Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Blind Leading The Blind

There’s a little more about this painting over on I Need More Life, but I spent a few hours today finishing off the base coat. I’m definitely far from satisfied and it needs a ton of work to get it to a good place. I may put it aside for a little while.

I went for a walk with Caitlin to have some falafels for lunch, and we bumped into an older Indian guy begging on the street covered with a mix of street/jail tattoos and religious tattoos on his face… Pretty neat look, although that coupled with not speaking much English has to make life very difficult for him. I was thinking about going and trying to track him down for an interview about his experiences…

Tribal Nipple Removal

I was reading Mary Roach’s new book, “Bonk”, and in a chapter on clitoral relocation surgery is a brief note about the “Janjero tribe” —

…one culture cuts the nipples off boys, to masculinize them. Bonaparte gives a quote obtained from a nipple-less Janjero tribesman by an anthropologist named Cerulli. “We do this because we do not wish to resemble women in any way.”

Roach mentions that she was not able to confirm the above claim in a journal search, and I couldn’t find much about it either… The “Book of the Penis” by Maggie Paley also contains the following comment,

Among the Janjero of Ethiopia, a man who’s had both nipples and one testicle removed may never rule. All males with the exception of the king and his sons are mutilated in this manner. Members of the lowest class are left alone, since no one would let them rule in any case.

“Black God: The Afroasiatic Roots of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religions” by Julian Baldick and “Black Eros” by Boris de Rachewiltz, and a few web sites contain similar commentary about the puberty rites of the Janjero, but I couldn’t find anything I’d call definitive, and there’s an awful lot of fantasy in early anthropology. Still, I found it quite interesting because it’s the only reference to nipple removal / nipple nullification that I know of in a traditional context.

Anyway, I’m enjoying “Bonk” and will now get back to reading.

Free at last, free at last, free at last

Well, I no longer have an office in my house, nor porn-related visits from affable migrant workers. I don’t know if it’s a reflection on the virtuality — or even real-world valuelessness — of the nature of my work product, but it’s interesting to think that everything I’ve done on BME in a decade and a half can be shrunk down to the content of a few DVDs… or in this case, a bunch of cheap electronic junk.

Ah, what to do now?

Part of me wants to sit around, play Guitar Hero and watch TV all day (which I may well do today, as I am computerless right now other than stealing Caitlin’s computer when she’s not here), but I think I have five main things on my “next stage” projects, at least in the short term:

  • Finish the book projects that are already started.
  • Launch the new site.
  • Get enough good paintings done for a show.
  • Teach a robot arm to paint (that’s my new project, building on my earlier work with computer composed music; teaching a computer to paint in my style, using lots of paint and good texture).
  • The snowrail.

I’m really looking forward to the robot painting project and have been obsessively watching robot arm videos and watching various sites for used industrial robots…

Soccer Nanobots

The “robot” in the video below is about half the width of a grain of rice. I’m not really sure if I’d call it a “robot”, because it’s more of a remote control device that’s being pushed around by EM fields from afar (so it has neither sensors nor autonomy on any level)… On one level it’s no more a robot than a leaf being blown around by a leaf blower, but at the same time, it’s definitely an eerie precursor of the many forms of limbs that shall tear us to bits in the impending robot apocalypse.

More details here.

The Blind Leading The Blind

I decided to do a new painting based on one of my favorite classic paintings, “The Blind Leading the Blind” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1568). It’s of course based on Matthew 15:14;

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

This came after some debate on the specifics of religious ritual (which is why Bruegel would have chosen it I’m sure, as that was a big issue during his time); with Jesus saying that it’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you, but what comes out of your mouth, explaining (my paraphrase):

What you eat passes through you and leaves your body, but the words you speak come from your heart, and when evil comes from your heart, these defile you — eating with dirty hands will never defile you.

The reference itself is actually from the Katha Upanishad (about 900 BC, Vedic), which was first translated into Persian, and later made it into Europe and has been widely referenced;

The Hereafter never rises before the thoughtless child (the ignorant), deluded by the glamor of wealth. “This world alone is, there is none other”: thinking thus, he falls under my sway again and again.

There are many in the world, who, puffed up with intellectual conceit, believe that they are capable of guiding others. But although they may possess a certain amount of worldly wisdom, they are devoid of deeper understanding; therefore all that they say merely increases doubt and confusion in the minds of those who hear them. Hence they are likened to blind men leading the blind. The Hereafter does not shine before those who are lacking in the power of discrimination and are easily carried away therefore by the charm of fleeting objects. As children are tempted by toys, so they are tempted by pleasure, power, name and fame. To them these seem the only realities. Being thus attached to perishable things, they come many times under the dominion of death. There is one part of us which must die; there is another part which never dies. When a man can identify himself with his undying nature, which is one with God, then he overcomes death.

As it is often said that one should read the book instead of watching the movie, it’s often better to read Vedic scripture than Christian scripture. Anyway… Sorry about the poor photo.