October 30, 2014

People always lament the present, Ctd

People always lament the present as marked by decay, decadence, degeneration and decline; exhalting the past as one of radiance, rigour and rectitude. Steven Pinker said:
"Every generation thinks that the younger generation is dissolute, lazy, ignorant, and illiterate."
Hiraeth is the adjective which describes a deep nostalgia for the past. It's described like this: "A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past." A commenter on Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Dish, wrote:

October 29, 2014

George Orwell on Ireland

Cartoon of George Orwell by famous American political cartoonist, Pat Oliphant

George Orwell wrote that the execution of the Easter Rising leaders was "a crime and mistake". He believed that the dispute over Ulster was caused by "the expansionist racist nature of modern republicanism." In a review of Sean O'Casey's autobiography by George Orwell in the Observer, Orwell wrote in 1945:
"Why is it that the worst extremes of jingoism and racialism have to be tolerated when they come from an Irishman?"

October 28, 2014

Zadie Smith - Typing out the work of other writers

Zadie Smith said in a conversation with US cartoonist Chris Ware:
"I had the same feeling when I’m talking with other artists or writers who wrote a lot when they were teenagers and some how I didn’t do that at all. I maybe wrote about four stories throughout the whole of my adolescence and they were perfect copies, that’s what I did, I copied an Agatha Christie story or a PG Wodehouse story, sometimes to the extent of typing out the story itself and sometimes changing it one way or another but for some reason that was my main instinct… it’s reading that is the practice, it’s not writing. I was reading obsessively, all the time, forever, every day. And that’s where I think you learn to write. Not in the actual writing. The writing was an explosion of 18 years worth of reading all the time."

October 27, 2014

The Lundy Terror, Ctd

Modern unionism is a heterodoxy, not an orthodoxy. It is multi-, not mono-confessional. You can be a ruthless critic of a belief and still be an exponent of that belief. You can be a ruthless critic of unionism and still be a unionism. As the Orwell Method has shown, self-examination and self-interrogation of your beliefs strengthens the precepts and principles that form the basis of that belief.

October 26, 2014

Emaciate and asphyxiate the moderate with promiscuous lawlessness and naked intimidation

Cartoon by Ian Knox, you can buy prints of his work here
A threatening tweet. A bullet in the post. A firebomb through the window. This is the authoritarianism and censor of the jackboot. Citizens, critics and democrats censored by cudgel-wavers. This is the history of Northern Ireland. Emaciate and asphyxiate the moderate and eradicate reason and debate with the veto of violence.

October 25, 2014

If we have Columbus Day and Australia Day, why not Henry II Day?

Simon Carswell wrote in the Irish Times: "The arrival of Columbus in the New World led to centuries of exploitation, disease and genocide." For this fact four US states do not mark Columbus Day, instead celebrating Native American Day. President Andrew Jackson whose parents came from Carrickfergus led campaigns against the Creeks and Seminoles during his military career and signed the Indian Removal Act as President. Also in Australia, "Australia Day" celebrates Captain Cook’s arrival there in 1788. Some people now derisively call the holiday "Invasion Day".

October 24, 2014

The unmoored, uncertain life of the artist

The uncertainty and unpredictability in the life of the writer and artist is universal and perennial. Kurt Vonnegut wrote:
"In an unmoored life like mine, sleep and hunger and work arrange themselves to suit themselves, without consulting me."

October 23, 2014

Roy Lichtenstein - Art is theft, Ctd

The famous Roy Lichtenstein 'Wham!' panel is the above image. The original by Irv Novick is below it.
Roy Lichtenstein is well known for the painting ‘Whaam!’. But less known is that the image was modelled upon an original panel drawing by comic book artist Irv Novick from the “Star Jockey” DC Comic story. Some say homage. I say plain old plagiarism.

October 22, 2014

Joseph Pulitzer on the proper role of journalism

Cartoon of Joseph Pulitzer cartoon. More here.
Joseph Pulitzer was a Hungarian-American Jewish reporter turned newspaper owner, who owned the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the New York World. Joseph Pulitzer introduced the techniques of "new journalism" to the newspapers he acquired in the 1880s. His legacy lives on most prominently through the annual Pulitzer Prize and in an awareness of what the real role of the journalist is. He said that the role of journalism and the fourth estate is:
"An institution that should always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty."
Joseph Pulitzer, May 10, 1883, quoted on the Times plaque. My previous post on the role of journalism here.

October 21, 2014

Artists are labourers to their unconscious

Scottish artist John Byrne with a self-portrait. More John Byrne self-portraits here.
[UPDATE - Zadie Smith said: "[My] writing was an explosion of 18 years worth of reading all the time."
Graham Linehan talked about "practical procrastination" and said: "Your subconscious is this huge glacial thing under water that’s just doing a lot of work when you don’t realise it."]

Agnes B said on Radio 4:
"When you are designer you are like a sponge you don’t know where ideas come from."
John Byrne said:
"I am the labourer to my unconscious."
Michael Longley said:
"The raw material of experience… needs to settle to an imaginative depth where it can be transformed and emerge as art."
Francis bacon said:
"There’s this deep sea which we call the unconscious which we know nothing about. I always hope the most wonderful images will emerge from it."

October 20, 2014

John Banville - Most artists live with other artists, whether physically or in their minds

Cartoon of John Banville, more here.
John Banville said:
"Most artists live with other artists, whether physically or in their minds."
Martin Amis said the same thing of writers. Speaking in 2000, he said that reading and writing is about communion, not communication:
"It was Christopher Hitchens that introduced me to Saul Bellow as a reader. Look at Homboldt’s Gift he told me with a serious inclination of the head on the staircase of the New Statesman in 1977. I looked instead at the victim and after very few pages I felt a recognition threading itself through me whose form of words, more solemn than exhilarated, went approximately as follows: Here is a writer I will have to read all of. Everything else followed from this and it remains the basis of the connection. I see Bellow perhaps twice a year, and we call and we write, but that accounts for only a fraction of the time I spend in his company. He is on the shelves, on the desk, he is all over the house, and always in the mood to talk, that’s what writing is: not communication but a means of communion. And here are the other writers that swirl around you like friends, patient and intimate, sleeplessly accessible over centuries. This is the definition of literature."

October 14, 2014

The anti-Columbus movement, Ctd

Michael Ramirez cartoon of Paul Krugman, arch-opponent of Niall Ferguson
The self-described classic Scottish enlightenment liberal, Niall Ferguson said:
"I think it’s hard to make the case, which implicitly the left makes, that somehow the world would have been better off if the Europeans had stayed home. It certainly doesn’t work for north America, that’s for sure. I mean, I’m sure the Apache and the Navajo had all sorts of admirable traits. In the absence of literacy we don’t know what they were because they didn’t write them down. We do know they killed a hell of a lot of bison. But had they been left to their own devices, I don’t think we’d have anything remotely resembling the civilisation we’ve had in north America."
He also talks about the moral simplification urge here. Christopher Hitchens discussed the progresses versus retrogresses of imperialism. He looked at the Marxian analysis which saw British imperialism as ending the "Millennial stagnation and isolation of India." And said, "if you have to be colonised, don’t be colonised by the Belgians."
Christopher Hitchens in response to Noam Chomsky who is charged by Hitchens of saying that America was not a good idea. Hitchens also notes the change of name from Jefferson elementary to Sequoia.
Christopher Hitchens on militant Islam's "Imperial nostalgia as well as imperialism". George Orwell said:
"Instead of taking the mechanically anti-British attitude which is usual on the Left, it is better to consider what the world would really be like if the English-speaking culture perished. For it is childish to suppose that the other English-speaking countries, even the U.S.A., will be unaffected if Britain is conquered."
You can read Niall Fergsuon with some thoughts on what Britain did for Ireland here and Roy Foster on the positive aspects of Britain in Ireland here. My previous posts in this series here and here.

October 13, 2014

Paper versus digital reading

On the left is Barton Creeth reading a book. On the right, Jason Ashford is reading his phone. In the middle is me drawing. On the weekend of Setpember 26-28 I and a few friends took a trip to Bushmills and some took the chance for a digital detox - to "deassimilate from the cyber hive", as Ray Mears put it.

Charles Bremner (@CharlesBremner) wrote in the Times that "Permanent digital connection is bane of modern life". The Guardian reported that "Germany ponders ground-breaking law to combat work-related stress". The Spectator wrote:

October 12, 2014

The Backfire Effect

The Backfire Effect or Identity-Protective Cognition is when people hold onto their personal and tribal narrative even when it is wrong and unfounded. The antidote to this kind of egregious thinking and groupthink is the Orwell Method. But first, a little more on the Backfire Effect.

Maria Popova is well known for writing, "Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind." This is a painful process, made all the harder by the "Backfire Effect" as Maria Popova explained, changing the mind is a problem many grapple with, however it is hard. Because on one hand:
"The awareness that personal growth means transcending our smaller selves as we reach for a more dimensional, intelligent, and enlightened understanding of the world."
And on the other hand:
"The excruciating growing pains of evolving or completely abandoning our former, more inferior beliefs as we integrate new knowledge and insight into our comprehension of how life works. That discomfort, in fact, can be so intolerable that we often go to great lengths to disguise or deny our changing beliefs by paying less attention to information that contradicts our present convictions and more to that which confirms them."

October 11, 2014

Christopher Hitchens on the Falklands War

A cartoon by Ralph Steadman of Margaret Thatcher being haunted by the ARA General Belgrano
The cartoon is by Ralph Steadman of Margaret Thatcher being haunted by the ARA General Belgrano, an Argentine cruiser leaving the British Declared Exclusion Zone that was ordered to be sunk under her instructions.

In all the polarisation around Thatcher and controvery about the Falklands War, Christopher Hitchens brings some clarity. He held that line that he could not agree more with Thatcher and her position on the Falklands War. Hitchens shared his position on the Falklands War in a conversation with Salman Rushdie, where he said:

October 10, 2014

"Brutal, bilious" cartooning

Cartoon by HM Bateman
In his canonical article, 'The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved', Hunter S. Thompson wrote about Ralph Steadman and his drawing habit. A habit whose product was "brutal" and "bilious" cartoons. Thompson explained:
"[A problem with Ralph Steadman] was his habit of sketching people he met in the various social situations I dragged him into—then giving them the sketches. The results were always unfortunate. I warned him several times about letting the subjects see his foul renderings, but for some perverse reason he kept doing it. Consequently, he was regarded with fear and loathing by nearly everyone who’d seen or even heard about his work. He couldn’t understand it. "It’s sort of a joke," he kept saying. "Why, in England it’s quite normal. People don’t take offense. They understand that I’m just putting them on a bit." "Fuck England," I said. "This is Middle America. These people regard
what you’re doing to them as a brutal, bilious insult. Look what
 happened last night. I thought my brother was going to tear your head
off.” Steadman shook his head sadly. “But I liked him. He struck me as a very decent, straightforward sort.” “Look, Ralph,” I said. “Let’s not kid ourselves. That was a very
 horrible drawing you gave him. It was the face of a monster. It got on
his nerves very badly.” I shrugged. “Why in hell do you think we left
the restaurant so fast?"
Thompson said the "the people there thought that an ugly drawing of somebody is an insult." Ralph Steadman said that "Hunter S. Thompson always used to call my work ‘filthy scribblings’!" Steadman also said
"Hunter S. Thompson… took me [to the Pendennis Club in Kentucky] and I started drawing the people there. It’s a funny thing, but the people there thought that an ugly drawing of somebody is an insult, like tantamount to smacking someone in the face."

October 09, 2014

Fintan O'Toole - Ireland's parallel monarchy

Fintan O’Toole wrote in ‘Enough is Enough: How to Build A New Republic’ (page 28) about Ireland's 'parallel monarchy’ of the Church:
"Having shrugged off one culture of deference to titled nobles, the new state embraced another. The elected representatives of the people always kneeled before a bishop and kissed his ring. The fact that the bishop was addressed as ‘My Lord’ and lived in a house that was always called a ‘palace’ did not seem to cause any great discomfort to Irish people who would have been enraged by any sugges- tion that Ireland should honour an aristocracy. Indeed, Mary Kenny has argued persuasively that the Church occupied the place where the monarchy had been: ‘even the ardent Republicans would find a vehicle for the pomp and ceremony that every society either derives from tradition or reinvents – the Holy Roman Catholic Church would soon fill the vacuum left by the departed pageantry of His Majesty.’7 She points out that the Eucharistic Congress of 1932, which was the Irish state’s first great public ceremonial, ‘followed in almost every detail the format used for royal visits and royal events in Ireland… Not coincidentally, words and phrases previously applied to the monarchy were at- tached to the papacy: “allegiance”, “loyalty”, and “kingship” (of Christ).’ The ‘parallel monarchy’ of the Church preserved all the habits of awe, obedience and humility that might have been thrown off in a genuinely democratic revolution."
In an article in the Irish Times, 'Why do we allow a foreign state to appoint the patrons of our primary schools?' Fintan O’Toole wrote:
"Why do we allow a foreign state to appoint the patrons of our primary schools? If some weird vestige of colonial times decreed that the British monarch would appoint the ultimate legal controllers of almost 3,200 primary schools in our so-called republic, we would be literally up in arms. Why should we tolerate the weird vestige of an equally colonial mentality that allows a monarch in Rome to do just that?"

October 08, 2014

The "Troubles" is a term for the conflict that began in 1916, ended with an ambiguous armistice in 1998 and rumbles on to this day

Cartoon of David Trimble and Gerry Adams by Steve Bell

[UPDATE - "Unfortunately, the "terrible beauty" they [Pearse and Connolly] spawned is even now to be seen in action in the blazing streets of Belfast" wrote John Banville]

Philip Bobbitt said that "Long War" is a term for the conflict that began in 1914 and concluded in 1990. Christopher Hitchens said the identical, that the global conflict that began in August 1914 did not conclusively end until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union.

My argument is that the Troubles should be a term for the conflict that began in 1916 and quasi-concluded in 1998 with an ambiguous armistice, embedded a little further in 2005 but continues to this day with an uneasy truce.

He's a quick overview of history.

October 07, 2014

Live Drawing at @MurphysButchers on @theLisburnRoad

Following a wonderfully enjoyable day of Live Drawing at Arcadia Deli on the last Saturday of August 2014, I did a day of Drawing at Murphy's Butchers on the Lisburn Road on Saturday October 4.

Murphy's was another very enjoyable day, drawing people of all ages and backgrounds. From drawing a little boy who had just finished a morning of mini-rugby at Belfast Harlequins, to drawing Ulster Rugby players Stephen Ferris and Robbie Diack. Please have a look and explore all the drawings and videos from the day.

See the pictures below to see all my work from the day of drawing in Murphy's Butchers. See all my Vine freeze-frame videos here. Also be sure to look and read about my Conference and Seminar Drawing here.

Colin Bateman (@ColinBateman) - The Two Williams, King Billy and a "washed-up drunk"

My cartoon scribble of Colin Bateman
Colin Bateman wrote in 2006:
"I’ve come up with a story called The Two Williams, which features King Billy (that’s King William to you) on the eve of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 accidentally changing places with his modern equivalent — a washed-up drunk whose only job in life is to lead the Orange parade every 12th of July."

October 06, 2014

Michael Bloomberg (@mikebloomberg) - Don't Major in Intolerance

Following the Brandeis University-Ayaan Hirsi Ali controversy of 2014, when Brandeis revoked an invitation it had offered to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak and receive an honorary degree at the university's commencement ceremonies. In response to this action aagainst the Somali-born feminist and political essayist and others, Michael Bloomberg spoke out against this trend of liberal intolerance. Michael Bloomberg said in his Harvard Commencement speech 2014 entitled, 'Don't Major in Intolerance':

October 05, 2014

America's perception management of Europe

Cartoon of Barack Obama by Morten Morland
Glenn Greenwald wrote in October 2012:
"It is almost certainly the case that an Obama-led attack on Iran would generate far more public support than a Romney-led attack, because most Democrats will almost certainly cheer for the former while pretending to be horrified by the latter, will while Republicans would support both (that's the dynamic that made the very same "counter-terrorism" policies that were so divisive in the Bush years become wildly popular once Obama embraced them)."

October 04, 2014

My work with Michael Deane

[UPDATE - also read this post here]

It all began with a chance tweet and a simple cartoon as explained here in my 'The Artist's Journey' series, and in even more detail my journey is described here. That original cartoon, created on a wet March Saturday afternoon after rugby coaching and before going into town to sit in Waterstones all day, was then used in the Michael Deane signature wine, 'Chez Deano', which you can see below.

Vivisected Northern Ireland - Hugh Muir, be Intolerant of intolerance

I've written before about the vanity of small differences and the vivisection of Northern Ireland and the baleful effects of these egregious habits. In the face of such deleterious habits, I have called upon the need for civil intolerance. We can also learn from a parralel experience. In response to the flying of a jihadist-style flag in a London housing estate Hugh Muir wrote in the Guardian that we must resist those who would Balkanise public space. He wrote:

October 03, 2014

Colm Tóibín on his daily routine and the cult of Law School

Colm Tóibín's explained his daily routine to the Irish Times: 

"Breakfast? No! None of that eating rubbish. You get down with an empty stomach. So you create this system of rewards – if you do this, you can have that. Otherwise you’d never get any work done… I take an hour off and work for an hour. And I work until late, six days a week. The other general rule is, no lunch with anybody. That’s an awful waste of time. And I would never drink in the day. Ever."

October 02, 2014

Shane Smith - The media and establishment is inherently conservative

In 1993 Christopher Hitchens said, "there is one party - that is a beltway party, a Washington party, a permanent party, the party of those in power and most of those in the leadership of the Washington equipe of which the press are members of it and proud of it and lucky and afraid of the possibility of falling out of favour." Shane Smith also speaks critically of the US politico-media establishment. He said:
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