stuff. I'm proud (not so much of the content as the fact that it exists.) I've been at this for a while. I can't say that about many things in my life.

(self portrait, not exemplary, 2000)

(life without travel; 03/04?.)
(ACTUALLY DRAWN FROM LIFE. No photos here. Can I even believe there was a time. Nostalgic sigh.)

Love and Envy

This shot also from the Spring Equinox on Toronto Island on the weekend. (The best shots aren't mine; this for now.)
About this fire.
About fire.
I Love fire, and I Envy it too.
It's so astounding to me how it's Just Fire. Everything/everyone can sit with each other, strangers, say nothing, do nothing, for hours, just staring at fire. There are no questions, no doubts, no debates.
It's Peace in the face of something so Fundamentally Dangerous.
Somehow it feels like all the answers are in that.
How can fire breed calm, in such an effortless way? HOW?!? 'Coz it does. I could stare at it Forever and Happily so.

22 March 2009

Never learnt not to touch the stove-top when it's on.

I imagine it would have helped, but I probably never will.
How people can resist it at all, ever, is just Simply Beyond Me.

photo by Chriz Miller

15 March 2009

Lounging and listening to music yesterday...

I realized that some people collect alot of stories to feel as though they are living their lives completely, and some people don't need alot of stories to be living their lives completely. 

13 March 2009

Closer. (thank you, Patrick Marber)

Ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist wrapped in blood.

11 March 2009

drawing, drawing, diy comics-primer

I am completely exhausted today, but can happily say it is as a result of five hours drawing which led to COMPLETED work, as opposed to stuff I'm going to likely sit down and just erase to nothing tomorrow morning. Awesome.
Also, I did final edits on a diy self-publishing primer I originally wrote for the Xeric Foundation when they gave me a grant last year, and that Jim Munroe, No-Media-King-extraordinaire, so kindly offered to post on his site. And now, dear reader(s), it is! Up on his site! Here!

09 March 2009

ordinary life.

The mother of a friend of mine who I stayed with periodically during and after high school once said that I was ruined for ordinary life. At the time, I of course took this to be a compliment of the highest degree.
Last night I lay awake wondering if this is in fact a good thing.There is alot of ordinary life to be lived, what does one do with it all in contrast?

Anyhow. I'm without my computer for a week due to a faulty logic board, which keeps it from going to sleep. (Here I thought it was just taking on its owner's characteristics)
Needless to say being at the mercy of other peoples' computers at work and otherwise is going to drive me just shy of Completely insane. God. Where's that heroin, again?

Of course this bodes well for drawing, so yay!

05 March 2009

Top Shelf two point OH!

I am thrilled to the tits (ahem) to have been asked to have work on Top Shelf's amazing online publishing compatriot, and the first of my Details books (Carnival) is now up here for your online viewing pleasure.
Dearest reader(s), do remember, if you like what you see, you can still buy a BOOK (yes, a real printed book of the matter) from ME! They are available here.
Just think: you can bring books to bed with you, while Top Shelf 2.0, is restricted to computer viewing. (Unless, forsooth, you are prone to bringing your laptop to bed. If this is the case, likely you have far more entertaining materials on there than my small booklets, and can therefore feel free to forgo the rest of this posting)
TopShelf2.0 will see the five (completed) episodes of The Details find some life online, followed by an online reprint of The One-Night Stands, (which has alas sold out of paper copies), followed by a new project called The Fairy Tales, which will be launching at this year's Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and subsequently in New York at the MoCCA art festival.
And so on, and so on. Work Work and more WORK!

Although I frequently forget

Every so often I am reminded of the intrinsic reason I have built my life this way, and why I love it so. The other evening, I was invited to attend an editorial meeting of a literary journal that has asked me to do some illustrations for them (about ballet dancing.) (Ballet Dancing!)
We drank red wine and spicy tea and ate home cooked glorious food as we discussed the this'n'that's of the magazine, the pieces already chosen for it, etc. Then we lounged in a cozy salon-like picture filled living/dining room of Uncle Monty-esque furnitorial (sic) splendour. And whilst a cat named Mr. Book curled up beneath my chair, we discussed everything from Obama's hands, to the gender dynamics of traditional ballet, to the struggles of Paul Klee, to the anatomy of dancing feet, to the collapse of the world economy and beginning of a new world.

Biking home, I remembered a conversation I had with a friend of mine a few weeks ago, that being around a large ratio of extraordinary people means that one often becomes inured to that very thing; Extraordinariness. How utterly lovely when the veil lifts again. Dear reader(s). It is, impoverished and stressful though it may be, a Good Good life.

03 March 2009

Receiving this by (e)mail the other day

made me realize how many friends I still have that have known me for over 10 years. (about 12 that I'm still in contact with, to varying degrees, and despite many clamorous moments, in some cases)
Which means they have know me over many chapters, really.
Here's to sending that in the mail. 

(click on image for full size)

02 March 2009

Paper. Fire. Deaf.

The building fire alarm went off THREE times last night. 
You know, I appreciate the need to wake people up in times possibly fraught with danger.
The need, however, to DISEMBOWEL THEIR EARDRUMS with relentless unstoppable high-pitched beeping seems highly unnecessary.
Anyhow, the fire department got called the first time around (the second and third I just stayed in bed. Perishing in the flames, I decided, would still be preferable to opening my door that sound again.)
But yes. The first time. In a highly foggy manner, I thought to myself perhaps this could be an incident fraught with some danger, and I collected up my drawings, in case I should have to vacate in a speedy fashion. I put my laptop in my bag, and my camera as they are the only expensive things I own, and stood in my living room, thinking about the end of my world. 
Why, you ask?
There are five archival boxes of completed drawings in my home. At least a dozen more drawings/paintings on the walls. We won't even attempt to count the books, visual ephemera at least 500 postcards strong, etc etc.
And then I put all the drawings down, save the present unfinished six. 
Let's face it. My entire life is made of paper. If I'm going up in flames, it's over.
Then I stared with no small amount of irony at a photo on my wall of me spinning (fire) on Toronto Island last summer. 
Conflicting interests, could we say?

01 March 2009

Dazzle camouflage.

Someone told me, some time back, about a military technique of disguise called dazzle camouflage. It was a technique of painting war ships out at sea with bright patterns and colours as a form of camouflage during WW1 and WW2.
It seems an odd technique, given that it draws attention to the ship, out there by itself in this vast stretch of water, rather than hiding it. But wikipedia explains that the purpose of this method was confusion rather than concealment; the bright covering made it difficult for visual rangefinders* to estimate its speed and bearing, whether the bow or stern is in view, whether the ship is moving towards or away from the viewer. 
I am curious to know how well this works. How many colours, how intricate the patterns, how much of the ship has to be covered for it to reach its destination unassailed?

*Rangefinders were based, so I've read, on the coincidence principle, with an optical mechanism that is human-operated. The operator in question would adjust this reader/mechanism until two half-images of the target lined up to form one whole. Dazzle worked because the clashing patterns looked abnormal when the two halves were aligned.