Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

To My Non-Liberal Friends

I’m a fan of Robert E Lee. He came from a family important to the foundation of the United States and before. In his own lifetime he saw the states grow into one nation which he was opposed to. He did not find value in the centralization of the government and like Thomas Jefferson whom his own family elder Richard Henry Lee confided in and colluded with, anti-federalism was a concept which agree with the idea of a loosely organized confederacy of states in which he believed. His nation was Virginia. 

How all encompassing should one government be? Does anyone today actually know what fascism means? We can observe nature to see that monoculture is not tenable. Cels or packets of life is how diversity is preserved and government should appeal to the same model of decentralization. Fascism stomps out free speech and variable viewpoints. 

Agree with them: fascism sucks. Long live these independent united states.

“The General Lee”

18″ x 24″

Oil on canvas

Chad Sorg

2017

Inspiration Patronage

In a confined space, alienated, yet on display I’m seeing what it means to practice creativity – be an artist. Why do it and where does it come from? Individuation is the subject matter. What makes me me?The oneness we all hear so much about is really about becoming myself, fully. I don’t need to compromise by becoming a merger or a union. I am multifaceted and there are many parts to me but I am one and you are one and in this way we are one. We are not each halves or partials, we are each complete as we work to attain our completion. In this, together, we are complete.

To say I am you makes no sense, but rather: you are me. You are me and he is me, those are me, and she is me. This is me. We all live in the fishbowl, we all live in a yellow submarine. We’re looking for the singularity and here it is: I. To thine own self be true. This way to another man you’ll never be false. Shakespeare.

It is a patronage that I’m looking for. For centuries art has proliferated by patronage. Everyone from Benjamin Franklin & Leonardo da Vinci to Nikola Tesla & Georgia Okeefe agree about the need for solitude in pursuing creative endeavors. Inspiration comes when the receptor nerves are open and unencumbered. The free mind is cultivated.

But art is not a charity. It is a mistake to think of the patronage system as a donation center and the patron as a donor. From this giving there is some getting. Inspiration is a radiance. It’s not a one-way conduit. It is a luminosity flowing outward from within all who are in its reach. Inspiration is a process of decentralization. The breath of life radiates from the light of creation.

This is how things get started. The beginning of everything comes from inspiration and from the sharing the effect is multiplied.

Small Towning

I always notice the hand painted sign marking the house with farm fresh eggs for sale on country road 109. One of his neighbors sells carports. Rolling hills across the landscape don’t stop for the asphalt and the speed limit was 55 between the green golf course and green striped corn fields. I had a window job at a lake house and people had their fishing boats out just off the shore. It’s sunny and perfect today and the cars were spaced evenly with 100 yards between each. My day was over, my work day, at lunch time and I didn’t feel like driving fast.Columbia City should be very proud of its courthouse. Round spires rise from the four corners and the style is reminiscent of the Swiss or some such culture. The town is getting ready for a street fair but today is Wednesday and the booths are all sitting ready to go but the streets are empty. I stopped off at a sports bar for some chicken wings. Small-town America is alive. I got a box of new paints so tonight is another art making night for me. Window cleaning funds my habit.

http://www.AppleseedWindowCleaning.com

Ayn Rand, a Hero of Mine

Ayn Rand pulls out the self-righteous irritation from the collectivists. While they pretend to be against capitalism and free market individualism they enjoy the gratification of self that this society provides. Cheap gas and mobile phones.The truth is always in the middle isn’t it? Giving up the self for the collective isn’t freedom and unrestricted selfishness leads to oppression. How can both views be true?

Rand’s book on social philosophy “The Virtue of Selfishness” prompted one journalists to ask her why she chose such a title and she replied “for the same reason that you reject it.”

As a writer and intellectual she knew how to turn heads – get attention – isn’t a title supposed to do that?

But as a reader my job is to read and comprehend beyond titles. Digest meaning. Rand was an atheist. I’m not an atheist, I’m agnostic – influenced most by Buddhist thought – but I also understand some points from the field of philosophy in regard to metaphysics called dualism versus monism.

There are two realities ultimately for a human, this material reality and then one beyond, the spiritual reality so to speak. That’s dualism but the different shades of monism say there’s only one reality. From within this monistic division of metaphysical thought there are two: The materialists and the idealists – there is only matter or there are only ideas.

I’d say that I’m the latter, a monistic idealist. One philosopher from history that discussed this line of inquiry was Berkeley. I contemporary physicist working in the field of biology – theory of evolutionary biology – is Dr. Amit Goswami. His theory is that we have evolved by way of desire: how we want to become. Google for yourself if curious.

The point is I don’t think Ayn thought entirely the way I do but I can recognize the strength of her argument in the field she spoke to and that was political philosophy. Individualist versus collectivist philosophy.

If giving to charity were required is it still charity? What would it mean to require giving? So the dichotomy rand would have us looking at his control from the collective versus control from the self. Who’s in charge? Me or us?

An essay of hers I would recommend is the creator versus the parasite. It’s included in the book the new intellectual. It makes the creator in all of us feel powerful and important. The parasites are those who would create nothing on their own and reap reward anyway. We have to understand the kind of spectrum this would lay out. She said the conservatives are the worst in this regard because they are doing nothing to bolster the power of the individual and seemingly the job should belong to them.

The Liberals only want a monolithic collectivist utopia so their thought is clearly not suited for individualist philosophy.

And what would the Buddha say? Salvation is found in the self. He said don’t believe anything I tell you: find out for yourself.

When folks try to argue against Rand’s self-centered Objectivism with the philosophy of the Buddha’s selflessness they have to understand Rand was talking political philosophy not metaphysics. She was speaking to this material world only and I think that’s why the Buddha had the same attitude about the self. The self is all we have in this world and everything comes through it.

Writing on a Rainy Day

At Broadway and Jefferson a brick wall the height of my butt invites me to sit and write. Dark blue sky to the east, south east provides backdrop for a bright blue building trimmed in peach yellow. It’s a mechanic shop across the street. I’ve felt the slight sprinkles all day & the wind makes me wonder if dark skies are not coming this way. The other direction is more usual but I like the color anyway. Five minutes later I see the darkness is coming this way. I’m on foot. This might get exciting. The dark blue has turned to gray. Starbucks is my destination, I have a gift certificate and a sweet tooth.

But this weather doesn’t work very well for a window cleaner, nope. I guess that’s why I’ve got art to balance it. Motivation is the finest art. I did a window for free today. Bird crap. Seemed like something good for my motivation as I was feeling kind of useless. Besides, the window is one at the gallery i’m currently pursuing. Buttering them up? Sure, wish me luck. I’m sure the move isn’t hurting my chances.

At this moment it’s pouring out there but I need to go home and paint some canvases. I don’t want to get soaked. It looks like I’m going to get soaked. This was the plan. To let go of control. Here I go.

Standing Rock, Some Words

We take what we want from situations or environments because we have free will and we strive to carry out self determination. We are self made. We can analyze the moment and the setting and then the self in it. What am I doing here? What is my purpose here? Am I a part of this? Am I apart from this?

And then there is the march of time. Perhaps we find a moment when it is to end. Am I a tourist? a passenger? I took a stand, shall I go now? Is it more harmful if I stay or go? Which is more useful? What is my metric from which to measure?

They might call it the march of progress, or paint it as such anyway. They’re drilling for oil on this North American continent but perhaps I should say “we”. We are drilling for oil on the North American continent, but the question remains, what damage is being inflicted? If this is progress and there is value in it who reaps the rewards? Who gets paid? Why am I being complicit? What’s the price of gas today at the station? Maybe I can get one of those foamy cappuccinos while I’m there.

We question socially and environmentally–the two words divide for clarity–what Standing Rock and the water protectors are all about. Capitalism is the hot potato right in the middle. Capitalism for some spells freedom and for others: oppression. But we might all be asking: Am I walking the talk? If I’m free is it at the expense of someone else? Is mine a system of freedom if someone else is not free? And conversely, if I’m oppressed is it at the hands of someone else or am I oppressing myself? How am I being oppressed?And in all this, who is degrading the environment?

Hypocrisy is the word. If I’m biting the hand that feeds me I must own up. If I call myself a water protector isn’t my use of oil a potentially important point of hypocrisy? Or maybe at least it’s a point where I should begin to look at myself discriminatingly. According to Hegel there is always the Self and the Other to concern ourselves with at every point of the decision making process. And this meeting point may be the core of every spiritual tradition there is. There is always forgiveness to bring to the fold. That’s with self and with the other. Forgiveness is coupled with grace. We can bring grace to every situation but the price is discipline. We pay for grace by way of discipline. Grace is when something works unhindered by the problems and imperfections.

I can fight a battle and who has the right to call it wrong? I can fight a losing battle. I could take the side of those with the upper hand or with the high ground or I might side with the underdog and they will judge me either way but their judgement is not about me is it. People judge to define themselves and my judgement of self is all that matters. My relation to sacrifice matters much for me. For better or for worse I judge myself against sacrifice. No one gets a free ride–especially me. When others come in to judge it’s based on their blindness, their ignorance to ‘my’ truth. And so it goes for all of us: I can only speak my truth. Allow me to speak my truth.

A Walk After The Rain

My move back to Fort Wayne seemed to come abruptly. From Standing Rock I could’ve gone west or east and I chose east. It had been on my mind for a long time and my simple reason was family. The time was ripe.

I live in West Central now. The all day tinkering around the apartment came to an end once the sound of rain from outside leaked in my window. I worked up an appetite for one of those ultra sugary cappuccinos. “Five blocks away,” I thought to myself. I had to take a walk.

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When will I ever be a writer? The agony pings my brain like a lover. So I walked. I crossed the playground and I stopped by the fence for some notes. It’s all about my will. Am I willful enough?

Down the sidewalk I was led by some old fixer uppers. Curious about the coloring, I stood inspecting the yellow sidewalk in the yard being constructed and another house lined with scaffolding had me imagining what alterations they were making. I found myself standing to admire the tall church steeple, Lutheran, which stares at me through my living room window a block away.

Writing is an accumulation. It’s additive. I don’t like to be wasteful. I should use every moment and every syllable and I have to be consistent with the tense. There is plenty to see. I’m not sure it’s all exciting to discuss though I give it a go.

Next a guy asked me “help a homeless man get a sandwich?” I had seen him bundled up in a hood a couple blocks behind me when I stopped on the side of the sidewalk to write. No, he didn’t persuade me. It was like a daze I was in, like a tourist. Taking it all in but I’m not in the mood to feel like a sucker. Not now. I know that “sandwich” really means booze and the liquor store is right up ahead.

The cell phone has me pretty hooked, updating art photos, detail scenes of serene urbanna mostly. I could tell myself I’m working. I am an artist.

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Fort Wayne was always thriving and seems even more so right now. I’ve been in places less thriving than this and the contrast seems to show. None of this will show up in my photos but it’s what I’m thinking. Many of these businesses have been here most of my life and the others are a welcome addition, well thought out and proudly executed. I feel proud to be a part of it, strangely so.

The baseball stadium and surrounding shopping zone really felt most nice, most cosmopolitan. It’s comforting to see the skyline looming above in the hazy distance. Tonight I’m a tourist taking pictures, walking on air. By the way I never got rained on.

The wet sheen lingered, multiplying my view, the neon scene, while I, in my gym shoes with thick souls and covered in jacketed layers, remained dry and content gliding along with my thoughts like in a bubble. The people I saw on the streets were thick in their various attributes of life, shopping or otherwise killing time, regardless of me in my jive. I noticed every one of them.

In particular I remember a beautiful black family of three who looked straight out of a fashion magazine. We exchanged smiles and pleasant hellos. It was near the street corner at Broadway and Jefferson. They were walking past me to another beautiful downtown church steeple of brick and with a daycare yard. It was a Friday evening around dusk, not a holiday so who knows, perhaps they always dressed so nicely.

My downtown walk had become a confirmation for me: I made the right choice. Enough running toward the new and exhilarating, this would be the period where I explored my roots which starts now.

Appleseed Window Cleaning, it’s true, I’m goin’ full time..

Goodbye Reno. Back to Fort Wayne to be with family and yup, cleanin’ windows while I continue to do my paintings and writing. I’ve got a car now, a phone, a debit card even. I dropped out of society for awhile (sort of) but once again I’m embarking on a new chapter, even movin’ in to the nice part of town, downtown, West Central. Yup.Here’s my new site. Yes, my company is named after Johnny Appleseed.

Source: Appleseed Window Cleaning LLC

Political or Physical?

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“Don’t die for the wire, live for it.” Regarding Dakota Access PipeLine’s concertina wire, this was advice I heard passed along between some young natives around Oceti Oyate fire another snowy night between singing, drumming and prayer. It’s obviously a question weighing heavy. What symbolic act can heal these youthful hearts?

Honestly I go to the frontline so infrequently that I’m not the best one for a report from there and I can tell you it’s been because I’ve simply been disgusted by the actions there which lead to arrests. Becoming injured by the cops and security doesn’t appeal to me and I’m pretty sure these welts and bodily damage don’t lead to eliciting any kind of symbolic victory for our side.

The native folks will tell you this has been 500 years in the making. The oppression of a people is palpable in this area and I’ve seen the effects of it myself. Akichita is the Lakota term for warrior or soldier and there is a pride surrounding it that takes into account the familial/tribal aspect that non-natives will never be able to fully understand. The solidarity isn’t just for show.

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The frontline is a friction point in more ways than one but not just between cops and water protectors, there’s also contention between our people over what the point of it all really is here. What is our battle?

We’re walking this tightrope here in terms of the public relations invoked—how does the public view water protectors? Physical battles against the property of DAPL’s security forces become detrimental to our cause. We can’t lose access to the hearts of the world right now. It’s the reason our cleanup of camp is so important. We’re dealing with the leftovers of thousands of people who are long gone and all eyes are on us. Bob Dylan says to live outside the law one must be perfectly honest. It’s still a pigsty at Oceti Sakowin camp and all those tent poles, propane canisters and plastic bottles will be floating down the river if thaw comes too rapidly in the spring. That’s what’s called an environmental/PR disaster.

The casino recently hosted a two day conference presented by the United Nations on “Indian Treaties”. Their indigenous representatives were here to talk about indigenous rights around the world and to take testimonies from our water protectors, mostly with injuries sustained at the frontline at the hands of nasty spirited and overzealous cops and security officers.

I was happy to accompany my new friend Shara to the meeting as she’s a descendent of Iron Nation who signed the famous Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868. Her family standings make her a signatory for the Lower Brule band of the Lakota people which is the tribe generally called Sioux. The evening before the conference she and I encountered a passionate and confrontational young warrior type who hastily divided himself from us by dismissing us as political after use of the word “treaty”. He’s young but he’s not dumb. He’s a guy that I’ve talked to before and I hesitate to say his name here because 2 days later he was involved with some trouble between our people at camp and the DAPL security forces, allegedly getting shot at. I believe he’s been banned from camp as an agitator.

Shara says without treaties there would be no Lower Brule people or Sioux nation. At least it’s an effort at peaceful coexistence. Water protectors have started to step up efforts to police our own as trouble makers like him are the reason the Backwater Bridge keeps highway 1806 barricaded and closed to traffic. It’s the reason the Tribal Council has asked us to leave. With Trump’s latest announcements to overturn (?) the environmental impact studies required of DAPL we may see some abrupt about faces from the council. This complex fight, is it political or physical?

frontline image credit: Craig Roth

Pray For It..

What is this prayerful resistance? What was once twenty people in a few summer teepees grew to 12,000 by early winter and has since receded to around 600 or so. There is an ebb and flow in everything. If we listen to it all at the core we’ll hear that calm river that sometimes likes to flood in the spring. Nature leads if we can listen. Prayer leads if we can hear it.

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Just now, with a handful of other hungry water protectors in Main Mess Hall, lunch started in prayer. My friend Clarence from Oklahoma is native and he gave us a Christian style prayer starting “Our heavenly father..” ending in “aho”. More typical around here is to hear prayer begin with Lakota or Dakota words. Here we’re the melting pot of melting pots. The mudras my hands formed into personalized my own prayer with a taste of Buddhism. Each to one’s own taste.

I’ve become more prayerful here than ever but I still have a long way to go to find the level of universal symbiotic spirituality that I know is there. We still have a lot to do away with, burdens that might hang on our hearts–luggage.

The message most prevalent at this moment is one of moving ahead face first into opposition. Let them oppose me because I find my strength from within. If anyone else is in agreement that’s just an extra bonus. I’ve heard it said that I must stand up for truth even if I stand alone so my prayer is the prayer to find the wisdom to accept the truth when it finds me. I’m finding that it’s the nature of agreement that weighs importantly on me right now. Can I be in agreement with someone who opposes me?

What might appear grammatically impossible might prove true. It takes all kinds as they say and this is a point I’d like to dissect. How can we move in unison with the opposing ways that we belong to? Can Christians and Buddhists and Lakota move in unison prayerfully? I’ve found, personally, that the most deeply spiritual will say yes, absolutely.

I think the truth is an energy that moves and morphs and it is no one thing. We can’t codify the truth but only experience it for the self. It’s only a simple notice to say that one searching for the truth must face the world with honesty. Domination is simply not honest. I must recognize that convincing can take the form of domination and as native peoples know domination is what it means to colonize.

As the helicopter circles above camp I hope their readings of our heat signatures show them our prayer circle in this mess hall. This lunch that warms us warms our prayers which warms our community which warms this dome of our protection which will warm this snow and ice and create an early thaw that will melt gradually the river’s flow safely past us.

This is my prayer.

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