Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm Looking Through You

The Death of Money – Part Three

I remember an Orson Welles Mercury Theatre programme in which he read, among other things, some selections from George Washington’s Farewell Address. At best this is a rough paraphrase, but the gist of what he said is,
“If future citizens of the American Republic ever want for anything, or are unhappy for any reason, they can search across the known universe and find no one to blame but themselves.”
That particular bit may not in fact have been from Washington’s letter to the nation, but whatever its origin, it has stayed with me for years and resonates as the US dollar declines with each passing day. With it goes the USA’s position in the world. We have shopped ourselves and warred our nation over a cliff, and we can’t imagine what will break when we hit the bottom.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote these words right about the time the last US silver coins were withdrawn from circulation :

I'm looking through you
where did you go?
I thought I knew you
what did I know?
You don't look different
but you have changed.
I'm looking through you
you're not the same.

Copyright 1965 by Northern Songs Ltd.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Some More Thoughts about the Death of Money

The day of the nation-states has all but passed. Bearing in mind our “pretty-long-so-far” tenure on earth, it passed quickly. Kropotkin published his definitive volume on the subject, The State: Its Historic Role in 1897, and it has only been since 1899 that every known piece of dry land on this planet has been formally claimed as property by some nation or another.
While states, governments, their agents and agencies continue to exist, the power equation has continued to evolve, so that the main functions of the nation-state today lie not in defending or looking after the well-being of citizens, but rather in ministering the wants and needs of global banking syndicates and mega-corporations the banks finance.
It’s not surprising that the state has become the weak sister in the world power dance. A nation-state, with fixed borders to defend and (mostly) growing populations to feed, house and manage is at a distinct disadvantage compared to the central banks (the US Federal Reserve chief among them) which are not so burdened, and are free to create unlimited amounts of capital and move it around the globe at the click of a mouse.
Capital. Vast amounts. If a country or corporation or individual wants to buy, just for instance, oil, it is first necessary to buy enough Dollars to do business with.
Seventy-five percent of all transactions on earth today are conducted in US dollars. The manufacture of US Dollars is the exclusive privilege of a private company: the US Federal Reserve Bank. This has been the case since December 1913, when the bankers stripped the US Congress of its Constitutionally-mandated right to issue currency. This particular turn of events has been blamed for precipitating two World Wars, the Great Depression, and for creating and maintaining the underlying causes of the current global recession.
Most of us know something about the enormous trade deficit the US has accrued over the past decades, and that China and other nations are currently in possession of trillions upon trillions of US dollars. The rub is, these big players are tired of holding all these dollars, in large part because the US has behaved so irresponsibly since the early 1980’s (and truth be told, since the end of WWII).
They don’t trust the Americans or their money any more.
Yes, the role of the nation-state has changed, so much so that the USA is no longer in the business of defending, protecting or listening to its citizens. Every single elected official in the US today has a crippling money habit. Every man-and-woman Jack-or-Jacqueline requires tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, all the time (the figures depend on the office). This is what it takes to run for office and win, and keep winning once you’re in.
Elected officials don’t worry about listening to, defending or protecting citizens- they listen to the people who can give them the money they need. The formerly-middle-class citizenry couldn’t raise those amounts of cash between them if they had to. Not anymore, anyway. Most are deep in debt to the same bankers who finance the election campaigns.
Today, the primary function of the United States of America is in holding the military portfolio for the banks. The Pentagon and the industries that service it make, store and deploy the military muscle for these mega-banks, and bring to bear colossal violence, or the threat of violence in order to keep the world’s population in line. That’s one of the definitions of “the State”: a political institution claiming a monopoly on the right to use violence.
Rarely now do nations field armies, navies or air forces against each other. Practically all warfare today is “asymmetrical”. Enormous, unimaginable violence is used against all-but-defenseless civilian populations – “terrorists” - if any one or more of these human beings dare to imagine how he or she or they might defend themselves. The recent rape of Gaza allowed us to witness a half-starved population actually trapped and unable to flee as they were systematically slaughtered by a 21st century military machine populated by soldiers convinced they were doing the Lord’s Work, who were in fact being employed to clear valuable real estate for theft planned by developers.
Of course this scenario was not entirely unique. It’s standard practice for soldiers, sailors, cops, marines and civilians who provide logistical and other support to be told from early childhood they are performing a “patriotic” (or religious) duty.
It’s an obscene con-game, easy to understand once you focus on the bigger picture. But if we continue to think only in terms of nation-states, with all their various names and confusing ideologies, we are not likely to see the picture- only the masks.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sod the Sun Belt- Head for the Hills!

We are facing a big economic collapse. We may, in fact be looking at the very Death of Money. Of course, when Money was invented it had some intrinsic value. You could use the little lumps of electrum to pay the Lydian priests when you visited the temple. Not so now- the US Federal Reserve freely prints paper with nothing but Karakorams of bad debts behind it. Paper to maintain a costly military empire that cannot be maintained.
The Egyptians had no money, and they built to last. Pharaoh made things happen.He was, after all the embodiment of Horace, Son of Osiris, so people had to believe in him. What else could they do? What else was there to believe in?
Here in our country there is no god but Dollar, and Mr Dollar makes things happen. When people stop believing in the Dollar god, then look out.
Extended areas of urban/suburban development cannot support existing populations. In cities like Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale, Tucson, Tempe, etc. virtually everything has to be trucked in. Water is certain to be fought, killed, and died over. It is the hard-working emigrants who will have the Survival Skills, the same kinds of skills our grandparents used to survive the Depression. Hunting and foraging, gardening and bartering are skills for living outside the Kingdom of Dollar. These skills have largely disappeared among native-born US citizens, after three generations being trained to live and think of ourselves as nothing more than "consumers." The people who the authorities and their vigilante helpmeets are hunting down to imprison and expel from the realm are the exact same people who will be able to give you the helping hand you need to survive.
When Money disappears or becomes functionally worthless, you'd better know yourself.
Your self is all you got, all you came with, all you take with you when you go.
Self is that bit of the universe over which you can exercise some control.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What has eyes but can't see?

Snake Shaman presides over the Socratic Circle of Serpents.
The rapt reptiles listen as the Shaman relates a series of
Irish jokes, which tho' poorly understood in literal terms
are instinctively perceived by the snakes as conveying a
form of wisdom outside of words:
Q: “What’s a seven-course Irish dinner?”
A: “Six pints of stout and a potato.”

Russet Burbank, Russet Arcadia, Norgold Russet,
Goldrush, Norkotah, Long White, White Rose,
California Long White, Idaho, Round White,
Round Red, Yellow Potato, Red Potato,
Salad Potato, La Soda, Red La Rouge,
Red Pontiac, Red Nordland, Red Bliss,
Yellow Finnish, Ruby Crescent,
and Australian Crescent.

Friday, June 12, 2009

One Man's Revelation is Another Man's Hearsay

..."All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."
- Thomas Paine, The AGE of REASON

Yesterday afternoon while sitting in the back of Isac Artzi's E-Business and Marketing class, I doodled a portrait of Thomas Paine, based on the Wikipedia image of the man, (which is a reproduction of a posthumous oil portrait housed in the National Portrait Gallery in London). According to the Wikipedia Commons entry the portrait was painted in 1880 by Auguste Millière after an engraving by William Sharp, after a 1792 portrait by George Romney. So my rendering is at least four times removed from its Revolutionary subject.
...I had been reading from Paine's book The Age of Reason
a day or so previous, and he and his works were on my mind. The Age of Reason is a worthy, lucid treatise in which Thomas Paine explains his views on religion, and in my most humble opinion, study of it would benefit us all, especially in light of the way we are being constantly barraged with propaganda designed to make us feel threatened by someone elses ideas about religion, economics, or anything. ...According to legend, Paine fled to France from London, at the urging of his friend William Blake, who was himself to be tried for sedition later on. Not only did the officers of King George III consider Paine a traitor, but apparently a number of English Tories still feel that way today. My advice to them is: Get Over It.
...The picture I post here was drawn this morning, using my yesterday's sketch
as a reference.
The William Blake Archive

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Booksellers Panic to Meet Demand

Port of Spain, Trinidad, April 19 - News organizations around the world have published pictures of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez giving President Obama a copy of the book Open Veins of Latin America by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano – which soared to the number 5 place on Amazon.com after it’s yesterday’s sales rank was No. 54,295.
Now photos are emerging of President Obama receiving a second book from President Chavez- Zoot Scooter and the Micro-Nots by US author Neil Atwood -yet the booksellers are out of stock, and scrambling to obtain copies, offering as much as US $1.5 million for single copies.
-al Jazeera English

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First thought upon waking

The Sheriff declares WAR ON DANGER. We must be ever vigilant. We must win the War on Danger.The Danger Strangers spread their evil Danger everywhere. We must hunt them down and bring them to justice. Be on the lookout for suspicious activity and report suspects to your local War-on-Danger Hotline.

Most preaching is against something or other.
There is a law of irony just as sure as there is a law of gravity. When I preach to others, the law of irony dictates that I am the enemy of whatever I preach for. When I preach against something, I am the living embodiment of whatever I preach against, in inverse proportion to the insistence of my preaching. This process is a wellspring of humour. Preachers are hypocrites, so we laugh at them.
"Coffee, are you done yet?"
We broke our backs lifting Moloch to heaven.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

striking archetype

...........As phenomenological models go, synchronicity appears more useful than our old ideas about cause and effect. The "cause & effect" model presupposes the existence of a linear time-line which so far as I can tell, does not exist. Sometimes the effect appears before the cause. The appearance shifts in time in accord with the viewpoint.
Some people have told me they had seen the image of Alfred Hitchcock shooting billiards, before I drew the image for the poster that appears in the last week's article (17 March).
I don't know where the idea came from, so if anyone finds such an image, please forward it.
Usually I can trace exactly where I got an idea and how it developed. Not this time- immediately having abandoned the well-worn Hitchcock sillhouette idea, the next thing I knew I was sketching the billiards table image.
I may have seen an image of Alfred Hitchcock playing pool and looking directly at the camera, forgotten it, and the subconscious memory percolated into my mind's eye- if so, it surely must have been a published image, which means others saw it as well- maybe.
On the other hand, maybe I struck an archetype- an image that lives in all our minds, but had no obvious external source. If that's the case, it represents real paydirt for an artist. It means I'm doing the right thing- the image struck a deep chord.
Classical Greek art of the highest order is like that: for instance, a statue of a ram is not just a ram, it is "Ram" - Ram-ness manifest, a terrestrial iteration of the celestial archetype. Call me a neoPlatonist, if you will.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Up All Night with Alfred Hitchcock

Yes, children, it’s that time again! The Art Institute of Phoenix is staging another Up All Night party this Friday, 20 March 2009. Wayne and Laura in the AIPX Library Film Committee encouraged me to design a poster to advertise the big Hitchcock double-feature, AIPX Reel Inspiration presents North by Northwest at 10:15 PM & PSYCHO at 12:45 AM.
Isak Artzi asked if I’d give a description of how I made the image, so here’s the story:
Initially we wanted to have a triple-feature: North by Northwest+Vertigo+PSYCHO.
The first image that entered my head was a rusty-metal/ industrial render of the famous Hitchcock profile as used on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series of the late ‘50’s/ early ‘60’s, inside which sat a colour photograph of a human brain atop the spinal cord. The brain would be cut into three pie-slices, each slice bearing one of the films titles scrawled in lipstick or nail polish.
I then thought of a simpler approach, with three identically-sized Hitchcock silhouettes projected through three lenses in yellow, cyan and magenta overlapping each other, with the titles coloured likewise.
I decided against these ideas because, gee-whiz, that profile / silhouette imagery has been used a bit much over the years and I didn’t want to be quite so obvious.
I don’t know where the idea came from to depict Hitchcock shooting pool, but next thing I knew I was drawing the director lining up a combination shot with a 3-ball aimed at three balls painted with the titles of the three films. Then came the word that we would only have enough time to show two, so I changed the 3-ball to a 2-ball and deleted VERTIGO from the trio.
I drew the whole illustration on a standard-issue WACOM tablet checked out from the video cage, with the Standard brush tool set between 9px & 20px (depending on the desired line thicknesses). Shape Dynamics and Smoothing were in the ON position. I worked in Photoshop CS4, mostly on the 308-06 & 307-01 workstations. I also used CS3 on pc Laptop #03 between 6 and 10 pm on the evening of March 10th. Any number of witnesses can verify my whereabouts on that evening.
When it comes to drawing with the pen tool, Photoshop is Photoshop. Adobe adds some new features to the Photoshop package every year, but drawing has remained pretty much the same for the ten years I’ve been using the program.
For the colours I did not want to use anything obviously associated with Hitchcock. However, I wanted a touch of “PSYCHO”, so I picked my palette from Van Gough’s psilocybin pool parlour. Many people say they remember PSYCHO in colour, although the film is black-and-white!
The Print Bureau did a marvellous job printing the poster six feet tall. Now if we can only find a frame to fit!
Probably not many people know that Alfred Hitchcock began his film career designing titles, and his continuing choice of outstanding, award-winning title sequences for his films bears this out. Saul Bass’s animated title for North by Northwest is thought to be the very first use of kinetic, moving type in the movies. PSYCHO is great titling too. Not to mention all the vintage footage of downtown Phoenix, Arizona in 1960!
Happy St Patrick’s Day, Mr Hitchcock, wherever you are.