April 18, 2012
And so it is, and so it has been that this blog has become a diary of sorts. It is a refuge, an oasis, a sacred space where I have found the integrity that had been stripped from me. It is an exploration of the dark and the light, the sick and the healing, the curses and the blessings that have surrounded me since I was born.
It is this blog that has given me a new sense of understanding of the Digital Age, not just what it means to speak freely to the world, but the courage it requires to sign my name to my word. I have no aliases, I play no games, I hide from nothing because I no longer fear my pain.
Once this blog became my diary, I discovered something I didn’t understand—that in being me, I do not need to do anything else. As this blog has taken hold, I have released myself from the illusions and lies that held me prisoner, and in pardoning myself of crimes that I did and did not commit, I have discovered that freedom is the only way to live.
I live to write. I write to live. I live for photographs. I take no photographs except those that I find. I am horrified by the idea of documenting my life as that which lies in my immediate purview for what I experience is so much greater than the small scope of my travels on earth. And to that end, the Internet has become my Oracle, guiding me to images of life that I know, even though I did not live them until the moment my eyes cast upon their form. The images I select tell as much about me as any words ever could—perhaps more in that they speak all languages. And, as you know, or shall soon discover, we are moving into a post-literate society.
Isn’t it beautiful and ironic and amazing to realize that we are returning to our essence, to a world of signs and symbols and oral history. Granted, that oral history is now video, but it remains worth noting that the death of print is the harbinger of this brave new world.
And yet… I could never give up words, nor give up print, even though I fully embrace the Digital Age. I have always felt that I was born at the turning point, and that I at once live in two worlds, the old and the new school, and I love them both for all their beauty and critique them both for all their arrogance, and I benefit by virtue of all that is possible because at no other time in history could I live on my terms and no one else’s.
I answer only to myself, and that is a blessing, for I know the curse that was implanted in me at birth, and I fear it not because my powers are granted by the Universe.
And one of those powers has been and shall always be the desire to communicate, to share, to connect, to create community. And I did not know, until I began, that what you seek is seeking you, and so it happens that I am.
As I consider the future is now, and now is the time, and time is an illusion, I create the world in which I choose to live. And that world is the world of my heart and mind and soul manifest. And that creature is both an essence and an existence, and they are complementary because what was done unto me is very dark and heavy.
And this darkness weighs on me and I accept it. For we all have our demons, and finally, now, I can give mine a hug. Because, two years ago I drew a card and the lesson was “Dealing with Demons” and the first thing I realized was that demons were sick energies that need love in order to heal. And I was disgusted and charmed and confused by this, because I couldn’t so much as wrap my arms across my chest and give myself a hug, let alone love the demons that dwelled beneath my breast. But I never forgot that lesson, even though I had no idea how it would become expressed.
It is both this blog, which is my daily meditation, and my novel(s) which have allowed me to express and accept and make peace with the darkness and to accept that who I am is not for everyone, particularly not those who are afraid of themselves. And that makes me sad, partially because I still possess the pathetic desire to be loved by all, but more than that, it makes me sad because I hate to see that kind of self hatred in anyone else. I feel it, with a kind of empathy that has no boundaries, in the way that spirits can enter my space without resistance. Because the boundaries around my ego were so completely violated, first by a shocking proximity to death, second by predators masquerading as parents, but no matter anymore.
All blessings are curses and vice versa. And the curse has blessed me with the ability to know things very few people wish to talk about. But then I realize, if only one person wishes to speak with me, I am a lucky girl. And there is at least one person, Miss Fitts, and she rocks my world. To imagine that we speak about suicide so calmly, so clearly, so deeply, so much so as to come to the knowledge of parallel universes, other dimensions, and things which mankind cannot prove but the brain can experience—ahh, this is why I am here. This is why all of this happened to me. This is why I don’t ever need to ask why—because I live in faith. I live fearless. I believe.
And so it is that something has happened and things have changed and I see that there are two forces working together at this time. There is the darkness and there is the light and both need to be expressed, but in order to become manifest and pure in their essence, I separate the two to develop in their own space, and perhaps the day shall come when they unite. But today is not that day.
Today is the day that I introduce my other half. The Kingdom of Eternal Night, my new blog, and the future of Miss Rosen, Sara, and me. Is that like the trinity? The Mother, the Daughter, and the Holy Spirit? God is so Good, there are no words for it.
April 13, 2012
April 2, 2012
There is so much we take for granted in this life, like knowing the date of our birth. Like knowing our parents. Like knowing who we are. And where we come from. Because, we can use this as our path, or we can choose to let this go. But what if you never had this? What if you never know?
Somaly Mam does not know when she was born. Or to whom. She was orphaned in Cambodia during the war, and she grew up in the forest, without a name. Until a family took her in, and gave her the name she carries today. And of all names, it would be Mam, because she is mother to thousands of girls. And to me, a saint.
Her story is not pretty, yet she is beautiful. Radiant of heart, light, spirit eternal. Never have I known such a person was real. Never did I believe one person has the power to change the world. No matter what their circumstances.
Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Never let them steal your shine. Somaly Mam is a saint and a goddess and a heroine and a mother and she is divine. And, ohh, did I mention? She is totally down to earth. I don’t know her very well, but in the few moments in which we have shared, I felt this feeling that a saint is someone who is as real as flesh, as human as blood, and what makes her special is that she not only speaks the truth but she puts her life on the line.
Happy Birthday Somaly. Although I cannot be with you this evening, I am with you in spirit. You have changed my life in ways I do not understand and it is my dream that one day I should be able to give back to the world what you have given to me.
April 1, 2012
How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face (of man).
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.
The countries of Syria and Nubia, the land of Egypt,
Thou settest every man in his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities:
Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.
Their tongues are separate in speech,
And their natures as well;
Their skins are distinguished,
As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.
Thou makest a Nile in the underworld,
Thou bringest forth as thou desirest
To maintain the people (of Egypt)
According as thou madest them for thyself,
The lord of all of them, wearying (himself) with them,
The lord of every land, rising for them,
The Aton of the day, great of majesty.
March 28, 2012
I don’t believe in dogmas and theologies. I just believe in being a good person.
When I work, and in my art, I hold hands with God.
I see things like they’ve never been seen before.
Art is an accurate statement of the time in which it is made.
I need somebody who I can really communicate with.
When I have sex with someone I forget who I am.
For a minute I even forget I’m human.
It’s the same thing when I’m behind a camera. I forget I exist.
Quotes by Robert Mapplethorpe
Photographs by Lilla Szasz
March 28, 2012
The Biggest Cat on Earth: The Siberian Tiger
by Clara Lehman
The Panthera tigris altaica, Siberian Tiger, or Amur Tiger as it is also known, is matched in size by no other wild cat. The Tungusic people of North China and Russia regarded the animal as a deity, and gave it names such as ‘Grandfather’ or ‘Old Man.’ There is no denying the majestic nature of this special animal, and even when looking at contemporary Chinese culture the Siberian tiger is seen again and again. Adult Siberian tigers can often reach lengths of 3.3 metres long, and a weight of 300 kilograms, but there have been recordings of animals larger than this. One Siberian tiger, called ‘Jaipur’, who was kept in captivity, reached a staggering weight of 465 kilograms.
Their Natural Habitat
Right now the Siberian tiger is mostly confined to the cold birch forests of eastern Russia, but they can be found in China, and also Korea. In centuries past these magnificent creatures were much more prevalent across a large area cutting through Russia, China and Korea, but in modern times their numbers have dwindled. Siberian tigers prospered in the isolated habitats away from human settlements, but as the human race grew and spread, the Siberian tiger began to lose its territory.
In a rare instance of the natural world, these animals sometimes engage in a losing battle with humans, often after being provoked or from an attempt to capture them. While they are not considered to pose a specific threat to humans, they have been known to defend their territory, and are more than capable of killing a man. These wild cats are so strong and powerful that they can successfully hunt brown bears, and make it difficult for wolves to exist in the same environment because they dominate the food source.
They hunt alone, without a pack to help them catch prey, and their technique is to sneak up on their next meal. They hunt a variety of different animals, but their usual diet consists of deer, wild boar, fish, and birds. Their habit of occupying areas with the lowest human density is a great advantage, because it offers them the most complete natural ecosystem where they can reign supreme.
The Strive to Protect
The Siberian tiger is currently in the endangered bracket in terms of conservation. There are no definite figures as to exactly how many still exist in the wild, but it is estimates from 2005 put the figure at between 300 and 400. There is a large effort to protect these now rare animals, but still they succumb to the poachers and deforestation, especially in China. The extent of poaching is surprising considering how dangerous these animals can be, and the damage they can inflict. Opportunist poachers with cheap van insurance really are risking life and limb when attempting to capture and transport a Siberian tiger.
One instance in 2002 saw a man from Jilin province in China survive an attack by a Siberian tiger. He claimed the tiger attacked him without any provocation on his part, but his story raised suspicions, mainly because Siberian tigers very rarely attack humans. It was later revealed that the man had actually set traps to catch the animal, and he was only attacked once the tiger in questioned had a snare around its neck, causing it untold pain. The damage and infection caused by the snare eventually killed the tiger, even after desperate surgery to try and save it.
Rarely thought of as a man-eater, the Siberian tiger now benefits from a large conservation effort that strives to protect the animal and ensure that their numbers stop declining. The majority of Siberian tigers, maybe as many as 95% of the wild population, live in the Russian Far East. The World Conservation Society Russia has a Siberian Tiger Project that focuses on collecting scientific information connected to Siberian tiger ecology and using it to help conserve them. They have been tracking the animals through the use of radio collars since 1992, and are building a complete understanding of how Siberian tigers live, their eating habits, preproduction rates, social structure, and use of territory. From their research they have concluded that around 80% of Siberian tigers die because of human influence. It seems that only increased efforts to keep deforestation and human expansion away from the environments that Siberian tigers inhabit, along with stopping poachers, will stop their numbers decreasing.
March 17, 2012
Watch, watch your body walking, sitting, lying down,
and you will be able to see that you are the watcher, not the body.
Watch your mind in anger, in hatred, in love, in greed, in misery, in joy,
and you will become aware one day that you are not these things that happen in the mind;
you are the watcher. Slowly slowly the watcher becomes crystallized.
That is the birth of the soul. That day you are really born, that day your real life begins.
From that moment God is a reality for you, and the only reality.
March 4, 2012
For two days, hot tears have fallen from my eyes. It is like this, letting go, freeing myself of the demons that have haunted my soul. Tears fall in a baptism of sorts, holy water from the Holy Spirit, cleansing me of the dark forces that have stolen my life, of living death without being dead. Tears fall to set me free, to force me to let go of the lies I believe, of letting me be with what is most ugly in myself and in others. Tears fall to remind me that I am human, fallible, flawed, but most of all—full of hope, of infinite possibility, of knowing that it is only the truth that shall set me free.
In the past two days the most amazing thing has happened. I discovered what the word “friend” truly means. I always thought myself a good friend, only to find out that many of the people I had taken as friends were anything but. Wolves in sheep’s clothing for so long, they had taken themselves for sheep, but the trail of blood suggests otherwise.
But don’t get me wrong. Wolves have their rightful place. Nature designed them to thin the herd. They belong amongst themselves, in a pack. They hold together and feast upon others, and that is what gives them life. But me, I am a sheep. I eat things green and have fluffy hair. I prefer to be docile, I prefer to be calm. I know that when I am not, it is only because I am in the presence of a wolf. I am unconsciously highly alarmed.
But back to the sheep, back to where I belong. This is a metaphor, so I don’t want to string it along. I do not mean to suggest that I am a sheep in the sense of a follower, though I do take God, the Tao, and Nature as my guiding force. I trust in energies larger than me because I am an animal and I am ruled by biology, chemistry, physics, and beyond that—the mysterious.
Spirituality is something I have begun to discover, something I have begun to investigate, on my own and with people who are receptive to greatness. To be receptive to greatness means to be humble for it is only in the state of humility that we can grow. To think we have all the answers, to think that as we are is all that there is, is to be a member of the living dead. For there is no life where there is no growth, there is only self importance blocking out all hope. And having, once upon a time, been filled with this, for having been a sheep in wolves’ clothing, I know for myself that this is not living as it is meant to be, but quitting life long before you die.
Ahh, but none of that. Not today. The tears are gone and I am okay. Not okay meaning healed , not okay meaning that the pain is gone, but okay as in, I accept everything as it is, for what it is. I accept that I did not listen to the words that were howled with the anger of a thousand wolves. The Walls Stay. Sheep Be Gone.
I accept what could never be. I accept that I deluded myself into dreaming of love because I believed that no one would choose to suffer at their own hand. But I was wrong. And for that I pay. I failed myself as only I could fail. I lead myself to believe lies rather than walking away. But this has served its purpose, a greater one than I could ever imagine for it has only been a matter of three months, but everything has changed. I am not the person I was before, and I see this in the air I breathe.
This morning I rediscovered something about who I am. I am a collaborator, I believe in connection. My girl, Miss Jong, she has her first solo New York City exhibition coming this June. And we met the other day to discuss the project. And while I first met her under one context, that is as an author in my imprint, my imprint is gone but we are still here, both of us growing, expanding, reaching beyond who we once were.
In speaking with Miss Jong I was reminded of who I am, for it is she that said the words I quote more often than not. Two years ago, she said to me, “Your gift is articulating other people’s ideas.” I love that. I love her precision with words, her ability to say exactly who I am and for me to embrace it to the fullest. Because she has reminded me of what makes me human—of our need to connect intimately, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.
What we need—as animals—is to be part of a loving community. What we need—as artists—is to build a community based on our truths. Miss Jong has an exhibition and I have this blog. What I write, the images I publish, the quotes I discover, the artists I revere—this is my interpretation of myself and I speak for no one else. No longer am I fraught with having a legacy, of leaving a mark after death—because death is no longer a fear. Life, life is what is scary. And this is what it takes to face down my fears: speaking my truth, finding my voice and using it. To sing, to scream, to giggle, to hum, to moan, to growl, to laugh, to sob.
Emotion is the core to all human connection. What makes us go beyond our boundaries is trusting ourselves in order grow and expand and move towards other people. I know this is true for me, and I take some of my more deeply ingrained psychological truths as universal.
But I also accept that though I am right for me, I am not you. You know your truth. Let go and find the place where you can go deeper into yourself. What is beautiful is that we all work in complementary mediums. My skill with words serves your ideas. Your skill with ideas serves my words. This is what I love most about collaboration. Discovering myself in the space between us.
February 14, 2012
February 13, 2012
February 8, 2012
December 26, 2011
December 24, 2011
Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
~ Happy Holidays ~
December 23, 2011
December 4, 2011
The word ‘art’ is very slippery.
It really has no importance in relation to one’s work.
I work for the pleasure, for the pleasure of the work,
and everything else is a matter for the critics.
Popular art is the art of the People. A popular painter is an artisan who, is in the Middle Ages, remains anonymous. His work needs no advertisement, as it is done for the people around him. The more pretentious artist craves to be famous, and it is characteristic of his work that it is brought for the name rather than for the work–a name that is built up by propaganda. Before the Conquest all art was of the people, and popular art has never ceased to exist in Mexico. The art called Popular is quite fugitive in character, of sensitive quality, with less of the impersonal and intellectual characteristics that are the essence of the art of the schools. It is the work of talent nourished by personal experience and that of the community–rather than being taken from the experiences of other painters in other times and other cultures, which forms the intellectual chain of nonpopular art.
A photographer’s main instrument is his eyes.
Strange as it may seem,
many photographers choose to use the eyes of another photographer,
past or present, instead of their own. Those photographers are blind.
One could think of a person who seems to have two opposing and contradictory sides
to his personality; but it turns out that in the end the two sides are complementary.
The same happens with an artist’s work: deep down,
what appear as contradictory sides are merely different registers,
different aspects of the reality that the artist inhabits.
I was born in the city of Mexico, behind the Cathedral, in the place where the temples of the ancient Mexican gods must have been built, February fourth, 1902. I went through primary education, beyond this I have been self-taught. I served the government of my country many years in accountancy work, handling much abstract money. Interested since always in art, I committed the common error of believing that photography would be the easiest; the memory of intents in other fields make me understand now that I found my road on time.
I feel I h’ve done my part.
I think I contributed something, in whatever way I did.
I’m at peace in that respect.
Shoot what you see, not what you think.
Throughout my life I’ve never pursued anything.
I just let things pursue me… they just show up…
This is the way I’ve lead my life, not just in photography, but in life.
I think that light and shadow have exactly the same duality
that exists between life and death.