Friday, May 4, 2018

Devil’s Dictionary Artist’s Edition

 Art-noun \ ˈärt \
1. A term used to justify and legitimize terrible ideas.
2. A term of prestige tacked onto nonsense.
3. Something that seems mysterious used to beguile and rob the gullible.
4. An extremely ancient term used to describe extraordinary experiences.  This experience being triggered by coherent configurations and combinations that are like to the patterns of the world as gained through experience but amplified into hyperreality or time distortions. (Rare but still accurate).
5. The state of being cognitively manipulated into extra reality.
6. Nested packages of information transmitted via material configurations that in turn create a toolkit of cognitive effects.  Ex: A drawing is a configuration of contrasted curves, edges, boundaries, intersections, and values to indicate forms and patterns familiar to what the brain experiences in space.  As this hierarchy of data escalates the brain creates meaning and agency.  It clarifies pattern from noise.  The clearer the patterns the more convincing the drawing.  These patterns can be impossible as facts, but acceptable as experience.

Artist-noun art·ist \ ˈär-tist \
1. One skilled in the fine arts.  Fine arts, of course, being nonsense.  Fine arts vs practical arts isn’t a thing.
2. Everyone, in their own special way, being a wizard, saint or prophet.  But not really.
3. A do nothing, lazy, pretentious, low level con man.
4. A saint, sometimes called a “master”, whose insights and sensitivity are beyond question.
5. Someone who expresses themselves all over the place without regard or considering if that is even a good idea. (See Expression)
6. Someone who can, through careful study, experiment and practice, induce a state of art by manipulating materials or signals to create cognitive effects (see art definitions 4-6).

Critic- noun  crit·ic  \ ˈkri-tik \ syn vandal, asshole, fraud, parasite, predator
1.A self confirmed expert without expertise in the subject they address.
2.An arm chair quarterback
3.A huckster with an intent toward vandalism as a point of power.
4.One who cannot practise what they preach.
5.A failed personality cult leader.

Critique - noun  cri·tique  \ krə-ˈtēk , kri- \
Etymology: from krienin- to separate or divide. To judge or separate.
1.A popular method of gathering together in a group to pillary one another and vandalize work.
2.A method of mining for faults and errors in the work of others without the necessity of any skill or knowledge in that work.
3.An act of spite under the guise of assistance.
4.A demand to do violence to reason and  submit to the arrogance of others for fear of being proclaimed arrogant.
5.A non-sexual sadistic and masochistic relationship between parasites and predators.
6.Arrogating the position of the artist without having to do the artist’s work.
7.The evasion of putting your money where your mouth is.
8.Group assholery.

Epic- noun  ep·ic  \ ˈe-pik \ syn Pop, umph, boom!, bledow, kersplash, poit, and other Don Martin borrowings.
1.A word lacking any definition often said while using explosive hand gestures and a dramatic inflection.
Ex: “We need this logo to be epic!”, “That image needs to be more epic!  More ‘umph!’, you know?”
2.A term indicating bluffing.  Often best addressed by the phrase “shut up.”

Expression (or the theory of expression in art)- noun ex·pres·sion \ ik-ˈspre-shən \
1. A late 19th century philosophical idea of what art is from the likes of Croce and Tolstoy.  Mainly, based in the idea of magic and voodoo dolls but disguised in philosophical language.  Ex-press meaning to push out was, in summary, meant to indicate the artist was taking their inner self and putting it into outer objects. Harry Potter fans might consider a horcrux. But the “horcrux theory of art” sounds stupid.  The theory of expression was and is often linked to expressing emotions.  Emote means “move out”.  So expressing emotions is to “press out move outs”.  I am starting to prefer the horcrux theory.
2. A fossil of an idea showing how far we have come in understanding when compared with recent cognitive science.
3. A word, of unknown meaning, used to authorize something someone called “art".
4. A term used to emotionally blackmail others when an idea or claimed piece of art is questioned.  The word “personal” is often attached to endow the right to be personally insulted.  Ex: “How can you question his personal expression?  Who are you to judge?”  This idea implies a mysterious ownership.

Just -adjective \ ˈjəst \
A word used by conmen and clients to undermine everything you do and everything you are.  An attempt to minimize the extraordinary.  Making the worst cause seem the better in a single word. Smallifying what is big. Smally Bigs.

Objective -adjective  ob·jec·tive  \ əb-ˈjek-tiv , äb- \
1.Not subjective (see Subjective).
2.As perceived without distortion or interpretation…making it not a perception.  The act of perception distorts, translates, recombines, and confabulates.  If you perceive it you already broke it.
3.Quantitative, though this idea rarely comes up as it is frowned upon to think art may involve calculation, analysis, or unemotional/unromantic things.

Perspective-noun per·spec·tive \ pər-ˈspek-tiv \
1. a term used in art to note you know an art term. See also “use” as in “use of color”.
2. A way of saying you understand the point of view of another without any knowledge of that point of view.  Speaking for another in such a way as to shrug off responsibility to a generalized scapegoat. An indicator one is pretending to be the representative of a demographic one has never consulted.
3.A term used in the attempt to become the vox populi, and therefore the vox dei without first consulting populi or dei.
Ex:
"From the audience perspective, this terrible idea is justified”.
"From a player perspective this offensively stupid idea I’m espousing is legitimized.”
"From the perspective of these voiceless suckers you can’t verify, what I’m saying has authority.”

Pop - verb  \ ˈpäp \ syn Epic
1.In art, this means, “I have no idea what I’m talking about”.  Ex: “We need something epic! Something that really pops!”  “When placed side by side these really pop!”
2.A word used to suggest excitement, when nothing exciting is happening.
3.A word used to indicated someone does not know the properties and attributes of creating an experience, but can clumsily discribe their experience.
4.Describing something that draws attention, but not understanding it is many complicated things happening simultaneously.
5.A diagnostic word to discern a bullshitter.

Style-noun \ ˈstī(-ə)l \
1. A description of the limit of one’s abilities.
2. An attempt to endow authority to a lesser set.
3. Proclaiming one’s vices as virtues.
4. Carefully, and with expertise, excluding some data, while amplifying other data to compensate for the exclusion, thereby giving a coherent, but noticeably idiosyncratic experience. (Antiquated use).
5. Using a confined, economic, limit of information to great effect. (Rare).

Subjective- adjective  sub·jec·tive  \ (ˌ)səb-ˈjek-tiv \
1.A term used to minimize importance based in a philosophical misunderstanding of a dichotomy between subjective and objective, which was left aside long ago. It is often used with “just” or “only”. The quantitative and qualitative, and the thresholds between them in cognition are not considered.
2.An antique idea regarding a false dichotomy between subject and object long ago left aside in philosophy. The subject/objective dichotomy is extinct, as overlap and gradients with the ideas were quickly found. They describe proportions of measure and affect in signal interpretation.
3.Often wrongly used to mean “personal preference.” Without understanding that preference can also be built and configured and rewritten.
4.A dismissive word best used as a signal to dismiss.
5.The clumsy, distorted, way of saying “qualitative”.

World view- noun\ ˈwərl(d)-ˌvyü \
1. A tangential uninformed opinion about things of which one is unacquainted.
2. Claiming a cosmic point of view when regarding one’s navel.
3. Disregarding the intricate and impossibly complex pursuit of knowledge of the world for worship of a very small baetylus or omphalos.
4. Being provincial but sounding sophisticated.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Art class notes

We read other peoples peripersonal space even if the "costume" or outfit  or extra gear aren't there (pantomime)

Implicit drawing:  use peripersonal space in a characters posture and angles (weight signatures and strain signatures) to imply an invisible sub drawing. This relies on body schema and peripersonal space maturity.

Standing upright evolution.  2 things.
1.standing as a hierarchical position.  Looking down on a rival.  Widely present among animals. Implications of bigness (as opposed to reaching for food) and playing with depth importance.
2.  Standing difficulty, rearing up is difficult.  A physical unfolding uses great strength, energy and balance.  It creates vulnerabilities in combat for the one rearing, but also demonstrates condescension as it is sneering or dismissing the power of the bent. This can be faked and acted as if rearing involves more unfolding and strength than is really used (drag). In people flourish and gesture add to the theatricality and hidden message.  Like playing to the back row, it should be noted this is performance for several not as much one to one.  Less a matter of making big, and more a matter of the display of down looking  extravagance.  Notice this in terms of the "body language" pose of leaning back arms raised behind the head.  Conspicuous and Extravagant vulnerability while looking down.  This type of rearing is selective to audiences that can be intimidated in front if others. This pose shown to an aggressor or predator exposes vulnerable organs and wide target areas.  In humans, still, the arms back pose can be diffused by an opponent leaning in or even getting closer.  It is proximity dependent.

Inferential drawing based in cross modal perception.  Drawing what isn't seen, hidden out of frame social interactions, peripersonal space.  mix and match 

Drawing peripersonal space

Perspective is an attentional and time tool not a framed context or geometrically ordered structure.  Note Saccadic fixation in regard to perspective and time perception (note this also with accompanying audio and temp tactics).

Perspective, VR, clothing- the sense of position and extra position (height, body schema and peripersonal space).  The ability to use tools, extending body space has meaningful aspects.  The metamorphosis provided by extensions and altering bodily proportion can be communicated by angle with this result of a change to the character of the audience. Mind writing.  (Bailenson's tests with VR and height and gender in negotiation).  This old artist's trick has been used in portraiture for centuries with added color and proportion tactics to intensify.  In VR the possibility of "unwrapping" to a certain degree can further expand on this experience (good completion and the subtle movements we use to scan around depth.). That noted the inertial and rotational cues will still mismatch in VR. The vestibular system needs to be brought in to the effect for the "reality" part.  VR is a diminishment in experience, even if those things experienced are hyper-real in isolated properties.  Ritual, wherein participants traveled through hyperrealities, also had real movement and inconvenience (labor and force), proximity cues (including scent and the movement of the small bodily hairs  that assist in understanding the puffs of air in speech).  The preconscious and subtle "realities" need to set the base for an experience of reality.

Touch receptors have meaningful visual correlates (force, light touch).  Look into an anatomy of visual touch (for example raffini cells).
Same with sound ie facial expressions

Metaphor is a cross modal gap filling for inadaquate narration and targeted sense sequence.  "A blanket of snow" describes some cross understandings of categories but have as much unlike their metaphorical model as it does alike.  So priming is used even if contradictory.  Warm blanket and cold snow combined.  Layering various "warm" indicators can prime comfort and "heat" even in a winter scene.

Explain phantoms and ghosts and how implicit information can induce that type of projected agency (the ghosts of Kiki and Bouba). 

Sound/taste is complex reception but still geometric.  Color reinforced (ie fruit having a tangy smell, but ripeness a visual coloring and further depth coloring by light transmission through the skin.) 

Kiki bouba & line orientation bias (also top down light orientation bias)

Also consider food temperatures and soft textures as inference to behavior (sitting on a hard chair makes one a harder negotiator, drinking a warm drink makes one more sympathetic in punishment.) Color and weight as priming tools.

Recall case mentioned by Sacks about the woman with ticks involving imitation in extremis of people over a span of time.  He connected this with Tourettes but it sounds like an extreme mirror touch synesthesia with the mirror boundary completely eroded and recalled.  Leaving the imitative systems without a personal block.  "Trying on" in extremis.  Consider in the opposite direction in terms of anorexia as well.

Up down curvature bias (head space) in facial expression (Thatcher effect....poor ability in recognizing upside down faces and elongation of the face inversion)

Depictions of heavy attentional load can indicate narrative priority.  If a figure is reacting to several points of attention: ie lifting a heavy stone infront if him, flinching away from something on his right but his eyes straining to the left- the value of each point of attention can be weighted to help indicate sequence and narrative.

Internal agency and attention.  Feeling the bridge of the nose with the fingers agency can be switched from fingers to feel nose, or nose to feel fingers.  The "personifying" or primary piloting or primary agency can be switched in body parts, ignoring other body parts.  This agency can extend to personifying.

Anatomy- find primitive shapes.  Cubes first with largest face area and orientation. 

Art as extended agency, doubling, hyper reality, phenomenological framework.

Social vs public identity and body schema- scale variation

Brain using body as measuring tool and comparison guage of space, scale, and hierarchy

Position has grammar and drawings can involve conjugation

Narrative is a way creating a clock, but a sub time can work using narrative as camouflage (switching value in cognitive signals) 

Distance limits the available emotions to communicate with voice, posture and faces.  Playing to the back row is very limited, but those limits can also tell which are intimate or close social vs far performance or group appropriate.  Performance emotions and intimate close group emotions.

Controlling attention is power.  When people vandalize and compete with art they are commandeering attention and exercising an aggressive competitive impulse against the artist, but more often against the work it self.  They are in a performance and diversion will diminish the pursuing attention of an audience. Vandalism shows dominion. Coinneseourship is this with a controlled face.  Creating cognitive biases around preconceived notions or hijacking pattern recognition is one of the more effective ways of vandalizing quickly.  In the form of gang like joking sessions, real social rivals will offer competing jokes, destructive commentary and accusations of taboo breaking.   It is rife in studio environments, and very costly.

Kiki and bouba are also spatial (pointed breasts and round breasts "titties"vs "boobs"...thanks for noting this, Sherry, and the resemblance to the letters between kiki and titties, it also makes me think of averaging shapes and kiki/bouba variations). Three dimensional angles and curves.  Depth is sculpting attention, value and agency (or likeness to body schema) in space.  Consider variations in x,y biases and the different mode with z and depth biases.  Also consider tournament and pair bonding priority in projecting agency to figures.  

Fast/slow facial expression -these are of variable importance and use in depth....compensated by bright teeth, red gumd, whites of eyes -color variations. 

Joints and "features" act as saccade guides, fixation points for connected angles and direction. These features act as pivots to other connected objects.  Figuring an angular variation based on a fixed feature is easier. So shoulder to elbow, elbow to wrist etc (or curvature and relation of facial features) coordinate standard patterns.  They are easier to discern anchors and guides.  Adjusting their distance can help time distortion effects.

Invisible audience and proximity.  Composition set close to a figure making "playing to the back row" faces and gestures makes the viewer an actor, the audience being distant (or likely distant), and the viewer is implicated on an attentional stage.  Likewise, the viewer can be made audience (more pursuit attention as opposed to fixation) 

To study motion use rest to study rest use motion (fixation and pursuit)

Pursuit needs less consistency as attention follows and attempts prediction, not reflection.  The pattern is oncoming and in ways unpredictable, needing tracking.  Fixation needs consistency and prior convention for comparison of known patterns.  A linear action back and forth will not keep visual pursuit, varied unpredictable motion will.  
(Also consider sound/saccadic relationships)

Drawing infers invisible pressures and circumstances using figures to give value and weight.

Tracking (pursuit motion) can be a mistake for consciousness, or personal agency.  The misattribution of invention of ideas or origins can occur at times due to this pursuit cognition.  This cognitive glitch may need consideration to maintain grounding.

Blindness is the majority state of affairs.  The illusion of sight has a very small range of information, and then conscious experience (much is preconscious) is a confabulation of averaged patterns with the small amount of new data.  When given tests of vision (not moment by moment but vision as an integrated part of conscious knowledge) viewers are for the most part blind.  Beacon points of attention can be recalled with great generality.  The illusion of sight needs streaming continuity and shifting cognitive modes (saccadic and pursuit for example- or "what" and "where").  When creating a piece to be seen it must be understood the first reactions will be based in the viewers internal model of reality, not the image.  The viewers will confabulate celebrity likenesses, perceive scandalous and taboo themes and shapes etc.  It can take years, or decades to fully build enough experience to see the full work.  The audience may need some priming and preparation to see.  Their attention may need direction and hints at value. 

Peripersonal space daemon, has its own anatomy and moves anatomically.  It isn't a dead weight.  We move, emote and gesture in coordination with it.  It doesn't seem to have much bottom up effect.  It seems a top down bias.  Atop not pendulous.  As an animation exercise animate the daemon and figure in interaction (with motion offsets) then turn off daemon animation

Bdrf has a narrative correlate.  Attentional rays are reflected and angled in narrative.  Displays in groups of more than two with have an angle of performance.  It us assumed the eyes are shooting rays of attention.  The player will triangulate between audience and their subject.  Reflecting attention of the audience in their performance (specular highlight).  The "form" reflecting, the player, controls the inferred figure.  They are toying with value scale.  Consider models of light and narrative.l

We embody and imitate features in artwork when we mirror it, consider possession and imprinting.

Consider audience presumptions-interest, preference etc.  as irrelevant. By projecting we are possessed.  When people "try on" others they also lose some fidelity in the previous pattern.  The more "tried on" the more loss of fidelity.  Conmen use the tactic of likeness and ease in "try on" to subsume choice, and linear narrative.

When watching an artist the viewer will be observing actions offset from the mental imagery the artist is experience.  Though painting dark areas or shadows, the mental imagery and their forward projection will be dealing with the modeling of the light areas.

Somatosensory area one shows tongue and finger areas close.  Tongue navigating while drawing or playing basket ball..


Still regarding camouflage.  The ability to camouflage might not be entirely trickery.  The differentiation between self and others, or the relationship we have regarding "inside" and "outside" today shouldn't be a given.  The inside and outside, or inner self as opposed to external others can be tracked to some extent, and 4,000 years ago it does not seem to be what it is today.  Likewise this inside/outside relationship shows cultural differences as well as regional ones.  In other words the metaphor of inner self to outer world is in large part learned and conventional, and has undergone development and sophistication.

I mention this inside and outside relationship to camouflage because the person creating the camouflage doesn't need to be thought of as an outside director.  The camouflage may work on the maker of the camouflage as well.  When camouflage goes from environmental disguise, to personal disguise and description, and then to personal adornment, it does't need to indicate lack of participation in being "tricked".  The adorned can be as fully invested in being deceived by what they have made, and this can even induce physiological changes.  It seems in some cases, adornment, disguise, and camouflage have more to do with transforming the person adorned than the viewer.

In terms of art (and in terms of trying to root out what fiction may be), self deception and transformation should be added to the mix.  With camouflage a theory of mind (across species) is important, and influential, but when reduced in area to disguises and adornment as camouflage, the adorned are not cynically removed.  It is transformative.  They are someone or something else.  This needs not only theory of mind, but an understanding of community status and community mind. 

This is still in effect today.  Within written history accounts of skins being worn to become magical can be easily found.  Berserks (bear shirt wearers), werewolves (ritual wearers of skins and ritual cannibals), priests (Egyptian Ba priests as an easy example), boys dressed in spotted fawn skins for Dionysos, Biblical accounts (Adam, Jacob and Esau with the stolen blessing), and more recent accounts with photographs from all over the world, show widespread "adornment" in a transformative manner.  But clothes, outfits (like the Pope for example, or Generals....or dictators dressed as generals), and newest fashions also work as camouflage (Spanx...might fit into this....or this might be squeezed into Spanx).  As do hairstyles.  This change of person, into hyper real or super person is very very common.  It can be easily seen watching people perform in front of mirrors.  They attempt to transform, through disguise, postures, set facial expressions, camouflage, and displays, themselves for themselves as if the viewer in the mirror is another person.  Their perception of their being is based in the disguise, not in their habitual or general methods and stances.  The perception is not personally invented.  The person looking in the mirror did not invent the identity they are assuming.  It comes from the expectations of groups standards.  The transformation is both personal preference and group consensus.  This is why is is hard to watch oneself on video.  It shows the difference between our attempts at self deception and how we appear to others who we are also trying to deceive.

Periphersonal space as a conjectural cognitive medium.  Like a soft malleable projection, as well as a space measure.  Gives feed back for geometric interaction socially as well as with tools.  Consider in regard to epigenetic aspects such as east/west visual attention, brought about by social and environmental triggers.  The spatial interactions, and peripersonal spatial interactions are linked to social massing and individuation.  The fear of attack face and the shame face are very close except for external attention to an attacker And eyes aimed or down.  The "peripersonal" extra identity, or the ghost created in peripersonal space is attended while generally blinding from external data.  We don't seem to be singular animals ever.



The humunculus is not just a body map on the cerebral cortex.  The map includes complex motion. Duration of stimulation includes complex sequences.  When processing and cross comparison your brain is checking "doings".  It can infer forward and back in sequences.  Often used in drawing.  Drawing can composite various parts of the sequences and still be acceptable.


The idea of art as expression- my inner soul housed in an item is magic. But the body has been building a way of externalizing and conserving energy through outside processes.  So the "soul" part is missing, but bodily energy needs have been co-opted by the human body.  Tool making does not need intellect.

Nor does tool use.  The process can be tracked through pounding food-eating and chewing took hours.  We had stronger jaws and bigger teeth for the job.  Likewise fire took over energy use in digestion. so instead of having to expend massive resources in  food processing we moved these outside.

Our energy use was freed up and our brain usage and size took up the extra resources.  We have inverted gut to brain energy use as do chimpanzees.

Our jaws diminished in size due to less need for chewing, we adapted more refined food pounding and processing tools. Our jaw muscled shrank and allowed the skull to open out (there is also evidence of a birth defect in jaw size that also became valuable for expanding the brain case.

The expansion of the brain case let to deaths in mothers and infants at birth.  Premature infants became the norm but the social structure and dependency of the group shifted to accommodate the longer more fragile infancy.  This in turn opened up areas of energy use for brain development in infants and the capacity to rewire and organize.

These externalizing developments (digestion, gestation, and development of the tool making-peripersonal space- brain).  Other externalizing tools were claws and teeth (spears and spearheads).  An innovation was throwing spears. This is not just externalizing but communicating an action.  The aerodynamics of spears was being innovated by homo-erectus, as well as being hardened in fire.

Art as an external cognitive tool kit was also in fast development.  It emerged from the peripersonal space of socializing, and developments in close living and centralizing a type of communication to the face.  Theory of mind allowed for camouflaged traps.  Imitating enough attributes of a thing to trick another person or animal.  This involved breaking down parts and reconfiguring like things in resemblance.

Art using angle biases, motion angles and biases, and types of mapping emerged. As did a tool kit of colors, make up, (likely costume), instruments and imitative sound makers, and other aspects of "becoming" and imitation.  Status was taken through enhancements in costume, face paint, gear, masks, and identities externalized and taken or owned.  Likewise art is information packets and can be "souvenirs" or other external memory packets.

3d effects using color were a very early use.  Peach dots in lamp light in dark recesses of caves create a stereopic effect causing space to fall back behind the dots.

These innovations weren't discoveries.
Even into the use of writing scribes thought the writing had agency itself.  That it did something.  Not unlike the artists I worked with who thought their pencils had pictures fall out of them.

If not personified not seen?  Do we have to find likeness to ourselves in some property to see a thing?

Is peripersonal space integral to religious thinking and fiction?  Extended "felt" spaces and environments both as displays and depth misread?

Reading facial expressions with saccadic motion is more a where function that leads to what function. you're looking at where the lines of the expression are, micro expression to micro expression.  Concerning where and what memory I'm not sure there's a clear distinction.

Considering what/where and saccadic motion. The motion and pivot of the eye give a reference point to the "where" function that seems to be primary in saccadic vision.   'If these angles are such here, then they make this pattern.  But with smooth pursuit coordinating the where needs different motion, largely taken up by the moving object.  'What, when, where?"

I still draw and my tongue navigates while my hand maps.  So while processing the differences from value scale to simulate form and depth as well as mapping shape, my tongue is often incorporated as a secondary mapper.  In a sense drawing on my lip.  Is this due to the proximity of the tongue to the fingers in somatosensory area one?  If so, is this using cross modal (taste, or language) processes like the kiki/bouba effect?  When I draw I am often aware I am "bouncing" information from my somatosensory system as a map for drawing (as opposed to what I am seeing).  That is, I am feeling my way through a drawing, and in a real experiential way, inhabiting the drawing (sometimes this leaks into the work and it will resemble me-also a known effect with animators who accidentally animate a portrait of their own motion in characters).  This "inhabiting" the drawing was the main reason I drew as a child.  At that time I was trying on the heroes I was drawing or entering places.

Is the tongue involved in this spatial mapping and agency projection as a supporting and sub map?



Metaphor is reading the overlapping somatosensory, interoceptive, and other experiential data.  Calling out the inferred feels of a sight, for example, and connecting it to a near cognitive pattern.  Like a boolean intersection.

Emotion is a way of creating external limbs


Grid cells and place cells for body in space and environment as a pattern. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Pirate Story Part 2


What you have heard, thus far, can only be unharmonious recollections and rumors.  Trust neither.  They will emerge as a confluence of interests. Your mother will tell you heroic fables. Through the inadvertent devices of your father and the thrones and shepherd’s crooks he venerates, you will have heard slander. I am fond of your father, but we agree only on the point the other is misguided.  His echoes of slanders will be free of thorns as he will wish to excuse me of malice if not of error.  
Heroism and a muffled villainy are the notions left for you to build me. An old song of dual natures will confront you. Considering many motives is imposing and often left aside.  Imagining the world in some likeness of its actual complexity is a daunting, exhausting, endeavor.
                I would ask you to consider undertaking this endeavor as a more likely avenue through which to understand my purposes. Let me assure you, I was neither continually heroic nor villainous, and in climactic flashes, I was both. Forget those old tales, and consider what I write here with fresh, sharp, eyes.
You may know I was born on Ginnesbrooke (now called Shuttley), one of the island colonies, just commandeered from our ancient foe at the time of my birth, in the mysterious Novus Mundi.  My father was a merchant. He was not a merchant as depicted in heroic fables. He did not export exotic spices, slaves, or gold, meeting alien peoples, and fighting pirates with sword and muskets. His charter included hemp for paper, rope and linens as well as cane sugar and fruits.  He disliked sailing and journeying.  He was a sedentary man, though made strong and straight. His adventures were restrained to a dim, small office and desk. He was always the hub in a nest of papers and books. He was a coin man with little imagination and less good humor. He was very stern, taciturn, and as I recall he wore a perpetual frown. I must confess I cannot recall much about his manner or behavior, just the atmosphere in his presence. I was too young to understand any causes for his frown. From this vantage, I can relate he planned for me to follow designs, to become a credit to my family name and our place but as with many plans his were tattered and made worthless.
My mother was proud and vain, both in my memory and from the descriptions of others who recalled her. She was young and considered beautiful for her time. I have few likenesses of her left, but as a boy the main house was a temple of paintings in her homage.  As I understand her history, she was the favorite daughter of wealthy yeomen and treated accordingly. Her marriage to my father was arranged for influence both through progeny and land acquisition. In those times, and even now, I suppose, plague was the gamblers tool for advancement. It was not hoped but supposed, a certain quantity of family would be lost, and it would be wise to benefit from their losses. Thus, lands could fall to the inheriting families of properly assigned unions.  
I recall many things about my mother.  I recall the small things I said to her as a young child, but I recall little of her replies, or her embraces, or anything beautiful.  Motherhood is such a fond subject today.  Mothers are graces, so they say, but I can’t pull any gracious memories from my childhood regarding my mother.  She was another person passing before my eyes, in some ways uninteresting and in others I recall her with a tinge of urgency.  
My parents were married with solemn ceremonies and with God as witness, but there was little affection evident.  The cult of love was left in the hinterlands and small houses. Love in marriage among the families and societies wasn’t accepted by many persons, it still isn’t, contrary to many rumors. I have often suspected that my father loved my mother and that his love was unrequited, I considered this as being the cause of his demeanor, but this is a speculation. Perhaps he was a bitter, frustrated, man, perhaps he was natively dour.  
My mother had little to do with me after my birth. She was ill prepared to be a mother. Certain woman should not be mothers. As I am sure you are aware children are a messy, runny, loud, business. This has never been a suitable situation for women whose attentions must remain on perfectly painted faces, artful hair sculpting and perfect dress. “Upkeep” was how it was discussed, as if old gardens or manner houses in danger of falling into dilapidation if not diligently attended. My mother was not a woman with fortitude and wisdom. She was equally lacking in patience and tolerance as I remember. Many nursemaids and nannies were assigned to attend to my needs.  
Though I should like to state otherwise, I was not an overly bold child. I was not a hero springing toward manhood. My father’s glares terrified me, my nannies bullied me mercilessly, and my mother ignored me or conversely, found me a nuisance.  I recall in a very darkly tinged and indistinct memory, maybe it didn’t happen it is so unclear, that I told my mother she was very pretty and she snapped angrily at me and caused me to cry.  She screamed for my nannies to get me away from her.  In this memory my nannies are the only clear images and their shocked, frightened, faces seem to say much to me now.  What a strange time it was then.  It seems so indistinct.  It is a time of slowly waking into being.  I recall this as though imagining the events of a familiar but fictitious story, and certainly not as my own tale.  How strange memory is.  
I clearly recall toys were forbidden me. It is often imagined of children that they sit in gentle reveries knocking painted wooden toys about, singing or laughing. Fanciful images of costumed, joyful, children, embracing dogs, singing while herding sheep, stare at me from these walls as I write.  I had no part in this. My earliest memories are drudging hours of lessons.  How I hated it. My father had planned that I should be honed for business. I was an adequate student but I recall little of what I learned then. Some men are very silly and imagine their sons will repair their own disappointments, or amend their own disadvantages, and believing this enforce habits on their sons that damage and create disadvantage. With the tiresome instruction I was given, I was also made to follow strict training of my body.  My father could read and this reading included descriptions from ancient men regarding their perfect societies, and the strength of their perfect bodies.  My father thought it important to have me perfected. Likewise, he thought a robust, strong, boy would be welcomed in academy. Arrangements had been made to send me to academy when I became the age of five.  Academies were subtly different in purpose then. Their concerns were both preservation of traditional philosophy among aristocrats (or paying yeomen), and introduction of newer discoveries by natural philosophers. We were not the industrious men produced from academies as today. The traditional titles and snobbery still exist today, but its application is mercantile. The characters and oppressions of academies will continue immutably regardless of party rule, or family ascension, but the purposes of academies change with the weather vane. 
Academy would have to wait. An unfortunate occurrence on damp, temperate, islands is the rapid spread of pestilence and black humors. Malady feeds on warmth. Late in the year, before I was to leave for academy the colonies were ravaged by a great dying. The ships delivering the news to our island delivered the agent of death as well.  Infected men, animals and goods quickly dispersed among the crowds and death seeped through the shadows and the cracks. As soon as the word reached my father I was hastily gathered and placed on a ship heading for a place I had not yet seen, Home.  I don’t recall much more of this time except a sight from the ship as I departed: the bonfires had begun. Near the dock many bulging, stained, shrouds were burning among improvised winding cloths including carpets rolls, beds, and skins.  
One of my nursemaids was sent to tend to me. She was a taut, squinting, sneering, roaring, young woman. Her red hair was always straggling around her head in a wiry crown. Her clothes never varied from somber gray.  This made her ruddy complexion stand out like a great soreness, or like she had been abraded until intolerably chapped.  Her disposition matched her appearance. She was given pay and instructions for when we achieved our destination. I know this because she repeated this often, as though it were direct authority from a great magistrate giving her license for anything.  She would volunteer this information at every opportunity. 
I have no recollections of our voyage in length or of weather.  It seemed long as does any unfamiliar voyage or new road.  
It is my understanding a currier vessel sped to the port town of Huan with news of our impending arrival, as well as confirmation of general good health.  Messages were eventually sent back to the surviving families regarding our welfare and requesting further instruction for the newly orphaned, widowed or destitute.
As I later learned, Huan was spared the suffering of the people of Ginnesbrooke. There Death was sweeping. Many souls were lost especially among the native men. Both my parents suffered it. It was unusual that both survived. The plague did not touch my mother without leaving its imprint. She began to behave very strangely. As I have been informed, the changes were subtle, at first, but very rapidly she declined.  She was “touched”, the savages said. Her up keep and “eyes” consumed her every free thought. She would sit for hours applying paint until it was cracked and flaking over her face. Her graceful stances were carried out in extremity. And not long following this every mood and action became expansive and exaggerated.  She became like an animal that yowled, and begged and roared, scratched, and played.  This brought her great respect among the savages who worked the house, and they believed she was moved by a favorite Goddess or demon, but my father was disgraced. 
I did not despise my parents, as I hope is clear. I do not suspect they were deliberately malicious or carelessly cruel, and I do not look at their misfortune without pity. I cannot reply to any meanness. How could I, so long after, try to distinguish petty meanness, or folly seen by a child? I don’t want it to appear I have thoughts of some justice in their sorrows. I cannot judge the adult world in which they lived, I can guess the subtleties that pressed them, but those guesses would be aloof. The distance between this dying man and that child are too great to clearly determine with any justice. I can write, when a child they were my world; separation from them was terrible. It is a child's nightmare to be apart from the family that rears them, regardless of how cruel the family may seem to others, or even themselves. I can imagine they saw me as a lazy, selfish, brat, and yet I clearly recall my father looked in pain as he saw me off. I was his burden and also his son, which idea of me he dreaded to lose I cannot discern. Preference seems as a pendulum. 
From Huan we voyaged “Home”.  What this was, in opposition to what I considered my place to live, was mysterious. I was shipboard for several weeks, but I remember little of this. I remember little at all of the following months of change. The confusion I felt still disturbs me upon intense reflection, though I could not say anything terrible or alarming occurred. 
                Upon arrival in an unfamiliar port city, on a gloomy dark day, my nurse and I disembarked onto Home.  We were met by my new guardian, my Uncle Uzziah. He was my father's brother. Uzziah was ten years older than my father, but in no way you could discern. He was more robust, active and lively. He had a loudness that could be seen. He smiled often and this was not an indulgence taken by my father. 
Uncle Uzziah was a witty, humorous man, of a keen intelligence. "Smarter than God" I once heard a man in a carnival mask declare. He and my father bore little resemblance to one another. This does not indicate a black mark against my father. Uzziah was the First Born son, and favored. He did not squander this advantage. However, I would be hesitant to write the differences between the two were due to circumstance alone. Uzziah was a rare man. 
He met us on the pier as we descended the gangplank. He was very tall and his posture was leaning. He squinted over a crooked, pursed, smile as my nanny dragged me by the right arm. I can clearly recall she often tugged and pulled by that arm. 
My uncle gazed down at me with a benign, somewhat reserved, smile. I was shy and attempted to hide behind my nanny. She dragged me from behind her and aimed me, with little gentleness, at my uncle. My memory informs me of his curious glance at her slightly disguised rage.  He stared in puzzlement, perhaps considering that I was a bad child, or perhaps he judged her. It was a stare indicating more puzzlement than condemnation. He looked back and forth at us as we stood in presentation before him. After crossing the space between us he crouched to my eye level and brought a wooden toy from his pocket. It was a toy shaped in the likeness of a savage man of my former home. Its features were exaggerated to appear clownish. The toy man stood hovering above a toy drum, and from beneath the aborigine there hung a string at whose end hung a wooden weight. When the wooden weight was made to swing, the aborigine's arms would tap the drum. He offered the toy to me. 
He said, "A gift for your arrival. Perhaps this small bribe will earn me some favor." He smiled widely. I reached for the toy with uncertain hands. My nanny was unused to this indulgence being spent on me, as my father was in favor of discipline, and restriction. She was used to having power and charge in a world of servants. 
She grabbed me by the wrists and spun me to face her. She leaned over me, her face ruddy in rage. What she yelled at me I cannot recall, but what she said and she faced my uncle is very clear to me. "I have been given charge of this boy to make certain his days away from his parents are not spent in idleness! I was given warning of you by my master. He gave me instructions to disallow any..." My uncle strode forward until he was barely a thumb’s width from her. He stared into her eyes for some short while waiting for the violence of his presence to bring her to stillness. When he finally spoke it was even and low. “To whom are you speaking in such a tone? You are in the presence of an unfriendly master, and someone in such a predicament would do best to keep her silence." She was stimmied, and as happens with many persons under threat she sought to redirect his burdensome presence to one still weaker, and I was the nearest candidate. She jerked me by the arm, "You stupid boy! Take the master’s toy and be quick, and respectful!" 
The look she gave me was a familiar one, it spoke in silences: "You will be paid back for this!" or some equal threat. 
Around us a small crowd of interested persons were watching the small event as it unfolded. I don't believe they were expecting what came next. As she had grabbed my arms by the wrists, so my uncle grabbed hers. He held both her wrists in one hand. She struggled little in utter bewilderment. With his free hand my Uncle grabbed the nurse's bonnet and pulled it over her face. He then spun her, gave her a small shove, and kicked her squarely on the posterior. The crowd drew closer laughing and chirping sounds of approval. The kick was not hard but a gesture.  Though she stumbled away, she did not fall.  As she recovered her balance it was clear she was deeply injured, though her limbs were intact.  Humiliation was a terrible and deep wound for her and she cowered beneath it.  
People alone are shabby, but crowds are worse.  They howled and laughed.  Uncle Uzziah stood apart from her pointing his finger like a condemning prophet. "Gather yourself and your things, I have no use for you." He reached into his vest pocket and produced a card. He tossed the card to the sobbing woman who was my nanny. "Contact this man, he will make arrangements concerning your wages and your return to your master." 
My uncle took me firmly but gently by the hand and led me away to his waiting coach. His attendants spread out around us, gathering our few goods, and when packed on the coach, we departed.  She was gone and lost to my further knowledge forever.
                This moment stands out starkly in my young memories. Understand, I did not turn my back on my nurse in with indignation; I didn't set about a new freedom giggling and without care. I felt very sorry for her; I sobbed as she sobbed. It is true I never liked her. I felt as one always feels in the presence of a petty tormentor: discomfort, intimidation, contempt, but at the same time I pitied her, I felt sorrow for her sufferings, I wished the events hadn't occurred to send her from me.  Perhaps my uncle reckoned something of this as I wept.  He said to me, "Be still, nephew, calm yourself. She will be well enough, she is unharmed.”  We were silent in the coach for a long while before he spoke again. “Let this come as a new kind of lesson: Everything is changing. Nothing is certain. The world behind you is gone forever; tomorrow is full of worries. But you are safe for now. That is the nature of every good moment, it is surrounded by hardship. Relief comes at hard cost in some way or another. Weep if you need, but not for too long, only as long as your losses merit.” 
I spent the next four years with my Uncle, and we became very close. He was tirelessly curious, and this condition is contagious. His home was filled with thousands of books, paintings, manuscripts written in old tongues, charts, diagrams, musical instruments, lenses of many shades for experiments with optics, extensive gardens and a hot-house.  His acquisition of knowledge was tremendous but effortless.  His enthusiasm for questions and storytelling was stirring and compulsive. I loved my Uncle.  In many ways, throughout my life, I wished to follow his path but I did not succeed in any measure.

For my family on Ginnesbrooke, daily life orbited my mother. My father had sent many letters to my Uncle, and after two years requested my absence from the family become a permanent situation. I still possess these letters but as a child I secretly read them while my uncle was occupied. Admittedly, much of the content was beyond my tiny skills as a reader, but the sense of it was clear enough. The sneaky act of reading my uncles mail, paired with my Uncle’s attempt to soften the awkward situation by overly stating his idea to keep me, made my situation clear. 
As described in the letters, my mother had slipped from peculiarity into disgrace. She had conceived a child through disgraces with one of the native men. What became of the child or the father I have never learned. I have left these letters to you with a substantial endowment should you endeavor to discover what has come of my sibling and, doubtless, further descendants of that union.  I leave it to you whether you will accept this adventure.   
My mother was a madwoman. My father sent her back to her family's estates where she was kept hidden away in a chamber for many years.   
Innocently unaware of these events I was quite happy living with Uzziah in his amazing home. He wrote several letters to my father reporting my progress. My entrance to the halls of academy was held off.  Uncle Uzziah was a fine teacher and we undertook several subjects: history, grammar, mythology, music, vocal tonics, acoustics, theatre, art, and some philosophy. Uzziah was very much opposed to my entrance in academy at a young age. As he often lamented, "They are prisons for the cruel and unsubtle. They are the dens of predators, who victimize and pollute everyone they encounter." He assured me, as he taught me to fight, that violence is an excellent device when used at a proper moment.  
When I did enter into my education I was eight. Due to my Uncle's instruction I was a very good student. But I was sent away to academy and over the next several years I saw my uncle infrequently. He would occasionally visit me on free days such as the Sabbath, or the end of a session. He was a prolific writer and my education was very much enhanced by the post.  His influence on me was a good armor against the “pollutions” he mentioned, but incomplete.  I can claim a sneering sense of my own importance after a time. 
On those occasions when I did visit him, strangeness always greeted me. On one occasion I arrived at the great house by carriage, and Uzziah awaited me. He was masked and he insisted I wear a mask and say nothing. As we approached the house on foot I heard several voices as at a party. When I entered there were several dozen masked persons, puzzling over diagrams and geometries. I mingled with them, a boy slipping as a shadow among babbling demon faced adults. Their conversations were heavily toned with intrigues, secrets, forbidden words. My Uncle took me aside after a time. He spoke to me privately in a corner. I remember his mask with pristine clarity; it was a black laughing bird face with a sun and a moon drawn on each cheek. It bobbed when he spoke. "Do you wish to know the meaning of this, Adam? Do you feel drawn to these persons? Do you sense something of difference here?" 
I responded slowly watching the men and women puzzle, argue, whisper, and conspire. My answer was as honest as I could contrive: “They are frightening Uncle, they are hiding things, speaking in codes, they are lying. But there is something exciting, and though I fear them I wish I knew them, I wish they would speak and lie to me so that I could overcome them." My Uncle regarded me a while, his eyes searching. "That is an interesting answer. Perhaps a terrible answer. Consider, Adam, that sometimes a lie is a matter of time, a prediction or a map.  A lie today is a truth tomorrow. The substance of lies can be made real.  A lie is difficult to tell with any coherence or consistency.  If it has those qualities, the dominant property looks a great deal like the truth.  It may be that these lies are unnoticed or novel- overlooked-truths. They are contending to have the dominating lie.  Do you want to be a part of that?"
There were many of these secret gatherings. Each sodden with a quality of sanctity. In the elaborate rituals he and his guests undertook, there seemed something drawn from the divine.  This is inconsistent with my Uncle's opinions, as I understand them. He hated religion he was without God. I am aware of several treatises he wrote and published condemning the ecclesiastical authorities. This has always been dangerous, perhaps somewhat less so then, but he must have had some clear influence in some powerful to be unpunished and so free spoken.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Pirate Story: Introduction

It is finally quiet.  These days, though growing short in number, are very long in passing.  The household is in hysterics and I am plagued by distractions the full length of the day.  So much screeching and scratching and worry can be more tiresome than very hard labor. It is a hen house.
Now it is very late and quiet, and I am given the opportunity to set down the account that has been, lately, weighing on my mind so much.  I feel the need to write in secret, when all are asleep, when everything is still.  I need to concentrate, not only for the sake of clarity as much of this is long past, but I wish to bring it all forth again.  I will try to step into my memories and live them again, for my own pleasure.  With so much flickering out, so much of my life spent, I need something back.  Therefore, this dark empty night will be filled with reminiscences.
This account will be a souvenir the next time it is unsealed.  If all has come to pass as I have wished, this manuscript has been delivered with several other documents to Master Robert Liventon, upon his coming of age, and acquisition of his inheritance from his Grandfather, myself, Master Adam Liventon.
If another pair of  eyes are passing over these pages, it has come to pass that my grandchild has perished prior to his coming of age.  In which case, I have entrusted this writing to the care of a gentleman to be unnamed here, and he will have delivered this account to whomever he deems fit to read it.  In the meantime, I will continue under the assumption my heir is in possession of this manuscript.
To you, Robert, my death is history, for me it is a looming weight.   I sit writing with trembling old hands at a desk.  I saw you only a few hours ago, and I know you sleep soundly in a bed chamber above where I now write.  What you cannot know is that between the last sentence and this, I looked in at you again.  It is difficult to imagine you as a young man, and so it is difficult to address you as a fellow and peer.  You are an infant to me, and so I will leave your company.
At the time of this writing I am dying, which may be understood in some sense from what I have written above, but I think it best to be clear, because in what is to come death is all but clear.
It is bitter to leave you so soon after our first meeting, and it is a great regret I will have so little of you.  Cruelly, I cannot be comforted by the notion that you will remember me with any love, as you have not come to know me.  We are strangers, you and I.  I would not have that so.  It is a great loss to me, that in death I will lose you, but perhaps in some way, if you desire, you can still know me in some manner.  So I will tell you a story.  It is not my story, though I am a character in the story, and the story will begin with me. It is a story of adventure and magic.  It is a story of the rare and hidden parts of this old monstrous world.  It is the story of Captain Monroe.
It may be best, though it is left to your discretion, to keep what is to follow close to the breast, as it is a dangerous story.  It is not ended, and its influence is still lurking with great force beneath the still surface of what seem little events.  There are open ears waiting to hear hints and news, should you tell recklessly, and then you may find yourself in great peril.
I hope you are the kind of fellow who does not keep things close to the breast, or accept warnings from old dead men.
I will proceed with my end, your beginning.  I am unrecognizable as the man I was in my strength. My skin is old and slack.  It has a gossamer transparency which has become familiar, though still intolerable, and it makes me think I am far closer to a ghost than a man. Or the man I was, I should write.  My once proud scars, my keepsakes, are pale and becoming lost.  How can this be, when they were so difficult to win? I thought they, at least, would remain.  I am become a tattered old coat.
Everyone who comes calling sees this dilapidated husk of a man. They do not know what happened.  Defying this, I still recall I was a strong, alert, and vigorous. The betrayal of my limbs is difficult, the creeping weakness is awful, but I am not dead yet, and I still recall. I recall other days when the skies roared with fire and poured down ash, and for a brief moment the world turned its gaze on me. Deeds were done, the world was shifting and I saw one of its pivots, I acted with its greatest men, perhaps its greatest man, though he is its most damned. This sounds like bragging, but read on.
I marvel in despair how so many moments have vanished. I no longer know anyone in this world as I knew my peers. They are gone: dead. Except perhaps one, but he cannot be counted. He wasn’t ever alive, I think.  I feel as the last man on earth, for what I take to my grave will not pass again. It was our time, and I am the last to know it. It cannot become tradition, it cannot be bequeathed.  Perhaps it can be something greater still, with you and your time, I cannot say, but it will not ever be again as it was.
 I think ahead to what will be left to you, and who you will have grown to be. I hope that you are a good man. Or perhaps I do not hope that. All men have hours when they shine, when they are golden, and all men have moments when they are dark, and without merit. You will not escape this, even if you attempt every moment to outrun the harms you will create, even if you are ever pious. The world will assemble snares you cannot know until blood is on your hands. If I can wish a virtue upon you, let it be the virtue of bravery. I hope you are a rival for the time you live.
You have grown to be a man without the assistance of your grandfather. This suggests many things to me. It is my suspicion you have been reared in a setting of ordinary men. This is the way of your father. He is a kind and gentle man, I’m sure you hold him in high affection as do I, yet he is narrow of vision and simple in his beliefs. Of the bravery I mentioned he has none, though he is charming and decent. However, his decency is in many ways constrained by his fear and passivity. He reckons other men his betters and envies them. Many ordinary men have navigated the course before him. This course is free of obstacles, discoveries, and dire tests. The first man to make the road is the only man who will ever use it; the rest will be his shadow. It is your father’s good fortune he has only known set courses, old paths, he would be mortified to know that the paths are the intruders not the surrounding wilderness.
 At this early date, just months after your birth, he has made arrangements for your education and your career. Unfortunately, he knows very little of the institutions where he wishes you sent. He knows nothing of their vulgarity, separation, or petty vanities. He does not imagine their efforts are devoted to quiet crimes.  Those caretakers, to whom you will be delivered, may tell you stories, rumors, of your grandfather and his companions; do not believe these stories. I have heard them upon their generation and watched them evolve over these many years.
When first introduced, the tales told were exaggerations but more morbid hints and whispers polluted the exaggerations, transmuted them to lies. I can guess how they have transformed to fit your ears. Likely, as I have heard before, I am called the Devil, himself. And perhaps this is not the worst epithet. Do not let these men bend your ear further, their world is small and their echoes excessively please them.
From your mother, I believe, you will have a different account of your grandfather. She will have done much to inform you of adventure and dreams.  She will have told you stories as well.  Stories I told her.  Your mother is my only daughter, upon whom I have long doted and indulged. I love her dearly. So perhaps you will forgive me when I confess the tales I told her were not complete, and were often told in a way that offered a heroic bias to my part in them. I was not the hero she dreams. I allowed her to believe the tales she heard in my favor. I too wished they were true. They are true, for what little they tell, but I’m sure you have suspicions about the truth, and tales. Anything told will not be complete; only portions can be meted out. Those portions are usually favorable to the measurer. What I will write to you will give you much more of the truth than I have dared to tell so far.  The previous, incomplete versions were not wholly my desire, I wished to tell more, and thought to do so many times, but this is not my story alone, and I made oaths of secrecy.  As I am not the only one upon whom death has fixed his gaze, I am now free to tell the whole account

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Topless complaint

https://www.facebook.com/refinery29/videos/10153747816682922/

I hate this video
Okay, first let me give over my position on baring breasts and taboos about nudity in public.  I have mixed opinions and my opinion is largely dependent on context and places and person.  Nudity on a public school playground by a man troubles me, nudity on a beach by a woman in France less so.  Nudity by gender is not an equal proposition,nor by individual and the genders have different methods, devices and value.  And these are not “cultural” or societal, though these things inflect how the background drives are tribally expressed. But I’ll get into this in a moment.  As to women baring their breasts casually, I have no real opinion.  Baring their breasts as an act of rebellion, not very impressed…as it rings less than sincere, and very likely, ineffective in terms of whatever “statement” it is making.  It is also of a family of very, very old rituals, which I’ll cover in a moment.  I think nothing in that video was thought through or factual.  It was silly.  But let’s start.
This video is not meant to appeal to facts or offer over information on any issue or growing concern.  There may be interest and a want of bare breasted, and casual social interactions, but that isn’t given over here, or if it is, the roots and interests of that “casual” bare breastedness have some tells that lead to less casual and more manipulative ideas.  The first clues as to bullshit is the mention of the activities of the Native Americans, who all went topless in the summer.  Now the example of the French, mentioned above, who often go topless on beaches was not chosen because they don’t evoke the “nature” fallacy.  The French aren’t seen as wholesomely natural as “Native Americans”.  This appeal to the authority of the natural is bogus.  Which Native Americans, I wonder?  All of them?  Through all time?  I know many women of Native American descent, none of them went topless in the summer that I recall.  Native Americans are not an animal of the past but exist now also. This universal toplessness didn’t keep Native Americans from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego from human sacrifice, rape, warfare or any other of the varieties of human behaviors attendant to a variety of peoples over many thousands of years. Toplessness may have been a trivial affair. El ninos, court politics, murderous enemies, and when Europe arrived, mass extinction may have been more concerning.  Then again…maybe not.  Breasts aren’t a trivial matter.
But I don’t know they all went topless in summer.  Some probably did, some probably didn’t, and there may have been some mix and match (like the French beaches).  Dress to comfort and the caprice of the taboo of the moment.
To further say no one thought anything of it is unlikely.  Where this happened people probably thought things of it.  The stone age Venus statues, for example, would seem to show the emphatic fatty deposits exemplary of female anatomy, were of importance.
To say it is okay to bare your breasts doesn’t need this natural authority if casual  in itself nor does it need justification.  The communal innocence implied is a bit flimsy.  Whereas actual harmlessness would say a lot more than a justification.  But is it innocent?  Is it just casual, ever for men or women? (I would ask if “casual” isn’t a manipulative social pose and tribal identifier in itself.)
Following this in the video are the signs of powerful and aristocratic women throughout the world baring their breasts. What is this supposed to say?  So throughout tim,  royal women , powerful women and aristocratic women have taken it as a point of power to step outside the convention of the lower status and bare their breasts?  (Why not show the Minoans too…just an absence I noticed…not really a problem.) What is the precedent being referenced?  This is kind of expected, as aristocrats take on certain entitlements, and differentiating dress to separate and exaggerate power relationships.  This doesn’t say toplessness was casual, it says toplessness is power.  This isn’t to say boobs are powerful, therefore women are powerful.  It is saying defying sexual taboos shows placement in hierarchy over those who have to obey.
But I think this video is suggesting in other times it was okay to bare breasts.  Okay.  And?  It is probably okay now too.  I’m not sure it has been noticed but modern movies have regular nudity, why the appeal to antiquity?  These paintings are a sign of “beauty and femininity”. Maybe…I am aware of more than a few paintings from the era shown that are a little more spicy and mischievous than that and go against the later rebuke in the video “If we continue to eroticize the breast as a plump salacious morsel of female sexual essence than we are kinda robbing women of their full bodily agency.”  How eroticizing the breast robs agency is not explained. Eroticizing, or sexual interest, is also natural, normal and bodily.  Breasts are sexual as well as useful with offspring, and a sexual identifier for the agent sporting them.  As is a given.  Agency is not robbed by any parties from any parties. I do find it interesting that a type of social bullying and dictate is offered here, but modified with “kinda”. Bullying others who find boobs stimulating (no one chooses to love boobs, we just do) as a crime, kinda, seems like trying to manipulate to advantage. Neither old men nor young women dictate the rules of sex.
So these nonsensical diversions are the introduction to the point of the video “who writes the rules of sexuality?”  And the question of boob taboos.  The boob taboos are blamed on Christians in Africa, and the Victorian era.  This is mentioned as the start of the taboo against the female body in the Western world.  No.
So let’s look at a few things first.  The taboos against the female body go way further back than this.  They are pre-Christian, they are prehistoric.  Likewise, aspects of the male body were and are taboo.  This isn’t to make this fair and balanced that I mentioned “men too.”  The thing to look at here is taboo, which is magic.  Taboo is usually the “don’t do” aspect of an otherwise potent magic.  Menstruation has many magical dos and don’t throughout history including isolation, burning goods, and magic potions.  It fit within the framework of the troubling concerns of birth, sex, and death.  These were (and in many ways still are) mysterious and troubling things.  But boobs don’t exactly fall into magical taboo, boobs are valuable in other ways.  They don’t have to do with sex, birth, and death magic as much as gender value on both sides of the gender coin.
Let’s consider who writes the rules of sexuality.  Well, evolution has a lot to do with it.  And though always fun to blame old white men and sexist behavior, there are some real considerations about sex and gender, and boobs, that need to be brought into the discussion. As a good friend of mine pointed out, boobs were valuable and an issue before humans included whites, and oldness had some different standards…not exactly the Roman Senate.
One of my favorite areas to introduce the subject of gender relationships is fat pads.
When studying anatomy you will eventually find a chart that has a side by side comparison of the sexes.  The differences between the sexes is called “sexual dimorphism”.  Within a species depending on the economics of energy within a setting, competition will mold the genders to great similarity, or great difference.  The greater difference between the appearance of the sexes is a good indicator of serious sexual competition.  In our case men are generally larger and stronger with thicker brows, and remnants of longer eye teeth, for example.  A noticeable difference between men and women, though, is distribution of fat pads.  This includes boobs, but also the butt, thighs, arms, knee,  beneath the navel etc.  Women have more deposits of fat, which come in handy in various times of need, which we can skip for now.  We are talking about sex.  When female humans have fattier diets (when they eat better) in their childhood years they reach sexual maturity earlier.  The signal for this sexual maturity is prominent rounded fatty deposits.  This is very important in a deep and strange way. (It has also been noted that the fatty advantages for sexual ends, can be the same fatty health disadvantages when older-our sexual interests and personal interests don’t always agree.)
I have mentioned the kiki/bouba test before.  It is an image of two figures, one called kiki, one called bouba.  One is spikey and the other is bubbly.  This test is used to show that people have cross modal understanding of sound and vision.  People usually assign the proper name to the proper figure without knowing why.  The reason why is we have neurons that respond to both sound and vision.  Sound and vision are tied.  Though our eyes and ears are the conduits through which we take in data, that data passes through several systems and processes before it becomes a full experience.  Our senses aren’t quite what we have traditionally believed.  When we see facial expressions angling and curving we are in some ways “hearing” those expressions.  If you watch musicians playing instruments their faces taken on the characteristics of the music, that is the line indicators on their face perform the correlate sounds in the music that we understand emotionally and in speech.  But it isn’t just sound and vision, this interaction of the information taken in by our sense organs is all over.  Curves, lines, intersections and corners, and how they move in time and space are a keystone of the way we “know”.  This includes lines of motion, both those we enact and feel, and those we see when we watch others move.  It has been found that humans can tell biological movement, including gender, using only 12 small lights on a moving figure in a dark room.
The other aspect of the Kiki/Bobou effect that is of note is that we can also usually tell the gender of these figures.  This is because of fat pads and our cortical maps.
Our brains have several versions of our bodies mapped onto it’s surface.  In greater and lesser detail and with variable function these maps provide us with our sense of our body, our body schema, as well as a good space around our bodies (called peripersonal space).  It is how we feel and “know” our bodies.  We have topographical representations of the body surface in the somatosensory cortex.  These are separated into hierarchies, or levels, and these maps maintain.
I won’t get more technical, for the moment.
I mention this because how we feel, how and who we are as bodies is known to us, pre-consciously. How we move, the way pilot our bodies, our physical capacities in balance and strength are all pre-conscious information we use persistently but don’t assemble deliberately.  This experiential activity is surprisingly intrusive and projects.  As an artist I have the advantage of seeing it not only in myself but can recognize it with other artists as they “infect” their drawings (especially those done by imagination, but also portraits) with their own features.  The cross modal visual/feeling drawings they produce are in many ways external cortical maps.  But we attempt to relate to and recognize ourselves in many very simple figures and patterns.  We can know the gender of Kiki or Bouba because we can feel it, or can assume things from lines or curves and our own spatial maps of our bodies and motions.  The strange part is we identify in exaggeration and we do not identify every part. Our brains bounce a signal to our muscles in imitation of living things we see.  From the feedback of that bounce determines all kinds of agency, likeness, or relationship.   We, in a sense, “try on” other people and things.  For women, one of the comparative areas is fat pads.  We see boobs as an important indicator.  All of us.
My point is, boobs are not a social construct or legal fiction, and to our animal not casual.  That said, the same value doesn’t need to be boobs especially.  It can be hips or other sexual signals.  As mentioned: Eroticizing the breast as a plump salacious morsel of female sexual essence is part of what is happening by both men and women.  You see, there is a problem that is popular but unfounded: sexual equality.  There is no such thing.  You probably want an explanation….me too.
So let’s break this up into proper segments so we don’t muddy the water.  Equality in tasks and skills by humans seems to have some variations, but for work and career we can say that there are capabilities in common between the genders.  So we’ll call this “ bourgeois gender equality”.  I don’t mean bourgeois in a derogatory way.  I mean it in terms of the merchant classifications that emerged in Europe during the late middle ages.  These bourgeois ideas involved rethinking time (like hours in a work day as opposed to Church hours) and production.  So for work, regardless which is statistically better in one regard or another en masse, we can say there are examples of proficient men and women in any give profession not dependent on gender.
But let’s move away from task based skill.  Other things are going on.  Sex is never held aside or removed from life.  The building blocks of identity and position are intermixed with sex and sexual viability.  The kiki/bouba test is instructive to show how deep and expansively we are aware of sexual identity, hierarchy, and viability.  We identify and differentiate automatically.  No deliberation.  No planning.  So instead of “equal” we know difference.  We build these identifications based on our own bodies in space, their appearance, and how we interact (subtly not socio-political stances).
We’ve noted work capability, involuntary identification of sex in ourselves and others, but now let’s look at how the genders deal with sex and where boobs (or other sexual signals) fit into this.  Let’s look at tournament style vs pair bonding sexual interaction.  As I mentioned above animals fit into categories of sexual style.  One is tournament style.  Tournament style is characterized by a wide range of differences in the sexes.  Males will be larger with more combat ready gear.  If you consider this as raw energy, it is expensive to be this kind of animal.  Being battle ready (against other males) is costly.  Killing competitors or driving them off is rough stuff.  To compensate, animals like this are generally not stay at home dads.  The expense in energy raising offspring is differed to the fight. These males breed widely and freely-as much as possible.  Their chances of death in combat don’t lend to pair bonding.  Instead their dna demands a different avenue to better chances.  Likewise, the females in this interaction tend to have female traits as emphatic signals.  If the males are brutal, knobby, and dangerous in appearance, the females will also show the signs of their best energy use-having good offspring and in some regard being able to maintain them for a time.
Females also have a tournament sexual style.  Females with overt sexual attributes (again costly to maintain) will sexually select those males most  likely to provide strong offspring, but then when the tournament male is gone will find another male to raise the offspring.  This frees the female up to have more strong offspring while deferring the energy of raising the offspring to less sexually viable males.
Then there is pair bonding.  Sexual dimorphism has a smaller range among pair bonded animals.  In this set up males and females look a lot alike.  This look isn’t superficial.  They share common burdens.  Their energy dispersal between mating, fighting, and raising offspring is such, that sexual signals  can use less energy, while other concerns (like mortality of offspring, food gathering, etc) need more attention.  The common task sculpts them to uniformity, while with tournament style, population of rivals in an environment sculpt them to difference.
Many animals tend toward one or the other end of this range.  But it is all present.  Given  proper environmental cues and stresses the pendulum can swing over time.  Humans, of course, fit in this range.  And it isn’t definitive how or where.  Males tend to be large, stronger, with larger teeth, and women tend toward being fatty (literally looking like energy reserves for themselves and others).  We move within a range of gender specific arcs (easily identified with a minimum of information).  But at the same time we are not extremely different.  As mentioned above humans seem capable of sharing very difficult tasks with equal facility. Barring gender specific tasks, we overlap in skills quite a bit.  Likewise there are large numbers of pair bonded and tournament mates in common areas of overlap, performing common tasks.  That is to say these styles exist in humans  side by side, whereas these methods usually indicate specifics in environmental pressures.  Likewise, they can exist in different order in the same person over a lifetime.
The question of sexual equality is somewhat meaningless or in flux.  That said sexual value is still very active and clear.
Boobs would seem to fall into a range of tournament style signal.  Being both sexual and involved with care of offspring over a given time.  That noted, it isn’t as easy as saying boobs are a sign of humans as tournament style animal.  Likewise it doesn’t say that boobs are taboo at the dictate of old white men.
Let’s consider sexual interest in boobs, fat pads, sexual value and trade, and back to kiki/bouba.  Why we like boobs.  You may have heard the idea that men like boobs evolutionarily because they resemble the buttocks, who’s curves and cleaves lead to the vagina.  Or that men like red lips because they resemble the signals of a sexually ready, engorged vagina.  These seem incorrect in any number of ways, and are random guesses, bordering on sympathetic magic.
The points of interest in these things are framed incorrectly to come to any answers about human sexuality.  Instead of “why do men”, it has to be put to all.  Why do humans love boobs?  It isn’t entirely men.  Just as a good guideline, any time blame is mentioned in gender be on your guard, bullshit is likely to follow.  We are in this together.
We have to consider boobs in terms of our animal.  We have a good deal of weight placed in the value of vision.  Anything that changes color, has spots or alters form and shape, or other visual exemplars are tells about attention.  Someone is looking.  The idea that men like cleavage because it looks like the cleavage of the rear end is making a superficial connection of likenesses.  Men don’t love cleavage.  Men love breasts with nipples.  Size can be of varying importance.  When cleavage isn’t present but breasts are still prominent, there is no lack of interest. This should be no surprise.  Most swim suits and upper torso garments worn by women in western civilization specifically hide nipples, but can still bare cleavage.  A key and obvious tell about interest is the coloration of nipples. Nipples are not only differing in shape and color from surrounding tissue, they also change shape and color during sexual arousal, and pregnancy.  They are evolved to be intently noticed and attended to by mates and (once vision is somewhat established) offspring.
The myth that boobs are for milk (implying single purpose) is a misunderstanding of organisms.  Things aren’t assembled for single use. How we note use describes our biases toward what we do, or our interests.  Breasts produce milk and nourish offspring for a time.  But equally, in fact in most cases, more often, they are sexual signals.  Let’s differentiate the mammary glands as seen, to how brains build them, specifically on women.
Pardon me if this is uncomfortable. I suspect the taboos around this subject are setting up uncomfortable twinges here or there.  It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.  This might signal a need to examine taboo and value. Laying bare what is secret or conspicuously hidden might give over some interesting information.
Nursing has an interesting chemical component, which is oxytocin.  The “love hormone”.  Oxytocin is produced in several different circumstances, physical and social (maybe we should consider social things as somewhat physical or extensions of physicality-even transmission).  Petting your dog increases oxytocin levels (in both you and your dog).  Other circumstances include the physically triggered stretching of cervix and uterus during childbirth, and nipple stimulation during nursing.  But also nipple stimulation when not nursing.  Oxytocin levels increase for both sexes during sex, but it should be noted also during general social bonding.
Let’s compile some information.  A preconscious search is going on at all times among humans. We are attempting to identify routes and affordances in an evolutionary way.  That is we are maneuvering to reproduce, adapt, and viably compete.  The success through this triplet of pressures is determined by species.  Survival is not an individual description.  It refers to the general survival of a species.  How that species groups, blends, or becomes internally parasitic or predatory to maintain survival is variable.  We have evolved, like it or not, to be certain forms, with certain interactions.  With these interactions, over time, workable methods have led to successes and reinforcement of methods.  Oxytocin “confirms” likely successes.  It biases an organism toward binding at certain times or under certain conditions, or if another organism fits certain criteria. This criteria determined by likeness, or fitness etc.
Boobs are not just a sexual signal.  As well as having visual size prominence, and color emphasis at the nipple, there are more things happening with them than acting as signals to outsiders.  Women have an interest in attention and stimulation of breasts and nipples.  This is not much of a surprise in any direction. Men know this, women know this.  Sexual stimulation of breasts is known.
In a conversation with a friend, I referred to an asshole I know of as “the kind of guy who gives titty twisters in gym class”.
My friend said “Titty twisters?  You mean ‘tune in Tokyo’?” And made a gesture both like a “titty twister” and radio knob turning.
I asked, “Tune in Tokyo?” having never heard this before.
Wistfully she said, “Ahhhh, a girl never forgets her first tune in Tokyo.”
Why?  The above mentioned cortical maps are interesting things.  They are the source of phantom limbs among amputees. The mapping persists even if what was mapped is gone.  Your brain keeps what is lost mapped.  And these maps can migrate.  They can cross territory, even double. Where a foot is missing but still felt, another foot may appear overlaid in the genitals.  This is interesting, dual placement.  But nipples might be different.  The nipple cortical maps are connected to the chest and torso.  But they also have a doubling in the overlapping group of the clitoris, cervix, and vagina….and likewise in the genital regions of men.  That is to say, that breasts and nipples are of sexual interest to all sides.  They are not just signals, they are involved with sexual gratification.  They are a part of eroticization on all sides.
This isn’t to say “both sides do it” like a political equivocation. This is just putting forward and lining up some facts-notably those set aside when trying to portray sex in a blame game of guilt or innocence, like indicating old white men lay down sexual law.
Sex is a powerful thing.  Among all animals it involves a great deal of wrangling and killing.  For all animals it is fundamentally important in some regard, whether in social status, or access. To think of sex politically is chronologically strange and superstitious.  To think of it economically seems reasonable.  The trope of old white men, or religion as overarching dictators of sexual codes is demonstrably false.  Old brown women and persons with no religions at all, have also played equally manipulative parts, and still do.  The control of sexual access and manipulation, or advantage, and even hoarding can be found in our near primate relatives and involves participation as well as unwelcome force (among both sexes).
If we take this video, which is not offering over reasoned fact or information, we can immediately note it is a maneuver.  It is using sex, and portraying sex in a narrative, fictional, form.  It links sex to rebellion.  But this isn’t new.  Nor is it “thoughtful” or smart.  It also fits into human rituals, tribalism, and an evolutionary situation of tension between becoming a parasite and a predator.
Among the Greeks the ritual called the Skiraphoria (and another called the Thesmophoria), had exclusive gatherings of women.  They would paint themselves white and eat garlic so they would look and smell unappealing. Ritually, they would discuss the overthrow of men, killing them, and taking over.  But this isn’t a feminist rebellion.  Men have similar rituals that are called “criminal” rites.  The Skiraphoria included other rites of “communal guilt”-in crime or taboo breaking and were socially binding.  Rebellion, criticism, vandalism, etc have this brand of grouping. Aligning with causes or issues serve this purpose (as do political parties.).
The part to note is within groups, once they are grouped, the members of the group turn on each other in the usual hierarchical fashion doling out sexual rites and taboos, food rites and taboos, and other “cultural” mandates.
The clichés and tropes in that video are not only incorrect, uninformed, and sneering, they are also unimportant.  There are issues involving gender that are important. Topless women doesn’t seem among them. Even uber free men, who can frolic free and topless all day usually wear shirts. Depending on jurisdiction this is variably true for women…I think Utah, Tennessee and Indiana being no goes…so if needed a targeted campaign to those places seem best.  Otherwise, I doubt many men, even old white men, would complain about topless women.  They might be surprised, but probably okay.