Edinburgh

[A recent letter to an old friend.]

Hi Colin,

As we discussed, I spent the last 20 years working on what I call “The Manhattan Series” Thousands of drawings, all drawn on the backs of business cards.

I would eventually like to get the piece shown somewhere in Edinburgh, then donate it to a national arts organization for posterity. It’s important to me that it ends up in Scotland.

Not only is Edinburgh where I grew up, it’s where I learned my trade, where I learned how to walk around the city and get inspiration and figure out how to translate that into an art form. Back when David Mackenize (the film director, and one of my best friends) and I were kids circa mid-80s, he was living with me in the New Town. We’d make it our business once a day to go out “and get some culture”. That early attempt at being proactively cultural served us both well over the years.

I’m also looking for gallery representation and publishers over there.

It’s important to me the body of work gets displayed somewhere at least once as a single, vast piece, preferably in Edinburgh, either in a large room or perhaps a large corridor.

Anyway, I think it’ll be an interesting art project. Cheers!

Hugh


Recent favorites, 20th January, 2019

Jospeh Campbell famously spoke of having a “Bliss Station”, a place or time in the day where nobody or nothing owns you, a place were you make the magic happen, where you do nothing but follow your bliss. My friend Austin Kleon wrote about it well a couple of years ago. A religious monk will have something similar, the first hour in the day set for prayer and meditation.

You can call it anything you want- meditation, following your bliss, spending time with The Lord, prayer and contemplation- what matters is, of course, consciousness and mind expansion, and the cultivation thereof.

This is one of my favorites from 2018. It’s the story of my life.

If you’re a creative professional- writer, artist, filmmaker, dressmaker, poet, it doesn’t matter- this feeling is going hit you sooner or later. However worthy your efforts, there’s always something missing. Not enough recognition, not enough money, not enough critical praise , not enough people liking it for the right reasons.

It only get easier, once you realize that this feeling is normal- so normal, in fact, that if you’re not feeling it, you’re probably doing something wrong.

The Holy people call it contemplation. You’re praying, but not because you’re asking for something, but just trying to be in the God’s presence, trying to experience maximum consciousness.

There may be a better way of spending time on this Earth, but I don’t know of one.

The media chaps certainly are good at making being an entrepreneur LOOK glamorous.

The reality is anything but.

My take? That being an entrepreneur is not something you choose, but you just end up doing because you’re incapable of doing the alternative day job thing.

I like these minimalist cartoons- the ones that tell a lot of story in very few lines. Where the complexity of the story juxtaposes with the simplicity of the execution. It’s actually harder than it looks.


With The Lord

The Catholic Bishop of Los Angeles, Robert Barron, has a terrific YouTube channel were he preaches The Gospel and shares his thoughts on all kinds of subjects. If you’re into that sort of thing it’s great stuff. He’s a really smart, thoughtful fellow.

In one of his uploads he was talking about how he likes to spend his first early hour of the day (around 5am), as he calls it, “With The Lord”.

Other ways of saying this would be in prayer, in contemplation, meditating, in flow, in a state of mindfulness. I guess it all depends how secular or non-secular you want to be.

But it’s the state of mind that matters here, not so much the words to describe it.

I know that mental state well. It’s a state I try to reach EVERY TIME I sit down and draw. It’s one of the biggest perks of the job.

And I’m also thinking, though they may call it something else, a lot of being an entrepreneur is about seeking that state, as well. Being in the zone. It’s when the entrepreneur is most creative and productive.

It’s that part of us that nobody sees, yet makes us our most powerful.

And yes, it’s addictive. Once we lose it, we kill to get it back again.

The more jaded among us try to portray modern life as little more than shopping, gossiping, chasing tail and looking for the next hustle.

But that’s not the world I know. Most people I know spend a great deal of time and huge amounts of effort trying to get their minds into a higher groove thing. Some use religion, some use their careers, some use weed, some use CrossFit or Yoga, some use the arts.

But the real game is about consciousness, and the raising thereof.

There are many ways to call it, secular or religious, but if you aspire to live a creative, productive, interesting life, spending more time “With the Lord” is a good place to start.


Seven Samurai and the meaning of Sacrifice.

[SPOILER ALERT] Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is known as one of the greatest movies of all time. It’s certainly one of my top favorites. Three and a half hours of pure poetry.

And yet for all that artistic mastery, the great message of the movie is not revealed until the final minute of the final scene: Which is, that the real victor of a battle is not the heroes who fight it, but the people they serve. The three surviving samurai walk away with nothing, with four of the seven comrades dead, meanwhile the village peasants they saved from the bandits are alive with song and joy from the victory.

The samurai leader says: “In the end, we lost this battle too. The victory belongs to the peasants, not to us.”

And then we see a final shot of their four dead comrades’ graves (the latter who we got really emotionally attached to in the last few hours), and we roll credits.

It’s heartbreaking, yet so utterly poignant.

Why? Because anyone who’s ever done anything worth a damn, knows that they probably weren’t the main beneficiaries of their efforts. This seems to be especially true in the art & creative worlds I’ve dwelled in. Our work may have lit up the world, but we still remain down in the mud, somehow.

St. Paul would’ve called this you being “a living sacrifice unto God”, emulating Jesus’ example.

In other words, doing something meaningful- in business, in art, in war, in life- will probably pay off in the end, it just might not pay off for you. Anyone who’s ever been a parent will know exactly what I’m talking about.

But all that is still our own choice. Hopefully we’ll make the right one when the time comes.