August 17, 2010

Dream: Painting, poetry and fish

Filed under: art,General,Oneirica,Poetry,Writing — crcb @ 10:10 pm
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I don’t usually blog my dreams, but I have a far, faint intuition that this one might be about writing.


I’m part of a group on a mission.

One will create the painting. She acquires a canvas, and pictures keep revealing themselves on it — a portrait of a lonely young man, a Kandinsky-like abstraction. The artist will have to find the true painting that is already there.

Another will create the poetry. She meets her literary idol, a middle-aged man, gray-haired but vigorous, who agrees to participate. As they travel around together, she realizes that he typically gets the title and the “occasion” (her word), then declares the piece finished. Only later, and only sometimes, does he write the real poem. But he is a poet, when his ego and laziness get out of the way. She suggests going to the lake and waiting. He thinks it will be a waste of time, as seeking inspiration outdoors usually is, but she prevails.

The “lake” turns out to be indoors: an oddly-shaped irregular solid of a wooden room, with a rectangular pool in the middle which holds a single, immense fish, as large as a person. The room has a chapel feel about it, with people sitting respectfully on wooden benches. I’m with the poets at this point. The fish wants out. The pool goes under one wall to join the outdoor lake, but the opening is too small for the fish to swim through. I make a joke about going to the attic and letting it out, and immediately a female security guard is there. When she understands that I was joking, she says, “Well! You took me somewhere different!” Then we all realize that the fish is gone.

I’m walking to buy something. I wear my green jacket (for the pockets), even though it’s summer and I’m in shorts and a hawaiin shirt. It’s raining, with white particulate matter in the air. Pollution, I think, and now everyone can see it: the game is up for the polluters. Or is it snow, or hail?

Our group is at a garden party. So is our opposition.


July 7, 2010

Going analog

Filed under: art,creativity — crcb @ 12:30 am
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I’m a fairly digital dude. I have my cell phone, my blog, my accounts on Twitter and Facebook and Gmail and Delicious, my MP3 players, my eReader. But sometimes, the old manual methods are best. Case in point: mind mapping.

VYM, a very nice, free piece of mind mapping software, is installed on my computer, and I’ve used it. It handily exports your mind map to a clickable imagemap or a linear outline. But creativity is the point of mindmapping, rapidity and flow and feeling and sheer physicality are necessary parts of the process, and computers get in the way.

Looking at a couple of hand-drawn mind maps from my journal, for instance, I see that the word “BETRAYAL” in one is harsh and pointy, and the word “snakes” in another is, well, snaky. I could have done something similar on my laptop, but only by switching to graphics software. It would have required more than the few seconds my fingers needed, and the results would have been less expressive. It would have broken the flow. And, most importantly, I can still remember how it felt to attack the page for BETRAYAL, and the twisty pen-strokes of snakes. Those sensations, those emotions, became part of the diagram. When I change the lettering or draw a frog, it brings more of me into the process than choosing a font or icon from a pre-determined list does.

And that’s another shortcoming of mind mapping software: you can only do what the software is set up to do. Every application I’ve seen requires one central node, and provides limited means of linking nodes to one another. You can choose solid, dotted or dashed lines, curved or straight. Working by hand, I can create three central nodes, or nineteen, or none. I can link one node to any number of others, or leave it isolated like a rock in a stream. I can scribble lines that go from loopy to jagged to barbed. I can glue string and beads and feathers to the page, or fold it, or tear it, if I think that’s relevant. Some of these actions go against the technical definition of a mindmap, but so what? When I work by hand, there are no limits; and isn’t that what creativity is about?

April 23, 2010

Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday!

Filed under: art,William Shakespeare — crcb @ 7:06 am
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This doesn’t count as my poem-of-the-day (after all, the words are Shakespeare’s), but here’s a little something I threw together in honor of the occasion:

Shakespeare in his own words

A self-portrait of Shakespeare, by Carl Bettis

Creative Commons License
Shakestext by Carl Bettis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

November 11, 2009

Link of the Random Interval of Time (LotRIoT), 11-11-2009: Threatened Voices

Threatened Voices: Tracking suppression of online free speech

This site describes itself as “A collaborative mapping project to build a database of bloggers who have been threatened, arrested or killed for speaking out online and to draw attention to the campaigns to free them.” The front page is an interactive world map of bloggers facing threats — or those for whom it’s already too late. The default view is by country (the USA has 2), but you can also filter by status, including “under arrest,” “released,” “threatened,” “deceased” and “unknown.” The map has its glitches. When I selected “Unknown,” Tanzanian blogger Malecela Peter Lusinde showed up in Texas.

The American bloggers are Elliott Madison, charged with hindering prosecution for using Twitter to help G20 protestors avoid police, and Elisha Strom, apparently arrested for publishing the address of a police officer.

When you view the page for a specific blogger, in addition to basic info and links to the blogger’s site and any help-the-blogger campaign site, you’ll see a related newsfeed from “trusted websites.” Like the map, this feed is a little flaky. Stories supposedly related to Elliott Madison show up because they mention Madison Square Garden, president James Madison, or musician Liam Madison.

The profiled bloggers aren’t always people I admire or agree with, but that’s the point of free speech: it’s for all sorts of speech, for all sorts of people. Agreeable speech doesn’t need protection.

In some cases, I might agree that the blogging/tweeting in question broke a just law; but those are the fringe cases the forces of censorship love to present as typical, and it’s easy enough to ignore them. Overall, I salute the work and goals of Threatened Voices.

September 9, 2008

Shock Art

Filed under: art,General — crcb @ 10:33 pm
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The fallacy of shock art is that it wants to disturb without the audience’s participation. Like (other) preachy art, it wants to do something to the audience, rather than create something with the audience.

Blog at