Friday, March 31, 2017

The Truth for Once


I feel the need to give you a little truth. In doing so, I am about to be a little bit politically incorrect.
We do not need to take America back or make it great again. No one stole it or made it less great.
Mexico is not going to pay for the wall. We are not going to deport millions of people and break up families. If you think either one is a good idea, you are not being very smart and are probably not the kind of person that I want to know.
In spite of what we say in The Pledge of Allegiance, we do not live in a democracy. Technically we are a Federal Republic. But in reality, we are ruled by an oligarchy. If you do not know what that is, look it up. Reading will do you good. You probably need to do more of it.
Fox News, CNN and MSNBC have an agenda and are not “fair and balanced” or in any way unbiased. Read more. Read newspapers (even online ones). Read lots of opinions and sources and then (stay with me here), THINK! Form your own opinion based on as many facts as your can brain can tolerate.

Speaking of facts, there actually is a difference between facts, opinions and propaganda. You should learn the difference.
Science is real. We know things because of science. Don’t be afraid of it. You have an iPhone and Facebook because of science. It’s your friend.
Global warming or “climate change” as the cool kids call it IS REAL. Anyone who tells you it’s not real is not a smart person.
Racism exist in the U.S. And if you are even a little bit racist, you should seriously work on it.
American Christians are not under attack. No one is trying to take your Bible away from you. Christians are not being persecuted. There is no separation of church and state. You want proof? The Pledge of Allegiance says "under God" and courts make you swear on the Bible. In fact, American Christians wield so much power in this country that politicians pretend to be Christian just so we will vote for them. No one is trying to take your Bible away from you. The gay people are not destroying our families. In fact, we don’t need any help from them. We do a fine job of that by ourselves. So stop saying we are persecuted. You sound stupid.
Poor people need help. If you’re not helping them but complaining about how the government helps them with your money you are not a very nice person.
Be nice to the people who teach your children. Don’t send them nasty emails or yell at them. Their job is 10,000 times harder than your job. You are not a professional educator so just shut your mouth and be thankful someone is willing to teach your offspring.
We do not need to rebuild our military. Our military is the strongest and scariest killing machine the world has ever seen. So stop being afraid and stop letting politicians and pundits scare you.
Guns do in fact kill people. That’s what they are designed to do. If you feel you need a gun to protect yourself in America, you are probably living in the wrong neighborhood and should move before you go out and buy a gun. There are a billion other places to live where you won’t need a gun. Did you know that the U.S. is the most violent nation which is not at war in the world and that there are more guns in the U.S. than toilets?
If you do own a gun, then make sure you know how to use it. Get some training because you still don’t know how to record stuff with your DVR. Go to the gun range and shoot it a lot. Learn how to clean it properly and be able to disassemble it and reassemble it with your eyes closed. It is a gun and it deserves that level of care, proficiency and respect. And for God’s sake, keep it locked up and in a very safe place.
Stop being afraid and/or suspicious of American Muslims.
Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and all the rest are all ENTERTAINERS! Stop getting your opinions from them.
We in the United States of America can afford to house every homeless person, take care of every veteran, feed and educate every child, and take care of refugees and still have money left over for Starbucks and a bucket of KFC.
Unless you can trace your family line back to someone who made deerskin pants look stylish and could field dress a buffalo, you are a descendent of an immigrant. Please stop saying that immigrants are ruining our country. Such comments are like a giant verbal burrito stuffed with historical ignorance, latent racism and xenophobia, all wrapped in a fascist tortilla.

Finally, if you believe that Donald Trump is the worst, ego-centric, corrupt, stupid, lying idiot President in U.S. history, you are correct and you are not alone!

Political Cartoons of the Week, No. 46















Random Facts: No. 6

In 2005, German scientists found world’s oldest sculptured phallus in southwestern Germany. It is a 20 cm polished siltstone penis created around 28,000 years ago.

sculptured phallus

The first thing the “Father of Microbiology,” Anton van Leeuwenhoek, put under a microscope was his semen. In 1677, van Leeuwenhoek examined fresh semen in which he observed living spermatozoa. It was understood that semen was integral to the creation of life, but the concept of single-cell organisms hadn’t been discovered yet. He expected to see tiny little humans.

Anton van Leeuwenhoek

semen

Catherine the Great of Russia once said that she needed a virile young man in the Imperial bed for the sake of her health, and was unable to rule Russia properly when sleeping alone. Eligible young noblemen would be “tested” by her ladies-in-waiting before making appearances in the Empress’ night chamber. “She selected a new favorite, or agreed to the selection recommended by her ‘experts,’ much as she selected a new painting for her collection.”

Catherine the Great

Pomegranate has been used as a contraceptive and abortion by means of consuming the seeds, or rind, as well as by using the rind as a vaginal suppository. This practice is recorded in ancient Indian literature, in medieval sources, and in modern folk medicine.

pomegranates

Boston Corbett, the Union Army soldier who killed John Wilkes Booth, castrated himself with a pair of scissors in order to avoid sexual temptation and remain holy. He then ate a meal and went to a prayer meeting before he sought medical treatment.

Boston Corbett

casteration

The medical name for a butt crack is “intergluteal cleft”.


A duel between three people is actually called a truel.

There are no bridges over the Amazon River.

The Amazon River

In 955, Bishop Dunstan went to bring back King Eadwig from his bedroom after his coronation as he failed to attend a meeting of noble. Dunstan found the young king in bed with two women, a mother and her daughter. Infuriated by this, Dunstan dragged Eadwig back. Later realizing that he had provoked the king, Dunstan fled England and refused to return until after Eadwig’s death.

King Eadwig (portrait)

Snails have 14000 teeth and some can even kill you.

A Snail

Most toilet paper sold for home use in France is pink.

French pink toilet paper

The human nose can remember 50,000 different scents.

In 17th century Europe, no one saw anything wrong in the nannies’ practice of masturbating little boys to help them sleep. 

Daddy longlegs have penises which technically makes them not a spider.

a daddy longlegs

Bullfrogs do not sleep.

a bullfrogs

Mozart, the great composer, did not only write serious pieces like Lacrimosa. He also wrote a masterpiece called: Leck mich im Arsch (lick me in the ass).

The dark region on the north pole of Pluto’s moon, Charon, is called Mordor.

Pluto’s moon Charon

Eight of the ten biggest statues in the world are of Buddhas.

The Tallest Budha Statue In The World

In 2015, a silver coin with Superman on the heads side was made which is legal tender in Canada. There was only 350,000 produced.



Tigers have striped skin not just striped fur. The stripes are like fingerprints and no two tigers have the same pattern.

A Tiger

In ancient Egypt, women inserted crocodile dung into the vagina as spermicidal gel to help block sperm. It worked because of the high acid content of the dung.


Ketchup originated in China as a boiled-down brine of pickled fish and spices called ‘ke-chiap’.
In 2005, German scientists found world’s oldest sculpted phallus in southwestern Germany. It is a 20 cm polished siltstone penis created around 28,000 years ago.



If you die in Amsterdam with no next of kin, and no friends or family to prepare funeral or mourn over the body, a poet will write a poem for you and recite it at your funeral.

The Himalayan Honey Bee. the biggest of the honey bees, makes a hallucinogenic honey that tribes collect.

The Himalayan Honey Bee

King Louis XVI of France had phimosis (a tight foreskin) which made it incredibly painful for him to get an erection. This meant he couldn’t consummate his marriage. The consequence of this was that there were rumors that he was infertile or a homosexual, which were put to rest when he underwent circumcision seven years into his marriage and got his queen Marie Antoinette pregnant. 

King Louis XVI 

Marie Antoinette

The collars on men’s dress shirts used to be detachable. This was to save on laundry costs as the collar was the part that needed cleaning the most frequently.

Medieval monks commonly wrote homoerotic poetry that they would pass around while copying texts.

The man who found the 5,000 year old corpse, Ötzi the Iceman, in 1991 (Oldest natural European mummy) was also found dead frozen in ice in 2004.


Ötzi the Iceman

In 2014, a missing woman on a vacation in Iceland was found when it was discovered that she was in the search party looking for herself.

Alligators will give manatees the right of way if they are swimming near each other.


An Alligator

A Manatee

Baked beans are actually not baked, but stewed.


Baked Beans

In Pompeii, there are giant stone penises carved into the pavement pointing the way to the brothels. There is also a building in Pompeii that was a brothel with many small rooms with stone beds and erotic wall paintings with no two depicting a man and woman or man and man in the same position. It is unclear whether the images on the walls were advertisements for the services offered or merely intended to heighten the pleasure of the visitors.


Giant Stone Penis

Four different popes have died during sex. Pope Leo VII died of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress. Pope John VII beaten to death by the angry husband of the woman he was having sex with at the time. Pope John XII was also murdered by an irate husband during the act. Pope Paul II allegedly died of a heart attack while being sodomized by a page boy.


Pope Leo VII

Pope John VII

Pope John XII

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Narcissus and Narcissism


THE MYTH OF NARCISSUS AND ECHO

Echo and Narcissus is a myth from Ovid's Metamorphoses, a Latin mythological epic from the Augustan Age. The introduction of the myth of the mountain nymph Echo into the story of Narcissus, the beautiful youth who rejected sexuality and falls in love with his own reflection, appears to have been Ovid's invention. Ovid's version influenced the presentation of the myth in later Western art and literature.


The myth of the goddess is told in Book III of the Metamorphoses, and tells the story of a "talkative nymph" whom the goddess Aphrodite admires for her magnificent voice and song. When she tricks Hera into believing that her husband, Zeus, was in the city, Hera curses Echo by making her able to only finish a sentence not start, and unable to say anything on her own. "Yet a chatterbox, had no other use of speech than she has now, that she could repeat only the last words out of many." This is the explanation of the aural effect which was named after her. She falls in love with Narcissus, whom she catches sight of when he is "chasing frightened deer into his nets." Eventually, after "burning with a closer flame," Echo's presence is revealed to Narcissus, who, after a comic, yet tragic scene, rejects her love. Echo prays, in her mind, of this to Aphrodite, who makes Echo disappear, until she "remains a voice" and "is heard by all."

Then, Narcissus "tired from both his enthusiasm for hunting and from the heat" rests by a spring, and whilst drinking, "a new thirst grows inside him" and he is "captivated by the image of the beauty he has seen". He falls deeply in love with "all the things for which he himself is admired." He then wastes away with love for himself, echoing the manner in which Echo did earlier. A while later his body is gone, and in its place is a narcissus flower. The pale flower is still found near river banks so that it can be reflected on the water.
 
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NARCISSISM IN CONTEMPORARY MALE PHOTOGRAPHY AND ART

The ancient and traditional Narcissus myth sees the main character as a hunter from Thespiae, the son of a river god and a nymph, a man of exceptional beauty yet tainted by a reprehensible pride in himself. It is not clear though how this pride developed and as with many Greek myths it can be assumed that this ‘emotion’ is in fact an archetype or teaching tool. Narcissus is an arrogant young man who disdainfully rejected, the love of others, including most famously, the nymph Echo. For this he was tricked by Nemesis, the god of ‘divine retribution’ into staring at his reflection in a pool and thus he became entranced with his mirror image, although imagining this person to be another person. This was revenge indeed, for someone who was full of self-love, and in a sense indicative of the power of the human psyche to delude itself and to break its own determination to be in love with only oneself. Perhaps though, in his wounded psyche, like a modern day Narcissist, was the knowledge that the person he saw in the water was for him, in fact, himself, the ultimate visual acknowledgment and confirmation of his supreme beauty. This reflection finally enabled him to find expression outside of himself: he was a young adult doing only what young adults generally find themselves doing as they mature. However, therein lies the cruel blow for Narcissus: his reflection despite appearing real, was the ultimate chimerical  delusion. In his attempts to manifest and make physical his love of another, the normal sublimating of a teenager’s Narcissism, he instead moved closer each time, to kiss this other man.  At the point of coupling, however, the other disappeared each time in ripples of water, and even seeking the other within the water was fruitless if he wished to preserve himself from drowning both metaphorically and in reality.

Narcissism or self-love is something which Sigmund Freud, in his essay, On Narcissism, (1914) describes as a necessary part of the human make-up, alongside an outward inspired eroticism or love of others. Both, he said, are needed to enable self-preservation and the preservation of the species. He argued that they both form part of a general developmental egoism in all humans. Initially the narcissistic imperative enables babies and infants to get what they need to survive, and this often carries on well into adulthood, with some people remaining crucially dependent on their parents. This self-love an essential part of our developmental make-up can be seen to continue with many of us in some shape or form into adult life, whilst in many cases and at the same time being sublimated to the love of others, which begins to take greater precedence as the sex instinct pushes us to fall in love with another. To a greater or lesser degree a person’s residual Narcissism is dependent on individual psychological make-up and powerful external forces, such as the psychologically based advertising campaigns presented by large corporations and the cult of celebrity. The problem with Narcissism, if it can be seen to be one, is when a person does not know when to stop their pursuit of perfection or balance their love of others and their love of self. This inability to move to a more socially-based personality is the moment when a healthy pursuit becomes an unhealthy obsession. The old adage ‘You have to love yourself in order to love others’ simply doesn’t work if it goes too far, because when it does become all-encompassing, then the Narcissist pushes others away and loses out on social interactions and relationships, in favor of isolation and in the extreme, megalomania.

The Narcissist can only see himself both being touched and reaching out to another by touching himself in front of the reflective material, be it water, a mirror or a window pane. This probably suits his ego whilst at once causing emotional frustration, by not being able to engage properly with his own image of beauty, himself. In the case of masturbation or auto-eroticism, so often wrongly equated with Narcissism,( as plenty of non-narcissists engage in this form of sexual expression), touching is possible but the person is aware only of engaging with himself and not the other. This other remains elusive and he remains trapped in his own self-love. In seeing himself reflected, he reaches out yet he finds only the exterior of the material which reveals his image. Even his finger tips and those of his reflection are unable to truly touch as they reach the looking glass, but instead he feels the soft or hard surface of the reflector destroying the object for him. Narcissism, this once heralded great developmental Ego tool can become if not worked through, a cage from which the Narcissist finds it impossible to break free, and as I will discuss later, the photographic/art model and the photographer/artist can find themselves similarly trapped by it.

Self-love may drive the Narcissist to look at his own image with an overzealous yet loving eye, but if he engages in this practice of noticing himself so much then it is guaranteed that he will be disappointed. Eventually, the coarse nature of the human body seen in detail and the aging processes we all go through, will debunk the myth of eternal beauty. The myth of Narcissus, which Freud drew on to illustrate his psychological theories shows two components, that of the inner landscape of Narcissus’ psyche, his self-love and that of the external topography of his desires, carrying his disappointment. This dismay at the limitations of his love of self and his love of an impossibly unobtainable other, finds expression in his beautiful yet reflected twin. These twin emotions of love and distress are still to be found combined in Modern male nude photographic and artistic images; witness the contemporary disciples of those such as Mapplethorpe et al. These often present a model in a detached, self-besotted pose with a dismayed, arrogant and stern response to his own and the photographer/artists distress in attempting to reflect their ideal of beauty in print or on canvas. The camera, and by default the photographer, asks the model to let the camera make love to him, but he doesn’t need to get down and dirty or sully his beauty, only lay back and remain aloof. No emotion is needed, just one’s own beauty, in fact sentiment and humor are a positive hindrance. In this style, the photographer’s model can be just with himself, wallowing in his sense of self-appreciation and love, without the intrusion of the audience. It is the camera and the photographer who do the work. These artists and photographers along with their model present a stereotypical Narcissistic response to the world.

In the modern world Narcissism can be seen not only in individuals and society as a whole but also as a major tool in the predominant worldwide Capitalist culture, through psychologically-based advertising. In our surgically, chemically enhanced and gym toned beauty age, led as it is by the whims of surgeons and the ‘Beauty’ and ‘Fitness’ markets. Individual perceptions of beauty are at best based on a spectrum starting at one end with the subjective view of attractiveness, which most of us can recognize as a truth, on to an insidiously imposed, distorted and clone-like allure, (the love of the Pectoral muscle and the Botox needle are but two of the symptoms) and at worst being turned into a kind of grand ‘grotesquery’. Do the teased Mickey Rourke or Billy Crystal really think they look better than before or in fact even human now? Apart from consumerist edicts, those twin idols of Sex and Narcissism leading the NEW beauty age, technology also has its part to play. Since the advent of the digital camera and the Smart phone, we all can become photographer and model ,the lover and the loved, even taking images of ourselves in mirrors, recording the subject (ourselves), the object (our reflection), and using the reflector (the camera lens), all so much artifice to feed our Narcissistic egos and fill the Capitalists coffers. Of course many would say that such imagery has its place in the art world of the 20th and 21st century and it undoubtedly does, but it is a terrible mix of personally prescribed perfection and frugal fixed frigidity, at once removed from both its audience and reality, rather like the ultimate Narcissist.

In the context of our current day often distorted and biased view of beauty and its depiction in art and photography, it is relevant to ask: Was Narcissus ‘truly’ beautiful? Can we define true beauty and does it matter anyway? This is an often asked question in the world of the Arts. Who can say definitively that anyone is beautiful without having that assertion challenged. This is only a subjective view like in the story Narcissus who is the subject who has fallen in love with the object. So beauty, his view of his own and that of his reflection can only ever be a ‘personal’ exercise, especially compounded by the fact that his reflection is not an object at all but an illusory construct rather like his own self-love and self-worth. It is Narcissus’ inner psyche which is in charge of these events as they unfold, or so he thinks, and rather like the main protagonist in Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, he is in fact only the master of a delicious hoax. This is not say though that Narcissus did not have relevance and importance in the same way that photographs and drawings/paintings of and by men, the subject of this article, have now. However, we have to acknowledge that all opinion is subjective despite how scientists, academics and critics may try to convince us otherwise.

For artist/photographer and model alike, Narcissism plays an important part in the process of creating the finished image. As seen above Narcissism’s locus is to be found on a spectrum in life, at times obvious and sometimes subtle. This excessive sense of personal importance has many levels particularly in the area of creativity and it criss-crosses the roles of artist, model and even the viewer, especially the one who commissions works or buys existing art, both noble and exciting practices, especially perhaps to the Narcissist. Every portrait piece carries with it elements of Narcissism, the arrogance of a God-like assumption of beauty and personal importance, for all of some of those involved.

The artistic and photographic depictions of the male nude most often carry with them an autoerotic and homoerotic component. The latest trend sees a more democratic range of male nude, both physically and by the ways that these men are portrayed. The humanity and accessibility of a model now shines through, especially in self-portraits. Some can be seen here, created by Vladimir Okřina, and developed especially for this article. They display archetypes of a Narcissistic pose and yet are interspersed with naturalism. This is achieved by both the great technical expertise it takes to produce a self-image and the tension born of having to be in the moment, in its realization. These two factors impact positively on the end result and give humor and sensitivity to Narcissism which at its worst is regarded as a mental and emotional disorder.

The viewer of an Illusory Narcissistic image such as the ones Robert Mapplethorpe produced, in fact becomes much more connected to the photographer as the producer of the image, the one with the human face. Alternatively, his images can indeed be viewed as ‘still life’, inhuman even, although stereotypically beautiful. This connection between artist and viewer, brings to the creator of the image the dangers and muddiness of interaction with others, a Narcissists nightmare, unless as Vivien Maier did, you do not show your own work. This fact does nothing to free the photographer or model from their watery and/or reflecting trap, unless they allow him to be human rather than archetypal, to engage in action and discussion with his intended audience. The detachment principle spoken of before is what can make some models appear Narcissistic, an arrogant and disdainful portrait style which has developed over time particularly in the late 20th century. It is a cold, calculating image of beauty, chiseled and sculptural almost without humanity. Thus male nude ‘still-life’ portraiture, creating human edifices, but excluding self-portraiture, can then be viewed as a metaphor for Narcissism. As a result for the viewer, these images, can display and represent a kind of entrapment, an inability to attract and engage with the audience at a human level but merely at the aesthetic, illusory and Utopian one.

In contrast and in the vanguard of new developments in the male portrait can be seen the naturalistic and activity based works of those like Wim Beullens, Jody Kelly, Gregory Little and Ivor Sexton. Their work invites the audience or viewer to engage with the model, to laugh and empathize with him, recognize a raw sexuality in him, because he is often seen to be taking part in everyday activities or in telling a story. These men and those who display them are extroverted and outwardly focused and yet by their very nature still speak of a kind of unashamed and natural Narcissism in the artist/photographer and the model and by default the viewer.