Tag Archives: aphorisms

I chase small miracles

10 Feb

As Easter approaches, well at least in our supermarket chocolate aisles, it’s nice to reflect on the delightful little chocolate crumbs of meaning that our subversive sign writing friends leave for us.

As the movement of rampaging atheists is also growing, at least on my news feed on facebook, I thought it fitting to reflect on what is perceived as the miraculous.

As a writer and song-writer, the fact that ideas spark and tumble into my stream of consciousness is something I find amazing and inexplicable. As is the fact that human beings can fill me with frustration and loathing one moment and then overwhelming joy and love the next. Some would no doubt rationalise these to chemical activity in the brain &c, but I will place my self in the devil’s camp and agree with Blake who said there is no separation between Body and Soul, but rather that the senses are merely the chief inlets of Soul in this age.

To close ourselves off to mystery is to lose connection with what makes life brilliant and bearable. Those mysteries do not need to be earth-shattering or sky-splitting. They can, and usually are, as this beautiful stencil states, small miracles.

It may pay to drop the judge at the boozer the next time you go for a walk, and see the world through the eye’s of the little child that still lives inside. This is how we learn to hear the voice of the divine, and see and appreciate those small miracles.

I chase small miracles

AFTERWORD by the Author and Printer Will.m Blake. 1793

“The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity;
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav’d the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood;
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounc’d that the Gods had order’d such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.”

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Don’t be afraid of the sadness that will set you free

24 Nov

After all that crazy insult shit, I thought it was about time for some sweet sadness.

This beautiful aphorism has been on a fence close to Croxton Station for a good year or more – testament to the power of its sentiment.

The day I stopped to snap this photo was one pregnant with the promise of impending thunder storms. The thunder heads were billowing behind me, and just as I stopped, a few rays of late afternoon sun stole through giving me a good half minute’s window to take my photo. Cosmic ha?

This is a very sweet take on sadness, so I’m not going to fill your mind with my own long winded interpretations, suffice to say that it has lead me down some interesting paths of thought.

It puts me in mind of a Sufi story though, more about aphoristic thought and the search for answers than sadness, though sadness, as our fence-post poet understands, has its own path to bliss.

Mullah Nasruddin is tearing up and down the high street of his village on his donkey. After a while the whole town gathers scratching their heads and wondering what is going on, till one person steps forward and asks, “What are you doing?” Nasruddin replies, “I’m looking for my Donkey!”

Don't be afraid of the sadness that will set you free

World of Pure Illustration

1 Sep

“Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” So sang Willie Wonka leading the children into the Chocolate Room in the original adaptation of Roald Dahl’s immortal  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

And like Charlie let loose in the Wonka factory is how I felt coming across this series of quips and commentary spray painted on the bike track along the Merri Creek in Thornbury. It seemed unfair to break them up into separate posts, so as the man sang, “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.”

I want something real

At the mouth of the bike track, across the road is this angsty existentialist statement.

The Real is a complex philosophical issue, one of those Big questions that greater minds than mine or our artists have found unsatisfactorily answered.

Think of Plato’s cave, its deceptive parade of shadows and it’s chained denizen turned social outcast when he finally see’s the sun. Leibniz and his monads (don’t ask me to explain that one). Descartes and his Meditations on the deception of the senses and the machinations of the mind, or Locke and his flaming of inductive reasoning. Phew and that’s only a taste of first year philosophy.

May I argue from my book of pop lyrics that, “Baby, life’s what you make it.” You want the Real? You got it, tiger.

Fat?

When one walks up the path, or enters into the Chocolate Room, one is asked this simple question. Fat? It seems quite pertinent. The entrance is a short, steep hill. The kind of  hill that makes you grit your teeth, look down and start climbing. I can see this question giving (mental) pause to all who walk or ride this way, and the images that follow it, may turn the frown or smile that answers, deeper or wider.

Graffitied Bike track sign with figure and thought bubble, "TV?"

It’s not the first thing that springs to mind while riding up a hill, but it may be what our late afternoon commuter may be thinking. I think of those people who jog to music, or those kids in the back of high priced SUVs watching The Wiggles on their lil’ monitors mounted in the back of their parent’s leather bucket seat headrests.

If only one could cycle and YouTube. There are glasses for that, but I’m not sure how they’d help you negotiate the tricky turns with that deep voiced kid singing Chocolate Rain in your head phones and assaulting your vision… but someone’s bound to sort that little problem out soon.

Grafittied pedestrian with speech bubble "Who am I?"

Now it’s the pedestrian’s turn to ponder. If you missed the rant above re Reality, I’d ask you to please reread as I shan’t repeat myself here, but the same argument applies.

Regardless of the philosophical ramifications, the profundity of this alteration is miles ahead of the guy who, a click or so down the track, turned the direction arrow into a phallus. But hey, that’s just me.

Graffiti on path "Walk the Line"

Here’s one for the Johnny Cash fans. Our artist is on fire, by this stage (presuming it is the same artist).

Pink graffiti on track, "No Drama"

Another voice enters as we walk a few steps forward. Let’s call her Pink. (See how I was kinda sexist and non-sexist in that statement) Perhaps pink is a Mary J. Blige fan? I know, I love that tune too with the Young and the Restless piano sample, but is it worth advertising that fact to the illustrated masses?

Still these words offer us a nice consoling sentiment, and later on we’ll see Pink has a question for us that an ambivalent third character has a very clever answer to. But I digress. Let’s move on with the tour.

White graffiti "Industrial Nature"

Our first scribbler continues to make a few more thought provoking statements here. Is “Industrial” his or our collective nature? Or is it nature which is industrious, as the leaves, bark, bugs and seeds strewn across the path and on the verge testify. The arrow is pointing back the way we came. Perhaps our artist is commenting on the other work that we skipped over along the path (some of which didn’t rank as worthy for yours truly to document, but still could be applauded, if merely for the fact that some youngster, or oldster, bothered to get off their backside in favour of scrawling on the bike path some sunny day past.)

Moving right along.

Graffiti on path "I want credit for all I've done"

About here, our first scribe is feeling the loneliness of the creative act. What is creativity without the applause? It makes me wonder that if the creationists are right, then perhaps life’s shimmering spectrum of suffering and ecstasy may just be the applause that the Creator is after.

Really, this is a question of product versus process. Either you create to enjoy the creative act, or you do it for the drugs, sex and bank roll you imagine an artist’s job lot and description necessarily entails.

Of course this choice is not in fact an either/or decision. One must create to live, and live to create. As with all things a healthy balance of both is required. If not consult your family doctor.

Grafitti on path "I'm sure my heart is more broken than yours"

Here our artist may just be getting a little maudlin. But call me crazy, I still love this statement.

Depressives take note though, as appealing as it sounds, it ain’t necessarily so. As I like saying to those that mope around me (as well as to my own sorry thoughts) “Life is not a pissing contest of pain.” Please quote me.

Graffiti on path "I'm tough cos you've fucked me over"

Okay, we’re getting to the heart of the matter right here. Our artist suffers, hey don’t they/we all. Still s/he’s turned it into a positive, which means the scar is healing, just fine. It reminds of the title of a play that was in the Melbourne festival a few years ago. I don’t remember the exact title but it was something like, the more our heart is broken, the more difficult we are to love. I didn’t need to see the performance, the title was enough for me.

But I digress. Back to our tour. Notice here is where Yellow enters the picture. Yellow is obviously a censor, and doesn’t like swearing. What is our artist saying. Hey it ain’t that hard. I thought yellow a bit of a prick for doing this when I saw first saw this handy work. But then I walked a few paces and the truth of human nature emerged… you can’t really pin anyone down, because any label you apply one moment will be exploded the next.

Here we say goodbye to our first artist, Let’s move on.

Pink grafitti "what is more important than love or peace"

Yellow may be a censor, but s/he is also a master. This truly is genius in an ampersand.

There is a long tradition of replying to existing graffiti. Just think of those conversations on toilet walls, sometimes with more arrows pointing hither and yon than a wacky Wired flowchart. But whereas Yellow defaced our original artist’s work, here, on Pinks very important question, “What is more important than love or peace?” (sorry about the cut off question mark), what we get is both a reply and an elevation of the statement. What is amazing is this could not have been executed as succinctly and economically in any other way. This language has gone 3 dimensional. We see the first statement juxtaposed with a second – the same statement corrected and rewritten, and all it took was a can of fluoro-yellow and one lil’ ampersand. What is more important than Love or Peace… why Love and Peace. Not as snappy is it?

To end our tour I will ask Mr Willie Wonka, as personified so beautifully by the amazing Gene Wilder, to sing us one of the most poetically philosophical tunes I know.

The book of love?

14 Feb

Ambiguity is built into language, doubly so with the artifacts left behind by the pictographically frustrated. My first thought upon seeing this bold aphoristic pictogram was a couple of gravestones times love equals?  Well the answer is the eternal question of the bereaved – never really understood but as a painful fading memory that may never disappear. But then, why did the author paint two grave stones – isn’t that a book? Perhaps a religious allusion – a challenge to the new atheists that love is the key to understanding the meaning of the word of God? (deep hey?) – or a new form of graffiti marketing for the sellers of romance novels? Or just the inspiration for this Valentine’s day post for yours truely? Will we ever know? Not until ambiguity disappears from communication between us all, and that’ll never happen.

Book of Love

Books or grave stones – is it just my twisted mind?

God Woz ‘ere

8 Feb

In the backstreets of Northcote, armed with a spray can and a ouija board, our hero stalks. He is a man on a mission, yet the particulars of that mission are unknown – hence the board. All he knows is that something must be said, and it must be said tonight. Oblivious to the lights of passing cars and the smell of piss from the Friday night tourists, he plants himself on the footpath and begins to summon his muse.

When the spirit infests him it is a familiar warmth – first his groin, then his stomach and finally his heart lights up. He knows what he must do. Impulsively he turns and throws the useless board away… it won’t tell him anything he does not know instinctively. He picks up the can and turns to the metal junction box, or whatever the hell it is, and pours out the contents of his illuminated soul, the great I Am … “God woz ‘ere”.

He does not linger for long to admire or even comprehend what has been written, but he leaves the place knowing others will come to honour their own inner light, or expel their inner darkness – be it with spray can, felt marker or prepared paper – for this is the sacrement they all share, and the city walls are their holy church.

God woz 'ere

Do it for the joy it brings

10 Dec

Here’s a message of hope to all those creatives feeling neglected by the fickle fancies of consumer culture. I could go on about the need to focus on process rather than product, but then I would be distracting you all from the aphoristic power of this slice of profundity captured in November 2007, on Flockhart Street, Abbotsford.

Do it for the joy it brings