Sunday, April 8, 2007

But Miranda, Why the TOP of the 'Fridge?

I stumbled upon this interesting web page created by the talented "Miranda July" quite by chance (hence, "stumbled upon", I guess). It is more than is apparent and tickled me in many ways. It is mainly the site devoted to advertising her book, "No One Belongs Here More Than You." I thought it worthy of being the first post created by someone other than me on this handwritten web site. I hope you enjoy it.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Full Circle

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Sunday, January 21, 2007


Sorry for the errors. If felt it best to simply leave them in there rather than editing them out. I shows me to be human and reinforces my difficulty with this medium. I'm sure it will get better. ;)

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Speaking of Dragons

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Sunday, January 7, 2007

To Err is Human

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin

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Monday, January 1, 2007

Am I Doing the Write Thing?

What you see above is the first step on an odd little excursion (no, I am NOT becoming a professional cartoonist!) If you are not sure what the point of my crude cartoon may be, I apologize and ask for your understanding. A brief explanation may be found in the notes for the image on my Flickr page.

Embarking on a new foray of any sort should never, never coincide with January 1st. There is something psychologically oppressive about January 1st, yet I choose to stare in its face again. Perhaps after I've been beaten down a bit by reality this strange need I have for renewal, reinvention and redoubling of effort will disappear? Unlikely. I take comfort in the fact that while my previous blog resolution started off miserably I found that I picked up steam at a later time in the year. Like that blog, I will make the first entry a warning to myself: Don't expect and don't require any more than this. It is all well and good to try something new in a Scottish restaurant, but if you get a few bites into it and feel doubts arising (or worse, stomach contents rising) it is best to spit it out and pat yourself on the back for being brave enough to try (and pat yourself on the back to dislodge any stray pieces of thistle).

The goal of this blog is to awaken creativity within myself on a new level by moving the crafting of the content away from the keyboard and toward the pen, pencil or tablet pen.

When I type the letter "A" on the keyboard, it obediently appears on the screen. As I type it again it appears as a capital "A" in the Courier font. Boring? Sure. I can change it if I'd like, but it doesn't matter to me. The letter "A" is just the letter "A". Or is it? Does it matter if I type the capital "A" or a lower-case "a"? Does it matter if the symbol is in Courier, Times Roman, Trebuchet or any other font? Should it be bold, underline, italic or all three? Should it be red, or blue or green? What new meaning comes through when I expand the scope of my entries to go beyond raw prose content and consider the presentation of and visceral response to the symbols themselves? I know I am trying to sound like an artist but, believe me, I am just a poseur (I intended to erase all doubt by posting the cartoon). I can't draw or paint. I don't know how to use a color wheel. I only use handwriting when I absolutely must, and then it is only printing in all caps for speed and legibility. I live and breathe the computer keyboard. I make my living behind it and express myself through it. So, how has this transformed me? Would I create less if I didn't use the keyboard? When I switched from handwriting to the typewriter (I had one in my room when I was young... this was before the PC) I found the text flowed better. I still maintain to this very day that the most practical course I ever took in high school was typing. Typing made everything else possible. I can type like a motherf*cker (however such an incestuous chap may type). My output increased noticeably once I got the hang of my own typewriter's quirks. But the leap in (seeming) creativity and sheer volume was an order of magnitude above the typewriter when I moved to the PC back in 1984. I no longer worried about mistakes; I just let the text flow. I allowed the ideas to sneak through the criticism gate and frolic. Unlike the pencil or the typewriter, I didn't worry about catching an error that could potentially harm my formatting and compel me to rethink or retype the piece. Spelling and formatting were of no consequence. Rewrites were for suckers. Now, correction fluid was only for sniffing. I honestly feel the computer unleashed a wave of creativity in the world that we are still surfing. It will only get better.

But, what was lost? Everyone knows that there is no up without a down, no dark without a light and no shirtee without a tickee. What am I trading to receive this (perceived) creativity and freedom? For myself, I believe I give up things like mental imaging, planning, concision, processing and patience. Granted, I may use each of those elements in other ways, but they have been pushed to the side by convenience, speed, reduced accountability and less severe penalties for mistakes. I imagine it would be somewhat analogous to how one would behave if only a single meal per day were allowed to pass through one's lips. When unlimited food is available, there isn't much planning required. I use as much food as I want and throw out the excess. I'll burn all the calories I want and not be concerned about the consequences. But if I only ate one meal per day, I'd have to plan it so it would be balanced nutrition. It should also be, if possible, satisfying and exactly what I want. I would likely be mindful of how I burn calories since my energy levels might be lower or prone to fluctuation. So we behave, think and plan based on our environment and the resources available to us.

I worry that I may have lost some creative and tactical skills in exchange for the benefits of digital technology (as well as losing the appreciation for such skills). For "The Frank Black Blog" my normal course of action is to take a topic or idea that resonates within me and make a few brief notes. I'll often let the idea percolate on its own for however long it takes. This process generally requires no deliberate attention, it simply goes on wherever is occurs (likely, just under my spleen). After I type the text I then decide on the sort of image I want to compliment the prose. One would assume that the image creation portion of the entry is where I do a lot of mental fabrication and planning. Honestly, I don't. I have a general idea of what I want to see and it usually comes to me in a flash. Since I am not an artist, all I do at this point is search the net for images to scavenge (some call it stealing). I allow myself to do this because the overwhelming majority of the time I twist and alter the images to suit my needs. I look at it as if I'm Weird Al Yankovic and I'm simply parodying these images in some way. That lets me sleep at night. ;) Again, since I'm not an artist, I don't have a specific image in mind, so I can generally make do with anything that is in the general vicinity of my idea. I'll alter the image to my satisfaction and upload it. Once that process is complete, I title the entry, check it for errors as best I can (I'm generally too tired to worry about such things by then) and let it loose to do my evil bidding. This process can take from 30 minutes for a negligible entry to three or four hours for a lengthy piece (depending on how picky I want to be about the contents). What form will the creative process for this blog take? I have no idea. I do know that they will have to be planned better or I'll need to be satisfied with whatever jumble comes out (unless, of course, I don't mind writing, rewriting and rewriting). If I wish to create an image, I can't just grab something; I'll have to create something (that should scare anyone). I can't just stumble on an image, I'll have to imagine it and then create it. I guess that means that this blog will be very light on images (but we'll see how it goes). Lastly (and most happily for you, gentle reader), my posts will have to be shorter: MUCH shorter. WOOHOO!!! There is no way that I could regurgitate at this volume using a pen without a great deal of effort (or at least a good carpel tunnel doctor). I hope I don't eat my words on that one.

So, why do I believe something must be lost by using the keyboard over the pencil? Because all our choices gain us something and lose us something. In this new blog's case, the losses are philosophical and only the slightest bit practical. On "The Frank Black Blog" we discuss how the choices we make effect results of great significance and magnitude. How we eat, shop, live and view ourselves will affect all life on this planet in some way. It doesn't matter if we view this as Peak Oil, overpopulation, Simple Living, anti-civilization, anarcho-primitivism, or hippie communes. We all know that our actions have consequences. I've only taken that concept from the more weighty discussions of civilization and moved it to the lighter subject of the creative process. They dovetail only in the idea that technology and civilization's methods may give us something, but they take something very human from us as well. I hope to discover what is being taken away and see if a portion of that might be regained.

My hopes for this blog over the coming days:

1) Stimulate creativity of a non-verbal nature while still using words as my primary medium.
2) Remove the keyboard as an impediment/crutch and use pen, pencil and digital pen for input.
3) Use the Tablet PC or scanned handwritten images as my main method of entry (keyboard can be used occasionally).
4) Learn how to use paper and pencil as practical tools in this blog and in this life.
5) Re-learn the skill of handwriting that I've long since jettisoned.
6) Go with whatever is stimulated by this process without judgment.

Finally, the over-arching concept here is to use digital technology to become reacquainted with my former analog self and begin the first stage of a gradual weaning from technology as my primary method of creativity. I don't know how this will happen, but as a part of my desire to prepare for a more basic and less energy-dependent life I'll need to, at least, try and move in this direction. Perhaps the next blog will be about paper fabrication and ink production? I know it seems contradictory to use digital technology to encourage traditional analog techniques, but this is the only method by which I can share this small journey with any readers who care to observe. And, I think it is a great bridge or mediator between the two worlds. I do not renounce or hate technology. Technology is a tool like a snow shovel or a pointy stick. I simply wish to remind myself that I shouldn't rely on modern technology alone to be creative. Indeed, I may (we all may) soon be forced to live with much less of it. Or, think of it as going from a heroin addiction to a methadone addiction.

Apart from this first (brutally long) entry, it is my desire to have as little keyboard interaction as possible (not much point in starting this blog, otherwise). I will continue to maintain "The Frank Black Blog" (*insert cricket sounds here*) and I have no plans to make any changes there (although I will not fight change if I feel it come). I imagine the early topics on this blog will often revolve around tools and techniques I've discovered or tried. This may not be as interesting as I'd hoped, but as time passes this should fall away and the fruit of those tools and techniques should be all that remains. I will try to post at least once per week, but I will not promise anything. I already know that I will experiment with the format of the site, so expect that to be a standard occurrence. As is common with humans and our best intentions there will likely be several posts early on, followed by a dry spell, followed by a guilt-induced spurt and then, if I am lucky, a comfortable rhythm.

This will not be a waste if I can awaken another part of my creative self. I don't use the word "creative" as an artist or entertainer. I simply want to see if I have another voice or perspective that has been pushed to the side by technology. This search is analogous to my search for our true nature as humans that has been hidden behind the noise and demands of technological civilization. While I don't believe my discoveries here will open any new insights into the human condition, I hope that they will shed light on my own condition. Could anyone hope for more?

As I've stated previously when embarking on such a journey...

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