Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Have Sculpted Abs, Too!

This would be the DAVID if Michelangelo were living in America today. Original image HERE.

An even funnier, or more disturbing, statue is Valerio Cioli's ACTUAL SCULPTURE in Florence's Boboli Gardens from 1560; depicting Pietro Barbino, Cosimo I's court dwarf, as Bacchus.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Putting up Barbie Wire

Intended for shock value, it came as no surprise to me to read THIS HEADLINE. Not, mind you, because I foresaw Iran's sentiments on Barbie, but because hatred for Barbie is no new thought to me.

Most of Western Death-Culture never thinks twice about Barbie and her voluptuous cohorts, and what it does to our daughters, and what that in turn does to our society. Much to the chagrin of my own daughter, I will not let Barbie Dolls into her playroom, and I ask her to not play with them over at her friends house, although anyone with children knows how impossible that can be. This last bit is even harder because some of these friends come from families that are, on every account, very serious about their own daughters' innocence, but for some reason don't see Barbie for the little slut she is, and the harm it does to our daughters. So, my little girl wonders why so-and-so from a seriously Catholic family gets to play with Barbie and she doesn't. The problem is, she's way too young (although unfortunately knows too much at her age, no thanks to a neighbor girl) for me to explain to her the root of my decision.

Barbie's origins are found in a German male-targeted tabloid from the early 1950's, called Bild Zeitung. In it, cartoonist Reinhard Beuthien developed the over-developed character Bild Lilli. According to Barbie historian M.G. Lord, Lilli was 'a pornographic caricature, a gold digger, exhibitionist and floozy, who flung herself repeatedly at balding, jowly fat cats'. Lilli was eventually developed INTO A DOLL, which was sold in tobacco shops and bars to executives as desktop toys or gag gifts for bachelor parties, but certainly not playthings for little German girls. This is the same doll Ruth Handler found on a trip to Europe and gave to the developers at her husband's company Mattel (and one to her daughter, Barbie). She knew what she wanted to do with it, and that was to soften it to reduce the chances of thoughtless parents objecting, market it to little girls, and make a killing.

The Barbie doll, who had lingerie as one of her first accessories, was a complete departure from the previous 5 millenia of dolls. Dolls had been designed with large heads, big eyes, stumpy fingers...all PROPORTIONS representative of a child. Sure, the proportions were exaggerated, but only those proportions that exaggerated the babyness of the doll. Why? Because dolls were the ersatz children and babies of the young girls who played with them. They were pretending to be mothers. Barbie on the other hand, figured quite differently into the equation. She is a miniature adult woman, and while her proportions are a little off as well, it's only those body parts that pertain to reproduction. And those parts were caricatured to the tune of 38"-18"-33" . Instead of pretending to be the mother of the doll, little girls were pretending to be the doll itself. And what activities were they expected to pretend doing? Hmm. Instead of strollers, blankets and bottles, Barbie's accessories were make-up, lingerie, and boyfriends. Is it really that hard to imagine the effect on their imaginations?

Ruth Handler knew that Barbie was about the sexual revolution. Her Barbie doll was to be sexually unencumbered, and was teaching the little girls that were growing up playing with her to be the same. They were to be getting good practice at the 'arts' of consumerism and hedonism.

That's why Barbies are not allowed in my house. or Bratz. Hmm. Maybe that's another ranting post.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Manner of Speaking

Apparently, manners are GETTING WORSE.

"I think my generation has a lot answer for because I think the youth culture in the 60s and early 70s threw out every rule book and thought it was really clever to use four letter words"

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

I'm Fiction to Whoop Yo' Ugly Glass

Prologue: Sorry for the length of this one. Couldn't help myself.

I was thinking a bit about some of the comments I made in my previous post on the critique of the Getty Villa, and the tweaking of 'fiction' in architectural critique.

In order to flesh out the differences between a healthy and unhealthy application of fiction, I'm going to compare two iconic products of two diametrically opposed architectural, nay: philosophical, nay; theological, ideologies: the traditional versus the modernist represented by the Cathedra Petri in the Vatican by Gianlorenzo Bernini and The Federal Center in Chicago by Mies van der Rohe, respectively.

First, let's take a look at the Cathedra Petri. After some time, one's eyes adjust to the apparent over-articulation of forms. This is not, in fact, over-articulation, but just your American eyes not being used to seeing art. Here we have four doctors of the Church supporting a great bronze chair-the Chair of Peter-Ss. Ambrose, Athanasius, Augustine and John Chrysostom. Now, look closely. We see that the chair is being supported not by the shoulders of Atlantean Laborers, but by rather limply draped ropes suspended from the unstrained fingertips of the inattentive doctors. This is the fiction. There are twelve and a half tons of bronze suspended in the air, and we can clearly see that it's not falling. The structural reality of the chair's existence does not spring from the exact same reality that references the doctor's world. This is the tension of the Baroque. And the genius of Bernini comes through for us who care to resolve the tension. Bernini points us to the amorphous cloud, and the heavenly horde that is part of that cloud (notice also that the angels and putti are the same color as the cloud-no contrast is applied where you want the subject to disappear.) This amorphous cloud then winds its way down to underneath the chair, implying that the same force holding up the heavenly bodies is holding up the chair. While it may not be true to the natural world that such a weight can float, it is certainly within the purview of a God whose power is unbound. It is not merely natural, it is supernatural. It is not worldly, it is heavenly. This is fiction as it is meant to be. Sure, the characters don't exist, but they're believable and are interiorly consistent. They represent a reality that is normally beyond the grasp our senses. And the sensibilities of some like Mies van der Rohe.

Dignum et iustum est that our starting point be with the words of Mies himself: "Less is more." IF this is true, or at least if Mies believed it, then what is there must be exceedingly important. Clearly, the unarticulated quasi-platonic form of the Federal Center Buildings are, from a distance, meant to convey that the form is the surface of a hollow parallelepiped (how I love that word). And what is that surface? Glass. (and steel ribs, but those ribs, however structural in reality, only give the impression that they're there for holding the sheets of glass skin on the building). And if one takes the literal meaning of glass as a structural material at face value, does it convey the idea of structural stability or fractural farcicality? Ok, so the glass isn't structural. Then what is? Take a closer look at the ground level- the entire building is resting upon stilts of steel at the perimeter, and a clear glass 'foundation', which in no way instills the notion of safety upon those who are underneath it. So, it's obviously the steel stilts that are holding everything up, right? BUT, they are punching right through the parallelepiped: leaving the impression that the whole ensemble should, without intervention from outside its own closed system, puncture right through the bottom of the superstructure, crushing all hapless ground floor visitors. So what keeps such calamaties from happening? Nobody knows. There is nothing there to tell us other than an assumption that human reasoning can overpower gravity. And it's made to feel like the superstructure is defying the same gravity that Bernini's doctors are, but this time without a hint of what superhuman beings are acting in the natural world. Less is more. What is not there must not be important. Moreover, it must be important that it's not there. The fiction of Mies and the modernists is profoundly indeterminate. It is a true fiction, because it doesn't exist. Not that it doesn't exist in reality and yet somehow lives in the imaginative intellect, but that it purposefully projects the non-being of order. The non-being of being. Modernist architecture, in fictionalizing possible artificial structures, is fictionalizing the natural structure in the cosmos. It is not supernatural, it is other-natural. And the 'other' is purposefully undefined-there is no reference to the existence of an intervening principle outside the closed system of our physical world. Modernism in architecture, as in philosophy, is the anti-god.

What's most disconcerting is that Mies knew what he was doing. He kept a copy of the Summa Theologica at his bedstand, from which he read in 'order to better know what it was he was refuting'. Today's theorists, practitioners, and critics just don't have that ideological fervor, however wrong. Most of the time they don't even know that they are even complaining about fiction whilst taking it to the bank. If the unexamined life is not worth living, then by extension their professional lives are not worth professing.

God willing, someday society will view their thoughts not worth thinking and their buildings not worth building.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Auxiliaries...

have been had by Auxiliaries!

In a PREVIOUS POST I challenged you to a little linguistic riddle. The only one (of my 4 readers) who gave it the ol' college try was RAY GUNNER. Not surprisingly, he was very close with his guess of 'Sinned', but not quite right. The one word that Napier used was 'Peccavi'.

Presently, I think that a perfect choice of words.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


When one reads THIS critique, one gets the feeling that the critic doesn't appreciate good fiction. And he probably would say so himself, emphatically no less. This is typical of aggressive and yet un-self-examined modernist architects and theorists.

This proses a real problem for poetry.

There are two problems with complaining about fiction. The first is that fiction is not only a valid form of representation, but I would argue that it's more than that: fiction is necessary for our social, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. The second problem with complaining about fiction is that the modernists are 'guilty' of fiction in direct proportion to their vitriolic criticism of the use of it.

I had the poor fortune to visit the Getty Villa a couple of weeks before the official opening. Poor because I love the Getty Villa, and it's rather like seeing a close friend fall into hard times and turn to drugs and prostitution. Well, I guess that's what it's like. Anyways, what stuck out like a sore thumb were the non-fictional cracks in the non-fictional parking structure that had already non-fictionally formed. Before the Villa was reopened.

The greatest fiction present in this critique is the misleading comments about how much we know of Roman Villas. True, the Getty Villa was inspired by the Villa dei Papyrii. It's not a copy. But does it matter? The Getty Villa is true to the form of Roman domestic architecture, about which we know a great deal, unlike what one gleans from Mr. Campbell's comments.

"A theater and a villa would never have confronted each other in this way. But at the Getty, that confrontation is the stroke of something like genius that makes the whole complex work, creating a center of gravity that magnetizes everything around it."

Yes, that's right. A stroke of something like genius. As in, monkeys making the sign for 'banana' display something like rationality. Maybe tomorrow I'll recognize the obvious genius of a critic who in one simplistic sentence is capable of relating gravity and electromagnetism. In theory, I could string this along forever.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I Have Riddled...

You with wordplay using this blog as my weapon. Now you've started doing it back. Props to the Prof for this apocryphal story:

In 1842, Sir Charles Napier was appointed as Major-General to the command of the Indian army within the Bombay Presidency. Here British foreign policy led Napier to the province of Sindh, for the purpose of quelling the Muslim rulers of the region; who had made various hostile demonstrations against the British government after the termination of the First Anglo-Afghan War.

Nevertheless, there were those in Britain who doubted the wisdom of too rapid an advance, and in particular, the capture of the province of Sindh, which was thought likely to lead to an overextension of lines of communication. Napier was therefore under express orders not to capture the territory. Once he discovered, however, how little resistance there was, he took the province with ease. His campaign against these chieftains resulted in the complete subjugation of the province of Sindh, and its annexation to eastern dominions.

Napier dispatched to headquarters a one-word message expressing his sorrow for having disobeyed his commanding officer, and yet the same time expressing the reality of his victorious action in the taking of Sindh. What was that one word? Post your answers in the comments below.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flexing Their Pectoral College Muscles

One of the most annoyingly ignorant comments in all of politics is the claim that the electoral college ought to be dispensed with in favor of the popular vote. Aside from utterly reducing the 10th amendment to meaningless rabble, it assumes that we are a pure democracy rather than a republic of independent states. Having grown up in Wyoming, the least populous state, and now in California, the most populous state, I have a particularly strong and necessarily informed view of the electoral college as an integral part of true representative government.

Now, let's recent memory, who was it that was complaining about the 'outdated' electoral college? Oh Yeah! The Democrats. Now they're starting at it AGAIN. Says Obama: "We think that, in the end, if we end up having won twice as many states and having the most votes, then we should be the nominee."

Well, no kidding. Following that syllogismotic wizardry, I think that, because I weigh less (in the end) than my brother and I have a need to move freely, then the law of gravity ought not apply and I should be able to whimsically float about like a pretty butterfly.

True, party nomination is not exactly electoral college material, but you see the trend beginning this election already, mainly because the Democratic party wants the demos to believe they live in a democracy. But, as a matter of fact, we don't. (I'd like to see someone remind Obama of this quote in November when he loses the majority of the states, and yet still gets elected.)

Look, people, we Americans live in a Republic. Sure, it has democratic tendencies, for it's representative. BUT IT'S NOT A DEMOCRACY!!!

When was the last time you sang 'The Battle Hymn of the Democracy'? Or pledged allegiance to the United States and to 'the democracy for which it stands'? Oh. whoops. I forgot that children aren't expected (allowed) to learn those anymore. To many references to God. *%#@ing anti-patriotic, impious liberals. They ruin everything.

Someone please explain this very simple concept to the Democrats. Oh, never mind, they'll bitch no matter what side of the coin is up. I know that if the popular vote is counted, States like Wyoming (and ironically Washington D.C) would have not one iota of representation in the election of the executive branch, and therefore little say in the appointment of judges, not to mention that their representative legislators would receive no respect (or important appointments to committees) in the Congress, for only the states holding concentrated population would be of importance.

For Better, or: Worse than Viagra!

The following is the kind of joke UP WITH WHICH I HOPE YOU PUT:

Harry is getting along in years and finds that he is increasingly unable to perform the marital act. He finally goes to his doctor, who tries a few things but nothing seems to work. At last, a friend refers him to an American Indian medicine man.

The medicine man says, "I can cure this." That said, he throws a white powder in a flame, and there is a flash with billowing blue smoke. Then he says, "This is powerful medicine. You can only use it once a year. All you have to do is say '123' and it shall rise for as long as you wish!"

The guy then asks, "What happens when it's over, and I don't want to continue?" The medicine man replies: "All you or your wife has to say is 1234, and it will go down. But be warned -- it will not work again for another year!"

Harry rushes home, eager to try out his new powers and prowess. That night he is ready to surprise Joyce. He showers, shaves, and puts on her favorite cologne. He gets into bed, and lying next to her says, "123."

He suddenly becomes more aroused than anytime in his life ... just as the medicine man had promised. Joyce, who had been facing away, turns over and asks, "What did you say 123 for?"

And that, my friends, is why you should never end a sentence with a

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not Only That,

But THIS is another gem that perfectly represents why I've grown out of following professional sports. Or fake amateur sports governed by the evil empire of the NCAA.

A Rough Lie

Because I've gotten a couple complaints about my recent anti-golf-on-TV remark, I'll make it up to you by, well, doing it again. Sorry, bro. I hope THIS doesn't tee you off.

In all honesty, there are times when I find golf incredibly entertaining to watch. I hope you do, too.

But then again, because I play golf, I have a distorted sense of being 'in all honesty'. Golf makes more people liars than the IRS. Golf is a game were the ball lies poorly, and the players, well. It's a game where you yell fore, shoot six, and write down five. Few of you know this, for I rarely admit it, but I'm as Scottish as I am Italian. And you know the Scots. They gave us golf and called it relaxing sport the same way they gave us bagpipes and called it music.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Because Today is Earth Day

THIS is the spice of life.

Another Pun in the Oven

This isn't exactly 'news' since the baby is almost here, but we're expecting our 5th child anytime now. In reality, Maria is today beginning her 9th month, so we've got a few weeks left. This is going to fly by for me; but for my poor, uncomfortable wife, I can only assume it will feel like a maternity.

I was surprised that Maria got this picture taken last week for three reasons: Firstly, we had discussed finding out if we were having a boy or a girl-she was arguing the affirmative and I the negative (surprise surprise). She had first thought that she'd find out and just keep it a secret from me, but we both knew that she was not good at keeping a hidden agender. So, we refrained from finding out. Secondly, she knew that while I think there are some great benefits to pre-natal imagery, that I'm not personally fond of the impersonal nature of first seeing your child on a TV screen as a bunch of white blobs, while some nurse we just met impersonally points out the only thing they think we want to see: the presence (or non-presence) of visible genitalia . Interestingly enough, the image above is quite clear to me, as you can easily make out the head and right side of the ribcage, arm and scapula. But that doesn't change my opinion. Lastly, she new my opinions on the matter and begrudgingly shares them. But I, for some unknown and apparently hypocritical reason, had actually asked her for it.

Generally, I'm not keen on visual representations of mysterious things. For example, I really don't like photographs of the consecrated body and blood of our Lord. John 20:29 "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." Photographs of His Body reduce it to the level of the mundane in today's world of over-imagery. Needless to say, I don't thing we should make the sacred mundane. It's our last island of hope in a world of apathy for higher things. Of course, this only really applies to things that are essentially mysterious, i.e. articles of faith. But by extension it applies (in my mind) to all things that are not naturally seen, such as a baby still in the womb.

I will admit there are many benefits to ultrasound imagery, chief among them is the health and well-being of child and mother. Coming in a close second is the benefit, in today's culture of death, of helping people to understand-to see-that it's not actually a blob, but a human person deserving of the same dignity everyone else deserves until natural death. This is why I asked for the picture. We're all surrounded every day by people who value their boats over their babies. They have dogs instead of children (and either speak of their pets as children, or their children, pets). They are actively aggressive in their insistence that we hear and heed their opinions on overpopulation and yet they force their active sexuality and vegetarianism upon us at the watercooler, and then complain when we mention we are practicing 'natural sex' and eating meat for health. So, I share my pre-born baby with them all.

I know that I'm walking very close to the cliffs of insanity. Take my position out to the natural conclusion and one may find a fallacious and iconoclast argument against any form of representation, whatsoever. This is, of course, not my desire and I believe, not the true consequence of my premise. Perhaps I'll explore that more later.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Free to Think and Do

On Friday, Patrick Reilly over at published a synopsis of the Holy Father's lecture to Catholic educators given the day before.

Far be it from me to nag about someone's blogging style, but this guy completely missed the point while being cutesy on the issue. Before I mention my own positive thoughts on the lecture, I want to mention the basic issues I have with the article, as it bears on how Catholic educators and administrators ought to be heeding the Holy Father's admonitions.

A basic theme in the lecture was the proper alignment or balance between 'knowing' and 'doing', especially in light of the proper understanding of the relationship between faith and reason. Mr. Reilly obviously didn't really get this, although his words would on the surface seems to show that he did. Mr. Reilly, like the liberal educators he rails against, is only focusing on what is knowable about the Holy Father's positions, rather than taking such points to heart and extrapolating what is and ought to be doable or done.

Mr. Reilly, his style seems to indicate, sat down with a preordained laundry list of complaints (all of which I share, mind you) about many Catholic educational institutions, and proceeded to find possible text excerpts from the lecture which seemed to respond to the individual complaints. In so doing, he missed the fundamental point the Holy Father was trying to make: Of all the things you so-called Catholic educators are screwing up, the worst is that you don't pay mind to the will of the student. But the Holy Father's words are more eloquent: "While we have sought diligently to engage the intellect of our young, perhaps we have neglected the will."

It is in our activity, our choosing this or that impetus to activity as good or bad, that we live the Christian life. It is the responsibility of the Catholic educator to help the youth understand how to live the Christian life. In that, he will think and know like a Christian.

St. Dominic, whose orderly lineage includes many of the greatest thinkers and educators in the great history of the Church, shows us the way: It was his understanding that Christian activity was more valuable than Christian knowledge that led him, as a student, to sell his preciously annotated books to feed the poor of Palencia. It was this charity that filled St. Dominic's intellectual life. Thus, St. Dominic knew that the Christian lived in a world full of Faith AND Reason. Not Faith OR Reason.

Holy Father Benedict understands this as well. I hope that the Catholic educators of America heed his point: Our youth must be led in the activities of Christian life, and it starts by the educators and administrators themselves first picking up Christ's cross, and living Christ's truths. Then the students will follow and learn to be free.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Architecting a New Vocabulary

I really hate it when people misuse the word and title: architect.

I think the reason I complain about this finally boils down to a complaint that 'professions' are losing their status and exclusiveness as indispensable and valuable members of society. Being a 'professional' no longer means that you are accredited or licensed in a specialized field that is of particular benefit to the well-being of society and the individuals that comprise it, but rather that you happen to have some semblance of minimum competency or work ethic in whatever you do, even if that is giving someone a makeover.

Classically, there were only 3 professions: Divinity, Medicine and Law. Eventually, that list grew (and shrunk since Divinity unfortunately lost its professional status due to society no longer recognizing the necessity for good theology) to include several other specialties that had as their end the promotion and maintenance of the vegetative, generative, social, intellectual, or spiritual ends of man. Architecture has always been viewed has the chief of the practical arts, and has enjoyed an elevated status as the profession which facilitated the performance of all other professions, by providing the facilities for such noble activities.

Since the beginning of the 2oth century, there have been recognized a whole slew of new professions, including such mundane activities as librarianship. Unfortunately for architecture (and engineering), the language we use has changed as well. I would argue (quite vehemently) that this is not a beneficial thing for professionals, pseudo-professionals or non-professionals alike; i.e. it sucks for everyone.

Moreover, it is architecture itself that has suffered the most from this debacle. Etymologically, architect is pretty clear. From Greek: arkhi- "chief" + tekton "carpenter, builder, craftsman". It is its use by extension that has caused problems: An architect, by virtue of the large scope of knowledge he must have, is an organizer, a deviser, a creator, the one responsible.

So we end up with software architects, who design virtual environments.

We have Architects of War, who are strategic leaders in meeting organizational goals.

Or one of my favorites, from 'Eikonoklastes' by John Milton:

"The happiness of a nation consists in true religion, piety, justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude, and the contempt of avarice and ambition. They in whomsoever these virtues dwell eminently, need not kings to make them happy, but are the architects of their own happiness; and, whether to themselves or others, are not less than kings."

All these people, with their tenuously analogous activities, readily refer to themselves as 'architects' without licensure, yet I cannot call myself an architect, adjectivally describe myself as an 'architectural designer'; or even use the verb as in 'I will help you architect your home', without legal and 'professional' turmoil before passing the Architect Registration Exam.

Wait. I was wrong. All I'm really trying to say is that I wish one of my carpool buddies would stop freaking calling himself a software architect.

That's it. I need to get licensed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sneak Peking at Olympic Sized Failure

There is a real problem with the architecture of the Olympic Games. It's always hyper-modernist, and it always sucks.

I was in Athens in 2003, a year before the Olympics returned home to the cradle of Western Civilization for the 2004 games. I was completely and utterly shocked to see the Temple of Athena Nike removed from the Acropolis for 'reconstruction'. NB: the reconstruction was required because the previous 'reconstruction' in 1940 was very poor. The temple was dismantled completely to replace the corroded concrete floor and the iron beams that were installed just 60 years earlier. It lasted for 2300 years, just for us to ruin it by assuming our building practices must be better than those then. Unfortunately, this was not the worst problem for the architecture of the Athens games. Santiago Calatrava designed a compound of modernism that physically and symbolically slapped the historical and classical face of Athens. Not that the Athenians really would understand that anymore, but that would be a longer story...

This summer's Beijing Games are going to be no different, with the possible exception that you can now add that it's dangerous to be inside sucky hyper-modernist buildings.

Far be it from me to want to compare the 6th to the 7th ring of Hell, but the 'worst' design of the Beijing Olympic Sports Complex is that of the Bird's Nest.

It has earned its nickname because it really does look like a nest made out of strands of steel. But there’s nothing featherweight about it. The weight of its roof as a proportion of total building weight is 76.3 percent — which puts it between 'very poor' and 'dangerous' based upon international standards for structural safety.

Take a look again at that Bird's Nest zoomed in for scale. Um. Duh? Can somebody please remind the starchitects that art imitates nature, it doesn't copy it blindly and then put it through a xerox with a 12000% magnification?

Granted, I would (very hesitantly) acknowledge that one might hold a good argument for the ideology of the International Style and its banal and indistinguishable bastard offspring being used for the Olympics--of all human endeavors, this is the one activity that historically and symbolically eliminates the distinction between regions and their national characters. But that's just not the way it is anymore. The Olympics have become, in one sense, the way for individual countries to brag about themselves to the world. This year, China is using the Olympics to show the world that not only are they growing into a major player, but that they are just as wealthy, hip, and important as...America.

You may complain that I'm indulging in too much hyperbole with all this, but in reality I truly believe that the modernist architectural establishment must be...over-thrown.

For now, it is very unfortunate that Beijing, a city both beautiful and ancient, full of eastern classical architecture and a rich cultural history, is being bulldozed so that it can look just like Houston.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Do the Math

It may be true that the FLDS fiasco is no longer breaking news, but why is it that nobody is talking about the proportion of girls vs. boys removed from the compound?

"Authorities began blocking roads to the YFZ ranch Thursday, then raided the compound and began busing women and children off the property. Most were girls, and most wore hand-sewn prairie dresses."

'MOST were girls?'...

I admit my logic isn't always sound, but it seems there's only a couple of possibilities here. One is that the authorities didn't think the boys (themselves victims of forced mental compliance) were in any grave danger, and so left them on the compound-without their parents. Another, more disturbing, option would beg the question-what have they done with the bodies of those boys that would have grown up to compete for wives? Lastly, there's the option that Roald Dahl was on to something in his ribald and satirical short story: 'Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life'.

I'm not holding my breath.

That the ratio of men to women is 1:1 in the world is as good an argument as any that hetero-monogamy is natural, and, well, I don't need to spell it out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Paradoxical Orthodoxy, Part I

I recently ran across a print of, and was temporarily amused by, THIS: one of Andy Warhol's '10 Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century'. Not surprisingly, when Fr. Barry put up THIS POST, I was immediately struck not merely by the similarity of composition and pose, but primarily by the similarly piercing look from the eyes of both child and man. So, I copied Warhol-the product of such craftiness you see here.

And now I feel really dirty.

And I feel bad for my friend, whose son is neither an important Jew, nor a product of the 20th century; who unwittingly endured this cute boy's image being pimped for my tax-preparation procrastinational amusement.

At any rate, It's curious to me that Warhol, a devout Byzantine Catholic, would turn out the way he did, or rather, would produce the art that he produced. Well, quite frankly, I have no idea what kind of person he was really like, as the accounts vary greatly. But inviting friends to pee on his art for effect aside, he was by his pastor's account, a daily communicant. This is really, really problematic for me, and I'm not entirely convinced that I know why yet, or even that it should be so.

It would be quite easy to ridicule his style as a joke, and many have, including myself. Truly, if I could generate a fairly close rendition of the same within an hour, then one must, like TOLSTOY, question not only whether this particular is to be considered in the genus 'art' but with more urgent priority, what art is.

Clearly, Warhol viewed his craft in two distinct ways: what it was as a thing in and of itself, and what it was to him as an artist/techne. As a thing in and of itself, his craft seems to have simply been the schizophrenic bastard of capitalism and socialism. He enjoyed reaping the benefits of his mass-produced art suitable for the common man and aristocrat alike. But what it was to him as producer seems to be more complex. Warhol was very much like, and very much unlike, the eponymous ANDREI RUBLEV...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Music to My Ears

Friday's post reminded me of this, and specifically that I wanted to torture Fr. Barry with it:

A 'C', an E-flat, and a 'G' go into a bar. The bartender says: "Sorry, but we don't serve minors." So, the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished: the G is out flat. An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

A D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me. I'll just be a second." An A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and exclaims: "Get out now! You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight."

The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the next night in a 3-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says: "You're looking sharp tonight, come on in! This could be a major development." This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit, and everything else, and stands there au natural.

Eventually, the C sobers up, and realizes in horror that he's under a rest. The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility. On appeal, however, the C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and that all accusations to the contrary are bassless.

The bartender decides, however, that since he's only had tenor so patrons, the soprano out in the bathroom, and everything has become alto much treble, he needs a rest - and closes the bar.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Purse Snatchers

Those of you who know me well know that I love playing golf. I'm not a big fan of watching golf on TV, mind you; mostly because it's so boring, and I've got the kind of attention span that would bridge a peninsula to the mainland. In truth, I think it's a fore-gone conclusion that anyone who likes golf on television must also be the guy that finds it titillating to watch the grass growing back in old divots. So, needless to say, I'm not really following the Masters this weekend.

But, after a conversation with my brother this morning about the relative size of purses in today's dollars, I realized it was all of a sudden very important for me to sit in front of my computer for a spell and write down my thoughts for no one in particular to read, rather than playing with my kids. Hmm. At least I have the issue of watching sports on TV right.

Anyways, much has been said of how great Tiger is, and how much he has made. (I wonder why this number is so different than the golf digest number above?) But check this out: Gary Player, who missed the cut yesterday and has the dubious honor of coming in dead last at the Masters this year, who nevertheless won 9 majors in his time, only made a meager $1,000,000 in career earnings? Wow. Only a million bucks for one of the all time greats.

That's less than $3,000,000 in todays money.

But then again, he's 72 and still playing at Augusta. That's a pretty rich life.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Striking a Chord

As an increasingly belligerent scoffer of Microsoft, I hate recognizing that anyone with any semblance of intelligence would knowingly use Windows.

THIS, however, is quite fun and obviously took quite a bit of ingenuity. Doubtless, this guy is very sharp: which for a composer, is not natural.

Of course, it is disconcerting that the piece is not played with real instruments, and in a private place. Perhaps this guy just doesn't know how to conduct himself in public.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dead Ahead?

I wonder how many hips will be broken before they close THIS JOINT?

They say that when you lose your sense of balance, you never quite know vertigo.
But never fear, old people! We're going to help you escape death by making you crawl on undulating concrete floors for up to 4 months so that you don't suffer the fatal blow of a last breath.

According to the architects: "All of it is meant to keep the occupants on guard. Comfort, the thinking goes, is a precursor to death; the house is meant to lead its users into a perpetually 'tentative' relationship with their surroundings, and thereby keep them young."

no. No. NO. Tentative relationships to your surroundings happen when you're camping, although I admit they can be in-tents. If you want to perpetually live life on the edge, build a normal home on a cliff.

I'm sure there'll be grim reaper-cussions for this type of architectural mockery, and the architects will get theirs in the end.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It Figures: He's A Pathetic Schemer

A few days ago, Obama was explaining to some woman in Pennsylvania why he has the abortion stance that he has:

"Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old," he said. "I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information." FULL TEXT HERE

There are many things that can be said about this, most of them vulgarities from which I'm trying to break the habit. So, because it's been on my mind a lot lately, I'm going to limit myself to the confines of analyzing the figures of speech 'successfully' employed here, and the ramifications of such rhetorical wizardry. (For more on figures of speech, my new-friend-that-should-be-an-old-friend Ray Gunner is currently challenging his readership to find the exemplary figure in each of his posts. This is a great exercise for anyone wanting to better their reading, writing, or both.)

For purposes of brevity, I offer the following synopsis of the broader grouping of figures of speech called a scheme: the figure employed here is called anaphora: the repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines. In the quote, this is:

"I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD..."

Anaphora is a species of Conduplicatio, which is a general term for the repetition of sounds, words, phrases, or ideas, for the purpose of emphasis. Thus, Obama is scheming here. His scheme is to emphasize the mental connection between 'disease' and 'baby'. If the connection isn't already there, he's wrapped it up into a nice little package of pathos for you by linguistically connecting the idea of punishment with the two.

In fact, Obama is all pathos. We all know how he's spent most of his money and time in this campaign trying to establish ethos, or the authority for argumentation. I would argue that the start to the quote:

"Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old"

is essentially an argument by ethos (which is where such arguments belong). He's establishing a personal connection to the audience by the colloquial use of the verb, and establishes a semblance of authority by being a dear father of future women, who cares about their morals and values. But this is a fairly tenuous connection to authority, as it's true of most men.

Many are duped into thinking he's got some kind of new ideas, mainly because he's constantly telling us so, but he never actually says what those ideas are, thus avoiding the critique of logos. Notice how he ends:

"so it doesn't make sense to not give them information."

This at first looks like a argument by logos. But it's merely a pathetic appeal to 'reason' without actually having to give reasonable arguments. Why doesn't it make sense, Mr. Obama? What kind of information are you proposing to share with your daughters, and is it true?

This is just one sampling of the deftness Obama possesses in regard to classical rhetoric. He skirts around the parts he's unsure of, because he fully understands, like Aristotle and Cicero before him, that skillfully applied pathos is ultimately all that matters in the art of rhetoric as used in politics. If logos mattered at all, we already would have had a black president.

And this, my poor friends, is why Obama will be our next president. It figures, doesn't it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Instead of draughting brew-prints...

...I'm finding stuff like THIS ON YOUTUBE. We may be at lagerheads, but I think they've tapped the greatest, the most honest, tagline ever. Well, 30 years ago. But that's a Moog point.

Sorry. Punning is an ale-ment those around me must live with.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sometimes, artists don't know where... draw the line.

I was perusing 3D rendering sites today, and found the following image; which of course, pissed me off, along with pretty much everything else I saw, because it's all the same ilk. I’m not upset merely because it’s a horrible rendering (although it really is horrible), but because it reminds me of the current state of affairs between craft and art. As you look at the picture, notice that every thing is rendered with precision. The people are photo-real, the car is photo-real, etc. But are they accurate depictions? Where is the freakin’ light coming from? Everything is casting a precisely incorrect shadow, or at best, everything but one object. Not to mention there’s no indication of what the subject is: is it the architecture? The license plate? That annoying halogen lamp? Foreground, middleground and background are rendered with equal precision, thus, no atmosphere. I mean, really...if you're going to pick stock images of people for your rendering, pay attention to the details: in close proximity, there's a guy wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, a chick in the summer light with a tank top and shorts, and a GB Packer fan with a winter coat on. Just stupid. There are so many things about this rendering that suck, it's almost funny.

More precisely, the problem with this kind of representation is that there is an abundance of craft, and a scarcity of art. With a great amount of attention paid to the precision of the scenery, no attention was paid to the accuracy of the scene. This is characteristic of the neo-Dadaism that is currently pervading all of our visual arts. This is an ancient problem, and in much the same way as Manicheism, has shown it’s ugly face over the centuries under the guise of various names, but has essentially stayed the same. The underlying problem is concerned with craft. The 20th century Dadaists, detesting the reliance on craft in the Victorian age-an age that supported craftsmen producing much detailed work lacking ideas-turned and high-tailed it in the direction of the opposite extreme. Moving away from craft, these ‘artists’ began organizing prefabricated (found) objects into new scenarios. Thus, we end up with found objects, such as TOILETS acting as pieces of art. In this case, it’s all idea and no craft. In the architectural world, one would find it difficult to merely use or reuse a building (although IT HAS HAPPENED). Rather, we usually see an abundance of crafty responses to the idea by treating design as pure craft to the point of mockery. Any one of Frank Gehry’s TITANIUM POOPS will quickly inform the viewer that the craft of joining all these lustrous tiles of metal together was far more important to the architect than conveying any kind of notion of what kind of building that is or might be. This is not artistic composition. It's artistic compost.

In reality, in the mean, craft is requisite for clarity of idea. In the same way as the Vitruvian distinction between THEORY AND PRACTICE, idea is made known by quality and clarity of craft. And when this happens in proper measure, you have art. Too much craft with too little idea, and the art is meaningless rabble. Too much idea without craft, and the big thoughts are lost to the viewer. Unfortunately, TOO MANY ARTISTS have come to believe that craft alone is the generator of 'art'.

This is why it is so important for the divorce between craft and idea to be mended. We will produce no art until they are rejoined in proper measure.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Finished this today. This is my first portrait.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pranks for the Memories

OK, guys. You've been writing to put me down because I haven't been putting anything down in writing. THIS is what I was waiting for. If only google would release GoogleAfterlife (beta is acceptable).

I'd just love to see Nietzche clicking frantically on I'm Feeling Lucky.