Thursday, August 30, 2007

Great teachers and friends

The experience I had with my Gayong Instructor while practically living with the family helped to groom me for my spiritual future as a Muslim, however in the years ahead i learned about why he had been reluctant to be the one who initiated me into the spirtual side of the martial arts, I had no religious discipline. I became agnostic who challenged the Creator by pointing my finger at Him, or cursed His name for having created me and caused all the crap to happen to me for no good reason. I took a 360 degrees turn and headed for damnation after i left the East Coast of Terengganu. I hated everything about my life and family by the time I left secondary school and as soon as i found a job and was able to buy a motorcycle I scooted out of the state. The last thing my teacher asked me in front of the rest of the martial art students was, What did i ever do to you?, when he learned that I was having an affair with his oldest daughter who was two years older than I was. I felt like a bastard then but today i can only understand it was just me. It was who I was and still am. Incorrigible!
I had a couple of great teahers and frieds who helped shape my life later on while attending the UNiversity of Green Bay, Wisconsin when I moved to the United States. They were instrumental in getting me to become an artist. One of them was a gentleman who was a computer sales man for IBM who took me into his home and in his own way kept from getting into too much trouble than I really could have been. I used to live in his basement with his sons who were then also students at the University. Mr.C.Sule and I became closer friends than I was with his children through whom I had met him and as time went on shit happened when I introduced hin to one of the waitresses at a restaurant I was a frequent customer. He decided to fall in love with the lady and the rest was history. I was accused by his children for being a home breaker and my relatioship with the family came to a bitter end. The wife and the children never forgave me especially when their parents divorced. I left Green Bay after my gradutaion from the University and headed for Alaska. Chuck as I used to call him left his IBM job and took up professional photography a hobby that i had helped talk him into when we were hanging out together. He seemed contented when I last met him, free to do what he wanted instead of taking care of his grown up children. When I offered him my oppologies he brushed it off and told me that it was the best thing that happened to him having met me.
There was my landlord Leon P. Lodl who I might have talked about earlier in my writings cannot rmember anymore after having wrote this blog over the years. However Leon or Lee as I called him was a bachelor whose life was a bachelor's dream and when I was living at his farm house on Humboldt Road in Green Bay I was indoctrinated into the life of wine, women and music, for Leon was a a perfect gentleman who loved classical and Jazz music, who dated elegant ladies and worked weekends on his church up north in Michigan turning it into a ski lodge. Having been much younger than he was I was inflienced by his style and his take on life. We would shoot the breeze by the fireplace through the Wisconsin winter when snow would pile up to six feet high along the Humboldt road making leaving the farm almost impossible. We'd read books and discuss philosophy and shared our thoughts on art and music and drinl good wine and ate great steaks and mushrooms which Leon was an expert at making. Come weekends we would drive up north to work on his church.
The late Bill Prevetti, Mike Kazar and Clarry Nelson Cole, they are all three gone now, were my art instructors at the University, however they were also friends who treated me like I was special. I was often invited to their homes and most of my art materials were through their generousity. It was what they impressed upon me as man to man that I valued most, their thoughts and philosohies, ther beliefs and dreams which they admitted every so often that they seldom shared with others that made me felt special and taught me to think about who I was. These were highly respected individuals in the Green Bay Community for their years of dedication towards the art education at the campus.
In Alaska I met one or two great individuals who helped shape my life while i fishing in the Aleutian Ilses. One such individuals was a pilot who flew a Cessna plane as a delivery service for the Aleut community delivering goods from island to island and would take me along for the 'beer runs' as he called it for company. I learned alot through our conversations while in the air or sitting at deserted makeshift runways waiting for someone to claim the delivery. Dwight Blackburn had flew all over the Baring Seas delivering passengers and groceries to small Aleut communities for many years and he had many tales to tell about the Aleutians and I was a willing listener. But most rewarding of these talks we had was his tips and advice on what i aught to do and not in order to survive the rough life of Alaska which I later applied to living anywhere I ended up. He taught me how to stand up to the big and ugly fishermen who were to him numbskulls underneath all their rough tough demeanor and how to not let them intimidate by breaking through this mask. He made me understand the Aleut mentality and how to tackle them instead of becoming their victim as I was allowing myself into becoming. Sammy, you are far more superior than ten of these Assholes so dont let them fuck with you, he would say. Dwight Blackburn gave me some of the most heart rending scenes that I would normally watch on National Geographic of Alaska from the Air. The small Cessna would fly us along side the tips of snow covered mountains and at one time a volcanoe that was spewing out mudlike clouds into the sky. I will never forget the feeling i had as we flew around the volcano in a complete circle close enough to see the red larva oozing out from its crater.
In San Francisco I met with many great minds especially at the SF Zen Center where I spent for almost two years as a Zen student. One of these individuals was my close friend David Carlson whose life before he joined the Zen community was a computer programmer for IBM and had helped installed the Bank of America Computer programes. David was one of a kind individual who was full of life and love for just about everyone he dealt with. He was very intelligent and was into everything thought provoking like the practice of Zen and Yoga or the interest in alternative lifestyles. We both got married at bout the same time and had our children within a few weeks of eachother. During those years raising our children David and i spent alot of time together at the Golden Gate Park where we would take our kids for their walks. David was a very good father and I was influenced by his ways and gentleness in dealing with children.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

All the Great teachers

It is rather ironic thaton the way here i was giving the spill to my daughter all about having self confidence as opposed to self doubts. However i did also informed her that this is one of my illnesses throughout my life and have been paying for it eversince. I tried to explain to her the Islamic teachings of remeberig who we are and the fact that we were put on this planet to be the rulers not the slaves, the masters not the servants, the Kaliphs for the Devine Ruler if omly we understood. It is easier said than put to practice but try it to our best capability we must esecially now that she has been informed at an earlier age. I lso tired to share with my practice of self motivation through auto-suggestion, the I AM WHOLE, STRONG, POWERFUL,....AND I CAN DO WHAT I WILL TO DO...ISHA'ALLAH, Which i have been practicing most of my adult life for what it is worth and I hope that it will shed some light for her perhaps in her adult life when the need or questions arises.
I had many great teachers growing up and one of them was my eldest brother who was also at oe time my English teacher in the secondary school. He did not talk to mee so much about life itself or provided much verbal motivation but he opened my eyes and senses through examples that he himself set. He was an achiever and excelled in just every activity he had put his mind to. He was the school's gym teacher, the disciplinarian fearedand resected by just about every student. His private life was a model I emmulated for thanks to him I got to taste Jazz, and read books that normally one would not get in the small town of Kuala Trengganu back then. he would buy all the DC and Marvel comics as they come out without fail and had they been kept till this day they would have cost a fortune as well as worth hell of alot more in the collector's market.The best times of my life growing up as a teenager was going to the movies with him, he loved to take my twin and I to the Chinese and Japanese action movies. I felt a sense of pride everytime we walk into the theater where in the small town everyone nkew who you are and we were 'adek Cikgu Razali' or Spike's brothers to his colleague. These were the good old days and i was blessed to have been raised by him as a teenager although there were times I had to pay the price when he was not too happy with my idiosyncracies as a teenager.
The next great person in my life whose ways and teachings had affected me was my martial arts instructor who was also back then in the sixties the head of the Religious Department for the state of Terengganu among his other posts. He was educated in England, a rare achievement in those days and was at one time or another was also the Districr Officer at one time another for the district of Kuala Brang. A very intelligent and highly respected individual whose peers included the Chief Mejistrate, the chief of Police and so on. I came to know these individuals quite personally because i had spent so much time beating them at the game of scrabble whic they enjoyed and I was vwery good at even as a teenager. I just listened offcourse and said very little, talked only when addressed to otherwise my job was to defeat them as best i could at time till the wee hours of the morning. It was at these scrabble tournaments that i learned about life as an adult, the dos and donts and about being a gentleman, spirituality, in short how to think like an well educated intelligent adult. No amount of education could have taught me this.
We called our martial arts instructor Pa'Cik Johan and he was formerly from Perak. Cik Johan taught us the Silat Seni Gayong, the Malay Art of Self Defence and the 'Gelangang' or Dojo was at the yard of his house which was a government quarters located by the sea at Batu Burok in Kuala Trengganu. Here i learned about Islam and the the Islamic myticism which involved spiritual rituals which were not commonly practiced among too many local Muslims themselves unless there was proper guidences. My experience of being given a spirit guide through my martial art instructor was an experience that I will never forget. This event took place in one of the rooms of Encik Johan;s home and the man who initiated the procceding was not Encik Johan but another of my isntructor who was a Tengku. Tengku Azmel was a wild character and was feared for his temper and the fact that he was a fighter who had no fear of anything or anyone so long as I had known him. He had accepted the resposibility to initiate me becuse Encik Abu Johan had had doubts about getting me involved into the spiritual side of the Silat Seni Gayong which demanded strong discipline in the religious sense and which I lacked without doubt.
After reciting certain verses from the Quran I ws told to empty my mind and my teacher stroke my hand asthough sending some energy into me in the process while he invoked names of his spiritual guides which I could not nake out. As soon as this was done I felt silence and darkness feel over me like i was in a vacuum. The sound of the telivision that was goint on in the living room next door was gone, I could not feel the floor beneath me, I was floating in darkness. There were about ten people sitting around me while this was happening and they were all tapping the tiled floor louder and louder and this loud slapping sound too was snuffed out. A diiferent sound came which sounded like the sharp whistle of a jet plane landing or what i thought was the TV next door going on the blink and it came right up to one side of my temple and ended with a snap that i felt like someone snapped the fingers close to my remple enought to feel it. Them I felt a tightennign up of my neck and shoulder areas and I felt like I was loosing control of my physical body as it began to stretch in every which way that i never knew i could do before. I felt every joints in my body popping especially my neck bones as my head finally started to spin sideways uncontrollably. Then as suddenly as it began it stopped dead and I was again in the dark limbo. Suddenly flashes of light began to pop out into my vision and i was staring at thinf I had never in my life seen before most of them although some i did recognized like my recently deceased mother and my grandmother in strange dresses. I felt tears runnimg down my cheeks I was crying out of sadness and regret for some reason watching these movie like flashes. then I need to clean my self and asked for a bucket of water. I could hear voices arguing about where to find the bucket and i saw a bucket behind a blues door and told them so and I washed myslef with the water when it came felt myself again returned to the room and the people around me calling to me asking if i am alright and so on.
I wrote this once in a class for Cutural Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay but it was dismissed as a made up fantasy by my professor back them, Thank you Daniel Rosenberg. There were teachers that I wished I had not met in my life too and this was one of them.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why is two of my last entries missing?

I rambled on for quite a lengthy nothing in the past few days however they seemd to have disappeared or was not posted as they should. Perhaps they were not meant to be as there was not much of great interest really they were just filling up empty spaces or killing time for the sake of justifying my existance. Justification as Lao Tzu once said , does not convince not to myself much less to anyoneelse. I keep telling myself that I need to keep to my practice no matter what the situation may be and to keep on creating my art as it is the only act that means anything at the moment, to be creative despite the feeling of depression setting in. Who am I kiddinbg? All the talk of being one with the Creator and being positive and not to let circumstances mopolize my thoughts is just another deeper illusion within an illusion, and it seems like this deep rooted Karma has kept me running in circles most of my life, its like weeding the garden with the weeds regrowing eachtime the job is completed.
Perhaps like the MIlarepa story this Karmic circle has a lesson to offer and untill the lesson is learned it will keep on manifesting. The Tibetan story of Milarepa who was responsible fo the killing of his entire families of relatives who were at a wedding and later repented invovled serving his Guru Marpa. As part of his repentance Marpa made Milarepa work very hard and one of these task was the building of a temple on top of the mountain. In then process marpa kept changing which mountain top he had Milarepa build this temple, Thus as soon as Milarepa had set about moving stones for the structures to the top of the mountain Marpa would arrive the next morning to tell him he had a chnge of mind and wanted all the rocks moved to another mountain top and this went on untilol MIlarepa broke down and had his awakening experience... something like that.
Whats the comparison here well I feel in someway I am like Milarepa who has been carrying my burden of rocks from one mountain to another only there is no Marpa to tell me otherwise. My art has never bought me anything materially that I can speak of but it has been the one thing that I have felt a positive about throughout my life and when I am facing my dark days or nights I can always turn to my sketchbook or canvasse and spend a few hours forgetting all the negativity that is haunting my mind. I know that when I am creating something no matter how insignificant my mind is somewhat free from entertaining anything destructive or loosing itself into a stupor in a limbo of never never land. I hate feeling like my time is wasted even for a minute whyen I am awake and often enough if nothing else i wuld sit Zazen or as many of my friends would say , he is doing Yoga. When I am lost in my sitting and my mind has found its center I often feel revitalized or recharged often followed by an inspiring thought or idea that would be the next task i would myself to, like writing this post.
I was at the USM Printing studio bright and early this morning wnet there after dropping my son off at his school. It was a decission I had to make between going righ home to continue my interupted sleep or go to the printmaking shop and do some work and I chose the later more out of a sense of justification rather than for the sake of art. But I felt the choice i made was neither right nor wrong as there was none to judge but me for had I chose to go back to bed there is no one who can make an issue about it for at 58 who gives a shit what others have to say about what i aught to do or not. Another need to justify myself and I might as well forget about who I am or what i have learned all these years, I will have not only let myself down but also all those good friends I have had in the US, in Japan and here in Malaysia. My journey tedious as it seems is about finding who I am or what I am and my retionship to my Maker and thus far all I have done kept on regressing. My doubts have increased about my own abilities and my own faith and my sense of being is as shaky as dry grass at the mercy of the breeze. I need a wake up call badly.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My mother said there will be days like this...

Decided to visit the USM Museum and check up on the transcript delivery from the unversity in Wisconsin which according to the Student clearinghouse has been sent on the 16th. of August. With my luck the letter most probably is sitting somewhere in the garbage can of the Post office after being opened and found that there is not much worth taking from it, or it could be at the Muzeum Director's desk and being held in ransome for some unknown reasons, it was not there when I checked for it. Bummer! But i opted to visit the Assistant Dean of the Arts faculty instead just to touch base and show him what I have done so far at the printmaking studio. He was not at his office so I sat in the lobby to take a break and read Depak Chopra's Knowing God, I had just borrowed the book from Hasnul the Meuzium Director.
Late last night i had watched 'The Matrix' by myself perhaps for the fifth or sixth times, my effort at trying to make sense out of the movies on a deeper level for it intrigues me almost at a spiritual level the question of 'Reality'. Although a work of science fiction the movie raised in me the questions that had long been nagging at the back of my mind, especially on how much control do i really have over my own destiny, why am I always feeling like I am at the mercy of some other higher authority and helpless most of the times to navigate my own course in life towards my own destination.
After having read Ahmed Hulusi, the Turk Sufi writer and his perspective on Islam and the modern sceintific views, I am beginning to have more Dharma Gates oppening in front of me for me to venture into but these gates seems to jump out at me from such diverse sources like finding this book By Chopra on Hasnul's book shelve. Although I have hardly began reading it the first few paragraphs has already seen how the author is struggling with calling God a He or she or It, which Hulusi had cleared by the use of the word 'Hu' to stand for Allah when a pronoun is needed. It does not seem important enough for Chopra to deal with the word God itself which all good printmakers would right away realize that if printed would appear as DOG in the final image on paper unless the word is reversed beforehand. But these are small matters where God is concerned and I highly bout that Hu would mind it that much because its the though that counts as the saying goes which reminded me next as to the phrase which Chopra uses hardly his own but acknoledged almost as his " to change the world you have to change yourself". Before I read his first book while i was in the US I came upon this saying by J.Krishnamurti in one of his books on 'toughts'.
Recently on a visit to malaysia Deepak Chopra charges 3000RM for a seat at his talk show which made me made my heart sank to the floor upon reading it in the news Papers. The first comment that hasnul made when I asked to borrow Chopras book was the fact that the author is a salesman, he knows how to make money with words and ideas better than anyone. Enough said about the guy or i will be accused of being a sour grape or worse sued by the India man! My thoughts for the day was triggered having watched 'Matrix' last night and the whole idea of man against machine is a very concerned topic for my mind of late. Movies like AI ( Artificial Intelligence) and even "The Terminator" for last few years since their debut on the screen spawned from Holy-Wood has raised some unsettling questions in my mind about the power of our collective creative thoughts hurling us into creating our own self destruction by creating into reality a bogeyman that can wipe the specie from the face of the planet.Movies like Aliens and Predators are becoming an accepted phenomena among our younger generations as though these creatures are not farfetched and in time can be part of our accepted reality to deal with in life , at for the later generations or Movie and Tv addicts. As Hulusi had spelled out these are part and parcel of our programming towards the final acceptance of the influences of Jins and Demons into our lives. However these characters are not as sinister or diabolical in their threat to man as the whole idea of the man against machine conjures. The mchine or artificial intelligence created by man is a whole lot threatening as it can be accepted logically and in this day and age of knowledge and computer based technology virtually nothing is sacred anymore where creation is concerned.
If I were to be the Devil himself or the Anti Christ hell bent on winning the souls of the children of Adam before the End of days where would I put myself stratigically? Holy-Wood, yessir! feed the minds of the minions on this planet with thoughts and ideas, choices, options and possibilities of what it is that is there for us humans, why or how and when are we ever to learn the truth about ourselves without loosing our souls in the process or as in the Matrix, forever existing in a dream created for us, existinf no better than slaves to some unknown and unseen manipulator. One of the causes of our suffering in this life the Buddha said is Ignorance the opposite of knowledge. The devil's greatest trick is to make us believe that he does not exist, 'The End of Days'.
It feels good to be able to offload these crap onto the blog otherwise they would just be a bunch of ramblings sitting in my head for the next who knows how long untill something else comes along with more tempting baits to hook my ever greedy mind. Much of what I have rambled about makes as little sense as a bad story line in a low budget movie but try to read between the lines every so often there is hidden the truth in there where your mind might be triggered to dwell upon for itself.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Green Bay, Wisconsin Revisited

Where to from here? I could have gone to the University and do more printing but I am also bound to end up jammed in the traffic congestion bevcause of the convocation going on there over the week end. Just got back taking my daughter to the Saint Vincent De Pauls second hand outlet where she loves to rummage for name brand blouses and pants, used off course. Took along one of my nephews and got him a nice pair of sports snickers that fit him perfectly and I got myself an apron for my printmaking. So the afternoon went after sending my son and his buddies to sleep over at one of their homes and tha was before I took my daughter to the thrifty store. Where to from here?

I would like to reflect a little over my past to Green Bay, Wisconsin where I first settled down after making the big move from Malaysia along with my former wife and my first born son. My son Nazri was about four months old then and he was born at the Asunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur on April the eighth of 1973. I was not present when he was born as I was hten working in Georgetown Penang for Hagemeyer trading Company as their Sales Executive for the NIvico and Matsushita departments depending on where or who needed my services more at the time. That morning when my wife had driven herself in our VW from Shah Alam where she was a resident lecturer to the Hospital and admitted herself to deliver the baby. My former wife was one gutsy lady from Stevens Point, Wisconsin who came to Malaysia as an exchange student and met me and decided to saettle down in Malaysia when our son decided to drop in on us unannounced.
We decided to get married right away when we learned of the gift we had given ourselves when having a great time one the beaches of Terengganu and Penang and the wedding took place at my Auntie's house on the junction of River Road and Sungai Pinang.My firends called it a shot gun wedding and we had a great time although it was not a grand show by a long shot. After the wedding for the next few months i was walking on air feeling on top of the world like nothing could bring me down and then he came and it was the cream of my existance, the peak of my young adult life. I had a good job with a bright future, and my wife had an even greater prospect teaching at the college. But all good things must end and the end in this case came in the form of the Malaysian Bureaucracy, the Immigration Department in this case. Not wanting to go into it too much surfice to say we had to make a choise of staying or leaving and we opted to leave.
Thus after selling off whatever we could and saying good byes to good prospect vocations and some close friends and families we got two one way tickets on board the Air Cezchkoslovakia and flew all the way from Kuala Lumpur to New York and from New York to Green Bay, Wisconsin. It was one of the most uncomfortable trips i ever had as our son was not too happy with the flight and threw a fit almost all the way there so much so that I can almost say that I had walked across the Atlantic simply because that was what I was doing exactly carrying my son in my arms so that he stopped screaming. It became a joke with us later that Sam walked across the Atlantic to get to Green Bay. I did not minded at all as I was driven by the adrenalin of looking forward to being in the United States and whatever that laid there for me.
The most impressive thing about landing at the airport in New York and in dealing with customs and immigration was the fact that it wnet so smoothly that the only thing that was not in harmony was my son's screaming. I was waived over by an immigration officer and told that if i gave him the envelop I had in my hand he would give me tha card he held in his and that was the extent of my dealing with the immigration and when I got my card I was automatically a permanent resident of the United States barring the fact that I cannot vote or become involved in any anti-government activities, I am short of a full fleshed citizen with all the rights of a US citizen. I was moved to love and respect the country by this simple gesture from hence forth.
After a night spent in New York we flew to Autin Strobel Airport in Grenn bay, Wisconsin and it was the cold autumn sunless grey skies that greeted us upon our arrival. I was shocked by the leafless trees and the lack of colors all around me as we drove in my former mother in law's car from the airport to Duck Creek. When we got to Duck Creek I was struck with a sense of lose and forboding, I was scared of being in an unknown territory with no one to turn to except my wife and her family. For the first time I felt like I made a big mistake and there was no turning back, I might never see my home again and what am I going to do there? My mind was running helter skelter sketching the worse case scenarios it could of our bleak future in this cold and colorless place. To make matters worse we were informed by the Hospital authorities that our sone had contracted a kind of worm from the flight to Green Bay most probably from the milk he was provided and that we were all asked to be quarantined till the Health Authorities could be sure that we were safe to move about. The quarantine included my mother in law and my sister in law both had to take off from their respective works. So I spent my first few weeks of my arrival in green Bay indoors watching Gilligan's Island and Private Gommer Pyle reruns.
Off course my bummbed out feelings became contagious to the others and it made their lives i am sure as equally miserable especially my sister in law who was working for twelve hours a day at a paper company and often came home too tired to stand and my mother in law who had so much pains in her athritic feet which were often swollen. I would offer to massage their feets and hands whenever I had the chance to and this helped to build a bond between us as they thought it a little weird but great the fact that a man would offer to work on their feet and hands which is seldom heard of in their neck of the woods which by and large was considered a typical red neck country with me being the first few colored guys that had set feet in their midst, but being Beatrice's son in law made a difference I came to find out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ahh! Mono-Prints!!

For the past two days I Have been spending my time in the Printmaking studio at the University Sains Arts Faculty. On the first day I spent a few houyrs cleaning up the studio to make it presentable as a printmaking studio and later that evening after getting used to the tools and press available I pulled off ten prints oe mono-type. It was a great feeling to be able to lay my hands on the printing press and having the whole studio to myself. So far i have twelve pieces worth considering for my upcoming show and I hope to be able to produce at least fifty by the time I am through so that I can have a whole set of prints to complement my sketches for the exhibition.
The stretching of my larger canvasses is still put on hold by the guy who dos the job for the museum, his excuses being that he was loaded with work but does not seem too much in a hurry whenever I met him. I guesse if i can afford to slide him a few bucks it might help to speed up the process but as it is i am again walking on thin ice where money is concern. I am trying hard not to think too much on how to come up with my next rent or car payment on top of seeing through tis major art show in two months time but i cannot help feeling apprehensive about the whole predicament I am in. It would be a sin to throw in the towel and call it quits and even if i give in what would i do? All these years I have always did something else to pay my way through life rather than depend on my art maybe it is time to take the challenge and accept the fact that I have to give it all I've got and stop worrying about making it or not financially. I remeber my good friend George Berberis of San Jose, California, used to ell me that i would not make it on anything else in life but my talent if only i had the confidence enough. I also remember my friend and Tanto (Practice teacher) at the Zen Center in San Francisco who told me to stop my worries about money and being able to pay for my lodging and so on, he said that if i worry than everyone else worry too and they start asking questions. These are things that rubbles in my mind day in day out or my life and there seems to be no end to it, yet i have made it so far by hook or by crook I have I have survived to be 58 and though with not much to account for, I have still my good health and my Art.
My days are getting shorter and my options are running low, I have much yet to resolve where my children is concern especially where they will end up at the end of the day, here in Malaysia as Malaysians or back to the US as American citizens. I keep telling them to be ready to take the challenge for the inevitability of what could or would happen to them when shit hits the fence and I believe they are getting the hang of it with their future hanging in a balance of uncertainity. My wife, I have about forgotten about her and her sad fate. I try to replay our most beautiful moments in life and tried to find out where i wnet wrong, like perhaps we should not have come to this country and just stayed in Japan or even returned to the US when we could. But all that is tossed and gone, ifs and ands were pots and pans, should have, could have would have what good does it all bring me except more headaches and no solace.
At the end of the day let me do my printmaking while I still can and it nothing else it helps me to stay focus on my journey and meet my goals as an artist in Quest of The Universality.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Bahari!

Headed for the USM Muzium this morning hoping to get something accomplshed, get some canvasse mounted or even some printmaking done but not much luck, its Sunday perhaps. To not let it be such a wasted tie driving all the way there i decided to reada little on the Art scenes at the small library corner od trhe museum and found an interview article with Redza Piyadasa, his views about the Art scene within and without the country. The interviewer did not have much proding to do and Piya let himself loose over the whole decadence of the local art and cultural scene due to the onslought of the West. A man who claims to have understood and admired the Japanese scene and a man who in his end of days larments over the lack of spirituality in the arts and cultural scene of this country, Piyadasa was true to himself in answering the questions, he was the epitomy of an oppotunistic manipulator only commonly found among western carpet beggars. When you have tot make a choice between good and bad right and wrong, when you draw a line segregating this from that you are not fit to claim as a spiritual adept of any culture much less the Japanese.
The Buddha is said to have said that 'right and wrong is a sicknees of one's own mind', Piyadasa was still trapped within his own dichotomized mind that was born and raised a non Muslim with a western education deeply rooted within his psyche. His love for the Western Art scene was to the point of obssesion and had earned him the gift of being an Art critic often gauging Malaysian Art by Western Standards untill more younger malaysians made it overseas to study and got to know what he was selling them first hand. Then Pia became the agnostic of wesstern art and the champion of the Asian Art especially when he was invited to become an advisor to the Japanese Museum or Fine Arts in Fukuoka, Japan. Everything swings Eastwards for Pia just like Dr. M, Pia abandoned all western for what the east has to offer and how like the former Prime Minister he easily forgot. Having spent most of my secondary school years being his student ansd latter keeping in touch with him everytime i return to this country I got to know Piyadasa quite closely often over a few beers. I have great respect for the man but not for what he claimed to be when it comes to being appointed as the spokesman for the Malaysian Art Scene. He was simply a great Malaysian Artist and an Art Educator.I told him so when he was alive and the result was that he chased me out of his home in Subang Jaya.
I went to an Art oppening for the artist Shahrul Anuar Shaari with Hasnul and his wife and daughter. The show was held at the Alpha Utara Gallery in downtown area of Church Street. There many local artists present at the show and I got to meet my good friend Rashid the Portrait painter. I also met Mr. Chew teng beng who is one of the most well known artist in Penang and who was at one time a friend of my oldest brother when he was teaching at the Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School, in Kuala Terengganu. Mr. Chew was surprised to meet me and finding out that I am 'Spike's brother. We talked about the printmaking studio at the USM and what a shameful state it is in and what should be done to bring it back to life. Present later was also Encik Rahman the assistant dean of the Art Faculty at USM who is also a keen printmaker and was at one time a student of Mr.Chew. The Print studio is ready for my use according to the professor in charge Encik Khizal who was also present at the show. All in all it was great that I made it to the oppening.
So it is my birthday today! How old am I! 58?59? Should i call my twin brother and wish him a Happy Birthday too? Naah! It would be too phoney and as far as I am concern the dye is cast and there was never a relationship between us that was positive. I hate living under his shadow but there is not much that I can do about it. It is part of the Divine Comedy in my life, the souce and spice that makes life a little more eggravating if not exciting. They say that blood is thicker than wine, what the hell do they know! It is sad that I have not much positive thoughts to share on this my Birthday, I wish there is some wise words some significant line that I could let out and make my day, I feel like I have lost a piece of me with the passing year of my life instead of gaining one more year.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hiroshima Revisited

Arrived at the University Muzeum Gallery to find out that there was a ceremony which was just completed of presenting the Museum with a piece of the rock. In this case the slab of concrete came from a structure that barely survived the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb at the end of World War 2. The digniteries were leaving the building when I walked in and was in time to join in on the food and drinks, not bad timing for one who was humgry and trying to conserve on spending.
Did not accomplish much other than sat and talked with Encik Hasnul about getting my canvasses mounted by his assistants and told him to expect my transcripts from the University in Wisconsin via the Student Clearinghouse Agency. I hope all goes well and the papers get to him as I have need for them in order to start applying for any possible teaching jobs in this country. Discussed with Hasnul about the possibility of working in the printing studio at USM with the prospect of making it a teaching profession eventually, like becoming artist in residence. He agreed with the idea but was ambivalent about me getting it easily unless I talk to the Dean personally. The dean Encik Najib is not an easy guy to work with but I could try my luck.
My luck, just about everything I try to accomplish comes up against a wall of one form or another or so it seems and what is ironic is that the Dean Najib used to play golf with my twin brother and putting two and two together there goes my prospect. Oh well looking on the brighter side I have no problem of introducing myself into the Art circle's of who is who here as just about anyone I approach or introduced to I would be told who they thought I was and I would say Yeah its great to be living under your brother's shadow for sure! If nothing else it makes for a great non fiction story.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Prospects and possibilities

Went to the USM printing studio with the instructor who runs the satudio and dicussed the chances of my using the studio while at the same time be able to student teach in return. Not a bad idea to get something going on in the printing medium to add to my upcoming show as printmaking has always been my thing since the University of Wisconsin days, I fell in love with the medium. What better time coulkd this happen now that I am a lttle free with alot of time on my hand and not knowing what to do and what with the show coming up eventhough it still is two month from now.
I stopped by the Penang State Gallery to say hello to the Curator friend and was aked to apply for a time slot for my show next year so that o dont miss out and I did. I decided to do a show in April next year if it is possible but the time has no significance for me except that it gives me plenty ewnough time to get ready after the USM show.
Why the sudden need for shows? I know I can ill afford to create any new pieces much less hold a solo exhibition on a grand scale such as at the State Gallery or even the USM Muzeum Gallery! Well why not? What else is there to do other than not get depressed and keep looking for something just to stay afloat for the kids and I. Hell most of my life I have been avoiding making my artistic talents pay for me, I lack the self confidence in the fact that I can live solely as an artist and not have to depend on any other income to support my family. I have swallowed my pride, pandered my self esteem and dihumanized myself ever so often simply because I have never had any confidence as an artist and so it is time to put my foot down and take the bull be the horns, do or die I will get my act together and give the artworld the best that money can buy, I will become the best there is and there ever was. Geeze its great to be able to dream still at my age. Let them frown and let them laugh, who gives a shoot anymore I have done more than most in this alotted time in my life most of it cannot be valued in dollars and cents and hey the game is not over yet and as a matter of fact it is just beginning!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Show Begins

This morning got all my sketchbooks together and delivered them to the Muzium Gallery at the University Sains Malaysia. Encik Hasnul the Muzium Director was not in , he is in KL. I left the books and some loose sketches with his helper encik Noordin who has been a great help and sopporter in the past when I had my HUMIND show at the ABN_AMRO Gallery. I told those present, the security personel and the sweeper looking at the transfer of hands of my works that I beleive in not wasting time in making things happen when they should instead of putting things off to the last minute and chewing my fingers for lack of time. All of these gentlemen were taken by value of my books especially their span of time and the places they cover in my life, it gave me a warm feeling.
I have a good feeling about this show already the fact that it will be a major show and might even be the last I can afford to have if nothing comes out of it in terms of financial benifits. I hate to think in these lines about my works but reality is hitting me left and right at the present moment and a little financial gain is a great help. My self esteem,(not that I have much these days) took a beating from my cousin brother Salleh who runs a succesful restaurant and catering business out of his mother's home and where my children have their free meals in the afternoon when they got home from school. Salleh asked me when I told him that I am no more working, what is my next move, and I told him I have the show in October to get ready for. He immediately got on his high chair and gave me the spill about what can I earn from doing Art and so on and I had no answer but to duck his attacks. I could have told him to screw himself had I been in a better financial position and remind him of the fact that his and my grandfather was an artist and but for this old man who painted for his life the two of us would not be sitting there nowwould he be using the very house tgat the damn useless artist had provided for and handed it to his mother who the old man's adopted child., which places my mother the true owner of the house if push comes to shove in who owns what in this dump! As the former Prime Ministe once said, Melayu mudah lupa! The Malays tends to forget easily. My cousin most probably is worried that me and my two children will become his unwonted dependants and not that I can blame him.
This is one of the very reason why this show in October will be the final cut so to speak for it either will pick me up and complete my journey or it will shatter every hopes and dreams that me and family's is riding on. Oh life will go on but hell to die a mediocre or worse yet a looser? All these years of my life I had believed in something I have lived my life as what I chose to do which has often been against the grain, always up river against the current, taking the roads and paths less travled, getting into circumstances where angels would not dare and only fools would thread, but I believed in myself. I believed in being special and my Creator had special intentions for me when Hu decided to squeezed me into my mother's womb alongside my twin brother. Hus had special reason for having me given away to be adopted and raised as a Buddhist for almost twelve years of my childhood life groing up in Sungai Pinang among my Muslim brothers and sisters and my cousins and relatives. My Lord must have a good reason for having me delivered back to my parents and brothers and sisters to be raised another twelve years of my life in the East coast state of Terengganu alongside my twin brother where our sibbling rivalry has cost such friction till this day that I cannot turn my face to him for any help in my times of need. My Maker must have a great sense of humour to make sure that I marry an American who was my twin brother's girlfriend and my not knowing it untill too late when my son was conceived and my relationship with my twin brother has gone from bad to worse. The AlMighty, indeed sow it fit that I leave this good Muslim country and my family and friends to live among the nonbelievers, America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave where I became the devil's own. Yeesir!,,such Is, Such Is!
Today I found while rummaging through my sketchbooks and old book left to me by my friend and mentor the late Cikgu Yusof called, "The Removal of Cares" by the Great Sufi Master and Awlia Shaikh ABD AL-Qadir Al-Jilani (Jala Al-Khawatir) and for the umteenthtime I redread a few of the discourses in it to remiond myself of the warnings the great master had for guys like me in the afterlife!

"How can you expect to receive the Grace of Allah (AlMighty and Glorious is He), when you keep spending His blessings in acts of sinful disobedienc against Him? You will soon be reduced to begging, but no one will give you a handout, and you will end up living in the refuse dumps and sewers. It may be that death will come to you while you are in this sorry state, in which case you will accept it as a wholesome release from wretched misery"
Shaikh Kadir Al-Jilani
Jala Al-Khawatir

I am a true believer and this I am convinced beyond all doubts if ther is any sense of worth in my life or anything that I have discovered from this long journey that I have tried to record of my existance thus far it is this fact that I a true beleiver in the Lord AlMighty, Allah Subhana HuaTalla, The LOrd of Power and the Owner of the Day of Judgement. Yes I am afraid of what I might be facing with this profess of my belief after all these years of challenging every command and dictates of Hu's all because of my self deluded anger and egotistical ignorances but I believe in HU's Infinite Compassion for my deliverances and that of my two wives and children for they have all became Muslims at onetime or another in their lives as I am the witenss to this fact here and in the here after and let no man or woman deny this but fear the wrath of false accusation in the after life.
Hence when anyone decides to point a finger at this misbegotten sinner let him or her investigate thoroughly the finger that is pointing lest it be imperfect in itself. As the Great Master Sufi said,

""This world cannot last forever, but the hereafter will endure eternally. The pleasure of this world do not linger very long, but everlasting are the delights of the hereafter. The true believer(Mu'min) trades this world for the hereafter, and the creation (khalk) for the Creator (Khaliq)."
Shaikh Kadir Al-Jilani
The Removal of Cares

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Singapore Amrican School

A gentleman friend I just met a week or two ago at the Penang jetty had promised me to look nto the possibility for me to teach at the Singapore American School and what a dream come true it would be if this could ever materialize. And what an added bonus to life if my two children being American citizens with a whole lot of citizenship problem ahead into their futre here could join this school, it is almost God sent, short of a miracle. How I would love to be able to evenrually share my years of learning experiences in life as an artist both in the East and the West just as I had once sketched the Cheeseburger Buddha in the effort trying to tie up two loose ends of a rope with tags at each ends saying East and West. The American School from what i have read in their website seems like the place of my dream where students from over fifty countries are gathered under one institution of education with one motive and that is to become the 'Global Citizen' and what better place can it be than at Singapore, the crossroad between East and West.
Well lets see what happens when I start getting the ball rolling, maybe there is a silver lining after all in what is going on with my life currently. However in the meantime I will have to hussle my butt and get going getting my artworks ready for the next big event which is the Solo Exhibition at the Univeristy Sains Muzium Gallery here in Penang which will happen in October. This will be another make it or break it show for me and I will not spare the guns in making sure that this show will scream out loud enough that even the die-hard aesthetically deaf and blind will turn their heads to ponder. I have half the mind to call it 'Zen and the Art of Living' and dedicate the show to my wife but will see how the Curator feels about such ideas.
The Muzium has alot of spaces to cover and so I will alot of work to do to fill up these huge walls and I am hoping to fill them up with black and white sketches on canvasses which will cost a fortune which again brings back to the old vicious circle of ya gotta have money to generate money no matter what you do. I dont see anyone for the present that I can turn to for some sort of sponsoreship but hey, who knows what can happen from now till then! As Pink Floyd would have said it, "And The Show Must Go onn!!"