Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Robert Heinlein’

“Light Comes Darkness Goes”- Now at the West End Gallery


As for … the idea that we could lose our freedom by succumbing to a wave of religious hysteria, I am sorry to say that I consider it possible. I hope that it is not probable. But there is a latent deep strain of religious fanaticism in this, our culture; it is rooted in our history and it has broken out many times in the past.

“It is with us now; there has been a sharp rise in strongly evangelical sects in this country in recent years, some of which hold beliefs theocratic in the extreme, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, and anti-libertarian.

“It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics. This is equally true whether the faith is Communism or Holy-Rollerism; indeed it is the bounden duty of the faithful to do so. The custodians of the True Faith cannot logically admit tolerance of heresy to be a virtue.

“Nevertheless this business of legislating religious beliefs into law has never been more than sporadically successful in this country — Sunday closing laws here and there, birth control legislation in spots, the Prohibition experiment, temporary enclaves of theocracy such as Voliva’s Zion, Smith’s Nauvoo, and a few others. The country is split up into such a variety of faiths and sects that a degree of uneasy tolerance now exists from expedient compromise; the minorities constitute a majority of opposition against each other.

“Could it be otherwise here? Could any one sect obtain a working majority at the polls and take over the country? Perhaps not — but a combination of a dynamic evangelist, television, enough money, and modern techniques of advertising and propaganda might make Billy Sunday’s efforts look like a corner store compared to Sears Roebuck.

“Throw in a Depression for good measure, promise a material heaven here on earth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Negroism, and a good large dose of anti-“furriners” in general and anti-intellectuals here at home, and the result might be something quite frightening — particularly when one recalls that our voting system is such that a minority distributed as pluralities in enough states can constitute a working majority in Washington.”

–Robert Heinlein, Afterword to Revolt in 2100, 1953


In my Virtual Gallery Talk a few weeks back, I spoke about my belief that artists, writers and others who devote themselves to observation and creation based on their sensing of patterns often create work that is prescient or prophetic. Simply by going down the list of science fiction greats such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke and so many others, you can find many examples of scenarios and concepts in their literature that came to be.

In the talk, I mentioned as an example the novel The Parable of the Sower from the late Octavia Butler which was written in 1993 and describes a chaotic and dangerous USA in 2024 that doesn’t seem implausible at this point. I felt that she was obviously observing patterns of behavior and extrapolating them out in her imagination to come to a created future state of being that was in the realm of possibility.

Of course, it’s just supposition at the time. But sometimes, out of the many speculations for the future that are put out into the world every year, a few strike close to the reality that follows.

I submit the words above from sci-fi giant Robert Heinlein written as an afterword to his 1953 book Revolt in 2100 which involves a citizen rebellion against an authoritarian theocracy in 2100. I suggest you pay special attention to the second, third and final two paragraphs. It certainly seems as though we may be at the culmination of a pattern that Heinlein observed 67 years or more ago.

A most dangerous culmination, I must add.

We have limited time to avert his vision but it will be very difficult to ever fully repress the embedded behaviors and beliefs that led to it. I have often felt that the current president*** was merely the product of a very long arc, comprised of a series of events over many decades, that bent to this very moment. His peculiar set of skills, as vile as they are, fit the needs of this pattern and he became the sharp end of a spear that is following its arc. For all his his awful behavior, malice and stupidity, he is merely the current tool of this pattern.

I have thought over the past few years that we were actually fortunate that such a flawed and horrible person ascended into this position as the spear for this pattern.

Yeah, I said we were lucky to have this piece of crap. But that’s the point, he is a piece of crap. He is so flawed, so self-destructively attached to his own hubris, desires and prejudices, that he ignites a passionate fury in those who stand opposed to his faux nationalism, his desire for total rule, and his very real racism.

With this piece of crap, we at least have some warning of his ill intent.

It gives us a chance.

Think about it. If he had been still as insidious in his actions but had been smoother, saying the right things and not outright pissing off a majority of Americans, he would be cakewalking into a reelection now due to our complacency and unwillingness to rock the boat. This could mean a complete dismantling of the American Experiment over the next four years. It would be (and still could be) a situation that would be (and still could be) beyond reversal.

Maybe even taking us into the 2100 of Heinlein’s book.

So, this morning, let’s hope that Heinlein’s observations don’t come to fruition.

Plus, let’s give thanks for the president***– thank god he’s stupid. Thank god he’s impulsive and self-destructive. Thank god he is only interested in hearing his own voice– or maybe one with a thick Russian accent. Thank god he thinks he is the smartest man in any room. Thank god he is weak willed. Thank god he has no self restraint. Thank god he has not an iota of empathy. Thank god he thinks so little of the common man. Thank god he thinks he is bulletproof and above the law. Thank god he lies as easily as he breathes– which has a little huffing, by the way. Thank god he belittles the military and the scientists. Thank god he has no loyalty to anyone– save someone with a thick Russian accent and a name that rhymes with Rootin’ Tootin’.

The list of thanks I have for this president*** is too long to list so let me sum up in this way:

Thank god our president*** is a total piece of crap.

Now, get out there and have a good day!

 

 

Read Full Post »

GC Myers Stranger (In a Strange Land) -

 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Exodus 2:22

****************

I have been writing recently about some of the orphans, those paintings that make the rounds of the galleries and finally come back to me. The piece above is one of these orphans but it really isn’t. It’s mine alone, one of the rare pieces that I don’t think I would ever give up. Like many parents when looking at their children, I see much of myself in this painting.

Over the years I have periodically written about a group of paintings that were considered my Dark Work that were painted in the year or so after 9/11.   The piece shown above is one of these paintings. I very seldom consider a painting being for myself only but this one has always felt, from the very minute it was completed, as though it should stay with me.

It is titled  Stranger (In a Strange Land) which is derived from the title of Robert Heinlein’s famous sci-fi novel which in turn was derived from the words of Moses in Exodus 2:22, shown here at the top. The name Gershom is derived from the Hebrew words ger sham and means a stranger there. It is defined now as either exile or sojourner.

The landscape in this piece has an eerie, alien feel to it under that ominous sky. When I look at it I am instantly reminded of the feeling of that sense of not belonging that I have often felt throughout my life, as though I was that stranger in that strange land. The rolling field rows in the foreground remind me just a bit of the Levite cloth that adorned Moses when he was discovered in the Nile as an infant, a symbol of origin and heritage that acts as a comforting element here, almost like a swaddling blanket for the stranger as he views the landscape before him.

As I said, it is one of those rare pieces that I feel is for me alone, that has only personal meaning, even though I am sure there are others who will recognize that same feeling in this. For me  this painting symbolizes so much that feeling of alienation that I have experienced for much of my life, that same feeling from which my other more optimistic and hopeful work sprung as a reaction to it. Perhaps this is where I found myself and the more hopeful work was where I aspired to be.

Anyway, that’s enough for my five-cent psychology  lesson for today.  In short, this is a piece that I see as elemental to who I am and where I am going.  This one stays put .

Here’s a little of the great (and I think underappreciated) Leon Russell from way back in 1971 singing, appropriately,  Stranger in a Stranger Land

This is a repost of an entry from back in 2013 that has been heavily edited. 

Read Full Post »

Hard Freedom

GC Myers- Real FreedomI am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, 1966

***************************

How do you define freedom?

It’s a word that’s thrown around and owned by groups of every political persuasion and we as a people like to sing out the claim that we are the land of the free.  But what is it?

Is it simply the freedom to speak our opinions or move freely?  Or is it a freedom to live in a manner that we choose?

It’s a hard and multi-faceted question.  Probably more than I should be biting off here since, to start with, I don’t know that I can even define the reality of the word.  I mean, is it even a real thing or merely an accepted illusion, something that sounds pretty good in theory but never really becomes real?

At the end of the day, I do think that any definition we give is based on our own personal preferences, our own need to rationalize our life choices and still feel pretty good after all is said and done.  We choose our freedom.

There’s a lot more to be said about this subject.  In fact, I’ve written many more paragraphs that won’t show up here today just because I couldn’t decide which direction to take my thoughts. But I wanted to at least broach the subject to talk about it in the context of the new painting at the top of this page, a 12″ by 12″ canvas that I call Hard Freedom.

In this piece, I see freedom as a hard choice, one that requires a willingness to step away from group thought and definition. It is built on hard decisions to reject anything that wants to impinge on the sovereignty of your freedom.  As a result, it can be an isolating thing, one that requires constant vigilance to insure the protection of that freedom.  In this freedom, the price that is paid is in being ultimately responsible for every decision made.

Real freedom has very few safety nets and can be a scary thing.  I am sure a lot of you seeing this island might think of it not as a place of freedom but more like a prison.

And that’s okay.  My freedom is most likely not the same as your freedom.

As I said, this subject has a lot of places to take us and maybe in the days ahead we can search these places.  For this morning, I will leave you with these scrambled half-thoughts along with the painting at the top and the words of Robert Heinlein.

And a question: What does your freedom look like?

Read Full Post »

GC Myers- In the Air of Freedom smI am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

 —Robert A. Heinlein

*********************

Freedom is a word that gets thrown around a lot by politicians and pundits.  It is the basis for untold numbers of credos, adages, maxims and bumper stickers. But for all its use,  I don’t think many of us give even a single thought to what the word means for ourselves.

I’m not here to try to define the word. I think it has personal meaning for each of us that can’t be easily contained in one single definition.   My idea of freedom may not match yours and your freedom may not seem like freedom at all to me.  And maybe that’s the main thing in freedom– we are free to define our freedom as we wish.

The only constant is the moral responsibility that we take for our actions, as famed sci-fi author Robert Heinlein lays out so well in the quote above. We can never be free from the responsibility we must take for our actions nor from the repercussions  from others in response to our actions.  That is one freedom to which we will never be entitled.

The painting at the top is a new painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, that is part of my Home+land show that opens this Friday at the West End Gallery.  Titled In the Air of Freedom, it represents for me the freedom that I have found in the last twenty years of painting.  Painting has given me a means of free expression, a voice to send out into the world, a contentment and purpose that I struggled and failed to find to find in the years before I came to it.  It has come to define my own freedom.  I see the Red Tree representing that free expression and the fields behind it representing for me the labor and responsibility that accompany it.

As I said, freedom seems like it should be something we can easily put into words but it it turns out to be a much more complex creature.  Take a minute and really think about it.  How do you define your own freedom?  What makes you feel free?

 

Read Full Post »

GC Myers Stranger (In a Strange Land) -I featured an older piece here on the blog last month, a painting that was considered my Dark Work from around 2002.   The piece shown above is another of these paintings and is one that I have always considered solely mine.  I very seldom consider a painting being for myself only but this one has always felt as though it should stay with me.  It is titled  Stranger (In a Strange Land) which is derived from the title of Robert Heinlein’s famous sci-fi novel which in turn  was derived from the words of Moses in Exodus 2:22.

The landscape in this piece has an eerie, alien feel to it under that ominous sky.  When I look at it I am instantly reminded of the feeling of that sense of not belonging that I have often felt throughout my life, as though I was that stranger in that strange land.  The rolling field rows in the foreground remind me just a bit of the Levite cloth that adorned Moses when he was discovered in the Nile as an infant, a symbol of origin and heritage that acts as a comforting element here, almost like a swaddling blanket for the stranger as he views the landscape before him.

As I said, it is one of those rare pieces that I feel is for me alone, that has only personal meaning, even though I am sure there are others who will recognize that same feeling in this .  For me  this painting symbolizes so much that feeling of alienation that I have experienced for much of my life, that same feeling  from which my other more optimistic and hopeful work sprung as a reaction to it.  Perhaps this is where I found myself and the more hopeful work was where I aspired to be.

Anyway, that’s enough for my five-cent psychology  lesson for today.  In short, this is a piece that I see as elemental to who I am and where I am going.  This one stays put .

Here’s a little of the great ( and I think underappreciated) Leon Russell  from way back in 1971 singing, appropriately,  Stranger in a Stranger Land

 

Read Full Post »

Well, it’s the day after Christmas and today I’m starting a five day stint, filling in for owner Linda Gardner at the West End Gallery.  It’s something I haven’t done for well over a decade and as the day has approached I’ve become more and more nervous at the prospect.  I’m afraid my people skills will have deteriorated a bit during those years spent in the studio when the only contact with people in a gallery was confined to an hour or two a few times a year at my openings.

I’m hoping they return.  Quickly.

Over this time at the gallery, I will be bringing out a few pieces from the studio that haven’t been shown in a number of years.  One such painting is the one shown above, Stranger (In a Strange Land), which has been a favorite of mine for a long time.  This 12″ by 36″ piece is considered one of my “dark” pieces, very densely colored over a black ground.  I never saw many of the pieces that are considered “dark” as being truly dark but this particular painting fits the billing.  It has a deep, dark background and there is a palpable sense of being adrift in an alien landscape throughout the scene.   Everything looks somewhat familiar but there’s a dimension beyond the norm, one that lifts the veil and reveals something unrecognizable, something that can’t be deciphered.  Like hearing the clicking language of African tribes for the first time.

I suppose this sense of alienation is what brought me to the title.  Whether you know the phrase from the popular sci-fi novel of the same name from Robert Heinlein or from the biblical quote of Moses, it is a most evocative group of words.

Anyway, this piece and more will be at the West End Gallery in Corning today and for the next five.  Stop in and take a look.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: