Animal cruelty.

It is always strange to me when I hear non-vegetarians get worked up about animal cruelty. Usually this takes the form of being upset about someone abusing a pet.

It is almost like if you heard Hitler being outraged about someone punching a Jew. ( if this analogy seems over the top, if anything I think it is too retrained, because at least Hitler killed Jews with what he saw as serving a higher cause, rather than just for food. Food he did not need.) (I know what you are thinking, anytime you use make a comparison to Hitler it automatically invalidates the argument, but what is different here is that I'm not saying eating animals is the moral equivalent of committing a holocaust or being Hitler, I am simply making an analogy. Being outraged at animal abuse while you financially support an ongoing animal holocaust is a similar sort of moral inconsistency as my above analogy)

If someone were to treat their pet cat or dog the way our meat industry treats the animals it raises for food, they could be put in jail.

It is also curious when people cite animals eating other animals as validation for their meat eating. Not only do other animals not raise their prey under deplorable conditions from birth, but do we really want to look to the behavior of wild animals as a source for moral guidance?

One time my grandfather, in response to my telling him I was a vegetarian, asked me how I felt about wild animals eating other wild animals. What I did not think of at that moment, but that I wish I had, is that I feel the same way about it as i feel about rabbits who eat every 3rd or 4th poo (or however it works. Did you know that rabbits occasionally poo out a certain sort of poo that they then eat?)
The point being, it may be necessary for those animals, but not for me.

I'm not sure why I suddenly felt urged to write about this. I have been a vegetarian off and on since I was about 14, and been one consistently since I was about 21. I don't talk about it often because I hardly think about it. I guess sort of like how not eating cats might be to a normal meat eater. They don't think of themselves as someone who doesn't eat cats because to not eat cats feels like the default.
Anyway, I'm not sure why I thought to write this. Oh that is right, I heard someone who eats meat be upset about animal cruelty. I also had a conversation about the holocaust. Guess those two separate things melded in my mind. Ie. mind meld.

To summarize my point: If you think it is wrong to treat pets poorly yet you eat meat, you will have a very hard time convincing me you are not a hypocrite.

cats pt 2

Another reason why I think I like my cat so much right now, is I am at the time in my life where I would like to have a child. If I were at a different point in my life, ie. I was established in a career that made enough money to support a family, I would very much want to have a child right now. (and I mean me, personally give birth to a child a la Arnold Schwarzenegger) By this I mean, the part of me that desires to have a child, is partially fulfilled by having a pet.



Last night, as Marissa and I were winding down for bed, Marissa went to the kitchen for a bed time snack. When she opened the fridge, our cat, Glen Close, jumped out!

He must have jumped in without me knowing a little earlier in the evening when I had been getting something out of the fridge.

Although it was funny, it made me nervous. What if Marissa hadn't chosen to get a late night snack? I'd like to think his howls would have been heard through the fridge door and up the stairs before he would have suffered, but I don't really know how sound proof the fridge is.

(remember in the 80's when nearly every show geared towards kids seemed to have at least one episode about the dangers of playing, and getting locked inside, an abandoned refrigerators? Then the government passed a law requiring refrigerators to be able to be opened from the inside by children? As great as it may be to have fewer fridge trapped children, aren't we as a society missing out on a valuable plot line for our current childrens media?)

Speaking of Glen, I've never felt so attached to a cat before. I've had cats that I loved and who shared my bed at night, but none that I've loved as much as Glen. I've never been able to relate to people who seemed to have an intense affection for their cats, talking about them to other people, buying them expensive food and toys. But now look at me! (or don't look at me...I'm a MONSTER!) I am one of those people!

I've been trying to think of why and this is what I've come up with:

1) This is the first cat, since I was a young teenager, I've acquired while it was a kitten. (I had two kittens in the little cabin I had when I first moved to Olympia, but one got lost in the woods{I think racoons('coons) ate it} and the other I had to part with after my landlord discovered I had kittens).
There is definitely a greater bond that is able to happen with another living being when you raise it from infancy. The handful of cats I've had since graduating high school were all adults by the time I acquired them.

2) Marissa and I got this cat together. In one sense, this makes it like our baby. It becomes more than just a two way affection between the cat and myself but a three way connection between Marissa, Glenn Close and myself. Having to share the responsibility and affection for a cat with my significant other, rather than lessen the affection I feel towards the cat, enhances it.

3) He is a unique cat. From the day we picked Glen up from the family we adopted him from, we noticed he was more endearing than other cats either of us had owned. His nature is very gentle and affectionate. He likes to be held and often curls up against one of us while we are sleeping or reading. He brings us toys for him to throw for him which he will bring back over and over until my arm gets tired. We both noticed immediately that he is brighter than most cats. He seemed to have an awareness about him that other cats lack. He learns quickly.
In some ways, he is almost dog like. He follows us around the house, waits beside the front door for us to get home and gets super excited when we do. He quickly learned his name.
I like watching him try and figure things out. I once put a toy mouse inside a ceramic bear head I had made, and it took him almost 15 minutes to decipher getting the mouse out, but he stuck to it, trying all sorts of different things until he got it. (now he can get the mouse out in .5 seconds) We don't let him outside very often and when he does go out, he rarely goes more than 5 feet in any direction, instead he explores every square inch of the area immediately outside our door.
He even learned quickly when not to use his claws.(though he will still sometimes run up my legs and back to get on my shoulders as I gasp and yell in pain.) When he was a kitten we bought him these little plastic covers for his nails, but once they fell off we realized he had seemed to learn when it was and wasn't okay to use his claws, so we haven't had to put the covers on since.


History. Why I love it now and why I didn't love it before.

This post stems from the last 3 posts.

I find that I have a pretty strong interest in almost all academic subjects and I always have, however, the one exception is that I used to not be interested in history. I wouldn't say I disliked it, but it struck me as not having much significance. (aside from Mormon History. I was always very interested in that. To a lesser degree I was also interested in biblical history)
In the past few years I have developed a deep fascination with history. I know why I like it now, but I'm not certain why I didn't before. I think it is connected to my having been Mormon. (I will explain)

Why I Used to Not Like History(not 'the past', but history as a subject of study.)

Before, history just seemed like a bunch of stuff that happened. It seemed to have no deeper significance the way it does now (I will explain this part later).

When I was Mormon, I saw all of human existence as part of one story. The story was this: God made man about 6000 years ago. He gave us prophets to teach his message. People fluctuated from following the prophets to rejecting them. Everything that happened before Jesus was a lead up to and preparation for Jesus. Everything that happened after Jesus was a lead up to and preparation for the Second Coming.
All of the prophets, Jesus, Second Coming business is because we are here on Earth as a test of our Character to see how luxuriously our time will be spent. It takes approximately 6000 years for everyone to participate in this test.
Everything that happened in history was part of this narrative. Everything which seemed important served the purpose of leading up to Jesus or leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus. Everything else that happened was a side note.

(I did believe in evolution to a degree, but I felt that sometime around 6000 years ago God had somehow intervened and created modern man. Within that framework, I sometimes believed in a literal Garden of Eden story and sometimes not.)

Since the historical narrative I believed in was so simple and complete, I didn't feel there was much to gained by studying secular history. Much of it was either irrelevent to the important stuff or contradicted my understanding of history.
Secular history contradicts the large majority of the Old Testament and entirely contradicts the Book or Mormon. If anything, I saw History(as a subject of study, not the past itself) as an anomaly. Academic History seemed to offer no insights into how I believed the past actually happened, and the parts I believed to be most important were seen by Academic historians as not even having happened.(anything in the book of mormon, moses, abraham, adam and eve, etc.)

Take for example Greece and Rome. The study of these held almost no interest to me. In my mind, Greece and Rome wasn't where the action was. The Greeks and Romans were either apostate polytheists, or, when Christianity finally did come to Rome they were apostate Christians whose empire quickly died out.
To me, that wasn't where the action was. That wasn't where the interesting stuff was happening. In my world view, the action was taking place in the rural parts of the middle east or in Central America, and it was precisely these two places where historians offered a version of events which contradicted my version of events.

Why I Like History Now.

Now that I'm not Mormon, history is suddenly very interesting to me. Not only am I able to take the academic historian's interpretation of events at face value, but I believe it offers great insights into human nature.

History is sort of like anthropology or sociology, but in one sense even better.

Anthropology sheds light on human nature by showing how different cultures behave. This helps us distinguish between human nature and culturally specific behaviors. For example, by observing that every culture ever observed has incest taboos we are able to show that Sigmund Freud was wrong to suggest that human nature wants to commit incest but it is arbitrarily restricted by our culture, causing turmoil within us. If there were even one culture without incest taboos he might have a case, but since there are none, it becomes clear that repulsion to incest is an innate part of human biology.

By studying various cultures around the world we have learned that facial expressions are not culturally specific as had once been thought, but common to all people. Ie Human nature.

By studying marriages around the world we learn that monogomy is not part of human nature. Some cultures have polygamy and one doesn't even have marriage at all! This tells us that marriage is something cultural(though, clearly it is heavily influenced by human nature. For example, there is no culture where most people exclusively marry trees.)
So anthropology shows the ways human nature can manifest itself under a variety of different circumstances.

History, I believe, goes one better. With anthropology one can argue that although all these cultures are, of course, human, perhaps some of their differences in behavior can be explained by genetics. One might argue that Chinese culture is so different from European culture because of genetics. I imagine that to, at least some degree, this is true. It would be different to separate which was which, though some have tried.

History, however, can show how the same(more or less) genetic pool behaves under a variety of circumstances. By taking a historical snapshot of, lets say....Norway, at a variety of times throughout history, one can get a sense of how, what is essentially the same group of people, behave under a variety of different circumstances.

By studying how various cultures evolve and change it can teach us a great deal about our current culture and ourselves generally. By learning about the development of Greek thought, it can help us understand the origin the western world view. By studying the evolution of religion it can help us understand current religions and why the look the way they do. History does for us what I talked about in the previous entry. It helps us better know how various types of people, who we know in the modern world, behaved in the past world. By getting a sense of how such a behavior came to be in the past, we can better understand why it persists in the present.

History is one the mirror through which we can see ourselves to help know who we are. (other mirrors, linguistics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, tyrannosaurs-rexology)


I want to clarify my last entry. I feel, perhaps, it may have not been written as clearly as I would have liked and my intended meaning became obscured by my unclear writing.


Since humans evolved 150,000 years ago in Africa, virtually all human interests and desires can be seen as having initially evolved at that time for a particular purpose. For example, we have an almost insatiable love of sugar and fat now, because 150,000 years ago in Africa those things weren't always easy to come by and they provided a lot of needed calories. If we had evolved in modern times we probably would find refined sugar and excessive fatty foods repulsive since they are bad for our health.

Keeping that in mind, it causes me to wonder how certain tendencies and personality types which seem entirely modern manifest themselves in the ancient past. Certain personality types, such as, 'Video Game Nerd', must have served some purpose in the far distant past, otherwise it would have never evolved. (and it clearly did not suddenly evolve within the past 50 years. Unless you believe in the 'blank slate' theory, then maybe that seems plausible to you, but I think the 'blank slate' theory has been thoroughly proven wrong).

So, clearly video game nerds must have existed long before video games. The question is, why did that personality trait evolve in the first place and how did it manifest itself in a time before electricity was even an idea. What sort of things did people who would today spend their time playing video games or designing software spend their time doing in 2000 b.c.? Of course, I am not only interested in video game people, but they are an easy example as something that has such a clearly modern manifestation without an obvious ancient one. Hope this clarification is helpful.


Types of people in the past.

(This entry directly relates to the previous one, so you may want to read that first.)
One thing I like to imagine, is how different types of people would have manifest themselves in the past.
For example, what would a gamer nerd have been like in the 1800's or in 1200 bc? Clearly they didn't have video games for them to spend all day playing, but whatever biological inclination those nerds have to play video games, must have some ancient correlation, otherwise it probably wouldn't have evolved so specifically in so many people.
Maybe they just really loved other sorts of non-athletic games and imaginative play, such as pretending they were knights when they were actually peasants or playing home made board games.
Some things are easy to imagine. Artists and poets could have still been driven towards art and poetry in the past. Some things are less easy to imagine, such as filmmakers. (maybe they would just be story tellers or writers? or play-writers?)

One thing that I often wonder about, ever since I learned of it, is people who like to have sex with cars. This is, obviously, very rare. However, it seems unlikely that this man is the first person in history to have whatever it is inside of him that makes him want to have sex with cars. How would this have manifest itself in the ancient past? Would he want to have sex with rocks or trees, statues, or later in time trains?

Of course, there is also the issue that people had much less control over their lives in the past. Someone who may desire to be a primitive version of a scientist or a story teller or an actor may likely be a slave or a farmer. However, I imagine that these people would still exhibit these personality types in their free time, if they had any.

I also like imaging what I would have been like had I lived in the ancient past, or even the near past. I have a feeling I might not have done too well. I think I am the sort of person who has really benefited from modern life. If I lived in a time without psychiatry or psychology, I think I could have ended up homeless or in some primitive institution. Although, perhaps some of the psychological issues I've dealt with are, to some degree a product of our modern world, however I think for the most part they would have manifest themselves in whatever circumstance I was in and had it not been for the help I have received my life would be worse off. Though, perhaps if I had been in a hunter gatherer society rather than seeming mentally ill I would have been seen as a visionary and become a shaman.

Types of people.

One thing that amazes me is that despite how unique everyone is, it seems that there are only a handful of categories everyone fits within. Rarely have a met someone who I do not see as being a certain 'type' of person. (At the same time, I'm not sure if I have ever met someone who being around them feels the same way as it feels to be around anyone else. With the possible exception of siblings)
Of course, within these types there are a variety of sub-types and an almost endless variety of ways for these sub-types to be combined and I suppose it is this combining of various sub-types that make everyone unique. However, I'm still frequently impressed at how often people fit into a distinct category of person.
I am also amazed at how much this seems to cross cultural divides. When I watch or read something about a different culture, I frequently find myself marveling that whatever particular culture it is, they seem to have the same different types of people we do, to a greater or lesser degree. This leads me to think that while I'm sure culture does have some influence on what different types of people there are(the culture would, after all, have to provide some manifestation of that particular personality type), it is largely influenced by biology.
It is particularly interesting to me when a family of one type has a child of a different type, such as a family of preppy jocks who has a video game nerd child, or a hick family with a sensitive artist son. It is interesting because despite being raised by and surrounded by one particular type of person, their biological inclination towards being another type of person prevailed.


Evergreen evaluation

As many of you know, we don't receive letter grades at Evergreen, but rather written evaluations. Even though many young hippies and slackers might hear that Evergreen doesn't give grades and think it is the school for them because it will cater to their slacker ways, receiving evaluations is actually a much more rigorous form of grading than a letter grade. If you play your cards right, you can not learn anything and still earn an 'A' at traditional colleges, however, at Evergreen, since your grade is usually a full page long, you can't just b.s. your through a class. (I'm not usually one to use the term 'bs' and I kind of dislike it, but I couldn't think of another way to say what I wanted to say as succinctly, so their it is. With this non succinct explanation.)

Also, unlike a traditional college where if one doesn't complete all the assigned work they will still get full credits, just a lower grade, at Evergreen if one doesn't complete all the work, rather than getting a poor grade, they won't receive all their credits. If they do all the work, but do it poorly, they will get full credit but a poor evaluation. The stakes are much higher at Evergreen, in my opinion.

Anyway, here is my evaluation from last quarter, my final quarter. I thought it might be interesting to see what Evergreen evaluations are like in general, and my evaluations are like in particular. I also, this was one of my better evals, so I guess I am showing off a bit as well. (there are some grammatical errors in the eval. Keep in mind my teacher has to write about 20 evals within a week, so i'm sure he was a bit rushed.)

Written by: Matthew Hamon

Christopher joined this program in the second quarter and immediately became a key member of this academic community, as his friendly nature made him accessible to his peers. He was a solid student who consistently demonstrated authentic academic enquiry and modeled scholarship for his peers. His energy and focus in critique and seminar was always appreciated. Christopher is articulate with his comments about the work of his peers. He demonstrates that he is thinking closely about emerging concepts with the provocative questions he offers to the dialogue. Christopher is comfortable seeking feedback from his faculty and is open to revision. Christopher completed all assignments and reliably met deadlines.

Studio Work: Christopher was highly motivated in his studio practice this quarter. His thematic body of work took the form of a portable diorama that questions our relationship to nature. Carefully painted cutouts representing fauna and flora are housed in a wooden backpack that can be unraveled on any street corner. This encapsulation of the picturesque suggests the control and distancing with which we have responded to the landscape. This whimsical peace concisely approached questions emerging from the industrial revolution as we have consistently made efforts to control and contain the wild. Christopher’s responsiveness to feedback was evident in the development of his work as it evolved through each critique session. Christopher’s serious effort in the studio this quarter was admirable.

Seminar & Critique: Christopher offers thoughtful responses to the work of his peers and openly accepts feedback on his personal work. He consistently makes articulate contributions to the unfolding dialogue in critique and seminar. He never hesitates to ask for clarification of points made in discussion and has a poised way of refuting ideas he disagrees with. Christopher involved himself fully in the art history component of the program. He was able to contribute provocative questions in seminar and elaborate on many philosophical points surrounding the texts.

Writing & Presentation: Christopher is a skilled writer. The writing he submitted was eloquent and articulate. He has ease with synthesizing information in well structured passages. Though his final process paper with effective in presenting the motivations behind his personal work, it would have been improved with references to other others who have also investigated our relationship with the environment. His oral presentation in the winter on the development of his personal studio practice presented clear chronologic references to his pathway as an artist. His conversational delivery and humorous approach was appreciated.


4 Contemporary Issues, Theory, and Criticism, in Visual Art
4 Art History (Western 1950 to the present)
8 Studio Art:



Whenver I hear someone get worked up about something arbitrarily 'bad' like swear words, it reminds me of how glad I am to no longer be Mormon.

Aren't swears weird? It isn't the sound that is offensive. If so, every culture would have the same curse words. And people aren't offended by words that sound very similar to curse words such as frak, shiz or freak.
It isn't even the MEANING of the word that is offensive. There are many many words that mean the same things as swear words. Crap, screw, copulate etc. etc. These are synonyms of certain swear words. There are even some words that mean the same AND sound the same, such as they way many Americans who are young or religious or in a business setting use the word 'Freak' as a stand in for 'Fuck'. Yet one word is highly offensive the other is not even though they both mean(in the context it is being used) and sound the same. So what why is one offensive and the other isn't? One has been labeled offensive, the other hasn't

That is what religion can do, it can take things with no actual 'badness' or offensiveness to them and make them bad. (I realize this isn't entirely a product of religion, but culture in general, but I know very few, if any, non-religious people who get upset about swear words.

In situations where swear words are being used and some people are offended and some aren't, who is more free? This is something that has long bothered me. When being offended at something is seen as good! In some cultures, such as mormon culture, the more easily offended a person is, the more moral they are seen. They are seen as more sensitive to spiritual things. But shouldn't why be offended one doesn't have to be? Wouldn't a more spiritual pathway be to find beauty and wonder in everything even the seemingly vulgar? Wouldn't the person who is able to not be offended be the one who is more free?

I think some religious ethical restrictions are positive. They may seem like they are constraints but can in reality make a person more free, such as avoiding certain things so as to avoid addiction, but when the restrictions are totally arbitrary such as with swear words, a person is allowing themselves to be hurt by something they have no reason to be hurt by.

Imagine how you would feel if you learned of a tribe somewhere that was deeply offended by depictions of Soft Baked Cookies.And that they lived in an area where people were very often depicting soft baked Cookies and so they were very often being offended. Imagine how odd it would seem. You would also feel that these people were less free than you, they being arbitrarily limited in what they could appreciate. Imagine they would try and stop people from depicting soft baked cookies. You would think the solution to their problem could be much more easily solved: Stop being offended by arbitrarily offensive things.

Although, i should add that while I am strong advocate of swear words not being offensive, I am not really much of a swearer. I see it as slang. I am also not a big slang user. When people use the word 'freak' or 'freaking' frequently it turns me off. Equally so with 'fuck' or 'fucking'. But not because I find it offensive in anyway, rather, because I like language to be accurate and sincere and rarely do slang words reflect the speakers intent as accurately and sincerely as other words might. Don't get me wrong, it has its place, and can sometimes be very effective, but it should be used sparingly and with good reason.

I'm done with college.

I've finished my undergraduate degree. I haven't yet graduated(i think that is next week), but aside from writing my self evaluation, I'm done with all the work. It feels very good. It has been almost exactly 10 years since I graduated high school. I took a lot of time off school, some was my fault, some wasn't. There were times when I wasn't sure if I would ever actually finish, so it feels good to have finally done so. Now on to grad school.

Here are some photos of the piece I have been working on all quarter. I have never spent so much time on one single piece. It was very gratifying to work so long and so hard on one thing.

My class has a show up of our quarters work. I was impressed with the quality of my classmates work. We had a really great teacher, Matt Hamon. A nice guy who really challenged us about our work. He challenged us both aesthetically and philosophically. He almost forced people to think deeply about what they made and why. I had never had a teacher so philosophically inclined before. It was very nice because I've often wished art classes were more intellectually challenging.
Here is the piece and below it is my Artist Statement.

The entire piece folds up and can be carried on one's back. I wish I had a photo of it folded up, but I was rushed when putting it together to put in the show. After I take the show down I will take some better photos, including photos of me carrying it on my back.

This was my artist statement for the piece:

Our relationship with nature is pretty weird. We have spent much of our existence as humans going to great lengths to liberate ourselves from its destructive powers yet we also celebrate it through all forms of art. We label our products with 'all natural' to tempt people into purchasing it. We romanticize nature to extreme degrees, myself included. We have zoos and nature reserves which allow us to experience nature in safe ways. We have taken nature and removed it from Nature. We have romanticized it and compartmentalized it.

We value things which are 'Natural' yet most of nature is harmful to humans. Disease, natural disasters and wild animals ravage human beings at worst, are entirely indifferent to us at best. For much of our existence we were in a constant struggle against the wild and only recently have begun to 'win' the battle. However, as much as we have fought against and protected ourselves from nature we have also celebrated it. Nature is, after all, very very beautiful.

In our modern world, nature is little more than a symbol to most of us. We may have wolves on our t-shirts or paintings on our wall, but how many of us have actually encountered a wild wolf? Even if we could, would we want to? What do these symbols mean to us?

Nature and animals have been a common theme throughout the history of art. Making art of nature is the ultimate romantization and compartmentalization of it. We use animals as symbols of human emotions and behavior. We make images of nature to stand in proxy of actual nature to the point where the images have come to supersede nature itself. We are now much more familiar with romantic representations of many animals than the actual animals themselves. How often when seeing a beautiful setting does a person think that it looks like a painting or a photo? In many ways paintings and photos of nature have become more 'real' to us than nature itself. One reason for this is simple, Nature is dangerous paintings are not. Nature wants us dead. Paintings of nature don't. Art allow us to experience 'The Wild' in a way that is safe and comfortable and in doing so it transcends the very thing it is seeking to depict. We love nature, but only insofar as we can keep it tame, in our control and beautiful. This is what my piece is about.