Category Archives: Life Musings

Excerpts from my journal that highlight the confounding mental processes of artistry.

Angry Birds Copyright Violation in Asian Fine Art Paintings?

I just got my first “Cease and Desist” order, in an email claiming to be from a lawyer defending the rights of Angry Birds.

It happened just after I sent the following sketch to some painting companies in Dafen China, in a project aiming to explore whether fine art can be outsourced. Obviously, somebody turned me in. And yet, if you’ve paid attention to the international fine art market for the past several years, especially the Asian fine art market and major trade shows, it seems a painting is hardly complete without a Doraemon, Hello Kitty, or some other international famous pop icon/cartoon figure – this includes the angry birds characters, which I’ve seen a handful of times in fine art paintings, being sold by galleries representing artists from Asian countries. I have to wonder, does everyone get the cease and desist order, or just me? I remember in my first art class in high school, the teacher was very careful and scrupulous about teaching us copyright laws.

And it’s only recently that I’ve begun incorporating pop culture icons – because it seems to be the “thing to do” if you want your art to sell.

I imagine if I sell the painting, it would be infringement – is it also even if I never plan to sell the painting? If I do it as “art for art’s sake”?

Anyway, these are definitely interesting questions for fine artists and fine art galleries.


Anti Piracy Order from Rovio

Here’s the letter:

To whom it may concern

It has been brought to our attention that your business has been marketing, selling or otherwise making available products or services that may infringe Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyrights and trademarks in the software game “Angry Birds” and related merchandise.

We have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. We assure that the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that we are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

Location of potential infringement:!wp-prettyPhoto[g2470]/1/

The game Angry Birds is developed and published by a Finnish company Rovio Entertainment Ltd. All intellectual property rights to Angry Birds are owned by Rovio Entertainment Ltd, including but not limited to copyright to the game characters and internationally registered trademarks. Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyright to the Angry Birds game characters and international trademark registrations of the word “ANGRY BIRDS” and international trademark registration of the graphical representation of the game characters provides Rovio Entertainment Ltd with certain proprietary rights. This includes the right to restrict the use of copyrighted works and/or trademarks, or a confusingly similar works or trademarks, in association with confusingly similar products or services.

Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s trademark registrations include, but are not limited to registration of graphical representation of game character by European Union Community Trademark (no: 009205221) and international trademark registration in several jurisdictions (no: 1052865) including United States (WO 1052865) and China (WO 1052865).

Your use of Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyright and/or registered trademarks is likely to confuse consumers and/or lessen the distinctiveness of Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s brand. Your continued use of Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyrights and/or registered trademarks will cause significant and irreparable damage to Rovio Entertainment Ltd

Rovio Entertainment Ltd demands that you immediately:

1. cease and desist any further use of images, emblems, logos or similar items infringing Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyrights in association with the manufacture, marketing, sale, distribution, or identification of your products or services; and

2. cease and desist any further use of Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s trademarks in association with the manufacture,  marketing, sale, distribution, or identification of your products or services.

This is written without any prejudice. Rovio Entertainment Ltd reserves the right to claim damages as well as any other remedy under applicable copyright and trademark legislation, but we hope this issue may be resolved without any further legal actions

Should you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact us at [email protected].

Respectfully on behalf of Rovio Entertainment Ltd,

What do you think? Obviously, they have the legal right to protect their image. On the other hand, angry birds has become such a ubiquitous element of contemporary international culture that fine art that wants to be true to life can hardly avoid incorporating it into the work. The point of the above painting was to bring the issue to a meta-level, by equating angry birds with religious icons following the “pied piper” of Steve Jobs, deified as Krishna, while also being explicit about the commercial aspect of both religio-cultic-corporations as well as fine art. Is art ever above the law?


Holy Blasphemy

This is taken from the mission statement of my website,

My idea of God comes from St. Anselm: God is the highest thought that can be thought.

If there is a God, and he lives up to all of our expectations of him, (and he must, or else he is not God), then he would not be so petty as to become furiously angry and result to violent retribution during those occasions in which we, equipped with our limited mental capabilities, accidentally or purposefully call him names he doesn’t like.

Blasphemy, then, can never really be what it is generally considered to be: a personal insult or attack on God, (and a very very bad thing), because God cannot be proud and stubborn enough, and have his feelings so easily hurt, as to warrant all of the fuss made over it.

In my view, blasphemy is actually the practice of speaking out against dated religious customs and clearing the way for fuller appreciations of truth. It is dangerous only if there is just one path to salvation, as many religious traditions hold, but luckily this theory is easily dismissed. There are many religions, and there always have been. Never has one religion reached more than a fraction of the human race, and religions are uniformly limited to social and geographical regions. If any of them really is the only path to salvation, then God’s saving grace is limited to a small, predetermined number people and God himself is an unjust bigot; which contradicts the traditional attributes associated with Him.

At one time, all of the current world religions were new, blasphemous ideas, whose followers were sought out and persecuted for stirring up trouble; which demonstrates that every spiritual idea can be blasphemous, even if it later becomes The Truth. Jesus was often called a blasphemer, as were most other prophets and spiritual leaders.

Blasphemy is a scary thing to many people because most religions begin from a fear that they will be exposed. Every new spiritual tradition is born out of an older religious tradition, and automatically generates a great deal of opposition. To overcome criticism, the resulting theology must include certain safeguards, guaranteeing the new faith as the prime vehicle for Wisdom. The safeguards include statements like, “This is the Truth, and if you don’t believe it, you will suffer, in the worst ways I can imagine, for ever and ever.”

It must be understood that a God who punishes based on religious preference is the enemy of all noble qualities of mankind. Goodness, Truth, Justice and Kindness flee from this God. The search for wisdom, perfection and self-actualization are too dangerous to consider. This God is also the enemy of every great thinker, and had those gifted few been more wary of divine retribution, humanity as a whole would still be walking around picking berries.

My writing, and painting, is about searching for a better god. If a particular god – say the god of the Christians, Jews or Muslims, offends our sense or reason or morality, by definition that god is too limited to be real. My dismissal of concepts of God is not atheistic or anti-religious, because it is only my respect and belief in the inherent perfection of God (as an ideal) that leads me to refuse these limited human conceptions.

The point is that Blasphemy is not an attack on God. It is the quest for an improved God, and the sacred duty of the spiritually eager.

My Dirty Room

It’s no wonder I’m anxious: my apartment is so cluttered it cannot help but produce a cluttered mind. Although I stretch out my legs, my feet hit the wall behind my desk. In front of me is a bottle of putrid water, weeks old, wrappers from cookies and crackers, also crumbs that scattered when I opened the packages. To make room I grab the empty coke can and two plastic bottles and toss them over my shoulder. My shirt, which feels confining, I throw across the room unto my bed. It lands with precision on a similarly discarded heap of clothes. There is, also on my desk, loose change, some melted white chocolate, pens and batteries, tape, my keys, and two boxes of tissue, one is empty, so I toss it on the ground. The ground has dust and wrappers, receipts, empty boxes of cookies, discarded papers and books, a jumbled mass of wires leading to the various electronic devices that make up my workspace. There are four cans of vanilla coke, which I usually don’t drink but were so severely discounted I brought home. My school bag, a fan, all the clothes I’ve worn since the last time I’ve done laundry. I’ll clean it later, I say, as I always do. But why clean when there are so many more important things to do, like write or paint? Outside some religious group is playing that terrible music, with all the banging cymbals, rhythmless percussion, and warbling, high pitched screechy noises. My window can’t be closed enough to shut them out, and they are very, very loud. Nevertheless, I don’t feel so bad today.

Ode to a bicycle

I bought a bicycle today. Ode to a bicycle: It has been years since I have written one, it feels to me now altogether a strange and difficult contraption. I need to wrap myself around the creature’s steel frame so intently, and balance so precisely, and kick off and continue wobbling forward in just such a manner as the overall performance requires, that it’s hard to believe this practice is in the general domain of children everywhere. And yet, the benefits are immediate. First is the absolute silence; such a drastic contrast between the motor of my scooter, which in itself has never bothered me, nor was I much aware of it. This silence fills my ears and my heart, it seems to expand the space between objects and push up against the weight of the sky; the world becomes altogether sweeter and more peaceful. I also notice, with this bicycle, words such as “hurry” or “quickly” have no place. There is no thought to going faster when it is enough work to simply keep going, to adjust pace with traffic and deal with, using your own exhaustable energies and physical strengths, the hills, turns and other obstacles of the world that are unnoticed by other modes of transport. However, while alleviating the stress of needing to be somewhere, and the frantic sensation that comes when we feel we are wasting our precious time in transportation, bike riding does not allow us to remove our consciousness from the active process of handling the mechanism itself. While in a train, car, or scooter, the driving process is so easy as to encourage day-dreams and other indulgences, the result of which is to arrive at your destination with virtually no memory of the journey. Riding a bicycle takes just enough concentration to be aware of not only your surroundings, but also the continuous acts of pedalling and steering. You are thus so engaged in your environment, you become hyper aware, but also just enough removed, through the gentle speed through which you cut past, to observe objectively. (I have never found this to be the case with walking, which, on the one hand is far too personal, placing you directly within influence of your surroundings, and which can also, so I find, create a desperation of being able to see where you are going while not being in control of getting there any faster, with any less expenditure of energy).

I am a tragic poet

I am a tragic poet. We have fiery wings, crafted in heaven and set aflame in hell, and the harder we beat them, striving with all our soul’s desire for high Truth, the more we fan the flames. I am Keats. I am Byron, and Shelley, mad with love for beauty, mad with desire for wisdom, angry at the world for being dirty, stupid and petty, frustrated by sickness, misfortune and other distractions from the noble appreciation of the good. I was a made poet for my early life, until I reached a mature age; I no longer regard evil as evil in itself, but a misjudged goodness. Having found an herbal tonic to sooth the flames of my passions, I have lost that tragic necessity and lost cause of striving after the mysterious remedy; I have no frantic hurry to arrive. I enjoy as much as I can, and aspirin dulls the pain, antibiotics heal the body, poverty is unknown to me and I am (no longer) scorned in love. I have no need, no unsatisfied longing, suffering, quest for Truth and Meaning. I am content. And yet, only stop a day’s herbal soother, and my mind is on fire again, a furnace of energy, driven, tense, my fist violently clutches my pen and I scribble my thoughts down for hours, I read, absorbing thousands of pages, for weeks on end. When I was young I made a promise, Truth over contentment, wisdom over happiness. Since then I’ve sought to undue that promise, no longer willing to suffer tragedy. I refuse it. I will not allow it…And yet, I have a purpose not of this world; this I know. I am a voice, a bard, a prophet. Something is speaking through me, pouring through my body, melting myself down and becoming, becoming. My own self says, “leave it! They are all fools, and the fools will always win, for they are more.” There is no good in warning, in prediction. Will they stop being foolish? Never. If only there was a smart pill; perhaps their faith is like my herb, it comforts and soothes, but quit it for a day, and wisdom would again seek them out and nourish their brittle roots.

Some short quotes

Chip on my shoulder:

I feel like I know a lot about how the world works, am I happier? Healthier? More successful? No. Am I kinder, more helpful? No. So what am I arguing for? Why am I – increasingly, ANGRY. Is the anger part of my passion? People say they want passion in their work. Scholars say they want passion in their research – well, I’ve got it. Bigtime. I have a chip on my shoulder. I’m ready to CUT down, destroy, kill all the postmodernists, starting with Derrida, ending with Lyotard. That will be my Thesis, My announcement. After that I’ll just write clever essays, get a nice university job at a beautiful campus, and live.

Want to be a poet:

I want to write poetry. Not because, I like it, so much as, it seems a difficult and novel task, that many great men, with whom I find I have much in common, attempted. Also relevant is the fact that nobody reads poetry any more, it is not in fashion. Thus I can write freely without concern of it being good, or measuring up, or even of being ever read by any individual other than myself. For who reads poetry? Especially in days were everyone, everyone and their neighbor’s daughter’s cousin’s playmates is a poet.

On misdirection:

The audience is not participating, they are not really aware of what is happening, the magician (writer, artist) is ahead of them at every step, anticipating, planting false trap doors, false clues. He leads them, he manipulates them, he LIES to them: and they LOVE him for it. If he showed the trick, if he just told the story, without the flair, and pomp, and misdirection, and fancy language, and flashing lights and beautiful girls, nobody would read it. Moby Dick would just be a tiny notebook entry: “saw a white whale today, but couldn’t kill it.”

On Ethics:

Only intelligence can willfully and purposely intend to be moral. Unintelligence will first choose to be moral, but without at all recognizing how to be moral. They will miss the specific necessities each situation merits and ignore the repercussions and consequences of action, both to self and others, and by choosing, “goodness” and the “right” action, may make themselves self-pitiful, envious, angry and violent, as well as smug, superior and scathingly judgmental. One large correct moral choice may result in years or a lifetime of small dark sins, bred through a bitter heart of perceived injustice.

Culture of Access:

Culture of access: First you have to have something, some idea, then you have to name it something unusual, so everybody knows it’s YOURS and yours only and if they use it you can sue them, then you can CHARGE for it! The Culture of Access has its ROOTS in religion. God is the one thing that men have consistently sold access to. Not God, benefits. What benefits? Prosperity, success, prayer, not to mention eternal life. Selling your soul for fun and profit. Selling Your Soul for Fun and Profit.

Anxiety Attack

Poor health, but especially, nerves, seems to be the common complaint of artists and poets, and was probably the cause of excessive drinking and poor relationships. Nerves get in the way of everything, except creation. When the heavy, meditative consciousness of self is lifted, the fanciful nervous temperament is unfettered. The mind, unorganized, without the self-criticism or hesitation, with no conscious purpose as to outcome or intended audience, pours words like sweet honey, unbidden, unasked, easily and perfect. I can do nothing else well, my mind seems fuzzy, unclear, and yet it is just this state which seems to open the tunnel of inspired vision; I am a receptacle for the divine experience. I can see, hear, feel more acutely; I can read, absorb, and learn brilliantly, and with this restless energy I can write or paint fluidly, like water pouring over the damn of reason, until with its strength it gives way alltogether…..

Beautiful Women

I am overtly lecherous; I have a lecherous disposition that is at the forfront of my relations with other people. In the moments of artistic idealization, of course, I would argue that the entirety of humankind is wrong in this aspect and that I, as innocent as a child, am no more than allowing myself to be drawn into the great mystery of feminine beauty. I spent the morning in wonderment and thanksgiving; what a curious turn of events, that I could spend a day basking in beauty, seeking out comforts, good food, large, well-lit windows, antique shops and Confucius temples, toting a leather bag containing tattered volumes of English literature that when, settling in a comfortable nook, I would take out and sink into leisurely; and that all this is considered my present vocation. What immensely good fortune. I even said a prayer, over a steaming plate of rich oriental noodles, which was, incidentally interrupted by a pair of young girls coming to sit at the table next to mine. One was good looking, cute, with an impressive form that immediately attracted me, and a skirt that showed the creamy softness of her legs. I spent the remainder of my lunch, half reading my book, and half stealing well-attempted glimpses. Not, in fact, stealing, for it was my covert hope that she would look up at the same time and I could communicate my fascination with her. More like, peeking intentionally. Although our eyes met, at least once, that seemed the end of it. As I got up and walked past, taking full advantage of the opportunity to glimpse her round bosom, she raised one arm defensively, in some part aware of my intrusion. Society, and with it, her reaction, renders me a pervert.

I continue my day, and notice how my eyes are drawn to the breasts and bottom of every girl of some attractiveness. In my defense: women are beautiful, and it is no insult to call them so. Men often seek out beauty in a solitary walk through nature, in the pleasant surroundings, the touch and color of the bright furniture in a sushi bar, music, food, and the littlest pleasures of our physical senses. By small appreciations of this manner we are able to stir the spaciousness of our soul into a deeper connection with our own journey. It is the primary role of the artist, in fact, to capture and preserve these tiny moments, frame them and place them in the public eye precisely so that the public has easy access to beauty when they recognize the need for it. Hawthorne says of Zenobia in the Blithedale Romance, “Zenobia was truly a magnificient woman. The homely simplicity of her dress could not conceal, nor scarcely diminish, the queenliness of her presence. The image of her form and face should have been multiplied all over the earth. It was wronging the rest of mankind to retain her as  the spectacle of only a few. The stage would have been her proper sphere. She should have made it a point of duty, moreover, to sit endlessly to painters and sculptors, and preferrably the latter; because the cold decorum of the marble would consist with the utmost scantiness of drapery, so that the eye might chastely be gladdened with her material perfection in its entireness.”

Why should we have to wait for an artist to first copy that perfection (without clothes, I cannot help but agree with Hawthorne in this respect) before we appreciate it? Most young women have a glimpse of Zenobia in them, and most people fail to notice any but the exceptionally beautiful. If I find in a blushed cheek or dark eyelash, a piece of that eternal magnificience of womanhood, why is it sinful for me to languish, to stare, to breath deeply of this beauty as I would of a solitary flower in a field? It is not that I need to intrude; I’m not looking for any sexual satisfaction or favor, but I feel no need to be bashful in my awareness, on the contrary, I want the girl to realize how special she is, how beautiful and holy. Pleasure of this type, pleasure in the beauty of women, is often seen as the root of evil. Satan himself, then must have created feminine beauty. And along with it, the beauty of the stars, of green forests, crystal blue ponds, and orange yellow sunsets. That bubbling of spiritual awe in the face of such beauty must be the serpent’s tongue licking our pride and basest of natures, luring us into sin. Nonsense! Without beauty and recognition of it, both beauty, and pleasure in life’s small miracles, like chocolate cake and jasmine green tea, the world would be bleak and drab, with nothing for a poet or an artist to do.

A society of philosophers

Today we have bred a society of philosophers. With the insurgence of new and contradictory ideals, the post-modern breakup of community and group, as well as the loss of any hope for meaning and truth (despite blind acceptance of some religion, which should have, on its on merits, died out in the face of rational criticism), we have a whole lot of malcontents, struggling to find a place in society, struggling to be counted, to be loved, eager to offer their criticisms on society or anything else they can think of; and yet, we also, as in any age, have everyone else, the masses, the sheep, who try to carve their name into the side of the wall nearest them and hope someone reads it. With the ease of being suddenly rich and famous, based on skill only, everybody wants to be rich and famous, and so we covet grandness, while sipping our coffee and enjoying every day as much as we can. My point: I’m trying to get something out of myself which is stubbornly staying inside, somewhere where I cannot coax it out, but will have to consciously force it out and commit it to paper; in the ensuing battle parts may be damaged or violated but here goes nothing:

Maybe philosophers are not necessary anymore. Maybe they have never been necessary. Perhaps like all artists, entertainers, they offer a brief destraction, some great ideas, hell they may even describe life exactly as it is, perfectly, and have come to know the True nature of all things. So f*ing what? Tomorrow we will still need to work. We will still need to eat. We will still have the same animal instincts towards the opposite sex, towards fear and danger, we will still have jealousy and pride, we will still have to get along with and co-exist with people we may very well like to strangle. What good is Truth?! We cannot escape the symptoms of our existence, the state of our earthly mission. And so, rather than prophets of eternal reality, philosophers are really the people sitting on their ass, looking at the clouds go by, refusing to participate for fear of giving their efforts to a point they can’t conceptualize intelligently, while the rest of us are trying to make do. At least, that has been the philosopher of the last 2000 years. Much more useful, perhaps, no – definitely, are those persons who can acutely understand our actual existence, on its own terms, without criticizing its obvious pointlessness, and offer concrete ways to improve it! What does it matter WHY we are here. We ARE here. What does it matter, if what we see is ‘real’, if our actions are ‘good’ or ‘evil’ and if these terms hold eternal value or are social constructs. All of philosophy is immediately dismissed. All that matters. ALL that we can ever know for sure and nothing else, is this, one moment we find ourselves in, and every previous, and every subsequent, until death. And so, what I find of immense value, is anyone who knows how to increase the worth of this one moment.

But actually…

Nobody is interested in Philosophy. Everybody is interested in happiness. And although they may not intellectualize it or even consciously seek out happiness as an end to itself, it is the secret motivation for human action. The desire for happiness, sometimes known as pleasure, rules every situation where we choose something in favor of anything. Cake vs. Nothing. Chocolate cake vs. strawberry. New clothes vs. wearing the old ones until we die, colors and styles, cash or credit (which may well have practical concerns, which are generally based on and can be linked back to happiness.

I am the new philosophy of religion

I am the new philosophy of religion, and philosophy of spirituality, and in that effect, I am the new voice of Truth, Wisdom, Goodness, and represent the point of life in General. Literary Analysis and Deconstruction cannot exist without a voice like mine; or at least should not, for the very reason that I dislike post-modernism; you are left with piles of junk and no life whatsoever. Literature must be saved, preserved. No traded in for texts and analysis. After all, it is not sick, it does not need to be probed, medicined, filtered and sewn back together. It should not be displayed coursely on the sterile operating table of criticism; able to have its secrets examined in harsh metallic lighting by the first year medical students. Take away its mystique, its grandeur, and you really are missing sometthing important. Instead, restore literature to its place: a beacon of light and truth, a clear voice of understanding.