Guess what’s wrong with this picture? No, it’s not Bertie. Try again.
If a cluttered desk
is the sign of a cluttered mind,
what is the significance
of a clean desk?
– Laurence J. Peter
Guess what’s wrong with this picture? No, it’s not Bertie. Try again.
If a cluttered desk
is the sign of a cluttered mind,
what is the significance
of a clean desk?
– Laurence J. Peter
To abstract is to draw out
the essence of a matter.
To abstract in art
is to separate certain fundamentals
from irrelevant material
which surrounds them.
– Ben Shahn
I’m sometimes a little annoyed about the confusion between abstract art (based on real objects, simplifying, reducing and changing them) and non-representational art (not based on objects). Logically, you cannot abstract (lit.: take away), if you don’t start with something to abstract from.
Now, Bertie here is doubly abstract and proud of it: he’s an abstraction of dogginess in the first place, and now he’s been reduced to monochrome triangles. After pondering the matter from various angles, he seems quite happy, and has settled down for a little nap.
1. What type of pets do you have or want?
I’d love to have a dog. As a surrogate I enjoy reading dogblogs, like those written by Bongo or Patch. And of course I have Bertie!
2. Would you rather take pictures or be in pictures?
Take them, any time. I hate being photographed.
3. What household chore do you absolutely hate doing?
Opening and filing correspondence. I’d rather wash windows!
4. What’s your least favorite mode of transportation?
Buses on long trips. Is this a legacy from schooldays?
Cee Neuner’s Share your world initiative. Links to other blogger’s answers here.
I don’t usually read the papers, but this morning was special: there just might be a small piece about my paintings in the local section. Not that I really care. No fame and glory for me: I know I’m not exactly Picasso. But all my friends would read it!
Then I found it: pure poison. Oozing condescension. I couldn’t believe it! That supercilious little jerk. Angrily I tore the offending paper to shreds. Take that you bastard! And that!
When James came down and wanted his paper, there was only confetti on the floor. I blamed it on the dog.
My contribution to this week’s 100wcgu: …I blamed it on the dog…
Ever been tempted to spray paint the walls? Well now you can.
And of course, I couldn’t resist.
“It’s mine!” “No, it’s mine.” Melissa took a deep breath and then went on peeling the potatoes. She knew any minute the fight would spill over into the kitchen.
“Give it back.” “Mummy, she started it.” “If I hear one more word, I’ll lock you both in your bedroom until tomorrow”, she fairly screamed. The girls looked mutinous, but left the room for now.
Melissa’s hand shook as she reached for her glass. It was a little early, but she needed it. They were such little angels when they were asleep. She wondered how many mothers actually killed their children.
This week’s challenge by T.Mastgrave: Angels.
Another cute online painting tool: the fluid painter by Peter Blaskovic. Have a go!
I don’t like painting eggs, I want to go home,
Said the girl with the curls to the little blue gnome.
But I need these eggs painted, the gnome wept its plea.
If they’re not done tomorrow, I’ll never be free!
There are too many eggs, there’s no way we can paint
them all by tomorrow! The gnome fell in faint.
But the girl didn’t panic, she knew just what to do,
She called to her friend, with thing one and thing two.
With little cats A – Z and the voom
Hat-cat got those eggs painted, and lifted the gloom.
Once in the vein of nonsense verse, I couldn’t resist this Dr Seussish prompt in the current round of 100wcgu.
I’ve argued before that we are pulled in many different ways by our feelings and needs, and that we do not consciously choose our actions. Also, believing that somebody deliberately chose to act badly is what triggers anger, hatred and blame.
– Heresy n°2 –
Everyone is always doing their best.
While I characterise it as a heresy, it’s not exactly a new idea. Many people reject it because thy are afraid that if noone is to blame for their actions, we will lose any kind of morality, and the basis for social order. In one sense this is true: our current societies are based on blame, and that does go out the window. At the same time we can easily replace it with something better: responsibility.
Blaming is about looking backward, about judging and finding a guilty party. Responsibility looks forward: it is our common responsibility to find a way of living together in peace. Blame is divisive, responsibility binds us together.
Adopting Heresy n°2 means we can think in terms of incentives and deterrents. These don’t depend on free will: if an action is connected to a cost or benefit, this becomes a factor in the unconscious decision making process, and influences our behaviour. And we can think about influencing behaviour much more clearly without the fog of concepts like blameworthiness, and just deserts.
Have you ever found yourself defending your own behaviour, although, in your heart of hearts, you were unhappy with it yourself? When we play the blame-game, we are automatically creating opposition. When we say “you are a bad person” to someone, it’s not really surprising that they push back. Suppose instead we say: “I understand you had a good reason to act as you did, at the same time I really don’t like what you did, maybe you aren’t completely happy with it either?” Then maybe together with that person we can find ways to help them act differently in the future, or to prevent the negative consequences of such actions.
Most important of all, when we adopt the idea that everyone is always doing their best we can stop wrestling in our minds with what we think is going on in someone else’s head. Have you ever found yourself repeating an argument you had with someone? Have you ever found yourself wanting to “teach someone a lesson”, or to “show them how it feels”? This is all unpleasant, and it’s not about what really happened, but about what you think is going on inside the other person’s head. When you accept that that person did not choose to act as they did, you can let it go.
There are many ways of expressing Heresy n°2., e.g. “Everyone is acting the only way they can act in the situation as they see it.” I prefer my version “Everyone is always doing their best” because I find it emotionally more appealing. The positive slant makes it easier for me to feel compassion with someone whose actions are getting on my nerves. Of course, everyone is free to find their own way of putting it.
A final test
If you think: “Well that’s all very nice, but it’s not really true, is it?” try this test. Think of something bad that you’ve done, something you are really unhappy with in retrospect. Were you happy and relaxed that day? Was the sun shining, the sky blue, and did you decide to do something bad just for the hell of it? Or were you under pressure, stressed out, exhausted, afraid, or hurt? Was this something you did because you saw no other way, or you just couldn’t help yourself?
I think you will find that at that moment, under those circumstances you did the best you could, however miserable that best may have been. Now, if you claim this compassion for yourself: how can you deny it to anyone else?
On the far side of the looking glass, however, things did not seem to be quite the same. Alice could feel her nose twitching and her whiskers, too… Her what?! Alice looked down in alarm: not only did she have whiskers, but fur and …rabbit paws.
She glanced up at the looking glass, and saw herself on the other side. On this side she could see the reflection of the white rabbit, its eyes widened in fright. The weight of a large gold pocket watch dragged at her. She was late, she was late. She ran off in a panic.
Ooh! I sat up in bed. I hadn’t known I’d have nightmares with Joe gone. That poor ghost in chains.
I’d been surprised Joe had hardly complained about having to work tonight and missing April fool’s. I guessed he was getting over it. I’d seen the soap on the bathroom floor, it almost seemed a bit tame for Joe. There was probably something nasty in the fridge…
I heard a whimpering noise. I opened the bedroom door and there was Joe, wrapped in a chain, lying in a heap at the foot of the stairs.
Maybe he does need help?
You cannot know what hardship is, you live a life of ease.
Your birth’s no effort of your own, your smile is sure to please.
My kind and I we have to fight to see the light of day,
Persuade a maker we’re just right and let them have their way.
And if we’re sketched out on a page, our struggle isn’t done.
For those who’ve made it safe thus far, the fight has just begun.
For each idea that makes it through, a thousand, maybe more
Have ended screwed up in a ball and thrown down on the floor.
Queen Petra’s challenge. Coming up: 4. Crisis.
I was writing some nonsense-verse earlier this week, and thought, why not go on?
I want to sit down and write this post. At the same I really don’t feel like it at the moment, I’d much rather go on watching…Dr.Who, I’m afraid. But I do really want to write these Heresy posts. After all, that was why I started this blog.
Is this inconsistent of me? Yes, it is. We humans are inconsistent. All the time. But for some reason, we’ve learnt to pretend we are consistent. I’m sure psychologists have a name for it. It’s also held up to us as some kind of value and we tend to be embarrassed about being inconsistent.
When we look at it closely, though, there is absolutely no reason why we should be consistent. Our minds are made of millions and millions of brain circuits, which are more or less independent of one another. It is inevitable that conflicting emotions, desires, fears, and needs coexist in my brain and pull me in different directions all the time.
The point I want to make today is that we need to listen to these conflicting thoughts. It is not a good idea to sweep any of them under the carpet. We don’t need to act on all of them, indeed we cannot, as there are far too many. But give them some space, allow them to be there. Each thought is a part of me, I want to honour every one. They do not all go together: I want to accept, that I cannot follow all of them.
If I consider each of these impulses as an interested party, and let each of them have their say, they also listen to each other. Then maybe an amicable agreement can be reached among them about what I am actually going to do. This may sound slightly loony, but I believe it is a better way of making choices, than by filtering the impulses, i.e. suppressing some at the start, or by sitting in judgement over them: which are worthy, unworthy, important, or not.
I cannot follow all impulses, but when I do act, I act as one physical human being, and I carry all the “dissenting” brain circuits with me. So if any one of them feels too unhappy about what I’m doing, chances are that they’ll let me know. Dealing gently with them to start with – giving them space and allowing sadness over the fact that I cannot act on all of them – can minimise how badly the “dissenting circuits”, and therefore I, feel.
So no: I am not calling myself lazy because I want to go on watching Dr. Who. Or a spoilsport for wanting to get some writing done. I simply have different needs: one for relaxation and fun, one for putting some ideas down in writing, maybe gaining some clarity for myself. They are all good, all part of me. And I am quite happy with the compromise of jotting down a draft now, and doing a drawing and some polishing tomorrow.
No unhappy circuits for now. Let’s see how the doctor is getting on.
“Open your books at chapter five.”
A hand shot up. “My mum says we don’t believe in all those things.”
“I know, Bobby. If your mother has a problem she can come to me.”
He wished the fundamentalists would keep out of the classroom. The amount of fighting over the science curriculum was unbelievable. And as a natural history teacher he didn’t even get the worst of it. Poor Mrs. Withers, teaching alchemy…
If Bobby’s mother came what would he show her?
He sighed. It wouldn’t matter. The fundamentalists never bothered with evidence.
“Chapter five: Demons.”
His forked tail twitched.
T. Mastgrave’s story-challenge, the prompt was: Demons.
What was the rabbit late for, wondered Alice,
I never did find out. I wonder why?
I’ll try to say this kindly, without malice,
But really, said the peacock, you should try
To pay some more attention as you travel
To what your senses, eyes, and ears, and nose
Try very hard to tell you through the dazzle
Of surfaces, on which way the wind blows.
The rabbit has a watch, and what’s unpleasant,
A watch he looks at fifty times a day.
It keeps the rabbit’s thoughts outside the present:
That makes him late for life in every way.
The 1oo-word challenge for grown-ups at Julia’s Place. This week’s prompt was my first line.
And for the undaunted: T. Mastgrave’s prompt this week is “Demons”.
The young woman fiddled busily with her phone. Another meaningless message, no doubt. I’m in the train. I’ll be with you soon. How I hate the rain.
Her eyes scanned her inbox for the umpteenth time. No new messages.
She saw the disapproval in his eyes. But he didn’t understand. The phone was her. It had all her pictures. Contained all her friends. Was her eyes, her ears, her mouth. Her memory of the past and her plans for the future. When noone called, or texted, did she really exist?
The phone vibrated and she answered eagerly. She was alive.
He didn’t know what had made him a revolutionary. The wrong temperature, a late feed?
He did know he had to do something, though it would cost his life. But the cause was worthy. He changed the plans, just a tiny bit. Still enough to bring down the system. Noone would notice. The drones never questioned an order.
When the call came, he was ready. He squared his wings. The comrade has saved us, the Queen proclaimed, with his new design. Now, when most hives are dying, our brood is thriving. An example for all. Awarded a mating.
The story challenge. The prompt was: Failure.
By the steps she could see three young jewish women. She looked at their flat shoes and thick black stockings, their awkward looking wigs. How could any woman consent to shave off her hair, her beauty, her sensuality? Samira gave a shudder. Nobody saw her expression of distaste.
Whores, she thought, baring their noses and chins for all to see, exposing their naked lips to the gaze of strangers. The voices of her teachers had melted into a single melodious stream in her head.
Thankfully she had been taught better. She peered through the thick black cloth and walked on.
Queen Petra’s challenge. It doesn’t have to be a story. A photo, a drawing, a poem. Just create something for each word on the list.
Next up on the list: 3. Abandoned.
No matter how much we want to go, no matter where we are going, there is that moment of good-bye. It’s not the tearful partings, or the promises to take care.
For every journey we start, every endeavour we engage in, there is something we leave behind.
If we look back from that bend in the road, we see our lives “before” in that golden glow. That me who was, and will now be no longer.
We wrench our eyes away, we give ourselves a little shake, and set our face forwards. To the future, and all it may bring.
I am scared. I’m having surgery, and it’s really making me nervous. I’m currently sorting mail from 2009, it’s that bad. Normally my filing is chronological (with some local turbulence, where I had to root around in the pile to find something).
A few weeks ago I spoke to a colleague who was also having surgery, and she seemed very relaxed about it. It wasn’t anything major, but then I’m not getting a heart transplant either. And she’s always moving so fast, perhaps she never stops long enough to be scared. Or maybe she just didn’t like to say.
It did make me wonder: are other people less afraid than I am? Or are they just better at hiding their fear, or ignoring it? And is that a good thing?
– Heresy n°3 –
Emotions are an essential part of our being. To accept ourselves is to notice our feelings and to accept them.
We are taught to reject all our negative emotions, to suppress them, to ignore them, or to distract ourselves from them. Don’t worry. Don’t be sad. Don’t be afraid. Cheer up. It’ll be alright, I promise. How often have we heard these phrases?
But when I am afraid, or I am sad: that’s me. You’re telling me not to be myself. At the same time all these things are meant kindly. What they mean is: “I can see that you are sad/scared/… and that makes me sad/upset… because your happiness is important to me. I would like to help you feel better.”
Sweeping our negative emotions under the carpet guarantees that they stay with us. In order to let them go, we need to walk through them, to let them be there. In other words: it’s OK to be sad, or afraid.
The other day the fear was even worse, and I took the time to sit down and feel it. I even allowed myself to realise that I can still call the whole thing off if that’s what I want. At the same time the alternatives are not that great. For now, I’m OK with doing it.
Am I still scared? Sure: I dare to be scared.
And I may even get that pile of letters cleaned up.
I started a blog to try and sort some ideas out, and maybe draw some pictures. I didn’t really think about reading blogs: I already have a feed reader. So the joy of reading tags came as a complete surprise.
Scrolling through a world-wide selection of cartoons, drawings and photos has been a real eye-opener. I learnt about photo trends like light field photography (play with pics here) and HDR. Yes, I guess I have been living under a rock… A friend showed me a friend’s website:
Nor did I know about flash fiction: my first contact was Laura of 100000 words. Then I came across the challenges, and suddenly I’m writing again. Restriction does spur creativity. Try these:
Try it: you are an artist too! Wanna make a bet?
Dreary day. Bertie’s nipped off to Paris, but the weather’s no better there…