Ineffable Ennui

Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: aposiopesis | Tags: , , | No Comments »

numinous

Whenever I would gnaw through my blue collar I have worked as a freelance writer and editor, abusing commas as a columnist, reporter, interviewer, contributing writer and correspondent and staff writer, Consulting Editor and Managing Editor and Editor in Chief, consultant and proofreader, ghostwriter and script doctor and scapegoat, as well as reviewer of books, comics, and films; all for a sad lot of indie print periodicals and an embarrassing number of webzines no longer extant.

And at times, it really feels like I am alone on an island writing for my own pained amusement, like some sado-masochism by way of the written word. Sometimes there are beliefs I really try earnestly to present, causes I aim hard to push, facts I try to hold up to the eyes of others; and more often than not, it feels like I am playing to an empty room.

To be honest, I have been made to feel like I am not just kicking a dead horse, but kicking a dead horse that died by ignorantly flying off a mountain, mistaking its own nest of fleas for the wings of a Pegasus. I am washing my hands of it, but I won’t deny that my philosophy is the core instigator in these circumstances. This mad world where Church and Business and State are constantly molesting each other, fighting endlessly for control. I won’t play a part in it. I cannot.

I lack the numinous.

Times like this I pull back from the world, quitting jobs over ideological walls, deleting files, and so on. I am owed for finished works, and finding difficulty in sniffing out further telecommuting/long-distance projects. Physically looking for work is complicated by growing health concerns. I feel vulnerable and I feel like I cannot trust anybody for anything. Hours pass without movement. Listless, I am zoning out on phone calls, not opening emails. I replay the past constantly and am unable to come up with any pleasing memories. I am a vagrant, alone and deathly, and I have always been here before. I am exhausted, homeless and unemployable, and I am the freest person I know. I have felt displaced all my life, so that now it has become my default setting. What I need and what I want have become unified. How I think, how I speak and how I write have become unified.

And from this distance the world looks so real I could almost reach out and extinguish its flickering flame.


Swapping the Slum-Boogie

Posted: April 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: aposiopesis | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

This essay originally appeared at CCN.

I think compelling creative minds to pursue commercial work instead of allowing them the means to pursue their own personal courses is another form of censorship.

Creative Industry is oxymoronic doublespeak. I think commerce and art are polar opposites, and when Art was relegated to the mere role of entertainment was when the world began its stumble into irreparable territory. The number of creative types who have honestly lived very comfortably from their efforts, compared to the vastly more sizable numbers of writers, artists and filmmakers and musicians and the like who most certainly have not and will not, is perplexing and offensive all at once. But why does that illusion persist, that any creative work can pay the bills while also being aesthetically rewarding? Ignorance? Fear, of the unknown or otherwise? If we as creators stay unfed then we can bite any hand we want though.

Creativity keeps the whole world healthy. Art unhindered gave us culture and religion, and everything else that positively defines our species. To lack creative ability or aesthetic is synonymous with soullessness. If real Art is not fostered for its own highest potential, but instead limited to selling products so that men in suits and ties can add to their private riches, then Art is bastardized and in the doing our collective growth- beit psychologically, spiritually, or culturally- is stunted and perverted. When we limit the arts, we limit ourselves.

How dare the greatest examples of our species be cast as slaves like so.

There’s a part of me that wants to see crowd-funding as the definitive new model for self-publishing, economy be damned. I’ve tried to make those concepts of “crowd-funding” and “self-publishing” as synonymous as possible in my times of comics journo hackery, to mixed but generally lackluster results. I do see something decidedly anti-Capitalist in boycotting the larger publishers and instead financially supporting small press, the micro-publishers and vanity publishers and passionate hobbyists. Which I think is a form of Economic democracy.

But even with the overall ebb and flow of the economy and the deathgrip unbridled Capitalism has over all things, I wonder if taking the crowd-funding/self-publishing dynamic even further might be a fundamentally inevitable step, ala initiating Consumer cooperatives.

Which I think would also mean developing better grassroots distro models, uniting retailers, etc. Selling self-published works in like-minded industries, like record stores and tattoo parlors and skate shoppes, etc. But it’s necessary, as fighting monopolies and enabling diversity are already synonymous acts. Any system is only as strong as its weakest link, so for creators to be enabled to do their own thing, to stay healthy and productive then it is the little guys who need the most active support- and not the groups owned by parent companies more interested in the “industry” half of the “creative industry” oxymoron. And there are always ulterior motives when Industry is calling the shots, motives that without fail are aimed exclusively at putting the almighty dollar above all else, whether the Art itself, or the life that creates it. Take Fredric Wertham and his book Seduction of the Innocent for example.

The real problem with Fredric Wertham is that he was a patriot. There was a statistical surge in juvenile delinquency in the 1940s and 50s, but it had jack to do with comic books. It was because of World War 2. Finding a scapegoat was far more politically correct than calling a spade a spade, but the truth is that the war easily created millions of broken homes. From fathers who came home from overseas wounded (physically or otherwise) to fathers who did not return at all. That is why youth (particularly boys) were acting up and acting out. There is a spike in youth crime following every war in history, but as that was the largest its effects were also the most wide-scale and enduring. And there is a nationalism streak following any war that can take years to dust off properly, so blaming anything else was more than welcome. Evidently even if the circumstances are a matter of protecting a diseased status quo at the expense of silencing an entire creative medium. Again, hindering Art in any manner is the definition of censorship. And in Wertham’s case, for what exactly? In support of the wholly uncreative military industrial complex?

Art gave us our religions, our cultures. Artists need to feel empowered, because the magic they create is thousands of years older than industry, and will outlive the money-men. Everything, without exception, everything beautiful or otherwise worthwhile to do with the world is related to Art. (I consider non-reproductive sex to be the first Art.) I do not believe in the soul as a thing unto itself, but I cannot help but to see the soullessness in all things lacking any degree of creativity. I burn candles for Art. Comic books may well be the bastard red-haired stepchild of the creative mediums, but it has always drawn to itself the black sheep and underdogs and dark horses, from creators to fans, and I feel it is the most personal of any art-form. The earliest decades of comics were crafted by minorities, by Jews and blacks and women and homosexuals, and their audience in turn were over-looked persons, the immigrants, the children, the rejects. We can share music together in crowds, watch films in theaters, attend poetry readings, etc, but to take in the work of a comic is an individual thing, and that connection made by the sharing of ideas is goddamn lovely. I hate the comics industry in so many ways, but I cannot imagine that a world without comics, without Art of any variety, would be outside of the established circles of Hell.

Are we not close enough to that in the real world today?

So let’s look ahead, reactionary group-think though we increasingly fall victim to, and let us collectively find alternatives that might lessen the load for such stellar agencies as the Hero Initiative or the Sidekick Foundation. Let us bring back true patronage, and let us give creative minds the space to construct a better future for all of us. And not just in terms of the creative spheres, but in all matters of life let our feeble resources reward those who daringly explore the fading virtues of Imagination, Ingenuity, Integrity, Individuality, and Intelligence. What possible harm might promoting virtues add to any equation? And how much more engaging might our four-color reading materials become with less of the same-old, same-old, and more of the stuff that comes from the heart and soul?


Said the Actress to the Bishop

Posted: March 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: aposiopesis | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I propose that we are not a violent race because of some incidental system of entertainments, but rather our culture is violent because that is precisely what we want. The grand juxtaposition of effect and cause. I’m surely not the first to project this notion of misdirected predispositions, but it deserves repeating, as it is increasingly becoming a self-evident beast unto itself. Nobody forces you to buy into the noosphere, to watch such high bodycounting movies or to play serial-killing video games or to listen to music that readily glorifies the dehumanization of others. But where is the money going? What entertainments await our collective beckoning for release from the blue collar chains?

Even where regards my personal favorite artform, comic books, the black sheep of all creative mediums is capable of as much if not more than any other, but yet is ever relegated to the stereotype of portraying nonstop acts of physical violence, no matter the valorous intent behind such measures. We crave destruction.

The charismatic Mandy Patinkin has long been an entertaining actor and performer (a personal favorite role was his nuanced performance in the short-lived cable series Dead Like Me), but comments of his in an interview with New York Magazine give further breath to the sentiment. The actor was quoted as saying

“The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place,” he says. “I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. After that, I didn’t think I would get to work in television again…I’m not making a judgment on the taste [of people who watch crime procedurals],” he says. “But I’m concerned about the effect it has. Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story. This isn’t what you need to be dreaming about.”

Now, such a claim, while in the article tweaked a bit as a pitch for his current television series, will likely not lead to an increase in potential acting gigs headed his way anytime soon. And I’m aware that many a larger website had already picked up on the statements, but as they ring of absolute truth they do warrant being shared. The older he gets, the more stoic his affectations as an actor, but it is reassuring to know that the same weight is being carried off-screen as well.

Yet the questions posed remain. Why do we crave such things? Is is cathartic, on an unseen mass scale? And is the natural world not complicated enough?

Many years ago, perhaps 1997 or 1998, my uncle had to leave on a plane trip overseas to Norway to attend the funeral of his Father-in-Law. I had loaned him my copy of James O’Barr’s The Crow graphic novel (first print!) to read on the long journey. My uncle was and is a New England collegiate professor of philosophy, and I was curious to know his thoughts on the book- especially in light of the tragic circumstances which enveloped his reading. I recall a lengthy dialogue concerning how the more dire times become, the more the masses are prone to embrace abnormal levels of chaos, particularly in their theology. Fundamentalism is never born from passivity.

With such a thought in mind, when compared to the exponentially more extreme our popular culture becomes day after day, is it any wonder that the global stage is spiraling down more than ever before, faster and faster, racing to collectively gaze over the edge into the great mirror of the abyss? As a species, are we not acting exactly like a know it all teen in an after school television special, headed for self-destruction and nowhere else? Why?

Instead of projecting our bloodlust upon fictional constructs, which in turn inspire us to debase ourselves, why can we not project our anger, our frustrations at more deserving targets? You hate your job, that’s fine. Don’t, in response, go broke seeking out forms of entertainment that are nothing better than bad art, which in turn will compel you to curse out your neighbors or beat your kids or cheat on your wife. Juxtapose your own causes and effects. Maybe your boss had a broken nose coming anyhow. Or maybe, you are toiling away into miseries for things that ultimately, do not matter.


The March of Ides

Posted: March 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: aposiopesis | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Before. I have scrubbed toilets. I have flipped hamburg. I have painted houses. I have dug graves. I have worked in loud factories. I have shoveled fresh compost, I have shoveled fresh snow. I have played security guard. I have mowed lawns. I have worked retail as a clerk selling comic books and selling liquor. I have moved furniture. I have mopped barroom floors. I have washed dishes, pots and pans. I have dismantled barns. I have had my nose broken and ribs cracked breaking up fist-fights. I have walked miles and miles to and from work.

Finding ways to get artists to put their ideas into words may not provide enough to tangibly live on, but it makes living more worthwhile. Where unity and individuality compliment each other, buy one another a drink and talk late into the night of inconsequential little things like the disassociation of identity and personality in this modern era. The evilness of the world can only be battled with laughter, with a maniacal stoicism, yet none of us are brave enough to be the loudest in a public restroom.

Filed under Calico Ruination And Musings:

“The only reason for a gentleman to do anything except what his fancy dictates, is that he can best sustain his illusions of beauty and purpose in life by falling harmoniously into the pattern of his ancestral feelings. The individual- feudal, proud, aloof, unfetter’d and dominant- that is all that matters, and society is of use to him only so far as it enlarges the pleasures he might enjoy without it.”

- HP Lovecraft

“Few men realise that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.”

- Joseph Conrad

“One opposite is known through the other, as darkness through light. Hence also what evil is must be known from the nature of good.”

-Thomas Aquinas

“The only way you can really look up is when you’re down on your back.”

- Alcoholics Anonymous

“All of us are lying in the gutters, but only some of us are looking to the stars.”

- Oscar Wilde


The Ides of March

Posted: March 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: aposiopesis | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Richard_Caldwell_Headshot500RGB

I was born on the 15th of March back when. “Born under a bad sign” indeed, as the date in question was when Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 skidoo times) to death, and so has in the past been considered a cursed time of year by gypsies and the like. I don’t buy into astrology however, even if I am the definitive daydreaming Pisces, because sharing a birthday with Fabio and Jimmy Swaggart seems to discredit the ideology entirely. I do like birthdays though, like the idea that every dog deserves its day. Usually I will take this as my one day to call in sick to work (aside from the time I called in sick after learning of George Harrison’s death), treating myself to a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes and a new pair of combat boots if warranted. But some neat factoids about this day of days:

Lovecraft died on this date in 1937.

Thanks to JFK, today is World Consumer Rights Day.

Today is International Day Against Police Brutality.

And today is also World Contact Day.

Jules Renard once famously said

“Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.”

but mayhaps today is surreptitiously meant for daydreamers after all.