Here is another new Dragon drawing I just finished. A new Dragon for the New Year!
Happy New Year from the Wildwood!
2013 was a crazy year and time was all whack-a-doo! I can’t quite believe its been here and gone.
This card, the Hooded man / Hermit, has always reminded me of Father Time. Holding up his lamp and checking out the New Year. I’m sure he hopes 2014 is a good one for ya!
I just watched a movie that I think everyone should see. A documentary called Chasing Ice. The film follows photographer James Balog and his team as they travel to and through the Arctic in order to capture on time-lapsed photography the effects of global warming and the glacial retreat. I heard a really good podcast interview with Balog a year or two ago (can’t remember which podcast though, dag-nabbit) and meant to see the film, but since it wasn’t out quite yet I guess I kind of forgot about it. This last week I saw it was on Netflix and I had to watch. I’m glad I did.
This may seem a little off-topic, but I don’t think so and its something I have felt for a long time… In my life I have come across two different mentalities and approaches to Nature pretty regularly that make no sense to me.
The first is an attitude that each of us are all too familiar with. That is, Nature is just a resource to be used, put up for sale, and exploited by man. The idea that Nature was created just to benefit our own materialistic greed actually does damage to me physically, psychically and spiritually. This approach, which has seeped into pretty much every aspect of our personal and civilized life, damages all of us. But not only us, it also damages every plant and animal we share this world with (wasn’t the world created for them too?). The idea that we can pollute the skies, fill the ocean with oil and plastic, tear and stab at the mountainside for coal, gas, and minerals, not to mention torture animals for their milk and meat… Hell, its obvious there are still some people who see other people that way too. As a resource to be exploited. Well, that attitude seems so ignorant I can’t even believe it. Its inevitable that there are consequences. Boggles the brain.
The other side of the coin is just as disturbing though. I’ve met many many people who sincerely believe that the world would be better off without human beings. Like we are not a part of this world, that we are somehow apart. But we belong here. I don’t mean that we have more rights than anything else to the air, land, and water, but just as much right to it at the very least. Its a gift to each and every species that share this world. Sure, I also find it disgusting that we’ve exploited Nature too. This is a huge mistake. Whatever your beliefs, atheist, religious, nudist, we were created by Nature or God or Whatever to live here. We belong here. My feeling is we’re not a mistake. Even if you think it all happened by dumb luck and chance, I’m sure you’re still able to see how incredible it is that you can think that thought. And your ability to think that thought is one of Nature’s gifts to you. Whatever you believe, its plain to see we are Nature’s children and rely on Her for our existence, however our existence came to be.
I love Nature. You could even say that I am in love with Her. Whether its a cloud, a tree, a stream, a bird flying over my house, a mountain, another person’s face, or something that other person has created, I see Nature everywhere and She is beautiful (yeah, gotta capitalize Her beautiful name. Can’t be helped). If I don’t spend at least an hour or two every day with Her just walking up the canyon under some trees, I feel like I am going to go crazy.
I look at the human species as a whole almost in the same way I look at an individual person. That statement probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without some long-ass explanation, and this post is already long enough. But yeah, sometimes I see our species in the same way that I see an individual. Humanity wakes up for the first time in this strange world and looks around, learns to walk, learns to talk, tries to find its place and meaning, discovers things along the way, gets a little older, and we will eventually die. I know, as an individual, I certainly have made many mistakes in my life. Collectively, we’ve also made many mistakes along the way too. But Nature still gives us Her gifts, and I do believe we can learn from our mistakes and change.
Anyway, a bit of a tangent. You may ask what all these words have to do with the documentary. Well, I guess a good documentary makes you think.
Sometimes I think I need to be more of an activist, but I know that is not my role or calling. My job is to create, to make and share these sometimes strange pictures and ideas that fill my head. But maybe there can be a blending? Anyway, I truly appreciate that there are people like James Balog trying to open peoples eyes to the damage we’ve been causing this world. His film has helped me love Nature even more.
Its the winter solstice as I write this post today, and I have decided write about Göbekli Tepe to celebrate that fact. Partly because I want to learn more about the ancient site myself, partly because these monoliths are usually built recognize and record celestial events like the solstice, and also because ancient history fascinates me. There is another reason too… I’ve been reading, watching some documentaries, and listening to a lot of podcasts on history, archaeology, astronomy, and religious texts lately. I’ve been coming across information on this ancient site quite a bit and it sure seems to be inspiring a lot of people, including me.
Göbekli Tepe was first discovered in Turkey in the ’60s, but it wasn’t until 1996 that work was really started by archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, and he has been there with his team ever since. What they’ve uncovered is considered to be the oldest known temple, dating back to approximately 10,000 B.C., making it almost 6,000 years older than Stonehenge. Apparently, they’ve only excavated a relatively small portion of the site, and can see through geological surveys that there are still a huge number of structures buried under the ground. Its thought that what is still buried may be even older.
Human beings and our instinct to create just amazes me. And also our instinct to destroy. Its weird but, after being used for thousands of years, the site was deliberately buried. Its not really known why…
I’ve been enjoying the work of Shahzia Sikander lately. I like to take a look at reproductions her miniature paintings especially. They are an interesting blend of Hindu and Muslim iconography, with a dash of America thrown in there too.
Sikander was born in Pakistan and studied traditional Mughai miniature painting. There is such beautiful detail in her work its easy to get lost in looking. Apparently, some of these miniature paintings can take up to a year of dedicated work to complete. I’m very glad she has taken the time
I probably first read The Hobbit when I was about nine years old. And then I immediately read it again a couple more times. Thinking on it now, I really don’t know that I have read it since then though, but I do know the story by heart and its very special to me. By the time I was ten or eleven I had collected and read The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarilion, and The Unfinished Tales. At that time I think the last two books listed were beyond me, but The Lord of the Rings… I read that over and over again. Back then me and my family were living in Taiwan, and there was this book store up the street that had these beautifully bound hardcover copies (same dust-jacket as the one pictured above) with a giant map in the back that I could unfold and pour over. We lived in the heart of Taipei by the Chiang Kai-shek memorial. Even though that was a pretty public monument and park, there was this secluded spot with a small waterfall I’d climb up to. I’d go up there and read about Ents, Hobbits, and Elves. Good times!
Tolkien has been a great companion in my life. Even though I may go for many years not reading anything he has written, its inevitable that eventually I’ll pick up and read one of his stories again and thoroughly enjoy myself. I think it was last winter that I picked up Morgoth’s Ring and read that for the first time. It’s really good! These days, The Silmarilion is far and away my favorite work though. The mythology in there is mind boggling, and his creation story is definitely one of the best.
Tolkien was a very religious person, and it shows in his writing. Even though I am not religious and I don’t really believe in a personified supreme-power (its hard to explain what I believe. Some sort of animism I suppose), there is one thing that always came through in his work, and it is also something I agree with… Tolkien believed that you can experience God directly in his handwork. God (or Iluvatar in Tolkien mythology) moves through Nature, and by spending time with Nature you can come to know and understand the mind of God. And it is our creativity and imagination that allows us to participate directly with God and Nature.
The quote below, taken from a conversation between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, is really the point of this post. I wanted the quote to appear here on ArtDuh!
You call a tree a tree, [Tolkien said to C.S. Lewis], and you think nothing more of the word. But it was not a ‘tree’ until someone gave it that name. You call a star a star, and say it is just a ball of matter moving on a mathematical course. But that is merely how you see it. By so naming things and describing them you are only inventing your own terms about them. And just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.
We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil….
You mean, asked Lewis, that the story of Christ is simply a true myth, a myth that works on us in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened? In that case, he said, I begin to understand.
Going out and coming in without error.
Friends come without blame.
To and fro goes the way.
On the seventh day comes return.
It furthers one to have somewhere to go.
After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by force. The upper trigram K’un is characterized by devotion; thus the movement is natural, arising spontaneously. For this reason the transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is introduced. Both measures accord with the time; therefore no harm results. Societies of people sharing the same views are formed. But since these groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony with the time, all selfish separatist tendencies are excluded, and no mistake is made. The idea of RETURN is based on the course of nature. The movement is cyclic, and the course completes itself. Therefore it is not necessary to hasten anything artificially. Everything comes of itself at the appointed time. This is the meaning of heaven and earth.
All movements are accomplished in six stages, and the seventh brings return. Thus the winter solstice, with which the decline of the year begins, comes in the seventh month after the summer solstice; so too sunrise comes in the seventh double hour after sunset. Therefore seven is the number of the young light, and it arises when six, the number of the great darkness, is increased by one. In this way the state of rest gives place to movement.
Thunder within the earth:
The image of THE TURNING POINT.
Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes
At the time of solstice.
Merchants and strangers did not go about,
And the ruler
Did not travel through the provinces.
For me, today. I’m glad.
When I was a younger man I was lucky enough to spend huge chunks of my time wandering under the starry skies of Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and California. I loved being in somewhat remote areas, able to look up and see infinity looking back down at me. I made good friends with the Milky Way, the moon, Orion, and other constellations. I’ve often thought that my biggest regret living in a city full-time and being a somewhat responsible adult is I’ve lost my connection to the stars. I mean I can go outside and still see Orion, and he is a good buddy, but I sure can’t see infinity in the sky here in downtown SLC. I miss it…
Don’t get me wrong. All-in-all, I like living where I do. I can go out my front door and in five or ten minutes I’ll be walking next to a stream and up a canyon. That’s pretty sweet! I’ll see some beautiful animal running up the trail ahead of me, and constellations in the canopy of tree branches, so life feels pretty good. I love nature, and being able to walk around in it is great, so I’m not complaining. But I do miss the stars.
I can also tell you that I miss the Comet Hale-Bopp. Haha! Funny to say so long after the fact, but it was so great to be able to see that comet caught up in the spring sky of 1997. In the ancient world, from what I understand, comets were often seen as very ill omens. Maybe because there is some racial memory of a comet cataclysm, or maybe it was just seeing them streak across the (seemingly) eternal night sky was too much change to handle. For me anyway, Hale-Bopp just brought wonder. Any celestial event is a good celestial event in my book, I guess.
Well, there is another comet passing by the sun this week that has potential to become another celestial event that we may be able to see back here on earth. Comet ISON will reach it’s closest point to the sun in its orbit on Thanksgiving, November 28th. There is a good chance that as it does, its tail will blossom and flare and become observable here on earth. I certainly hope so! I’d love to see another omen shouting its way through my night sky, saying to me “Happy Tofurkey-Day!”.