Again, I will start with the wonderfully original opening line: It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog! Welcome back, myself! Let me take your coat. Refreshments to the right! Seriously, though you’d think with the ability to spew whatever garbage I want to the minuscule online populace that checks this website that I would take advantage of it. Well now I am. Been going through lots of personal changes, most of it neither particularly exciting to the casual reader nor relevant to the new visitor.  I live, currently, in Bowling Green, Kentucky learning how to take care of goats on a homestead with some wonderful people.

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When I started this blog I had intents of frequently updating it with articles, current issues, art and music that I wanted to share as a supplement to my comic, GREEN SHIFT. Let’s get back on that mule shall we?

So a lot of people ask me how I come up with the ideas for my comics? I ask them back, how do you live in this modern world without a sprawling, environmentally devastated, Dystopian idea baby sloshing out of your mental birth canal? The doom and gloom are palatable: climate change, cancer epidemics, genocide, poverty, abuse of animals and man…I could go on and on and I will, in cartoon form of course. But it would be ferociously Orwellian of me if I didn’t also acknowledge the more benign forces that keep me inspired.  As I mentioned in a past blog post, nature is a huge part of my life. The primal, deep-seated thirst that most people have to become more ingrained into the natural world and flow of things will be a huge theme in this comic. However, I find it bad taste to publicly reveal the inner workings of a piece of art or writing before it is finished, so I will promptly shut up about that. Instead I will focus on a brief  discussion I had (with myself, lol) based on the aforementioned apocalyptic thoughts, in order to provide a focal point for adding content to this blog.

SHOULD WE GIVE UP?

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The internal discussion revolved around the ideas and philosophies  of James Lovelock, a scientist and futurist living in Devon, England. He is best known for his Gaia hypothesis that states the earth is one big, self-regulating super organism; a hypothesis I find (for lack of a better word) incredibly cool and am inclined to believe it based on my observations of nature. However, as of late he has taken to informing people that humans have already reached the point of no return. They have brought irreparable damage to the planet’s self-regulating processes through pollution and fossil fuel usage. Climate change is not only imminent and irreversible, but it will wreak havoc upon our world in this generation. You can read an article detailing his beliefs here.  His predicts that by 2020 extreme weather will become the norm and by 2100 80% of the human population will be deceased. His prophecies foretell a future of ecological and social chaos, with cities like London ending up underwater and mass displacement, pestilence and famine tearing our civilization asunder. Lucky for him, he is in his eighties and will most likely kick the bucket before then; how convenient. He goes on to say that, due to the fact that we are doomed, all our efforts of conservation, ethical living and alternative energy are masturbatory and futile. He is especially against solar and bio-fuels, saying that there is no reason to reducing carbon emissions at this point and that we should milk nuclear energy until we are all reduced to grains of sand in the wind. He says that environmentalism is a cult and that those wishing to go back to nature are foolish. He believes the answer is in MORE technology, not less. Technology like food synthesis, such as Quorn, to help ease the impact of the food crisis.

Now, I generally agree that it is too late to undue the damage we have done to the earth. The implications of the western lifestyle will be felt for decades to come, even if we disappeared off the face of the Earth. Old news. However, the attitude that Lovelock is encouraging, to “enjoy the party while it lasts” is a dangerous one. While I enjoy the cheerful air of his conviction, to live and not worry about impending disaster you cannot change, I believe it is this way of thinking that got us in this mess in the first place. Past generations innovated and built based on the desires of the present. Like the lead pipes of Rome, what was a great convenience has revealed itself to be part of the decay of our health and environment. Will we drive ourself down the Einsteinian definition of insanity, repeating these same mistakes only to wind up with even more unforeseen suffering in the future? Better yet, what if Lovelock is wrong? What if our species, by some course of events we cannot predict, survives several more centuries? Will our ancestors curse us or “living it up” instead of curtailing our consumption?
On the topic of Nuclear energy, there are a number of studes advocating it’s continued use and further implementing based on the merits of efficiency, cheapness and even, by some skew of logic, lack of environmental impact. It is true that the components for most alternative energy machines are produced using conventional fossil fuels and most of what is out there is less green than meets the eye. I find myself relegating to the fact that there is most likely no replacement for fossil fuels and the only answer is lifestyle change, something Lovelock believes is not necessary. But we cannot ignore one simple thing about nuclear energy…IT LEAVES HUGE AREAS OF DEFILED LAND, SEA AND AIR THAT NEVER GO AWAY AND CAUSE DEATH. NOT JUST TO US BUT EVERYTHING AROUND IT! Just because we are already up shit creek in regards to our survival does not mean we should burden the planet with more toxic nuclear waste. Believe it or not, when our species perishes, the planet will still be here. Shocking, I know… If we are to say we really care about the state of the planet (and, I’ll go so far to say, our souls)  we should leave a better legacy, not just for our children but for our “mother”.
Same goes for the suggestion to invent some kind of insta-presto food machine so we can all live on chemically reconfigured corn paste. With our track record we will undoubtedly stumble upon some new form of health malady to afflict on ourselves while also toppling mountains rich in mineral ores to erect new mountains made of scrap metal in our relentless quest to create the next thingamajig. Also, I find it quiet paradoxical that Lovelock speaks out against ethical living and back to the land movements. Wouldn’t empowering a new generation of people to appreciate the natural world and grow local, organic food be a better alternative to apathetically sucking Quorn out of a tube, regardless of whether or not we are going to be extinct in 20 years?

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As you can see, my argument isn’t so much based on what’s easy or practical but what choice is integrous, resilient and dignified. Maybe the age of Man is coming to an abrupt, violent end, but that doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel and speed up the process. Wendell Berry refers to the crisis of our times, not as a crisis of environment or politics, but a crisis of “character”. It’s an all-encompassing aspect that each one of us has the power to change. Just because we live only to die, doesn’t mean you should live everyday as if our choices are irrelevant. Find strength in your cause, your rebellion, your passion. Infuse the days that you have on this earth with meaning and purpose and do good unto the Earth in any way you can. For what else is there for a person to do but live for something?…

Ahem… That’s all I have to say about that. Now the fun stuff.
I was looking on the googles to find some images of Salvator Dali paintings. I have found his bizarre, barren dreamscapes inspiring since I saw them in a museum as a child. When I searched his name, I saw some paintings I did not recognize. Paintings like these:
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These were a bit too theatrical and fantastic to be Dali’s work. The artist is Vladimir Kush, a Russian born artist with a similar flair for detailed environments, bizarre compositions and snails. He really likes snails…

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Really interesting stuff, not exactly as subtle or lucidly metaphorical as Dali’s but still quite beautiful.

In terms of music, Sarah and I have really been enjoying Tin Hat aka Tin Hat Trio now Tin Hat Quartet. They are a California-based group that melds bluegrass, jazz and avant-garde genres into something that plays well on the emotions, give it a listen!

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That’s all for this post. Hopefully I can post more frequently in days to come. The artwork for GREEN SHIFT has been steadily getting easier to make quickly and I have a second chapter that I am quite excited to create. Thanks for reading! Stay strong and love everyday!

flown with the wind--vladimir kush

-Andrew Max