October 30, 2003

I'm adding a new section in Bloggers Parliament but I'll put the first post to it here, especially for any new visitors and potential BP members. And I want to say very sincere thanks to Josh Parkinson and Natalie Davis and Eric Olsen for their encouraging comments about BP at BlogCritics. The mocking commentators were helpful too, even if they didn't intend to be, as they caused me to redefine exactly what this project is and isn't about. Now, anyone for needles in haystacks?


October 27, 2003

We posted Bloggers Parliament details at Open Source Politics and a few new members have joined us. And at BlogCritics we're attracting mockery. I'm all for good satire, the sharp and perceptive deflating of pretense, pompousness or deceit. But mockery is usually a knee-jerk reaction to anything which seems to fit one's preconceptions, without bothering to check the facts of that which is being mocked. Anyhow, it's perfectly legitimate not to take Bloggers Parliament seriously at this stage because it hasn't yet proved to be anything but an idea. And some who have joined haven't yet started putting up solutions. So it's too early to say if this enterprise is going to be the sound of one hand clapping or of the whole auditorium cheering.
Kind of blue day today so below is a picture of both of us, for a change.

Natalie and Augustine


October 23, 2003

October 21 was Sacha's 108th birthday, or would have been if he was still around.
Sacha left for an alternative universe on October 30th, 1996, aged 101. I want to devote this space to him today, the least I can do to commemorate and celebrate the extraordinary individual I am privileged to have had as my father - our father. Below is one of the obituaries published in the London press which gives a general summary of his un-classifiable life (sorry about the faint text. Trying to keep download time as short as possible).

Sacha close-upHere he is as a young Russian exile, newly arrived in Paris. He would never see his homeland again and that sadness, coupled with the natural melancholy of his Russian soul, never quite left him. But he was not one to dwell on the past - he alway said: "The past doesn't exist" and for him, this was true. He hardly ever spoke of his childhood and adolescence. There was always some mystery no one was allowed to penetrate. Even now, all of usin the family wonder and speculate about what might or might not have been his early history. Whatever it was, it formed a man of many contradictions - childlike naivety allied to intellectual astuteness. Cold detachment along with intense emotional attachment. Deep, almost ascetic spirituality along with attraction to sensuality and the challenge of action. Astounding intuitive vision together with an inability to see practicalities. Above all he was a loner, never at ease in society though he could talk anyone's ears off. At the core of his adult life was a love-story: the long-lasting relationship with Blanche, our mother. But that's another story.

obituary, Alexander d'Arbeloff

Crossing jungle riverThis is somewhere in the Paraguayan jungle on one of the exploratory trips Sacha made when planning the road to Brazil.

He's on the right, not looking too happy about the improvised bridge. His brother Vladimir, who accompanied him on this occasion, is in the middle.

I don't know who the elegant third person is. And who was taking the photo? I like their hats.




Sacha & BlancheMuch later, Sacha and Blanche, newly naturalized American citizens in less adventurous surroundings.

Sacha smiling






And here he is, in New York in the mid-1950's. Talk about charisma!



Older SachaFinally, in wintry London. Age has caught up with him but it's not winning. He's still calling the shots and still asking the question:

"Who do you think you are? "

Sachinka, rest in peace, all questions answered.



October 22. 2003 1:01 AM

Augustine is divided

Does everyone have this dilemma? Do you feel divided between a public and a private self ? Or is it just our paranopia ? No, that's not a typo: paranopia is a form of myopia where you imagine that you see two of you. I just made that up so don't bother looking for it in the dictionary. Not schizophrenia either.You know the old joke, just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not after me? Well, if you're paranopic doesn't mean that there really aren't two of you.

I know there are two of me - or maybe it's two of her? - and the question is: which one deserves more time and more space? This is a serious question. If you're a creative artist and also have a deep and sincere do-gooding side, can you devote yourself to either one fully? 'Do-Gooder' is usually said mockingly, in a derogatory way. But there are some individuals who are do-gooders in very constructive ways and whose entire lives are focused on, to put it in grandiose terms, 'Saving the World', though it might only be in a very modest way. So one of me kind of, sort of, wants to be like those individuals. And the other one doesn't. The other one wants to tell the world to go away, leave me alone, let me get on with my self-centered, capitalized 'Creativity'. Any comments, anyone?

Our Bloggers Parliament we are happy to see, has been mentioned at taliesin's log.


October 18, 2003

N and I were having a little discussion about Bloggers Parliament and such and I was secretly recording it on video. So here it is, un-edited.

Augustine & Natalie discuss specifics


October 14, 2003


The non-human section of the animal kingdom is often so much more interesting than the mixed up messed up human one. I envy animals' blithe ignorance of human weirdness. I admit I'm only a simple cartoon creature but even I can tell what's weird and the cult of horror is very weird indeed. The worship of horror films, horror books, horror images, violence merchandise. And the worship of the creators of the Horror & Violence Industry - those real vampires who gobble up the dough that consumers eagerly stuff into their insatiable gullets. For the fix of adrenalin they get from watching Special Defects: repulsive studio-excreted aliens and grotesquely made-up actors overpaid to torture, rape, shoot, decapitate, abuse, disembowel, dismember and generally do evil as slowly and sadistically (let me count the ways) as the twisted imaginations of their authors can conceive.

fake and real horror"Oh come on!" horror fans will say, "It's only innocent fun, fake frights. We know it ain't real." But that's exactly the point: lured into a painstakingly realistic yet fake violent horror world, human sensitivity becomes blunted. The boundaries between what's real and what's fake become blurred. And when real horror happens in the real world - as it does every day - immunity sets in. Cynicism. 'Cool' irony. Indifference. Bewilderment: "This can't be real, it's just like a horror movie." A zombified society, passively allowing itself to be hypnotised by every cunning conman with a used monster to sell.

Come on, wake up! Don't censor the purveyors of horror and violence. That's what they want, it makes them feel like rebels. They're not rebels, they're just noisy, spoiled, megalomanic brats. Ignore their tantrums, take away their allowances and above all, stop worshipping their excrement. Oh allright, their shit. And if you crave horror, look around at the real world - you're sure to find some. But it won't be thrilling.


October 11, 2003

pelicans on the roadI don't normally write reviews but this is something I cannot fail to mention. The French film WINGED MIGRATION is an extraordinary experience. To call it a mere documentary is misleading because it has everything: drama, adventure, travel, pathos, art, romance, comedy, tragedy and ecstatic beauty that lifts you out of your seat and into the air to fly alongside these unbelievable beings we call birds. Who needs science fiction and digitally created other-worldly creatures when we have such a species living with us here on earth and looking down on us from the sky? Directed by Oscar-nominated Jacques Perrin, the film took four years to make, using planes, gliders, helicopters, balloons etc. as well as land vehicles and ingenious camera technology to follow the migration of numerous bird species in seven continents and forty countries from the Arctic to the Amazon, flying low over the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, and getting stuck in the oil bogs of industrial wastelands. There are no special effects and no need for any since those provided by nature are spectacular enough. When the soundtrack is only birds' cries and other mesmerising environmental sounds it's wonderful. But the narrator's heavily French-accented voice is unfortunate, especially since the information he imparts is minimal, and the background music to the birds' odyssey is an equally poor choice. But the quality of the film overrrides any such minor quibbles. There has never been another movie which allows you to fly close-up, beak to beak, with avian angels whose appearance - whether drop-dead gorgeous, awesome or comical - no designer could have imagined. Nor are we accustomed to seeing our world from a bird's-eye view - it's frightening and breathtakingly stunning. Don't miss this film even if you have to fly for miles to see it. taking off



October 7, 2003

You can now read Robin Good's great introduction to Bloggers Parliament and Natalie's answers to his interview questions (I mostly kept in the background. Shy, you know). We are adding another update to our guidelines, which didn't seem to be clear to everyone, and I'm working out a new logo because this eye-thing is a bit rough. But the main thing is, BP is up and running. So come on, all you thinkers and searchers, think Specific Solutions to Specific Problems and join this Parliament. Now!


October 6, 2003

New members added to the Parliament, Robin Good and Josef Hasslberger. This is great. I'm enjoying the surprise of seeing new names appearing out of the blue blue blogosphere. And Robin has sent a list of deep questions for us to answer - an interview he'll put on his very interesting site.

My friends and family tell me artists ought to keep their views on politics to themselves and I should stick to being funny or artistic about other things like, um, well, other things. Since I'm occasionally willing to look at two sides of an argument, I reply OK, you're right, I'm going to concentrate on the really Big Issues - Life, Death...Well, that's about it, if you want to go for the really big stuff. Everything else is sub-titles.

So let's take Death first. There's a lot of it about so, as a thoughtful cartoon, one naturally asks: what's causing it? It's not something we all want more of, is it? So how come we're dishing it out right left and centre or else being on the receiving end of whoever/whatever is dishing it out? Apart from disease, old age and other natural disasters, the biggest cause of Death on this planet is:

People killing other people in large numbers for reasons which are not always very clear and therefore lumped under the general heading 'Politics'.

Back to square one. I shall return to Death and Life after a good night's sleep.


October 3, 2003

People are slowly joining Bloggers Parliament and more have expressed interest. It's taking off, for sure, and looks like being international. Andrius Kulikauskas' Minciu Sodas Lab is Lithuania-based, Lucas Gonzalez's Co-Pensar blog is in the Canaries, Professor José Luis Orihuela is joining from Spain, Umesh and Rashmi Rohatgi from India, and Guy (the rook) Andrew Hall from U.S.A.

Panache or Uncertainty?Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our own Tony Bliar got a seven minute standing ovation at the Labour Party Conference. Seven minutes. Standing. Ovation. This is from his own party members, many of whom are very unhappy indeed with the PM's policies on nearly everything from Iraq to health care.
So I started ruminating about The Panache Effector, if you prefer, The Rabbit Caught in Headlights Effect. It works like this: human animals are easily seduced. All that is required on the part of the seducer or hypnotist is confidence, certainty and a persuasive voice. The words that the voice is speaking don't really matter very much. They might even be completely meaningless, as long as they are delivered with panache, authority, repetition and certainty . The seducer must be absolutely certain that he/she is absolutely right. This certainty produces a kind of blueish Panache Halo which can extend into very large spaces and is irresistible. Reason and logic are no defense against it. You can mistrust and detest the seducer but you're trapped in those headlights and might find yourself applauding and cheering for seven minutes or longer. History, as well as everyday life, is replete with examples of this effect. But what can we do to resist it? Could uncertainty be the antidote? Could the honest expression of honest doubt ever be enough to wake up a hypnotized audience, anywhere, anytime?

The above will appear Monday at Open Source Politics where a lot of healthy stirrin' and shakin' of controversial issues is going on and deservedly bringing in truckloads of readers. I will also post it later at BlogCritics which I'm a member of though I'm not a critic of films, books, etc. As a cartoon person I'm more likely to be found slaving over a hot drawing board.


October 1, 2003

Have added a new page: Augustine & Natalie's Collection of Solutions where we've started our list. Thus far we've found three solutions to the Israel/Palestine problem. Not bad for the first day in session, eh? We are, at this moment in time, the only Member of Bloggers Parliament. Yes, that's singular: me and N are as one in this project. You got a problem with that?