Current Reading: A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder by Michael Pollan. I love this book. It is taking me longer to read than most books nevertheless I am enjoying the progression very much. It’s kind of like Thoreau meets Gary Snyder meets This Old House TV show.

Music: Reality by David Bowie – I have been a long time Bowie fan, I read somewhere that “every time Bowie puts out a new album he loses fifty percent of his audience, and that every time Bowie puts out a new album he gains sixty percent of a new audience”. That holds true for this music. Track number ten is my favorite, “Bring me the Disco King”, Bowie gets jazzy.

Mood: A little irritated, see thought/rant below.

Sounds: Humming vents, the air conditioner kicked in for the first time this year.

Smells: Curry: had lunch today at my much treasured Indian restaurant. Love the food although the aroma stays with you longer than I would like.

Sights: Keyboard as I type this post.

Temperature: 67 degrees

Thoughts: I should be calling this a “rant” today: There has been an influx of people in my life as of late who are causing their own diseases and ailments. Then justifying their right to be ill. Stating that the government should not allow corporations to sell products that will make you sick. Please listen to me: smoking cigarettes will give you cancer, drinking six cans of soda a day will rot your teeth, eating your body weight in high fatty processed food will cause heart disease. Moderation does not mean daily, put “it” down, whatever the “it” is in your life.


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D70,
Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture: f/4.5
Focal Length: 56 mm
Exposure Bias: 1/3 EV
ISO 200

True Nature

“True nature” is the study of self, life, spirit and art.

I found this sentence written down in my journal not sure if I wrote it or read it somewhere? Either way I like it very much and wanted to share it with you. It has that self reflective feel that brings the internal of thought and external of action into existence.


Notes from the Matt

Tuesday morning, a warm spring gentle wind flows through my window, budding trees, blossoming flowers fills the aroma, birds chirping, Bach quietly plays on the stereo, and I can hear my wife & daughter playing outside. All of this arises in my awareness, this is peace. I inhale I exhale…


Far From Home – by Jeremy Willet

Far From Home – A Band, Its Story, Hope For Africa by Jeremy Willet

This book is the “it” that we are all searching for. The “it” that is the turning point in our lives. If you are a reader of this blog then you understand my ideology on conscious economics and living with a purpose. If you can provide for your family by doing what you love and if you can help to create a better world at the same time, what could be better? For motivation, a kick in the butt, a little humor and for the gospel of truth about what is happening in Africa today, read this book. Far From Home – A Band, Its Story, Hope For Africa by Jeremy Willet

Jeremy Willet writes, “If WILLET as a band exists solely for the purpose of sponsoring children in Africa, then our efforts are 100% worth it”.

Upon my fist reading of this book I jotted down these words: raw meditative read that invites the reader to think outside the comfortable scope of their daily life. A book that should be recommended reading for any high school or college student who is searching for a purpose in life; a book that includes humor, life on the road, music and Africa.

Jeremy Willet is the lead singer of WILLET and the author of Far From Home. Jeremy is on a mission. The mission OPERATION 400, The GOAL 400 children sponsored in Africa. To learn additional information about Jeremy, WILLET and OPERATION 400 click here.

Minimalist Redesign

Blog 2.0 in preparation for launching a new public site. Please look around and let me know if I left anybody out of the side-bar in error. If there are any additional topics or updates that you would like to see featured on this blog please let me know. Deep bows of gratitude to all my reader.



Exposure: 1.3 sec (13/10), Aperture:f/25, Focal Length:24 mm, ISO Speed:200


5 Question Interview Series with Matthew Dallman

In the blog world few artists progress into more than just blogging. Matthew Dallmen is one of them. Dallmen’s multi-talented, multi-disciplined approach to all things art has captivated my daily reading for the last couple of years. In a fortunate discovery I was introduced to Dallmen through another blogger that was interviewing him. Since that time I have developed into a fan and a daily reader of Dallmen’s works. Matthew has graciously agreed to be part of my 5 question interview series.

1) What is next for you? You record music, score independent films, publish POLYSEMY magazine, write countless essays, keep a daily blog. Any coming attractions in your life you wish to share?

What's next for me? Well, being the father of twins, perhaps my biggest challenge yet! My wife, Hannah, is doubly pregnant, and doubly due in September-ish. These will be our second and third children, after our daughter Twyla, who is 19 months and rockin' the dance floor, our sprightly music lover. Right now, we are figuring out where Hannah is going to deliver the twins, because we don't want an overly medical birth if it isn't needed. Birth need not necessarily be a medical event; it is a life event first, to be celebrated as an expression of deep, profound spirit. If high-risk medical procedure is needed, by all means; but we just don't think birth ought start there.

As far as adding to the pursuits you list above, I will say that work continues on my long-delayed book for working artists, called "A River of One's Own". This is long-delayed because I keep finding new areas of research, which I must master before I feel ready to ask artists to read what I have to say. I'm also exploring whether I can develop and sell any music specifically intended for commercial uses (TV, radio, web) because, well, babies gonna need some shoes. One thing I don't often talk about is that my day job is in advertising, as an editor. The initial feelers I put out within my agency about writing commercial music were responded to favorable, so we'll see.

Also, I continue the testing of my hypothesis that close-reading the great works of Western literature and thought (through my enrollment in such an adult-ed program offered by the University of Chicago) will help me be a better artist. I do verbal as well as non-verbal art. That this program would help the former seems like a good hypothesis; that it will help the latter is less intuitive, perhaps wrong, but my sense is that there is a good chance it will, at least indirectly. It is a four-yr program; year one has had me read works by Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Dostoevsky, Herodotus, books of the Bible, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Rousseau, Machiavelli, and Twain. Plus I've started to teach myself Latin. So look forward to the fruits of all that, whatever those fruits might be. I've chosen to lay roots in this ground; we'll see what grows.

2) Integral Art - Can you expand/explain about your personal philosophy towards integral art?

I take it you mean what I use as working principles in my own work, distinct from the more formal, impersonal principles that make up my various essays on integral art. I usually don't think in the way you ask, so here's a shot at an answer.

On the personal side, I can sum up a lot by saying that art comes from what you live with. Those sensations, feelings, perceptions, conceptions, perspectives, and meanings that have been part of my gut, my muscles, my bones, my mind, my breaths, my shadows -- the stuff you live with, that lives with you day in and day out, this is where your art comes from. I've written of the idea that the stuff that makes up you is like a river. To you, your river is boring as hell. Completely uninteresting (it is a temptation to think this way). But to others, it holds mystery, a mystery you can spoil by talking about too much or by down-playing it; yet it is a mystery that is so to others in the same way that "the grass is always greener on the other side". A lot of the battle of artistry is allowing your river just to be your river, to others. And not trying to make your river something other than what it is, because then it isn't as mysterious, isn't as evocative. You live with your river; in lives in you. Your art comes from it, and rides along it. Let that be so, I say. Don't fight it. Let it fill you up; let it flow out; get the obstacle that is your constricted fear out of the way by letting it flow, as well. Make it so that others can live with it, too.

3) You have written about classical education in connection with an integral approach, can you expand upon this?

Oh, of my favorite topics! Ok, here's the nutshell. Classical education has two goals. One is, at its essence, to embed the process by which we consciously learn how to learn. Whether engaged in by home-educated children, college students, or older adults, classical education is a graduated, macro-developmental approach that throws learning itself into open scrutiny, and shows us how we learn in the micro, moment to moment, in every new area we come upon. The other goal of classical education is to enter into the Great Conversation about the Great Ideas that have built Western civilization, and will continue to build Western culture. (Though those terms, "Great Conversation" and "Great Ideas" are only about 60 years old; the conversation and the ideas themselves of course
go back to ancient culture.)

At the root here is the principle of "paideia". This ancient Greek term is quite alive today. It means the process by which a person's character is educated, enriched, and enlightened. Permanently, enduringly upon the body, mind, and soul. Through genuine paideia, we amplify and cultivate our true nature, and in the process, uplift all with whom we interact. Thinking about, wrestling with, and creatively expressing our insights about the Great Ideas means we, in our own ways, are participant in the Great Conversation. By mere virtue of contemplation of the Great Ideas, we are in the company of the great minds, and the great artists. This is character-forming, for one, and a fantastic method to open ourselves to the same river of intuition in which all great thinkers have swam.

Art, as "imaginative fullness", and whether verbal or non-verbal art, has in its objects encoded, discreet information, for those sensitive. Art reflects our symbol-making techniques; our symbol-making techniques reflect our consciousness; our consciousness reflects our experiences; our experiences reflect how we learn; how we learn reflects what we've learned; what we learn reflects what we study; what we study reflects upon what we deliberate. Thus what we deliberate upon is crucial, and I say there is nothing more sustainable to deliberate upon, to befriend, to wrestle with, than the Great Ideas and how these are woven into our greatest works of art and thought. What is art? What is beauty? What are sign and symbol? What is memory and imagination? And on through the over 100 Great Ideas. All roads lead to enlightenment.

Because there is no strict formula for "imaginative fullness", nor laws to dictate how artistry ought occur (not that anyone would want such things), the best we can do -- in fact, all we can do -- is gather the best available information about artistry, experience life to its fullest, trust our imagination to coalesce intuitively as play, and hone the manifest expression as the art object we make and show others. To the extent that comprises a formula, it is a very loose and open-ended one. But it is the best way I can see for artists to overcome the aesthetic malaise of "postmodernism". The great stories, the great themes, the great perceptions -- these all ought be the basics for today's artists, verbal and non-verbal alike. Plus, the Great Ideas provide substance for conversation between two people, no matter their background -- a handy perk for those moments we
are low in inspiration.

4) Do see any advancement in the foreseeable future for the working arts? Either in technology, social networking or a general philosophical approach for the working arts?

I wouldn't know where to begin as far as technology or social networking go. I'm a lover of lyric poetry and all things classical. (Though, of course, I like plenty brand new; for example, this will be the second summer that my wife and I will attend the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, a showcase for so many great, indie rock bands, many of whom I like quite a bit. I would in fact argue that the best indie rock bands are often classically-influenced, but that is an argument for another day.)

But as far as philosophically, I will say this: I think artists will stop wondering whether meaning exists. Knowing profoundly that, in fact, commonly-shared meaning does exist is the single magic bullet that forever exposes the sham of postmodern art's skin-deep worship of fashion, nihilism, and novelty for their own sakes. Relatedly, I think that artists will continue to explore how all the arts are knitted together, and what that means today, rather than what it used to mean. The rise of the multimedia artist dramatizes that the disciplines can be integrated beyond opera and cinema (the two original multimedia arts). Multimedia artists face, I think, the problem of content -- namely, what to fill their multiple mediums with? The medium is the message, as McLuhan said, and the content of a medium is one or more mediums -- of course color, tone, word, shape, gesture, material, these are all mediums, too. And our minds create meanings from them.

5) Your life seems to be a voyage that is perfectly expressed by blogging: Do we know the real you or do you keep a private life that is not told to your readers?

I didn't tell you I was blogging all this time from an Illinois State Penitentiary?


Well, it's funny. You actually aren't the first to tell me that the blogging is a medium where I seem to thrive. I have no idea why. I'm a lover of words (grammarian that I am), and I enjoy blogging as an outlet to my thoughts and intuitions. I particularly laugh when I talk to friends in person or on the phone, and I start to recap recent life stuff, and they say, "oh yeah, I read about that on your blog". It is kind of weird to have the two worlds meet. My guess is that if you read my blog, you know a particularly honest side of me (Orwell bemoaned the honesty required to be a genuine writer). But you probably don't know a lot about what it is like to hang out with me. Which is obvious but at the same time, it is one of my favorite things to do -- hang out with Hannah, Twyla, and a couple friends. At home, preferably. Quentin Tarantino said his favorite kind of movies are "hang-out movies". Usually, mine are, too (one example, "Dazed and Confused"). I'm sure this reflects on my personality. But before this self-inquiry gets too creepy or weird, I'll stop. :)



Does Driving Kill the Creative Process

Does driving kill the creative process or does it enrich the creative process?

I am sure that I have written/thought/created over 1,000 sonatas; composed 5,200 pop rock songs, discovered 15,287 incredible photograph opportunities and have conceived 2,000,000 blog posts that were never written, photograph or composed. Why?

For the reason that, driving is a transcendental, hypnotic influx of creative juices that the universal slaps us in the face with at the most inconvenient time. The predicament is that we all believe that we will remember everything once we get out of the car. We don’t (No, not even you who keeps a note pad suction cup to the dashboard) & (For the people who keep a hand held recorder with them at all time: No, that does’t work either. Put it away before you kill somebody). What to do, what to do: to retain all that immense unforgettable stuff that will be forgotten by the time we close the car door behind us. We could plead to the Gods of “The Secret” for guidance, we could ask Oprah what she does, we could stop driving (but, then would inspiration even come to us?).

Thus, does driving kill the creative process or does it enrich the creative process? My answer, YES



Bought a new computer yesterday and wrote this today:

Computers, pets and cars are all mini-tragedies, their passings are never going to turn out well. You invest your body, mind and soul (and a lot of money trying to keep them alive) into loving and caring for them, only to have your heart wrecked by the end from such a commanding relationship. You stand above them purely remembering the good times. Knowing that you will put yourself through this cruel affair again and again because no matter how painful the heartache is, you still have to have the existence of them in your life.

Impermanence can hurt: note - no computers, pets or cars were hurt
during the writing of this post...

New Renaissance

Question: What is the most dangerous idea in existence today?
Answer: Humans think they belong to an order of being that is separate from the rest of the living community.
Solution: Live sustainably


Current Life & Other News

Car windows down, radio up, sunglasses on, it's 70 degrees in Pittsburgh today and I am alive. Don’t you love days like these? You can feel a new energy deep inside you that utterly envelopes your whole being. A day like this is where creativity comes from, rebirth from death. A mysterious summer day smack in winter. Ok, so it will be in the thirties this weekend, for now I sing.

Last week was spent at an Aperture seminar on Long Island NY. The participants in the seminar had a crass effect on me. When it came time for the question/answer period no one had questions about photography, composition, or workflow. The questions were all based around holding on to copyrights and how to give the smallest possible image to the customer so they would not be able to pirate any images. When I quietly mention the use of creative commons and that I release the right to my clients, a large crowd gathered shouting “crucify him crucify him”. (True story) Once again I hold on to the mantra “the client should only pay once for the product”. This is the simplest example I can think of to explain how a digital image should be sold. Could you imagine if other businesses made us pay multiple times for the same product? Pizza shop owners could start selling us a pizzas and then after we get the pizza we still need to pay for each individual slice as we eat it.

My 5 Question Interview Series is starting to become a regular thing. Next on deck to be interviewed is Matthew Dallman of Polysemy magazine. Matthew is one cat in the blog-world that I would love to meet in person. The guy impresses the hell out me. Magazine, music, film scores, essay writer, blogger, this guy can produce. If a person was judged by what they upload vs. what they download Dallman would be king. The completed interview will hopefully be posted early next week.



Current Reading: I am presently reading two great books - A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder by Michael Pollan and If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways. By Daniel Quinn
Music: ipod shuffle (aahhh, a little Bach followed up with Dave Matthews toss in an Indigo Girls songs)
Mood: Tired, going on day five of not feeling good.
Sounds: Inner head pounding (ouch)
Smells: A dusty desk and hot tea
Sights: Trees tops reflecting off my compute screen
Temperature: 67 degrees
Thoughts: If first you don’t succeed, sky diving is not for you. (This truly just pop into my head, it’s not my thought but I was the one having the notion.)


Sorry for the lack of blogging as of late, I been a little under the weather. Should be back to 100% soon....


Update + Ransom Seaborn

Congratulations to Bill Deasy on wining the 2006 Needle Award. To read my interview with Bill click here...


Back from Long Island, NY – will write further about it later this week. For now check out a new blog I have been reading - Motivation


Update 3/1/07 + Time Off

I will be taking a break from blogging for the next couple of days. I will be going to New York for an Aperture seminar and to celebrate my wedding anniversary. (Everybody sing – “Happy anniversary baby I got you on my mind”)

On that same note I recently started reading/studying the new book by Vincent Versace entitled Welcome to Oz: A Cinematic Approach to Digital Still Photography. The book has a strong focus on workflow, composition and Photoshop. Photoshop is a tool that I try to use sparingly. If you are a reader of this blog you know that my photography philosophy is “in camera first or not at all”. Yes, I bow down to the greatness of Photoshop and all the wonderments of the digital darkroom, nevertheless, photography is found in the light, not in the computer.

Lastly, Vincent Versace has a great introduction to his book where he describes the difference between a photographer and an artist. (Paraphrasing) “An artist is a title given to you by others, a photographer has a skill”. On that same point, do not call yourself a philosopher, artist or a prophet if you want to be taken seriously. They are all titles given to you, not self-imposed labels.

Additional sub-topic for a latter time: A photograph is not a photograph until it is a tangible print in your hand. An image is only a digital image when displayed on the computer.

See you next Wednesday; be good to each other, thanks for reading this blog.