Anti-Consumerism is Consumerist?

I’m not particularly invested in the whole “anti-consumerism, culture-jamming” movement, so I’m not particularly scandalized by that, but I’m not sure I get it.

Rebel Sell linked from MetaFilter (which has several other links.)

UPDATE: reading it. Getting it. Makes total sense.

The basic idea is this: the whole “anti-consumerism” meme is predicated on the notion that”capitalism/consumerism” is all about conformity. And that you can be different by not conforming and buying special differen things which those ordinary consumerists don’t buy.

But that’s not true; capitalism and consumerism don’t want everyone to try to be like everyone else — that would actually be fairly achieveable, on the materialistic side of things anyway, and capitalism doesn’t want you to have achieveable goals; you might reach them and stop buying things. Capitalism wants you to always try and be better, more special, than everbody else. And being anti-consumerist makes you the most special of all. So it’s the same vibe. “I’m one of the few cool ones because I buy Nike” is exactly the same thought, phrased in different words, as “I’m one of the few cool ones because I buy things that are more enlightened than Nike.”

Brilliant little article. I like. But of course, I would like. I’ve never been cool enough to choose a “rebel” product except for Linux, my current Mac I guess, and one lone pair of actual Birks bought back in grad school. So it’s easy for me to say “yeah, that is totally true,” cause I’m not the one he takes aim at.

The Clown of God

I was browsing children’s books at B&N today and I came across The Clown of God by Tomi dePaola. I remembered reading it many years ago and it making me cry. It still works.

I thought of getting it for my kids, but I don’t think they’re quite old enough yet for a bedtime story where the main character dies at the end, and their father bawls his eyes out every time he reads it.

But someday.

Another Not Quite So Sucky Drawing Book from Watson-Guptill

In the previous, dearly departed incarnation of the blog that goes PING, I mentioned that there was a Watson-Guptill comics drawing book which was not edited by Christopher Hart, and it seemed not to suck as completely as the ones that are (this one). I just noticed another one — it’s called Scared, how to draw fantastic horror comic characters, by Steve Miller and Bryan Baugh.

The sweet thing is, it contains awesome art by greats like Bernie Wrightson, Art Adams, Frank Cho, Mitch Byrd, and others. There’s a lot of crap and filler too, and I probably won’t get it just because I don’t want a book full of rotting zombie illustrations in the house for my kids to find, but it seems like a neat book.

Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

I’m proud to say I’ve met David Salo and corresponded with him on the net. He’s a brilliant scholar on many levels, and the finest linguist I know, barring perhaps a professor from my grad school days. His years of labor on this work are reminiscent of Tolkien’s own years of work on Middle-Earth before he published anything. This is so amazing. Rock on, David.

Point Zero

I just read Point Zero: Creativity Without Limits by Michelle Cassou.

I liked it. I’m a little cautious about it though. Because Cassou seems to think she knows everything there is to know about True Creativity and how it works and where it comes from and where it’s going.

I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a peek at how to do art just for its own sake — to just let images come out of you and onto the paper, receiving them yourself as they come, not planning and executing them according to a preconceived agenda. Such “getting out of the way and letting it happen” creation is tricky, and prone to creative “blocks,” and the book is all about resolving such blocks.

Points on which it agrees with what I had been thinking about artistic creativity from a mindful perspective:

  • It agrees that a minimal level of skill is not a sine qua non and that practiced expertise can have negative effects by locking you into preconceived ways of doing things.

  • It mistrusts preconceived plans and canned procedures.

  • It emphasizes process over product.

Points on which it disagrees:

  • Whereas Langer would say that the solution to mindless adherence to a particular way of looking at or doing things is to practice looking at or doing things in many different ways, from different perspectives, Cassou prefers trying to negate a given preconceived way of understanding things in order to move back past it to “Point Zero,” a place of all possibilities, where Creativity can show you the way to go on your Creative Quest.

I think that Cassou’s way of doing things is a way to promote mindful creativity; it is certainly dedicated to detecting and escaping mindlessness; but I think that it might be limiting on its own.

Still, a very good book for someone who wants to make their art something almost like a spiritual path, and a great guide if you want to really move in an original direction, following rather than leading your art.

Oh, Cassou’s first book, which I haven’t yet read, is Life, Paint, and Passion. At the end of Point Zero is a curious note to the effect that the partnership mentioned in Life, Paint and Passion has dissolved and each one has gone their separate way with their own philosophy. This makes me wonder what changed there and what happened to the partnership.