Sometimes my need to qualify my statements overwhelms me. I often began writing about an idea, which on it's own can be explained succinctly, but end up not finishing because I'm not motivated enough to include every qualification running through my mind and have a difficult time expressing an idea without including them.

Especially since one thing I have learned from keeping a blog or even just as a person who speaks to other people is that any possible way a statement can be misinterpreted it almost inevitably will be.
Qualifications help reduce (but by no means eliminate) those misinterpretations.

Plus, since nearly every belief or idea I have is full of qualifications, I feel I am not accurately representing the idea or myself by not including them.


Hate Speech.

I wonder if talking positively about the Second Coming will ever be considered 'hate speech'. I personally do not find it at all offensive and would not like to see speech limited in that way, but I can see how, as a non-Christian, it might be offensive to hear someone eagerly wish for the day when you and everyone who thinks like you will be killed. (ie. holocaust)


Marissa and I have been moving into our new place in Seattle the past few days. Urban moving is a lot more work than other moving. We had to park the U-haul about a block away from our place plus carry everything up a flight of stairs. My feet have been aching for three days now and their is still a lot more work to do. Not that we own that much stuff or anything. However, there is a certain pleasure that comes from physical labor, making it not so bad.
Right now I am sitting in our new kitchen on a our new stool from Ikea.
Our first day here someone stole a suitcase out of our car.
But just a suitcase. Things they did not take:
Marissa's Macbook,(which was touching the suitcase) our Ipod(exposed in the front seat), the contents of the suitcase(clothes).

Not only did they not take the clothes in the suitcase, but they kindly put them in one of the garbage bags we had on the front seat. They did however take the rest of the garbage bags. (I guess it wasn't just the suitcase they took. Suitcase and about 5 garbage bags.)
I don't know what to make of this robbery. Because it is so unusual and doesn't have a significantly negative effect on our life I feel more amused than anything else. However, having been robbed in our first 3 hours here, I do feel a bit more cautious about my possessions than anywhere else I have lived.

There was nothing remarkable about the suitcase and it isn't as if we have any great need for one. I like to imagine that this person somehow was in desperate need of a suitcase and this was their only option. Probably not the case, but that is what I like to imagine.



I have started a new blog of just pictures.

One thing that is cool about the internet is it makes discovering new things so much easier. I have discovered so much good art that I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise.

However, the downside is that these discoveries are often transitory and hard to keep track of. Were I to have come across certain images in a magazine or newspaper, I might cut them out and put them in this box I have for that sort of thing. But with the internet, I may see something cool, but I will quickly forget about it or if I do remember it I will have no idea how to find it again.

Only somewhat recently did it dawn on me to start saving images I like. I now have several hundred images saved in various files on my computer. Which is much better than before, but still not very convenient and I rarely look at them. Lately I have wanted to somehow bring these images together to one place that I could easily refer. It occurred to me that I could put them on a blog, that way it would not only be easy for me, but other people could enjoy them as well. There are SO many art blogs out there, and I think that is great, I have discovered so much because of them. I'm not necessarily wanting to throw my hat into that ring because it feels like a drop in the ocean. This site is primarily for my own sake, but with the added bonus that those who share a similar visual sensibility can enjoy it too.

Internet and context.

One significant role I think the internet has played is to help us better place ourselves in context. It seems that we, as individuals, now have a better understanding of how we fit into the world.

Pre-internet we basically had our immediate friends/family classmates and co-workers plus television and movies. Two extremely different groups that often reflect a tiny percentage of what the world is actually like.
With the internet we can see far better where we fit within a larger context.
Which can be both affirming and humbling.
Affirming in the sense that there are far more people like us than we may have otherwise been able to realize.
Humbling in the sense that very few of us will ever do or think something entirely original and the internet makes that more apparent.
(there are many more ways understanding our context can be affirming or humbling, but those are two which come immediately to mind)


Art making

Art making is such a weird thing(when I refer to art in this entry I am referring to visual art). I have conflicted feelings about art making, but less so than before.

My biggest qualm with art is that I don't see it as particularly 'important'.
Which isn't to say that I do not value or love it, because I wouldn't dedicate so much time to it if I did not.

I often compare art making to writing. Books and writing have literally changed my life. So much of how I view the world comes from books I have read. Books have influenced my life more than anything I can think of. My entire perception of reality is largely based on what I have learned from them. Were it not for books I might have a similar personality, but I would otherwise be a different person. In this regard I consider books and writing to be very 'important'.

Art on the other hand has hardly influenced me at all. I can't think of a single piece of art that has changed my perception of the world in a way I could identify.(though perhaps in ways I could not identify)

Visual art can explore ideas and emotions in interesting ways that other media cannot. However, when it comes to expressing an idea in clear and accessible ways, visual art may be one of the least effective of all formats.

In this sense I see art as not particularly 'important'.

However, I still feel it has value. But that value is secondary to other things. Art, in a sense, is like icing on cake. Like icing, it is nice to have and makes things more enjoyable, but in and of itself isn't particularly valuable. Art is total luxury.(but so much of modern life)

If I were given the choice right now to forever give up reading or experiencing art, without hesitation I would choose to never experience art again.

So why did I choose to pursue a career in art? Because I enjoy the process of making art enough that I would be willing to do it even if I did not make money. (art is kind of like masturbation.)

I cannot say the same for my other big interest, writing. I enjoy writing, and still dream of being able to be published, but writing is a chore in a way art making is not. If I knew for certain I would never be published, I doubt I could find the motivation to write a book.

However, if I knew I would never sell a piece of art or display it in a gallery, I would still make it because I enjoy doing it so much.

Of course it does feel good when I sell something. Every piece I have sold is exciting for me. (though I have a difficult time parting with things I have made). But selling things I have made is exciting not because of the money but because it means my work has effected someone enough that they would be willing to spend their money on it. It is an ego boost. It is a pat on the back that says 'you are good at something'.(but that can also come in the form of words) If it were just about the money I wouldn't sell anything, because I value things I have made far more than the money I sell them for.

If I were told right now that I would never sell a piece again in my life, but could show my work in galleries, I would still pursue art as a career and support myself with teaching.
I can't think of anything else I feel that way about.

Because of this, I feel I have already achieved one of my dreams. I get to live the life of an artist. Even if I made hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars doing so, my daily routine would be pretty similar to how it is now. I would just be doing it in a nicer house surrounded by nicer things. And if science is any guide, those nicer things wouldn't make my life any better. If anything, it might decrease my ability to enjoy things. (but I would like to afford a nice studio space with a kiln)


Covering my bases.

Although I have already posted this several places, i figured I might as well post it here as well. Here are a couple photos and link to many more from the art show I currently have up at The Northern.

See all the photos here.

Photos from art show at The Northern.

The depths of hell.

Close up of one half of the depths of hell

Another Close-up

Caribou and squirrel

Bird and fox

Fox and bird. I don't have a very good photo of it,  so I ask you this : enjoy this photo as if it were good.

Close up of the bird.

Close-up of the fox

See all the photos here.


Satisfied Life.

Something dawned on me recently. I realized, that perhaps for the first time, I am fully satisfied with my life.

Not that there haven't been times where I felt satisfied and content, there have been many, but never before had I felt that there wasn't anything that would significantly improve the quality of my life. Never before had I felt 'if the rest of my life stayed just how it is right now, I would be happy with that'.

Not that there aren't things which would be nice to have. A few things come to mind: I wish we had a back yard with trees, bees a green house and a garden. I would like a kiln and a large outside studio filled with windows and a potters wheel where I could work with clay and not have to clean it up.

However, as desirable as these things seem, I don't feel that my life would be significantly better with them. They would be like icing on the cake or bonuses.

The only thing I can think of which I feel would add significantly to the quality of my life would be if I had a job teaching at a University. Since graduating I miss academia. I love so much about it and a feel my life is enriched by regularly being in that environment.

In terms of money and possessions I feel like we are rich. Compared to much of the country we aren't(compared to much of the world we are. Average income worldwide is $7000, but the super rich throw the number off. Most people make much less).

Although Marissa and I live well below the poverty line, we are prosperous. As little as we make, we can easily stay within our means. We have enough money to pay our bills, go out to eat every now and again, occasionally see a show or a movie. Occasionally we travel. (usually within a few hundred miles). Because of food stamps we are able to eat well. We even have some left over for savings.

We can afford to support our hobbies and passions. Books are cheap or free from the library. Art supplies are relatively cheap, especially compared to the amount of use one can get from them. Walks are free. Bike riding is close to free. Having a garden costs a bit to get started but is then free. Knitting is cheap. Swimming in lakes is free. Hanging out with friends is free.

We are both have laptop computers which connects us to most of the information and media in the entire world. Because we live above a coffee shop with unlocked wireless it costs us nothing to access.

Because I have gone through time periods where I didn't have enough money to pay all my bills and eat well, the fact that I am now able to feels that much better. I honestly feel rich. Because I am. Everyone I know is. We all have so many possessions and so much food.

(I recently finished a book on North Korea and came away from it feeling how extraordinarily prosperous we are. Even our homeless are more prosperous than many North Koreans.)

I live in a beautiful part of the country around creative interesting people who inspire me.

Because I am not Mormon I never feel guilt or moral inadequacy. Which isn't to say that I never feel regret or that I could be better person, because I do, but it doesn't carry the same weight. It isn't guilt. It isn't a sense that I am offending God and that no matter how much I do it will never be good enough.

That I am in a healthy and committed relationship is key to all of this. No matter how good things were before I couldn't be entirely satisfied because I longed for a companion I could feel entirely devoted to as I am now.



Finding God.

Sometimes I imagine if I found out in a way I could not deny that God was real.
Not only real, but has all the attributes normally ascribed to him by Christianity.

An all powerful being who chose to use his power to create billions of other individuals for the sole purpose of submitting them to an excruciating and arbitrary test of his own design whose punishment for failure is eternal suffering and the reward for passing is the mildly better having to spend an eternity worshiping at his feet because he apparently enjoys extraordinary amounts attention. (in these regards I find the Mormon God more likable than the standard Christian God)

The reason this 'reward' is better is because one apparently feels really good the entire time, even though an eternity worshiping another being sounds unbearable tedious.

As if this fellow didn't seem unpleasant enough, he is apparently homophobic, sometimes a racist and may or may not be a misogynist.

So I wonder, what would I do if I had certain knowledge that such a being existed?

I would not want to express any positive feelings towards an individual I felt was so devoid of decency and morality let alone worship him, yet I also wouldn't want to spend an eternity suffering. Would it be worth my while to serve a bad master just to spend an eternity feeling high? If the alternative is endless pain, then it probably would be.

But could I fake it? Would God let me into heaven if he knew I was just going through the motions and didn't really think he was a great guy? I don't know. Probably not.

What if God's intentions were actually the opposite of what people think. What if he laid down unusual rules to see who would have the gumption to think for themselves and value reason, independent though and compassion over obedience and reward. Even if that were the case, it would still seem cruel. Why bother testing people in such a weird way?

Why punish or reward beings who you made? Whatever failings they may have would be your fault, since it was you who made them lacking in sufficient knowledge, endurance or ability to successfully complete the test, so why hold them responsible?

Were the Lds conception of the pre-mortal life real, I think I would have taken Lucifer's side. I would much rather give up my free will, (which I don't know if I believe in anyway) then risk the possibility that me, or anyone I know would spend an eternity suffering.


Scriptures and Non-Violent Communication.

After I left Mormonism, I still held strongly to the Mormon worldview of God's interactions with humanity.
Namely: God calls prophets and gives them information to spread to help people live better lives.
One thing which caused me to give up this view, was realizing that I (and probably most people, even the very religious) have benefited far more from non-scriptural or even entirely secular books than anything in any scriptures, even one's I adore, like the Bhagavad gita. Even books that are written as commentaries on scripture tend to be more clear and insightful than the Scriptures themselves. It seemed that if God was working through prophets, his ideas were somehow inadequate to those of his creation, which seemed unlikely.

(I think even people who do not read books are still very much influenced by them. Most great ideas are first presented in books, which then spread to the general consciousness)

One book I have found particularly enlightening is 'Non-Violent Communication' If I were somehow in a position where I had to choose one book and make it required scripture for the entire world, this would be it. Since obtaining my copy, I have read through it many many times. (not straight through, but I pick it up and read a chapter here or there).
I have been reading through it again lately and reminded of how great it is. I guess what I am saying is: I recommend this book.
It is about so much more than mere communication. It can transform how one approaches the world, others and themselves in positive ways. Few things I can think of would have such a dramatic effect on positively changing the world than the ideas presented in this book. If I were rich I would buy a copy for every one I know.

Although I think everyone should buy a copy, it can also be read online.