Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | August 19, 2017

A Universe of Shadow

“When we see the shadow on our images, are we seeing the time 11 minutes ago on Mars? Or are we seeing the time on Mars as observed from Earth now?  It’s like time travel problems in science fiction. When is now; when was then?”   ~Bill Nye

hadows are a constant fascination for many.  In the realms of personal psychology, the literary world, metaphysics, science itself, mythology/religion, politics and even our gaming and entertainment industrys have not escaped the pull of the fascination of shadows and the idea that within them are worlds we are unaware of or do not have direct access to through the primary senses or means.  Even in our sleep we can not escape the, for by loosing one level of consciousness we move into another, and another world, which is unlike any we are used to in waking and often does not play by the rules of the waking world but a set of rules all of its own wich we are clueless of.  Somehow we have slipped from one world to the next while keeping a foot in both.  To lose that footing results in madness or death in the waking realm.

eeping in mind the idea that our bodies are an encapsulated universe within themselves, that our very person is a conglomeration of galaxies, individual stars, individual worlds, Supernovas, nebulas, black holes etc… and follow the laws of physics (motion, light, gravity and the rest.), we have profound model of humanity.  Consider also each celestial and galactic body exerts influence over the other (i.e. we find hidden planets by indications of orbital wobbles and the like which tell us there are unseen objects influencing the ones we know about).  In essence our exacting models of the universe dont’ quite fit, are off just enough to tell us something is being missed.  Not an academic version of science and physics but it will have to suffice.  If this concept is accurate, than the very presence of our shadow means there is another world in our presence.  It is much more than our own body blocking the rays of the sun or light, thereby creating a patch of darkness.  Where our shadow lands changes the world in significant ways.  There is a temperature drop which has ramifications of its own for the patch of ground it falls up.  The environment becomes more hospitable, even if it be for a few moments which means molecular changes occur.  Our presence, a galaxy if you will, impacts the world at large we live on, we in turn impact our own solar system, which in turn impacts planets and stars beyond ours and so on.  The destruction of a star 20 million light years away impacts our world, for it changes our night sky and gravity influences.  The loss of stars changes our Astronomy which is not happening in real-time so the night sky we see is actually the night sky of light years past.

et us explore for the moment our shadows as a world unto themselves.  If need be if may require us to suspend adherence to religious or scientific belief.  It can not be refuted our shadows, whatever it may be, are an extension of ourself.  They never leave us, even in total darkness there is the impression and awareness that before us is an impression we are leaving in the darkness, a space we are filling although we may not visibly see it.  The sense we receive when we are being watched but we can not see by whom, is the influence of another body (Planet, galaxy etc.) impacting our own.  We become aware of the other influences impacting us around it.  Our shadow then, may prove useful in teaching us about ourselves in being looked at in the same way.  It is another world which moves into our realm.  It orbits us independently of our own sun, has its own seasons and zones, grows and shrinks and may seem to disappear altogether but is always there.   If we could detach ourselves from our body and stand in our own shadow what would we experience aside from the hard science data (changes in light, temperature etc.)?  How would we fit into the new universe of foreign stars and gods?   Perhaps a different set of physics and chemistry?  In this respect size becomes irrelevant, for our mere presence big or small impacts those around us.  The idea of leaving our footprint on the planet talks to this concept, that big or small our presence and actions have an impact for growth or destruction.  The far-reaching implication is the waves will ripple outward, creating changes we can not see, and perhaps will not for years long after we are gone.

here has been an unspoken acknowledgement, both in Eastern and Western circles, that there is consciousness in the unseen world.  Both on a Psychological level and a Scientific Level.  The scientific concept that the behavior of the observed changes as a direct result of being observed indicates a sophisticated level of awareness present in realms that we have traditionally not attributed to having consciousness.  If we assume our shadows are a barren, lifeless world/realm we really must go back and examine our whole science and rebuild it over.  The artistic world has always allowed for consciousness in the unseen realms, the play of color, light and perception has not been seen as inert but as living and changeable and has resonance with studies in multi dimensional science, as well as psychology.  The ancient Greeks were acutely aware sound impacted the human condition profoundly, changing emotion and such could be used for healing.  The foundations of Music and Dance Therapy today owe alliance to the Greeks.  What of our shadows then and how should we explore them?  Why not explore them as we explore the universe at large.  Ply our shadows with measurements of scientific equipment, as if we were entering a new solar system or region of outer space.  Changes in magnetic fields, gravitational pulls, etc.  We would look for zones of life, how the shadow responds to internal sickness and what external changes occur to the shadow zones.  Run the shadow through fields of different wavelengths, light distortions.  Make every attempt to discover what the shadow has to offer and show us on a large-scale.  Fantasy about Shadow Realms and Worlds are intriguing, but they are a reflection only and echo what the mind knows instinctively that there is another dimension to us which is real, touchable but not necessarily dark.

hildren, being the perceptive beings that they are, see their shadow as a real entity.  They have not yet been tainted by the ideas of adults telling them the shadow is a demon, or not real, or an illusion, or their soul.  The lingering ideas and aversions to stepping on shadows may have a basis in reality, that by doing so we are stepping upon worlds filled with living beings who we know we impact, and the resistance to exploring the shadow beyond a mere glance is most likely based in instinctual fear (ignore it and it will go away).  Our history has cast the shadow (no pun intended as evil) because it is darkness, and we assume where there is no light evil resides.  Our enduring fear of darkness, open closet doors, dark basements and abandoned unlighted houses are directly related to our relationship with our own physical shadows.  Even Peter Pan could not escape his, indeed the eternal child had to have his threaded back upon him as his shadow escaped him, not the other way around.

ne single candle erected in the center of town stood above the roof tops.  It had been the undertaking of the year and now it stood lighted.  Every year at this time a candle stood ready to be lit.  It was an endeavor by all of the village who saved and collected wax and contributed to the candle’s construction.  It was marbled with the colors of autumn, the spring time and the sea.  There were patches od deep forest greens and sculpted into the candle were pictures made from colored wax.  Butterflies, wild flowers, leaping deer or elk, soaring hawks and eagles.  Silhouettes of dancing figures around the base of the candle, and trees extending their branches for birds.  It was a work of soul for the village, and the candle would burn for months, night and day and in the end, any remaining wax was saved for the following year or divided out among the village for use in their own homes.  Throughout the day people had been drawn to it, as if pulled to its orbit like the moon to the earth.  Here friends talked and families gathered, music played and children jimped in and out of the shadow’s candle.  Squealing in delight when the shadow hit one of the special markers which indicated treats or candy would be distributed to them.  As night came, the square transformed into lanterns and a softer, other worldly air as if the very gates of Fey themselves were opened.

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | August 12, 2017

A Life in the Day of Snake Oil Salesmen/Saleswomen.

“In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods.”  ~Charles Simmons

n my more idle and perverse moments, I indulge myself to a healthy serving of absurdity.  It’s not that I necessarily enjoy such indulgences, per say, although admittedly they provide occasional observation that contains a small nugget of gold deep in a pile of garbage pulled from all corners of the globe, and the dregs from people’s characters where even the most skilled alchemist would hesitate to draw from those dark pools of refuse and contaminated humanity.  There is toxic, and then there is TOXIC.  The entertaining part of all this is in the pathetic way people or organizations peddle their particular brand of poison and the lengths they will go to in an effort to disguise the absurdity.

or this age of advanced technology, one need only go so far as their SPAM folders to find what absurdity means.  Our electronic mail boxes are daily assaulted by people not only in our own backyards but around the globe whose sole purpose to is suck us into a world of illusion, deceit and exploitation through whatever desperate means possible.  “Dear Sir, I am a Christian Woman (Narhari Mabi) whose husband worked under a despotic ruler and was killed.  He left behind $10 million in a bank account I can’t access.  Your name was given to me by a highly confidential source as honest and dependable and if you can help me access my inheritance I will reward you with a significant amount of the funds to keep for helping me and to prevent them from falling into the dictators hands.  Please contact me for details and supply me with routing numbers to your account so we can establish the transfer of funds through my lawyer.  God Bless you,  Larry.”  The email will be Jason@blah blah blah or some such nonsense.   Well Narhari, Larry, Jason or whoever you are let me just give you my bank account numbers because I am a religiously gullible toad who can look past your identity crisis, ignore the fact I have no ties to any other countries let alone travel in circles that would remotely suggest I have such resources etc.  This letter will appear in various forms throughout the year and then disappear for a while, and resurface again, and has continued to do so for over 20 years.  Larry continues to morph from a widowed Christian Woman, to a Barrister, banker, to a Son or Daughter orphaned by a car accident (under suspicious circumstances), political coupe or other such dramatic events.  No one ever dies at home, peacefully in their sleep and happy.  I guess Larry, Jason, Narhari and whatever reincarnations find such events boring and unappealing.

umanity has always been a social lot, and as such companionship plays an important part of who we are as a race.  Let’s face it, without companionship our planet would have never seen our lovely race grow and sprout.  So it is not surprising there are the vultures who use this need to exploit.  According to my SPAM box, all sorts of women/men have met me in the course of my life time and followed me throughout my lifespan without me even knowing it.  Hey you!  Remember me?  We talked awhile back (in Dubai, Cafe, restaurant, Party…) and then I lost touch but just found your information again and want to hook up. I missed you, give me a call.  Jill.  Well Jill (Or are you Larry?)  No I don’t remember you and that alone means that if I did meet you there is a good reason I don’t (probably because you don’t exist and we never met in the first place).  None of the places you mention we met I have ever been (Maybe it was George or Jason).    You found my information?  Please lose it again.  I don’t want to “Hook Up”, (never did or I would remember) and I am happily married (which you would know because I have been for 20 years-which means if you are real I dropped you for a reason hence we lost touch because I wanted to… STALKER!!).  The fact that your name continues to change also is concerning.  You can’t make up your mind if you are Larry, Jill, Narahi, Jason, George, Surgie, Svetlana, Inga, Jorge, Mina or any combination thereof.  I can refer you to a good therapist though.  Admittedly the one time I was thrown for the loop was the notice in my box  “Single beautiful Asian lady next door wishes to make acquaintance.”  Being the hermit I am it was possible I had missed something here, because while I have met my neighbors I don’t interact much except for conversations on our lawns, star-gazing and the occasional BBQ.  So it was quite possible the Native American Family whose daughter is friends with mine could really be sleeper agents for the Chinese secret service, as could the Slavic neighbors next door, or the one across the way from me who are both hispanic and white.  But, my instincts were right on.  Larry or George were not leading a secret life and there were no strange women wandering around looking for me.  Being the elderly person I am, I had my dog check under my bed.  If anyone had been there she would have run from the room and left me to fend on my own.

isturbingly there seems to have been an ongoing interest in my sex life and my vitality from numerous companies I have had no contact with, or people who seem to know my personal life in sordid detail. It has not just been the random comment or concern here and there, but it seems I am popular among vitamin companies and Viagra competitors and knock offs.  To read them one who think I have been cloistered for one hundred years.  Evidently to them size does matter, based upon the volume of email I get, but shouldn’t it be their size and not mine which is the concern?  They are obsessed.  One would think their lives were falling apart at the thought I don’t measure up to their standards.  I am quite surprised there is not an army of lab technicians running around outside my home with rulers and measuring tapes, stop watches and all sorts of gadgets ready to tackle me as I walk to my car, all in the interest of science and marketing.  The term Big Pharma takes on a new meaning.  Perhaps Larry and Jill would be more suited, that is if one can find the other and if the other can transfer money to the other for a small finders fee to escape the next door woman who wants to meet George who wants to be bigger.

he role of the artist is to reflect society, and the absurdity reflected here is our electronic media is infested with a race of bottom dwellers who hide behind technology.  Petty scammers, dysfunctional organized crime schemes, any ethnic mafia and predatory business (big, small, legit or not) are a sickness just not pervading our world of electronic media but our world as a whole.  The absurdity is pervasive and contagious as the black death itself.  Religious leaders from the pulpit encourage and pray for Nuclear war, telling us it is God’s will to inflict unimaginable suffering on innocent children and adults.  We have witnessed a resurgence in hate groups in all ethnic arenas and cherry pick which groups are acceptable and which ones are not.  We have reaped what we sowed decades earlier and continue to weaken civil rights.  The mindset of the human race is not reflective of the ideals of even our highest spiritual values, let alone our highest virtues of how we should live among our fellow-man and world.  Each shinning moment we must pull down, damage and sully because to let it stand means our idea of progress may be wrong.  Human beings are not a commodity to be bargained or negotiated yet the prevailing attitude is such mindsets are absurd.  The idea the world would recover from a nuclear attack is sheer folly, and yet our leaders strike at the match as an errant child plays with matches.  As in Poe’s Masque of the Red Death we dance as death gathers around us thinking the absurdity of our actions will save us, only to find Nahari or Larry on the throne.

eath was never really welcomed joyfully, not fully.  There was always sorrows and tears and a tear in the fabric of life which left one outside of themselves.  Thus it was with the flowers and the birds in the window boxes.  The village felt the loss, mourned and lived with it.  The ceasing of life they could not understand and about as comforting as it came was to view it as the sleep of the caterpillar.  One would awaken to something new and the living would tend those sleeping as best they could.  The living became the dreams of those sleeping.  Those outside of the villages influence of course thought to conquer such inequality, that the natural ceasing of life was to be avoided at all cost and if it required a little misery to continue onward than so be it.  It was the job of the priest and doctors to soothe away any misgivings the populace may have and when their task failed there was always the absurd they could turn to.  The taxidermist once suggested the dead be subjected to his skill, so they could be seated around the house or at a table, even brought outside in the squares and parks to give the illusion of life and of participating in it.  People were aghast as such an idea, but secretly they found it appealing and would have gained popularity had not questions of storage arisen.  Where would they be kept?  The banker and librarian both thought vaults where you could check out and check in deceased relatives would be a solution, and secretly drew up plans for such places, which someone remarked looked more like a large dry cleaners.  The plans were tabled for the moment, but not forgot.

 

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | July 29, 2017

Regression of the Stars

“We take nature on as an opponent to be subdued for the sake of civilization,  We count among the highest achievement of modern society the development of a technology that allows us to masters natures vagaries.”  ~James P.  Carse

onquest and manifest destiny, the two are married to each other inseparably and while the world may believe itself divorced from some concepts we are no closer to resolution of these ills than ever.  The view which sees our world as an object, and not as a living organism has dire consequences not only for us on a local level, but on a global scale as well and in the context of space travel, a galactic scale.  We talk of terra forming planets instead of leaving them intact as if it is our right to change a planet’s natural environment to suit our needs, our wants, our desires.  We talk of lessening our environmental footprint on our planet but upon the vastness of space we have no discussions about the impact our presence has, our actions.  We limit it to a global (at best) level but we still view natures as the adversary, as something which is in our way and which has to give ground to our wants when push comes to shove.  Our efforts to control nature, is a direct reflection of the relationship we forge with our fellow-man as illustrated in the picture below.                                                        

ith a current climate where war profiteering is encouraged and accepted, what are the ethics involved in reaching out to the stars?  Are we ready as a human race to handle that responsibility of establishing outposts or the foundations of our own civilization beyond our own global borders?  Already the advent of the ability to move beyond the borders of this world are reserved for the elite rich who are treating it as a luxury jaunt around the earth into space and back again, or a right of material privilege to “pay their way” based upon simply the ability to accumulate more wealth than anyone else.  The idea that because they have paid for it, gives them license to pave the way as they see fit.  One can already envision the dystopian visions of such division as depicted in the movie Elysium.   However in real life, the conditions will be much harsher but art reflects life so the analogy is valid.

iterature (i.e. art) has given us ample opportunity to address this next step in our development as human beings, who have already begun to strain the constraints of our globe not just by means of population, but by continued means of predation upon ourselves as well as the world we live in, and upon.  That is not to say there have not been some strides taken to manage our environmental impact, but in and effort to shirk that human responsibility there has arisen a movement which denies any significant negative human impact upon the natural resources or the global environment.  They have turned the concern into a game of conquest, seeking the elimination of one side in an effort to emerge as “the winner”.  We are mired in the idea of dominance, that one must loose or be defeated if we are to be successful in life, in politics, in work.  We are infatuated with the end result, in bringing things to a smashing conclusion where someone stands alone on a pile of bodies or broken rubble and this is the hero/heroine, the successful icon.  Putting aside differences and working together is not as glamorous or fashionable, it goes against the grain of human nature so much so that even in our mainstream religions we have made such ideology of winner and loser the main theme of our worship.

eeping the above in mind, if one thinks about our relationship with space will end up with a quote from Dr. Who (2014),  “There’s a horror movie called Alien? That’s really offensive. No wonder everyone keeps invading you.”  Much of our art depicts the general idea of life other than being on earth as somehow grotesque, violent, sinister and appearing much different than we are and when it appears as us as having either ideas of conquest manifested by a violent ideology, or highly superior, cold, intellect which devalues human life as insufficient or inadequate.  One of the most startling, or perhaps not so, is the idea that human beings need protecting because we are not ready or capable of handling space beyond the confines of our planet and need protecting from ourselves (a not so new concept which has followed us through the ages).   Our interest in the stars is a fascinating one, and numerous references made to the heavens abound in different religious texts and spiritual art and it is with irony one looks at much of our alien art today which if we believe art reflects community, we have not only a scientific commentary on the realms beyond earth but also a commentary on the heavens/spiritual realm as well.  From a Psychological perspective, one has to question if these are societies projections of how life other than humanity itself is seen because this is how humanity copes with knowing its own foibles.   Certainly our religious history is steeped in the belief of a violent kingdom of God, it shaped hundreds of years of Christianity both in action and in art work both in and out of Catholicism and Protestantism.  Aliens, Angels, Devils, Heaven and Hell are all outside of world and yet intrude upon it regularly.  Earth is often compared to a battlefield.  If not demons and angels, then aliens.  Powers and Principalities not of this world.  Reference C.S. Lewis “Space Trilogy” for a more comprehensive view of this struggle.

o one had attempted such an achievement before.  It was a house of mirrors reflecting the heavens so when the roof was open, the effect was none knew where one began or the other started, not even the designer.  During the day, or when the chamber was inactive it was a dull and lifeless illusion of reflection upon reflection, upon reflection.  Interesting at times in the play of light and the effect itself was fanciful enough but it did not come alive until touched by the night sky, the stars and moon.  Every gleam of light was captured and reflected back, but if one brought a candle or lantern with them, the flame would cast no light nor would it be reflected, or if it was would be lost among the stars.  The only indication one was not walking through the heavens was the presence of the green prism ship lights embedded in the floor which were lighted by the lights in the level below, but these were spaced apart enough to not ruin the effect but if one looked hard, they would be spotted and could find their way out.  Many did not, and were willing to stay and walk among the heavens.  No one finished the walk as far as anyone knew, and the artist would lower the curtains and escort all out when it was time to close.  It was an expanse of heaven and heartbreaking for some to leave, but unlike heaven they could always return.

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | July 22, 2017

Turn the Candle Upside Down, A Pinch of Salt all Around

“One of the things that always fascinated me about the Renaissance was that it was a time both of great scientific discovery and also of superstition and belief in magic. And so it was a period in which Galileo invented the telescope, but also a time when hundreds were burned at the stake because people thought they were witches.”  ~Marie Rutkoski

his past week I was reminded the legacy of the Renaissance still remains with us.  It should not have been surprising, for such a time created such positive strides in our human development and laid the ground work for today which has kept us from falling back in the time of witch hunts and secret tribunals which saw devils and demonic agents behind every thing which didn’t make sense or caused any amount of trepidation or questioning of faith.  That is not to say these conditions do not exist today, as I was reminded in a recent conversation with someone who believed that because a person had a mental illness, he was not safe to have around others because it was a matter of time before the person would be victimized, which ultimately translated to “the person had to be shut away from others.  For his own safety of course.”  But, he wasn’t going to act to prevent that happening because he was indifferent to the plight.  He didn’t see it as his role to act, leaving that to someone else.

ental Health has come a long way, in part because it has divorced itself from the realm of religion which ascribes demonic and supernatural influences to illness and Mental Disorders.  The distinction an exorcist makes between the two may be spelled out clearly, but the criteria are not concrete enough to make a clear demarcation between the worlds of spiritual warfare and the need for mental health treatment.  Following the established rituals for exorcism, which are very rigid and inflexible, may indeed cause the very condition they are attempting to fix in a person who is not possessed but has been mistaken to be so.  There is a condition in psychology where the actions of the therapist can cause false memories, symptoms etc… and the same applies to that of the priesthood.  Working under the assumption where one is possessed when they are not, the priest may cause the desired response to affirm his/her belief.

ne may not think, in this day and age, we have much to worry about regarding superstition.  Technologically we are rapidly advancing, perhaps too quickly, and global communications ease is literally at the push of a button.  We have vast stores of knowledge at our finger tips which appear in the space of a few seconds, where over a thousand topics relating to a few key words are suddenly available to us. In many respects we have become what our Science Fiction of the past wrote about.  Even in the world of Robotics.  But in the world of social interactions, we are very much still mired in the world of superstition even if it be indifference.  The Artist therefore must be the one to break with convention and set before the world, both large or small, the wheels in motion to supplant and root out superstitious notions; such as the many creations of manifest destiny which have mutated out into the world, and fostered the thinking the world which is not Christianized is evil and demonic and must be subjugated in some way or if any other religion (including Christianity) is a nation of infidels or some other nonsense.  Superstition when we embed our laws with religious doctrine and believe any impartiality is unacceptable because the gods would rather see injustices committed in their names in the interest of saving souls than having their own creations live in harmony with one another.  A superstition which believes we can engage in acts of torture and not be held accountable in the same manner we hold our enemies accountable because we somehow have been ordained by the gods and have right on our side, regardless of the means we employ to obtain it.

cience gives us the means to seek the answers to our universe, while superstition resists evidence that our religions may be wrong about the creation of the world, or our origins.  It questions our faith not to destroy it but to reaffirm and see another side of the world we live it.  It was not Science that sent scientists to the flames, but ignorance which refused to let go of the arrogance that we were not the center of the universe, that our idea of creation perhaps did not happen verbatim as the church taught us.  Science never declared “God is dead” but rather we need expand our knowledge of God and view his realm in a much wider context, wich means we don’t know as much about him/her as we thought.  Perhaps a punitive deity who dangles souls over the flames of Hell by spider webs is simply a projection or repressions of fears, hidden desires, instability by the religious community.  One can not look at human kind today and not see these same insecurities reflected.  Science also never claims to answers the mysteries of the universe, that construct was developed by the inquisition whose methods of interrogation justified the use of torture and pain to extract secrets from human beings, and they applied the same methods to science.  Modern day fundamentalism is just as rigid, unbending and destructive as it’s origins were in the past, regardless of discipline or field.  Mired in superstition of a dropped knife means company is coming.

ats stealing the breath of babies, stirring counter-clockwise summons demons, ivy is a plant of death, spilled salt thrown over both shoulders appeases good and evil.  When we enter a place of ill repute our guardian angel stays outside and doesn’t follow us.  If we don’t tithe to the church we will go to hell, or if we sneeze our soul leaves our body and must be called back (“Bless you”).  These and many more pervade our life even today in some form or other, and we attribute our fortunes and destinies in some way to follow these.  Some are just common sense, such as walking under a ladder puts one at risk for having something dropped on them, not because a supernatural agency is at work.  Yet these acts of seemingly senseless actions do provide us some comfort at times without violating the safety and rights of others.  I for one am drawen to the practices of leaving apples near the road side on Halloween, or putting out bowls of oatmeal or milk for the fey folk.  While it may seem I suspend my belief in science, or the spiritual realm, I see both worlds and give each one of them equal value because the world is much more complex than I realize.  But it must never be at the cost of dehumanizing my fellow-man, because in that instance my art will fail and I will cease to walk among the living.

 dash among the trees and the shadows was gone.  It had been brought forth by the soft notes of the music makes, drawn from the darkness and into the moonlight where it danced and glided through the torch-light, flowers and the festival at large.  If anyone recognized it as a shadow is unknown, but all it came in contact with bowed and danced with it, the children played tag while many offered it food and drink.  Shadow and human hand clasped for a moment as both twirled and then both were lost in the crowd again.  The shadow watched the painter and writer with equal fascination, and ran its arms and hands through flowers and fountain leaping in joy afterwards.  It joined the others as the reached their arms toward the stars, and bringing their arms back to them as if embracing the sky.  It danced before the musician who smiled and nodded, changing tune and pitch in a game which the shadow responded with movement matching.  Without a word, the shadow stepped back into it’s realm, but not before the other shadows leaped momentarily as if in joy.

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | July 15, 2017

Will We Indeed Ever Learn?

“From the table in the corner,
They could see a world reborn,
And they rose with voices ringing,
And I can hear them now
The very words that they have sung
Became their last communion
On this lonely barricade, at dawn.”  
~Les Miserables, “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables.”

ver fifty years, half a century, of witnessing the human community interact with each other and coming to the conclusion that in all that time human nature has remained the same despite advances in technology, space travel, medicine, science, psychology, global and local communications and relations and psychology.  We have reached into the depths of space farther than our ancestors could have ever imagined, and seen what have been described as the seed beds of galaxies.  We have discovered a multi dimensional universe beyond the three or four originally guess at.  Our Science Fiction has become reality, medicine has even achieved the reanimation of life, although not in the way Shelley may have envisioned it.  We have cloned life successfully on a limited scale and within the parameters again of our prophetic science fiction works, including the limitations therein and the Ethical questions about such life.  Social and religious strides have been made regarding including all human beings in the company of humanity and an acceptance of come as you are, as opposed to not come as we want you to be.  We have began to dismantle destructive icons of degradation long entrenched upon our own nation’s soil so those whose ancestors suffered under oppression don’t have to be reminded of it daily that the existence of those icons upholds and affirms they very evil which was supposed to have been eliminated once and for all.  However, we continue to have learned nothing in all these fifty plus years, or very little if I wish to be generous.

est we become over-confident and too proud in our accomplishments, which our history shows will happen and has happened repeatedly, there is still much work to be done.  It is a labor of blood, sweat and tears and the subjugation of our own shadows which we have fed and indulged, and continue to do so.  Not only with our own selves, but with the lives of our fellow-men and women as well.  Our very own technology teaches us there is no place in the universe where light exists without the presence of darkness.  It is not a matter of balance, of Yin and Yang, or good and evil it is simply one generates the other. One lights a match and the flame will produce a shadow.  A moon or planet moves in front of the other, there will be a shadow cast against the sun, moon, planet or all (there is no good or evil involved in this).  When we add the metaphoric language of religion or spirituality to it than we get into the realm of powers and principalities.  When we apply the science of psychology, we enter into the realms of accountability and how we manage our shadows without destroying ourselves in the process.  Yes, there is much work to be done because we have built the house and temple backwards.  We have built it from the outside in, when what we should have been doing is building it from the inside out.

rtists have the task of moving the internal building forward, on an individual or wider continuum.  Our role illuminates the process of building, and should one pay attention to the art, literature or music at hand, they risk shattering their ego by finding their work is not as progressive as they may have thought, or despite the painstaking effort to build a sound structure there is still an inherent flaw revealed.  Thus we have the sole purpose of war, the dehumanizing of an opponent so we can ease our souls into accepting the taking of their life while glossing over the flaws and inadequacies of our own.  The problem is we eventually run out of the blood of others, and then must supplement with our own blood.  The cause is insatiable and while it may slumber, once it tastes blood it will demand more.  Our shadow has endless hunger and it takes very little to feed but while we can not enslave it we can integrate it into our life in such a way it becomes powerless to do us harm and instead works for us.  While it is dark, it is not evil although it is where we draw the power to do the atrocities both large and small against ourselves and mankind.  Just because weeds reside in a flower bed, the flower bed is not destructive even though that is where you find the weeds.  Managing the weeds is what happens, and in some cases a dormant garden will host the weeds until the plot of ground is needed, and an unmanaged garden can be just as destructive as one choked with weeds.  One can transform into the other, but one takes more work to do so.

hadow battles usually involve trauma, and in the case of the human race it is the trauma we have inflicted upon one another. We are not the victim, but rather the perpetrator and as such, due to the nature of the shadow, such acts do not confine themselves to the individual, but ripple out generationally over many spans of years.  Historically they will repeat themselves, as in the case of the DAPL violating Native lands and acting in defiance of presidential orders.  On a local scale, we have the shadow asserting itself and hungering for repeated genocidal action and exploitation as has happened in the past.  We have a perpetuation of ethnic violence against itself as a community and established authority with the sole purpose to enact bloodshed from both sides, providing a pseudo justification for “righting a wrong”.  The ends justifies the means.  One simply has to look at the continued years of conflict in the middle east to see the result of unbridled entertainment of the shadow and upon our own soil the result of giving power to the shadow to walk unchecked so at our highest level it has weakened us as a nation and as a people, plowing the ground for the seeds of civil unrest and if the shadow has full sway, civil war.  Fifty plus years and we have digressed to the decade of my birth.  In all that time where have we progressed forward in meaningful ways and continued that foothold?  Human nature has once again brought us to the eve of destruction, the inability of the human race to step up and evolve into the vision of a proud and dignified species whose driving purpose is the dignity of mankind.  We are still driven to play with nuclear weapons and chase the illusive gold coins supposed to cure all ills.  Pathetic attempts to forestall the spread of poison.  Cover and get rid of the mirrors which reflect and reveal such disintegration.  Deny the shadow is alive and it will be so, or bow to it and discard all thoughts of accountability and decency.  This is the common, driving thought of the day.  Those who think otherwise, add the discordant note, are the enemy, the revolutionaries to be dealt with.  Each book and piece of art and music torn apart or locked away.

ower to the people, the old slogan of the centuries which appears again and again in our development of the human race.  The artistic heart asserting itself so a voice may be heard through self-expression and mirror born may reflect the world around it.  Not a welcome gift, even among the artistic community itself who is by no means perfect or a direct channel to the divine.  We stake our very lives upon the evolution of our species, not just in physical form but in all ways and more subtle, internal than outward.  We are a unique combination of collective unconscious and individual entity all tied together in unexplainable ways, except through art and metaphorical language.  A concept we have always struggled with, that the things we visit upon our fellow humans we also visit upon ourselves.  When we moved against a cursed race we move against our very soul, when we kill another human being we destroy a irretrievable part of ourself regardless if we do it from an armchair or commit the act itself.  There is no place to hide from ourselves, there never was and there never will be.  The demon will always be on our heels and by our side, reflected in the mirror before us.  It will never be the picture of Dorian Gray which we can hide away and never gaze upon.  We are a species of awareness, such things are a luxury we are not afforded even in the very depths of denial we hear the siren call of the shadow and harken to it.  We are a tainted race, there is no pure Master race to storm the heavens and purge the earth.  There never was, it was never destined to be.  The Gods/Goddesses knew better.  There is just us and our action.

lipping off to sleep, the city lay in the span of time between waking and dreams where nothing is as it seems, yet in many ways is more real as when one is awake.  It was a state dominated by a cool breeze that rubbed the leaves and branches against each other and carried the notes of a flute across the town, from the artist village.  It was a tune which could not contain itself to the boundaries of its origins, and so had sought the breeze to carry it afar, to the very heavens it strove and thus found its way into the twilight hours and the realm of dreams.  It had longing and joy in it, to dance among the trees and wander among the glens exploring stream and heather, rock and flower.  It spoke of home, and of waiting for return.  A wisp of cloud, the turn of the tide and the falling of light snow.  The notes chattered like a child over a newly discovered butterfly which suddenly turned into hundreds of different colors.  The languid purr of a kitten near the fire, or its indulgent stretch and yawn as it curled up on a pillow or in a basket.  The smell of fresh, baked bread and new cheese wafted through the house as did the tiny laughter of house faeries.  All in the flash of an instant which lasted through the night.  And still the notes floated along, seeking any ear that would hear and knowing they would return home eventually.

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | July 8, 2017

Take the Cup of Victims and Drain it to the Dregs

The trap of resentment. It is probably the worst mental prison in the world. It is the inability to let go of anger and the perceived or real injustices we suffer. Some people let one or two, or maybe ten unpleasant experiences poison the rest of their lives. They let their anger ferment and rot their personality. They end up seeing themselves as victims of their parents, teachers, their peers and preachers.”   ~Ayaan Hirsi Ali

he striving for equality and justice for all is a journey that is fraught with hardship, setbacks and sorrow.  Unfortunately in a rapidly developing world where things are provided instantly and delayed gratification is a phrase of the past, the demand for progress is right now and instant and any victories are short-lived and dismissed as immaterial or irrelevant.  Victimization has not become a result of injustice, but an adopted lifestyle and world view which is peppered with thoughts of entitlement without deserving it, achievement without working for it, and personal liberty becoming a catch-all diagnosis without any conception of what it really means or how it works, or even the histories behind it.  It is misused horribly and as such contributes already to the present social ills and injustices which are already present, instead of addressing them it turns them into a circus and loses any credibility in the fight to correct them.

 

eeping the above in mind, we walk on perilous ground because we want to address victimization whenever we can, but we also have to address those who cling to their victimization and nurture old hates, resentments, injustices etc… and can not put them in the correct context or light.  One example was the recent flood of social media videos which hit my box this Fourth of July, stating why the people were not celebrating the holiday of independence.  In a nutshell, they felt the celebration of independence did not pertain to them because they were not 100% free, nor had it intended to apply to them in the first place.  While they lived in a free country, they themselves were still slaves and had no freedom.  Certainly not a popular stance to take, and certainly in some respects accurate yet in other aspects it was inaccurate not because of intentional action (I assume), but because the nature of the presentation left out a comprehensive treatment of the holiday’s deeper nuances and dynamics.  If the videos were simply opinion then so be it, but they were not presented as opinion but rather as documentary.  As such, it has to be observed omissions noted were done so because there had been a corruption of the victimization stance which while having validity to it, nevertheless was corrupted by the very same stance.  Unconscious those omissions may have been, but nevertheless they happened.

roups or individuals with a victim mentality feel other groups or individuals are generally luckier or happier then they themselves are.  Based upon this definition, all of us fall into this at least once or twice, if not more, times in our lives.  Some successfully transition out of the stance and heal, while others continue to harbor and nurture the pain, hurt and distrust and even the hate.  Hearing privilege, Ethnic privilege, etc… such phrases and terms are born out of the victim stance.  They are phrases which are designed to shut down conversation and discussion, and cement the victim stance in place so there is an excuse to not engage, to perpetuate violence or criminal activity, or to gain an advantage over an individual or group by assuming omniscience about the non victimized group.  A presumed omniscience which is destructive and itself becomes a form of victimizing, but yet is justified as a “teaching moment.”   It is a clever ploy because should one object, that is proof they are the enemy or the unenlightened.  A real life scenario I face is at times I am accused of being/acting Hearing privileged, always by someone who is Deaf and who knows absolutely nothing about me (Including that I myself am Deaf/Hard of Hearing).  They always have an elaborate explanation of who I am, my psychology, my spirituality, how I was raised and details of my life (all of which are general assumptions).  When asked how they come by this knowledge I am told by them, “Because I am Deaf and know, and because you are not Deaf and therefore know nothing about deaf culture.”  Then follows the list of injustices I commit just by being a person who hears.  Always ends up an unfruitful conversation.

eeping in mind what the victim stance is, where does activism come in?  A valid question especially for the Artist whose work echoes the community heartbeats.  Activism becomes strong in the face of the victim stance, because by the very nature of activism is two-fold.  1)  For an unheard voice to be heard, 2) For that voice to take positive, transformative action not just to keep being heard but for other voices to achieve the same state of being.  Activism challenges the victim stance directly because it calls for healing to take place, otherwise the activism fails and becomes a mob which loot, burns and harms.  The victim stance is very seductive because it gives permission to the person to unleash harm on those around them.  It promotes a parasitic relationship where there is mutual exploitation but no mutual exchange of healing under the guise of correcting an injustice.  Activism takes into account the developmental aspects of all involved, and crosses all generations and classes not just the voice of one (as in the videos mentioned earlier).  We as a race have a right to be discontented as to where we are going as a human race, both on a global and community level, and to continue our voices are heard clearly and that we do not repeat past errors, or continue them.  We must also stand fast to our victories, such as the facts since the first celebration of independence there have been great strides and notable victories in the realm of civil and human rights and to not acknowledge those in the same breath we point out the failures is an act of destruction and mental aberration for in that moment we suppress knowledge and plant the seeds of ignorance, and possibly tyranny.

he Festival of Feathers was the Writer’s favorite festival.  Well, perhaps one of his most favorite if truth be told because he enjoyed many others.  This one however held a special place in his heart, for the gates of Fey opened at sunrise and stayed open for seven days until moon set.  It was here the writer found many of his quills and pens, scattered across the country side of the Sidhe or in the forests and glens.  Everyone from both sides traversed the gates, visiting, exploring, celebrating and exchanging.  It was a time of enrichment for human and Fey alike and while both traveled through the gates regularly, they rarely stayed open.  No chance occurrence the gates opened in the small village of artists, and oral tradition held the village had its origins from a human and Fey love when both lovers built the village so the two worlds they loved could continue to forge those inseparable bonds.  Such a union forged achieved the goal, and the village grew around the gates, and the gates opened and closed admitting visitors of both realms.  Both realms continued to enjoy that relationship.  The author’s excitement was that of a child, awaiting impatiently the gates opening and in the interm attempting to find ways to keep himself occupied.  He wondered where his travels would take him this year, although any place in the Sidhe realm he welcomed, even those where shadows roamed.  He indulged himself with an offered sweetroll from the baker.  It was warm, sweet and he detected the faint spices of the Sidhe realm.  It appeared the Baker would be going as well.

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | July 1, 2017

Habeo Umbra (Possesion of the Shadow)

“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten.”
~Neil Gaiman

arl Sandburg once said, “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”  So often we find our own lives skirting such invitations and yet finding ourselves inexplicably drawn into those dances.  The world of art is not a world of inanimate objects whose images are consigned to canvas, or simply a grouping of words which make a great tale or rhyme.  The power of art lies within the ability of the artist to possess themselves at the most primitive levels and from there walk through the valleys and mountain tops of their own psyche. To the outer world the events which transpire internally may never be seen, and therefore do not exist.  The artist or poet is simply a madman/woman who has managed to wander in and out of our lives and been lucky enough to establish a foothold.

et us indulge ourselves for a moment, and think back to some of the shadow truths which will endure long after we are gone.  Keep in mind shadows are highly personal, and therefore highly meaningful, and highly powerful.  On an individual and collective level they rapidly take hold and grow.  For instance, the collective belief that George Washington cut down a Cherry tree with his father’s axe, and then confessed his deed to his father.  History shows this has not happened and yet we persist in telling our children this tale and present is as truth.  To what purpose?  We present it as a literal event instead of allegorical and by doing so we let the shadow possess us.  To a culture steeped in the scientific method, this causes no end of embarrassment and dysfunction.  The shadow possesses us, as an individual and culture instead of the other way around.  Instinctually we know the value of folklore and storytelling but we become so enamored with it we infuse it with the belief of being true and thus are seduced by the shadow which is merely an echo of our internal selves.  It is an irony we promote a tale of truthfulness while at the same time engaging in an act of deep deception.  This demonstrates a lost understanding and intentional subversion of the art form.

ne has to look at human development and cringe, as well as stand in puzzlement the relationship we have established with the arts, at least in many parts of the western world. We have applied our scientific method both to our spirituality as well as our mundane affairs.  To the west, the arts mean entertainment.  What art should mean is connection with the community including spiritual and scientific communities not in opposition but side by side interaction.  The artistic community has already taken concepts and methods of the scientific community and applied them to creations of art very effectively and with astounding results which can almost be described as prophetic at times.  However science has not yet approached the universe like an artist.  It still employes the methods of science as the basis of exploration and excludes any value art can contribute to the process.  When a sculptor  can utilize the methods of quantum physics to create a work of art,than we will know an open conversation has begun with the shadows of both professions.  When a scientist approaches the heavens not as a scientist, but as an author or poet than the echo and shadow will entwine hands and began to dance with each other.

hat is being asked is not an easy task.  Our society has marginalized the arts for a long time, and despite the advances the arts have made the artistic community still has quite the way to go before it shares a key role in shaping the community around us.  In our education system the arts have yet to achieve equal status with Math, English or Sports.  Not because the demand isn’t there but because the demand has been discouraged and placed as unimportant.  The arts have the unique quality of not allowing superficiality, once engaged they seek out one’s shadow for the shadow resides in the realm of metaphor, symbol, allegory, poetry, art and the unconscious at both the individual and community level.  In the age of Bubble Gum or Pop Psychology, shadow work has dropped out of fashion.  It has no place in the superficial, quick fix methods of managed care and radio/T.V. psychology, and yet…shadow work forms the very foundation of the arts and psychology which are an internal journey to and back from the realm of shadow.  The success of Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” was a Psychological one in that it addressed the concept of the shadow long before Jung did, and it put that concept out there for all to see.  Everyone who read the book knew it was about them, Hawthorne had dared bring to light what the community knew but refused to face, and he continued to do so.  It echoed our own shadows and drew them out of hiding which is why it has achieved such popularity over the years.

 

uch had to be done this day.  The morning ritual had been completed, honoring the long, shrinking shadows of the morning and preparing for the long growing shadows toward night fall.  It would be a full moon tonight, which made it all the more special for the village for this rarely happened.  It was a somber and exciting time both for them, and while they did not dislike this time of year it was a powerful one where emotions could run high at times and the shadows were not always easy to be around even though they were just a part of the community as anyone else, and just as welcome.  The children had laid out apples along the roadside, and unoccupied tables were decorated with the brightest colors and most festive ornamentations.  The flowers bloomed and grew thickly along the streets and windowsills, mingling their scents with the smell of fresh bread.  The writer had laid aside his quill and looked nostalgically from his doorway, a shy smile on his lips.  He felt his hand tremble slightly, looking at the ring on his finger which he had worn for many long years and never taken off.  She would be here this night, at their table just outside his window among the thick lavender and hanging flowers.  He had the hanging lanterns ready, and her chair was in her favorite spot next to his where they could both look at each other and see the sky reflected in their faces, their eyes.  Those eyes, which he could always see.  She always came of course, not just this night but others as well and the village often saw them sit there for long hours holding hands or their heads resting upon one another.  At times they would walk up and down the streets, most unable to tell which one had gone to the shadows or if both were now there.  It would not be long now before he felt her familiar touch on his hand, and saw her face.  He wondered which gown she would be in this time, hopefully his favorite a soft blue velvet but whatever one it would please him.

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | June 17, 2017

Holding Quills and Skipping Parchments

“No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated.  Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literary or artistic expression.  Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious or philosophical doctrines.  Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and development of the Human race.”   ~Richard P.  Feynman

evelopmentally the human race is still in its infancy.  While we have become sophisticated more and more with the technology we develop, we have still not managed as a human race to walk on our own without the dictating of where to go, who to see and what to do by a group of elected or socially appointed people we look for to make our decisions for us.  Those institutions designed to create self independence, critical thought, and the installation of the drive to make mankind a better people are either under attack to be utterly eliminated or heavily controlled and regulated by whatever power or principality seeks to promote its own ends.  While their propaganda may tell us the Arts are expendable, secondary and a luxury, what is really the underlying message is the artist enjoys an immense amount of personal freedom of expression and their works of art represents an antithesis that one has to give up their rights to go forward.  The strong spirit of individual expression found in the artistic world is counter movement to the idea one particular government knows best.

oundationally without the artist our world would collapse. From time beyond remembering the artist was always there. Our paintings, sculptures, drawings, music, literature and theatre all have built the foundations of our civilizations both great and small and given us the seeds to survive civilizations collapsing.  The arts have carried us through violent and tragic transformations, have thwarted dictators and tyrants under both the best and worst conditions.  All efforts at seizing or controlling the artistic expression has failed, and failed miserably.  The ultimate ends of such efforts is always failure, even when the process piles bodies in ditches and along the streets.  From the ashes, the arts always emerge stronger than before and with a louder voice.  There is a unseverable thread of survival in the arts, it resides deep within who we are as a race of people and it will be the arts who ultimately define us to the universe, who opens that door to contact with other cultures outside of our known world(s).

here is controversy about how far the arts should go in the effort.  While the voice of the artist should not be silenced, the artists also has a responsibility to wield their gift for the maximized healing benefit.  It is the role of the artist to regulate their voice, not the role of the people.  If the artist relied on the people to dictate the art, there would be no artistic expression.  The profession and culture would be permanently crippled, for our role is to reflect not to be dictated to/controlled.  We must never give up control of our voices, and fight tooth and nail to maintain our gift to soar and express.  Our gift remains regardless of the condition or circumstances placed upon us.  The artistic world is acquainted with hardship, poverty and persecution as much as it is the other side of the spectrum and any place in between.  The inability for the artist to be silenced, is itself testimony to the place we hold in the world, in our society.  Black smoke has smothered the sky with the burnings of our works, destructions of libraries both ancient and modern and an all too high amount of our blood spilled for living our life, living in our art.  We are refugees in our own land, where we made inroads and established beacons we are now at a point where even with a Constitutional guarantee to advance the human race to a higher level, our profession is singled out and targeted specifically with the sole intent to undermine our efforts and silence our voice.  When we speak out, we are painted as subversives and the enemies of the people.  If we speak the party line, our salvation is assured but that has never worked for the artistic community regardless of who holds power.

rtists do not face an even playing field.  From the beginning the cards are stacked against us and we are fighting up hill.  Not because we are playing or claiming the victim role, but because the Arts has never enjoyed a level playing field for our voices to be heard.  As artists we know this instinctively, and know that ultimately our work will be illuminative to the disharmonious aspects which is not a welcome event for many.  Yet who are we to deny our nature of reflection?  The power of the artist is we not only reflect the community but we also reflect ourselves in the process, and we must withstand what we see if it be an image displeasing for that in itself is what makes art powerful and transformative.  We do not meet the medusa head on, we see the reflection and know what we have to face.  In Alice’s looking-glass, noting was as it seemed.  All was stood upon its head and one had to rethink oneself and ask over and over the Caterpillar question, “Who are you?” and there is no tolerance for nonsense answers, for to reemerge into our own world such questions must be addressed.  There is no distortion in the art, only in what we see in the art.

iterally one could watch the moss grow between the stones, and small white flowers appear along the seams or cracks.  Among the busy day, the talking, music and sounds of work there was always a silence which pervaded the in-between.  A wholesome sound as if the village itself was a living entity and breathed softly and steadily.  One of the doctors who visited regularly once remarked he wondered if one dug far enough beneath the village, if one would find a beating heart and circulatory system, a set of lungs and brain and a skeletal frame supporting it all.  He also described a system whereby there would be no blood, but water, music and light serving as the life blood while earth and roots would serve as muscle, nerves and flesh.  He of course was laughed at by his colleagues, but shortly after at least three were seen with their ears resting against a rock or tree, while another simply sat at a stream and let the water flow through his fingers while softly talking to it.  When questioned about it afterwards, they did not reply but only looked thoughtful and there was a light in their eyes which had not been there before.

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | June 10, 2017

Cultural Shadow Keeping

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”  ~Billy Joel

ulture is an extremely complex subject matter to delve into.  It shapes and defines us in so many different way at such profound levels no one really appreciates the forces at work in any given cultural and the nuances which build both an individual and a community as a whole.  More so it becomes complicated when one must  move against their own culture, or give it up completely.  It is normal to think our own cultures are the perfect or best environment for us, or are the best place to be.  But when that culture fails us we’re placed in a precarious position which from a mental health aspect causes great amounts of strain and stress upon an individual, as well as a loss of identity and sometimes spiritual disintegration.  When faced with these aspects in the open, culture will inevitable enter into a state of denial and assumption of the victim role instead of meeting their cultural shadows head on and changing them.

efore I continue, there are a few necessaries(not to me though) I have to get out-of-the-way if for no other reason to stave off any foolishness that may come my way.  I am Hard of Hearing and have been since as far back as I can remember (2nd grade with my first hearing test).  It got progressively worse due to ear infections which destroyed all the bones in my right ear.  Attempts to surgically repair these were successful at first but later on failed for the same reason.  In the interim I attempted to learn sign language but could not acquire that skill and still can not to this day (Sorry, it just won’t happen and just won’t stick.  Not my fault).  I used a hearing aid which went through my washing machine and I never replaced it, mainly because my insurance does not cover Hearing Aids and because when I did have it, it was a nuisance to maintain and work with although I had to use it due to work purposes.   I’ve never considered myself disabled although legally fall into that category but because I have maintained work and function well with my hearing loss I am entitled to no benefits whatsoever.  Thus I have no stake in being disabled, Deaf or Hard of Hearing but live in both worlds.  A jack of all trades and master of none, if you will.  I also do not enjoy the exclusivity of the Deaf Community and I suspect the hearing community doesn’t really care about me being Hard of Hearing as long as I can make a living and care for myself.  It is irrelevant if I identify with the Hearing or Deaf/Hard of Hearing Community so do not ask me.  I support and oppose both.  I am also a Mental Health Clinician and a Writer(Artist), two communities whom I identify heavily with. I am a parent of an Autistic Child and as such have taken on all the different roles associated with that so am well acquainted with disabilities and the many different nuances and issues therein, including when it is necessary to make myself a pain in the butt.

ecently, a Deaf(former Hearing) musician by the name of Mandy Harvey caused quite the sensation on “America’s Got Talent” with her music.  I normally don’t pay much attention to the show but listened to Mandy and enjoyed what I felt and heard.  Her style was one of the ones I like and appreciate, but dont’ see a lot of anymore not because it isn’t appreciated but because most good music today is overshadowed by many other more POP music styles.  Feedback has been positive, but one particular article caught my eye which speculated Mandy’s motives as really being a “Deaf Goal” as opposed to a “Hearing Goal/Achievement” and therefore did not warrant true artistic merit (my summary) because the panel’s decision was based upon her deafness.  Having both personal and third-party knowledge of deaf culture, I understood some of the subjective concerns although overall the article was positive.  But it did spawn a question of my own.  What if one elected to not identify with the Deaf Culture?  Any culture?  What would cause a person to leave or reject the culture they were part of?  Evidently this is quite the question which is Taboo for there is not a lot of material on this subject, and solid research material I did find resided in the field of Mental Health and Refugees.

sking this question in America is quite a controversial one.  Those who elect to leave American culture/citizenship behind have their names placed on list put together by the government which is made public on a yearly basis.  More interesting is that the biggest reason people leave America pertains to Tax/Financial reasons as opposed to Haitian and Syrian citizens leaving their countries who listed some of the following reasons:  homes had been destroyed, religious persecution, forced labor,   confiscation of property and goods,  government was creating socialism(side note;  Conservative quandary to fight socialism and yet they have no problem sending people fleeing it right back into it instead of protecting and sheltering them from it.), villagization, high taxes or contributions, raping of women and taking of young children, the ethnic group that dominates the government are destroying our culture.”   Lest someone thinks these reasons are politically skewed, they have been supplied by the United Nations and World Health Organization.  So let’s make this hit a little closer to home and more relevant to this blog.  Being consistent with discussion, what would make a Deaf/Hard of Hearing person leave their culture behind?

e already know culture is deeply rooted in who we are as a person, and Psychologically such movements are caused by some kind of Trauma from the community itself.  In America where we are not gripped by constant warfare or civil unrest that results in military intervention and wholesale destruction of cities etc., the trauma will have to be more subtle.  We can rule out some of the common stressors common to both Hearing and Deaf/Hard of Hearing communities, Fundamentalism, Sexual/Physical Abuse, Political Agendas, Domestic Violence.  Using the Inter-Agengy Standing Committee (IASC) intervention model, let us treat the people leaving their communities as refugees.  They are being driven out of their culture against their will and are in crisis.  Let us look at two foundational levels of crisis response before Mental Health becomes clinically involved, and from the responses extrapolate the reasons. 1)  Advocacy for good humanitarian practice:  basic services that are safe, socially appropriate and that protect dignity.  2)  Activating social networks:  Supportive child-friendly spaces, Basic emotional and practical support to selected individuals or families.  What do these mean specifically need wise?  The refugee is experiencing feelings of displacement, isolation, loss of family and community supports and uncertainty of the future.  Are these traumas generated in the Deaf/Hard of Hearing cultures?  Yes, indeed.  Do they drive people from that culture?  Yes, indeed.  Are these aspects openly acknowledged, planned for and addressed in the form of intervention and outreach?  From my experience and observation, no they are not.  There is issue and conditions which will immediately polarize one in the deaf community and cause one to be cast out or treated as pariah.  The use of hearing implants for one is zealously seen as a renouncing of Deaf Culture by far too many, going so far as to suggest a parent selecting this as an option for their child should have all parental rights revoked and the child removed from the home (for me this would be enough to leave the culture all together as I would see it as a threat to my family from the community regardless of what my decesion was.  I would not only be pariah but so would my child).  Intolerance of Hearing people in leadership positions within the community.  People who may not be “Deaf or Hard of Hearing” but understand the culture are suspect at best.  Yes, this is a generalization, done so for the purposes of space.

cceptance from two or more cultures living within each other will always be a difficult situation.  However the artist offers the Pathways to healing which is universal and uniting to both parties.  Mandy herself said “Music now isn’t about the sound, it’s about the feeling” which embodies art in its fullest.  She also states “I did something I never believed I could do.” and specifically related how she reached a point of healing.  Not to be able to do a “Hearing Task” but believing in herself that she could retrieve her ability to play music.  An ability she never really lost but had to find on her own.  Such a search is not unique to the hearing population, but it is unique to the human race no matter who we are.  My experiences with the Native American Community when I was in California, used the drum successfully with Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Autistic and other children who were not drawn to the sound of the drums themselves but by the vibrations they put forth.  It was not the Hearing or Non Disabled culture attempting to “Fix” someone, but rather establishing an environment whereby trauma could be healed.  BIG difference.  If it doesn’t happen in ones own culture/community, they will seek it elsewhere.  It is not a negative reflection on them, but rather a negative reflection on the community they are part of.  In  the documentary, “The Heart of a Controversy”  Amos and Andy were criticized for portraying stereotypical roles of the black community, however what was missed were Amos and Andy opened many doors for future African-Americans who achieved careers in theater, as well as serving a more positive immediate role to the community, since the radio voices had been played by white personalities Amos and Andy had the advantage of being visual.  A quality the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community should be able to appreciate because instead of telling with words, Amos and Andy showed with actions what was possible, and did so on a nation wide scale.  They achieved exactly what the artist hopes to achieve, by giving the community it’s reflection, a pathway of healing occurs.

ne last word of clarification because I know there will be those reading this who will jump to the wrong conclusions.  The criticisms I offer of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community I do so without ill will and have no axe to grind.  However being part of that community, and an artist and mental health clinician it is important a culture be aware of the darker aspects of itself and be willing to acknowledge those aspects drive people away.  Not doing so will only create deeper pathology that will take longer and be more difficult to heal.  This is why I dare to walk against the current and draw lightning.  If you think I don’t understand or am somehow “privileged”  you are wrong about me.  If you do or you dont’ believe that is not my concern.  Don’t kill the messenger.

afely nestled within the empty ink bottle, a small light flickered brightly illuminating the surrounding wall and books.  It had been set in the small cubby of the desk not to hide it away but to provide it a suitable, more fitting home than a dusty, cobwebbed corner.  It could look out into the village and the flowers, basking in the sunlight, rain or enjoying the breeze which came through the nearby open window.  The top of the bottle had been left open, the writer didn’t believe in caging living things and so the flame had free reign of the bookstore, cottage and garden.  Indeed it had the free reign of the village itself an often took advantage of that but always it came back to the ink bottle.  All who looked in the window could see it, but didn’t realize they were seeing it.  It was an integral part of their lives and deep down had it left everyone would have felt its absence.  It was enamored with the many quills, and a favorite pastime for it was to curl around the quills as the writer wrote.  Intertwining with quill and fingers, disappearing underneath a page so it’s light made the letters appear alive, dancing from page to page.  Glowing with an inner fire all of their own.  At night, when the writer dozed in his chair the flame would nestle against his chin(giving him a shorted cropped beard of flame) as his cat lazily purred itself into dreaming on the writer’s vacant lap.  Glasses reflecting the words and the flame, and the faint sparkle of magic which gathered at the fingertips.

 

Posted by: Author-H.E. Curtis | June 3, 2017

Planting Seeds in A Cosmic Ocean

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest that you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

rtists are Historians, but not all Historians are Artists.  Journalism while utilizing the tools of the writer is not to be considered an artistic endeavor, but rather a reporting and examination of events (hopefully unbiased and Non Fictional).  The Artist however finds themselves as the mirror, not just of society but a conduit of the cosmos which includes more traveling in the realms of Psychology and Spirituality.  Indeed history indicates artists were often one and the same, serving the same purpose.  For the Historian, they observe the results of the Artist’s efforts, the sewing and harvesting of the artistic endeavor and how it feeds society on both the individual and larger scale.

n a world which has operated off the principles of instant gratification for quite some time, the idea of looking ahead and facing ramifications of present actions has come back to haunt us.  We have a generation of entitlement, wanting the rewards without the work, without the discipline and show a disdain for legacies of character but display a growing discontent with society as a whole and confuse civil disobedience with violence.  Increasingly the role of the arts are subverted in this as it is not stories told, but rather agendas promoted and justified.  There is no reflection of society, because the mirror itself is being obscured and attempted to be manipulated.  The idea of unchangeable legacy is false, because human nature is not fixed, although it may be predisposed.  Case in point is throughout the history of art, we have a plethora of paintings depicting violent acts, violent scenes depicting both secular and religious endorsements of violence.  The works of art I have seen, the artists have not reflected something acceptable, but something sinister, brutal, bloody and full of sorrow and darkness.  Something to be avoided.  Progressively I also see a shift in the recognition of more subtle uses of violence (domestic violence themes, etc.).  Some may see this as progress, and it would be accurate the artist’s reflection of violence in our society has resulted in the recognition of more subtle uses of violence which are just as tragic and equally unacceptable to the mass violence perpetrated upon the human race.  However the nuance which is disturbing is over thousands of years, despite the constant reflections of artists society as a whole has remained oblivious to its planting the seeds of self-destruction, and indeed continues to promote and glorify such acts.

eflecting the violent side of society always, for the artist, has its repercussions.  Human beings as a whole are content to look no farther than their own senses, they adamantly resist looking inwards even when in a religious environment they will only go so far and then stop, rationalizing they need not go deep as some form of divinity will take care of the rest and absolve them from any wrong doing.  If they can’t face the darker aspects of themselves, divinity will take it away or shield them from it.  The artists therefore is seen as the Anti Christ, for they offer no such salvation.  The mirror reflects all, every blemish and every shadow.  No Dorian Grey portrait to capture all that horror and hide it away, never to be seen.  The indelible word or images can not be hidden away, because the literature and art is protective, it lets one see the Medusa in all the horror as a reflection and not as a full on unprotective encounter.  The mirror (Artist) doesn’t hide anything.  Society will resist looking into the mirror, and therefore the Artist is the enemy, the eccentric, the mad man/woman, the heretic, the devil\demon, the revolutionary, the outcast.  Humanity has not yet risen from the mindset of Neanderthal, we have simply become a more sophisticated one who has learned to be more cunning and less obvious (so we think) in our hunt for dominance over a mountain or hunting territory.  The artist is feared because they can count beyond ten, and walk in realms which are not understood, but yearned for.

ne can’t help ask, “What more can be done?”,  humanity has been given the messages literally and metaphorically, through literature, art, music, but still clings to the notion deep down violence is the ultimate answer.  To protest means destruction and the physical endangerment of the lives of others, the destruction of property and the justification to meet violence with violence, and then to be seen as some martyr, champion or hero.  Revolution means bloodshed and punishment of the “wicked, heathen or infidel”.  It is an endless blow for blow which has no origins, justification or willingness to end.  We have reached the point where Artists are censored, harassed, monitored to see if they work is acceptable or not, and it has not spontaneously happened but has been sown for some time and is secretly harvested and fed into society.  The writer is constantly taunted, “Let us see if the pen is mightier than the sword.”   When the pen doesn’t shed blood, or produce instant results it is seen as ineffective, but as in nature there are some seeds which take time to grow and may seem dormant until the right conditions arise.  The seeds are never silent though, and are tended, at times by skeleton crews and at others by a host of friends, but they never go away.  They are the foundation stones to the foundation stones, the very fabric and voice of who we are as a human race.  The work of the artist is meant to reach beyond the boundaries of our world, as a buffer between us and the rest of the universe who will look to our arts as a means of seeing who we are as a people.  What do our mirrors reflect about ourselves both as a species and as individuals?

leep came easily for the village, the dream world was a natural cycle for them just as the moon and sun, the elements and bird song and the chatter of their own voices.  In the deepest night one might see pale figures walking to and fro, thinking spirits had arisen to carry out their tasks before the day arrived again and they returned to slumbering and dreams of their own.  However, these were the villagers as well.  The pale form of the author wrote in his tome, but the words which appeared were unlike anything one would ever see.  Fantastical shapes neither letter or thing, but nevertheless an alphabet which put volumes of writing in a tome of endless paper and limitless ink.  The music from the figure of the wandering figure of the musician wove visible strands of light through the air, caressing thresholds and window sills, burrowing deep in the soil and appearing again in a window box at another shop or house.  The stone cutter’s tools cut away at thin air but from them came sparks of light that rose to the sky, seeming to become stars themselves until the more dark the sky became, the more stars appeared as the stone cutter worked.  Shimmering children ran through the streets, dancing as colored streaks of reds and blues fluttered behind them like capes or ribbons or fabric, and where they touched flowers appeared and grew until the street itself was no stone but grass, tree and flowers unlike any waking human being had ever seen.  Their voices were soft, singing whispers and those fortunate enough to hear them were changed forever, their lives undeniable transformed for the better.  So much so those who already knew them recognized a new light in their eyes, a different light of soothing beauty that made those it fell upon smile.

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