To Finish a Saga is a Good Thing…

EPSON MFP image

I’ve started posting an illustration a day on a new Facebook page @applesofaeden… as my broken heelbone heals I continue to practice focus – blinkering even – to finish a highly illustrated shorter version of Volume One of The Apples of Aeden, the Girl and the Guardian. I’ve migrated to Facebook mostly because there is where people mostly see a post and more importantly, easily comment, like, love and follow. I love blogs, but the action is seemingly on Facebook and other social media and image-centred platforms like Instagram.

And sadly Facebook no longer provide for linking of posts automatically from a blog to a Facebook page … grrr! We are at their mercy unless we go out into the wilderness of alternative platforms.

So, if you like to see my thought in words and  images of fiction and fantasy, I hope you’ll go to the Apples of Aeden page and like and follow the quest there! 

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On Fairytales, Romantic Fantasy and the Bourgeois

When in my twenties I belatedly came into real contact with the Punk movement and related underground anti bourgeois drug-taking communities and thought worlds, I immediately knew I wanted very little to do with this possible way of being, this psychic underbelly as I saw it… I aspired to the upper realms, in philosophy a Platonist, in imagination a Romantic, a High Fantasy lover (well, for good or ill almost exclusively Tolkien and C.S.Lewis).

So for 20 years or so I’ve been, with elder brother John, writing and now drawing the story of a quest in that higher level – volume one of which, The Girl and the Guardian, is a hero and heroine’s quest for the restoration of the Grail – which in this story is the Lost Heartstone of the Tree of Life. There is a lot in it about learning the traditions of the Old Ways of the Eutopian Order of the Makers, and a Restoration of the Balance in a new Age which is similar to the old Golden age. If that is bourgeois- then ironically I, the sociophobe, shy rebel, and Eutopian dreamer, AM  bourgeois – conservative, where compatible with reason.

It is to me the main, and sufficient, justification for Conservatism that we must at all costs avoid throwing the baby of nobility and truth and the social support structures thereof, out with the bourgeois bathwater.

We touch here on matters of faith… I am sorry if I hurt friends of old by the vehemence of my rejection of any tendencies to glorification of the antihero, of degenerate ways, of anti-platonism and relativism; or, in the last four years since Trump, my approval of much that he stands for, and disapproval of what he (mostly) stands against. I accept that early experiences can make a person feel a need to dwell on the ‘lower’ levels to sort out their victimhood and alienation, and that there they may also find consolations and fellowship. And to (vehemently) champion any and all ‘underdogs’, alligning with the so-called ‘Social Justice Warriors’ and ‘Social Marxists’.

But I would always wish to lead – indeed seduce – through stories if not arguments – these disadvantaged and victimised, and all who will listen, towards the higher ground from which they can see the stars. My parents had a poster on the wall (before they took us to live on a Papuan mission school settlement after they watched a movie The Sky above and the Mud Below) with this poem:

Two men looked through prison bars

One saw mud, the other, stars.

I always knew which man I wanted to be. This aesthetic and later ethical allegiance was a big ingredient of the fuel for this long and winding journey of my brother and I to create our own truly romantic epic fantasy – we believe it’s ‘true’ in the end – more true than the allegiance to the ‘mud’. We believe that the metaphysical stars are wo/man’s destiny, while loving the earth, and yes even the mud in its place as the nurturing place of the lotus roots… hence the major theme in our Apples of Aeden of the Restoration of the Balance – Earth and Sky, Feminine and Masculine, Yin and Yang, Anima and Animus. The lost soul is the separated half-human, alienated from its Other Half  (the male from the female especially – females can more easily compensate I think). That is partly why our epic is an advance (metaphysically, not necessarily in any other way!) on our acknowledged master of High Fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien; and also, thinking about it, C. S. Lewis. Apples of Aeden strives for a portrayal of a time before the great Schism of the genders, and what its healing would look like. It is an attempt to rediscover the Goddess, and reunite Her with the God. It also avoids the hateful heresy against morality and logic of portraying any sentient thinking life form, be he orc or monster, as created to be evil, without moral or ethical conscience or ability to become better than their biological heritage would tend to make them. Our human biological heritage after all has many ghastly tendencies!

So, I labour on, this part of the journey being to illustrate a shortened version of volume one, with a projected 80 or so pen and ink drawings. I’m up to about 42 now… If anyone wants to see these or to read the epic in short or long form, follow this blog! There will be news here of any location for updates, new illustrations, and announcements of the new illustrated edition of volume one, a shortened The Girl and the Guardian.
For the long version, free or cheap, see Smashwords or Amazon or Apple – see the links in the menu of this blog. Also, for $3.99 each, volumes two, three and four. From some of their high points, I hope you can see the stars.

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Sculptures blast a hole in the spacetime continuum

I’ve had a tiger by the tail, trying to get to the point of actually doing this Peter Pan sculpture. I agonised over the question whether it will be worth the space and time it takes up. Sculptures can’t be filed away in 2-D like a canvas. They are 3-D, in your face, have weight and breadth and depth. They are an expensive embarrassment if bad, a logistical problem and a sales problem even if good. And, as my own responses in Melbourne recently tell me only too clearly, even a ‘good’ sculpture can leave the viewer quite unmoved. A sculpture needs to be remarkable, 3-D startling, arresting, relating to us in the 3-D world they inhabit. I’d like mine to be climbable, playable with, at least for children. I’d like dynamism, moving parts perhaps, using water in some way perhaps. Or wind, or fire. Fountains, firepits, pizza ovens, play platforms, rideable, climbable, slide-downable, adorable – something! Plus dramatic, rousing, aspirational… haunting…

So hard has this been for me to fit into my weary already-overstuffed world of mainly social shoulds and maybes and onedays, that I found myself last week migrainey – something I had almost disappeared from my repertoire of responses.

And yesterday watching some Youtube videos by artists, I suddenly got the novel idea of going right back to basics – being me, the artist/thinker/dreamer/mystic, and just doing creations by myself, for myself as self-mentor, self critic, and self-muse (without excluding the possibility that if I actually do this, some ideal mentors, critics and muses might actually appear and help me in my quest! But I’m not holding up anything any more waiting for these ideal Godots… after all, I’m lucky enough to still have a wife who loves me enough, and now knows me well enough, to not try and stop me from the mad path of art, and a brother likewise, who from time to time gets inspired enough with one of my ideas to offer me some money to follow the mad hare a bit further down the rabbithole…). So I’m trying to idea out – Dreamspace as the Peter Harris gallery and studio and workshop.

The great thing now is to not follow too many trails at once, and starve like that donkey (not Balaam’s ass but… Aesop’s? No, Wikipedia says it was Jean Buridan’s, a deterministic philosopher in the 14th Century) between not just two but multiple piles of hay… There are too many Peter Harrises, all saying, ‘Be me!’ I must make a round table for us all, sit us down, and come to a consensus… a priority list. We only have one body to inhabit… We are pretty sure though that we should ‘dig our own treasure pit’, stop trying to also open up others’ pits, to teach them, inspire them, enlighten them, at least not directly as a teacher. If others are inspired or taught by what I produce, paint, scupt, or write, good; if not, never mind. I will have made a statement, put my message and last testament in a nice green bottle of art and cast it upon the human sea. That will feel good.

Watch this space for an actual sculpture – or two! I will scale up the simplest model I made first, then the more complex one several like best. Who knows, it might just pay the rent this month, and next month who knows what doors it might just blast open?

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Art and babies: epicentres of disruption

Hi friends who may still be following here! I’ve been away in http://www.dreamspace.nz the gallery and workshops in Gisborne…and http://www.dreamhaven.nz… and the Facebook colonisations of these… I’ve been doing some sculpture ..a commission for the Captain Cook memorial…giant ferrocement gourds..hue in Maori. Now inspired by a dream and my brother’s offer of a donation, I’m doing a statue of a Peter pan figure from our epic Apples of Aeden, Quickblade.

So an artwork begins…And there’s where the DISRUPTION starts. All big art projects blast a hole in the space-time-causality continuum around them – family, jobs, timetables, miscellaneous duties… they push aside lesser values to assert their right to exist. Just like babies – only these babies are more suspect, dubious arrivals into the status quo that surrounds them. And the artist, as mother, is questioned, found guilty of wanton disregard for the careful hierarchy of values that makes up respectable life. Money, or the lack of it, is usually brought up as exhibit A for the prosecution. Irresponsible procreation with no visible means of support is the verdict.

And yet, there it is: the the mother has given birth to this new thing, this awkward artefact to be fitted into their universe. Later, if it is well accepted, the judges will pay belated respects to the artist…perhaps erect a monument in his memory.

Such is normally the outward path of the ser

ious artist. Only the rich inner life of creation of a beloved child, sometimes with the help of friend muse or grandchild – as here! can compensate for the uncertainty, the rejection and criticism, the poverty..

Happily, every now and then he receives a commission that pays well…usually a ‘safe’ project such as these hue. But safe projects do provide respite for the plotting and gestation of more daring works. 🙂 That’s about where I’m at right now. A good space to be in, however insecure.

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Big rocks go in FIRST…The Long-delayed Round Table of the Five Elements

Yes, you guessed it – I DIDN’T  put this Big Rock in first… 18 years it’s been on

my longtailed back burner agenda… and it should have been one of the first things I built, at Cafe Eutopia.. why? Because it is the symbol of synergy.. social, intellectual and spiritual. It’s actually love articulated – everyone, every different type has a place and respect in the circle of process which shows how opposites are all needed.  Now, at Dreamspace gallery Gisborne, I’m finally just doing it. For gathering of extraordinary minds and hearts to imagine Eutopias, networks, creations, possible humans and communities… resilient adaptive ones that can survive upheaval and chaotic change – which are surely coming…

I’m using the free resource of newsprint roll holders…squares of strong particle board which get put out on the verge every week or so. When we perfect the design I’m thinking I’ll make a file of the shapes for laser or jigsaw cutting and put the plans in an ebook of the Round Table for worldwide availability…

Here are some photos of the surrounding planner boards which echo the five colour of the table. For more on the theory see www.4phase.org

You can just see the four sectors of the round table marked in chalk on the floor,  surrounding the central fifth table (the one pictured is a standing for it. The central one is the Balance , the purple zone of the status quo which feeds us…hence the cutlery! 🙂 Also the golden ring of community on top of the candelabra – it’s a rubber ring I found on the beach… synchronistically… and painted gold. It’s too big for oneperson to wear, it’s flexible and strong, golden and pure like gold and black inside representing the ability of good communities to absorb negativities….

The panels need painting and the holes filled with disks which I rout out of offcuts.. The whiteboards will show all the things we’re working on… the blue outlined one for new inputs, the green for new ideas, yellow for new plans and evaluations, the red for to do lists, and the central purple one for the mind mapping of the status quo of the whole enterprise, updated as new developments happen.

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The Sword of the Fifth Element and the Long Tail

There’s a ‘long tail’ – or long tale – to the things we create, if we live (and believe) long enough and don’t forget too much but let it all simmer on a long-term ‘back burner’ – or perhaps call it an athanor, or alchemist’s oven, which would slowly heat ingredients to fuse them together.

An example from many in my life here at Dreamspace recently: the short epic love/sacred quest story set in ancient Cornwall and Aeden. I wrote this spinoff/sidetrack from the epic Apples of Aeden about a decade ago, printed and hand-bound it with embossed covers, uploaded it as an ebook, free here https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/153457 and gradually forgot about it as uptake was slow and feedback online almost non-existent. But brother John (of Greenstone Pictures and now flying solo at www.boyfellinpond.com sees a beauty to it and the possibility of a short film, and has commissioned me to make a new edition of even greater ornateness as the centrepiece of the film development… complete with silver medallion of the Forging of the Sword of the Fifth Element. …which is handy because I have been getting a passable silversmithing setup going here at dreamspace gallery and workshops. www.dreamspace.nz

Here’s a draft of the design for the medallion. Watch this space… the book and the medallion – and the film, should we be spared – will hold much sacred magic, long incubated in the Harris brothers’ Athanor…

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The Hedonomatrix

hedonomatrix copy

Who said the road to hell, or at least dehumanisation, wasn’t fun? Late last night it coalesced in my mind as a coherent pattern, a syndrome. I christened it the Hedonomatrix. There may be other, better, names – I haven’t checked. By any name, it is now (to my mind) officially a Thing, as the millennial younglings say. A coming grand unification of unbridled consumerism, narcissism, online video entertainment, virtual reality, gaming….  Almost instant gratification of our hedonistic desires in the 3D world (triggering of floods of dopamine, the pleasure/addiction hormone)  through import megastores which provide cheap knockoffs of everything; and in the digital, increasingly virtual world, personalised low-cost, zero responsibility versions of everything – even, horribly (and yet seductively), of people – robotic sex partners, friends, slaves… It is all one movement, having one ultimate goal: everything now, everything virtually free, pay a digital rent and you get it all, and it never answers back, never demands responsibility or asks for help doing the chores. It is the Hedonomatrix. Plugged into this, who would bother to go out and vote, let alone argue politics in a badly heated hall? Who would bother going out to amateur theatre or craft shows or art exhibitions, when the very best ever produced is available when and if (only if) I want it, and otherwise it minds its own business, does not intrude into my hedonistic bubble?

And even this is only a temporary compromise. The Hedonomatrix client is really just filling in time until the digital Heaven is available, when we can upload our entire consciousness into the virtual AI-generated world where we will all have perfect ‘bodies’, never get sick or grow old, and are essentially Gods and Goddesses, living in endless gratification of our every imagining.

Could this actually be a good thing? Only if the powers that create it are benign, AND only if the powers that created our 3D existence in the first place are not – or were merely blind forces of swirling atoms and energy fields. I can’t believe this, mainly because if we are products of blind forces, our very minds are too and have no reason to trust logical intuition, or ethical intuition, or any thoughts our brains may have. And where in the blind swirl of atoms, does consciousness arise? No, the Consciousness, the understanding of reason and good and evil, is prior to these atoms, and therefore has its reasons for creating matter, this whole complex we call the Universe.

So, let’s keep true to the meaning of the Earth, this amazing mixed 3D existence, with all its trials and learnings, and resist the sickly sweet allure of the amoral digital heaven we are being offered. Let us be real men and real women, and explore the deep, divine meaning of our lives, and seek true happiness, not in the dopamine of hedonism but in ordered responsible (serotonin producing) learning, loving and creating. I realized last night that the main obstacle to my Lifegym idea (see www.lifegym.nz) is this growing addiction to the hedonomatrix. Why go work out creatively in 3D with others of like mind and all their flaws too, when we can just plug in to the hedonomatrix? Sigh… is it doomed?

(See ‘The Hacking of the American Mind’ for much more on the seductive consumerist addiction spiral of dopamine chasing versus the disciplined happiness path which produces serotonin, the ‘happiness hormone’)

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Lifegym gears up

Lifegym card Aqua copy

Dear friends  – (Pun alert…) Get off that treadmill! Become a misfit! (It’s a lot of fun having this position just to left field of the sport and fitness industry! There are so many puns…) We do coffee with wholecream milk…:) For that and so much more, run on down to 61 Carnarvon St, Gisborne, or pilates your mouse to http://www.lifegym.nz and vigorously explore strange new lands of the mind and spirit (under construction as I speak) – and the neglected realms of the creating hand and eye! Free downloads and videos of workshops to come – from philosophy to ferrocement – follow the blog and get notifications by email. I hope to make the website an interesting place of creation too..

This is a huge coming-out for me, but (like the aging Zarathustra) I was like a bee that has gathered too much nectar – I had to take it to the hive, or lose altitude and become one of those bees you see, lonely, dragging themselves along the ground… There’s just so much I want to share, my shyness and reticence will just have to stand aside.. This will be a good journey for all involved, I believe – do consider joining us!

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Lifegym, but not as we know it

A new possibility for sharing what I know and am – https://dreamspace.nz/2018/04/05/its-life-jim-but-not-as-we-know-it-feedback-invited-on-lifegym-idea/ It would be great to get some responses reactions and suggestions on this… I’m not at all sure I can pull it off, personally, but I’d love to be ABLE to! Usually the big possibilities come with our personal-stuff-monsters close behind them ready to ambush us… so as Zarathustra said to his personal monster, the ‘spirit of gravity’ – “Stopdwarf!” I said. “I – or you! But I am the stronger of us two – you do not know my abysmal thought! That – you could not bear!” So even our monsters must obey us – IF we face them – as often as they reappear to block our way or drag us down. So, whatever I end up doing, I want it to be because of a cosmic possibility, not a personal impossibility… Again, Nietzsche said,

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. – Friedrich Nietzsche

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/friedrich_nietzsche_103819

 Obviously, in this Lifegym I’d be leaning a lot on Zarathustra and Nietzsche… 🙂

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My burnt thumb and the Lost Salmon of Knowledge

For a few days now I’ve been carving my first Pounamu (greenstone/nephrite) from a piece I cut with my newly built diamond saw here at dreamspace – a fish which I was calling the Salmon of Knowledge, from the Irish myth of Fionn:

“The poet Finegas spent seven years fishing for this salmon. One day Finn Eces caught Fintan and gave the fish to Fionn, his servant and son of Cumhaill, with instructions not to eat it. Fionn cooked the salmon, turning it over and over, but when Fionn touched the fish with his thumb to see if it was cooked, he burnt his finger on a drop of hot cooking fish fat. Fionn sucked on his burned finger to ease the pain. Little did Fionn know that all of Fintan’s wisdom had been concentrated into that one drop of fish fat. When he brought the cooked meal to Finn Eces, his master saw that the boy’s eyes shone with a previously unseen wisdom. …”

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmon_of_Knowledge

Strange things happen when you carve an archetype… Yesterday I got a steam burn on my thumb from my kettle – a first for me in 63 years. Later, swimming at Kaiti beach (where Captain Cook first came ashore in New Zealand), I had the fish in my pocket behind a green plastic doggie bag. It must have slipped out while I was floating on my back in the shallows. We waded back and forth until dusk, then told a young German camping couple what had happened and gave them my card, offering a reward if they found the greenstone fish at low tide. As of this morning, when we looked again ourselves, and the couple was gone, the fish is at large, whereabouts unknown, doing its wise thing out there. I want it back if only to finish carving it, but meanwhile I ponder the magical significance of this happening. It came at a time when I was pondering how to come out and teach my learnings, arts crafts, and philosophy. Perhaps I’m not ready yet. Perhaps when the Fish returns I will be…

Watch this space…

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