The Demon That Defied Death (Part 1.5 of 2)

Sheltered under a branch he snatched along the way, Falx was fuming in more ways than one. Sprinting as fast as his scrawny legs could muster, he dodged rocks, fallen tree trunks and muddy puddles until he came to a clearing in the woods. It was framed by a homely looking cabin on one end, and a fenced horse-trotting ground on the other.

A merchant’s wheelcart rested by the gated fence, tilted on its right wheel by the weight of a cornucopia of forest and garden produce in boxes, fresh and ready for transport and most likely, sale.

As if under a spell (commonly known as hunger), Falx shifted his stride in the direction of the juicy-looking apples until, suddenly, an orchestra of rusty hinges, crackling wood panels and heavy footsteps induced him to duck, tree branch and all, onto the floor.

Plaid flannel, worn out jeans and tall leather boots complimented the stomping man’s straw-hat like a necessary, yet uncoordinated, evil. The dogs that flanked his sides as he made for the cart, allowed their attention spans to divert them into other directions, no doubt those of the markings made by undomesticated animals since early morning.

While the man busied himself with redistributing evenly the weight of the boxes on the cart, one of the dogs made a bee-line in the direction of the semi-concealed Falx.

Far from being intimidated by Falx’ gesticulations, the dog tilted his head left and right in consideration of his smelly counterpart. Not wasting any more time in working out the semantics, the dog changed the topic of conversation to something they would both understand: “catch me if you can”. With a dash propelled by his powerful hindlegs, the dog snapped Falx’ branch and made in the direction of the man.

What ensued was a bizarre blur of movement in brown, black, green and beige, to the tune of Falx’ curses at the Sun.

Alarmed, the man run toward his dog, struggling to understand what was happening but set on rescuing him until, BAM!!! Slamming into the medium-rare demon, the two merged into one.

Confused, the man picked himself up, looking for the animal and ready for a fight. Seeing nothing, he looked to the sky, assuming his spar was with a large predatory bird of some kind. The sunlight was suddenly a lot harsher on his eyes.

It is unclear who was most in disbelief: the man, the dog or the demon. The latter had been unable to possess anything all his life.

As a passenger on a, thankfully, sunlight-impermeable transport, Falx considered this unexpected situation for the brief moment it took the man to saddle the cart to the horse and head to the village.

After a day of selling and a lunch of fruit, cheese and wine, the man took himself to the doctor’s house for what Falx soon learnt was a regular appointment to check on his heart. A natural lifestyle it would seem, is not a fail-safe guarantee of good health.

Years after, as the man worked the fields, his heart gave out. His family did everything they could with their limited means but, within months, to their and Falx’ dismay, his vessel let go of the man’s soul and his own.

Not realising what would happen next, Falx calmly peered round the funerary room until his eyes met Death’s. Somewhat put off by the sight, but hopeful that Death could not make him out from the deep dark shadows, he maintained his, rather literal, low-profile.

“Fancy seeing you here.” said one and thought (quietly) the other.

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The Demon That Defied Death (Part 1 of 2)

Back in time, a time when music was only recorded on paper to be exact, a wizened and squalid demon laughed at the sunset from atop a mountain.

Falx had good reason to laugh, he believed he made the deal of a lifetime and he might as well be right.

Many earth cycles ago, he was nearing the end of his life. He knew, through the weakness of his strike, his decaying hide and the splitting of his claws, that he didn’t have long before Death came by to take him back to that pool of stinking peat that was the au-délà.

He knew there were worse places for his kind but didn’t want to leave the earthly delights behind. Not just yet.

One day, he woke with a start, “Sunlight!”, he yelled, “Me burns in sunlight!” He thought the warmth of the sunrays had somehow filtered through a hollow in the rock-bed he hid behind last night. He was wrong.

Once the panic subsided, and only the burning sensation remained, he peered through the darkness to find the cause of his pain. He need not look far before his blood-shot eyes met the most electrifying ones. Bright as the Sun, cold as an icicle, the owner of those peepers was holding onto his arm like he never intended to let go.

“Let go! Let go!”, Falx screamed bouncing over every surface in the cave, propelling his way to and fro like a deflating, rather pestilent, balloon.

“Stop this!” answered a deep voice back, not without a hint of exasperation as it’s ethereal mist expanded into smoke and contracted into something denser while holding onto Falx.

Panting, Falx finally stopped his maniacal bid for freedom.

Looking up at his unrivaled captor seemed hard, but, in doing so, a scythe glimmered back.

Death was carrying the ominous blunt blade in a way that made it look like a rusty halo crowned his entire bust.

“Longer life?” growled Falx at Death with a mixed half-smile, half-I-wish you-didn’t-exist expression on his mud-encrusted face.

“No”, Death dragged back, pulling Falx by the arm in the direction of an opening portal to another dimension.

Nearing the gateway, Falx lost it and jumped, arm first, onto the blade. Decayed as it was; no; decayed as they both were, the blade cut through Falx’ extremity like they were both made of whispers.

Falx made a run for a it, breathing fire onto the stump to cauterise it. The fire he was blowing filled the caverns and passages, turning the location of his escape into a chaos of moving and extinguishing flame. Black and white bulbous clouds filled the air.

Each of Falx’ strides drowned Death’s threats and warnings into remote whispers. He didn’t allow himself to stop or look back.

Death stood at the mountain’s skirt a sorry sight. He held onto the chunk of Falx’ arm with an empty stare into the landscape ahead, “Great”.

🔜To be continued…

Monotony, The Stranger & I

* This is a fictional story based on the story cubes in the photos. The challenge is to write a story in 15 mins, after casting the dice. *

I work as a Lab Assistant because it was the first job that became available when I finished my PhD.

I live as a wanderer, without a sense of direction, moved left and right by the capricious societal winds.

Had everything been different, like it is in the movies, I wouldn’t be here, counting the pennies and struggling to make ends meet, which in my case only means paying the bills, food and shelter for one, me.

The struggle leaves me gasping for air, chocking on the constant fear that tomorrow, the cash-machine will say it is an “apple a day” day, literaly.

Long gone are the times I could afford to spend on travel. Look down on the world from the vantage points of the tallest peaks; capture the beauty in the delicate balance of nature; rest on the warm sands by the sea, live free.

This story has no fairy tale ending. My outlook is to make it past this second, and the next, and the next, in this painful rat-race with sparse beans to count while I wait up on death.

What new harmonies will you bring to me my new friend, my distraction from the depths of this sorry routine I have dug my selfish and lazy self into.

@AMAVergara

@AMAVergara

This made me cry…

Pure word magic:

A line is a dot that went for a walk

A few years ago, in a life-drawing class, a teacher said to me: “I like how you’re searching the line”.

That sentence stuck.

To this day, I still vividly remember her saying it while I sketch every new piece. I’m not sure if the phrase stuck because it made me feel a lot better about the unrecognisable figure I had plonked on paper or because she successfully put into words what I had been frantically trying to charcoal-on for a good 30 minutes. I had indeed been looking for the right line to depict the model’s lovely popo. Thankfully he never saw the result.

Regardless, the sentence stuck, and it has been with me ever since. Recently, I noticed I was applying the concept subconsciously to more situations in my life than just art. While jogging, I search for the right line on the pavement that will get me through the moving obstacle that is the crowd. While looking at my shapely bod in the mirror, I involuntarily plot where the right line should be that will tell me the fitness and dieting efforts are paying off. While sewing, I can’t help but trim at the fabric millimeter by millimeter for fear of missing the right curvature line.

If I had let myself, I know for a fact that this line-searching would have dominated my everything, everyday, to the point of exhaustion. I cannot put into words how frustrating it is for me not to get the “right line” on paper. I physically sweat. An approximation won’t do so I use ingenuity in any way I can. In retrospect, some of my best ideas have come from this need to find the right line.

Why didn’t I let this potential obsessive disorder control me? It definitely wasn’t a conscious decision as I only recently became truly aware of the latent compulsion. I don’t know the reason why I am not prey to OCD but a potential clue as to why is in the title.

Conceptually thinking of a line as a series of dots, demystifies it for me.

It is easier to draw a line if I squint and plot the dots on paper where I can see the line resides. It is easier for me to dodge other pedestrians if I think of where to step with my left and right (I do this too… does anyone else?). I can focus my fitness exercises on one bodily area by zooming in on one flaw and concentrating on getting that “dot to line up”.

“Life is one […] beauty contest after another” and a constant search for the right lines. The key to a harmonious evolution is perhaps to find the right balance between what we aim to achieve and the environment in which we live, rationally plotting the dots that will accommodate ourselves, our environment and what we deem to represent perfection.

Magic

Edit: Not sure that my message in this post comes across right because the site I wrote it for never approved it in their comments section. No empty praise and pandering may have also played a part.

It did make sense to me however and I enjoyed the realisation, or thought process, that I tried to hastily put into words too. 

I archive this here, exactly as I wrote it in the spur of the moment, for others to read and to revisit the “feeling” that I sealed in it. However clumsily.

————

Seconds before Eugene Burger said “too much voltage in the wires” in this interview (https://youtu.be/xGARj7LnU6E 10:11) the lights in my flat dimed. I know why this happens in city homes during the early hours before dawn and the topic of conversation had no particular link to the wondrous experience of magic from a sitter’s perspective when he said it, but this didn’t stop me from blocking all that out and enjoying the possibility that something more profound and mysterious was at play. This escapism, or suspension of rationalisation in favour of enjoying the possibility that the magic is real, sparks feelings of wonder, joy, hope and courage to a point where a reversal in mood and attitude happens. Real life’s concerns and self-fabricated problems or impediments go away for a bit, and a transformation opportunity happens that is as realisable as we allow it to be.
When a magician does a trick, he gifts this same opportunity to see the bigger picture and look beyond impediments. I think that is a beautiful thing. To replicate the magic of (or impact and meaning associated with) syncronicity and impossibility, is to give a way out of the shackles of diminished foresight.

What a beautiful profession and what unassuming, endearing and inspiring people it has produced that touch the veil between the reality we perceive and the eternal complexity that weaved it.

The Putney Bridge Jogger

The Putney Bridge Jogger video and news story sparked a very immediate and strong reaction from traditional and new media audiences in the UK and abroad. This post is an attempt at explaining an additional reason why.

Many took to their social media accounts to scrutinise the video and voice their feelings and opinions on what happened and importantly, on what should happen to the jogger now. Strangely, the latter being in some cases, as brutal and unsettling to read as what he appears to have done.

I couldn’t help but notice the allegorical nature of the footage and situation. I think an indirect but very decipherable and visceral message is given form by this CCTV footage released by the Met today and I think this could be behind the escalated reaction.

THE SITUATION

The low-def video appears to show a jogger “pushing” a woman into traffic and continuing on with his jog like nothing happened. She is clearly seen falling to the tarmac and missing a double decker’s front wheel by a hair, owing to the beyond-par reflexes of the bus driver who swerved and stopped just in time.

One of the videos released explains that the woman, who suffered minor injuries, was assisted by passengers of the bus. She is said to have confronted the jogger shortly after, as he run back over the bridge in the opposite direction, to no avail.

THE ALLEGORY

There are many appeals for information by the Police, sometimes with footage releases of crimes of all types varying in seriousness. Some releases spark a lot more attention than others and it is often very clear that the reaction is not proportional to the graveness of the crime. Why? Why the difference?

What happened to the woman is extremely unsettling to watch, it is clearly a situation that makes the strongest of us feel at risk during everyday tasks such as a simple commute to work. The apparent brazen behaviour of the jogger is also spine chilling to witness. But, is this all there is? Why react more to this video than to the stabbing in East London reported on the same day? Via the same channels?

I think the difference is in the hidden message the actions and images carry. Particularly as read unconsciously or semi-consciously.

There are two expressions ingrained in our english-speaking psyche: “to be thrown under the bus” and “to be run over by a bus”.

The latter is used to point to unforeseen circumstances that, although very unlikely, should be factored into processes and financials to ensure an organisation or endeavour is not caught by surprise with unlikely events.

The former expression: “to be thrown under the bus”, is more relevant to this article in that the video appears to give flesh to an unconscious visual that we already relate to the feelings of powerlessness, rage and eventual strenuous recovery we go through when we are betrayed by those we trust. In particular, betrayed and dismissed or abandonned by those we trust. Being left to fend for ourselves in disadvantegous circumstances.

The mystery jogger, whether by negligence or deliverately, could possibly be thought to embody the unfortunate persona that is “the one that betrayed my (civil) trust”. There is an unspoken agreement among civilians that we will not precipitate each other into dangerous situations, less so when we least expect it and as we go about our business and lives.

The dismissive body language of the jogger and the affirmation that he never stopped to check what happened to demonstrate he cared, taps into a very vulnerable, yet unconscious, feeling we experience most vividly in our infancy.

The range of emotional reactions online was very varied and possibly linked to various degrees of betrayed dependencies experienced over the years as infants and later on as adults, by those sharing their views. I think there is something about the footage that taps into a visualisation linked to situations most have experienced in their lives. What he did is immoral, yes but the gut reactions were tapping into something else in addition to the rationalisation of what happened and the normal emotions of horror and disbelief. The reactions went beyond that I feel.

The unconscious reads a lot more than it allows us to be conscious off. I have no doubt that a detached analysis of the news piece today would have saved a lot of people a fair bit of social media aggravation. Specially when compared to reactions to other serious incidents.

The more we know about ourselves:
* the more likely we are to be surprised by hidden allegories and messages that were staring us in the face;
* the less likely we are to be adversely affected by them.

The memories and feelings we associate to words and images can be used to conjure a stronger response.

Dose of Reality

“Dose of Reality” (2013), is a movie about a reality show that shocks people into changing their lives. It made me think (yes, I know)… This post is a personal viewpoint on the prescriptive first-world expectation of what a life well lived should be.

Imagine you sell suits and computers. 80% of the consumer population are happy and peaceful Hippies that do not fit the profile that has any need for your products. The greedy b*$$$*d in you wants his business to grow. You need this 80% of consumers to change their lives, or in other words: change their needs and wants to fit your consumer profile and buy more of your products.

What do you do?

Meditative, unruly, make-love-not-war, 5-finger-shaped-leaf smockers are not an easy bunch to sway. Or are they?

You use every means of communication, from friends to the local radio, to tell everyone in as raw a way as you can, of the pain and suffering that Mr SoAnSo went through because he didn’t wear a suit that night.

You omit the details behind the true story because they are no use to selling your suits. Details include the fact that FATE more than clothing, was the principal cause of SoAndSo’s demise. It couldn’t have been helped and a suit would have made no difference.

10, 20, 40, 120, 480… hippies don’t bother to check the facts and give-in to changing the way they look and gradually, their lifestyles so they can afford more suits. They don’t want to get beat-up on a night out. “Better be safe than sorry”, they tell themselves. Fear is one of the basics of “insurance”. One or two Hippies still got beat-up by drunken bankers on their way out of a bar but you know (or you make sure) only very few hear their stories. Your suits seem to be doing the trick for everyone else.

The culture internalises this and before you know it the 80% turns into 49%. You expand your product offering and many Hippies that used to sing over a camping fire are now competing over cocktails about who has the best ride. Picking at each others’ pride and STATUS in a fabricated rat race to a non-existing top.

The balance has now tipped in favour of a lifestyle that 51% work to attain (and which of course you keep expanding). Anyone in the 49% isn’t quite yet there and is perceived as being at risk. By association, “at risk” becomes “a risk” and the only way out is paradoxically, to fit in.

The 49% continues to decrease exponentially.

Before you know it, you are deciding and orchestrating what the right way to live is. Your suits and computers push the margin on earning brackets and productivity is a must.

It then becomes acceptable to turn others into replicas of everyone else. The emphasis is on the “acceptable to turn” more than on the “replica” concept. Individuality has less and less value.

Earnings justify your intrusiveness, people were nothing other than expendable consumers all along and the ever expanding list-of-things-to-do-and-things-to-be-before-you’re-50 omits the marvellous complexity that is creation.

The former Hippies will never know “what could have been” had they been left alone, and neither will you. Could they have found peace, growth or wisdom in austerity or through their “deplorable” faults? Could you have designed a living model that wasn’t ever-unattainable and incendiary?

Then…

You think you have it all figured out. You ticked most items in the list and just as you’re about to complete that last item in it, the great equaliser takes you by surprise.

Death asks: “Did you live a life well lived? You answer: “How should I know?… Do you take cash?”

You tell yourself you can’t draw but it all depends on what you think art is

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You see the Pinterest and Instagram art posts that replicate or enhance reality in ways you know you wouldn’t be capable of. The greatest deterrent for many to take up art is not the lack of experience, it’s the involuntarily communicated idea that art is only within reach of those with unparalleled skills, knowledge and technique. We “Like” on social media everything that either looks good or has been developed to perfection. We like the “result” but fail to value and acknowledge the “process”. Our culture of misperceived “scarcity” and “entitlement” tells us the “process” doesn’t look good in pictures. The output of the “process” is weak, unworthy of a like or a retweet (unless we have a duty or emotional connection to it).

But the process, the growing skillset, is what makes art (or the capacity to accurately represent reality and thoughts exactly as we perceive them) unique, interesting and truly evolutionary. In fact, I’d go as far as to share that to me art is actually “the effort to get there” not the “end result”.

I love the Youtube vids that show progress over the years because in most cases, paying close attention, we can spot idiosyncrasies in the plasmic efforts of latter pieces that were present all along. These are “kinks” in the pieces, asymmetry that the unconscious can’t brush off easily because it is its way to “tell” us something.

Those that are schooled en masse (as opposed to “well”) in the arts, lose those idiosyncrasies and produce the same, barcode stamped, result we are accustomed to find pleasing.

Good galleries have the sort of art that was developed through a process that did not erase the individual. Making every piece unique.

I will endeavour to like and share more of what is “not quite there yet” but which betrays a personality, an individuality that can’t be replicated by anyone.

How did it get to this?

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

~Albert Einstein

If my brain had its way, it would all happen at once. It’s overwhelming and sometimes paralysing. Drawing, reading, listening to music, dreaming of what I want to draw next or planning the day ahead and binge watching the “tubes”…

How did it get to 4am again? Couldn’t we all do without time…? and sleep?

David Low – Caricatures Collection

Do you like antique prints or are you a vintage prints collector? I am about to put up for sale a folder of original prints of caricatures by David Low dating back to 1926. The folder and prints are 91 years old.

In a famous Soho second-hand book shop, I recently came across a folder of caricature prints by cartoonist David Low.

I thought of selling the prints separately but in hindsight, I can’t.

The folder is a collection of original prints dating back to 16 January 1926.
At every issue of the New Statesman, someone made the conscious decision  to go buy it and preserve the issue’s special supplement (one print per issue). They continued doing so for 7 years, till December 1933, gathering the supplements in a special folder. This must have been a priced collection.

The sale price I am thinking of is well below what selected vintage book shops are selling the few remaining plates for, individually. I am thinking of £35 or slightly above to break even. Ideally the buyer will be someone who will want to keep the complete folder (!). A collector perhaps? Each print goes from £7.99 to as much as £25, depending on the rarity and personality caricatured.

The 30+ prints in the folder include elegant, expertly drawn figures, including those of Churchill, Wells, Chesterton and Einstein.

I’ll upload the sale link here as soon as I can decide which channel is best. (I thought of trying the National Portrait Gallery too before hand).

Do let me know if you are interested in knowing more.

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Served Cold

An Insurance Agent was trying to induce a Hard Man to Deal With to take out a policy on his house. After listening to him for an hour, while he painted in vivid colours the extreme danger of fire consuming the house, the HMtDW said:

“Do you really think it likely that my house will burn down inside the time that policy runs?”

“Certainly,” replied the Insurance Agent; “have I not been trying all this time to convince you that I do?”

“Then,” said the HMtDW, “why are you so anxious to have your Company bet me money that it will not?”

The Agent was silent and thoughtful for a moment; then he drew the other apart into an unfrequented place and whispered in his ear:

“My friend, I will impart to you a dark secret. Years ago the Company betrayed my sweetheart by promise of marriage. Under an assumed name I have wormed myself into its service for revenge; and as there is a heaven above us, I will have its heart’s blood🔥!”

(Ambrose Bierce)

Go Back

“I was first struck by the absence of time, having depended on it so completely as a measure of myself and my life.

Moving backwards into the perpetual night – it consumes purpose, indeed, all passion and will.

I come to you, old friend, with the dull clarity of the dead, not to beckon, you but to feel the fire and intensity that still live in you… and the heavy weight of your burdens which I had once borne.

There is truth you know, friend, if that’s all you seek, but there’s no justice or judgment, without which truth is a vast… dead… hollow.

Go back.

Do not look into the abyss or let the abyss look into you; awaken the sleep of reason and fight the monsters within and without.”

The Secret to Happiness

Maybe the secret to happiness is to allow oneself to be different from everyone else.

To have different ideals, values and definitions of success.

To have a unique style and taste.

Not to care for the sort of critique that seeks to define, catalogue or diminish our feelings, dreams, preferences or style.

To love and respect by default, expecting nothing in return.

To know oneself.

A basic yet strangely often needed reminder that we can be happy being ourselves, on the path we are to know ourselves.

Thank You, Danke, Merci, Gracias, Arigatou Gozaimasu

StJohnsNewFoundland
St John’s, one of the locations to visit…

A big THANK YOU to all twitterers and wordpress…ers(?) that clicked to vote for my entry on the Financial Times competition, we made it into the Top Ten! To vote, only a click in their website is needed, no details of any kind required-> http://myftweekend.ft.com/entries/aOrMrI

While my main aim was really to showcase my writing skills, I can’t deny that I am wishing (Bambi-eyes, hands-in-prayer) for an all-expenses-paid trip to the north of Canada. Way up north… by the North Pole to be exact. I’d like to visit that “shipping involved” area before predictions take and shipping becomes and all-year-round activity, changing the culture and environment of that area by 2060. The sky is the limit on what I would derive from such a trip! Articles to publish with shipping research and predictions; job market predictions well out there (I’m in the UK); the culture, trends and food; landscape and city photography and so much more.

If you would like to know a bit more about what I am referring to in terms of “shipping predictions”, run an online search for “north pole shipping predictions”. *

So far, the top entry in the competition is looking very promising, with a ‘free-weekend wish” well in line _very much parallel_ to what the Financial Times publishes.

Nonetheless, it’s been real! I have now plenty of ideas for marvelous things to do on weekends and there is still time to get your vote in at: http://myftweekend.ft.com/entries/aOrMrI

The comp ends on Halloween 31 October, and the panel will choose one winner out of the Top Ten entries.

* Here’s a couple of quick links for your information in case you’re interested in what is going on in the Arctic: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-03/05/trans-arctic-shipping-routes-opening-warming
http://phys.org/news/2014-08-canada-mission-north-pole.html#ms

St. John’s, Newfoundland (Canada) Image source.

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