At their inception, neither woke nor political correctness were meant to be stupid. Even the concept of microaggression, as extremist left as it has become, was never meant to be callously self-righteous. But in our populist times, all of these have come to be so... especially insomuch as a burning of books is in the contemporary lexicon of those too ignorant to have studied the matter as therapeutic and too self-centered to know what education is in light of their "adult" actions before and with children.
How low can such errors in judgment take us? Well, based on a news report out of Radio Canada, a purported “indigenous knowledge keeper” is the lead figure in the burning. Through research, it is now stipulated that she is neither indigenous nor seemingly knowledgeable of the fact that burning books is universally recognized as an act of aggression and certainly not a process of cleansing and healing, let alone reconciliation. In light of this, how else can such barbarism be seen to be other than stupid and most definitely an insult to the indigenous people of this land? Nicole Obomsawin, anthropologist and "real" indigenous person concurs that the burning of books is not the way to go nor is censure a tool of education.
Though ignorance can be cured through enlightenment, this 2019 reprehensible action reminds us that the virus of stupidity is far more dangerous than a COVID-pandemic. When did we stop learning and assimilating the errors of the past in order to not repeat them? Well, we haven’t. Will it ever come to be if we erase all signs of sin? Will it be when we pretend at purity of racial connections if only we can make the past go away? Is turning objects into ashes a valid process in which we can guarantee our ancestral and even today’s wrongs will never re-exist?
Sadly, we humans tend to repeat the past regardless; as if it is part of our fear-based DNA - hurting ourselves and mostly others from generation to generation to generation - and treating this as a sickening acceptance of an “it is what it is” scenario. Why? Because the more we face needing to remember, the more we run away from teaching ourselves social skills and empathy. Why? because we fail to realize, it seems, that we are beasts, not of slow learning, but of fast forgetting. What is it with us that, as children we are loving beings who recognize and accept each other’s foibles and differences? Yet, as adults, we fear this same “otherness”. What once we perceived as part of a magical garden of colours, shapes and wonderment, becomes us collectively growing into Grinches demanding that each be not of a garden but rather of an acreage of lawn with each blade adhering to the bland sameness of a “mowed into shape” impossible "perfection".
And so, what the hell, let’s burn books! Not just for our own self-aggrandizing satisfaction but mainly to teach our children about the importance of “censorship” and "power over"! And what the hell again! Why not start burning witches too - as we did in our proselytized pasts. Let’s pretend we aren't as horrid as we all can be to each other on “all” sides of the spectrum. Whether we know it or not... we are not (nor have we ever been) a superior species. Humans lack even the most basic of animal connection instincts and heart to be so.
And because of our lack of recognition of who we "and they" really are, self-righteous “enlightenment” too often rules the day, keeping us at war’s beckoning and at each other’s throats even when “others” don’t even bother to tread on our territorial prerogatives. All of this to note that we are generally, in this era of me, myself and I, poorly led and ever more poorly submissive to that which preaches itself sacred via "its own truth”, rather than “the” truth.
Oh, for the likes of a genuine Akela to keep this pack in line!...
Sadly, without a greater respect for self-respect we will always lack the ingenuity to survive and thrive, share and reconcile. When we let the worst of us become the norm of us we encourage our children to be anxious, to despair, to fear and wish themselves out of the horrors they have been given as an inheritance. What else does the burning of books feel like to children? And at the behest of a school board!!!!!! What else can they think but: “these adults are insane!”
How horrendous it is to think that children in the 21st century are trustingly being handed over to such a dictate of devolution! Rather than teach and eliminate racism, rather than be a battle act for reconciliation, such failures, such populist reasonings do nothing more than stoke and maintain the embers of the past; teaching nothing, having us remember nothing through an ignoring, via erasure from view, of the very fact we remain fallible - and forever will be.
“Lest we forget”...
Reminders are better left visible and available, coldly being what they are: nothing more, nothing less than: reminders... the most crucial elements to our evolving selves and collectives - lest we turn back the clock to even greater satanic rites of an ever devolving system.
Books and any other symbols of our less than savory pasts allow us to remain calm yet determined to “never again” create, and do, and say, and write, and feel what we once did in ignorance. These “objects” remind us that we must forever do better in the ridding ourselves, not of books, but rather of the populist mindsets which pretend at reasoning us away from remembering.
All in all, if being “woke” purportedly means: being aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice), then we’ve definitely missed the boat...
Being woke was never meant to be fascism at its most symbolic and because it is in the case of book burnings, maybe those who determine the directions of our hearts and minds and souls through their false rhetoric need to be refrained from ever imposing their political stripes upon our children ever again. That's the first step.
If we care for ALL of our children and their futures, let’s bring the wisdom of elders from every facet of cultural and spiritual life to the fore. Have them enter the elementary and secondary classrooms to offer a positive moving forward rather than a stagnant pond of tit-for-tat reconciliation strategies with little to offer our children and their children’s children than repetitions of yesteryear. What adults of the future need are positive discussions and philosophical discourse; sage discernment rather than destructive emoting passing itself off as Truth.
At this time, adults in the game are moving nothing forward. They are, in actual fact, retreating to yet another endless “battle plan” - the next “official” move in the so-called direction of reconciliation. Hell, let's make room for child discussion on what is right and wrong, correct and incorrect and I would wager book burning would be a last resort stupidity no child would ever conjure. And possibly, through the wisdom of those who are worthy of being mentors and through the inherent goodness of children, summations to end all tomfoolery will bring about soul-directions which will save not only the world but ourselves from ourselves.
The role of children in our lives? Imagining better. The role of adults? Implementing better. Let's get at it.
My response to the above title posting, on LinkedIn, is presented on my Blog because it is too long for LinkedIn.
The author accused me of not reading her post. And so I answered the following:
The publicly proffered assumption that I had not read your article is unfounded and discourteous. I had. Several times even. Getting to the crux of your post was a bit complex. I did not “get” whether it was about mental health issues or a need to market your services.
You state: “I have talked with so many amazing artists.” (immediately adding): “Inevitably, these artists HIDE! They question whether they are good enough compared to other artists. They question their own value and validity as artists. They suffer from . . . impostor syndrome. . .they cling to it like it’s going out of style. Meanwhile, mediocre artists. . . sell like mad.”
I can only surmise that of the “so many amazing artists” you encounter, a large segment of them seem to suffer from anxiety, feelings of incompetence and a fear of failure. They see themselves (as you state) as fraudulent in their positioning of themselves as “artists”. In the sentence describing your dealings with them you infer that they should also feel like victims since your chosen quest is to “emancipate artists from sitting under the doctrine of the gatekeepers who keep them chained to a life of failure and starvation. (!!!) After 52 years in the visual arts (successfully I may add) I have never known it to be that discouraging an environment. . . Difficult? Yes. Discouraging ? No. And this despite the fact of my work being consistently rejected by the gallery and “art scene”. Maybe it’s all in the way we look at things. Rejected, I chose to go it my way rather than give up.
That being said, your post is nonetheless a serious one. It implies that there are several mental health issues “out there” which need to be looked into. When anxiety is as prominent as you cite, would it not be best to redirect the sufferers to legitimate therapeutic interventions rather than to a marketing strategy?
Though anxiety and depression are rather prevalent in our times, these symptoms should not be considered acceptable (normal) simply because there is more of this than at any other time in history - even in children and adolescents.
I also suggest that, despite our 21st century penchant for romanticizing mental health issues as they purportedly relate to “artists”, this milieu is no more prone to mental health turmoil than any other professional environment. Dr. Judith Schlesinger’s second edition of “The Insanity Hoax” dispels any notion that feelings of being impostors to a degree of dysfunction or anxiety are particularly “attached” to the art world”. In the grand scheme of things, creatives should not, a priori, be assumed to be overly sensitive or acceptably (read artistically) predisposed to mental health concerns.
Don’t I know of artists who have issues? Yes. But then, the artwork related to their distress is reflective of a personal quest to salve their distraught souls. Once this is achieved they begin again to create to reach out beyond themselves. Any of them I’ve encountered these past 52 years of artistic life have always created “despite” their issues, not because of them. As with extreme tinitus to a musician or mental health concerns to any one of us, these are annoying asides to the quest to create, not catalysts or drawbacks.
To an essay entitled: 10 Behaviours People Find Condescending - (presented in LinkedIn on February 15, 2020 from the website: Entrepreneur)
I offer this response:
More often than not, the behaviours described in this essay (when they are actual negatives) are basically rudeness born of a lack of upbringing or the consequences of a social integration gone bad.
(Note: I will not comment on those points made which are obviously basic social no-nos. Why? They are universally accepted as such.)
Rather I will refer to those areas within this essay which caught my eye. From the very beginning, phrases such as: “everyone knows” are presented as statements of fact. Generic comments, in general, (no pun intended) cause my ‘wary radar’ warning signs to flash wildly. Why? The conclusion is immediate: the contents of the essay presented are not reflections of scientifically based information on social behaviors. In essence, pointing a finger at, under a generic “everyone knows” position, is always an assumption of grandiose proportions.
Also, making emotive statements such as: “if you walk away from another person feeling worse about yourself, there’s ‘a good chance’ you’ve been condescended to. . . .” is, again, a dangerous assumption. If accepted as a statement of probability, is it then possible to assume that there is an equal and opposite chance that ‘we could be somewhat, possibly, maybe, very, if not overly sensitive?'
We do live in an era of blended innuendos - where bullying insensitivities, micro- aggression sensitivities, victimhood, authoritarianism, right and left wing extremist actions and reactions strive to cohabit. All of these must be taken into account if we seek to establish credible terms of reference re human actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings.
The first described example of a behaviour considered by "people" to be condescending is: Explaining things that people already know.)
Why is it we assume another person knows we already know something? How do we conclude that their insistence on informing us of what we already know is a 'calculated' annoyance? How is it that we automatically determine this behaviour to be condescending? From an opposite viewpoint, is it possible. . . that it is we who are incapable of differentiating this purportedly calculated annoying action from the passion / awe being expressed (as in the reference example re Mandela)?
The very idea we assume someone is saying or doing something purposefully,without objective proof, is both arrogant and condescending. Does this not automatically self-elevate our perceptions of who and what is actually superior/annoying - and this should be the baseline for all?
The idea that everyone can read cues is a rather generalized expectation. It assumes we are all knowledgeable in the monstrously huge realm of psychology - and this in an area and time in which there is less and less direct contact among humans due to our digital attachments and virtual reality proclivities.
The generalized statement: “Anyone with a shred of self-awareness” falls into the generic category (again) of assumptions; if not superiority of perception. Self-awareness, self esteem, etc. are seriously important considerations - not because they actually are but rather because they are “in” - they determine who "fits in" and who doesn't. . .
What, in our era, is self awareness, self-esteem? It is the determination of who and what we are and how we should be based upon the determination of others within our society.
This is more a submissive consumerist stance than it is a valid self worth evaluation. It ignores, if not denies, the importance of self-respect which is a more accurate measure of our true worth as it usually would stem from a hopefully rigorous personal review of our own capacities and determinations in light of personal and societal commitments.
As for #7 : Demeaning nicknames like “Chief” or “Honey”
Yes. Chief may be a guy word and honey and sweetie a gal thing. . . That these are terms deemed to be condescending and/or dismissive is a rather dubious contention.
So, I'll stick to my primary argument. I remain wary of phrases such as "most people" know this or know that. Why? Because, at best, it is a rather flawed assumption and, at worst, a conceited perception. And objectively or factually, "most people" means nothing.
More to the point. I've experienced being called sweetie and honey many times in both my personal and professional travels. It is an endearment which I would consider odd in certain areas of the world and "oddly missing" in other circumstances. Such "different" verbal signs of recognition and acceptance are part and parcel of specific environments and how we perceive them is often a matter of our own over-sensitivities to, judgments of or reactions to "difference".
That being shared, I would suggest we should never determine such endearments as negatives in geographic areas such as the south of the United States or Bermuda (especially in regards to women calling someone “honey” or "sweetie"). We just may get our snooty duffs kicked out of the offended areas for “assuming” a superior perception of a warmth which at times openly flows from the heart of one motherly person to their closest relatives and at other times is a warm welcome or response to a stranger considered worthy.
Cultural practices are not universal and should not be treated as such by those who consider their viewpoints holier-than-thou. And in our era, where many cultures share common ground, we should be careful as to how we impose "our " considered superior communication habits.
Essentially, an evident “judging” of men who do this wrong or women who do that wrong is, in and of itself, an arrogant assumptive stance; a “they” should change their ways attitude, born within a realm of anxious perfectionist times. As previously stated, this is a dangerous proposition. It implies (appears to be) a demanding of others of that which we would never impose upon ourselves.
A Venice Evening - watercolour & gouache - 8" x 16" - 2019 - $1100. framed - SOLD
Une soirée vénitienne - aquarelle et gouache - 8" x 16" - $1100. encadrée - VENDU
Venice evenings are rarely the same. The colours of the hazed skies vary from aqua ro pinks and yellows and oranges and warm and cool greys. And the wters empty themselves as the sunsets bring on early and later dinners and the hordes of visitors and resilient Venetians head home for the day - before the evening events begin anew. . . To paint Venice is a privilege few are lucky enough to experience and be blessed by. What a painter misses here is not the fact that they have missed painting the variations of each season. No, what a painter is agrieved by is that he or she has not painted every day of their lives here. Thus the miracle of arriving in Venice and the drama upon leaving Her.
Les soirées vénitiennes varient, varient tellement qu'il n'y en a pas unes qui se copies les unes sur les autres. Elles sont toutes colorées de leur propre éclat, de leurs propre robes de pourpres et de bleues et de jaunes et/ou de violets éclatants - autant que par les manteaux gris chauds et froids des ciels qui s'échangent les fourrures de leurs nuages comme les soies variées des soleils. . . Peindre Venise est un privilège. Ce qu'on oublie c'est que les saisons ne comptent pas. Ce sont les humeurs de Venise en tout temps qui sont richement valables comme sujet de toiles. Ce sont ses couleurs, son architecture, ses gens, mais surtout ses humeurs qui y donnent une richesse sans pareil. L'arrivée à Venise est un miracle. La laisser une perte dramatique pour l'âme.
Bouillie, marée montante de la rive sud, Bermudes - aquarelle et encre - 8" x 16" - 2019 - $1100. encadrée
Incoming, High Tide, South Shore, Bermuda - watercolour & Ink - 8" x 16" - 2019 - $1100 framed
Le mouvement, le son des vagues, lorsqu'elles s'avancent, s'imposent, s'étale, s'étendent et disparaissent entre nos orteils pour en laisser une autre se déployer à nos pieds. . . Un ciel qui se transforme, une surface parfois rugueuse, acharnée, parfois lisse et soyeuse. On ne sait jamais ce que la mer veut nous dire. Tout ce qu'on sait c'est qu'elle raconte toujours, à perte de vue, formant toujours une autre inspiration, un autre rêve. Il n'y a rien de plus ennivrant que de créer sur place, devant elle, son portrait;, son portrait d'aujourd'hui.
There is nothing like it - the ever-evolving shapes and movements, and colours, and sounds of waves crashing over the sands, bringing in, pushing in an incoming tide, imposing itself further and further up upon the shore; ruffling and rolling the grains of coral sand and shell fragments before it. And all the while the ultramarine and cobalt skies dapppled in clouds and sunlight oversee the transformation of the green-blue watercolours of the mother lode. How privileged I am to sit and sketch and render it all - at least today's version of it.
Pas tout est bateau, eau et canal à Venise. Il y a tout de même les Vénitiens. Et ceux-ci, parfois, se permettent une distraction, une modernisation des rencontres, des partages. Pendant près d'une heure, ces deux bonshommes m'ont permit de réaliser une esquisse assez avancée - éventuellement terminée au studio à Ottawa.
Not everything in Venice is a boat, a canal, water. There are also Venetians, young and old. And some allow themselves, as we do, the luxury of a modern version of sharing and camaraderie. During nearly an hour, the total concentration of these two boys allowed me the privilege of rendering them - almost completing a full sketch before they moved on. I completed the drawing in Ottawa.
Off the north shore of Bermuda last year, i fell in love with this little gem of a boat, swaying on nary noticeable waves, and gently flying its colours proudly. All that was missing was its paper-hat coiffed captain shouting pirate "ho,ho,hos" and "avasts". The stories boats do tell. . .
Un tout petit bateau canard danse doucement sur les vagues quasi invisibles. Affichant ses couleurs au brises intermittantes, il me fait rêver, imaginer son bout de chou de capitaine au chapeau tricorne en papier, debout sur le coq. . . épée chancellante. . . menaçant l'ennemi au large. Que de rêves nos imaginations soulèvent lorsqu'on admire un souvenir d'enfance.
Talent acquisition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What the hell is that???
“As the pressure to identify talent intensifies, companies need to address a more holistic view of every stage of the candidate’s journey, from candidate to applicant to new hire. Hiring is too important to get wrong, so bringing data together to predict where to find top talent, and which individuals will be successful within the organization is critical???????”
Really??? This is how we are obsessively "hiring" people today - as if the world will fall apart if we dare to let one decision go awry? No wonder everyone is becoming anxious and depressed.
Talent is an innate capacity to be enthralled by and to practice at a high level - in a specific subject which baffles many others who are not as "talented" or bedazzled by that activity or interest. Basically, talented people are different from others who are not. And THAT is what makes the a good fit in any organization. They have unique perspectives to offer instead of being just another "same" cog in a boringly irrelevant wheel.
Talent aquisition? Are we not, rather, talking skill acquisition here? Eerily, it doesn't seem so.
The solution in the discovery of who are the the talented individuals among us who are best equipped to fulfill a certain "corporate or group think task" is to drop the purported "accuracies" of modern mindshift determinants. Why? They seem to only pinpoint the bad boy concerns of a "clique mentality", those bordering on a fascist obsession for sameness, for oneness, for homogeneity - today's requirements for acceptance and OKness - euphemistically describing a person as one who "fits in".
Basically, today we are increasingly destroying the diversities, the differences required to assure progress - and we increasingly do this through a virtual reality pinpointing of who the "right fit" persons are to work within "our" common goal environment - as if all co-workers should be clones of each other in order to be acceptable and, as a result, productive!
(Shades of the 19th century concept of assembly-line worker bee modules and models.)
Such attitudes "fit" right in with our contemporary "management beliefs" that everything must be quantitatively assessed rather than qualitatively measured. No longer is the goal excellence, but rather the impossibility (illusion?) of "perfection". And ironically, we don't seem to take much of a measure as to whom this right fit profits most.
What we fail to see is that selecting only those who "fit in" encourages a densification of homogeneity which eventually eliminates the very possibility of difference, of problem solving, of creativity, of progress, of success. Group think based on "purported" scientifically refined workforce data too often ends up creating an illusion of security through a specific think block committee mindset which eventually (in most cases) destroys the collective goals inherent in a specific purpose orientation.
In the end, we are screwing ourselves daily to achieve illusions rather than goals. We’re like obsessive “clean-nuts” needing to make sure we are perfectly sanitary in everything we do in order to be perfectly healthy (which is impossible) and who then only end up being “perfectly ill” because perfection only causes allergies, asthma and other environmentally based diseases born of the illusory perfect "state of being".
In the past 20 years I’ve seen fully functional, incredibly diverse and successful corporations go under because of the "viral importation" of such a mind set. - this need to render perfectly homogenous (i.e.: the same as "moi") that which is wondrously diverse. (Remember when everyone needed to have an MBA?) Take a look at some of those companies which put their futures in the hands of a “highly intelligent those” who may have had the brains to get their "papers" but had no wherewithal to implement the knowledge acquired. Like Midas, in the end they destroy everything they touch - for the sake of the sought after gold.
Even very recently, I have been witness to organizations increasingly eliminating everyone who, though highly skilled, functional and successful, are suddenly deemed to not “fit in” based on algorithm determinants of a more holistic (?) (read: pseudo-scientific) approach to "personnel selection".
Result? A swift decline into irrelevance. (Some of these institutions, after only a few months of implementing that “just right hiring process”, have already begun sliding out of view into oblivion.
If it sounds like we are becoming robots. . . We are. We obey the latest dictate when in fact to survive and thrive we should disobey more often.
Just because someone fits in, in a populist sort of “data” formulation way, does not guarantee success of any kind in any area. Humans are much more complicated than that. and the day we poo-poo that truth is the day we become submissive to our own ignorance about the wonders of being alive and creative and motivated. As in portraiture, to create "the just right face", each part must play its unique role, all the while seamlessly interconnecting which each other part. A cheek is never a nose, is not an ear, is not a chin. Yet, without each difference, a "successful" face can never be made whole.
Being neither good nor bad, swift nor slow,
time passes. . .
Simply being what it is. . . Time.
No matter the qualities attributed to it,
time cares not to be friend or foe,
helpful or hindering;
passing as it does over,
and through us;
unseeing and unseen.
And this it does,
regardless of any and all efforts to clock it,
worship it, suppress it,
ignore it, use it or abuse it.
It frustrates our need to analyse it,
relegate it, consume it.
Whilst ignoring our neurotic cravings
to control it, manage it,
equate it, subjugate it.
And though we try to buy,
rent or sell time - to stop it, watch it,
conserve it... all is for naught.
Though we take “time off”
or try to “make good time” or think
we make "good use of time" . . .
All is irrelevant. All is in vain . . . and vain?
For time ignores the existence
of all things, all plans, all beings.
It is its own void. . . and not,
It is its own reality, enamoured of nothing more
than its own virtual existence;
master of its own creation,
evolution and potential,
denial or disappearance.
The “times” we hold dear are not
as they pass unsympathetically,
even as our fantasies concoct warm memories of their passing. . .
Moreover, we do not,
though we think we do,
It is not ours to hold,
nor ours to tell.
Time is amoral.
It communicates with no one and,
even as we speak of it,
it shamelessly ignores us.
our quaking demise
nor giving value
to life’s quivering breaths,
it cares not
whether we are or are not.
Have been or ever will be.
is to pass through time
as it passes through us. . .
To exist is to worry over it
but to never “know” it;
just of it.
And through all of this,
Time will always be
that most famous of accused:
the source of our ineptitude,
our fears of solitude, our griefs and angst
Yet, how can we blame time
when we fail to see it
for what it has always been
and forever will be...
nothing more than the figuration
of conceptually timing
the gradual disintegration
of our every atom
as it, in turn, effaces itself,
diminishes itself, negates itself
from the very essence of its passage,
and ours . . .
Time is but a figment of our imaginings. . .
an enigma which never pretends to be
nor has it ever promoted itself to be
anything more than what it is :
Bernard Poulin - (1966 - edited 1982)
Within the 52 years of painting professionally, there were 46 of those where Bermuda played a major role in my achievements. I created 268 artworks of Bermuda and its people. 118 were portraits the rest were of the land and sky and waters surrounding the islands. Still is a place of wonder.
To thank Bermuda for its never-ending welcome throughout these years, on July 14 of 2019 I donated 4 paintings to the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
Bernard Poulin. . . I paint, I draw, I write