7/29/2014

Pretty Good Review

"But it is in his poems that Dr. S_____ most vividly expresses the vitality of his realization of the Universal Life. The remarkable scope of his vision, the fertile yield of past centuries to his condensingly-interpretative thought, and the mighty swing of his fragrant censer of realization of essence combine to produce a picture in which all the past and the present display their dominant notes and colours in a harmony so glorious as to open forth to us a dazzling glimpse of the onward coming future. The superb melody of the ages as sung on earth by the characteristic events of the evolutionary progress of humanity follows a rhythm which, once perceived, is entrancing and illuminating beyond compare; and it is much of this that Dr. S_____ has put into the most prominent of his poems. He grasps and holds universal things before us for interpretation as they may be seen when partially expressed in transient periods, movements and thoughts of human beings on our earth; and through it all rings prophetically the clarion cry of man's inevitable and glorious destiny." (1902) (link)

7/21/2014

For Sale - Original Art at San Diego Comic Con



*****ALERT*****

SOME OF MY ORIGINAL ART WILL BE FOR SALE AT SAN DIEGO COMIC CON. THERE WILL BE MANY OTHER PAGES BESIDES WHAT IS PICTURED ABOVE, INCLUDING LARGE GANGES PAGES. I WILL NOT BE THERE. THE PAGES WILL BE SOLD BY THE BEGUILING, LOCATED at booth #1629, The Drawn & Quarterly booth.

Any questions please contact the Beguiling (mail@beguiling.com).
See here for a press release and what other artists' work will be available.

And, as always, many of my pages are available at the Beguiling website.

Don't get overwhelmed! Just get something!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

7/20/2014

For Sale

Three of my favorite cartoonists seem to be trying hard to make some money right now, with art sales and new online shops. Check them out.

Gabrielle Bell

Matthew Thurber

Dane Martin

7/12/2014

Conversation Gardening



Speaking of Anders Nilsen, he has this new project called "Conversation Gardening." Like many he got mad about Amazon's recent shenanigans but he made his indignation manifest in a project and a path toward a better place. Read about it at the links below. Briefly the deal is, if you buy one of his books at an independent bookseller and send him the receipt and a piece of blank paper he'll send you back a drawing of anything, your choice. I'd be happy to participate in this too, for whatever that's worth. [send receipts and requests to PO Box 38061, St. Louis, MO 63138]. I'm sure there will be more authors and artists who would like to do this as well. (It seems to me like what would be ideal is if booksellers could use some kind of display or sign near participating authors' books.) 


I should also mention that Anders has a new self-published comic book called God and the Devil at War in the Garden that everyone will want to get. If you're lucky you might get a copy that was actually expertly stapled by me personally! But you'll never know.


7/01/2014

getting closer



As I work I have to be careful how much I zoom in. I can get lost in details that won't even appear on the printed page. Getting lost is bad, but the ability to zoom in and out is part of the point of what I'm putting on the page in the first place. Zooming in and out through space that isn't even there.

Every day I'm getting a little closer to being done with Ganges #5, but there's still a lot of space between here and there. Space that is really there.

As I'm posting this, I can see at least one "mistake" in the images above that I should go in and fix.

6/24/2014

Changes

This blog used to be called "The Balloonist." Now it's going to be called "F." I hope that doesn't mess anybody up.

I still have a lot of pictures of balloons and ballooning that I meant to post here over the years. If I get desperate for content as I try in the coming months to keep to a schedule of posting (at least) once a week, those images will almost certainly start showing up. So fans of balloons, ballooning, lame puns, and regularity should still have plenty to look forward to.

Comments will always be open now, even though nobody comments on blogs anymore except spammers.

Lastly, a reminder that my tumblr is over here and if you care enough to read this you might want to follow that too.

* * *

Here's two mountains, or two views of the same mountain, or the same mountain at two different moments—it’s all the same, from Ganges 5. Will these mountains still be standing when I finally finish this comic book, millions of years from now? Or will frost and rain have eroded and dismantled them by then and carried them,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,to the sea???



6/02/2014

Note to self

woke from a dream and typed this into my phone in the middle of the night:

Pizza in a pizza. 2 dogs always scamming good talking give different names every time dumb stoner names I am ape. Designer breeds but weird unrecognized 

5/06/2014

Crazy Original Art Sale at TCAF

Unless I change my mind, I'm bringing these folders of original art
to TCAF this weekend, priced to move.










I'll also be bringing a lot of pages to the Beguiling and they should be up on the website after that. 

4/24/2014

Incomplete Nature by Terrence W. Deacon

(Cross posted from my bookblog.)

(I read this book while at the same time reading Dynamics in Action by Alicia Juarrero. I finished Deacon's book first. I decided to read them together, because Juarrero has formally accused Deacon of plagiarism. You can read about that here and here. Read the comments on the latter for more. Anyways I'm trying to get my head around the ideas first.)

Daniel Dennett's review from last December is a good place to start. There are many other reviews of this book around the web, so I won't struggle too much with trying to summarize the ideas. I got a big kick out of reading Deacon's other book, Symbolic Species (link to my write up). That book was about the dialectical co-evolution of language and the brain, and this newer book (2011) is in a way about the co-evolution of self-organizing forms. Both of these books seemed very "dialectical" to me, but I honestly still don't know if I'm using that word correctly or if I'm only using it in my own private way. Anyhow the idea is that as simple material forms work through their thermodynamic changes they can come together in mutually supportive ways to create new meta-forms (like what happens with crystals or whirlpools), which can then combine to form more complex forms-of-forms-of-forms which can be said in a extremely primitive way to look after themselves, to work to persist in their current arrangement of forms, and to reproduce and evolve. Deacon calls this primitive life-form an "autogen." (Juarrero sometimes uses the phrase "structured structuring structures" which I guess she got from Antonio Damasio.) It only really exists in theory, but his point is that it's not a totally crazy idea that something like that could have come together billions of years ago on Earth. It doesn't violate the laws of physics.

I associate this kind of "leveling-up" or differentiation with dialectics. In Symbolic Species the 3-part dialectic you needed to get your head around was Charles Peirce's icon > index > symbol. In this book, there's another nested 3-part structure: thermodynamic > morphodynamic > teleodynamic. (Peirce again makes a few cameos here.) The complex lifeforms we know and love evolved after billions of years of teleodynamic activity. There are also difficult chapters that discuss the concepts of information and work in terms of this dialectic.

Deacon discusses how in theory this dialectical geometric logic could unfold in simple material systems, and then towards the end discusses how this logic can apply to what we know about brains and consciousness. The sections on brains were of course what I was interested in. They felt intuitively right to me, for what it's worth, and the parallels with Buddhist ideas were obvious and exciting to see.

He argues against the idea that consciousness and life is to be understood in merely linear terms, such as mechanism/function, or information/computation. Instead we should pay attention to how life emerges from forms of thermodynamic and morphodynamic energy flows which use geometrical arrangements to pit physical processes against each other in order to perpetuate far-from-equilibrium structures. Thus new formal arrangements become new efficient causes. The parts affect the whole, the whole affects the parts. As new arrangements of forms persist, new possibilities arise for new systems and relationships between forms to emerge, and as these affect the ability of the sub-forms to survive and reproduce the new meta-arrangements persist insofar as the sub-forms which support them are selected to perpetuate them. Wholes support parts which support wholes. In this way forms "level-up" into new meta-forms (these are my words for thinking about it). Once these forms (which at this point are no longer merely material, but are self-perpetuating forms-of-forms, and so exist as it were in the spaces between matter, and are "absential" (to use one of Deacon's many neologisms)) found ways to use the patterns of DNA and RNA molecules to integrate different areas of themselves they got really good at generating different architectures for staying alive and reproducing. At this level the material form of the organism is in a sense beside the point—the point is the whole dynamic arrangement of self-perpetuating form (which is parasitic on matter but also paradoxically independent in the sense that it is a dynamic matter/form combo, "more than the sum of its parts" at any one moment, emergent and absential).

A lot of this is standard evolution stuff, but what I guess Deacon is saying is that the important thing is to follow the formal logic of nested spiraling yin/yangs of presences and absences all the way down to the basic level of thermodynamics and back up again in order to see how life and consciousness are best understood in terms of a dialectic of dynamic processes. The higher levels at which information and function and consciousness seem paradoxical only make sense if you take into account the whole multi-dimensional dialectic of presence and absence.

So did Aristotle nail it? All four causes are accounted for and back in action. There's a lot of discussion of Aristotle in this book and Dynamics in Action, which I look forward to finishing. Greek science's turn toward the timeless and mathematical and away from the contextually embedded narrative description is a big issue in that book. What about Lao Tse? "Clay is fashioned into vessels but it is on their empty hollowness that their use depends.” (Deacon quotes this too.) Deacon also discusses the "discovery" of zero as analogous to what he is trying to say about absential "things." (More often he uses the word "ententional" to refer to these absent forms that make a difference. I don't think that word is going to catch on.)

I haven't mentioned how difficult to read this book is yet. It's not super bad, but it's pretty difficult. He coins a lot of new words, which normally I'm fine with, and even wish more writers would do, but other reviewers have felt it was a bit much. You need to have a pretty basic understanding of physics and biology. I'm no master wordsmith but I couldn't help but feel at times like he could have explained things more clearly and that he was making it more difficult than was necessary. I'd love to take a crack at diagramming or drawing comics about the ideas in this book and Juarrero's book. Deacon throws in a few diagrams, but it seems to me like visualization would really help. Saying "figure/background reversal" over and over doesn't quite drive the point home without an illustration, like one of these.


4/23/2014

Art for Sale

Just a reminder, some of my original art is for sale over at the Beguiling Art Store.

There's two versions of this page?! One is from Or Else #4 / The Wild Kingdom, and one is from Supermonster #14.



Look at this one...boom!


 

These and many more cheerful pages from The Wild Kingdom are available.

4/03/2014

Mirrors of Nature

Here's some diagrams I drew while reading Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature by Richard Rorty last year. I don't expect these diagrams will necessarily make much sense to anyone since I'm using my own, like, private language, which is still under construction. Nor will they clear up anything about the book, which is anyways already pretty clear, I think. In other words, I didn't draw them to illustrate the book. (Though I would like to do more comics or diagrams to clearly illustrate philosophy or nonfiction books someday. If you're looking to put out an edition of Mirror of Nature with illustrations by Kevin H, please give me a call!) But these fall more in the category of "inspired by" or notes to myself. All the stuff about dialectics are my own ideas and I'm not even sure I know what I'm talking about yet. Ideally I would type out some paragraphs trying to explain what you're looking at, but I think I'll just put them up as is for now. 






3/24/2014

Yet Another Postcard from Fielder

I drew this for Internazionale magazine in early spring, 2013



3/11/2014

Visualization and Cognition

Visualization and Cognition: Drawing Things Together 
by Bruno Latour
(1986) (link to pdf)

This essay brings together many of the subjects I've become interested in over the past decade and a half. It seems like it should be required reading for people interested in visual thinking. I'm going to give it another read and try to catch up on commentary since 1986 before I write more about it. In the meantime I'm going to let this post be a general catch-all for the topic of visualizations and cognition, and I'll come back to it with new links and notes, etc. (This is part of my plan for moving forward with this blog in a new way...but enough of that for now).

I learned about this essay from Bret Victor's end of the year reading links from 2013 which I am slowly working my way through.


3/10/2014

Conservation

Here's a Frank King strip from almost exactly 100 years ago, just for the conservation of it.


2/28/2014

Flickr

I've been trying to use Flickr a little more often, now that there's no limit on the uploads. Here's a linke to my accounte.

2/25/2014

g5 in progress



Here's an in-progress page from Ganges 5.

2/20/2014

2/19/2014

cool book


Saw this today at the library.