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Love is Painful, and That’s a Good Thing

Love. Months ago, after reading some stuff by some great, yet unorthodox thinkers, I’ve decided that Love is the greatest thing there is (Yes, I’m aware Paul beat me to it in Corinthians 13:13 centuries ago, but that’s not the point).

Recently, I woke up to the idea as to what direction I wanted to take my art, which is purely based on Love. I Love painting, I Love beauty, I Love the people I choose to paint, I hope that I will inspire Love in those who look at my art…

This morning, though, I realized one of the reasons Love is so powerful is because of how painful it can be.

I didn’t sleep very well last night. This morning, I woke up feeling… upset. I’m not sure how else to explain it. I wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy. This was more than the normal waking up groggy. I had very vivid dreams that I couldn’t remember, so I know it had something to do with it. Other than that. I was at a loss. I was also worried because when my mornings aren’t good, the rest of my day isn’t the best either.

Even so, I was determined to have a good day! It was a Saturday after all, and I suffered through a pretty long and crappy work week. I just made my first Etsy sale, my dearest friend bought a $5 print from me of one of my most cherished paintings, of which I will never sell the original (a still life bouquet of purple daisies my now-husband gave me when I returned home from Italy. See? Another example of art painted with Love).

daisies with print

This morning, I went out to put the print in the mailbox. I grabbed the mail that was already in there. As I went inside, I looked down at the mail to see if there was anything for me or my husband… and saw the reason why my waking up wasn’t so good.

The name “Bruce Gilinsky.”

And just like those terrible amnesia movies where images of the guy’s memories all start flooding back, I remembered the dream I had last night.

Bruce Gilinsky was my grandfather. He died Spring of 2016. Last night, I had the most vivid dream that he was back. My grandma, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my husband… Grandpa… and I were all in the upstairs living room of my grandparents’ house. My whole family was happy. He looked a couple decades younger than when I last saw him. He didn’t have as many wrinkles, and he was happy to be alive and see us all again. Now, because I was somewhat aware of events in the dream and out of it, I didn’t realize I was dreaming, but I did remember that Grandpa died, I asked how this happened.

Turns out he was brought back through cloning technology. He was cloned, then his age was accelerated. He still had all of his memories, even of his death. I knew this was very wrong, and that what took place was unethical for so many reasons.

But, here’s the thing, I didn’t care.

He was back. That was all that mattered.

I can’t help but think if that was why I woke up so perturbed, and the dream was blocked from my memory if not momentarily. There was some guilt about not caring that Grandpa was still dead, but replaced with a clone with all his memories. It reminded me how much I missed him. I missed him so much that any solution to see him, talk to him, be there with him… would be good enough for me.

Now, dreams could just be dreams and not mean anything, but in the past couple of years, I’ve become very interested in Carl Jung and his expansion on Freud’s dream theories. Whenever I’ve had dreams that I could remember, I try to think about what they could mean, or what my brain is trying to work out and what lesson I could take away, or what I could watch out for.

I think on some level, there’s some warnings or speculations about the role of delusions.

After remembering my dream, I fervently hoped that Grandpa was in Heaven, because as this subconscious desperation of mine was to see him again, that would be the only way I could see him again. This then instilled in me a need to truly believe that there is a Heaven.

After thinking about this some more, I was thinking about a very common Atheistic argument that the reason why people believe in things like ghosts and Heaven are only a defense mechanism and that superstitious people could not handle the idea that they’ll never see their loved ones again, so they have to believe in these things so that they can just move on with their lives. Ironically, I believe Freud said that, and here I am looking to a student of his to make sense of these things.

I believe the solution Freud would say to dealing with this grief is just to accept the cold, hard truth that you’ll never see them again and move on.

Well, that doesn’t work for me. There’s no evidence that there is a Heaven, sure, but on the flip side, there’s no evidence that there isn’t either. So at the end of the day, I think this depends on what works best for you and your life. What kind of life you want to have and what beliefs will help you achieve that.

So, maybe Heaven’s a delusion. But… I don’t care. In my dream, Heaven didn’t exist, but the cloning technology did. Here, the cloning technology doesn’t exist, but Heaven does. It doesn’t matter.

So, here’s what I think would work best for me. If I am to believe that there is a Heaven, then I will continue to pray that Grandpa’s soul made it here, that also means I need to get there too, which to me, would require a life that strongly involves believing everyone, no matter how terrible, is still worthy of love, patience, and compassion.

BUT! If there is no Heaven, and when Grandpa died, that was it, and that’s what will happen to me when I expire, then… I will have died living a life that hopefully made other peoples’ lives at least a little better. More importantly, any parts of my brain that control things like disappointment will cease to function. So, it’s not like I can be disappointed that there was no Heaven after all and that my life with a strong dedication to Love all amounted to yet another meaningless existence. Right? Right.

I already decided months ago that I wanted to focus my life more focused on doing small things to make the world at least a little better than I left it rather than focus on all the many horrible things about the world.

As sad as it was, and as much as this dream made me realize how much I missed someone I loved so dearly, I’m glad I had it. It instilled a somewhat selfish, yet effective motivation to live the life I want to lead.

Here’s my takeaway: I think it’s best to live your life as honestly as you can, and that science is great for helping us understanding the material world, but for certain things science can’t empirically prove, like the meaning of life, whether or not anything matters, whether there’s life after death… whether art has any significance… if living as if such things do matter helps you to become a less frustrated, kinder, more helpful person to making the world around you a little better, then I guess it’s worth it.

That being said, I want to make it clear that I’m not saying you join a cult, or join a religion where a core tenant (or any tenant) is to treat others badly. What I’m trying to say is, if you think about it, things like Love, Kindness, Loyalty, and Mercy cannot be scientifically and empirically measured, but living as if things are real make us better people… In fact, I’ll let Death from Discworld explain it for you better than I ever could (skip to 1:30):

The worst thing that would happen is you died living a better, more meaningful life and won’t live to regret it.

So, yes. Love can be painful, but that’s a good thing. Despite what you may think of “fantasies” people use to get through the day, I think we can all agree that Love reminds us and instills in us something almost as powerful: Meaning… and what it means to be Human.

 

 

 

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How to Fight Modern Art

It’s a pretty well known fact that modern art is bad. It’s supposed to be bad. Once, the purpose of art was to transcend the ugliness of this world and reach for the virtue of beauty, but that’s all done away with. One of the most heinous crimes committed by traditional art was preaching beauty was the same as good, but there are ugly things in this world that, when seen through a different lens, can also be beautiful. This is very true. Rembrandt took vagrants, elderly people, outcasts in general, and painted them in such captivating, ecstatic beauty while still retaining their shabbiness, wrinkles, and age.

300px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project

Modern art doesn’t do that.

Instead, artists like Duchamp, Manet, Jeff Koons, and so on seek only to desecrate and offend, not the artistic academics who hold the power over what is and isn’t considered art, mind you, but people who love beautiful art and long for meaning and beauty in their own lives who’ve long since given up on the art world after what the cesspool it’s become. They stole art from us. They distorted it so the only ones who can enjoy it are those who are “clever enough” to understand it. Of course modern art must be fought, must be rebelled against. By their (the Academics’) own definition, the ones in power are only there to lord it over the rest of us, and stole said power from the rest of us. Why should they be surprised if their precious and meaningful world of modern art was suddenly toppled down by an angry mob to tear down their vision and replace it with a more caring and brighter ideology?

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Tracy Emin’s “My Bed.” Where it’s not enough to just credit the artist, I couldn’t even put in this blog post without linking BOTH Wikipedia pages because “It’s so special” or something.

You see how evil that last paragraph was? How resentful?

Some of you might have enjoyed reading it (I sure enjoyed writing it), or a version of it where “modern art” was replaced by some other ideology you don’t like.

I’ve been writing (albeit not often enough) about this for years. I’ve always loved art. I love looking at it and making it. If I was to live alone anywhere in the world, it would be Florence or Rome where art and beauty is literally everywhere. I naively hoped that the Art School would nurture that love. Instead, all I got was snobbishness, disdain, and hatred from the teachers and students for any Classical art with a glimmer of hope and beauty.  I felt personally and spiritually injured by these people. As a result, many of my past blog posts have been attacks. They were criticisms that I was either to scared or too incoherent to convey in the classroom. While it was cathartic, it wasn’t helpful. Not in the slightest.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to Roger Scruton and G.K. Chesterton. These were two men whose beliefs I felt were similar to mine. Roger Scruton, in his almost pompous, Oxford-educated demeanor, also believed modern art was an enemy to civilization, but he effectively portrayed a great love for the beauty of art.

Somehow, around the same time of discovering this wonderful man, I also started listening to an audio book by G.K. Chesterton. His words were concise, intelligent, but also filled with a great love.

Gilbert_Chesterton
Anyone with hair like that is a guy worth grabbing a beer with… Or a cup of tea at least… he looks more like a tea person.

He did criticize rationalists, people like Nietzsche, but rather than in a disdainful tone, his criticisms were a mixture of light humor and sadness. To him, these weren’t people who were evil and just wanted to watch the world burn, like how we typically think of those we think are our enemies, but instead, pitiable (but still loveable) people who are missing out on a great joy and mystery in life.

The following words came into my head, they weren’t anything that Chesterton or Scruton explicitly said, they just kind of formed in my brain on their own:

“Love your friends more than you hate your enemies.”

I was thinking about these words, and I thought to myself,

“Do I really love art? Or do I just hate modern art? And if I do love art, do I love the art I love to look at and make… more than the art I was demanded to accept by my teachers?”

And, to be honest. No. I don’t think I did.  This was a scary thing to learn about myself. But I really had a lot hate and anger built up. For YEARS. It took me this long to realize it wasn’t doing me any good. I wasted so much energy on my hate than I didn’t have a whole lot left over for my love. I myself desecrated the art I loved by thinking “It’s better than garbage being made today.”

There’s so much ugliness, guys. There really is. There’s war, there’s tyrants, there’s people online who say nasty things they never say to that person… in person. In our political climate, all I see are people finally having an excuse to destroy, not people who really care or want to change things. Every day, we just want to use the misery of our own lives and ruin it for everyone else. I don’t have to be that person. Neither should you. I hope you’re not, or at least on your way.

If you want to fight modern art, or ugliness, or hate, or anything that’s damaging to this world, then think about what you love, and be the best of what you love. Be kind, make things that bring meaning to others. Don’t hide behind your meaning (and computer screen) as an excuse to hurt people or tear things down. There is ugliness in people, but there’s beauty in them too. When people see you acting this way, and that you fervently believe and act out your meaning, then it will inspire them to do the same. If they don’t agree with your ideas, but you don’t attack those people or tear them down, they’ll be more likely to listen to you.

And yes, there are truly terrible, psychopathic, malevolent people out there. With that in mind, love your family and your friends more than you hate the psychopaths. And certainly love those in your life more than those who disagree with you.

 

 

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Gods, Nature, and Terrible Beauty

First of all, hi everyone! I’m back from Italy! Now that I no longer have thesises and papers and reports to write for school, I finally have time/energy to work on this blog. My fiance picked me up from the airport. With flowers. I’ve been spending the past week painting them. I’ll post when it’s finished.


 

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William Blake Richmond’s “Venus and Anchises”

Several passages in the bible discuss the “Fear of the Lord.” To name a few:

 

Deuteronomy 6:24 “So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for its survival, as it is today.”

Psalm 31:19 “How great is Your [God’s] goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear you.”

Proverbs 10:27 “The fear of the Lord prolongs life, But the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”

 

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John Martin: “Sodom and Gamorrah”

 

It does seem cruel that it’s not enough to fear a vengeful god. One that could and has smite cities with not even a single word. No. He DEMANDS this fear from his followers. Perhaps it’s true that it is cruel and unjust, but anyone with an ounce of insight can see that these passages aren’t a simple, “Obey me and fear me, or else.” I’m sure even the most fundamentally literal Christians wouldn’t want to follow a god that demands one’s fear rather than love.

Then again, I dunno. Machiavelli himself concluded it’s more efficient for rulers to be feared than loved. Maybe on a deeper level, we can admire these rulers more than the kind ones.

The other side of this argument, perpetrated by those who see the Loving and Merciful God over the Vengeful one, will say that it’s not literal “Fear” of God, but to be in “Awe.” For a while, I thought that too.

 

 

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Lois Isabey “Shipwreck”

It isn’t just the Judeo-Christian god that demands this fear. Nature demands the same from her inhabitants, only she doesn’t give us the structure needed to protect us against her wrath.

 

We stand in front of an ocean, and we admire its beauty, knowing at any moment, it could swallow us up and drown us.

We gaze upon mountains, and climb them, knowing one wrong move, one avalanche, and we plummet to our death crushed under boulders.

Tourists come to Africa to see lions, a symbol of strength and valor from Richard the Lionheart to the Lannisters from our modern Epic, “Game of Thrones” knowing full well that if they’re lacking common sense, and the beast is hungry, they’re not going to live to tell their friends back home about their experience in the African Savannah.

Do we cower and blubber in front of these anthems to Nature’s beauty? We should, but we don’t (except for perhaps the lions I just mentioned). We love them. We emulate in our art. We attach meanings and write songs about them. Even so, if we live in a modern, civilized society, it’s highly unlikely that we’ve ever found ourselves in a situation where we have been completely stranded and at the mercy of Nature.

Thinkers such as Jean-Jaques Rousseau, and many of my peers in my past years at University, believe that if human beings lived uncorrupted by the socialization of society (or “The Patriarchy” or Western Civilization, or any other name for it nasty or otherwise), that our inherent goodness would shine through. It’s funny how someone like Rousseau being such an adamant critic of religion would instead believe that Nature is any more merciful and good than the gods.

 

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Seriously, Rousseau, what are you thinking?

 

I still have yet to read Rousseau’s manuscripts, and plan to, but already I find myself skeptical of his ideas. To be uncorrupted by society is to be instead corrupted by Nature. Where her laws demand to kill or be killed. I’ll stick with my warm, protected, heated house with internet and a cup of tea whenever I want it, thanks. I prefer having the leisure to draw and paint rather than constantly wonder what I’m going to eat or worry something’s going to eat me.

Say what you will about the fear of God, but the teachings of Judaism and Christianity eventually led us to the Western Civilization that we know today. In a wealthy civilization where even the poorest are still better off than many average people in developing nations, leisure time to create and appreciate art, and not being eaten by lions, bears, wolves, or any other predator.

Nature’s beauty is something to be loved, but we built protected shelters for a reason.