Just a little scribble that could probably be a comic if I didn’t think that whatever was going on here is probably not funny. Can’t help but think that this drawing means something, but it’s hard to articulate what that might be. I certainly was not trying to draw anything like this.
First of all, for the 17 people who insisted on informing me that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and therefore the Declaration of Independence is meaningless, great job reporting on your 4th grade social studies lesson. Yes, I am aware that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, and that he could have been a more honorable and less hypocritical man by the standards of the 21st century. But it’s pretty well-documented that he was also in favor of abolishing slavery, and he did intend to say that we’re all created equal, as far as he could assert that sentiment in the 18th century. Yes, he did many things that we can judge him for 100s of years later. Yes, he was a product of his times, and he must have been the master of cognitive dissonance, but that doesn’t make the words of the Declaration of Independence any less meaningful. “Thomas Jefferson owned slaves,” is a statement of fact, but it’s not an argument against life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. It’s definitely not an argument for racism.
Now that that’s cleared up, what the hell was this weekend? My sister, like many people, said something to the effect of what a great time to be making art. But I didn’t want to make angry-scared art about whether or not Bizarro White House is going to suspend everyone’s civil rights and impose theocracy upon the only country I want to live.
Bizarro White House. There’s a comic right there.
I wanted to write epic stories about brave protagonists fighting unspeakable evil, not live them. How great is it that I started this blog just in time to have a visible outlet to vent my impotent rage 5 days a week?
An overwhelming sense of impending doom can mean a few things: it can be a symptom of neurosis; it can be a symptom of an impending heart attack; it can be a symptom of menopause; it can be a symptom of living in a world where catastrophe is actually imminent. My doctor says it’s not menopause and the fact that I’m still alive suggests it’s not a heart attack, so either I’m crazy or the world is. But everything just seems precarious. At the same time, sometimes I spend months freaking out about problems that could be settled in a day.
The world needs magical dragons. But some part of the world fears anything that isn’t regimented and catalogable, anything that can’t be controlled or compelled through conventional means. They try to shame it out of you when you’re little and they try to legislate it out of you when you’re big. But that doesn’t change what someone is on the inside. It just terrorizes them.
Welcome to a special Saturday edition of QvD. If you don’t know what this is all about, you can check out this Facebook event, or search “postcard avalanche.”
The general details are:
Join in and send a postcard directly to Trump! Here are the basic instructions to participate:
** IMPORTANT – Don’t mail your card until NOV. 26th **
1. Get a postcard from your state – any picture that represents your state.
2. In the message section, write this simple message: NOT BANNON!
3. Sign your name if you wish
4. Address it as follows:
c/o The Trump Organization
725 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022
5. Affix a stamp – you can use a 34 cent postcard stamp, or a normal letter stamp.
6. Take a picture of your postcard that you can share on social media on Nov. 26-28th
7. Drop it in the mail between Saturday, Nov 26th and Monday, Nov. 28th to create a concentrated avalanche of postcards.
8. On Nov. 26-28th, Tweet and share the heck out of your photo using the hashtags #postcardavalanche #stopbannon
Why “Not Bannon”?
Because this guy is an insidious enabler of the modern-day Nazi. This Mother Jones article sums it up nicely. Bannon may or may not be a racist himself, but his work has consistently empowered and normalized the racist community (for his own personal profit) and is probably responsible in part for the 2016 election results. Although I have not been a practicing Jew for a good quarter century, speaking as a person who was raised in a traditional Jewish household, I’m personally terrified about the possibility of American turning into the Fourth Reich. I think I’ve seen more swastikas in the weeks since the election than I did in an entire semester of Holocaust studies.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think Jews are even the primary target. Muslims, black people, trans people, queer folks, and recent immigrants are more at risk under this upcoming administration, in this weird political climate. But seriously, anti-semitism was a distant concept to me most of my life, and now it’s right out in the open all the time, all over the internet. That’s telling.
Anyway, since I’m spending the holiday in Illinois with my parents, I didn’t have any easy way to obtain an Arizona postcard, and since all the art supplies in my parents’ house are 25 years old, there wasn’t a wide variety to choose from. Basically, it was a can of broken crayons and a half dozen colored pencils. And I couldn’t get a really good photograph of it either. But I made an Arizona postcard in order to participate in this action. And it’s not too late for you to participate too. Just follow the instruction above and mail your postcard out Monday.
This should have been a post about how my novel was now available in paperback, but apparently it won’t be available in paperback until tomorrow, and I have no links. But I do have a picture of this magical door. The Man took me to see an old barn for my birthday, and while it doesn’t sound very enchanting when you put it that way, it was quite the charming barn, particularly in the right light. Plus we were in northeastern Kansas, so the options for excitement were limited to begin with.
This barn has a name: the John Dickenson Barn. Apparently, it has achieved a measure of fame among old-barn-enthusiasts. It was built between 1852 and 1861; that is to say, it took 9 years to build. It’s in fairly good repair–the owners have put a lot of work into it since the 1980s–and has hosted many weddings in the last 12 years. This is my favorite shot, but there was one more that was almost as good, which shows a wide section of the loft, where various items–animal skulls, wagon wheels, tacks, and tools–are displayed.
As we drove, south to north, across the country, The Man and I noted a large number of crumbling and abandoned buildings, and discussed a photodocumentary project where we just stopped at every single one we saw.
Doing my best here to keep my promises to myself, re: art. But it’s tough. Generally speaking, I have been a pretty angry person my entire life, which is something I spend a lot of time working on. I’m not really angry now, though. I’m mostly terrified and despondent. Any words of encouragement are welcome. I actually had an idea for a comic–a funny one–tonight, which is the first time that’s happened in weeks. Maybe I’ll even remember it for later.
Here’s a jagged pink Monday mandala, straight out of that time that Laura Ingalls Wilder ate those funny mushrooms after Pa told her not to. Little House on the Psychedelic Plain.
Saturday was my birthday, and I tried to spend it being true to myself, even I had to do it in the state of Kansas, which would not have been my first choice.
What follows is a more intense political-ish essay that I also ran on Facebook:
I want to thank everybody who wished me well on my birthday. It’s my “life, the universe, and everything” year (42), and the day went as well as could be expected. It’s hard to celebrate when your prevailing emotion for the last 2 weeks has been “terrified,” and, like a lot of people, I’ve had to check out from social media a bit. Even though 97% of the friends in my feed have political values more or less in line with my own, it’s still scary. Maybe it’s more scary that way I’m not scared so much for myself, even if I am a genderqueer, pansexual, Jewish/animist/Buddhist/pantheist, because I can pass under people’s radar pretty well most of the time or get a pass as an artist even if I ping as a subversive (that’s class privilege). But I’m terrified of a world where all people are not created equal, and I’m nauseated over what’s certain to be an ongoing assault against the first amendment. I don’t know how to be an American under an administration that’s vocally opposed to the values that, to me, are most representative of America.
It makes me happy to know how many people are mobilizing, how strong the resistance is going to be. We’ll need that power to withstand the assault against human rights that has already commenced. But at the same time, more than ever, I believe that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and that only the ability to build bridges and will save us in the long run. We can’t tolerate bigotry, but we can’t pretend that bigots are not American too. Yes, racists, yes, misogynists, yes homophobes/transphobes. They live here. They aren’t going to go away. They probably aren’t going to change. But they are human beings. They are Americans. I hope some of them can be won over with love. I hope that things are not as bleak as they seem, and I hope that this country finds its way back to the 21st century. Those of us who have gotten this far are NOT GOING BACK. Obviously. You can’t kill an idea. You definitely cannot kill 100s of years of ideas.
I support everyone working to ensure that it doesn’t happen, to mitigate damage. Personally, I’m not very good at in-the-street activism. Just being near a crowd of angry people is kind of debilitating to me, even if I share their anger, but I know it’s an effective tactic, and more effective the bigger it gets.
After 9/11, like a lot of people, I kind of went a little insane with grief and fear, but after a few days, I remembered that I am a fantasist, and that I’m fortunate to be one of those people whose purpose in life has always been clear, and has only become more clarified with the passage of time. I create things–art and food primarily–and that’s basically all I know how to do. And that’s all I can do. And that’s what I will do. And I hope that, in doing so, I remain true to my purpose, and my values, and to the people doing what I cannot. But I can’t abandon a doctrine of love. As a pantheist, I can’t draw a line between myself and the rest of the world. I refuse to answer hatred with hatred. I will stand up for the oppressed and I will oppose oppression, but I will not hate.
Where this comes from, there’s no way to say. Just pure ridiculousness, I guess, like a vegetarian butcher or a Republican presidential candidate calling for tolerance and diversity. Ah, there it’s gone and gotten political. Maybe I just wanted an excuse to draw astronauts, although now I wonder if the astronauts should have been bigger. It would have been more fun drawing bigger astronauts. Then again, maybe it’s funnier if you get the vast perspective of being so high above such a large expanse of the Earth. Maybe adding the ISS was a mistake. Maybe this comic is only a qualified success. It wasn’t the best day for my art, to be honest. I wanted to block out 2 hours to write an article, but instead I accompanied The Man on an unusual but informative adventure. And here we are.
If you haven’t read it already, stop reading at the end of this sentence, go read this Toni Morrison article about what artists do in times of dread, and then come back. Obviously, I can’t say anything as well as Toni Morrison. (But if you’re a rebel who doesn’t follow directions, I can summarize: When the worst things are happening, this is when it is most important for artists to express themselves.)
It’s easy, especially for creatives, to become overwhelmed with sorry, and even with anger, but feelings don’t make a difference. Actions do. We may feel impotent, immobile in the face of forces that seem much larger than our individual strength, but every small voice counts against injustice. If something upsets you, something that feels fundamentally wrong, don’t despair. Say something. Write something. Paint something. Don’t let the enormity of the task overwhelm you. You are not alone. Someone is listening. Someone needs to hear what you have to say.
This comic is for the real kitty and bunny, who sometimes get angry or depressed about the meanness that runs through humanity and frustrated by the feeling that fixing the problem is out of their control. It’s true that all the Problems of the World cannot be solved by one person, but many of the problems of the world can be solved be individuals and small groups. Sometimes just saying the right thing at the right time to the right person is enough to effect a change, to raise up one more spark of the divinity of kindness to light the world.
That’s why I have to keep reminding myself never to harden my heart, and to always answer hatred with love (and also why I can never read the comment forums). I have to be ready with the right answer when the moment presents itself, whether that’s drawing a ridiculous comic in support of a doctrine of love, or speaking up when I hear an ugly microaggression being casually spewed. I mean, I’m not perfect (sometimes I do read the comment forums) but I always feel better with an open heart. I always feel better when I choose to see the light instead of set my mind to the darkness.
What a week. Too many plans, too much going on, not enough sleep. It makes me cranky. At least my splintered hands are 90% healed.
Today’s comic, as opposed to Monday’s and Wednesday’s, came off in record time, just over an hour for the entire thing, including the text. The only parts I had to think about were the hand on the door, and how dragon looks turning into the light. Used the model for that one! Speaking of which, I have a commission for a little clay model that must be completed soon. But first I have to write these essays about graphic novels for this other project. And then I’m making curtains for Mrs. and Mrs. Cat.
Plus this week I booked my first paying photo gig. People have been approaching me about photography work all year, for trade or for volunteer stuff, and especially since I started shooting DSL, but nothing ever came together before. This one looks definite. We’ll shoot half out in the desert and the other half in this stunning house belonging to a friend who lives in the suburbs.