29 April 2008

Cricket

First, or rather next to last, it was right before I woke up, I dreamt I saw Peter again. I was waiting to get on the bus with a comic book I had drawn and I forgot my bus pass and had to borrow change from him. Amongst all the coins were the Arizona and New Hampshire quarters, which I needed. He looked a little rugged, but happy.

After that I dreamed I watched a short stop-motion film called "Cricket" in which a band of slightly the worse for wear rats dressed in Soviet Prison style monochrome canvas uniforms commited varios minor piracies. They had the menace of the bad-guys from an old TV serial (Buck Rogers perhaps)They were called "Chinese mice", not because their eyes were squinty or because they wore communist style uniforms, but because the taxidermied mouse carcasses which had been dressed in hand sewn outfits and animated, had been ordered from China very cheaply. When they had arrived their fur was very dirty and sandy and it showed on screen, and added to the effect.
The hero of the story was one "Cricket", a solitary cricket pistolero who lived in a one bedroom apartment in an old brownstone in a poor neighborhood of 1950's-70's Detroit or Pittsburgh. He had a lonely western film style theme song with a solitary acoustic guitar playing a simple picked/strummed riff and a small chorus of young sounding voices(perhaps women) singing about Crickets lonely poetic life.(Think contemporary simplified Ennio Morricone) The only line I remember ended with "...Bang, bang bang bang, boom.", as Cricket exchanged gunfire with the Chinese mice.
The trailer ended with an aereal shot panning across the tops of the buildings, water-tanks, fire escapes etc. to stop outside Cricket's apartment window in a long shot where he sat on his bed quietly reading a letter.

Above his building was another character, the narrator, some oversized (and thus not meant to be a part of Crickets world) creature with one eye who delivered a sombre anecdote about morals and lessons learned.

I want to see this again.

27 April 2008

Analyzing the System of Patriarchal Academe

After a week of looking at elements of the systems of patriarchy and sexism, I can see, or at least begin to see the overwhelming insidious permeation of patriarchical institutionalization in modern societies. How’s that for a string of academic sounding words. But really, I am reading another book right now called The Naked Ape, by Desmond Morris. Morris himself is a zoologist and in this book he attempts to explain all the elements of human behavior, and in particular human sexual behavior with evolutionary biology. While some things, anatomy for example, can easily be explained thus, he attempts to explain complex social and cultural practices as animalistic “throwback” behaviors rooted in our savage past. The first thing that struck me was Morris’s egregious cultural imperialism;

“Most of the information we have available stems from a number of painstaking studies carried out in recent years in North America and based largely on that culture. Fortunately it is biologically a very large and successful culture and can, without undue fear of distortion, be taken as representative of the modern naked ape.” (p.44)

In this passage, (and others) he is clearly, and bluntly claiming that North American culture supercedes all others as normal and correct. What is perhaps a little more subtle however, is his oblique patriarchal approach to human evolution and behavior. He repeatedly portrays the evolving human female as dependant upon the male for protection and sustenance. According to Morris, marriage and reproductive patterns are dictated by the needs of the male, and the female is reduced to the status of supplicant.

So, how does this relate to the material we covered in class this week? Clearly given the privilege of our education we have to analyze more critically the sources of knowledge that we take for granted as “truth”. Morris takes the knowledge he has of the behaviors of animals and primates and uses them to make a great number of out of context assumptions about the human animal. A later chapter of The Naked Ape is titled simply “Fighting”. Although I have not read that far yet, I too will make an assumption. Based on the first half of the book I will guess that we are meant to believe that fighting and therefore warfare are natural and normal biological animal behaviors.

The assumption here then is that modern, Western, North American patriarchal ideas of masculinity and maleness are natural, normal developments of biology. Wait, what!? This point of view not only reflects the dominant sexism of that culture, but in Amber Howard’s words, serves to perpetuate marginalization by universalizing diverse groups of cultures, communities and peoples. In this case Morris “naturalizes” and generalizes the marginalization, leaving the reader no choice but to be resigned to male dominance.In a culture which subscribes to patriarchal behavior, it would seem that the great mass of people have little choice but to participate and thereby perpetuate the system of dominance, particularly if the academics framing the knowledge are participants. If the system is working, it automatically precludes alternatives. One cannot see the forest for the trees.

Those of us who have, voluntarily or not, caught a glimpse of the machinations of the patriarchal system have a responsibility to look more critically at the information provided by academics (perhaps even question their credentials in this context), point out the information’s inherent exclusivity and demand, or even better, produce more inclusive knowledge.

It’s a difficult and even dangerous position to take to openly challenge such a pervasive system of domination, at the very least it is a good way to lose friends if one does not approach the task with some tact.

Sources:
Morris, Desmond. The Naked Ape. New York: Dell Publishing Co. ,1973.

Howard, Amber. "Deconstructing Racist Stereotypes And Romanticized Myths of Rromani" Thesis, U of Washington, 2004.

al-Madani, Mohammad. Lecture. Seattle Central Community College, Seattle. April 24, 2008.

Back of House


El Palo & La Pelota.
Two of the guys I worked with at the Old Spaghetti Factory several years back. Oh yeah, the skinny guy in front was named Gabriel and the big guy, Armando. Stick and Ball.

26 April 2008

Rub Till It Bleeds


I always felt I had better be patient. Doesn't bother me, food is fun for me, and lunch is a great excuse to see you.
Poster struggle, complete.

24 April 2008

Death Metal


I appreciate the fact that Death Metal is really awesome, and simultaneously ridiculous.

22 April 2008

Moral Considerations on Building "Green"

I just listened to a story on the radio about a person who spent five hundred thousand (500,000) dollars to remake their home in a “green” (environmentally friendly) way.

Building green is fine, it’s nice to design your personal home to be energy efficient and made from recycled materials, and I support that. It reflects however, a very limited perspective. It reflects a very privileged point of view in which the rich and generally, more educated are able to flex their economic muscle and show off their financial ability to “care” about the environment from an elitist point of view.

Certainly, I would not accuse any of these privileged people of intentionally attempting to display their wealth. However, would it not be more constructive, more conscientious to consider, and address the social practices, which perpetuate non-green construction?

I can understand the desire to create a home which caters to your desired level of comfort and luxury, however, I do not understand the disconnect between personal satisfaction in ones financial ability to be “progressive”, and the moral obligation to address the social issues on a larger scale.

Fundamentally I believe that addressing the issue of social practice, if one has the finances, and desire to use them in an environmentally innovative and positive manner, overrides the rather selfish motive of surrounding yourself with a green bubble as it were.

Is it more functionally effective (considering the universality of the issue) to contribute to a microscopic isolated solution, than to contribute to a step towards macroscopic inclusive solution?

The solution proposed by green construction totally discounts the great mass of the population, both in the rich and privileged societies like the United States, as well as the less privileged, such as much of Africa etc., who simply cannot afford to, or don’t have the context to “build green”, (or already do in the form of “primitive” dwellings) yet are betrothed to a global capitalist culture dependant on ever-ending consumption of resources. Furthermore, is the recycling, repurposing and reuse of products actually more environmentally friendly of building with new "green" materials? Is it more cost effective in the short term, long term?

If one abandons the poles of selfishness and selflessness, and one considers both approaches to the issue as valid, there must necessarily be some compromise between placating the self-conscious, and the conscience.

20 April 2008

Connections

Imperialism and colonialism are a cultural structure or system, which encourages individualism and leads to isolation. Economically this is evident in the concept of Capitalism and “entrepreneurialism”, the free market economy which promotes “competition” as opposed to mutual aid. In The Common Elements of Opression, Suzanne Pharr talks about tokenism and “models”, which is simply the act of co-opting the Other, or even more accurately, conforming them to the system of oppression. Emotionally we’re driven apart by those same concepts of competition, economically and otherwise and by a patriarchal culture which values people by the volume or size of their accomplishments (bell hooks). Thus we become emotionally bereft and isolated from others with whom we might empathize or commiserate. It is this isolation which leads us to see other people as exactly that, “Other”, we are unable to see any but our own point of view as valid, or having worth. We therefore find ourselves as justifying our imperial (whether interpersonal or collective) actions as being somehow righteous by virtue of them being ours. In this scenario, even if we fall into Williams concept of “soft” imperialism, once the Other has been colonized, or conforms to our norm we have created a hierarchical system of value with ourselves at the top, and those Others of varying degrees of conformity below us.

Nagarjuna on the other hand says quite the opposite, telling us that all truths, or to use Linda Tuiwai Smith’s term; knowledges are inherently relative and dependant on the knowledges of other systems. Therefore, if we pursue this line of reasoning, as Audre Lorde says in The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House, to address oppression meaningfully, it is necessary to make common cause with the Other in order to define and seek a world where all people flourish.

18 April 2008

What Has Been Bothering You Today?

I woke up and turned off the alarm clock. I shook my head a little bit, it was thicker than usual, heavier. I'm trying to fugure out this fucking Mexico trip coming up this summer, and I'm about done with flip-flopping. Yes, and done. Glad to have gotten things in the bag on that one. Tomorrow I buy tickets.
In the meantime, I sat through another 4 and a half hours of class. 5 and a half plus break. It's a lot to try and take on. You never feel like your in an uncomfortable place until things get underway, and the classroom turns from a bunch of friendly people into a stony mass of grim faces and scribbling pencils.

Jesus, I feel like a bug under the microscope accompanied by other bugs, 71 other bugs. I feel really self conscious, unsure about myself.

13 April 2008

MeHitler

My best buddy Laura wearing a paper mask of my face with distorted features.

Hidden Childhood

I watched these shows on the cable television growing up. Every morning my mother would drop me off at the Jauriquis house and I would wait to go to school. This was probably at 8am or so, hell I don't know.
I sat there on the couch watching cable TV every morning while the family got ready for their day. Eventually this lasted over some 7 years or so, minus the details. The fucking song has cropped up in my head every once in a while for nearly 15 years, and I have actually never met a person who remembers watching this show.

I mean, really, I owe those people some damn thanks, hopefully in the meantime this will be sufficient homage.

12 April 2008

High Tension




This is an early panel of what became THIS strip.

06 April 2008

He Sure Could Yell

I think the images we chose to represent ourselves are certainly telling. As children we really don't have any choice, or rather, little concern with how we are percieved by others.
I remember going to a birthday party for the 1 year old son of my parents friends, and at the time I was perhaps 8 or 9. Captured on film, the event some 5 years later caused some embarassment on my part. "Shrieking mulleted boy-harpy" is my immediate asessment.

What I'm getting at I guess is that, in time we come to worry about our appearance, and conduct in public, or at the very least when in anyone elses company.
A short aside; I reserve alone time for behaving in grotesque unhinged idiocy.
Our culture, and this is the culturally "sunburned" part of me speaking here, we're trained to judge our self worth on what other peoples judgements and assesssments of us are. If this were not the case, would there be such a magnificently huge market for cosmetic products and fashion? I thought not. In the long run I guess, I guess it's less a question of why we let other peoples judgements affect who we are, as why we let those judgments affect how we judge ourselves. The first question is really predicate on the second.

It is culture, and frankly, without the interest in laying it out in this forum under these circumstances (and without the "hard" evidence at hand) I'll say this; It is not a healthy culture which critically judges peoples strengths and weaknesses based on economic (or otherwise exploitable) value. (I think many women will attest to the fact that value in other peoples eyes is not always based on economics)

Thus, in adulthood, we are able to chose, and craft how we are represented publicly, both photographically (our preserved, or historical self), in the pictures and stories we chose to share with others, and the way we pose in the photos, and in reality; that is the persona, or act that we take on to create a certain preferred image of ourself. Our public persona.

I saw a play tonight that was pretty good. I think that I could say that it was brilliant because it meant a lot, but no, it was just OK. The thing is, it was incredibly passionate and moving despite it's flaws. It was one of those art events that, as an adult, makes me think, "I could be a better person, I could be more selfless." until I realize that I've thought that before, it hasn't happened and I let myself sink back into my encapsulated consumer catatonia.
Somehow there is something different this time. It wasn't that moment of "I could...", it wasn't the niceties of self effacing excuses, no, the difference is me.

There is something here I haven't seen before, a me that's enjoying myself more.




You are a funny little boy, but I have no doubt that you will learn to become a man.

Double Feature

This weekend was a sortof double whammy of polar opposite double deaths. Of course, the fourth was the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and then today, or rather last night, Charlton Heston cashed in his chips. Peace and Firearms. Whew, that leaves my head spinning.

I guess they can take his gun from his cold dead hands now.

01 April 2008

Humbaba

My new sheets enthrall.
They are warm with the light of the unfettered sun, and the living breath of the forest. I am a friendly giant sleeping among the pine and oak, lazily soaking up the comfort of my new sheets.

Does it count as camouflage?

First day in the new class was a bit of a surprise, lots more people than I would have expected from an 18 credis course, but I guess the reputations of the three instructors precede them. Lots of people that on first glance do not look like the types to take an intense class like this, but that's what the whole class is about. Perception. It seems that the whole thing is going to consist of group work, not something I've been given much faith in in the past, again that is something of the nature of the class.