Miksimum

is the index page for Jesse Miksic,
a digital dilettante dayjobbing as a UX designer

Loyally feeding the following beasts:

(follow and/or friend me -- if you appear to be a real person capable of passing the human tests, I will probably reciprocate)

General

  • @miksimum on Twitter A random sampling of thoughts and anxieties and signal-boosts and self-promotion.
  • Verbal

  • Benefit of the Doubt My outlet for Media Theory, also used to track other sources
  • @Miksimum on Medium Home to more politics and theory writing, plus reposts from Benefit of the Doubt
  • Berfrois.com A great site that kindly publishes my more polished critical writings
  • 366 Weird Movies An awesome site where I'm an on-and-off contributor
  • Goodreads My book reviews are long enough that I consider this an official creative outlet
  • Visual

  • @miksimum Tumblr Reposting all my visual art from Tumblr
  • @miksimum Instagram Visual art, plus occasional snapshots
  • Symbot on Flickr Digital photography, a hobby on temporary haitus
  • Overheated Media My short video work, on extended haitus since 2012
  • Recent Output

    Aggregated from Benefit of the Doubt and Tumblr, which gives the best representative sample of work in multiple media, I think

    Working on a big #illustration for an unwritten story, and...



    Working on a big #illustration for an unwritten story, and couldn’t decide what kind of protag to cast… so I started sketching some ideas. Came up with a bunch! #illustration #series #sketch #sketchbook #penandink #drawing #drawings #art🎨 #artistsofinstagram #characterdesign … more to be posted later this week

    Posted on 23 March 2017 | 3:57 am

    Been working on an illustration for an unwritten story, and...



    Been working on an illustration for an unwritten story, and couldn’t decide what kind of protag to cast, so I started sketching possible characters. I ended up with a bunch… #penandink #sketchbook #sketch #illustration #characterdesign #drawing #artistsofinstagram (some more later this week)

    Posted on 23 March 2017 | 3:50 am

    Getting centered #artistsofinstagram #penandink #sketch...



    Getting centered #artistsofinstagram #penandink #sketch #sketchbook #illustration #watercolor #characterdesign #fantasy #fantasyart

    Posted on 14 March 2017 | 7:09 am

    Dads and Daughters and Dozing Off

    John Crowley wrote about Sleep more perfectly than I could ever hope to rival, so I’ll use his words (culled from his novel Little, Big) as padding between my mutterings.
    “But life is wakings-up, all unexpected, all surprising. On a certain November afternoon, twelve years ago, from a certain nap (why that day? Why that nap?) she had awakened from sleeping: eyes-closed, blankets-up-to-chin, pillow-sleep Sophie awakened, or had been awakened, for good.”
    Little, Big pg. 254
    Sleep is every sentience’s fellow-traveler, and so, naturally, we’ve all cultivated very personal relationships with her.

    For some, it’s affection, even to self-indulgence: a full embrace of the co-dependence, a love that won’t be ashamed when it dozes off at a dinner party or starts its day at twilight.

    For others, it’s more of a disciplined respect. Sleep is a solid partner, a trusted support, and neglecting her is unwise. She has time slots and minimum commitments. We can’t make this work without her.

    For me, and others like me (though I don’t hear from us very often), it’s another thing entirely. Where others have affection and codependence, we have resentment. Where others have respect, we have defiance. When she lurks in our bedrooms, we try to ignore her, or step outside. If we could cut ties with her, we would do it at a moment. As it is, we are stuck with her.

    We are the Citizens Against Slumber, the odd hour keepers, the midnight oil burners. We know Sleeping is a Sucker’s Game, and we only play it because biology bullies us into it.
    “You still up?” she said, and at the same moment he asked the same of her.
    “It’s awful,” she said, coming in. She wore a long white nightgown which gave her even more the air of an unlaid ghost. “Tossing and turning. Do you know that feeling? As though your mind’s asleep but your body’s awake—and won’t give in—and has to keep jumping from one position to another…”
    […]
    “Awful.” He felt, but would never admit to, a sense of fitness that Sophie, long the champion sleeper, had come in recent years to be a fair insomniac, and knew now even better than Smoky, a chancy sleeper at the best of times, the pursuit of fleeing oblivion. 
    Little, Big pg 289

    What makes sleep so interesting, for me, is how it unhitches my consciousness from continuity.

    What is my brain doing, that it has to forget where I am, how old I am, and what’s happened in my life since high school? How does sleep, for a few hours each night, manage to persuade my consciousness to let go of those anchors and drift off into this oneiric ocean?

    You’ve seen that moment on-screen… most recently in The Night Of, for instance, but also in The Hangover: where am I? What happened last night? Cinema is the best medium to simulate the sudden break, the jump cut, and the resulting scramble for context. Editing is the art of (dis)continuity.

    It happens so fast, too. One serviceable definition of “dozing off” is losing continuity without really losing time: blinking stupidly in your driver’s seat, having to remember why you’re at this light, why you’re on this road, and panicking for a moment, checking to ensure your foot is still on the brake.

    This example is especially salient for me, because on a few occasions, I’ve stupidly dozed off while driving. I never hurt myself, or anyone else — dents in cars, maybe, and some calls from insurance companies — but it significantly heightened my awareness of my own mortality. I seem to have outgrown the danger, but I still wonder about those occasions and their counterfactual universe where I veered off the road, collided with the end of a guardrail, or crumpled into the space between a semi’s front and back tires.

    It didn’t take many incidents to really amplify this anxiety, and it’s been with me ever since. I don’t grow out of it. I generally trust myself behind a wheel now, but I still don’t really trust myself to sleep.

    How does this manifest? It happens when I’m sitting in my car in the driveway, listening to the end of a song before I head inside. It’s warm, and I’m not in a rush, so of course my consciousness drifts a little bit.

    I should know I’m safe, shouldn’t I? Isn’t that why I’m so relaxed in the first place?

    But when I come out of that doze… when my eyes snap open and my ears recognize the same song, still playing… it’s always accompanied by a moment of panic, feeling like I’ve fallen asleep at the wheel, expecting to see a car’s headlights as it collides with my little Nissan.

    That’s one of the little offenses that Sleep has for me. I don’t blame her — it’s self-inflicted — just a little prick of karmic retaliation for my tendency to fight her, belittle her, act like I don’t need her.

    She also likes to interrupt Netflix movies, and sometimes she smothers me on train rides, or when I’m trying to write essays.
    “Now, child,” she said. “What was it you learned from the bears?”
    “Sleep,” Lilac said, looking doubtful.
    “Sleep, indeed,” said Mrs. Underhill. “Now…”
    “I don’t want to sleep,” Lilac said. “Please.”
    “Well, how do you know till you’ve tried it? The bears were comfortable enough.” 
    Little, Big pg 268
    Sleep has a stronger hand to play, now that I’m getting older. She visits me with more regularity — the end of work, the last hour on the edge of normal-person bedtime — and she usually wins.

    I remember, with bitter nostalgia, my time as the dominant party in this rivalry.

    From my teens until my late twenties, I was assertive with sleep, stern in guarding my boundaries. In a week, I could get by on 30 hours of sleep… several short, productive nights, followed by a low-key “catch up” night, and then back into the fray. I don’t know whether it affected my life expectancy, but it gave me a feeling of control over my time, and I got a lot of writing and gaming and movie-watching and exploring done.

    I have a kid now… a toddler, a fucking dream come true of a little girl… and I’ve lost a lot of leverage in these negotiations with Sleep. Even when the little one’s not waking up for comfort in the scarce morning hours, she gets up at 6:30 AM — always, like a milk-crazy alarm clock — so I can’t have those short Saturdays and Sundays any more, where I lose a whole half-day to the blissful, achy shame of daytime slumber.

    You know how parents always seem to have these uptight, early-bedtime, high maintenance sleep habits? Well, there’s a reason for that: having a child changes your whole economy of time and energy. It’s such a humbling, such a paradigm shift, it’s hard to imagine it could possibly be worth it, unless you’ve actually had the experience (where you suddenly realize it’s “worth” pretty much anything).

    She looks so peaceful in her crib, and she’s so happy when she’s sleeping well, it’s easy to forget that Sleep and I haven’t resolved our antagonism. It’s up to me to mediate that Daughter/Sleep relationship, after all… creating a “good relationship” with Sleep, i.e. creating good sleep habits, is a imperative parenting role.

    But I need to remind myself: Sleep isn’t always a friend. We foster these good sleep habits so the little girl has an opportunity to be on good terms with Sleep, so Sleep is ready to help us take care of her. But we are not here to force it on her. And seeing her and admiring her peaceful breathing when she’s asleep? That “Ah, she’s so perfect” moment? That’s for my own satisfaction, not purely for her well-being.

    The girl might love Sleep, like her mommy. That would be fine with me. But she also might fight with it, resent it, keep her distance from it. She deserves that chance, too.

    So I’m not going to surrender to Sleep. I’m not going to bow down, promise her my Witching Hours in return for comfort and consistency. I will keep resisting her, at my own discretion, until the day when she wins that final battle and my eyes close forever. I think, after this lifetime of short nights, I’ll be able to appreciate that restful eternity even more.

    Posted on 11 March 2017 | 7:46 am

    Itinerant monk / neo-Franciscan #drawing #amdrawing...



    Itinerant monk / neo-Franciscan #drawing #amdrawing #characterdesign #illustration #sketch #sketchbook #penandink #artistsofinstagram

    Posted on 10 March 2017 | 4:22 am

    I named this #character Miles, for some reason. Maybe because he...



    I named this #character Miles, for some reason. Maybe because he walks a long way to get where he’s going. #illustration #drawing #amdrawing #art #artistsofinstagram #sketch #sketchbook #penandink #characterdesign

    Posted on 9 March 2017 | 7:29 am

    “The last liberal” #characterdesign #amdrawing...



    “The last liberal” #characterdesign #amdrawing #sketchbook #sketch #penandink #illustration #drawing

    Posted on 4 March 2017 | 4:43 am

    #weird #watercolor #abstract shapes making their own decisions...



    #weird #watercolor #abstract shapes making their own decisions #ampainting #art #artistsofinstagram #painting #practicemakesperfect

    Posted on 3 March 2017 | 5:14 am

    Whatever leaps to mind, going into the #sketchbook - I call this...



    Whatever leaps to mind, going into the #sketchbook - I call this one “Percy” #penandink #illustration #artistsofinstagram #amdrawing #lineart #drawing

    Posted on 2 March 2017 | 3:57 am

    A Defense Against the Dark Clouds

    A post shared by Jesse Miksic (@miksimum) on


    It's hard to think about anything except politics these days.

    I'm not the first to notice this. It's a known issue, especially within the media-elite bubble of anxiety and outrage. Checking Twitter and Google News and WhatTheFuckJustHappened... these things eat up more of my cognitive real estate than I ever thought I could spare for something so unproductive.

    There are other effects, though. One of the most pronounced: I've felt pressured, nigh compelled, to question my creative priorities. I've suddenly grown skeptical of my more fanciful pursuits, like writing fiction (a long-term project) and experimenting in visual art. This is a time for serious reflection and education, right? ... a time when I need to be sharp and intelligible and writing powerful polemics that contribute to the political discourse? No cool drawings or notes on character backgrounds these days! My country needs me to write thinkpieces!

    This might be depressing as hell, except for the fact that, the more I think about it, the more I sense that those pursuits of the imagination are not only necessary... they may be more important for than ever, at least for my own ego-integrity. They may, in fact, be one of my only defenses against the dark clouds of the zeitgeist.

    I've read a lot of think pieces lately. A LOT. I've never been so responsive to targeted pitches from Medium authors, and I'd never spent so much time reading The Guardian. I have my list (still very short) of essays that really struck me... like this one on Trump as disjunctive president, and this one on Identity-Affirming Society... but even with these nuggets of insight, I have to say, the perennial reading of think pieces has gone well beyond "processing," drifted down through "treading water," and is now turning into genuine masochistic navel-gazing.

    The problem is, after a certain amount of ineffectual explaining, I start to sense the emptiness at the heart of this endeavor. Analyzing, investigating, diagnosing... it's always been therapeutic, but it's becoming clear that the syndrome isn't progressing.

    I'm quite confident that this is because of the intentional, deeply entrenched ambiguity that's become a tactical framework of the current regime. It's so full of paradox and dissembly, so contemptuous of earnest representation and transparency, that it makes a plaything of the rational instinct. It invites those deconstructions, and then renders them useless, because its leverage is not reasonable or persuasive or principled.

    On one hand, as Katherine Cross argues in the essay linked above, it's crucial that we (writers in their writing, and readers in our understanding) remain precise and rigorous about language, so we don't cede the discourse to the irrational forces. However, equally important: we can't be locked into a state of crisis by the regime's linguistic slippage. Even as we maintain our standards, we also have to wrestle with those ambiguities in an endless, infinite-game kind of way. Reality will never entirely submit to reason.

    That's where I have to let go of the essayist instinct, and return to art and fiction. These are the sites where I can truly wrestle with ambiguity... where I can diffuse the reality in an image with a spontaneous splash of the formal, or where I can write a character to perform those paradoxical processes of dissolution and reconstruction. There is nothing more satisfying (at least to me) than crafting something that only makes sense in that special, non-verbal language that it constructs for itself.

    I am not saying that my art, or anybody's art, will save the country or the world from Trumpism, or from drone strikes, or from structural racism.

    What I am saying is that we are all going to need something... some way of thinking or seeing or surrendering... that lets us confront the irrationality bubbling under the surface of the Real. I see it as a sort of hardiness, a personal integrity -- a quality that outlasts the present absurdity, and makes room for the permanent paradoxes -- that's cultivated privately, intimately. In my case, it has to be through these creative gestures.

    This is, after all, a monster that can't be debated down, or harassed and vandalized out of existence... it has to be survived, appropriated, and integrated into whatever fortress we eventually build on the debris of the present.

    Posted on 22 February 2017 | 7:20 am

    Gardener #sketch #sketchbook #amdrawing #characterdesign...



    Gardener #sketch #sketchbook #amdrawing #characterdesign #illustration #pencil #art #artistsofinstagram

    Posted on 19 February 2017 | 4:14 am

    Sketch: handyman #sketch #sketchbook #drawing #amdrawing #art...



    Sketch: handyman #sketch #sketchbook #drawing #amdrawing #art #artistsofinstagram #illustration #pencil

    Posted on 17 February 2017 | 4:31 am

    Elder with bones - Experiments in gestalt and abstraction...



    Elder with bones - Experiments in gestalt and abstraction #illustration #drawing #art #artistsofinstagram #watercolor #amdrawing #fantasy

    Posted on 14 February 2017 | 4:50 am

    Another #abstract #watercolor trying to get a feel for brush and...



    Another #abstract #watercolor trying to get a feel for brush and flow #painting #artistsofinstagram #art #practicemakesperfect

    Posted on 13 February 2017 | 3:49 pm

    More #abstractart #watercolor exercises. Toning, contour,...



    More #abstractart #watercolor exercises. Toning, contour, texture. #art #artistsofinstagram #painting #practicemakesperfect

    Posted on 13 February 2017 | 3:33 am