#drawing #sketchbook #characterdesign #fantasyart #artistsofinstagram #art🎨 #sketch #amdrawing #illustration #pencildrawing
Posted on 1 August 2017 | 11:57 pm
I thought there would be a statue here.
I wouldn’t say my sources were reliable, per se… mostly an old
bookmark I found in my copy of The Velvet Promise, which turned out to
be a page torn out of a 1970’s tour guide to the Matawan Bluffs… but
you could see the name of a town, and a photo: the stone silhouette of a
man with a musket, perched on a pedestal, set up as high in the
ridges as they could reasonably get him.
I don’t know why that photo always stuck in my head.
Maybe I shouldn’t have taken the last of my vacation days to come out
here and look for it. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought that new camera, or
started that YouTube series about this road trip. Now I’m going to have
to end it ironically, and I don’t think my thirty-seven followers are
going to appreciate that direction.
You’d think it would be here, even if it had fallen over. Maybe lying
down across the path, or shattered, with its head miraculously whole,
spread out over the dry creekbed. But the empty pedestal, and no shapely
stone fragments to be seen… I don’t suppose somebody made off with it?
That must be it. Maybe it’s still intact, mouldering in the basement of
some frat house in Beanerton.
Maybe I can still find it.
I guess it’s on to Season Two.
Posted on 31 July 2017 | 11:04 pm
Note: Spoilers below for Twin Peaks: The Return, Parts 1-11.
1989 comes to a small northwestern town, just as it comes to every other place. This town, sheltered by the rains and forests of Washington State, is called Twin Peaks.
And in 1989, Twin Peaks becomes a place so unlike every other place, it's almost insulting to describe it with the same language, channeled through the same air.
Something will find Twin Peaks and linger there: an entity from outside space and time, incorporated in a human body, but endless and depthless when you look into its eyes... a creature of the abyss, feeding on suffering, whose emptiness infects the weak and compromised. This thing is called BOB.
Fortunately, this universe has its defenses. A coalition of reason and resistance will emerge -- a wise and perceptive FBI agent named Dale Cooper, a stern and earnest local sheriff named Harry Truman, and a cast of supporting personnel who will make their jobs possible. This coalition will both win and lose... it will vanquish a tormentor, save a life, and face down the darkness... but Cooper will be drawn into an existential prison, locked away, while BOB is let loose upon the world.
This story will start with a single unsolved murder, and it won't end for 25 years.
In a hotel that appears mysteriously empty, except for the small lobby where we linger, there's a meager crowd huddled together and looking expectantly at an empty stage. Suddenly, a chorus of music blares, and a figure descends on a long escalator from nowhere. He stands in front of this audience, hand-picked to receive him, and he tells them something small and strange that will end up changing the lives of everybody in the world.
This creature is a funny little monster, a sort of orange wax figure, always scowling, with hair that looks like the chaff from a bad harvest. It's truly a Thing.
There's a lot of mockery of this spectacle... disembodied laughter, a slow-reacting universe that sees nothing but an empty absurdity... but when everything becomes clear, months and years later, we'll remember that laughter as a terrible portent.
In that small northwestern town, where those terrible things happened twenty-five years ago, a girl meets with her boyfriend outside the Double R Diner
. He is afflicted... everyone is afflicted... and in his case, it shows as bad skin, a twitchy demeanor, and sunken eyes.
The girl ends a tense conversation by giving him a wad of money, and he promises her the world. He is moving in the right direction, he says. He will be everything he's been promising. In the meantime, do a line and lean back while I drive you into the wind.
It takes a certain kind of person to do this -- to convince themselves, and those who trust them, that they own the world. If they're really that kind of person, they can give you the glow of a good high, even as they grind your life into dust.
On November 8, 2016, the strange Thing from the top of the escalator becomes the Thing-in-Chief. Garmonbozia Futures shoot up on the commodities market.
Dale Cooper returns to the world, but he loses something in the process: his shoes, of course, but also his sovereignty, his gifts of wisdom and cunning and personality. He is essentially reduced to a toddler, well-meaning, but diminished, adrift in everyday life. Nobody really seems to care, because they have no sense of his real value... to them, he is just a placeholder, like every other secondary character in their lives.
Sheriff Harry Truman is suffering from an unnamed medical condition, and his loved ones can only hope he will recover. Twin Peaks, 25 years later, has to function without him. The silence of his absence is deafening.
Where are the heroes, the protectors, the avatars of hope and compassion? Where have they been, while Bob has been ranging across the American dreamscape?
The Thing-in-Chief is constantly photographed. This is a world where every reality is measured in photographs, after all, and this Thing has changed everything. History will always have his mark gouged across the second decade of the 21st century, and there will be plenty of visual records to prove it.
In this particular clip, he is on the tarmac, walking in close proximity to his wife, a loyal beauty who's been reduced to an ornament... whether this flatness is his work, or whether it's somehow self-imposed, is presently unanswerable.
The distinguishing thing, though... the little touch that sets this moment off... is that he reaches for her hand, looking for reassurance (a show for the cameras? Or an unexpected moment of insecurity?) and she bats him away. With gait unbroken and stone expression, she rejects him. How easily she makes such a large Thing look so small.
And the lens of the entire apparatus... every looping GIF, every gasp and joke and conspiracy theory, is turned toward that snub. Here, in a soup of irrationality, we catch a taste of meaning, and it turns out we're starving for it.
In 1941, "Trinity" -- predecessor of the nuclear bomb -- changes the geographic face of New Mexico, and the political landscape of the whole planet earth. This is the epicenter of the sins that will be visited upon these humans for the next century.
Within the blast radius, shadows flicker against gas station walls, and something parasitic is born.
Hands are an especially persistent motif in this visitor's mythology. The dissenting voices of the void call them "small," and this becomes a creeping trauma for the thing-in-chief. He sometimes uses them as weapons in social situations, yanking people toward himself and crowding them when he needs social leverage. His handshake is a landmine.
One of his strangest spectacles is a session in his office, sitting across from a fellow world leader while the buzzing eyes swarm around them. The expectation is simple -- a handshake, the oldest convention of courtesy in Western diplomacy -- and he refuses to carry it out, conspicuously ignoring the chancellor with whom he is supposed to be negotiating.
What is he afraid of, exactly? Her good will? Her leverage over him? Or his own hands, that suddenly seem so tiny?
And now we come to the primal scene, the moment where everything is distilled into its purest incomprehensibility.
At the Double-R Diner, there's tense conversation, followed by an unexpected burst of violence outside.
If you want the imaginary center of this sequence of events, pay attention to the conversation. Twin Peaks Deputy Bobby Briggs is talking to his daughter Becky and his former wife Shelly, and the family's tenderness is palpable. Even so, the strength of their connection can't efface the cruel undertone: Becky defending an abusive husband, continuing a pattern of abuse that her mother once propagated... and that her mother is making the same mistake again, even as she disapproves. The deep compassion of this family is barely enough to balance the cycle of violence that plagues her maternal line.
After the conversation is over, the violence comes, and here, you will find the emotional center, hand-in-hand with the imaginary center. Two gunshots break the windows of the Diner, and everyone ducks for cover. Deputy Briggs runs outside and finds a family stopped at an intersection, the mother screaming at her sulking husband for leaving a loaded gun in their car, and their child sulking in turn. So the father, so the son.
Behind the derailed minivan, there's a white sedan, and it can't stop honking, despite the obvious emergency that's holding up the line of traffic. Like a good town cop, Deputy Briggs goes to the window of the sedan to convince the driver to stop honking.
There, Briggs finds something harrowing, in its inexplicable way: a woman screaming about the delay, enraged that she won't make it home for dinner, while a young girl writhes in throes of agony beside her... apparently having a seizure and coughing up black bile.
There is something absolutely alien and poisonous about this narrative moment. What impulses the driver is acting out... why she's so hysterical over banalities, even as she accompanies a suffering family member with a horrific illness... the malevolence is thick and oily and palpable. There is a sense, here, that Deputy Briggs has stumbled into a nightmare. Luckily, a scene change arrives to wake us up, so we don't have to remain there with him.
More centers, more nodules where reality seems to have twisted around on itself:
On July 25, the Republicans in Congress (the Thing-in-Chief's sycophants) held a vote on to bring a bill to the Senate floor. This bill would dismantle the ACA, and radically reshape the US healthcare system. It would rip health insurance away from something like 15 million people, and it would increase premiums by something like 20% (contrary to its stated aim of making healthcare affordable for all) [CBO via Business Insider
]. Their "Yes" votes were audible over the national public outcry against the bill, and over the advice of medical associations
, state governors
, and their own constituents.
If you glance at this bill for more than a second, you see that it's actually illusory: no concrete policy is entailed, no strategy for solving the lingering problems with the healthcare system is implied. It's essentially a blank page, and the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell and goaded by the Thing itself, are insisting on having a "constructive debate" on it.
At the heart of the process was a veteran soldier, famous for standing up against his party's worst impulses. braving the aftermath of major brain surgery... a mythical figure of politics, walking dramatically into the Senate chamber, and casting his vote: to conform without question to his party's nihilism, denying millions their health insurance when he himself had just undergone the trauma of a devastating medical condition.
He was applauded for his bravery, not just by his own party, but by the entire floor. And then the vote went through, and this bill -- a throbbing nuclear bomb for anyone with unstable employment and medical needs -- became an imminent possibility.
These are the children of reason's sleep. These are the scions of a chaotic, narcissistic, demented modern age.
It's 3 AM, and my town is very Lynchian tonight. The suburbs are deserted, with a hum in the background (a neighborhood of window air conditioners). Whenever I hear a car coming in the distance, it's always isolated, and I'm fully alone, and so I keep feeling a moment of panic. This is the dark road of the margins, and I am the bystander getting caught in the headlights.
Where are my protectors? Where are the people who have some grip on the world, who can still resist its tantrums and confusions and cruelties?
They are still sleeping, it seems, and I'm still left watching the television.
Posted on 27 July 2017 | 4:33 am
Belfry dwellers - recent sketches
#amdrawing #art🎨 #artistsofinstagram #fantasyart #characterdesign #sketchbook #drawing
Posted on 25 July 2017 | 12:52 am
“Touched” - sort of a Swamp Thing type character, but less sludge and more blossom/thorn
#drawing #sketch #sketchbook #pencildrawing #characterdesign #fantasyart #artistsofinstagram #art🎨 #amdrawing
Posted on 24 July 2017 | 11:56 am
Inside the old barn by Jesse
3 quiet, dusty shots from the July 4 trip to the Finger Lakes
Posted on 19 July 2017 | 11:00 pm
Honeoye Lake July 4th 2017 by Jesse
Posted on 12 July 2017 | 2:54 pm
Balti was holding Lapswitch Ridge, and that meant Lapswitch Ridge couldn’t be taken by force.
Balti, last of his regiment, who arrived here alone and set his traps, stacked up a convoy’s share of munitions, and set himself a schedule: hoist the flag every morning, reset the charges on each bridge, and check the horizon every two hours. Fill your remaining time pining for your fallen comrades.
Lapswitch Ridge wasn’t the most important site, strategically speaking, so after a couple devastating skirmishes, they all left Balti alone. Too many losses, they said, not enough gain. The wars went on, borders were redrawn, and whole strategies were drafted around this little pocket, left alone at the center… Lapswitch Ridge, settled territory, beyond the reach of armies and airmen.
And the wars ended, and nations changed their names, and still, Balti defended his fort. I think he must have stockpiled rations from all the relief shipments he got… he wasn’t a farmer, after all, and the wild pigs up on Lapswitch don’t make for a well-rounded diet. However he’s done it, he’s spent lifetimes now, hoisting the flag of a sovereign that’s long ceased to exist. Whatever oath he made, he was sure to keep it.
I’m the only homestead with a line of sight up Lapswitch, and this very morning, for the first time since I’ve lived here, the flag didn’t go up. So I’m going to head on up and see what’s happened to Balti.
If Lapswitch has finally fallen, will another sunrise even bother coming? It’s hard to imagine so.
Posted on 7 July 2017 | 2:00 am
The grass on the stratum harasses the bottom of my feet. I think it would break the skin of a softer sole, but mine are already well-worn. It is cold, though… cold enough that it gives an extra electric shiver to the brisk air. Cold enough to see a long way.
There’s the Fellsthur up ahead, first time I’ve seen it in… how long has it been?
I can still hear the paterna, speaking the ritual in my ear, laying this burden upon me. These are troubled times, he said… the soil isn’t coming back, the buzz of wires and engines isn’t going to subside. His voice was a beacon, and I was charged with walking away from it, finding my people a new homeland, and finally following his light back to the stratum.
To Grayson and New Olderville, to Tropolis and Saggy Bluff… lifetimes spent wandering, searching, bearing our standard. Eyes open for unbroken years, looking for the right kind of loose, fecund territory where our stories could take new root. How long was I out there?
Too long, it turns out.
When word came to me, it was a trickle of cold water… awkward whispers, avoidant questions, third-hand rumors faintly remembered. The truth was shy, ashamed, but desperate to be heard: after our land died, my people died, too, one by one, down to the last.
So my search ends here: in the shadow of Fellsthur, a repurposed ruin, my peoples’ fortress of exile, where the last of them spent their last days. Tonight I’ll listen to their echoes, sleep beside their bones, tell them my story, and finally bring theirs to an end.
Posted on 28 June 2017 | 1:42 am
Making some timelines, closing some loops, organizing some knowledge. Thanks historyofphilosophy.net for prompting me to think in new directions.
Posted on 27 June 2017 | 9:28 am
In honor of the Summer Solstice, I'll go ahead and compile all my Twitter reviews for this year. These were all written within a couple weeks of seeing the film, and they all take up exactly 144 characters, including the film title and date. As you can see, I gave myself some flexibility on the matter of punctuation and abbreviation.
If you follow me on Twitter, these will occasionally show up on my timeline. As you can see, I like movies. I am very forgiving. If you're looking for something more acerbic, maybe Armond White or the Angry Nerd has a Twitter account.
Spring (2014) - A wide-ranging young romance, with flashes of horror that are discordant, but don't do much to curb the warmth of the story.
Kagemusha (1980) - Grand & lush, all the elements of vintage Kurosawa, but didn't have the shapely arc and development of his better movies.
Anguish (2015) - A brooding, earnest "tormented ghost" tale with exceptionally endearing characters. In the end, it rather undersells itself
Tangled (2010) - Sort of a throwback Disney Romance/comedy, whose brilliant physical humor more than redeems some clumsy writing and pacing.
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) - Gorgeous boy-hero story plus family chronicle, all warmth & wisdom, tempered by brilliant visual treatment
The Wailing (2016) - A strong, thick, & subtle tonic: when the initial hints of levity fade, you're left with despair burning on your tongue
The Double (2013) - Through a Terry-Gilliam-influenced lens, a focused, twitchy, & potent reflection on the cruelties of desire & insecurity
Enemy (2013) - A brilliant, chilling cyclical enigma that opens its own little self-contained universe, and ends by closing itself up again.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - A tense, brooding chamber drama -- great fun, but its explosive finale undercuts the interesting character work
Dead Lands (2014) - A self-conscious intensity only barely distinguishes this action movie, otherwise built on rote masculine warrior tropes
City 40 (2016) - A fascinating subject, but too clinical, missing any kind of gravitational center -- intriguing, but emotionally weightless
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) - Not too scary, but stylish &; austere, with the feel of a dream on the edge of becoming a nightmare
La La Land (2016) - Sometimes too pat, but always earnest... you could tell the filmmaker wanted a happy ending as badly as his audience did
Dope (2015) - Malcolm and his crew are brilliant protagonists in a striking and spontaneous adventure, tonally cacophanous, but never boring
Happy People (2010) - Herzog weaves a spell of fascination and intimacy with the Taiga: its stern voices, its landscapes, & its bitter cold.
Extraordinary Tales (2013) - A Poe anthology that improves steadily, from an amateurish first entry, unto the finale, a goddamn masterpiece.
Quest for Fire (1981) - A muddy slog, bludgeoning narrative conventions with brute frankness, but limited in its capacity to create tension.
The Last Unicorn (1982) - A wise and bittersweet animated romance, crafted with gentle strangeness that makes it feel timeless and mythical.
The Witch (2015) - A grimy historical claustrophobic head-space whose perversions leave a toxic footprint. Creepy, corrupt, & very effective
The Lobster (2015) - A dry and twisted movie - sadistic in a lonely, alienating way, with traces of hope and romance. A singular experience.
Posted on 21 June 2017 | 7:00 pm
I'm going to go ahead and post some more abstract notes, developing some ideas I've had floating around for a while. This is related to this post
and this post
, where you'll find what I was then calling the Aspect Aesthetic (I think I need a better name).
This is a follow-up on those posts, doing the following three things:
- elaborating on those basic points
- expanding the argument to include the Critic
- reducing some of my previous wordiness
Still, the big idea is the same: that these three roles are fundamental, especially when talking about aesthetics... and they can be applied to many areas of life where investment and appreciation meet reason, loyalty, identity, and faith.
This depends on a lot of premises that haven't been proven, obviously... like, the idea that culture can be used as a guiding frame of reference for understanding humans and their relationship to the world, and that the more broadly you apply this frame, the more it seems to cover. You've started with culture and art and the creative instinct, and eventually, by talking about subjectivity and human nature and idealism, and the universe as a sensory phenomenon, you find yourself stomping clumsily through ethics and politics, and encroaching even upon history and physics and metaphysics.
Not that I necessarily mind that... I'm no analytic academic... but for now, we just have to start with the seed of the idea: the Consumer and the Critic. The Creator is a bigger construct, I think, and that will have to wait for a different day.
I. THE CONSUMER (Interiority)
The consumer lives in the work.
All works create an interior world, guided by certain patterns and assumptions, operating by certain rules, constrained in particular ways.
The world of the work is built according to the blueprints of its Creator, but it's not limited thereby. There's just as much input from history, context, collective memory, the subconscious, and the cultural preoccupations, as there is from the Creator herself, a small person with a limited purview and access to an disinterested creative force (the muse, the reservoir, etc... wait for the Creator entry for more on that).
The Consumer inhabits this world. They invest in it, accept its specifications, and make it real by acting as its observer.
The Consumer's relationship to the work is I-Thou
, as opposed to the Critic's I-It
The quintessential consumer is the Fan. If you're not a Fan, your status as Consumer is precarious. The Fan is the person who not only chooses the work, but who also chooses to advocate for it... a form of Patriotism for the work's conceptual territory.
The Fan has a shadow (the Jungian, or an archetypal video game Doppelganger boss, depending on your frame of reference). This shadow is the Anti-Fan, a genuinely weird creature -- a Consumer who rejects the work outright -- whose engagement takes the form of kneejerk denial. Anti-fans are the people who say, without any explicit reason, "This just isn't my thing" or "I don't really think I get it."
The true Fan defines the work from the inside. They are a necessary part of the work coming into fulfillment. Lots of works have no Fans, which leaves them stuck in a sort of limbo, having no relationship to the world except through the anemic will and intention of their Creator.
Fandom is a sort of religious experience, and all religions are Fandoms. Christians are the most obvious example of this, being Fans of God’s word, His creations, and Jesus, His central character/principle/motif.
A crucial part of the Consumer role: it's where freedom manifests.
The Critic may be free to focus on certain works and ignore others, but they're always bound by the obligations of rationality. They make claims about works, and these claims are supported or unsupported. Criticism is a parasite that feeds on justification. Consumers are immune to this infection.
The freedom of the Consumer is not merely the negative freedom of not-being-forced... it's the positive freedom of browsing and investing, the radical self-actualization of choosing something that defines you. Being a Consumer means you have this capacity… being a Fan means actually using it.
Fandom is the full exercise of freedom: sovereignty, choice, actualization.
II. THE CRITIC (Exteriority)
Criticism is exile.
It's hard to imagine why anyone would choose to be a Critic, when there's so much content around to get swept up in. Because Criticism is, by nature, a self-exile from the subject (i.e. putting your beloved pet, the dog named Culture, on the dissection table of discourse).
Criticism is I-It
, contra the intimate, fully-involved Fandom relationship, which is I-Thou
It may be the access. The Critic DOES have access to certain dimensions that the Consumer can't get to.
For instance, being a Consumer means the loss of the economic dimension... and for the Fan, there is no economic dimension at all. In a way that's denied to the Fan, the Critic can step outside the work and understand it in terms of precedent, context, relative quality, the field. "The Market," as it were.
But the Fan could certainly argue that the Critic is denied a certain dimension, as well, and it may be the most important dimension of the work: the heart, the interior, the absolute investment that makes the work come alive.
The Critic has to acknowledge the possibility of the Consumer, but they can't fully Consume. They have to appreciate the Fan, but they are not Fans. Anyone who claims to be a Fan and a Critic at the same time is misunderstanding one of those two roles.
If they're truly a Fan, their criticism isn't true criticism -- it's merely an intellectual engagement, broadening the scope of the work by doing internal labor. If they're doing the difficult work of criticism -- sorting out the pros from the cons, observing technical weaknesses, categorizing the work, questioning its motives and its internal coherence -- they're not really being a Fan. They're being a Critic.
Perhaps they're being a Critic who has eaten a Fan. This is relatively common, and frankly, Fans make the best food (other Critics are bitter and chafe the palate). So Fans make the best food, and eating Fans makes the best Critics.
The Critic eats Fans like Kirby eats his enemies. By eating the Fan, the Critic gains the short-term, provisional ability to ignore the work's weaknesses and assimilate with it. Employed correctly, this can make the Critic's criticism far more robust, and thus more persuasive. Criticism written from this perspective -- from the post-prandial daze of simulated fandom -- I would call "Criticism in the sympathetic mode."
Still, this is an asymmetrical relationship. The Critic can temporarily effect Fandom because the Critic is outside the work, and has more freedom to operate in various modes in relation to it. The Fan can't become a Critic in the same way, because the Fan is a creature of the interior. The Fan can't survive outside the work, and they can't see the work as a whole, which is required for any meaningful criticism.
One of the key postures that challenges the Critic-Consumer dichotomy is Ironic Fandom. This is a popular mode in postmodern discourse, and a key part of the Hipster project of illegibility
The Ironic Fan seems to blur the line between Fan and Critic, but inevitably, the rule still holds: a Critic can act as a Fan, and not vice versa. The Ironic Fan is actually a Critic simulating a Fan, but leaving the signposts of simulation out to see. They are highly conscious of context: history, genre, and conventions. Their temporary Fandom consists in recognizing all the conventions and tropes and standard templates, and willingly inflating the value of these conventions in order to distort the appraisal of the work. Their Fandom is not sincere... it's a game of superiority and obfuscation.
The Critic has other crucial roles in cultural production. These are related to those functions and dimensions that are the unique purview of the critical perspective: context, history, technical authority, status, independence, objectivity. These may be true characteristics, or they may be pretensions... in any case, they are crucial for the work of the Critic.
One role of the critic is Gatekeeper.
One role of the critic is Historian.
One role of the critic is Mentor.
The critic has many faces... almost as many as the Creator, and certainly more than the Consumer.
Posted on 21 June 2017 | 1:07 pm
Rays After Rainstorm by Jesse
Bright sun through a gap in the clouds – fresh rain on lilly buds to give the light a prism
Posted on 20 June 2017 | 1:21 am
Band, shield, standard
#fantasy #fantasyart #illustration #drawing #penandink #sketch #sketchbook #art #artistsofinstagram
Posted on 19 June 2017 | 10:41 pm
#stormclouds #overhead #timelapsevideo #sky #abstract #texture #clouds
Posted on 18 June 2017 | 11:33 pm