Archive | January 2009

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A very well worked out and rational conclusion, from lots of recent thoughts, ideas for works and searching for the right words

“I FEEL LIKE PUNCHING SOMEONE, AND SMASHING SOME WINDOWS”

(the return of ‘nobhead’ version of me)

Seen as Ive come to the conclusion, that 100% rationality is beyond me, you will have to wait until next fall (john calm season) to get any more sense on my ideas on global warming and the human landscape.

I hate starting new years i can’t deal with them.

click here to look at my work, and tell me something nice (even if you don’t really mean it)
just to raise my materialistic spirits.

www.johnledgerartist.co.uk

The Battle Against a 10 Year Old Disorder

I am becoming more and more aware that writing about my inner troubles -as opposed to the World scale troubles – is not a path I wish to take any more if I can help it. I am also troubled (irrationally maybe) by posting my inner-most thoughts on the Internet, as I have done so much to escape from the personality exhibitionism that sites such as Facebook and Myspace feverishly encourage. But as a human and not a robot, my mood ebbs and flows, and sometimes I need to write about things that are bothering me. The conclusions I came to – and still come to – about my own personality always bring me to a better understanding of the social and physical environments around me, which in turn inspires most of my artwork ideas. So you could say, this blog should have been my first.

These notes are very disjointed but its the best collage of thoughts based upon my 10 year old disorder that i can conjure up.

cheers

Drinking coffee on a train, Walking in a daze, walking through the trees on my lunch break. These moments put my soul in a relaxed state of equilibrium and I would class these moments as my most content, and -though it’s hard to describe – possibly my only real happy moments. The empty stomach and the relaxed – yet active – moments put the least amount of pressure upon my mind. I am foolish though, in forgetting how transient these moments are.

Back to work as me…

No matter what I do – and have done – I have always possessed a feeling that deep down my good intentions are false and insincere. I’m not exactly sure how this feeling evolved (maybe it’s well founded?) but it most certainly forms the basis of a feeling that no matter what I do, it isn’t enough; a feeling of unworthiness that has resulted in 10 years of a disorder that most people would not know existed. Well at least until my stupid drunken self tries to tell the tale of it.

Constant self criticism leads to a need for re-assurance, and me, and my drunken self in particular, are in constant search for this. However there is a positive feedback loop in this search that magnifies the sense of paranoia which leads to the doldrums and great fuel for more self criticism.

One of the biggest problems is that it is very hard for others to see it as a problem. I think a lot of people – no matter what they may say – see the causes for my needs for re-assurance as very silly indeed. If I was doing drugs or drinking every night – which there is no doubt are more straight forward ways to damaging oneself – people would be able to see the problem in a very straight forward manner. My problems – my eating problems – have made my life a lot more difficult and less healthy than it could have been. It is possible that these issues have stunted my growth – both physically and mentally – to an extent that my life is more of an ‘half life’ to what it could have been. This is just one way of looking at the past, as another way of looking at it is that maybe i had no other reasonable pathway anyway, and – a merits level – I don’t think my art would have been as strong without out (if I’d have even chosen to do art at all that is).

I am proud (very proud) of the way I look at the world now, and when I am in a creative downpour – when my ideas are coming thick and fast, I see my disorders as possible benefactors rather than parasites. But these moments are like manic highs and they cannot be sustained and the obstacles they put in my life are far more consistent and permanent. For a start they provide the tools that grind down at my social life, and render a possible relationship into a distant day dream. I do not want to be like this – never have done – so I’ve constantly been searching for answers to why, in society.

Society (especially in the affluent West) seems to be constantly waving temptation in front of an individual with one hand whilst slapping them – calling them ‘bad and undesirable’ with the other hand. This is a more domesticated form of doublespeak, but it has the same affect on ones own life: a difficulty in making rational decisions (I will return to my ‘beef’ with doublespeak later in the year).

I’ve been searching for so long to find my comfortable state, but because of the pressure to be acceptable and desirable I have lost all knowledge of what this is. It is drilled into an individual from an early age – through adverts and ‘good-looking’ television programs – that in order to achieve anything in life – from a loving relationship to prosperity (which have actually been ‘absurdly’ molded together by the TV) – one had to be visually acceptable at the very least. However we are then told from one hand that the joys of life cannot be had if you want to be visually acceptable – yet ‘ the desirable ones’ on the television are constantly giving in to the joys of life.

What does one do? I became a control freak. Despite what I thought to myself, I had been conditioned to believe that a good and loving soul-that I would one day like to have a go at using- would not be accessible in an visually unattractive person. This, combined with natural teenage blues (I guess, in retrospect), was the birth of my eating disorders.

An overload of media information chains the most sensitive and receptive of us to virtually impossible requests of oneself, ones that can probably only be obtained by The Man Machine. The exposure to this constant doublespeak, coats these individuals in a schizophrenic rational. One minute you can be assured something that the next is a load of rubbish, and a constantly talking box is hard to disagree with when it dominates every room it is placed within. Is it possible that a larger percentage of people than ever before have some form of psychosis due to this, resulting in eating disorders amongst other disorders? How can anybody exposed to such amounts of media info look in the mirror and see the person they really are?

I cannot however blame all the environmental factors on the television screens, School itself (particularity High School) is like a miniature totalitarian state, in which the individual is hunted down. Which is the reason why young college students dress so flamboyantly – as I believe it is a desperate search to regain the person who they thought they were before. However, I don’t believe this is as easy as changing haircuts and trousers. For me, the transition from a free spirit into a caged human most certainly happened not so long after I entered High School. I was slow to catch on to what was socially expected of me at High School, I wasn’t ready to become a fashion conscious teen at 11 years old. Therefore I was picked on quite frequently in the first half year. Feeling disliked I did my best to render myself likable. The only possible way I could see of doing this was to join the queue of sheep, queuing up to be draped in Adidas clothing and Lynx deodorant. So scared I was of being picked on again that I was probably more ‘Adidas’d and ‘Lynxed’ up than anyone else in class. How foolish I was to not to see that I was giving up my natural comfort zone (where my real joys were found) and eventually I would be in constant battle with myself.

I believe that as a Child you enter the World in a state of mutual understanding or equilibrium with your immediate surroundings, but with an eagerness to learn and explore – to push the boundaries (even if that boundary is only the garden fence). Eventually layers and layers of rules and expectations – that coil around each one of us – trap our inner self’s and block our capability of seeing our full horizons, numbing our senses – such as our inquisitiveness. The happy inner-state seems too trapped inside to reach, and fear becomes the dominant emotion. Because I believe this I once more have to say how important my creative pursuits are in softening and weakening these barriers.

Since School, and largely due to my artwork I have become an hell of a lot more confident – but not less fearful. For example when I visit a new town by myself little alarms start going off whispering in my ear that I “shouldn’t be here!” borne out of an imagined scene where the locals sense who I am and denounce me as being unworthy to be in their town. Silly as this is, I can tell it where it comes from: I do very much feel like that shy school boy again, not feeling that who I am is a worthy cause to ‘just be’ alone.

I made a very bold attempt at tackling my irrational fears that lock me in this battle – that acts itself out in either starvation or ‘eat till you burst’ scenarios – in the autumn of 2008. I know people will think this is all so silly, but – on a physical side (people seem to grasp that better) I experience stomach pains and fatigue nearly everyday. My plan to defeat my irrationality was to bombard myself with a constant reasoning and ‘rational’ self discussion. Instead of bombarding myself with adverts, i would bombard myself with books that are very critical of the things i feel caused my problems (such as the media etc). Books such as ‘ways of seeing'(John Berger) ‘No Logo ‘ Noami Klein and dystopia novels of all kinds. I found that the more intent approach to reading was also adding words to my vocabulary that were adding strength to my own understanding.

Recently this Battle (that i see as a Battle to help me survive to be an healthy and relatively happy person after my mid 20’s) has been very hard and the irrational side is gaining strength. But for me, it is a Battle for survival, for if i lose, and carry on running and walking in a mania to burn off calories and fuel my addiction for endorphins – my knees will give way, and my irrational side will be stood over me with a leash – to eternally chain the black dog to my neck.

My useless concern

More writing on the ignored threats of Global warming

We all now it’s coming – deep down – (well, except those young enough to still be blissfully ignorant) all of us can hear the threats that mutter softly over the over side of the muck stack. Yet it is all too easy for the majority of us to put our mind into auto-pilot, allowing one to make plans for the little things we were told -from an early age – were the guarantees of human life, such as marriage, buying a house, telling tales to ones grandchildren.
It is as if we’ve become so accustomed to a World of Televisions and Computers, that switching off from the truth is as easy as switching off a screen, but there again that would be a poor scapegoat, for the natural complaisance’s of a tribal species. Ill always remember a Sports paper advertisement in the 1990’s of a Football fan reading a newspaper. Front page ‘End of the World tomorrow!’ – he was reading the sport on the back page!.

You know, It is so crushingly frustrating to feel that in order to say anything in a civilized society, that what i say has to be profound or backed up by barriers of knowledge. I’ve been constantly for the right words and ideas to say and debate thoroughly, not just scratching the surface – but most of the time i wish i could just shout “why on Earth are these things happening, to our planet?” – not clever or profound, but yet would a profound statement make any more difference?.
I would love to see a busy street, where everybody – all at once – had a moment of realization – about the planet we live on – and all let go one giant yell. It would be like a giant thunder storm on a land desperately in need of water.

I have always wanted to be part of a change, but my attempts to do something useful seem to constantly delayed, forever yearning to be released from my large scale drawings, but forever sealed in their misery. Maybe my dream of ‘the security of life for people’ is motivated by the same force that drives people in the search for prosperity – the futile and constant search for that plateau where everything becomes clear and rest is assured.
Nothing is ever properly right for me, there’s always some lingering specter – counting the hours – at the back of my mind. I – by trying to disband from the tide of the crowd – have self replicated and self inflicted the same symptoms upon my own life, that are typically found in the slaves to Modern Capitalism. It sometimes feels that the more i gear myself with ideas about tackling climate change, the more i become part of the problem. Every time i kick down a door, there is another one and one, like a 3d computer game with a virus.

But all this searching into the faults of my all too futile actions, will never encourage anyone reading this to go out a plant 1,000 tree’s etc, which in so many words is what i would love. Noting down the symptoms in this swamp of useless concerns – no matter how many times i write it – will never hand me the tools and instructions to seal my fears and fix our Earth. But at the moment its all i have – but my art work – and it is evidence of my mental pathways, that i would like to be shown on my blog.

A lot of people (who know me in person) would see me as a manic and irrational individual, but i would blame this on the people skills, rather than being a crazed lunatic who worries too much, so i want to try and explain my concerns and why i do not think i am irrational, and why now – at the slightly more mature age of 25 – there’s no time for me to let these concerns individually pick on me at the back of my mind.

I never do really go into detail on my concerns about climate change and humankind’s future in general, but where would i start?. Well i would have to start from where the concerns really started when i was an 18year watching the BBC news on summers morning. The story was not linked to man made global warming, this story was of a potential threat from an Asteroid in 2018 (2002 nt7).
It sent the shivers through me for months after, it shocked me more than any news story has done before, i just couldn’t get the thoughts – of an high impact meteor hitting planet Earth – from my head.
This was a changing point in my life, because as an 18 yr old perhaps it would have been more natural for my mind to be on other things – obvious things that don’t need to stated – but i could not erase these frightening images from my mind.

Image stolen from Internet, though the Garden looks quite similar to my own.

Thankfully a news story some weeks later said that new research found that the collision was extremely unlikely to make impact anymore, but the impact of such devastating catastrophes was now firmly wedged in my skull – making a brief appearance every time i had any reflective thought.

(image of the World -returned to Molten Rock – that frequently bugged me)


As i explained earlier this was not a threat that could be blamed on people (though in my opinion we should have a missile system to defend Earth from meteors rather than from each other) but it opened up a side to me that had never been allowed to bloom in the more comfy and sentimental mind of my youthful years.
From this moment on I grew up, not into a responsible adult as most people would have expected from me, but from someone with a child’s mind, to a man living on the edge. This is probably when i became more of a manic person.

The meteor threat opened up my eyes to see just how fragile human existence is – especially modern civilizations – and i started to pay a lot more attention to our destruction of natural habitats -all be it on a local scale, noticing the ever increasing sprawl of the suburbs around the M1 commuter belt.
In my inexperienced and youthfully naive mind, i could see the blatantly obvious – that the spread of man made habitats cannot carry on forever – and it was one the first times in my life I felt that I was the only one looking at the bigger picture.

Same old river, the City got bigger (2007) 70 x 100cm


As an 18 year old, I was so shy that I would avoid people in the street, so my early ideas and thoughts on saving the planet (more accurately, humans) were severely hampered. Not being a great writer either, all i could really do was obsessively recycle and plant trees. I mentioned the word obsessive, because this triggered (or re-earthed) an obsessive and destructive disorder to my own way of life, once that is still slightly with me today.

It is important that i focus on the roots and causes of my desperate plea for the Saviour of humankind, as it puts up better foundations in my defense of my irrational approach to tackling issues. However, if i want to encourage people to try and take a look at the bigger picture, the less time spent on my one individual, the better.

I would describe my next 4 years of making art work (lots of which express deep concerns over the planet) as me ‘fighting with my eyes closed. I say this not because i stopped seeing the large picture, and didn’t take deep notice of the environment i saw, but because i never read anywhere near enough, and i could never put up an argument. Though i am very proud of a lot of my art ideas from this period – and in my mind they still stand firmly today – i needed more knowledge if i was going to be able to untie my hands once and for all.


I would say that this desire to read was ignited by the financial crisis, that really kicked off in about summer 2008. As -to me – it seemed like a dress rehearsal for a larger crisis – one where climate change is actually starting to effect millions of people, and natural resources are starting to run out, like oil supplies etc.
My way of reading may seem mechanical and rigid to some, but they are books that i really thought would help me to build a better picture of both the human and natural World. Some of books included. No Logo by Naomi Klein, The road to Wigan Pier & 1984 by George Orwell, Brave new World by Aldous Huxley, The way of the peaceful warrior by Dam Millman, About Looking and Ways of Seeing by John Berger, The Symbiotic planet by Lynn Margulis, Gaia – a new look at life, The revenge of Gaia and Gaia – medicine for an ailing planet by James Lovelock, and Playing Safe, Science and the environment by Jonathan Porritt.

As you can see it is almost a robotic entry into the world of reading, and thought it almost reads like an Slice of information taken from a competitive Myspace profile, these books were read because they seemed to be the best ones offered to me -at the time – to have more understanding about the things that concerned me. In truth what this as done, as probably put more disturbing images into my brain, but i must proceed, ignorance was never bliss for me, it was suffocating.

One image that i have now, especially encouraged by the Symbiotic planet, Brave new World and The Gaia theory. Is one were the human race now seems to look ever so more like an army of ants on the floor or a flock of sheep, or (in the case on a city) a bacterial growth upon the land.

Images taken from ‘The Sprawl’ (2008),

This drawing could have easily been called ‘The Spawn’


Seeing the human as one big organism made of smaller ones, inside an even bigger organism Earth (though Gaia is only an hypothesis these thoughts have remained – unchallenged – in my mind) i started to see our existence as even more fragile and unimportant than ever before. By unimportant i mean from a possible viewpoint of the Universe, we have potential to be important and cherished, but we aren’t earning it as yet. It is easy forget just how fragile the crust of civilisation is, in a World pampered with Hollywood and Disney dreams.

The Good Guys (2008)

When i am solely existing upon ‘Planet Yorkshire’ if i was walking around Leeds city centre – a city centre experience that reminds me very much of the book ‘Brave new World’ it would be easier to forget my dark thoughts about global warming etc (though my thoughts on a plastic existence are equally as sceptical) because the city centre is smothered in a Brand name heaven, and is occupied by ‘glamorous young hopefuls’. Places such as Leeds city centre paint a bright picture, in which it would be hard to believe that humans aren’t some chosen and protected species here on Earth (this doesn’t mean i dislike Leeds, and i quite happily visit the place to feel the contrast between it and my home town ‘Barnsley’ which i will come onto now).
However in my home town Barnsley, the picture on humanity is quite different. Here – a town center that has been badly neglected over the years it is quite obvious that a lot of people have not been living in the Bubble of Western dreams, and it can seem 1,000 years from the picturesque utopia experience on Briggate in Leeds. Barnsley is a town in a relatively very wealthy country, and its people – financially – are obviously a lot more fortunate than people n 3rd World countries. However this doesn’t stop me sometimes imagining that the Apocalypse has already been and gone when I’m walking around this town.
A lot of people look like they have lost all hope and the appearance and expressions aren’t that of a chosen and protected species, but one that is struggling to survive. It is when I’m in my home town, that my fears that we (humans) aren’t as safe from harm on this planet as we believe truly take over.

I must be grateful for having a relatively good upbringing in a town that is so neglected in parts, and i also must be grateful for living on the ‘greener side’ of town (closer to the Yorkshire Sculpture park). As from here i have instant access by foot to both town and country, and i believe this as been the bread and butter of my ideas from an early age. There is a lush and green beauty to the landscape that lies just west of Barnsley, i hope it stays, i also hope the generations after me can see it too. As after all – having no faith in religion – my faith lies in the progression of humanity, no matter what happens. As long as there is someone there, to write, draw and reflect. That is all i ask.

Tribalism Vs Survivalism

“Categorize at our peril”
From different sections of Science to Different Nationalities, the tribal instinct of human beings makes sure all aspects of human and planetary existence are chopped and diced into regimented categories. Walls are erected between different species, different subjects and different ‘types’ of people.

I am not yet a centre for great knowledge and wisdom, but i have i rough idea of why these segregation’s emerge in so many areas of life.
1. For security and placement.
2. For a more linear/straightforward approach to teaching and learning.
3. To satisfy our tribal instincts, promoting feelings of superiority to all outsiders/non-believers.

Is tribalism such a bad thing?
It can offer a sense of belonging, security, enjoyment and even love to an individual. But is tribalism needed for these qualities? are these ‘needs’ magnified by segregation’s?.
If our little Towns were viewed from one page of a 2 dimensional book layout it would be arguable whether tribalism is such a bad thing, “nothing seems to be wrong at all, what’s all the fuss about?”.

Page City

But if the pages of the book became a fold-out leaflet or map -where everything was part of one – the picture would look drastically different.


Now it is clear that our safe little towns are not on a separate page to the rest of the World. Through our blinkered eyes and tribal minds, we were blind to see the bigger picture. If there is tension somewhere, we won’t be immune on our page.

Do tribal instincts hamper our chances of survival and progression as a species?.
Well – in the wake of potential global catastrophes brought on by climate change – yes i believe so. I see tribalism as a very important threat to civilization – not just because of possible warfare in a time of limited resources – but because our refusal to see the World and its people as a whole and not in segregation’s, makes us so much more vulnerable and immobile to Global scale problems.
The diagram below show a way to see a interconnected World – a diagram deeply influenced by the ‘Gaia theory’. a Theory that See’s the Earth being one self regulating Super organism.


It seems only natural for humans to react to something once it has already happened. For example, here i am at work desperately trying to gain information for these ideas, whilst not paying full attention to the imminent threats posed by visitors onto our sculptures.
In many cases a swift but delayed reaction is enough so solve the problem, but i seriously doubt that this case would apply once the threats posed by climate change become a reality. A war between two countries is relatively small and there is room for manoeuvre and escape, however mankind is rooted to the Earth, and if the Earth reacted nastily we would have nowhere to run or hide.

The revenge of a discarded friend (2007)

We cannot see the bigger picture, we only see the small things that move at a speed we can observe – We people are easily stirred and angered by petty news stories, we are likely to not pay attention to a story on global warming. The more i read up on the Gaia hypothesis the more my head fills with images, one’s where the Universe may just function like a human body but on a much larger scale, just like the little cells do in our own bodies.

I have been obsessively reading up on James lovelock’s Gaia theory – i find it fascinating – As i find the theory very plausible, and on a personal level it as re-opened the door of science to me – one i never thought i could access again, after my appalling High School results.
Foolish as i may be for taking a theory so seriously – on a artistic field – it as certainly given me plenty of ideas and images of universal sizes, scaled down to goldfish bowl size. However a little bit of irrational emotion is probably to be expected, Seen as I’m still ‘classed’ as an artist and stuck in my artistic tribe.

However there is a few little conclusions i have come to, that i want to explain, points that i feel need to be addressed if we – in the wake on global warming – are to change.
These conclusions are a drop in the Ocean non the scale of everything, but because these ideas are of a circular interconnected nature, they are small but also massive.

Idea 1

It wouldn’t be possible to resume our beliefs that we are superior to every other thing on this planet. We have added a great attribution to life – through our mental awareness and inventiveness -but it doesn’t make us anymore vital than any of life form.

Humans deluded


The reality

It is understandable that creationists strongly defend the view that the Earth is no more than 4,000 years old. The shorter length of time that life has been in existence, the more significant the presence of an individual human is. A 70 year life on a 4,000 year old Earth is no longer a spec on the scale of time, and therefore seems so much more important. To lose our feelings of self-importance would be to lose our sense of superiority over everything else. Maybe if science went ‘full circle’, connected with spirituality, and abandoned the segregation, it would be possible for humans to embrace a different picture of their sense of belonging.

Idea 2

I believe the National curriculum – the education system – should be completely re-structured (or to put it bluntly – demolished) into a more organic system of learning. All subjects should meet, they should all complement each other.

Not all lessons can be taught in a linear way. It seems absurd to place the categorization of subjects next to the segregation’s of tribalism, but i feel the two work in the same way, creating a blinkered view of the World. They both also played a part in my School days, the fact i never really found my place, and the fact that i struggled in lessons such as science. How did somebody who could name all the Geological eras from back to front, end up getting 4 out of 60 for a mock exam?. If it was taught in a more organic way, i am sure i would have done better.
Now i find Science interesting again, an interest i have found through art – the opposite of Science in a world of categorizations. Surely these current methods of learning encourage a mind to think in narrow tunnels, and i am glad i went to art school, i feel it saved me from my School-taught mentality.

To keep my pessimism at bay, i have to live with at least a small amount of hope, that the human race can survive. Even if life carried on after, what a shame it would be if no living thing could ever reflect upon it in the way people can. However i have never been one for accepting that well used saying “that’s just the way it is”. rules that currently smother the collective mindset of humanity can never ever be permanent, just like no rock on Earth, is eternally immune from erosion. From that dust new things will grow and so new ways are possible. Surely anything that can be thought up inside a brain of a mortal being is possible at some time and some place somewhere.