Friday, July 27, 2007

Miseries comes in they say

My car refuses to start for the first time since I bought it and so this morning eventhough I had a day off I could not send my son to school, Karim got lucky again an so he sleeps in instead. I have only ten ringgit in my wallet and that rules out getting my car fixed for now unless i go around begging for help from my cousins here. I had intended to go to a function at the USM where there is a sort of seminar for artists -resented free for artists at the Muzuem there but again my fortune eludes me. So here i am doing next to what I can think of as being a creative act instead of crying ove what is the inevitable. Payday and my final working day is not til next week Tuesday how I survive til then is in the handfs of my Maker the Giver of Pain and Pleasure to Whom I have submitted my destiny eversince I decided that my life has been a long chain of wasted events and episodes with no depth of truth worthy of an intelligent human, I was merely existing for the sake of filling space and time and have practically no control over my own fate, like tall grasses swaying to the breeze.
The horrors of not being gainly employed has already began to sink its claws into my heart as I sat this morning on the steps to my house and contemplate what next. I watched the same old ladies as they go about doing what they do to fill their time and space, my neighbours, I am beginning to see myself in them doing the same when all is said and done, waiting for death. As I have said before my mind has the tendency to see the worse of scenarios before they happen, its one of my negative traits among the many. It is one of those habits that I have for years been struggling to eliminate from my mind's database but has little success with. One of my practicess eversince I discovered it some twenty years ago is the art of auto-suggestion or a sort mental hypnosis whereby i will recite these lines to myself every night before bedtime and morning upon wakening.
"I am WHOLE, PERFECT,STRONG,POWERFUL,LOVING,COMPASSIONATE,HARMONIUOS and HAPPY AND I CANDO WHAT I WILL, INSH'ALLAH,(god WILLING). I added the last words just incase my ego gets the better of me. This practice came from a book I used to carry around with me called the "Master Key" by Frank Haarnel. It was loaned to me by my friend Rahim whem I was 19 years of age and I later took it with me to the US. The practice I held on to must have worked for me for better or for worse as my life has proven so over the years, I can safely say that I have lived beyond my wildest dreams often times for I have been to places and done those things that many would just dream about or watch others do on TV. I have met great teachers and made exciting friends who life had shed lights upon my own, I have experienced events that shook the entire cities like the San Frqncisco earthquake of 1989 and the the Sarin Gas attack of the underground subways of Tokyo by the AUM Shirinkyo Group in 1995, I watched the Makushin Volcano spewed dust into the skies of the Aleutian from a four sitter plane, I have experienced what it was like to fish for hHalibuts in the Berring Sea.
I have walked beneath the clear skies of the Andes Mountains of Colombia and Equador and I have celebrated the Gawai Hantu along with the Ibans of the Five tribes of Head humters of Borneo, drunk for three days and night from rice wine.
But today I am not feeling all that mighty anymore as I face my long time buddies the prophets of doom and gloom like monkeys riding on my back, like dead carcasses of the Albatros hanging like a curse around my neck. If I give in to these feelings sooner or later I will drown and I will drag all those around me to the bottom. My car not starting has set off my second bad luck since learning of the refusal to renew my contract at work what will be the third negative vibe that will seal my fate? I am WHOLE, PERFECT,STRONG....SO HELP ME, YA ALLAH!

Friday, July 20, 2007

All Good Shit Must Come to an End

Well I would have to say that loosing my job with JRS is not a total disaster as Ihave just about had enough of sitting around and playing with myself trying to figure out how to keep my body and mind busy despite the serene and tranquil environment I am located at. As anyone of my age would testify lossing the job and the prospect of finding another decent one would be short of a miracle and having two kids still in school and having to make sure that the rent and car patment are made monthly will all add up to what turns a man of good faith and intellect into a terrorist. Just about, as this is an ongoing investigation into the factors that spawn terrorists or rebels in answer to the former Prime Minister's question into this matter, like What makes a Terrorist? What pissed off every decent hard working caring and creative individual into a demon of high calibre? Well I have pondered upon my own life and reflected upon every episode of thus so far arse kicking events that have led myself into and I have come a little closer to the answer and it is not and has nothing to do with politics,religious fanaticism or socio-economic causes, it has to do with every one of these factors and then some.
At this age of mine it dont really matter one way or another how I end or where I end but I am sure not going to take all the crap thrown at me throughout my adult life with my hands tied behind my back. What makes a terrorist is one very angry man performing his last angry scream towards every injustice and uncaring and inconsiderate acts thrown against him by the Almighty Himself, not man but the bloody God, in whose image he was created. I cannot blame my felow man for all the wrong nor will I keep on whipping myself for the mistakes I have made throughout my life, but enough is enough, I have not walked the path climbed the mopuntains threaded the forest in vain to get where I am and like bloody hell if I am going to exit this existence with my tail between my legs. Yes this is what it takes to become a terrorist and then some now all one need is to find a cause.
Alright this is what a normal reaction of my mind whenever I am confronted with another major change in my life, it goes on a panic spin creating for iutself a worse case scenario and if I had been on drugs or have been having a drinking problem, the scenarion mightly like manifest itself into some pretty nasty, negative and even destructive act one scene one on the richter scale of human psyche. But being older though less wiser has its check and balance when it comes to making radical and unjustified moves that would affect your loved ones or those who look up to you for support. Even if one can impail one's soul onto the crucifix of mayhem one cannot deny those one has a hand in bringing into this life thier chance at gatting a better crack at this life. As one good friend once said, lets not sweat over the little things in life or turn every setback into cancer case and all things in life are little things.
So what the hell am I trying to tell myself ? Why am I rambbling away on this Friday morning while my children are in school and i have just had a good mee goreng for breakfast taken a good crap and now on my way to the University to see what I can gather in terms of getting my works on show? Yep! The show must go on... the only form of self justification left for verrifying my existence lest it be called wasted. They say its the road to the top that matters when one is climbing a mountain the top is just the end of a very long and tedious journey filled with surprises and disappointment, the journey and not the peak is the goal but the peak is conquered, the prize the end. For every journey there is a beginning and there is a middle and an ending, how excitng, how wonderful, how glorious the journey is, is entirely up to the traveller and the traveller who could turn every boring trip every negative episode every failiure into a success, into story worth reading is he whose life is well lived. Life is a blank canvasse ready to be filled with all the colors of the rainbow it is in how we apply the paint that is our style, that is how we live our life. No man can force us to use the colors we do not want to nor make us draw what is against our nature, no man can make us dream any different from what we have already envisioned in our minds, but it is for us to fill this canvasse with our own hands and creative juices, with our blood sweat and tears as we trudge towards the peak of our individaul existences.
I will scream my last scream when the time comes and it will rattle the mountains and raise the tsunamis, it will be heard far into the heavens and down into the sixth level of hell or call me not a man, created in the AlMighty's image.Damn if I am merely going to fade away from this life without leaving behind me my final cut!

Friday, July 13, 2007

False Pride

My experience meeting with the National Laureatte Artist, Dato' Syed Ahmad Jamal formerly the Director General of the National Gallery in Kuala Lumpur whose works I have seen here and there and whose life is pretty much obscure to me is very enlightening. The artist who inaugurated the opening of the Penang International Printmaking exhibition at the Dewan Seri Pinang or the the Penang National Art Gallery was it seemed to me a little exhausted physically and had a hard tome delivering his speach.
The show itself was a vewry good effort at trying to bring International Printmakers to the Malaysian Art scene as there was a good enough representation from all over the Globe with pieces that vareid from Woodcuts to modern graphical printing techniques that utilizes the computer dexterity with manipulating the printing medium to produce excellent prints that captures the imagination. But I still enjoy the subtle beauties founfd in the Litho prints and the etchings and aquatints. I di not see much of these and not a one drypoint or mezzotint. Most of the works I saw was not anything that I would consider as par excellent whether it was in the subject matter or the techniques used, I have seen master printers in my life at some of the most obscure places such as the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay , such works as done by Timothy Josephs nnd my mentor the late Mr. Clarry Nelson Cole. The intaglio prints of Clarry's works was among the International Collection of Prints from all over the world that was part of the Smithsonian collection being shown at major cities around the world. His works had such a surrealistic aura about them that they were almost spiritually alive. Clarry Nelson Cole was an Art proffessor from Sierra Leone who was teaching at the UWGB when I was attending the college. Clarry was made an honorary citizen of Texas for his exemplary dedication to print making.
Clarry opened my passion for printmaking and we would spend from morning till the closing time bent over our plates polishing, scrubbing, rocking and watching nervously as the plates were taking an acid bath or how they prints would turn out as we pulled it off the press. We were lost in our own worlds most of the the time leaving eachother alone as we stare into the grains or burrs on the surface of the copper plates after a good amount of the process of rocking the plate. I was most into mezzotint as I love the sense that I am working upon a field of gold as the burrs caused by the rocker blade was set ablazed against a candle light. I could see myself running in this field of blazen gold with my hands flung out and grazing the fine gold strands like I once did while running through a rice field when I was a child. To form an image on the plat one has to flatten those wreas that will reject the ink when ready for printing. In essence like most prinmaking processes one has to be good at drawing the images in reverse. The subletlest form of art is found is the process of printmaking where the printmaker and his process of creating the print becomes one and the print produced is testimonial to his acheivement of this one spiritedness between mind and matter.
I enjoy mono=type printmaking technique as it allows me to create freely without too much technical involvement that often makes it almost impossible to pour out my creative energy. Mono printing is a technique that is about the most basic form of printmaking which can be exploit for those who are impatient but totally and passionately involved with what he does...I am a very impatient creator. I was informed of this by one of the instructors at the Miyagi Art Museum in Sendai where I had spent almost three years engrossed into mostly printmaking and Japanese Black ink paintings on Hand made papers. These three years was about the peak of my creative endeavors throughout my life. I was most creatively alive when I was living in Japan and Printmaking was ozzing out of me that even my Japanese instructors were awed by it to allow me to use their facility freely with alot of help given if and whenever I needed. Most of my best pieces were given away to my nephews and nieces simplr because I could not afford to give them anything most expensive at least in fiscal terms. They may not value it as such but to me I gave them the best for safe keeping.
I saved yet some for myself to be brought here for any possiblitility of having a show someday at anyone of the Galleries here but Allah would not permit me my glory as they ended up being missing along with a few of my best acrylic and oil paintings. I felt the sadness and the anger at the loss when I discovered it but now I only am angry simply because they had not been able to be shred with others who aspire to become great prinmakers here in Malaysia, and Ye I am among the best in this country after having viewed what representation of an Internatinal prinmaking show is like to day I know deep down my loss of those pieces is not my loss alone. Those pices carried the information i had collected for the purpose of teaching others if and when I am given the opportunity to, but as I said earlier Allah has not given Hu's Grace on this.
Among my favorite printmakers down the Art Historical figures East and West are Goya and his Lithos, Durer' and his etchings, Dore' and Hokusai and Utamaro, Hamaguchi and Clarry Nelson Cole. Printmaking was what brought closest to my spiritual self, in prinmaking I touched the unknown n myself often at times when I least expect while in the process of preparing a plate or inking one, or while rubbing off the excess ink from the burrs of a mezzotint plate to reveal the outlines of the images to be exposed finally. In the silence of the studio or listening to the background music from a cheap radio or an insignificant converstaion going on across the room suddenly I am transported into another dimention when my blood becomes the ink and flows on to the plates spread otu evenly to cover its surface the I remove it slowly like I am wiping my tears of long time hidden sorrows lock within my soul a sense of release would settle over me after it was all completed and I would feel awaken like from a sleep and WALLA!! if it all goes well a print is brought into light.
Throughout my years in the US and in Japan I had printed hudreds if not thousands of prints as I sometimes ended sleeping in the print studios when the nights grew late and the time to close was up but due to some good friends like in the security guards, I was allowed to stay dack and left alone with my works. Most of my creations were given away to close friends and and benifectors who supported my lifestyle when I was too busy to take care of myself. As I said before I could not afford to give anything less than a piece of my soul created through the processes whatever I was working on at the time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Mantainence

The book by David Persig about his motorcycle trip across the North-Central States of Minnesotta to Oregon and California is what has been my reading material for the past week and it has been not a very smooth reading as I have expected. The book is too deep into heavy analytical research over something as simple as the whole idea about 'Quality' sometimes is too boring for my shallow mind to follow. Although there is alot of well thought out ideas about the sense of what is Art and Science's relationship to eachother and how to approach the act of working on one self as one would approach on working on a motorcycle is a bit Zennish, I am a little bit disappointed perhaps because i got lost in all the author's ramblings and i was expecting to read something of the nature of his travels in relationship to his son. I had spent many times visiting the author's son's grave site at Green Gulch Farm located on a hill slope over looking the the highway at Star Route 1 in Sausalito Carlifornia. The site is also where Alan Watts has his grave marker next to Chris's. Chris was mugged and killed in San Francisco I was told if I was not mistaken he was sixteen or seventeen years of age then.
The scene at work does not look too good for I might be getting laid off next month if rumors has it were true. Offcourse my mind has already started spinning itself into a turmoil conjuring the worse of case scenarios if and when i am out of work. The reason I am told by one or two persons who was present at the meeting of department heads is that i am too old for the job and there are an abudant supply of young Indoneasian students who has just arrived from Bali who need something to occupy their time with. Life sucks they say but you cant go blaming the Indons for every job lost for the locals or the very minimal salary that an average Malysian gets as he has no bargaining power against the cheaper labor force provided by the foreign workers. Foreign workers keep their job as they do not question their bosses' integrity nor do they dare tell their bosses to take the job and shove it, foreign workers are like indented slaves who short of suck their bosses .... to keep their jobs. The system whereby the Resort hires students under the guise of them getting their practical training done here is a very lucrative venture that all resort operator should look into as it pays more than one way for the Operators. Its cheap and its makes perfect sense when you can get very young adults fresh out of college to do the jobs which normally would have been done by expensive and not so easily managed local workers. And the institution that sends their students to be 'trained ' would even be paying for the cost of training. But who gives a damn, so long as the ssystem works and everyone is happy why not? It will come to an end sometime when local Malaysian youths finds onedya that their jobopportunities is being syphoned from underneath their feet byt the smart operators or the fact that they lack all the basic training which they should have been afforded by the very people who manage these facilities. Where would an average Malay youth find a good training ground these days other than those run by the government? I am talking about a Malay youth and not a Malaysian youth.
It is pretty scary watching the scenario being laid out for the future of this country in terms of human conflict in the making and the former Prime minister is right we are presently still sitting on a time bomb and worse. Malaysia prides herself in the fact of being a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society only the number of different ethnic groups has double of trippled in the last decade to include the foreign workers from countries like Indonessia, Bangladesh, Burma, India and China, Vietnam and God knows where else or who else. We have a multi-ethnic time bomb slowly broiling under the veneer of our exitence and we are in a state of denial about such an ogre. I watched the TV one evening where a lady politician was lamenting about this issue and the fact that crimes and a host of other societal woes are being caused by the infusion of foreign workers into our own community over a very long period of time some of these froeign workers are settlers here and have grown roots deeper than anticipated. But we are a plural society and a tolerant one and hell, foreign labors is cheap and they dont ask too many stupid questions or not turn up for work whenver they wish, they dont talk back and they are able and available for anything and everything.
So one cannot blame foreign workers for loosing one's job opportunity they got to eat too and they are not the ones who decides if you should go or stay or if your children are trained to handle manual labors or not. When the time comes they will leave the country when or how, hell thats up to if and when the money runs out or the government crack down on them for whatever illegal activities they get themsdelves into till then why worry? Just move on look for another job after all this is your country there is plenty for you to do if not why would they need to hire more foreign workers? Blame it on your bosses! Enough said for now as it is let us see if we get censored or there is a knock on the door in the middle of the night.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Funny how I thought all the while that the DVD I had borrowed from Isabel was the movie Apocalypse Now with Marlon Brando in it, the classic Vietnam war biproduct in the theaters. Well it turned out to be a pleasant surprise as my daughter was trying to convince me that it was not an old movie but a recent production and the directed by Mel Gibson no less. Off course I did not know this either untill the credits came after the movie. I was shocked to say the least and felt myself transported perhaps like Joseph Conrad, in the Heart of Darkness where horror and innocence coexist as a means of routine survival. From the movie I had a good glimpse of understanding the nature of 'fear' and how it can work for or against one.
The movie was very well done in every aspect of artistic as well technological production and the actors were real as realistic as can be, the movie was almost like an anthropological documentary of a native tribe of bygone era depicting the life of the Mayas or perhaps the Incas and their sacrificial rituals. What made such a strong impact upon me about the movie was that I was not prepared for it or I had no idea whatsoever to expect from the beginning, no preconceived idea what it was going to be about having assumed that it was a movie about the Vietnam War. Mel Gibson surpassed himself again like he did in 'Braveheart'. It is good to discover that nomatter how far into the teconological realm we have ventured to create an added dimension to our so called reality there is still the ability for someone to create out of the ordinary and make it a virtual living historical feature. The movie'300' was perhaps a little zealous in a politcal sense of the West domination over the East syndrome perhaps with the intention of collecting psychological mileage over the masses but the movie itself was quite well done in the millitary perspective where the few faced the multitude and brought the mighty monarch to his knees all because of pride and arrogance.