Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #659 - Restricted Frequency 069 - Oh Art

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #659 - Restricted Frequency 069 - Oh Art

Hi Mom, I am wiped out from studying for my final. I rode the adrenaline high most of Wednesday scrambling to catch up on work and was not too successful at catching up. So today is a bigger catch up day.

So, for now, a repost. Here's Ganzeer's most recent newsletter.

I have backed his KICKSTARTER project -



That's all for now. Enjoy Ganzeer's really great newsletter!!
G a n z e e r ' s



Oh Art, Where Art Thou?

May 1879, an independently published satirical journal –a precursor to the “zine”– printed a crudely illustrated political cartoon showing the ruler of Egypt, Khedive Ismail Pasha, standing next to an auctioneer offering up the Sphinx and Great Pyramids in exchange for British Pounds. Foreign buyers and dignitaries gather round with interest.

The paper was called Abou Naddara Zarqa, or “The Man in the Blue Glasses” and the force behind it was a sole individual: James Sanua, an Egyptian/Italian Freemason Jew who indeed wore blue spectacles and identified as an Egyptian Nationalist. The publication of this particular cartoon was only three years before the British officially occupied Egypt, making it a rather accurate premonition.

Although Sanua produced the paper entirely on his own from a small printing shop in Paris, located in the Passage du Caire –No, really!– its influence cannot be understated. The reason it was produced from Paris is because that’s where Sanua went into exile after two failed attempts on his life were made by the Egyptian regime. This after 15 issues of the paper had been produced from within Egypt all in the span of just two months. Being heavy on satirical criticism, and being the first ever Arabic publication to employ cartoons and colloquial Egyptian Arabic in its writing, the Khedive knew that it had the power to undermine his rule, even in a country boasting a population of, at the time, over 5.5 million of which 94% could not read or write.

But still, Abou Naddara was influential nonetheless. According to Blanchard Jerrold (1826 - 1884), a prolific English journalist and author of Egypt Under Ismail Pacha, which appeared in print a short time before the Khedive’s forced abdication, “[Abou Naddara] was in every barrack, in every Government-office. In every town and village it was read with the liveliest delight.” Often times, people gathered round in the coffeeshops to hear it read out loud to them.

Such was the popularity of this unconstrained journal –which in its heyday reached a circulation of 50,000 copies– that the Khedive wrote to Sanua in Paris promising titles and fortune should he refrain from further violating the ruler’s dignity. This is according to Sanua anyway (it’s hard to tell fact from fiction with these damn satirists, isn’t it?). Sanua’s reaction, being the gloriously outspoken person that he was, was to publish the Khedive’s letter in full.

Through his work, James Sanua may have brought a number of innovations to the Arab-speaking world, such as the use of colloquial dialect and political cartooning in mass print media, and before that, the introduction of colloquial Egyptian dialect to modern theatre, the precursor to Egyptian cinema, which is still the most influential across the Arab world today. But in reality Sanua was galvanizing a very Egyptian tradition: satire.

81 years prior to the launch of Abou Naddara Zarqa, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt. A campaign that lasted only 3 years and ended with Napoleon fleeing the country and leaving his troops behind, thanks in no small part to the Egyptian brand of satire which sent the European despot into fits of “narcissistic rage” according to Avner Falk in his book Napoleon Against Himself. One French prisoner of the British –who intervened in Egypt to keep it from French influence– had this to say: “When I was in Egypt… it would have been beyond my power to prevent the population from speaking freely in the coffeehouses. They were freer and more independent in their speech than the Parisians. Though they submitted to slavery in everything else, they meant to be free in that respect. The coffeehouses were the castles of their opinions.”

In a cave not far from the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut to the south of Egypt is a piece of rather rebellious graffiti that is a few thousand years old. It depicts what is thought to be Hatshepsut, female Pharaoh of Egypt from 1478-1458 B.C, bent over and getting penetrated from behind by her Chancellor and royal architect Senenmut. Although the female Pharaoh’s rule is largely considered prosperous by most historians, this piece of graffito may be a clue as to the control enacted over Hatshepsut by her Chancellor, and the general resentment felt by the populace towards that dynamic.

Was the Pharaoh actually romantically involved with her Chancellor or was this piece of artistic expression something of an exaggeration? A sort of... satire?

In my mind, that’s not really the important question to ask, because the Ancient Egyptians believed that the spoken word had an effect on the physical world. And even more powerful than the spoken word was the written word. The thing is though, throughout much of Ancient Egyptian history, words and pictures were interchangeable things. The act of carving such an image, of manifesting the idea into physical form, even if in a far away cave visited by no one, would have enough of an impact on the physical world to make it true. If the cave was however visited –even if by a select few– then such an impact would almost be guaranteed.

If Hatshepsut and her Chancellor were not actually romantically involved, perhaps the witnessing of such a vulgar piece of graffito by a peasant or two, even in secret, would create enough “buzz” around their relationship that they would indeed eventually end up romantically involved. Or, if not, they would still be remembered as such long after they’re dead, no matter what the reality actually was. Such is the power of words and pictures, especially ones charged with satire.

As Alan Moore, self-proclaimed shaman and arguably the greatest anglophone author of our time is quoted as saying: “Bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you. And if he was a skillful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community, it shows you up as ridiculous, lame, pathetic, worthless, in the eyes of your community, in the eyes of your family, in the eyes of your children, in the eyes of yourself. And if it’s a particularly good bard, and he’s written a particularly good satire, then three hundred years after you’re dead, people are still gonna be laughing at what a twat you were.”

In that sense, there is no magic greater or more powerful than the magic of words, which we’ve already established is interchangeable with images. What that means is that words and pictures, Art essentially, is magic. And with it, one can actively change the world. Perhaps that is why the Old English term for “be” was also “art”.

With that notion in mind, one cannot help but feel completely disheartened by the vast majority of art produced and exhibited today. Art that lacks intent, wielded by individuals who seem to be completely unaware of the magic at their fingertips.

Of course there will be artists, very good ones at that, who will say that this here publication is not a work of true art. How can it be spoken of in the same breath as anything produced by a Duchamp or Pollack? They will say the same of James Sanua’s work, an individual never cited in their art history books. This of course is understandable, as there are a great many among us who cannot get past the need for legitimization from big old established institutions. But rest assured, for the original journals of Abou Naddara continue to be successfully auctioned by the likes of Sotheby’s and Christie’s today.

Art aside, there are those with legitimate concerns surrounding the propagation of fake news. But as the fantastic English author Neil Gaiman once said “'Once upon a time' is code for 'I’m lying to you'.” Personally, I don’t see why the words “Breaking News” can’t be used to that extent as well. In fact, I’m sure they already are to some degree or another, even by those claiming to be telling the truth. I’m willing to bet that James Sanua would’ve agreed. Mark Twain definitely thought so.

I should point out, though, that everything in this here article is true by the way. No, really, I promise you.
The above is an op-ed I wrote for ALTERNATIVE FACTS, a fake newspaper created for MAGIC CITY, an exhibition which recently opened in Munich, Germany (Coming to Stockholm on November 1st).
The above article also provides a very, very small part of the backstory for PROJECT LG, which I don't think I'll get around to actually drawing before 2020. Between that and THE SOLAR GRID, it seems that for the first time in my life, I may have something that resembles one of those so-called 5-year plans.
Like this newsletter? Forward it to a friend or tell people to sign up atRestrictedFrequency.com
It is high time to work around the establishment, gang. According to this article on Hyperallergic, Trump raised a great deal of money from major art patrons for his poorly attended inauguration.

Billionaire art collector and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) board member Steven A. Cohen as well as Henry Kravis — whose wife, Marie-Josée Kravis, is the president of MoMA — both gave $1 million. Hedge fund manager John Paulson, who’s a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Chairman’s Circle and oncedonated $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy, contributed $250,000. former Iranian ambassador to the US, Hushang Ansary, and his wife, Sashla — who, as The Art Newspaper pointed out, helped fund the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s department of Islamic art — donated a total of $2 million.

What the flying fuck, right? Also worthy of note:

Internet giant Google gave a total of $285,000. Online retailer Amazon contributed $57,746.13. 

Why those additional 13 cents were necessary from Amazon, I haven't the slightest clue.

Aya Hijazi

I have no intention of writing a big think piece about this, because ever since Trump made a big deal about it, literally everyone on my feeds has been chiming in with big, long analyses. I would, however, like to point out just a few things:
  1. This is obviously a political move on Trump's part to give his administration a one-up on the Democrats, who failed to get Aya out of prison the entire time Obama was in office.
  2. Aya was an NGO worker who helped homeless street-children. Her arrest was part of a political campaign by Sisi (the Egyptian president) who ordered a crackdown on all foreign NGOs on accusations of espionage and other nonsense. This was 3 years ago.
  3. Obama's inability to interfere is definitely a stain on his administration's already spotty foreign policy record (hi, Hillary), but it may be the case that Sisi might've asked for something unreasonable in return, and I really fear what that might be.
  4. According to Trump, you can interfere in another government's justice system, but still see an ally in that very same government.
  5. Most important, this clearly demonstrates that the Egyptian Justice system is a joke, and that it is highly likely that a great many people in prison really shouldn't be, but no one is doing anything about it and that is the most heartbreaking thing of all.
  6. In any case, I am happy to see Aya free.

How the Ancient World Collapsed

This professor weaves a pretty convincing hypothesis that the great civilizations of the ancient world collapsed as a result of climate change, mass migration, rebellion, war, and a disturbance of vital trade routes, which –if you think about it– applies very closely to the world we live in today. The video's quite long, and the fellow's kinda kooky, throws in the occasional dad joke, but if you persevere, you'll come out of it with some interesting information.

Out of Heart

by Irfan Master

Congrats to the very talented Irfan Master on the successful release of his second YA novel.

I have admittedly yet to read it, but I am very much looking forward to.  Get it from your local bookshop, or if you must: Amazon.

Intern/PA for film guy in LA

Friend and filmmaker Patrick Scott is on the lookout for an Intern/PA of sorts. Here's his call:

I'm looking for an intern/PA to help out at my downtown workshop. We're looking for self-driven folks who can build little motorized cars and robots and various doodads. This is a fun opportunity for someone with no film experience but who has either a mechanical engineering background or is just good with RC models and toys. This is a safe and positive workshop environment--no drama.

Patrick can be reached directly at patrick@zoochosis.com
My website is ganzeer.com. I also have a webshop where I sell my original art. I'm on Twitter and Facebook. Tumbling at perpetual.systems. My graphic novel, THE SOLAR GRID, is being serialized at thesolargrid.net

The Solar Grid – Update

THE SOLAR GRID, 120 pages in, 330 to go.

THE SOLAR GRID is now 41% funded, another 10% increase from last week. Only one more week to go before the kickstarter ends, and somehow I'm expected to raise 59% of the crowdfunding target. I'll admit, I'm not entirely sure how that's even possible, even though trend-sniffing algorithms are telling me it's likely going to work out.

Big shout out to The Fleet Library at RISD for backing the book. I didn't even know that libraries backed kickstarters. This, of course, would not have happened had Marshall Weber from Booklyn not brought it to their attention. Thanks for that, man. Booklyn has also been doing a stellar job spreading the word through their website, mailing lists, and social media.

My lovely wife, Kelsey Norman, who researches migration and refugees, has not only put up with my neurosis during this somewhat difficult month, but has also gone out of her way to spread the word within her academic circles (hey, there is a fair bit of migration that takes place in THE SOLAR GRID!).

Also thanks to Molly Crabapple for offering to do a sketch as a reward. That got snatched up right away.

Huge thanks to authors Rabih Alameddine (AN UNNECESSARY WOMAN), Mona Eltahawy (HEADSCARVES AND HYMENS) , Ahdaf Soueif (THE MAP OF LOVE), and Don Stone and Basma Hamdy (WALLS OF FREEDOM) for sharing on social media. Also must give a shout out to Vikram Ahluwalia (Guernica Projects), and the Pamela Anderson Foundation for spreading the word as well.

Many readers of this very newsletter reached out to ask for posters to print out and hang around their universities and workplaces. I really appreciate that, you guys, because I know you didn't have to.

So many friends have really gone out of their way to spread the word. The problem with attempting to name everyone though is that you're bound to forget one or two people and get yourself into trouble. So, you know who you are. Thank you very, very much. I really appreciate it.

One person who cannot go unmentioned, however, is Warren Ellis. Y'see, I've actually had to email friends individually to let them know about the kickstarter and ask them to spread the word. With Warren, however, I really didn't. He took it upon himself to spread the word anyway he could, and he really didn't have to. Aside from bringing in at least half the backers, such enthusiasm and encouragement is also the greatest kudos any author and/or artist can ever get. I mean, an award from Foreign Policy is nice and all, but nothing beats a tap on the shoulder from Warren. It is a little bit like getting knighted by the warrior whose swordsmanship always blew your mind growing up.

Also, Warren has impeccable taste. He always gives me the best book recommendations.

At the risk of sounding like a complete fanboy, I still sometimes wonder why Warren has been so supportive of THE SOLAR GRID, even back when I was still starting on it a little over a year ago. The answer I've come up with is that he must really actually like it. But also because he's just a really nice guy. Despite the way he looks. Cheers, mate.

This is not, by any means, a defeat speech by the way. We've still got a good 10 days left. We've got this. Let's go.

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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 661 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1704.26 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
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