Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The images below are making email rounds; I thought I'd share them here. The presentation is a celebration of infinite expansion/progression, one exhalation of the universe's lungs.

It's difficult to make out the text in these low quality pics, but the text of the third image reads:
"Jupiter is about 1 pixel in size and Earth is invisible at this scale."
In the last:
"Sun is 1 pixel and Jupiter is invisible at this scale."
It's astonishing, in a calming, humbling kinda way.

Photo credit: thanks to a clever reader, I now know that these images come from rense.com, where you can view hi-res versions of these images.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Since his resignation this past Wednesday, one day after the fateful mid-term elections, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been the subject of innumerable reports in both the mainstream and alternative news. Not surprisingly, most of the articles describe Rumsfeld as "the architect" of the Iraq War and give the impression that Americans are glad to see him go, even if his doing so promises little in the way of real reconciliation in the Middle East.

Only a few of the pieces, however, touched on the many similarities between Rummy and one of his predecessors, Robert McNamara, the eighth Secretary of Defense, who served under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and approached the war in Vietnam in much the same way Rumsfeld did our interference in Iraq. Strategy is mere number-crunching for a businessman turned warlord, and the many miscalculations of these banker-commanders are rooted in a fundamental moral misunderstanding: war is not an equation and human lives are not variables.

There are apparent differences between the two men, however. Whereas McNamara now bemoans his mistakes and searches in vain for some explanation of what went wrong (he still doesn't seem capable of accepting direct responsibility), Rumsfeld waves off any hint of contrition. Instead he insists that history will frame our efforts in Iraq as a great success. I do hope he's right, but my Magic 8 Ball and the lessons of past colonial powers suggest otherwise.

At any rate, none of this is any more interesting than the spiels about Rummy on every other blog out there, but the painting below is a more unusual send-off! Kurt Weinhold painted this portrait of Rumsfeld - "Man with Radio (Homo sapiens)" - in 1929, three years before his subject was born. As a good friend of mine wrote when he first sent me this image, in November of 2005, "this might actually be proof that members of this administration are, in fact, inhuman minions of evil." That's right, kids...no matter what country you live in, or what year, Rummy will be listening. Sweet dreams.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Vote, baby, vote

Please, please, please vote!

Whatever your politics may be! Vote. However mired in cynicism you may sometimes feel! Vote.

(Especially if you're eligible in my home state.)

Photo credit: ripped from funnydog.net

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lichtenstein the Ingrate

The most recent email newsletter from ArtKrush, a sister publication of Flavorpill, featured this Boston Globe article about Roy Lichtenstein's questionable sampling. The journalist, Alex Beam, writes:
"Color me naive, but I never thought Lichtenstein's work was a direct copy of scenes from comic books. I assumed that he stylized certain scenes suggested by the comic vernacular of the 1950s and 1960s. 'He tried to make it seem as though he was making major compositional changes in his work, but he wasn't,' says [David] Barsalou, who teaches at the High School of Commerce in Springfield. 'The critics are of one mind that he made major changes, but if you look at the work, he copied them almost verbatim. Only a few were original.'"
Barsalou's website, "Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein," shows the original comic panels alongside the related Lichtenstein painting. It's worth a look.

That Lichtenstein stole his imagery from superior artists doesn't particularly bother me. At least, it bothers me a lot less today than it did a decade ago. The disapproving murmurs regarding "the implications for copyright law" will soon be mute; for better or worse, intellectual property is swiftly becoming a thing of the past. Lichtenstein's "borrowing" may have been deemed outrageous in the 1960s - had he been exposed - but we now live in the era of the re-mix and the sample. It doesn't matter that he stole. (Curiously, Lichtenstein got rich turning work intended for print reproduction into "one-of-kinds." Today, we are beginning to see some back swing of this pendulum, with reproduction and dissemination gaining ground on the one-of-a-kind sacred object.)

What does bother me - nay, what infuriates me - is Lichtenstein's elitism. The effete hack sampled, but he did so without acknowledging the source. He knew he could get away with it, as his social situation protected him from any outcry on the part of the comic artists. Lichtenstein was a member of the "high art" aristocracy. All but a few of that circle - artists, critics, dealers, and collectors alike - held the more popular (and populist) art forms in contempt, believing them trivial, mundane, and intellectually bereft. And to that, I expectorate, "Fuck you, assholes."

A decade ago, when I was more likely to let fists fly, Lichtenstein was the one artist I dreamed of pummeling. I can't rationalize this rage, but one rarely can; I loathe the man for his absurd insistence that his cribbed paintings were works of art while the source was mere froth.

Happily, I rest more easily these days, confident that Lichtenstein is quickly turning into a cultural blip, one of the many hundreds of artists celebrated in his or her lifetime, only to be discarded or, at best, relegated to the footnotes decades after their death.

The moral of the story: we like comics better than phonies and, Roy, we're fed up with your kind.

Photo credit: image ripped from "Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein"