Thursday, April 29, 2010

They don't make 'em like this anymore

Written by Jimmy Webb in the late seventies, and later recorded by Glen Campbell, Highwayman only really emerged in the mid eighties (sort of like the reincarnating highwayman in the song) under the singing of Cash, Jennings, Kristofferson and Nelson together - who later called their quartet The Highwaymen.

The ballad in their hands received the right touch and treatment; they manned it up. Not lingering so much over the construction of the song like Campbell, they made it sweeping. With background synth and on-the-road beat, and with the themes (not necessarily having to be interpreted as pantheistic reincarnation) of generational life defying death, of human entrepreneurial progress, of continuing on through catastrophe, the song is so quintessentially eighties that it sounds now, at least to me, like an anthem specifically for the eighties; the anthem of the eighties - or at least one of them.

The Highwaymen went until 95, and here they are in a Long Island concert in 1990; and the eighties are still there, like that outlaw - though it’s the nineties.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grub Grub

For the record, I completely disagree with him about Indian food.


By Pavel Chichikov

Circled bloody feathers
The center has a head
A robin, eye and yellow beak
Cloven until dead

Quickly one would hope
By an owl or a hawk
Sloping through the morning forest
Drifting through a stalk

We have seen a redtail
Talons gray as lead
Lying by the creek side trail
Formidable and dead

And so around the spinning world
Even mountains die
Their corpses are the seaside shore
Why not you and I?

I think there is a question
Searching for an answer
What is there beyond this life
That’s hidden by a censor?

Are there only carcasses
Of that which was alive?
Or is there something more of which
No life can be deprived?

Either there is nothing
Or there is more to meet
On walking out one April day
Than death beneath one’s feet

I think there is a mystery
That sometimes I have heard
That once there was a man on earth
A spirit and a word

And he was like the robin
All bloody in a heap
But then returned to life again
Which caused the heart to leap

The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Roots and Path

This one is from Campbell Valley park, which I hardly frequent, and not from my favoured Redwood Park.

An Era

An Era
By Les Murray

The poor were fat and the rich were lean.
Nearly all could preach, very few could sing.
The fashionable were all one age, and to them
a church picnic was the very worst thing.


(Picture taken from a number of days ago)

Today I realized I may have seeded too much lettuce and cabbage in the greenhouse. But I am not panicking.

Today was a half day at work.

Today a Japanese heavy-duty mechanic by the name of Thomas was, to my guessing, learning the ropes at an organic farm in the Yukon and servicing all their equipment for free. Before he left for the Yukon by automobile he said to me, smiling, "If you need my help just dial 555-5555, and say, 'Thomas-Come-Help-Me!'"

Today I slept an hour before evening, which I hate doing; but I couldn't help it.

Today the lingonberry blossoms, apple blossoms and lilac blossoms studded the rainy gloom in full or near prime.

Today Prince Edward bought one of my paintings. It was, you might say, rather quite highly satisfying indeed.

Today all the other volcanoes networked via underground and said to one another, "Should we do it yet?" And a couple others chimed in that it wasn't their fault their bastard cousin jumped the gun.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

To be juried

Though it's still not finished, I will be entering the above painting (previous stage and previous stage) as it is (it has to be dry) into a spring art competition/exhibition being held at an art gallery that I hate. I will also enter in this one. Both are going to be frameless; I painted the canvas sides that wrap around the wood a dull red.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Week of work, would that you were already spent,
and some rest before me - leisure, art and friends!
My body and soul admit, one day of rest
is not enough; better we worked more like the French!

Or like the Spaniards with rhythm Siesta,
and countless others, like the natives in Australia
who spend a day to hunt and cook; their morrow cool,
not cause for panic, but like a storybook.

Jesus Himself in the dawn of His commissions,
laid down His orders mid the cooking of fishes
and bread - breakfast on a beach - God our age!
Prodded misery and gargantuan waste;

all present-tense; no tingling, not-yet-turned page!
People spend their lives without full earth's taste,
while falls the final play of a long, long jest:
how from birth, the damned New World never learned to rest.

Authority Over Demons

Click to enlarge

I don't know the title of this Beckmann painting, but it's apparent, to the one who gives a few more seconds' pure observation, that it is of Christ expelling the demons from the Magdalene.

Beckmann is not here describing or illustrating a Gospel scene though. He rejects sinuous, nimble lines and balanced spaces and shows his spite for the too deft, too intuitive hand, that so easily turns out an oh-so-carefully manicured beauty. He renders down and compresses; makes the picture plane one solid unit. You're on your own here; the artist is not going to help you.

He does you the service of not getting in the way, paradoxically by going at it from his own unique muscularity, going ahead as it were, like a dynamiter hewing out a path through stone, and letting you do the fine tuning.

Look how serene and immovable Christ is: he is the very cornerstone of the painting's composition. Look at the Magdalene, in the instant of her release: her hands in something like the Orans position, illuminated by Christ's light. And look at those demons! These are not flighty ghosts, but contorted, nasty, massive figures now revealed with the withdrawing of a thin partition.

"My heart beats more for a raw, average vulgar art, which doesn't live between sleepy fairy-tale moods and poetry but rather concedes a direct entrance to the fearful, commonplace, splendid and the average grotesque banality in life." --Max Beckmann

Image Source

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Merciful are Impervious

It is not so hard to believe, after any perusal or casual reading of the secular media's inbred verdicts against the Pope, that before Christ's judgment seat on the Day of Reckoning the goats will be immediately decipherable from the sheep by the fact that, being charged in the light of truth, they will be accusing each other, before His very feet, for the cause of each other's own sins.

The vision is as comedic as it is horrific: what we see now in time will pretty much be the same at the feet of eternity and the opening of the books of life; the only difference being in degree - since it will be in the full disclosure of conscience: that illumination showing how culpability can be traced, by intricate, mysterious ways, to the door of every household and to the very air of a society's false normalcy.

The gamut will be run, from those bearing accusations based in out-of-context information (though for everyone, what in time really is seen in full context?), facts not even half understood, but driven on presumptions, to those bearing sharpest accusations of real injustice, but held fiercely as though God Himself could not possibly have a better way of answering to it. Thus, all their known "truths" will be little more than darkness thrown around and hurled at each other.

The noise from the goats will be such that the sheep, holding the burden of mercy, will be tempted to open their own mouths to decry the reasons for their own sins. But they will not - though they may even have the more justified accusations to make. The Catholic, the Christian, has ended the discussion before it even begins, by accepting the vitriol into his center without demanding recompense.

This mercy is a crucible that contains the truth, and within it, the truth becomes truer. Outside of it, truth becomes the exact opposite. For without mercy (mercy being besought of God on yourself and in turn showing mercy to others; not being mere leniency, but mercy being that very prerequisite which enables all life), truth becomes as dark as that corrupt thing which one seeks to expose. Further, the person no longer has the desire even for the exposing of truth; he merely wields darkness for his own ends. The catch to mercy though is this: to be merciful is to bear pain; to bear pain in rejection of something else.

Only in mercy do we gain sight of our goal; only in mercy do we gain an appreciation for the fragility of our existence and for all that is held in the balance and that is completely beyond our comprehension; only in mercy does the contemptuous, infinitely punishable nature of sin become apparent; only in mercy can one make his first step towards anything without prematurely arriving at the most stupid conclusions.

Not in enlightenment; not in a systematized greater good; but only in mercy. You must bear the seal of mercy, both as recipient and as giver, and between the two your own pending reception of the debt owed to you (with interest) must die.

This is, generally speaking, the narrow gate. We enter it of our own free will, or perish.

Monday, April 12, 2010


O cat,
quite fat,
quite prone there
with naught a care
but to purr,
and clean your own fur,

and cause an unconscious fusion
that warms the sofa's cushion,
what's it like,
you bird-hungry tyke-
but you do not tell.

You never tell, never
even on the verge of it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

To Those in Mortal Sin

I'm re-posting this from April 19th., last year:

The following is part of a writing from Mark Mallett in the post To Those in Mortal Sin. If you desire, you can get it in pamphlet form in bulk for distribution right here.

To those enslaved by pornography,
Come to Me, the Image of God

To those who are committing adultery,
Come to Me, the Faithful One

To prostitutes, and those who use or sell them,
Come to Me, your Beloved

To those engaging in unions outside the bounds of marriage,
Come to Me, your Bridegroom

To those who worship the god of money,
Come to Me, without paying and without cost

To those in witchcraft or bound in the occult,
Come to Me, the Living God

To those who have made covenant with Satan,
Come to Me, the New Covenant

To those drowning in the abyss of alcohol and drugs,
Come to Me, who am Living Waters

To those enslaved in hatred and unforgiveness,
Come to Me, Fount of Mercy

To those who have taken the life of another,
Come to Me, the Crucified One

To those who are jealous and envious, and murder with words,
Come to Me, who am jealous for you

To those who are enslaved by love of self,
Come to Me, who has laid down His life

To those who once loved me, but have fallen away,
Come to Me, who refuses no soul…. and I will blot out your offences, and forgive your transgressions. I will remove your sins, as far as the east is from the west.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I command the chains which hold you to be broken. I command every principality and power to release you.

I open my Sacred Heart to you as a hiding place and refuge. I will refuse no soul who returns to Me trusting in My infinite Mercy and Love.


Run home to Me, my beloved, run home to Me, and I will embrace you as a Father, clothe you as My child, and protect you like a Brother.

To the one in mortal sin,
Come to Me! Come, before the last few grains of Mercy fall through the hourglass of time…


Friday, April 9, 2010


At one point, about seven or so years ago, feeling as though too glutted with music, I impulsively got rid of all my CDs. Most I gave away and some I threw in the garbage. There was a genuine urge for silence and stillness. (I believe this was around the same time that I also wanted to get rid of my bed mattress and sleep on a bamboo mat; something which - alas! - never materialized.) And the fact was I listened to music too much.

Now I hardly listen to it at all, which I do not take as a virtue by any means. It used to be a staple when painting or drawing; now you couldn't get me to listen to music while art-making if you bought me the stereo and the music and said that listening to it would improve my work - which it wouldn't. A silent, sober studio is a sacred haven. The exception to this being my iconography sessions where my instructor sometimes plays sacred chant.

But I find now, that whenever I actually do listen to music - unfortunately mostly on youtube (bah!) - it is a release and a boon. Indeed, without music the human race would've ceased long ago in derelict misery. I may not listen to music nearly as much as I used to, but now when I do listen, it is enjoyed ten times more.

Update: I removed all the Radiohead stuff. It's not me, and I realized I said what I really wanted to say in the above paragraphs and revisiting that which I do not listen to anymore kind of unnecessary.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Failure, yes.

I never thought I would see the Lent - and Holy Week - in which I did not make it to Ash Wednesday Mass, or to Maundy Mass, or to confession. So there's a first. Yet it's also a first in which I stuck to my Lenten vows.

How did I not make it to those three? It's called a new job. What, how did you not make it to confession? Well, I did make it to confession, in a sense. I went on a Wednesday evening after work this holy week (I got off early) to a parish that has regular scheduled confessions at that time, but at the time I went, there was a notice posted on the doors that said there was no confession tonight because all the priests have gone to some chrism mass. I went into the church nonetheless to just make sure, and sure enough, no welcoming little green light with the door ajar, but people practising their voices for Easter vigil Mass.

I don't know how true all that "intention" stuff is; you know, if you make the effort to go to confession and something prevents it that is out of your power then the absolution still applies. Though, of course you still have to confess as you would when you get the opportunity, or make the opportunity.

Once, I lined up for confession (well, I was the only one in line) before a Vietnamese mass, and the priest came out and said to go to him after mass for confession and that I could go up for communion.

Once, I was in line for confession (at the same parish) before mass and the time for mass came about before I could get into the confessional (same priest doing confession as does the mass, and there were people before me) and the lady who was standing next to me explained that I could go up to communion, explaining the intention thing.

That the Sacraments transcend time and our linear undertsanding of it is no stumbling block to me, but I wonder. I once listened to a priest tell about how Mass has already started when you make the intention to go...very profound stuff. Yet the Sacraments operate within time.

I know this new job is God's will for me (I may explain it later), and think He has been showing me something this Lent and Holy Week (of course God is showing everybody something all the time). I'll admit that I have too often gone into confession as though the whole thing was dependent on my own strength, or my own effort; not predominantly, but there is a tinge of it; sometimes more than a tinge. But a tinge is enough.

Maybe there is a part of me that doesn't quite believe in God's forgiveness, or more accurately, believes in the forgiveness but doesn't quite own it. No, it is perhaps a matter of trusting more and more, which if we do not do, we relapse; we start to go backwards.

Recently the word that has been growing in my mind is that everything, everything, comes to naught. And that this is good news. For everything will come to naught but for a New Thing. (This is sounding more grim than I intended...words slip, slide, perish, not what I really intended and all that.) The light of the resurrection blasts away our Lenten offerings and devotions, our good intentions with the bad ones (not an excuse to cease devotions, offerings, and intentions, etc.). In the midst of our strife we are called away, and some simple questions are asked of us: what did you do for Me - clothe Me, feed Me, shelter Me, visit Me?

I love Holy Saturday, for its mixture of both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, or as a space between them both, being the silent aftermath of one and the tingling anticipation of the other. I wish everyone would speak in hushed tones on this day; this day of each-man-to-his-own, before the stone door is rolled away. Instead of getting their turkeys and hams.