Sunday, January 17, 2010

Find Repose in a Muddy World

The calligraphy in this one translates, "Who is able to find repose in a muddy world, quiet as it clears? Who can remain calm for a long time, coming to life with action?" My illustration is of a man standing in mud, his hands chained together. There is a bit of action/confusion going on around him.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Good Man is Like Water.

This quote can be translated, `A good man is like water. Water benefits all without competing.' This illustration includes a man with a hose, a dog biting the hose, and a cactus. My first thought upon reading this section of the Dao De Jing for the first time in college was about title waves and hurricanes. Those are examples of water that can cause damage or harm. My analytical western mind has been trained to find flaws and exceptions. The point of the passage, that being a good person should be done without ego and ostentation, is always something I ponder. It is hard to do good and not expect something in return. If I had that level of selflessness, I wouldn't be divorced. I would have good relations with everyone.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weapons Are Unkind Tools

`Weapons are unkind tools, not the tools of decent men. When the must be used, use them with restraint'. This passage from section 31 of the Dao De Jing is pretty straight forward. I think of bombs falling from the sky on targeted populations. If that's not terrorism, I don't know what is.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Heavens Are Cruel Wise Men Are Cruel

The full quote for this passage is, "The heavens are not kind and treat all creatures like straw dogs. Wise men are not kind and treat people like straw dogs." I like these passages from the Dao De Jing that challenge the part of me that would like to find peace and harmony in my inspirational texts. The Dao De Jing, as much as anything, tries to describe and honor the true nature of nature. There are predators and prey in the natural world and humans are part of that. The idea that wise men are not kind is amusing but should be taken together with all the other descriptions in Laozi's text about how wise men behave. This illustration is an unnatural, whimsical narrative of the cruel nature of creatures. The cat has my eyes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Victory is Like a Funeral

The Dao De Jing has many passages which you could call anti-war. It admonishes leaders who rely on brute force and, like in this passage, it reminds us of the simple truth that war and killing brings suffering. This passage says, "The killing of many should be mourned with sorrow. A victory should be celebrated like a funeral." The Iraq war, and Bush' pre-mature crowing about victory are stark reminders of how not to behave according to the Dao De Jing.

The painting has some figures, possibly sodiers with expressions of grief in the foreground and a car on fire in the background. It didn't seem appropriate to do something witty or overly clever for this passage.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dao is Everywhere

`The Dao is everywhere, flowing left and right. All creatures gain life from it without fail. It succeeds without possessing.' Lest we dismiss Laozi's description of the Dao (way, road, etc.) he reminds us frequently that it is there whether we care for it or not. Comparison to water as something that is helpful even crucial to life but also something that is very unassuming is repeated in the Dao De Jing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Useful Emptiness

`When a vessel is formed, it's use is in the empty space.' In my style of painting, the empty space on the paper is as important as the space filled in with line and color. I wonder what's more valuable a diamond or the space around the diamond? The illustration for this quote features many vessels; the flower pot with lotus plans, the gas pipes, the building throught the window, the glass, the wine bottle the human body, etc. Think of what all these things are filled with.