Sunday, December 28, 2014

Things Look Bad Because They Are Bad

“It is a predisposition of human nature to consider an unpleasant idea untrue, and then it is easy to find arguments against it.” - Sigmund Freud

I started blogging way back because of an epiphany handed to me by an employee of Foster's Group. That concept was the Johari window, and without rehashing too much, the Johari window has four panes. Things known to the self but not to others, things known to the self and to others, things unknown to both self and others and most relevantly things unknown to the self but known to others.

This last pane is referred to as our blindspot. It is where we are all most vulnerable. Crucially its contents are almost impossible to perceive ourselves, it is literally a blind spot of self knowledge. It exists though, I am convinced. By second order thinking at least.

How to tap into it? It's tricky, what you need to do is actually listen and entertain that what is being said about you may be truer than what you believe about yourself.

In the above case of divergent tales of shoplifters, you could attack and deny that this is about race. Firstly you could suspect selection bias is going on. Somebody has taken a particularly bad case of injustice involving an African American woman, and then taken a particularly bad case of injustice (in the opposite direction) involving a white woman and created a quite extreme contrast.

So you just google 'white woman shot for shoplifting' and look for all the ignored cases where a white woman has been gunned down after an initial suspicion of shoplifting. And you get nothing. Well you get a parody piece about Winona Ryder getting shot in an alternative universe LA. But it didn't happen, it never happens.

You could then argue it's a class divide not a race divide. Not a good argument because you are saying that stealing tens of dollars worth of Wal Mart merchandise is apparently mandate for being executed in front of your children where $1,600 is an appearance in court for a reprimand and (probably) a fine.

But again, you'd expect Wal Mart customers to get shot more often, and you would expect that a white woman would have been shot by a mall cop in that case. Australia is like 90% white, and catching the 109 tram along it's junkie stretch exposes one to plenty of mighty hostile white women. I know they exist, I know they have altercations with police, I know they generally only get shot when they charge an officer with a knife.

Do you see what I'm doing though? I'm raising those arguments against an unpleasant truth as Freud said was done so easily and dismissing them. As if they have to be argued. And they kind of do, because it's very unpleasant to admit that you are a part of institutionalised racism.

Because I suspect, it doesn't feel like you are. This off duty cop moonlighting as Wal Mart security was performing his job, a woman was suspected of shoplifting so he chased her down in his car. They had an altercation that was presumably hostile enough (in the manners sense) to escalate. And he pulled out his gun and shot the lady.

To him I would guess (and being charitable) having never identified as racist, this seemed like an isolated incident where the victim happened to be black.

Here's where it is hard to see your blind spot. If it was circumstantial, an isolated and unfortunate event, and everyone believed that, then he would get thrown under the bus. Scapegoated for appearances sake. Why? Because the officers around him, above him would be thinking 'that guy was unlucky.' not 'that could easily have been me, I can relate to that situation.'

The legal system is protecting these officers, because they need for some reason to protect the ability to kill African Americans so that officers can carry out their jobs. So that officers will continue to work.

It seems nobody in authority can come out and say 'Coast to coast it is absolutely unacceptable that any citizen be killed as the result of a verbal altercation over a suspected minor misdemeanor. Or a verbal altercation period.' You could say this, because it's true. This would then force the police that really care about getting a pass for doing this to take up a position that would quickly and transparently be overtly racist.

This, thusly, is my only tip, and probably the only real thing you can take away from it. We are what we do. Not what we think. If things look bad, it's because they are. The tricky thing is, that if what you are being told contradicts your subjective reality, you need to realise that you are living in everyone else's subjective reality too. And that might give you a picture of what objective reality actually is.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rock breaks Scissors!

For many of my friends, the go to gift for me is a sketchbook. You know when they want to get me something, but something appropriate to our relationship - it's a sketchbook.

This used to be a crushing gift, internally crushing. Namely because I have been accumulating sketchbooks/visual diaries etc faster than I can fill them. It is pretty true to say that a visual diary usually takes me 1+ year to fill.

But since moving into a studio, I have just about filled a sketchbook this month alone. I am now looking at my stockpile and thinking I don't have enough.

This is a dramatic change in practice for me - I have never worked hard before, at least not on my art practice itself, and not in any structured and lasting way. It is true that I tend to blitz out my exhibitions, doing 11 hour days for a couple of weeks to churn out 30-40 pieces.

Why confess this? Because I don't really believe in hard work. I'm one of those 10,000 hour rule haters. I don't really believe in natural talent either. Which leaves what I do believe in -

I believe in vision. Vision may comply to the 10,000 hour rule for all I know. It's just that my theory is that vision is generated from just leading your fairly ordinary life. It is the product of observation and introspection. It is from these efforts that ideas are generated.

Then enter the old dichotomy - idea and execution. I saw via the miracle of youtube Larry David Aing Qs at the New Yorker Festival, somebody asked him 'idea or execution?' and he responded 'without the idea there's nothing to execute, so I'll have to go with idea on that one.' or near enough to it. I feel like I have seen plenty of stuff that was all execution, no idea.

And given how sporadic I've become at writing here, I would be surprised if I've never shared this long held opinion or not, but to me I dislike the 10,000 hour rule because it is risk-averse. It reduces success to hard work. 10,000 hours of deliberative practice. And when I say 'it reduces' the it is the risk averse readership, not Gladwell, not the book Outliers. It was a simple and appealing (for many) concept that could be latched onto while ignoring the rest.

I hold that art is such that nobody can say what it is or isn't. Anyone can identify as an artist and perhaps far more people should that don't. (Subway employees are 'sandwich artists' and you know , why the fuck not?) But I am Drucker's man through and through, skeptical of any new-ageish views of business. And if art is your business, then you the artist have one job - to create an audience. I see many people that have done their 10,000 hours in their given medium that don't create an audience.

Here's something I'm glad somebody just came out and said:

Look at the current contemporary art world: that is what happens when you cease to be meaningful to your audience, and it's not pretty no matter how much it convinces you it is.
 Though much of contemporary art could be criticized for it's lack of execution as well, that's the unpretty part. I don't see much contemporary art because I saw a lot in New York, and I am cured of any desire to see it again. So I guess I must concede that all execution is preferable to neither idea nor execution being present.

My direct experience though, is that people would rather see what you are trying to do than not see it at all. Also given how quickly you lose your own objectivity producing arts, people may think you succeeded in your execution - and if the idea gets across, then you did I guess. In theory installation art should be the most perfect medium for this, have a great idea chuck some objects in a room that represent it and anybody can be a great artist. The stumbling block for most installation art is having a great idea in the first place.

The other thing is encoding that idea into objects in a room, which when I think about it is an almost impossible way to communicate. How many times have you walked into a sitting room and by the lay out of the furniture said 'Oh my god there's trouble at the old mill!' I put my money on Lassie being able to communicate that sooner than installation.

Many artists, just don't need to create art to get their idea across. Stats tell me about 8 people on average see my posts, that's more than many audiences I've seen attend an exhibition, and in particular sit through an audio/visual installation.

Generally these people will look at the different coloured chairs lying on their sides and then turn to the artist statement on the wall to see if they can derive any meaning from it. The artists statements are often 10,000 words or more explaining convoluted high-brow concepts in convoluted ways.

Just ditch the actually piece and post your artist statement on a blog, like this. Link it to facebook you'll probably get 30 hits or so. The idea is the only part of any real interest, no matter how much it tries to convince us the actual installation is.

And if the idea is shit, then no great work is going to come out of it. Posting it as a blog entry rather than forking out rent for a gallary space to install something that costs people time and effort to come see, can help shake down to whether your idea is of any interest in the first place.

I think I've reached a stage where I know two things:

1.) I have more ideas I want to execute than I have time to execute them. I do not struggle for ideas or inspiration.
2.) I am curious as to how good I could be if I just did some work.

In other words, I'm working in a studio now because the ideas come effortlessly, it is as such time for me to dawdle a bit and actually practice the craft, because it can entertain me, challenge me. I can't relate to the aspirant who has secluded and shut themsleves away since they were 15-16 and practiced on end because that is safer than going out there and bleating out your ideas to be accepted or rejected.

No sir, I don't roll with the 'So-good-they-have-to-notice-you' crowd, largely because they don't.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Materialism

Christmas Eve, a day for idle speculation. I saw a gif of Chris Rock saying in what looked like an SNL opening "Jesus was the least Materialistic person ever, yet we have made his birthday the most materialistic..." I don't know because I don't think it is a very good point, But that point sparked a point for me.

When did Materialism/Consumerism become a problem? I don't know and I can't be bothered finding out. What I've noticed though, is that my main pursuit in life kind of depends on Materialism, and my direct experience of making transactions over art, is that they have been incredibly emotionally meaningful acts of consumption.

Selling art means quite a lot to me. Because I produce the physical goods themselves. My pieces mean a lot, my patrons mean a lot. It is an incredible experience.

This leads me to think that Consumerism/Materialism are recent problems, recent phenomena. This is fairly orthodox and generally attributed to mass production, age of abundance type causes.

I suspect it could be found to coincide with the rise of the 'knowledge worker'. A vague and ambiguous term coined by Drucker to describe people whose chief economic activity was thinking. A manager for example is a 'knowledge worker' because they have to think, decide and communicate. They might work in a toy shop populated by elves manufacturing toys, but they do not manufacture the toys themselves. They just know about the business.

Over the last century, a lot of jobs have stopped producing anything tangible, nor delivering any direct service (eg. shoe shine, massage, X-ray, psychotherapy) They perform an indirect service like 'market analysis' internally to other knowledge workers. Much occupations in the west produce nothing but knowledge products - advice, charts, reports, statements etc.

Machines increasingly build the actual goods. A person now looks at data output and uses their brain to make inferences about how to optimise manufacturing equipment.

I even question say a shoe designer in the US sitting down with an athlete and creating a new basketball shoe, sketching the concept, figuring out the materials, getting a prototype sculpted, sewn and stitched and then breaking that down into a manufacturing process - that is then outsourced to a different country. Does that yeild the same hedonic impact as when I finish a drawing and hang it on a wall for sale?

I suspect not, somewhere seeing a shoe you drew become a stock item in Athletes foot and knowing it vaguely points backwards in time to a paycheck or bonus you recieved might result in more material comfort but I suspect it is not the same moment.

My point being... who am I kidding, I can't make a point that soon. I'm reminded of hearing this kid at work saying to a colleague (we both got older) of Valentine's day 'I think every day should be about love, not just one day a year' a nice sentiment, but I disagree in practice. It's good to just pick an arbitrary day and say 'fuck it, on February 14th at the very least, I'm going to make a big deal about loving someone.' because our heads have to juggle a lot of shit.

In the same way, Christmas is as good a time as any to just buy people you care about some fucking gifts. If you dial it back to a hunter gatherer tribe that have prophetically foreseen the coming of Jesus and celebrate his birthday ahead of time, you had a small community, a direct barter system, no currency, no medium of exchange and a bunch of people made gifts of the berry's they picked, the yams they dug up, the honey they found, the pelts they skinned etc. do you think somebody would have said 'Christmas has become too commercial, too materialistic, it should be about family and community!' I think not.

For me at least, in the hunter gatherer system, it's evident that everything they've hunted and gathered are exactly what the community is. In a society where it is standard to ask a stranger at a party 'so what do you do?' I don't really see any difference. I don't really know what imaginary life I am supposed to be leading where a family just gathers around and hangs out. Life is complex, and although you don't think on it, a t-shirt performs a function beyond warmth and modesty. It transmits a message about the wearer that help facilitate doing what they do.

And what we do is evidently important to us. People invest more of their life in it quite often than they invest in their families - just so they can have families. It may be true that our nomadic hunter gathering ancestors spent most of their time resting, conserving energy - precious callories. They also all operated very much a family business. We still do, it's true there's a lot of bullshit jobs out there and beyond the threat of technological automation to jobs, I often wonder if Pareto holds up and we could lose 80% of the workforce and only 20% of productivity... ah, get back on point... We are all in this together.

We have just, I suspect through disconnect, developed an emotional barrier to the gesture of gift giving. If your job is auditing somebodies credit return process for ISO accreditation, then yeah maybe it seems weird to then buy a set of carbon fiber nordic walking poles for your baby-boomer parent, and yeah, maybe your job is total bullshit too and you hate your life but you fear your expenses more.

This gesture though that people complain about though, is really just this 'I want you to have something you want, and be happy and I hope it helps you do what you do.' why can't you just say that and dispense with the gifts, the shopping, the stores and the advertising between retailers competing for our dollars? Because most times well done is better than well said.

I can only testify to my personal experience that there's a certain hollowness to the Christmases where my family have limited the gift giving, we've done Kris Kringles limited to $50 and you each got designated just one family member to buy for. The relief of the time and financial strain of Christmas resulted in a pretty non-eventful day. Some great moments require a period of suckiness to come good.

As a kid I may have been naive and stupid, but I can recall how utterly magical and miraculous it seemed to just be able to fulfill all your earthly desires by writing a letter to a dude that turned out not to exist. I now struggle to think of enough material desires to allow my gift givers to get me something, I'm fortunate to not be deprived enough, but I don't know, I believe in tangibility, I believe in evidence. I like getting something from somebody. Anything really, it doesn't matter. I just like to hold something in my hand sometimes as a durable impression that somebody cares about me.

I see nothing wrong with that.

There are things I dislike about Christmas though, relating to the Peer Problem, but that's another post and I have gifts to buy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This one goes out to my fellow artists

Okay, after reading this post just dook out a sketch, a crappy sketch just make sure it isn't your best work. Make rookie mistakes, don't use reference, don't bother to render and fuck up your lighting values.

Now, sit down and dedicate a couple of hours to drawing a decent piece, when you can, to the best of your abilities. All it needs to be is significantly better than your crappy sketch.

Now take bothand secret them somewhere. But seperately, like if you have a desk with unused drawers put them in two different drawers. Or if you have some old shoeboxes or something put them in seperate boxes and tuck both under your bed.

Now! How much would you bet that people open up the drawer with the good drawing way more often than the one with the crappy sketch? $20, $50, $100? Would you stake your entire career on it?

What the fuck am I talking about?

I doubt anybody would speculate that an awesome picture will draw a steady migration of people in to open up a particular drawer or shoe box to gaze upon it's awesomeness. Which is to say controlling for all other factors the quality of a piece has no real intrinsic pulling power for an audience.

Yet many artists effectively do stake their career on the notion that quality will be recognised, that it will somehow magically sell itself. That somebody with a career entirely unlike an artist eg. somebody who has spent years gaining both social and physical capital will see the piece and then provide it with an audience.

There's much truth to this scenario, but there's a whole heap of risk aversion, and when I write a book the book will be on risk. This is a classic misnomer understanding of risk. Something that is unlikely to occur is not high risk, but low risk.

So studying hard in high school and getting into medicine is a low risk profession, because due to the pressing need people have to not die, and not be throwing up, and not have a splitting headache etc. it's highly likely that doctors will always make a good living. When something is highly likely to occur it is low risk, but equally an artist being discovered by an extremely wealthy benefactor and being showered with a fortune being highly unlikely to occur makes it also a low risk strategy.

High risk means high levels of uncertainty. NNT is a billionaire thanks to his black swan investment strategy because it is actually a low risk strategy he had the insight to exploit. Which is while impossible to predict 'black swan' events are almost certain to occur.

Anyway, I digress. What I hope my thought experiment (or who knows, actual experiment) may persuade you is that you need to take risks and actually show your pieces, promote them even when you are unsure of their execution.

Simply wanting to succeed based on perfect execution has many counterarguments out there in the market. Perhaps most prominently Michael Bay, an inspiration for all artists.

For me, the pursuit of execution is something I do for personal satisfaction, but I have too many ideas to ever execute perfectly, as a result I want to be prolific, not good.

As Larry David said 'without the idea there is nothing to execute, so I'll go with idea.'

The View From Down Here

I used to have facebook on my phone. I used to 'like' a facebook page called 'The Good Men Project' and a good way to kill time at work was to read the numerous articles it churned out on a daily basis.

I'll be honest, it is ambiguous at best as to who is qualified to lead discussions on what constitutes a 'Good Man' let alone the ambiguity of what constitutes a 'Good Man' itself.

Thus there was a lot of garbage aggregated on the site. But before I quit it (and later got fb off my phone) I did learn some heuristics that were good from it.

This is one that has made me better at life but possibly a much harder person to deal with.

The best judge of a persons' character is how they treat you when you are in the wrong.

This is not to say I now go out of my way to wrong people to try and learn about them. It's not necessary I just fuck up in the course of my everyday existence.

Just trying my best to do right by everybody, I generate a lot of opportunities for me to apologise in any given year. Because I am a doofus.

And I always did intuit those feelings of dissatisfaction, of injustice, anger etc. when I felt people were being ungracious in my defeat and submission. It just hadn't clicked how relevant or reliable it was.

Anybody who attacks you when you submit tells you, they have unchecked emotional issues. No exceptions.

What if the apology is only partial or incomplete? This is the difficulty.

Say I'm playing with a silenced pistol collected from evidence when it accidently discharged and the bullet almost hits the cranium of my fellow detective whom was walking by and remains blissfully unaware that she almost died. I can decide on my own autonomy that an apology is necessary even though my colleague has not experienced feeling offended.

I think most people would agree that this is good and noble and proper.

Now say that I'm a recovering alcoholic, currently onto the step of making amends. While I'm apologising to a friend for getting his name wrong when I first met him, his short stocky bald friend tells me I owe him an apology for refusing to lend him a sweater at a party, and for announcing that my reason was that his big head would stretch the neck hole. I also have the autonomy to decide on my own that no apology is necessary to the short stocky bald friend. You can only apologise for things you have come to accept were wrong. Nobody can demand an apology of you, which is literally not true, but when that happens apologies become strategic and almost certainly not sincere.

There's a juvenile tactic called deflection, when one is facing criticism. 'tohm you are always cutting me off.' 'yeah well you borrowed my car without asking and never returned it, now I have to cycle everywhere.' It's an attempt to even scores and counterbalance failing with failing. It's a shitty tactic because true or not, the matter at hand is the persons issue with me, it is not the time to introduce other wholly separate issues.

In the same way, an apology whether complete and unreserved or partial, the apology is the matter at hand. It is not the time to address any separate issues or components.

So basically if you do anything other than graciously, generously and compassionately accept an apology, you are going to fail my test.

Why care, tohm is on his hands and knees begging for mercy and he's powerless if I so choose to kick his teeth out?

Because you can actually snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I am still introspecting on the nature of advantage, but I would have to say advantage is not a situation where you can have your cake and eat it to. The point of an advantage is to have it, not eat it.

So perhaps frustratingly for people with unchecked emotional issues, the advantage, the moral high ground you gain when somebody apologises to you, you never get to do anything with it.

It gets worse though. Even when I haven't apologised, when I'm being petty and stupid and childish, this heuristic has allowed me the presence of mind to notice when somebody doesn't step up, be the bigger man and seize the advantage over me. I can judge people for returning my unchecked wrong with their wrong. I am capable of this feat of cognitive dissonance.

eg. If I'm pissed at you and giving you the cold shoulder. I will notice and judge you for giving it to me right back. I will also notice and judge you if you overcome this and call me out on my petty behavior.

I can sit down in the mud, floundering in my own ill-concieved incompetence and competently make accurate character judgements. I can only imagine this seems grossly unfair from the outside. Yet it is so useful, it really has helped me make great decisions.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Stop Watching the News.

I'm serious. You don't need it, and it is almost certainly to your detriment in being able to lead a life that tracks reality.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Human Condition

We're all afraid. It's okay.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Can Addiction Be Beat?

The honest answer is, I don't know. Very few people possess the expertise to say so, and I am certainly not an expert. So if you are struggling with addiction and have somehow stumbled on this post, please read with a grain of salt in hand, it's an opinion piece, factually I can only speak of my opinion, not the workings of anyone else's mind, body and their relationship with addictive substances and passtimes.

One thing I feel confident on commenting on, is the general nature of beating an addiction - the fact is that it takes the entire rest of your life to prove you've beaten it, but only a moment to disprove it.

For those unfamiliar with me, my addictions are arbitrary and relatively speaking, trivial. But they have been educational to confront for me. I haven't been in a KFC since New Years Eve last year. I used to eat it at least three times a week. Was that an addiction? Or merely a habit? Probably the KFC part was habit, the sugars, salt and animal fats were no doubt what I was addicted to.

Following that I quit McDonalds, then caffeine, alcohol (which technically I was never addicted to, I had my problems with alcohol, but they came from low tolerance rather than dependence), pornography, and desserts and soft drinks - which I simplified into sugar.

Unforch, unwittingly I had stumbled into what would become the next demonic health fad - quitting sugar. I have written about that before.

I want to talk about that one, because curiously though it is the thing I quit most recently, it's the one I get most acknowledgement for.

Here's an unexpected side-effect: I have inspired other people to quit sugar, or aspire to quit sugar.

The thing is though, when I say 'people' what I mean exclusively is women. What I find curious, is that I have been a pretty serious long distance runner for years. This obviously brings me great health benefits as my weight remained stable (if unideal) despite having a diet that often consisted of alternating between KFC and McDonalds.

I also was quite conspicuously training for and ran a marathon in my social circle. I have not inspired anyone to take up running, in the years I have been running. If I have, it has been men - though I'm not sure if I 'inspired' them for their own benefit or they were inspired to compete.

But in 7 months or so, the number of women that have confessed to me that they really should quit sugar, and those that have tried it out has genuinely surprised me.

This is what I hope isn't the case - for many women seeing a man forego sugar immediately is presumed to be 'dieting' behavior. They are noticing the bi-product of quitting my addiction - weight loss, and projecting onto me conformist body image behavior. Then feeling guilty that they don't have my dedication.

I am fairly certain this is not what any female friend of mine consciously thinks, I just suspect it describes a set of hardwired but unintelligible emotions my female friends feel. I don't know what they tell themselves but I am always suspicious of the reasons they give.

Which brings me to my next point of discussion. Pornography, I had previously written in a set of posts here about how pornography (and specifically - videos) had become too 'hardcore' for me, and what I mean by 'hardcore' I now understand to be 'misogynistic' and 'grotesque'.

I maintain my theory that this is because porno is a drug, and acts like a drug - users build up a tolerance, taking them longer and requiring more 'stimulation' to gratify them. By taking them longer I know from my own experience that porno's true cost is search time. You can trawl the internet for an hour and a half to find one image that hits the spot. In the meantime finding plenty of material that is a turn off.

More concerning though is the 'more stimulation' at the risk of reiterating something I had previously written, I would point out that porn videos can only hit two of our senses - visual and auditory. The women of porn (and men, I guess) need to be visually super-stimuli (ie, larger breasts, more extreme hip to waist ratio, redder lips, longer lashes etc.) to compensate for the lost sensory input of video (touch, smell) that make actual sex with an actual person a much better experience than any porno ever viewed.

The sex acts engaged in, likewise become more extreme to compete with 'the real thing' and for some reason, this has trended towards anal penetration becoming a status quo, and slapping, spitting on, choking, gagging and calling women 'bitch' pretty commonplace in porn videos.

With few exceptions I quit porn videos long before I 'quit' porn. I now see pornography as a social problem, an industry that badly needs regulation, socialising or some drastic intervention.

It comes up the least in conversation though, I guess because I am often offered tea, coffee, alcohol, biscuits or desserts that I have to decline and explain, but am rarely offered pornography to watch.

I don't trust it, I find it incredibly hard to trust. Pornographic video in particular challenges my concept of consent.

What I'm confident about is that the norms of porn do trickle down into the norms of sexual conduct of everyday couples. Trends in porno set trends in conventional sex. I suspect oral sex, as performed by women on men became almost ubiquitous as my generation came of age. It certainly existed before, and probably prior to the legal definition of time immemorial, but not ubiquitously so. That 60s-70s stalwart 'the Joy of Sex' referred to couples who naively were attempting sex via a woman's navel instead of vagina.

While not necessarily a bad thing in terms of liberating people to indulge their sexual fantasies, I am sure, and feel confident the book 'Female Chauvinist Pigs' had found in research, that the widespread adoption of oral sex was not equal between the genders. Guys were not uniformly going down on girls to give them pleasure and express affection and tenderness.

I'm not really down on the teenage highschool gossip like I was when I actually attended highschool, so this is pure speculation, but I imagine the number of girls between 16-18 that have consented to anal sex with their partner has skyrocketed by 8000% between my graduating year of 2001 and now.

From year 8 to year 12, I got the gossip of some 300 students at my school. Off the top of my head I can recall about 5 kids getting busted giving blowjobs. These stories are memorable only because the kids got busted, the kids in actual relationships not having spur of the moment relations in the boys toilets during 4th period must have been engaged in fellatio much more frequently and in much greater numbers, though with the average age at 17 to become sexually active, many, myself included had to content ourselves with kissing.

Anal sex is a more concerning trend because porno creates a larger degree of illusion, unreality. The first being that actresses are into it, the second being that the actresses are sober and the third being that it's fine and harmless instead of being painful with lasting aftereffects. Bj's can be depicted with similar degrees of illusion (particularly face fucking) but in general sucking a cock on video and the reactions of the participants are not that far from what happens at home.

Most concerning though, is spitting on women, slapping women in the face or on the ass, telling them they like it, calling them bitch etc. These aren't fetishes, they aren't playing a role, or any role other than hating women. Women should not be exposed to this message. Men should not be exposed to this message. It should not be able to play emotionally through their brains, even if they (and I) feel we can process it cognitively.

A case can be made for virtually every sexual fetish, including anal and even rough play. Degredation of women is not a fetish though, it is something else. There is no way to spin degrading acts both verbal and non-verbal as a kinky fetish. I'm sure many have tried though.

I saw a post of a lot of quotes from former porn stars today, and many of them said 'everybody is on drugs' I think this statement is both powerful and weak. It is weak because making a blanket statement about all porn actresses is just a weaker argument than taking only your own perspective - it is much more relevant that a single actress had to be high on cocaine and ecstasy to get through their scenes than for them to assert that everyone does. Because just one is enough to permanently destroy the illusion required to enjoy porno.

Viewers are trying to identify with a sexual fantasy, and whatever else is said, and however many men out their identify with rape and brutality, the vast majority are fantasizing about encounters that are mutually pleasurable (if unrealistic) between consenting adults. That ability to identify goes away once you can no longer trust whether an actress is saying 'oh yeah' in response to the sex act, or in response to being high on MDMA and coke and completely dissociated from what is going on.

Which is to say nothing of tumblr and pornographic stills. I guess if it is taken from a porno shoot, whether as a gif or a still image. There is no difference. But tumblr is full of sex blogs consisting only of still images of lingerie, bikini and nude models, you can find ones that never depict any kind of sex act. Good old fashioned pornography in other words, like the magazines that predated the internet available in newsagents and stolen by teenagers.

Those really are the side of porno addiction I quit this year, because I compulsively consumed them and they in turn consumed much of my time. I am much more okay with modelling, pin ups etc. on ethical grounds. Selfies I am not going to touch here, they are to say the least problematic. But a model working with a professional photographer, staging shots or doing shoots can be fine. Van Styles and Cherie Roberts I trust. It can't be said of everyone, there are certainly sleaze photographers out there. I recall one whose thing was to reach his tattooed arm into shot and touch the models he was shooting, just seemed akin to that whole domination vibe that put me off porno videos in the first place.

And I should say, that just because I object to porno, and it is little discussed doesn't mean I unequivocally oppose porno. I find it plausible that people comfortable with their bodies, whom have an exhibitionist streak could consent to documenting sex acts that they enjoy and distributing the footage for general consumption. Where no party is exploited beyond being subject to piracy. I may have even seen some porno that was ethical. Amateur porn (particularly couples making their own) in general is a lot more trustworthy than industry made porn. What I don't think is happening is that such porn is made, nor likely to be made by the porno industry as it stands.

But all of these things, I have quit. I may have backslid on occasion, but never fell back into habitual consumption. I ordered a coconut juice for example at a restaurant and it had added sugar. Having ordered it and the waiter opened the can, I just drank it anyway and took note not to take such risks in the future.

I also consume condiments that no doubt contain sugar, what I haven't done is drink a bottle of tomato sauce as a substitute for the ice cream I used to consume.

But onto the central question - Can addiction be beat?

I quit all these things, true. Sugar particularly was clearly a problem-solver, stress induced consumption habit that relieved on a daily basis, stress and to some extent emotional pain. And I live without this security blanket now.

But... I ran, between 1-4 hours 6 days a week most of the year. And post marathon when I tapered back my training I got pretty heavily into video games.

At this early stage (less than one year in) it would seem that while I can beat specific addictions, I can't live without some kind of security blanket. Video games in particular, are clearly detrimental to my health.

This is the struggle of those who are addicted, and a lesser known thing. Is someone an alcoholic when they seem to go two three months of heavy drinking, then go cold turkey? What if they then having sworn off alcohol are suddenly taking heavy painkillers round the clock?

They aren't an alcoholic but they are an addict. Both opiates and alcohol can numb emotional pain.

I have noticed that certainly in my own experience, I certainly have less security blankets to go to than I used to. I can't really comfort eat anymore which was the big one, nor manage my energy levels via caffeine (deciding when to relieve my withdrawal symptoms that is) I have no recourse to 'dutch courage', nor relieve my sexual frustration by logging onto a sex dedicated tumblr and perusing.

Running is by it's nature a discipline and frankly, a pain in the arse to indulge. I certainly get addicted to it, but it self-regulates because it is by it's nature effort.

Video games I should quit, but I am reluctant to because like facebook, for it's many downsides it has it's uses to a visual artist. It also is regulated by being constrained to my computer. I have to come here and make time to play the games. I am not seeking to eliminate all escapism from my life.

I notice I am far more likely to actually deal with shit now. By virtue of having less security blankets, those I do have become far more transparent, far more flimsy. Running indeed is little more than a planning exercise for dealing with shit. I emerge from it focused and relaxed. If only the same could be said for video games.

I imagine it is possible to live without security blankets entirely, without short term avoidance strategies. I am not sure if it is desirable.

A guy at a party I was at earlier this evening said of my non-drinking 'whether you are a hardcore drinker or a hardcore abstainer, you are still letting alcohol control your life' which I think is true and speaks to the tragedy of addiction. It does never leave you.

But with this common ground, the two choices are very different, and those differences have meaning. If you can beat one specific addiction, even if it results in you having an addiction to carrot sticks as a cigarette substitute, I feel you certainly should. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


Last weekend I walked into a studio in Kensington, took all my clothes off and my friend and contemporary Harvard photographed me.

I've read before that it is the job of the photographer to make the model feel relaxed and comfortable, Harvard did this by being extremely uncomfortable.

I don't know anymore what I was expecting from the experience, my rational was that of Harvard's friends I've been shot numerous times, perhaps only behind his wife Chika. There was nothing new for me to do. Also I'm over 30 now, the likelihood of me physically doing anything but deteriorate is incredibly small.

Also over on my tumblr during inktober I published a heap of drawings based on photos of women in various states of undress.

I'm told the photo's of me have gone up online somewhere, which I myself will do in time on tumblr or something, that was the first point where I felt I'd crossed a new threshold. Something possibly akin to a young female model's thoughts and feelings when there first naked photo goes up online.

Of course mine is unlikely to be reproduced as often as Cherie Robert's model or Van Styles. Nor can I expect any financial gains, just that this will become my file photo for newstories should I decide to become a politician.

It was kind of inspired, or seeded a long time ago by Trevor Goodchild in the old Aeon Flux series. I have nothing to hide, and I've been any good at leading my life, there shouldn't really be any surprises there.