Monday, June 30, 2014

"Let the worst come"

Letter to Colonel Robert Allen. June 21, 1836

Dear Colonel, I am told that during my absence last week you passed
through this place, and stated publicly that you were in possession of a
fact or facts which, if known to the public, would entirely destroy the
prospects of N.W. Edwards and myself at the ensuing election; but that,
through favour to us, you should forbear to divulge them. No one has
needed favours more than I, and, generally, few have been less unwilling
to accept them; but in this case favour to me would be injustice to the
public, and therefore I must beg your pardon for declining it. That I
once had the confidence of the people of Sangamon, is sufficiently
evident; and if I have since done anything, either by design or
misadventure, which if known would subject me to a forfeiture of that
confidence, he that knows of that thing, and conceals it, is a traitor
to his country's interest.

I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture of what fact or
facts, real or supposed, you spoke; but my opinion of your veracity will
not permit me for a moment to doubt that you at least believed what you
said. I am flattered with the personal regard you manifested for me; but
I do hope that, on more mature reflection, you will view the public
interest as a paramount consideration, and therefore determine to let the worst come.

I here assure you that the candid statement of facts on
your part, however low it may sink me, shall never break the tie of
personal friendship between us. I wish an answer to this, and you are at
liberty to publish both, if you choose.

~Abraham Lincoln


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Throwing Good Money After Bad

AKA 'In for a penny, in for a pound.'

AKA 'In for a dime, in for a dollar.'

AKA 'escalation of commitment.'

AKA 'sunk cost fallacy.'

If you can overcome it, you are well on your way to becoming one of the most successful people of all time.

Because to err is human. What really screws you up, is the mistakes you keep making. The ones you keep making because you make them.

There's an army adage I think that goes 'if it doesn't work, double it.' and this seems to be in a way our default intuition for success. You succeed through iterations, rather than adaptation.

The army says a lot of stuff I like, like 'if it's stupid and it works, it's not stupid.' there's an adage I can get right behind, but really, escalation of commitment is most probably fucking your life up.

My experience increasingly persuades me that success is actually made up of decisions, much more so than effort or skill or talent. Luck must always get it's due, genetics for example are pretty much luck on your part as are your circumstances and environment. But seeing as we can't control luck, lets just humbly acknowledge its role as the biggest contributor and focus on what can be controlled - decisions.

You are an investor, you categorically always have something to invest. You don't have to be rolling deep cash wise because you have time attention and energy in your pocket. Indeed time is the most precious resource you have because it gets spent whether you make a decision or not, where money can sit in a bank account for a long time before inflation and bank fees can erode it. You can sit on money, not time.

So having said that, I'm going to illustrate the principle in a conventional 'investment' sense, world of finance stuff and then translate it to the far more relevant to everybody type of investment - people.

So an investor buys a portfolio of shares and hangs onto them for a year. After a year they can sort their portfolio into piles - 'winners' and 'losers'. The winners pile consists of share that performed well, that is they appreciated in value, plus paid dividends to an extent where their current value exceeds the purchase price by a rate greater than inflation - you are wealthier with respect to these stocks. Your loser pile consists of stocks that either depreciated in value, failed to pay a dividend or simply didn't pay out or appreciate enough to make it worth your while investing in them.

What does this investor do? Well they're a rookie, an excited mom-or-pop from the millenial years of internet adoption/online brokerage. So they feel good about their winning stocks, which they sell and realise the profits and feel good about themselves. And they hang onto the losing stocks hoping that they will turn into winners by say - next year.

In other words, over time they crappify their portfolio, eating their profits and retaining their losers. The investors that over the long run end up wealthy do the exact reverse, they cut the losers from their portfolio and retain the winners. Under the simple premise that the best (but not guaranteed) predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Now flip over the page and talk about people. It translates almost directly, your portfolio is actually just everybody you spend time with. Some of your friends will prove solid, reliable, encouraging, kind, generous, courageous, enthusiastic, energising, beautiful, honest and understanding.

Some of your friends will prove to be anxious, flakey, dishonest, stingy with time and attention, exhausting, cowardly, ugly, intolerant and stupid.

Seems like a no brainer right? What do you do? You of course neglect all the great and strong and true people in your life and set about spending time trying to change your loser friends into winners. You try and take all the greatness that resonates betwixt you and your winner friends and somehow transform your loser friends into who they could be.

But you already have who you want them to be. Just in the form of other people. This broad coverall example depressingly often describes the choices we make as to the singular person we spend the most time with - an intimate partner or best friend.

But in a scaled back sense, people will also bail on their reliable friends because they are so understanding and reward their anxious, needy or unprofessional friends because they wouldn't understand and feel worse for it.

Even in work, you'll spend far more time on a problem customer who wants to complain or get special treatment or whatever or refuses to deal with someone in accounts or whatever - because they demand our attention and we neglect the customers who seamlessly and frictionlessly generate profits for us.

Or you go home and talk about your asshole boss in the precious hours you have with somebody who actually adores you.

There's a paradox, and I'm aware that paradox is the easiest way for an idiot to sound profound, but what we want is often thwarted by us doing what we want. We want the mistakes in our life to not be mistakes, and instead of cutting our losses, we try the same mistake again hoping it will work out differently, ultimately costing us from getting to where we actually want to be.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Are You an Artist?

I alas lack the know how to create an online quiz, whose results can be easily shared on some kind of socialist network. It is more a question I will scream into the relative obscurity of my blog lest I direct it somewhere unconstructive.

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

Sunday, June 22, 2014


low self-esteem + defense mechanisms ≠ self esteem.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It is good to have faith

It is good to have faith. It's a good thing.

There are most definitely times in life, plateaus of life, that can only be reached and rested upon by knowing.


It is good to have faith, sometimes it is better to know.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Big Snake, Ugly Mirror

I said , "Yeah ." And he goes," Do you mean to offend people?" 
I said , "No, no." And he's like, "But you still do it anyway?" "Yeah ." 

He's going , "Okay, we're gonna put you over here." I was like, "Where?" 
And I , you know, I can't see him ,but I think he went like this: 

And I really want to know what over here is, but he doesn't explain . 
He gets very cryptic like that. 

He's like, "Kevin , if a big snake gives birth to a little snake. . . 
. . .what is that little snake gonna grow up to be?" "A big snake?" 

He's like, "Right. 
That snake gives birth to a snake. What's that gonna grow to be?" 

And I said , "Big snake." 
He said , "Exactly, you gotta know who your father is." 

And I'm like-- 
I don't know what that fucking means. So I'm like, "I hear you . I hear you 
The above is an account by Kevin Smith of a phone conversation he had with Prince. Yes, Prince.

On monday june 9th, I posted boldly that I was fully recovered. And it's true. Ima standing on a plain from which I can start pulling myself apart, making changes and actually do something. I'm engaged in the difficult introspective task of knowing who my father is.

And here I need to be clear, so I'm going to hit you with some Greer:

"Menstruation does not turn us into raving maniacs or complete invalids; it is just that we would rather do without it." - Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch pg 59 (of my copy at least)

And by analogy, this post will probably contain things that reflect poorly on my father, yet don't define him as a person and are not in any way seriously debilitating or necessarily damning traits in any person. It's just that I'd rather do without them.

It's a very personal reflection on what tendencies he and I share, that having been on the recieving end or having a lifetime of observation, if I can learn and cease to replicate this legacy I and the people around me are probably better off.

Of most concern, I believe is that I'm at risk of forming this adult attachment pattern:


People with a dismissive style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with these statements: "I am comfortable without close emotional relationships", "It is very important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient", and "I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me." People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence. The desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether. They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to feelings associated with being closely attached to others. They often deny needing close relationships. Some may even view close relationships as relatively unimportant. Not surprisingly, they seek less intimacy with relationship partners, whom they often view less positively than they view themselves. Investigators commonly note the defensive character of this attachment style. People with a dismissive–avoidant attachment style tend to suppress and hide their feelings, and they tend to deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection (i.e., their relationship partners).

Which is a mouthful, and not a great fit at describing my father or me. I said 'at risk' after all. More useful is the rule of thumb -

Security-based strategy of affect regulation
thoughts about self
thoughts about others

See, I have good self esteem. I'm very self referential and actually think highly of myself. My parents did a good job of this. I walk a knife edge though in how I treat other people. If I regard them positively then all is golden. If negatively though, I can certainly see in myself and my father behavior that is dismissive-avoidant. 

Looking to my father for answers is extremely hard to do, and also extremely useful as per this post I wrote previously. And as somebody who actively solicits feedback on myself - the very word 'dismissive' has come up with me in the past. I find the exercise also very self-validating, in that the stuff that comes to mind - eg. when my mother said this to me once "I felt like work was the other woman" it comes to mind for a reason. My memory has red-flagged it.

And you have to question how is it really different from a statement like "I discovered Cheryl was the other woman" whether my mother was conscious of what she was saying or not, she said it and I don't want to make a partner/spouse or whatever feel that way. 

Yet despite my many claims to laziness and a life of leisure, I know I have the same workaholic and solitary nature within me. 

What's tricky, is trying to imagine any other way to be. If my father was alcoholic (he isn't) then I would hope it doesn't take particular imagination to see you have to abstain. It's a behavior. But for me, how do I not be dismissive? Or framed positively - how do I cultivate interest (in people)? 

The best answer came from my friend Jon, who asked me how old I was and told me it would happen in a couple more years. 

Albeit if my father is still prone to dismissiveness clearly time/age is no gauruntee. Friend Zoe said it was the simple act of abstaining from being dismissive. Thing is, when I am dismissive, or the behavior I suspect makes people feel like I'm dismissive, it doesn't feel like an act of commission.

One thing I can conclude is that negging as a pick up technique is out. Because that's the thing. I may be dismissive, or may 'not suffer fools' or whatever. Be obnoxious or arrogant. And these are bad ways to treat people and make people feel, but it doesn't actually hurt your chances much with the ladies. 

What it does, is give you the ladies whose esteem fits the mold you are carving. I think at the very least I have found the filter by which it is no accident my dating history is populated largely by depressive women.

This is a hard post to write, and I think I've written enough now. Probably the next phase of thinking I do should be a conversation and not undertaken in solitary.

Good night now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

GoT: Perhaps the Nail in the Coffin for Nerds

Jesus told me that before commenting on the speck in one's eye, to remove the log from thine on. And in the holiest of spirits, I've managed to watch many an adaptation from printed material into TV's and movies without ever consulting the original material. Dexter for example was a series I enjoyed one season of, and was never inspired to pick up the books, nor avoid watching the shows until I had read ahead. True Blood I managed to watch for longer, and can honestly say if not for HBO I would never, ever have picked up one of it's source material books. I also never did, and probably never will.

Furthermore, in the most abundant source of adaptations - movies - there must be hundreds of books I've never read but enjoyed the films of. It is in fact quite rare for a film, like American Psycho, to inspire me to actually go read the book. That's probably the only example I can think of. But even rarer is for me to read a book, and then want to go see a movie of it. It's been a long time, probably half my life when news of an adaptation of something I liked brought excitement to my mind, not a scowl to my face.

And much of my life, I just dismissed it as hype backlash. I don't like things I like becoming popular. But more recently, I realised - no. I'm not that (or just) petty and spiteful, I was actually looking at the data, the facts the evidence and making worthwhile predictions. The main prediction being that a movie adaptation can only diminish my enjoyment of the source material.

Notable exceptions - Dexter, again I never read the books, but the TV series departed quickly from the author's plot lines, and from the wikipedia synopses I read, made a wise decision as the author actually managed to lose the plot. And perhaps in the greatest exception of all time, Peter Jackson managed to take historically important but ultimately poorly written and dull collection of books, and turn them into actually entertaining films. A process he reversed with the Hobbit.

HBO's adaptation of GoT lost me with it's opening title sequence. But being a passive medium, I managed to watch it until Robert Baretheon's pre-death scene, a ham fisted sequence where the Lannister Page keeps unsubtly offering Robert 'more wine'. Then I was truly lost, and can't remember whether this was before or after writers added a ham-fisted exposition scene where the mastermind Littlefinger outlines his plans for domination to two whores fisting each other, because this is who brilliant masterminds confide in. Ultimately I decided the show was ruining my own rich visions of the novels in Tyrion's trial at the Airy, very early on in the first season, where the liberties taken to inject humor instilled no confidence that Tyrion's character would be even able to live up to his stature in print.

So I made the personal choice to just stop following the show, figuring at best it could luck out and actually match how I envisioned the novel on my own internal visual sketch pad. There just wasn't any casting decisions, writing decisions, directing decisions, costume decisions etc. to convince me that was possible.

And whatever, I've done this before. I assume I wrote about the adaptation of Watchmen a couple of years ago, now thankfully forgotten, with it's prequal series launched by DC 'Before Watchmen' forgotten almost as soon as it was released.

See as I figure, I can't be alone in my general stance on adaptations, my general skepticism. What I also figure is that my mindset and what I experience emotionally watching all this shit, is not unique either. Somewhere in 1931 as Las Vegas, Nevada legalized gambling, some statistician/mathematician/economist probably felt very similar emotions as they realised that the populace at large was never going to actually conclude based on the evidence that the house always wins.

Because I'm not anti-adaptation per se. Though generally down on them for the following hopefully succinct reasons 1) the creator should create for the medium they pick, specifically for the medium they pick - if you are writing for a comic, it should be intended to be a comic. 2) adapting material is risk averse, if producers are only going to adapt material that has a proven following, or remake past hits then we are deprived of all the best possible films - films written with the intention of being films. 3) they have a long track history of being bad, due to the concessions and limitations and expense of the film medium.

That said, there are good things adaptations can do - they can expose a story to an audience that would never have discovered it otherwise. Old product - new fans. They can also direct new fans to the source material. In the lead up to Watchmen's release, there where whole shelves of the Watchmen collected volume.

And now, GoT is different. It's different from Harry Potter, also a fairly crappy adaptation film franchise of novels beloved to seemingly the entire literate world. Yet unlike GoT, reading the source material of Harry Potter was practically mandatory. Thus you never in the lead up to the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie, got in trouble for dropping that Snape kills Dumbledore.

But GoT has given rise to a spoiler etiquette that is seemingly unique, I've never come across it before. Which is, people who have read the books, the source material which has been out for over ten years for most of the series thus far are not allowed to talk about it, something I've been able to do most of my adult life up until the last 2-3 years. There's a riding gag order lest we spoil the viewing experiences of people who know the series as GoT.

Which you know, as per the first paragraph, whatever. I guess if somebody had told me that the serial killer in season 1 of Dexter was Dexter's long lost brother when I was only up to episode 5, I would have thought them a dick.

It's just that A Song of Ice and Fire wasn't like a New York Times Bestseller (which every book seems to be) but probably had eclipsed Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time as the number one ongoing fantasy book series in the world.

And herein I'll draw a line between comics and fantasy novels, which I hope people won't find too much of a stretch. They are both quite large subcultures. About as 'mainstream' as something can get without it being truly 'mainstream' but consisting by and large of a vast swamp of nerds.

The tragedy of adaptations, I maintain was never about the mainstream getting hold of it, it was that the adaptation gets made because of the existing fanbase, the nerds. That's what makes it a safe bet and money maker for the producers. And it reveals the nakedness of the nerds low self-esteem. (and also confirms that the nerds key defining trait for me, is lack of imagination) They get excited by the prospect of Captain America finally making it to the silver screen, so the mainstream can discover how cool he is and finally the nerds excellent taste will be validated.

This is the eternal hope, this validation, that allows nerds to overlook that in the history of comic book adaptations (the most populous genre of blockbusters this past decade) the number of good films produced can be counted on one hand just about. Iron Man 1, Spiderman 1 + 2, Batman 1989 (and I'll put personal prejudice aside and go with consensus) The Dark Knight. And with comics, in particular the case of Batman, the screenplay writers have over 50 years of publication history to cherry pick the best storylines from. And they still rarely make a memorable or powerful film.

Highlighting the rare successes though perhaps doesn't make salient the long list of dud comic book adaptations that have been made. And sure, they keep getting made because they keep making money. But Casinos stay in business because people keep losing money. People keep losing money not because Casinos use nefarious tactics to trick people into gambling more (though they do) it's because mathematically over the long haul, they are set up so their customers will lose money. Nerds lose money to movies, they ultimately cry out for their IP to make big budget adaptations, shot on IMAX stock in 3D and to cast recognisible and expensive hollywood stars, and to litter them with expensive CGI effects limiting all the actual visually interesting stuff to just minutes out of 90 minutes sitting in a cinema.

And for what? The strongest argument I can make is that nerds get anticipatory pleasure out of the whole process even if ultimately it results in disappointment. But that disappointment is a permanent stain on your beloved subjects permanent record. Something that will pop into your head whenever you revisit it. I don't think most nerds are really aware of anticipatory pleasure to actually go in for it.

I would still assert that it's validation, for some reason, nerds worship and fetishize the silver screen. Unless their beloved nerd-obsession is made into a film for mass consumption, it's invalid. But which validation, the need for a film to convince you that you are actually into something you're already into. Which I think is in part true. But I suspect there's an anticipation, a baseless one if you look at history, that you will somehow be recognised and validated by the mainstream for being into something before everyone else was. It never happens, and nobody ever discovers something they are into, and wishes they had discovered it earlier (with the possible exception of bands that used to tour but now don't). But society has never ever awarded kudos to anybody for discovering something first. Not since explorers anyway.

And just as my historical 1930's friend might have realised that the Casinos of Las Vegas probably heralded that people would never realise the plain truth that the house always wins. I think GoT possibly indicates that nerds at large will never realise that adaptations are generally crappy and they should stop writing all their favorite authors and artists to ask them if one is in the works. Because GoT's first season probably induced as many new readers to pick up the books as the series is going to, leaving us with the vast majority 'the mainstream' who don't want to read the books lest it ruin the TV series for them. Thus those nerds who desperately seek their validation, are actually people they desperately want to avoid.

Leaving the most hopeless cases of all, that class of fans that have read A Song of Ice And Fire and still watch Game of Thrones. What's up with that? Fucken morons like my brother.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rooting to Lose

I'm rooting for somebody to lose, that somebody is the entity known as 'The Miami Heat' currently playing out the fourth quarter of game 3 in the Spurs-Heat Championship series.

And sometimes you can do. Because it's important that Heat set an example for the league. Namely that players can't collude to use their free-agency to distort the competition. The three top free agents 4 years ago all migrated to Miami to join Wade's team. It wasn't right, the club, the owners facilitated - but it hurt the competition, from the get-go.

They've had two back-to-back championships in a row, now what you need is damage control - they either lose or in the interest of the Association, they need to adopt AFL like salary caps, ones that can't be exceeded by rich clubs at the price of luxury tax. Caps that can't be exceeded - period. Which wouldn't be such a bad thing.

But it would be nicer, if all the little kids could see the Miami plot fail, founder. To understand that despite two championships the heat's players were never champions in the spiritual sense of the word. Because if they were champions they would be currently competing against eachother.

They have participation trophies shared with eachother, obtained in a manner fundamentally different to Jordan-Pippen's, or Kobe-Shaq's, even Wade-Shaq's chip. Those were players in the game taking a risk. The Bron-Bosh-Wade alliance was risk avoidance, risk averse. They transferred the risks to the rest of the league and set about winning championships by default.

I hope the spurs put an end to it in the coming weeks.


There's a catch-22 to writing posts about comics, and I write about comics because for reasons I don't understand, I care about them, I love the medium. My leading theory is that it remains the best medium for conveying accurately what we imagine, every other medium is still constrained by budget or the number of collaborators you gotta get involved...

but that's not the catch, the catch is a hell of a catch. See when I write about comics it's for lack of a conversation about comics. The people I would most like to have the conversation with, tend not to care about comics (non-nerds) and the people who would like to have the conversation with me, I don't care about the opinions of (nerds). Which sounds both obvious and hypocritical - but I characterize a 'nerd' as chiefly, somebody lacking imagination. There is an alarming number of comic book fans that have the concrete thought processes of an engineer. Which could explain the high correlation between people who study mechatronics and people who play magic the gathering at food court tables.

Anyway, what I'm saying is, forgive how self-indulgent this particular post is, on a medium that is purely self indulgent anyway. I just wanted to reflect.

So in the 90's if you were a kid, Spawn was on top. Ever so briefly, but the title managed to eclipse any IP being put out by DC or Marvel. Yeah, Spawn beat out Batman just a few years after Tim Burton's 1989 movie had basically captured the imagination of every kid in the world, and while the best cartoon on was Bruce Timm's Batman animated series, and Spawn beat out the X-Men when the other show every kid was watching was the X-Men animated series, I don't think Marvel's succeeded at making another decent cartoon from it's IP since.

And yet, no matter what you watched, Spawn was the comic, the gold standard for a few years there. As vaguely as I can recall it, it sort of fizzled out of the public discourse due to it's own movie adaptation being so lacklustre (but producing a great OST, which is another post for another day). But in summary, it was just a fact of life - Spawn was number one when I was a kid.

At some point, personally I went through a maturation of tastes. I can recall for example when I was younger that I found it almost impossible to read or find interesting a comic that wasn't in colour. It was as repulsive to me as the idea of black and white television. Greg Capullo's OTT pencils and McFarlane's busy inks were like candy to me, I just couldn't get enough of it. Then later on I got into Tim Sale, Mike Mignola style art which was to say low on detail, high on style.

And thus for much decades Spawn, Greg Capullo and the big image comics experiment just dropped out of my focus, quite naturally. The other thing to understand, is Image is something that happened to me as a kid. I wasn't (and still aren't) some man-child that trawls the internet for news and announcements about the comic industry and what is going on within it. I love comics but have not an insatiable appetite for it where I'm looking forward to what happens next. My general approach in adulthood is that the deluge of crap being published on a weekly basis can happen without me paying any attention to it, and the good shit will stay in print, get collected and float up to my attention eventually. The good stuff has the luxury of time to catch my eye, that's pretty much how I got onto the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo.

Thus thusly, it's actually quite weird, because when I look back on Image comics, it was really an experiment in translating the Japanese system to American comics, which is to say, one writer takes the story from cradle to grave. I read on one of the wikipedia pages, that Image was credited both with the speculator boom in comics in the 1990's (which I can't really recall and wasn't really aware of) and also the shift in marketing emphasis from comics promoting their creative teams to promoting their intellectual property.

This in part could explain my one most general dissatisfaction with western comics today (and for a while) which is to say, whenever any title seems to be getting any traction and going in a cool direction, the comic company switches up the creative team or worse a company wide event starts happening. Not even the main Batman title is immune. So somebody will finally be doing something interesting with the Joker, and suddenly Batman has to be battling the lantern corps or Darkseid or some shit.

I've been rereading Spawn, and finding as an adult exactly what I loved about Capullo's artwork is still there. And as an artist now myself, was immensely reasured by how hacktacular McFarlane was in his early issues of Spawn. What he borrowed from Miller and Moore seemed almost heavy handed in the early issues.

And yeah, the series had a lot of problems. For example, I don't think McFarlane ever got Jason Wynn's character to work. And I haven't read the Violator Mini-series yet, but I also think the Clown/Violator nemesis was truly strong. It's dialogue heavy, feeling like I am reading a novel some times, even though development wise the mentor archetype of Cog keeps having circular conversations with Al Simmons while remaining cryptic and never giving him any information. I feel like somebody could pick up the first hundred issues these days and go back and streamline the shit out of it and fix it up.

But the artwork is so beautiful, it's actually really hard to imagine why you'd do that. And yeah, you get the impressive character design of Cy-Gor who's origin is predicated on humans not being strong enough to withstand the cybernetic enhancements, except that prior to Cy-Gor's appearance, Spawn has fought 1 demon, 1 angel and 3 other cyborg antagonists - Overtkill, Tremor and the Curse, whom have all withstood the cybernetic pain threshold seemingly.

But most of what was wrong with Spawn were the hangovers from the big two companies image was trying to break away from - namely, they employed an 'Image Universe' having characters from other Image titles show up, that were further complicated by the fact that they remained owned by their creator studios. You also got the Neil Gaiman - Angela/Cog ownership dispute happening which was shit too.

Spawn gets shit stylistically these days too, the whole era to be fair, where characters had a million pockets and spikes and chains and guns and bullets and belts and straps adorning them - it was the OTT era, and Bruce Timm perhaps is to blame for the shift to more stylised streamlined animation friendly artwork that dominates western comics today (and anatomy wise dominated Japanese comics since always, in fact very little work has to be done to adapt Japanese comics into animation for the most part). But now with GoT being pretty much the coffin in the nail of nerd's inferiority complex that drives an adaptation dependent film and tv industry, I find myself redrawn to the OTT style of drawing, because it basically can't be translated or adapted. CGI and sell shading will have to advance lightyears to give us a decent 3d rendering if Spawn, The Creech, Clayface or any of Capullo's masterpieces, let alone getting CGI to the point that it is more impressive than Capullo's designs.

Spawn was possibly so hard to adapt because Capullo's art was so much of a selling point, and he isn't alone nor is he without a legacy. We got Jim Lee, Joe Mad, Humberto Ramos... all still killing it and selling product along with Capullo in the present day. And it's contrasted with Cheeks, Skottie Young, Jim Mahfood all doing much simpler geometric construction, as well as the major influence shows like Adventure Time have had on pushing the stylistic spectrum back to early rubber hose style animation/construction with absolutely no rendering.

I'd still argue to those that fetishise Japanese comics that there's less of a gap stylistically between Eichiro Oda and Takehiko Inoue, or Masashi Kishimoto and Hiroaki Samura. Even though they all represent different and unique styles and range on the spectrum of realistic to abstract.

Which brings us to what Spawn did to innovate. It was launched in 1992, and featured at it's center an African American family. It's protagonist was genuinely an anti-hero possessing serious character flaws, which wasn't so original, I think Frank Miller's run on Daredevil had a Matt Murdoch who was similarly a genuine arsehole at times. But in that, McFarlane was genuinely brutal, following Kurt Vonnegut's rule of giving the reader somebody to root for, then pushing them through hell to see what they are really made of. Spawn tried to help these Alabama kids who were being abused by their father, only to inadvertently make shit worse. Or deny help to somebody only to have them resort to suicide when all hope was lost.

And Spawn lived in an alley and for much of the first 25 issues, was homeless and helped primarily the homeless, characters dealing with substance abuse, mental illness and a broken system. To my limited knowledge that had never been done before and possibly not since (though The Maxx also lived in a box in an alley). McFarlane actually dealt with real social issues in Spawn, and genuine moral dilemmas and most of the time Spawn fucked up.

There are some famous rogues gallary's too, but if you wikipedia search 'The Abomination' or 'The Absorbing Man' or even 'Mysterio' and try reading the fictional character biography, what you'll notice is that it can actually be years between appearances for these seemingly high profile villains, not only that but they'll wander all around the Marvel Universe appearing in different titles here and there, and thus somebody has to keep track of that shit and every creative team that wants to use them has to figure out a way for them 'to get here from there'. How do you get the Sandman from being dissolved by a Tsunami at Spring Break in Florida to New York City? How do you get the Red Skull from being stuck in a nightmare dimension from his battle with S.W.O.R.D. to Washington so he can show down with whoever the fuck cares?

I raise this because Spawn actually has a real good rogues gallary, it's seriously up there behind Batman and Spider Man. Surprisingly, most of the clumsy stuff comes out of the early days, where McFarlane had other high profile writers come in and contribute to the title - Neil Gaiman created Angela, and in her first appearance was very Neil Gaiman stylistically and he perhaps was able to flavor Angela's surrounding world too much. Then you had the first incarnation of the Redeemer as 'Anti-Spawn' who was pretty well designed, but improved with each new incarnation from a clumsy start using a still ill-defined Jason Wynn. But that aside, the Curse, Violator, Tremor, Overt-Kill, Redeemer 2 and Redeemer 3, Cy-Gor, The Heap ... all solid designs and back stories. What set them apart though was that Spawn was sufficiently self contained that they were generally used once, twice and done. Spawn could actually kill them, and kill them off or move them on in the case of Angela and some others. This gave much of the Spawn rogues gallery something most titles lack - each character had a beginning middle and end. None of them devolved into thematic enemy's like Batman's (the gold standard of Rogue's galleries) where you wind up with 8 decent characters and a subsequent 8 stories that get told again and again and again.

I guess revisiting Spawn, you realise that it's unfair to compare it really to anything in the two monoliths IP vaults. It is actually better to compare it to a title like Naruto, or other Japanese comics. It's similar to Naruto in that you get the feeling that while McFarlane was a smart plotter, he hadn't meticulously thought things through like Masashi Kishimoto doesn't and it starts to show with circular conversations or sudden retconning or redundant confrontations (eg. the numerous times Cog has essentially the same conversation with Al about how he is playing into Hell's hands, or the numerous times Sam and Twitch go over the Billy Cincaid case, revisiting the exact same details). But compared to Naruto, Spawn never got anywhere near as messy even though it also in my opinion introduced far too many characters and concepts in the end that had to be tied up. Both series suffered from introducing a primary nemesis (Orochimaru and Malebolgia) whom both out of necessity needed to be killed off, but then necessarily had to be replaced by bigger badder dudes that never managed to ever be as interesting, and in both climaxes we were it with multiple revelations in quick succession about who the 'real' villain was, to the point of no longer caring.

But nobody does generally achieve these things, Batman will never end, Spider Man will never end, they never held any more promise of anything but a continuous story arc that will occassionally appear to head somewhere and most likely will be clumsily corrected with magic or some shit later. Creators do tighter, shorter stories that expand in their worlds and contract quickly. But nobody does decade long work and really manages to hold either the primary antagonist constant and our interest constant at the same time. Spawn was able to build a rich world and give us that epic feel, but also held the promise that it was going somewhere. In that regard it probably needs to be held up for comparison against fantasy titles like the Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice And Fire, not Batman and Spider Man.

To reduce all this to one sentiment: Spawn was good. It was actually a really good comic title. Peppered with mistakes, but really nothing near the insulting shit any devotee of Batman, Spider Man, the Hulk, Superman, X-Men etc. has to put up with due to the way Marvel and DC are run. Furthermore I have no comprehension of the logistical and artistic challenges of producing 20 pages of story a month for over a decade. I spend 3 months planning one of my art exhibitions, and only about 6 of those weeks doing the works for one, and even in that short a time frame I'm often very aware that having done it (or as I'm doing it) I would have made very different decisions.

It's possible the great Image comics experiment had the unintended effect of making Marvel and DC worse, but I think personally I'm glad it happened. There will be a good legacy we are probably experiencing in myriad ways without really knowing it right now and onwards into the future. If it's been almost half your life since you last looked at a Spawn comic, I'd highly recommend revisiting it.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Famous Last Words

I think my recovery is complete. And I do mean recovery, I'm always growing, changing and hopefully improving. But a part of me was lost, that I had - like the 'child mind' zen texts talk about. Something I did naturally all along got disloged. Now I've recovered it. It's a good feeling.

Specifically what I've recovered is trust, trust in myself - my instincts are good. For a good period I had a crippling paranoia that they couldn't be trusted. I was getting tripped up on my instincts. It was a mess and more than anything else, that's why I was in psychotherapy. I'd begun to doubt my ability to intuitively read situations.

I trust my cognitive mind, it's good. I trust my instinctive/intuitive mind, it's good too. They just got messed up in a situation that didn't add up, and it took a lot of talk and a lot of introspection to sort one from the other.

It was the kind of handicap that forced me to grow though. Like an AFL player learning to kick with both feet, or a training exercise where they are told only to handball - the restrictions force you to adjust your game and you become more versatile. So while I learned a lot in the time where I could no longer hear my intuition for the noise in my head, I can hear it again now, act on it (or take it's direction not to act) and I trust it.

I left therapy almost 6 months ago, and my last session was really just a check out-debrief, I was on the right path from Christmas - but specific with issues to your intuition - your intuition pays off long run, not in the moment so you can start taking the right actions with it, but you have to wait around for cognitive evidence that that was correct.

And that's because intuition is not a spooky 6th sense, it's a rapid fire quick and dirty heuristic calculator, telling you in broad strokes when things add up and when they don't. In the short run it can be right or wrong, because it's rule of thumb - broadly right but not infallible. Think of it if you will as a roulette table. Your intuition says that in the long run the house always wins, or with just a coin toss that in the long run the odds will be 50/50. So a gambler might come in and win big off the first couple of spins on a roulette table, or your friend may toss 3 heads in a row on a 'fair' coin. You look stupid, your intuition looks stupid. But the more tosses of the coin your friend makes, or the longer the gambler stays at the table - the more the results conform to intuitions rule of thumb.

I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
So under my sun, I've had 6 months to observe that when my gut has told me something was a bad idea, and I've been given pause to say 'well maybe that wasn't a bad idea' when time was applied it does indeed wash out that way. And that's what has given my intuition the all clear. Something I can trust. I'm sorted now to listen to my intuition and then get my slower cogitating mind to catch the fuck up, rather than employ it's efforts to talk me out of my intuition, or paralyze me with doubts.

Rumi says: "Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition." and "If you are wholly perplexed and in straits, have patience, for patience is the key to joy"

Intuition got us thus far, and further than the writers of Ecclesiasties 9:11, and Rumi the poet. I'm glad to have recovered mine.

Things be looking up.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


I imagine it's a common escapist fantasy people have, a regular daydream where some tv interviewer is asking for their actual opinion. The same base desires that drive one to start a blog mayhaps.

Anyway today while running I was imagining a recurring scenario where I was being asked my advice for aspiring artists in some successful future of mine. And my advice was 'return emails' which is actually just a peeve disguised as advice. But being that I was running I had time to think why this peeved me so muchmost, that it has become something I would give advice on.

Straight up, there's a disparity between how much we notice emails sent that were never returned vs emails we receive that we don't return. For the past four years my mother has been sending me emails with attached photos each week that I virtually never respond to.

But I noticed recently something peculiar about my friends that seems too consistent to be mere coincidence. It was this phenomena of my sending emails, and then running into the person I sent it to who would then say to me 'hey I got your email...' the first couple of times I put it down to a personality quirk on the part of the recipient, now I'm not so sure.

Here's my current theory. It's the smart phones. People recieve emails on portable devices now. And these portable devices that are putting them in touch and keeping them connected are also driving the non-response phenomenology.

I assert this by projecting my own behaviour. If somebody sends me that quasi-half-email thing called a 'pm' on facebook I can read it on my phone and will almost never respond on the spot. Because I hate the touch interface and predictive text feature on my phone. And I have swipe which is much friendlier to the fat fingered than the iphone's non-swipe set up. But at any rate it's annoying to type anything of substantive length on my phone to respond. So if a message requires a response it goes on my mental 'to do' list for next time I'm at my desktop to use an actual keyboard and exert actual control over what I say.

I'd never type an email on my phone. Let alone a blog post.

And I know Plato or Socrates or some greek asshole said long ago that reading was ruining people for memorising shit, but the fact is that just because technologies ability to degrade our independence isn't a new observation, doesn't make it untrue. Frank Zappa's 'I'm the Slime' was a diss at TV, yet most of the great art is still made by people who don't sit around watching heaps of TV or consuming vast amounts of entertainment. They are people getting good at producing entertainment by spending their time producing entertainment.

Anyway I digress. Portable technology is shit. I had a very salient thought as a child when my dad got issued his first ever work mobile phone - 'now dad can be at work all the time' his fellow executives could call him weeknights and weekdays. Time stopped being partitioned and scheduled and Ricardo Semler wrote a very good book on it called 'The Seven Day Weekend' about how we'd learned to open work emails on a Sunday but not watch a movie on a monday afternoon.

So too heaps of people actually struggle with their facebook usage and other social media, I have friends that have quit facebook outright to get away from it. For me the answer is simple - you open up facebook once in the morning, write your birthday messages, check your notifications, post something (but don't force it) and log out. Manager tools have for years recommend that you actually schedule your email at work, so that you check and respond to email 3 times a day, instead of any time of day.

All this got me to thinking, portable technology is actually just plain and simple - pretty shit. The times in my life where I've been like 'damn I wish I had a laptop with wifi' I can count on one hand - the three 8 hour plus stop-overs I've had in airports. Even then it's probably a misnomer, it would have been good to have that shit then and then only, had I been lugging around a laptop in my travels chances are I would have exhausted all my entertainment before I actually needed it. I am often bored by everything the internet has to offer.

I haven't had a portable sound device for almost two years. I can remember because I was given a good set of headphones for my birthday one year that I still haven't used. And I don't really notice. I don't get music withdrawal like I expected.

Back to laptops, I don't know how so many peoples got so convinced that laptops were so great. They are virtually all ergonomically really bad, I find they run like shit within an alarmingly short period of time and they are just amazingly low quality, expensive and fragile. I think the notion of a work station - a physical place you go to do work is now a best kept secret. I feel I get so much work done from being a primary desktop PC user over my competition. I somehow think that junior sales rep or consultant travelling for work is secretly not thrilled that they can unfold the laptop computer and do work wherever they can. A shitty job gets shittier.

Plus like music that plays a note every beat, our lives increasingly lack rest, lack punctuation. Lack an absence to drive appreciation. It's all sugar, all the time baby.

Just look at this blog, and realise, the internet is actually pretty shit. You can do without it for awhile.

I quit.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Strange Attachment, Newton's 1st Law

My ex, who is now so ex in time passed that it's a sign of my dating incompetence to still be calling her that has recently taken to facebook usage. And in a bizarre demonstration of attachment theory, she, a Japanese national posts content about her life in a manner almost identical to my Japanese host mother.

Which I find weird and delightful, I love both women. But currently I see attachment theory everywhere, and it kind of freaks me out. But it also kind of makes sense without me being able to wrap my head around it.

For my own part, I left psychotherapy once I basically accepted that attachment theory applied to me. And generally in the folksy way it is expressed attachment theory is ye old 'girls marry their father' and I guess the inverse 'boys marry their mother' though it's said less and I'm not sure if it is a folk saying, or if it isn't said much it's because the western culture obsesses over the bride in our wedding tradition and hence it is there but nobody really gives a shit about the groom.

I feel it's more accurate though to say that I tried to play the role of my father. A powerful unconscious drive, a given. And from my observations, I actually believe children can probably pick one of their parents to emulate. There are many strong women in my life, most of my closest friends in fact, and sometimes that strength has been passed on from a strong matriarchal mother, and sometimes it's the father as patriarch passed onto their daughter. In which case, what I think I see is 'girls marrying their mother' to the play the role of their father.

It all sounds so incestuous, and I think it's one of the things your friends rarely point out to you because of the implied incestuous drivers. But I think about attachment theory in terms of Newton's first law, that's how I try to make sense of something so obviously undesirable yet so prevalent.

Newton's First Law of Motion basically says that a body will stay at rest or continue on in it's trajectory unless some other force acts upon it.

In a deterministic (yet unpredictable) universe where there is no free will (as I believe) this applies to the development and thought processes of a child. A child is typically (and increasingly) given one example of what a relationship is, and how that relationship works and how attachment is formed. Children are in fact not so much raised as aimed and released into adulthood, and in accordance with Newton's 1st law, stuck on that trajectory unless they are just dumb lucky enough to have that journey interrupted.

Even though each of us is in a position to observe that their are many kinds of relationships between adults, and that our best friends parents have a different relationship to our own. It's to be expected that all our 'norms' or 'relationship givens' will come from how our parents interacted.

We are copying a solution to a problem of many solutions. And some of us are copying answers that are wrong.

And I feel this post now splitting (divorcing if you will) down two very different paths.

1. The first is why I think attachment theory needs to be a meme that takes off and gets annoying as intellectual nobodies discuss it pretentiously while updating their 'goodreads' profile on facebook. Yes that saturated in public discourse. I think it's important because of the advent of divorce.

Here I think many Family-First or Christian Conservatives are precisely right for precisely wrong reasons. The deterioration of family's in our society can be laid at the feet of divorce. But I feel they are naive, and just plain wrong to think the solution is to deprive people of the choice of divorce so they will work on their marriages into some ideal solution.

Divorce has been around since Henry the 8th at least in Christendom, but really not an option for the vast majority of people until a matter of decades ago. Even then, the stigma of divorce has taken much longer to make it a real option than the legal system has.

Church and state sanctioned marriages set up monogomy as a solution to the problem of the traditional romantic arrangement - the harem system. Where a dominant male monopolises all the reproductive rights. This reduces biodiversity and increases sexual jealousy related violence. So having the state or church impose restrictions was kind of a good social manipulation.

But imperfect, because it also deprived people for centuries of the ability to recognise they made a mistake and get divorced. I'm firmly of the mind that your relationship fucks up when you choose your partner if it is going to fuck up at all. And staying together is not a measure of success. You get fucked couples that split - at least giving one the prospect that you might learn and make better choices. But you have fucked couples that stay together.

Not having divorce meant that among married couples - the second situation had to be true on mass. Compounded by the fetishisation of virgin brides in virgin white, or 'making an honest women' meaning that for much of the last 10 centuries, most married couples hadn't even experimented to learn which partner to choose.

There were only two mitigating factors - a) arranged marriage, where in a matchmaker tradition you had the prospect of a competent expert being able to recognise patterns of behaviour, learn from the legacy and possibly correct for it. However I personally believe competence to be rare. and b) restricted choice, which I really don't know how it effects attachment theory, but basically we are far more mobile and able to find partners that recreate the disfunction of our parents relationship than perhaps was the case when you lived in a small farming community of 100. However, the numbers game I guess could have possibly exacerbated the feedback effect of children acting out their parents relationships again and again.

Perhaps the scariest prospect of attachment theory, is the possibility that when we play the role of one of our parents in our relationship we actually make our partner play the other role, where they otherwise would not be that person. A scary scary thought.

In summarium of divorce though, basically what it has done is populate our world with a multitude of 'solutions' to the problem of relationships (how two adults relate to eachother) that were only solutions when divorce was not allowed. Basically without the threat of being left and deprived access to reproduction or raising your children, a bunch of highly dysfunctional, toxic and relationship killing behavior could fly. And it seems some kids can run the differential and realise they can divorce their partner rather than tolerate what their parents lived with, others can't and assume it's natural.

2. Which brings me to the deterministic line of thought I will ominiously call 'the filter'. You can look at couples and observe that on occasion two people highly compatible seemed to be able to find eachother and marvel at the luck of it. And sometimes you look at couples so toxic for each other, or so asymmetrical that you marvel at just how lucky that person was to wind up dating exactly the worst kind of person for them. (and sometimes given time, your first observation turns into your second observation, but curiously almost never the reverse).

Attachment theory and 'the filter' though kind of take luck out of it. I got a friend whom when presented with a stranger rushes straight to what they don't like about them, generally what comes to the fore are their reasons to reject. You take this one undesirable and innocuous trait, and repeat it enough, it is going to sift through their all the people they could be friends with and filter it to consistent behavioural traits.

Their friends are going to consist of the kind of people that enjoy sitting down to a good old 'bitching session' and I project, will be characterized by low self-esteem, pessimism and risk aversion.

Similarly take somebody with the seemingly admirable trait of being endlessly emotionally available for their friends and endlessly generous and a filter is going to sift through their friends as well. Their self-soothing, independent and self reliant friends are going to manage the distance, and their needy, anxious and insecure friends are going to lap up their attention and time.

Converse to douches who shoot people complaining about 'the friend zone' in a world where most romantic partners are drawn from our friends or met through our friends, some luck plays a role but your identity and conduct derived from your parents will naturally attract either precisely the wrong person or precisely the right person.

And that's the crux of attachment theory, success compounds as does failure. And after centuries of failed relationships forced to endure - millions of women victims of physical abuse, millions of people reverting to the same self-medicating habits, millions of children raised by cold non-present parents - many people can't recognise the flaws in their working models of relationships. They may even admire a parents 'ability to endure hardship' and try and emulate that rather than avoid the hardship.

External bodies or influences are probably the only aspect of luck, events and other people can act on us to break the destiny. In my own case, the advent of the global citizen. It allowed one of my most significant relationships to be disrupted by geography and that forced me into psychotherapy for the first time. As such two wonderful people that together formed a mediocre love were able to both move on and find much more compatible partners, much more stable foundations to build a relationship on.

And probably, there for me at least all good things stem. That set me down the path of psychotherapy, which eventually made me conscious of my own inherited model of a relationship and that model's pitfalls and at least aware of it, I have a choice for the first time in what I filter for.

Another body I hope, disrupted my path.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A Simple Concept

For the past I dunno, 5 days, I've been making my bed.

It's a huge turn-around for me. Prior to this almost-week-long stint, I really only made my bed when I changed the sheets. In between (and almost certainly, too far in between) it was really just this crumpled thing I got in and out of. And it's been that way for years. I can't remember the last time I made my bed for a reason other than to make sure my doona was properly in it's cover.

I basically just viewed it as a waste of time, time I never get back.

Then last week at work and bored, I read this Navy Admiral's speech to new recruits where he said 'if you want to change the world, start by making your bed. You will have accomplished the first task of the day.' and being highly suggestible, I basically started doing it.

The productivity gains I am yet to see, but that is probably more explained by my post exhibition strong desire to productively rest up. Which I'm not achieving either.

But it's strange. I sleep better, or have been. Not just because all is right in my world, but because my covers don't stray far. My comfort level sleeping has increased and become more consistent.