Friday, April 30, 2010

Under the Garden

What sets a life in motion? In Under the Garden, a seven year old boy goes through an experience much like Alice's in Wonderland; he crawls under an enormous old tree and encounters two peculiar people, one mute, another who seems like a combination of the White Knight and Humpty Dumpty, handing down prescriptive statements that seem to defy ordinary common sense.

Cláudia has pointed out that the protagonist has a "wild itch" (his last name being Wilditch) to go exploring across the world, an urge implanted in him by Javitt, the emperor of the peculiar underground kingdom. The adult Wilditch has been diagnosed with cancer, an interior mystery - Cláudia suggests that in travelling back to the origins of his story, he is trying to solve a deeper mystery.

The story puts me in mind of these lines from Yeats from The Circus Animals' Desertion, which I have quoted before:

I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

Further thoughts on the story will be in comments, since I know it's only some of my readers who are reading the Greene story. For next time, which will be May 30, let's read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Story Collection The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother. I am going to keep Titus' suggestions in mind for the time after.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Anthropo #$$%^@*

Contains language!

Two headlines I saw recently on the web:
Scientists have trouble predicting volcano behavior
Stocks try to rise after selloff

Does this make anyone else mean mad, I mean attributing motivation to non-humans? It makes anthropomorphic projection seem written into the language. A little humility would do the race some good in my opinion. More rantiness about human projection on Horizons of Significance if you are still hungry for opinion on this.

For those of you who want to consider the question of how to define what a good life is in the internet age, there's a new blog, From the Perspective of Infinity.

Tomorrow, Under the Garden.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Here is the t-shirt design, and also here is a short science fiction story (nothing to do with the illustration):

He stretched in the sun, listening to the early morning twittering in the trees. They were such delightful creatures, with their cheerful warbling, their smooth coats and their luxuriant crests. Hard to believe what the scientists said, that they had once walked upright on the ground, built hive-like cities that reached to the sky, and even, it was theorized, had some rudimentary form of language. He settled his wings and retreated into the hillside nest which sheltered his wife and eggs.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mashup tomorrow

What would a t-shirt look like if it were these two items mashed up with the Venetian Lion? (Visual) answer tomorrow. Who has seen a Belgian Griffon, by the way? I can't decide if they are handsome or ugly, but they have a certain dignity.

Wife and Man

What would Mendel say?

Monday, April 26, 2010


As some of you know, I am fond of efflorescence. This doesn't look like it took almost four hours, does it? I started with a drawing of a man with flowering sideburns, then I altered a photo of a man and that I have made this into a t-shirt working digitally, I can paint on it for real.

For those of you who enjoy altering art, Steve Loya has a new blog up, a sort of monster laboratory. Check out A Splotch Monster a Day.

For my London readers, Jenny Woolf is giving a talk on The Mystery of Lewis Carroll this Friday at the Art Workers Guild, sounds like a wonderful venue.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010


What do you do to regain perspective?

Sometimes I like to look at Analu's photos

Another resident of the Antique Centre pictured above.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kublai's plans

A visionary leader, Kublai reformed the taxation system, renovated and extended the grand canal, and promoted the study of astronomy, mathematics and medicine.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unreliable Narrator

Cláudia has just reminded me that the "Under the Garden" illustration and discussion is coming up, I'm going to move it to Friday, April 30, just in case anyone was thinking of joining in and hasn't gotten to the library yet. If anyone has ideas for short fiction a month on, let us all know in comments.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lost ...and Lost

Sometimes being lost is rich, a profusion, and sometimes one does not have a sense of direction. Another one for the bulging "Just Saying" file (nothing to do with that island, you!).


Flora- or Fauna? on Smoothable via L'astronave

Monday, April 19, 2010

What if everything counts...

...but no action, or series of actions, means we "deserve" anything?

Edit: I'm going to confess here - I've been deliberately unclear about my own convictions above as a way to leave discussion open.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Eviscerated and rearranged book about Michelangelo - the detail you see is from a portrait of Michelangelo painted by his friend Giuliano Bugiardini. Little holes on the right hand corner evidently made by a mouse who changed his mind about the taste of the High Rensaissance, or perhaps it was the Medicis who put him off...

This may be a cousin of this prose poem on Aleph, or is it only the color that makes me think so?

There are some wonderful stories in the comments section of the post below. I love you for your minds...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Magic Seed of August

Tell us a story, if you feel so inclined, inventive reader...

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's like a Fairytale

Cláudia recommended the film "In Bruges", which is wonderful. If Damon Runyon characters were Irish hitmen in 21st Century Bruges...
What's the opposite of an old man who may or may not be a dybbuk? I'm just reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez stories, one of them is "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings". This old man, who may or may not be an angel, appears in time of flood rather than in a snowstorm and makes a more peaceful exit than Fyvush Finkel's character. But the feel is the same, extraordinary things happen, we pretend to understand them - or admit that we don't.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lost in Thought

Fretting about you folks over there...It's night, so I suppose the ash is not obvious now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No Soup for You

Nothing to do with Seinfeld...I just watched the DVD of the Coen Brothers' "A Serious Man". The main story has a prologue in which a man is apparently rescued from freezing to death by a rabbi (played by Fyvush Finkel) who helps him right his cart which has tipped over in the snow. When he tells his wife that he has invited him to come by for soup, she insists that the rabbi died three years ago and that what her husband met in the woods is a dybbuk - a demon who has taken the form of the rabbi. She is so certain that when the rabbi enters and sits at her husband's invitation, she stabs the poor old man through the heart. His smile does not change, but gradually he begins to bleed, and stumbles out into the snow as he says he does not feel welcome. The wife is so very certain that she has done the right thing, the husband not so much.

The film itself is my favorite of theirs, it combines their trademark black humor with tenderness.

And speaking of telling right from wrong, L'astronave has quite the offer available right now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Under the Garden

An illustration for Graham Greene's story/novella "Under the Garden", which appears in the story collection "A Sense of Reality." I'm hoping to have a little discussion here about this in two weeks' time, in any case I'll do another illustration at that time. It's a curious story, blurring the distinction between dream, childhood trauma and inspiration. What drives some of us to look beyond ordinary reality, to search? Is it a curse or a blessing of sorts? The novella was also reissued by Penguin as its own tiny book, it is available on Amazon if you are interested in joining in ...

Distributing the collagey bits today, will be contacting a couple of people.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Process of my Deathless Art

The above is an altered antique papercut of a little boy in a sailor suit. I got sort of fascinated by the giant bunny head and decided to make a t-shirt. At first I was going to have two bunnies falling toward the tribble-like things collected in the bottom of the oval....
...but then I picked up this motif from one of the antique photos I have altered... this is how the t-shirt turned out
(it's on redbubble, I have titled it "Perils of Passion".

Sunday, April 11, 2010

An Auspicious Day

Signs in the heavens and other portents of good fortune were seen on the occasion of Kublai's birth, and there was great rejoicing.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Shell Game

One of my favorite Svankmajer films is the 8 1/2 minute long "Game of Stones" - no irony or perversity, just pure joy.

There is some lovely writing on The Oort Cloud.

In an incident of unbridled projection on my part, I thought my upstairs neighbor was calling for me because she wanted to know where I got the wonderful music I was listening to. But no. I first heard it on my esteemed colleague Chris's blog Mildly Interesting Films, he has posted one of the songs recently. My upstairs neighbor prefers classic rock I think.

And...I'll be in England for a week and a half at the end of May/beginning of June, mostly in Devon and London. Who is up for a pint in the Big Smoke?

Friday, April 9, 2010


This reminded me of Wings of the Dove when I put the raw sea-colored fabric edge in.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Deranged Domesticity

A Werewolf at Leisure.

Indigestible sandwiches on The Magic Hairball of the Ruby Eyed Panther.

I will make some visits today.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

King of Birds #2

And this is the second version.

Well, folks, it appears the battery is pretty low here, I'm going to be taking a few days off from posting and probably from visiting.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

King of Birds #1

Here's the reconfigured figurine version of this piece. Tomorrow I should have another version done, incorporating the health textbook I cut the hole out of.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Woman Wailing

But Oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon lover!

Photographed in Golden Gate Park

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Anatomical bits for collage

I just cut a hole in an old anatomy book (circa 1928) for a current project, generating these items for possible use in collage. Let me know in the comments if you want them, I'll pick one winner in a week and send the entire set to that person.

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
–Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This was photographed at Academy of Science, also drawn there without reference so I 'm going to use that as an excuse for the Vasco Da Gama-ish appearance of the great Kahn. Coleridge's poem was evidently based on Marco Polo's account of Kublai's hunting grounds/park attached to his palace. I will be imagining some incidents from his life this month. Most of them will be the altered photos I have been showing.