Jodorowsky’s Dune


Frank Herbert‘s Dune is definitively up there among my favorite books of all time. I mean, I know there are a whole lot of people love these books, but I do too!

Over the years we’ve all been teased with film adaptations of Dune, but they’ve never turn out all that well. To be fair, I guess there have only been a couple film adaptations as far as I know, but both kind of suck.

Well, I watched a documentary this week called Jodorowsky’s Dune. It was a pretty good film about what director Alejandro Jodorowsky had planned in the ’70s for his adaptation of Dune… about the the Dune movie that was never made.

Like I say, the film was pretty damn good. What interested me the most was seeing how much goes into getting a film made (or not made, in this case). Writing the script, drawing the storyboards, creating set designs, putting music together, interfacing with the studio. Crazy crazy time consuming.

Who knows, Jodorowsky may have been the one who made a Dune movie worth seeing. I’m really not too sure about the changes he had planned for the story, but I do know he had some very talented people working on the project with him. With the late great Mœbius working on the film’s storyboards (which, my goodness, I’d love to own the hardbound storyboard drawings shown in the documentary!), H.R. Giger (of Alien fame) working on the sets, Salvador Dali hired on as an actor, and Pink Floyd planning on scoring the music (this right after finishing their masterpiece, The Dark Side Of The Moon)… well, it is had to see how any project could go wrong with talent like that working with ya.

But it did go wrong I guess, because the film was never made. But this documentary about the unmade film was made, and I liked it.

The Epic of Gilgamesh


imagesIts said that The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest known story in the world. Even though I am a history and mythology nut, I had never read it before this last week. I was somewhat familiar with the myth and characters, but man-o-man, what a great tale. Gilgamesh said “I will stamp my name upon men’s minds forever!” Even though his story was lost for a time, I think he has.

Reading this, it is easy to see the inspiration behind many mythologies, with the most famous probably being the account of the bible’s Great Flood and Noah (who is known in The Epic of Gilgamesh as Utnapishtim). This shouldn’t be a surprise because, from what I remember, the biblical Abraham migrated out of the same near-eastern region. You can even see the origins of many modern myth in the clay tablets (there was much more than just the legend of Gilgamesh recorded in the clay tablets). There are a whole lot of people today who use these myths to explain UFOs, Panspermia, and the Annunaki origins of man. Not to mention Enkidu, who sounds a lot like Bigfoot when we first meet him. Not that I think he literally is or anything, or is even supposed to be, but when he is first introduced Bigfoot was exactly what I thought of…


The Gilgamesh mythology speaks of the roots of civilization, how mankind first left the forest as an animal to later became human (that’s what Enkidu’s tale says to me anyway), how we’ve sought and gained control over nature (represented by the Cedar Forest and the monster Humbaba), and addresses questions about the meaning of life and the meaning of death.

The story behind the story is also pretty amazing. It was originally written down onto baked clay tablets which were lost and buried underneath ancient ruins for over 2,000 years. In 1853 the first fragments of those clay tablets were discovered among the ruins of Nineveh (the ancient capital of Assyria), but the text couldn’t be translated until decades later.

I love this mythology!



The Vegetative Universe


A quick post today, with some words that keep rolling around in my head. An excerpt from William Blake‘s poem Milton:

The Vegetative Universe, opens like a flower from the Earths center:
In which is Eternity. It expands in Stars to the Mundane Shell
And there it meets Eternity again, both within and without

The Green Man


osirisI’ve been thinking a lot about plant people and will probably sit down to draw them soon. One of my favorite plant buddies would have to be the Green Man, god of the forest. I’ve already painted him a few times over the years, but yeah, he is starting to play in my imagination once again. This week, I’ve decided to post a few pictures of him throughout history.

2012-ZL-Greenman-WEBI’ve read that the first incarnation of the Green Man (that we know of) may have been the Egyptian god Osiris.  His body representing the land of Egypt as it goes through the winter months when he is murdered, dismembered, planted in the ground, only to rise again for harvest (with his skin a nice shade of green). The Green Man has certainly evolved since then, and has been represented throughout Europe, and even India and Asia to represent the guardian of Nature. Even the Catholic church couldn’t get rid of the Green Man, and his image can be found inside and incorporated into their medieval cathedral’s architecture, columns and stained glass.

green-man-bambergI love the Green Man. Branches and bark on his face and skin, leaves as his hair, with flowers and foliage growing out of his mouth.

I remember being very happy as a kid if he’d show up in one of the books I’d be reading. I may have initially encountered the Green Man the first time I read Tolkien, where the he was embodied by the Ent, Treebeard. I’ve come across him many times since, in comics (Yay Swamp Thing!), literature, artwork, sculpture, and out in the wild wood. He shows up all over the place, and if you keep your eyes open you will see him everywhere!

Some books and things:

The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest

Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth

A Little Book of the Green Man (Little Books)

The Earth Has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life

Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1

The Green Man Tree Oracle: Ancient wisdom from the greenwood





"Fall" by Todd Powelson

“Fall” by Todd Powelson

"Green Man" by Todd Powelson

“Green Man” by Todd Powelson

The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi Library, and Gnostic Gospels.


A little over a week ago I went to the Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake to see their exhibit, the Dead Sea Scrolls. I was excited for the show but put it off until January because I wanted to avoid what I thought might be a Holiday rush. I’ve always liked learning about the history of the Scrolls and probably read my first book on them when I was still in high-school. Seems like I’ve also always been a geek about archaeology, anthropology, and art history. My interest in the Scrolls has never really faded, and since those younger days I’ve gone on and read a number of different books about the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Library, and other Gnostic Gospels. I guess I probably started with reading the work of Elaine Pagels, but then went on to read a lot more, including individual books like the Book of Enoch, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Judas, The Thunder Perfect Mind,  and more. I’ve probably mentioned here on ArtDuh before that I am not religious, but there is something about this history and Gnostic teachings that really interests and speaks to me. As a general rule, these books interest me a whole lot more than scripture that was approved by the Council of Nicaea.

The show itself was put together very well and I am glad I went. I guess it’ll probably sound like a slight criticism, but there was a whole lot more pottery than there were parchments. Still, I know that the pottery itself plays a huge role in the Dead Sea Scroll’s history, because the pottery was filled with these documents and then hidden in caves. And I guess if it weren’t for that pottery the Scrolls would never have been discovered, because it was the sound of a breaking pot that attracted a shepherd’s interest after he threw a rock into one of those caves.

Maybe a little off topic, although somewhat related (at least in my own mind), but if you’re interested in this subject I would strongly recommend learning about the Nag Hammadi find as well. Both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi were discovered around the same time, but the Nag Hammadi writings were discovered inside a sealed jar in Upper Egypt in 1945. It is just so interesting to see what made it into the “official” Bible, and what what suppressed (often violently) by the Holy Roman Church. It makes me wonder why some of these beautiful apocryphal books were excluded… although I can make a good guess.

Also off topic, but I would definitely recommend that everybody become familiar with the myth of Sophia because it central to a lot of Gnostic thought. It is also one of my favorite myths. Something about the story speaks to me and is so beautiful. There are probably quite a few books written about it, but two of my favorite would be “Not In His Image” by John Lamb Lash, and also the “Corpus Gnostica” by Brent Paris. Corpus Gnostica is a modern and fictional retelling of the story, but I really liked it!

Also, if you have any interest in Gnosticism, you might like the Aeon Byte podcast.


You Call A Tree A Tree…


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.

Geek Out!


Skinwalker Ranch


I was probably in Junior High or something when I first heard about skinwalkers. Some other kid told me about people down in the four-corner region who’d sew animal skins onto their bodies (that’s how the other kid described it anyway), run through the wilderness as a cougar or wolf, terrorizing the innocent. For some reason, that story really creep-ed me out and wedged itself into my imagination. I’ve thought about it a lot over the years, and even read a few books about it.

I’m a reader, and I listen to even more audiobooks, but I don’t often post about the books I read (other than comics 🙂 ). Maybe that’s because even though I am not a scientist by any means, most of what I read is scientific. I love science and am very inspired by scientific thought. In my heart though, I am a complete mystic. I read a lot of religious, Gnostic, and occult texts as well. I am a-okay with that though. To tell you the truth, I see no conflict between science and mysticism at all. A lot of people do, and that is okie-dokie, but I don’t. I only bring that up because I think it relates to the book referenced below.

Anyway, the book that I found thoroughly entertaining and even thought provoking is called “Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah“. I suppose there really isn’t a whole lot of science in this book, just scientist saying what they’re witnessing can’t be measured. But its still interesting. I first picked up and read it years ago. At one point I learned that there was a movie in the works that is based on the book, called Skinwalker Ranch. Earlier this week I found out that the movie was due to be released on October 30, so I decided to read the book again…

This book is supposedly true and based on actual events, even though so much happens that it can become hard to believe any of it. I am open to a lot of different ideas, but I do remain a skeptic. Still, it seems odd to me that the authors would try to link all of these strange phenomena together if it wasn’t something they believed happened, because if it is a complete fiction that’d just send up red flags right away, if that makes sense. But yeah, so much going on in this book. Giant wolves terrorizing a cattle rancher family, giant pterodactyl (thunderbird?), UFO, poltergeist, old man Sasquatch, hauntings, alternate dimensions, wormholes… it’s all here. One of the authors, physicist Colm Kelleher, set himself up on the ranch to study the phenomena. Even though he reports on the bizarre experiences he witnessed, he also admits that much of the data he came away with is unusable.

I do enjoy and recommend this book. I have no idea if its real, hallucination, or flat out fabrication. But who am I to judge someone else’s experience?

I will say this though… I’ve spent a huge chunk of time in the region and up in the Uinta mountains, especially in my teens and early 20s. I’ve had a few unexplainable experiences up there that raised the hair on my head, and probably turned a few of those hairs grey. There was one experience in particular that I am not going to go in to, but it scared the hell out of me and literally had me running for my life. And I know it was very real.

So, if you’re looking for a good book this Halloween, try the Hunt for the Skinwalker. Hopefully the movie will be a good one too!