Canada’s Justice System -Abdication of Responsibility Part 2

9 Aug

In my previous post, I outlined that the goal of a justice system is not to fix injustice, but, to enable a just society by punishing unjust activity. It starts with the old axiom that two wrongs don’t make a right. It follows from there that punishments can only act as deterrent if the goal is to build a truly just society.

There is a distinct lack of will to punish criminals all over the modern West, in particular Canada, caused by a growing belief among jurists that incarceration is cruel and unjust. The Supreme Court knocked down a law mandating a minimum sentence for possession of an illegal firearm. If you were an anti-gun activist, you should have been outraged. The reason none were? The law punished the law breaker, not the gun.

In Canada and elsewhere, the rash of releases for COVID-19 has spawned a subesequent rash of crime.

It is not easy to deal out a just punishment. It takes a lot of courage to take the step of handing out discipline and assume the responsibility of the life of the incarcerated. Ask any parent how hard it is to discipline their own children but the rewards in future behavior are worth it. Modern leftist ideology has trouble with this fact. Unfortunately, the result is not just increased crime, but a society with a more tenuous grasp of the very concept of justice and morally inverted society.

Modern liberal minds find it difficult to muster the kind of courage it takes to punish criminals. Light bail conditions are given to violent criminals who then commit more crime. I don’t have statistics on crime sentencing in Canada – that’s not what this blog post is about. You can see incidents of generous bail conditions and light sentencing/early release resulting in more crime. If you want to search the database, you’ll be sure to find a lot: Peel , Toronto.

Recently, a young woman was killed by her boyfriend after he was released with a GPS tracker after being charged for possession of an illegal firearm. Despite having numerous domestic violence complaints, a nation that claims it is intent on cracking down on firearm violence by restricting gun ownership allowed a man to be released who was known to ignore release conditions who was arrested for GUN CRIMES!

But increased crime is just the beginning of a society that won’t accept its moral responsibility to punish criminals. By allowing the mindset to continue, morally outrageous crimes are absorbed into the zeitgeist of the country.

There are some crimes so unconscionable that the perpetrators must not be let out into the population to live normal lives. Doing so, only allow the moral errors grow within society.

Karla Homolka was guilty of some of the most heinous crimes ever to occur in Canada. But, the woman was released with a light sentence (11 years) so she could testify against her accomplice and boyfriend, Paul Bernardo.

She now lives somewhere near Montreal, Quebec raising children.

Every person must live with their past. Homolka must wake some nights with the sound of screams from her own sister and 2 other victims she helped murder. Perhaps she has somehow grappled with her moral failings and reached some type of internal redemption – a gargantuan task, a moral achievement of the ages. Even if somehow she is a guru of human moral self-forgiveness, the permanent stain on her soul must cause some unimaginable psychic pain.

Every person must live with their past. Homolka must wake some nights with the sound of screams from her own sister and 2 other victims she helped murder. Perhaps she has somehow grappled with her moral failings and reached some type of internal redemption – a gargantuan task, a moral achievement of the ages. Even if somehow she is a guru of human moral self-forgiveness, the permanent stain on her soul must cause some unimaginable psychic pain.

I have no idea what this sort of moral torture must do to a person. I live with my own past failings and sometimes struggle to reconcile it with the person I am now. But, someone responsible for this level of evil could not be mentally healthy without some miracle-level spiritual healing.

We have allowed this woman to rejoin society, live a normal life and raise children. How can someone who has such a past teach children about right and wrong. The children carry the mark on her soul themselves.

Imagine finding out that your child was friends with one of her children. Would you feel safe if they visited her house?

This is how evil grows within a society. Our society is morally lost and does not know it.

It is time to purge our justice system of its cowardice. Only a society willing to face its demons can maintain its path to righteousness. Rebuilding a righteous society from the growing heap of wickedness will not be easy, but the alternative is disturbing.

Canada’s Justice System -Abdication of Responsibility – Part 1.

2 Aug

Most would agree that the purpose of the justice system is 3 fold.

  1. Punish Criminals
  2. Rehabilitate Criminals
  3. Protect Citizens

But few people today understand the meaning of justice or what a Justice System hopes to achieve.

Canada has a Department of Justice. That implies that the department is responsible for maintaining justice in the country through application of the law.

Is justice achievable through the application of law?

Or, is justice a consequence of a society with just laws, enforced judiciously.

Word salad? Let me clarify.

A just society is the result of judicious application of laws. The goal of law is to create a more just society by punishing criminals to reduce unjust acts upon one another.

Justice cannot be achieved by punishment. Justice is achieved by just behaviour. A justice system encourages just behaviour discourages unjust behaviour.

Think about this, law enforcement cannot correct an injustice. If you punch me in the nose and I call the police and you are charged and sent to prison, does that correct the injustice inflicted upon my nose?

The answer is no. It only punishes the culprit. By the time you go to jail, my nose may have healed completely or it may now be permanently crooked. Either way, the damage was done and cannot be reversed.

The punishment could be called just if it was carried out by a just legal system in a just fashion. The legal system can only cause more damage, it can’t correct the damage that was done. This is why the crime must be proven in a court. For a court to hand out punishment to an innocent man would just create further injustice.

It is a common fallacy that the goal of legal punishment is to correct the injustice. It is simply to late for that – what was done is done.

If, instead of bringing the legal system into play, I punched you back, we’d be even. Right? However, disputes left to settle themselves, rarely turn out that way. My punch could land on your chin and knock you out cold. Or, I could hit your eye and I’ve got a broken nose and you’ve got a broken eye socket – which is worse?

A just punishment is a measured response requiring somber deliberation. This is why it is called a justice system – even though it is really only a system of law.

A true Justice System attempts to make members of the society behave in just ways by inflicting punishment on unjust actors. It does not reward just behaviour. It only creates disincentives for people to behave unjustly toward one another.

The hope of a true justice system is that you would never punch me in the nose in the first place.

This post explains my thoughts on Justice in general. In Part 2 of this post, I will bring up actual cases to demonstrate why Canada’s Justice System is failing at its mandate.

The Police is an Antiquated Idea

21 Jun
An Old, Outdated Branch of Law

I agree with BLM protesters that the police should be abolished. There are 2 ways to accomplish this.

  1. Devise a better system
  2. Build a society in which no law enforcement is necessary

To achieve the first method, we first must understand what the justice system does.

Laws are written by politicians selected by democratic means. Police are given the unique ability to use force to enforce these laws and capture lawbreakers. The judicial system determines the guilt or innocence based on evidence and arguments presented and interpretation of the written laws.

The 3 powers of justice are separated to help prevent abuse of power. It’s not perfect, but it works well.

If laws are the problem, an easy solution exists. Simply read all the entire legal code of every jurisdiction and determine where the mistakes lie. This is a lot of work but legal language is intentionally very clear, for the most part. Please list the laws you don’t like and lobby to have them scratched or improved. Murder, rape, assault, theft, vandalism all seem to be clearly where the law might need to be written. There are certainly many laws which need review but these main ones are usually not in dispute – at least in spirit.

If the judicial system is flawed, this will be a more difficult process to rectify. Combative legal representation presenting arguments to an unbiased judge. could be improved upon. I’ve seen a slight move toward something better with co-operative divorce (when both parties agree) rather than long drawn-out legal battles over every piece of property which then needs to be sold to pay the lawyers. I am open to better ideas but it isn’t easy.

Finally, the police. When it was realized that society had problems with violence and disrespect for property, rule enforcers were recruited. Gradually refined, the current standard is an identified group with unique powers of force to prevent lawlessness and capture law breakers. Identifying uniforms and badges ensure some accountability and law enforcement officers operate under strict rules about the kind of force they can use and when they can use it. The same laws that apply to all citizens and more apply to these officers.

Further, oversight bureaus are charged with the task of investigating misbehavior by these officers and dispensing discipline.

No system is perfect. Positions can only be filled by humans after all. I am open to any and all suggestions on how to improve or replace these systems.

Now for option number #2.

All it entails is turning society into a one in which no one rapes, murders, assaults, steals, harasses, acts irresponsibly in ways that could cause injury or commits any other serious crimes. I’m sure it’s not that hard and could be accomplished by the end of this century at which time, please feel free to abolish the police.

I think we could have achieved something close to this level of societal stability if we had not been misdirected by Marxism infiltrating all of our institutions, but we can’t change the past.

There you have it. Two choices of ways to abolish the police. Please leave details of your plan in the comments.

The Trojan Strawman – “Greed Works”

21 Jun

There was no better rhetoric used against libertarians than to ascribe to it’s followers the mantra, “Greed Works”.

Gordon Gecko is the face of greed

This was a special case of the straw-man argument I will call the Trojan Horse Strawman. The method involves making catch-phrase or easily repeated argument to your enemy who then takes it up and repeats it. When the your enemy starts repeating it, you have a deeply flawed argument or phrase you can attribute to your opponent. It’s like selling your enemy a weapon for which you have an impervious defense.

Another form of this is to create a fictional character to represent the other side and put your words in their mouths. If this is executed well, your enemy will identify with the character and repeat your words. Even if it isn’t taken up widely, you have a strawman for supporters of your cause to bring up whenever they want to shut down an argument. If you try to support free-markets, now you’re just a Gordon Gecko.

Gordon Gecko, of course, is the immoral tycoon in the Roger Stone movie, Wall Street who preached, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.” Even though no libertarians of any note argues that “greed works”, anyone defending rich people or low taxes or corporations is called a “Gordon Gecko”.

Do real life examples of Gordon Gecko exist? Yes. That doesn’t mean his words are legitimately part of the libertarian, free-market philosophy.

Ayn Rand never spoke about Greed as a good force. I can’t find any quotes of Rand’s supporting a society based on the concept of greed [Ayn Rand] but rather defending her philosophy from the accusation of greed.

Milton Friedman understands the difference between greed and self-interest but didn’t come out and say it explicitly because he didn’t see the rhetorical sleight of hand being used.

Greed is, by definition, an excessive desire to acquire more than one deserves. It’s a natural human drive that must be held in check by rules of negotiation and competition.

There is no lack of a better word, as Gecko claimed. The better word is self-interest.

Self-interest isn’t necessarily greedy. A fair negotiator is always looking for his own self-interest. Two parties will agree to a trade only if it in both party’s self-interest. Only when one party use unfair negotiations – lies, force, coercion, etc – that it becomes greedy.

But greed, today, is considered synonymous with self-interested. If you are looking after your own self-interest, you must be greedy. Even the largest corporations today are talking about their “community interest” and their “social responsibility” to try and convince the gullible public that they don’t have their own self-interest in mind. It’s just another marketing ploy.

Conservatives allowed themselves to be placed in the impossible position of defending greed by the left’s slick propaganda and control of the public perception through cultural media.

But greed isn’t just the Wall Street Tycoon or the corporate billionaire squeezing every dollar out of his companies. Greed is the thief breaking into your car. Greed is the dealer getting people hooked on his drug. Greed is the person collecting your personal data to commit fraud.

Greedy looters

Are the looters smashing the windows of the Nike store and running off with gear not being greedy? How can BLM and politicians justify the use of political movements by people acting so greedily if they think that greed is the reason for inequality?

Greed is cheating in any way to get more than you deserve. Greed is gaming the system in your favor.

Greed is the politician that passes policy knowing it will create more powerful government departments full of loyal, well-paid public servants.

Greed is buying votes with over-generous benefits and building legal systems in a way that cements their voter-base’s loyalty by redistribution of wealth.

Greed is public-sector unions using the monopoly on services as leverage against tax payers and weak-kneed politicians.

As the meme says: You shouldn’t worry about rich people getting into government. You should about people getting rich while in government.

A Libertarian is a Football Player Protesting Against Helmets

24 Nov

Some left-wing football players protest their government by taking a knee before the game. Libertarian football players might protest by taking their helmets off during the game.

What is a Libertarian today? A Libertarian believes in freedom for everyone with little or no government interference. One of the most important freedoms is freedom of movement. This means that a Libertarian believes there should be no borders dividing the world into countries.

Fine, so do I.

…in a free and balanced world.

Unfortunately, you cannot claim that this world is a free and balanced world. Instead the world is filled with a combination of relatively free states and a multitudes of tyrannical governments filled with corruption causing economic despair amongst their countries’ inhabitants.

In such a world, it would be foolish to believe that opening borders of relatively wealthy and free countries will increase individual liberty within those borders. Other governments are increasing their power and reach within their own borders. They maintain strict controls on who can enter and do business within their borders. Look at China which is turning its society into a panopticon and refuses to let foreigners invest or import into China freely.

Say you have a philosophical objection to tariffs. Espouse in the ideals of freedom of movement extending between countries as well as within them. Just don’t blindly advocate for the implementation of such measures until we’re on an open playing field.

Chinese immigrants to Canada will not automatically understand how freedom and democracy work. Indian immigrants do not have any loyalty to the government of Canada just because they are granted a passport. Many do understand, but the vast majority will never realize how important Magna Carta was to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Especially when all the Government of Canada teaches in school or in its propaganda is a bunch of hogwash about social justice and anti-colonialism.

Dropping the guard of border protections and tariffs in a global political climate like this is  rather like opining that American football would have fewer concussions if helmets were banned (possible) and then trying to prove your point by proudly walking helmetless onto the playing football field full of helmeted players (foolhardy and dangerous).

People who proudly espouse libertarian policies like open borders today are like the running back charging into the defensive line without a helmet.

action adult american football angry

Photo by Pixabay on

White Nationalism is Dumb

13 Aug

I wrote this several months ago. I haven’t pushed forth this idea because I am basically a libertarian at heart. Ideas like destroying terrorist-inspiring mosques, churches or other organizations are certainly not libertarian. But here we are with this giant government and divisive factions trying to wrest control of it.

I watched the Alt-right with some interest, intrigued by some of the ideas and historical interpretations. At first, the ever morphing racist/Nazi/White-Nationalist contingents were seen as a twist irony to the political movement. Then Hilary called them all deplorable racists and many (like Gavin McInnis, Lauren Southern and Milo) stood up and said, “No we’re not.” But the  racist/Nazi/White-Nationalists (like Red-Ice) stood up proudly and said, “Yes we are. We are all about preserving the ‘White Identity’.”

Well, when you find a mother bear with a cub on a trail, you simply back away slowly. Don’t startle her or turn and run. Let her do her thing and she’ll leave you alone.

They weren’t going to let go of the white identity like a mother bear wouldn’t let her cub wander too far from her. Now they’ve gone ballistic in Charleston because the normies won’t let them celebrate whiteness. The bear will have to be put down. It can’t function in civilized society.

Personally, I don’t think it’s right or fair that so much hatred is directed at white people without any challenges allowed. I think white people are being unfairly blamed for the problems of the world and unfairly discriminated against with affirmative action. But to go and say that this means we need to stand up and defend the white “homeland” is just stupid and counter productive for a nation that needs to get back its constitutional roots for generational citizens as well as newcomers.

There is much more, but for now, here is what I wrote last June, around the time of the terror attacks in England – London Bridge, etc.

The white ethno-state is a non-starter.
You have neither the public will, nor the moral justification for moving any person out of any political boundary or preventing people from entering or living inside any boundary. The political boundary of the United States has too many people, good people of all ethnicities to make any sort of attempt. The areas that are still mainly white, are too dispersed and small to make a nation. Face it, a nation needs cities. Where cities grow, there is diversity to some extent. Dreaming about getting the farmers and rural whites to move to cities and start tech companies and finance firms is absurd. I know nobody is stating this dream, but, that would be required to build a new nation.

What you can do, is make it difficult for people to follow and spread destructive ideologies. You can punish ideological enclaves that foster terrorism. For example, if a mosque follower commits an atrocity, you can raze the mosque and dissolve the organization, take their funding. But always remember, laws are universal. If a “white” or Christian organization has a member that commits a terrorist act, they would also be subject to destruction. Strict and specific rules must be written in order to define what an organization is and what a member is. One can’t simply disavow their membership and commit an act of terror the next day to absolve them of any connection. Conversely, one can’t say that the person attended one meeting or mass and call him a member.

This might be opening a bureaucratic can of worms; but, look at the incentives that this creates. Now members of organizations are worried that their community will be punished for their actions. Organizations will police their members and worry that they’ll radicalize. Leaders will have to be on the lookout and alert authorities to potential problem members to protect themselves.

With laws like these people would not want to come to the country to cause trouble and the people who are here would tend to be less likely to commit terrorism.


Could You Imagine…

17 Nov

if a priest came to Baptise students in a Canadian public school or give Communion?

The Speech Donald Trump Should Give

5 Nov
To the many communities of America; the traditional Western-European-based Americans that have many generations of ancestors growing up on this soil, the African Americans whose ancestors mostly came here under bondage but were given freedom under the Constitution and have grown up with the idea of freedom and equal treatment under the law for every individual and worked towards that ideal, the newer communities that have been growing and thriving under the American dream from Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. This is the time to choose to either grow America or continue its decline.


It is true that America is still great. But, it is a greatness in decline. It has turned away from its ideals of freedom for every individual and turned toward a climate of entitlements. It seems like many expect hand outs and support from government and that is one aspect of entitlement. But, the other aspect is the entitlement shown by Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and her cronies in Washington to control the flow of money and take a big share for themselves. It plays into the hands of multi-national corporations to gain greater and greater share of the wealth while pretending to favour wealth distribution.

This lie has come to an end. It is so obvious that corporations are now complicit in the game that Washington is playing and who benefits the most are the elite few at the top echelons of these corporations controlling the media empires, communication companies and financial corporations and their friends in government. Many people are awakening to the rot in this system and want to reach out to anyone who can counteract that power structure.
The Republican party was rife with the same rot. The elitists within the party show how they have very minor ideological differences with their counterparts in the Democrat party, some even going so far as to say they’ll vote for the corruption and destablization of the Democratic party. They are simply globalists of a different flavour. They don’t believe in freedom for American people, they agree that Americans should be controlled by limiting the availability of information, consumer choices and work opportunities. I have defeated them and taken their party to a new direction.
It is time to ask yourselves why your ancestors came to America. This land once represented opportunity for anyone. Now it only offers opportunities for elite powers to take advantage of average people, to take taxes from their labors and use it to their advantage.
It is time to take pride in the good history of America, not to just criticize it for the things it has done wrong. There were many mistakes on the journey, but, largely, this country has led the way for the world toward freedom and prosperity. It is time for America to lead the world, not with force, but by demonstration of how the world should work – by letting individuals decide how they want to live and letting them find success. America has led the world to this point by the individual efforts. Each generation has met the struggles and difficulties of its time head on and this is how we’ve succeeded.
Whoever you are, wherever you came from. Whether you have generations of ancestors living in this great land or whether you are a first-generation immigrant, you are participating in the greatest national system that ever was. When you go into that ballot box, you have a choice whether your future descendants living here will breath the same freedom you currently have, or whether they’ll live under the yoke of servitude that Washington currently represents.
This is the choice. Is the American government working for you or do you work for it? Donald Trump will do everything he can to make sure Americans are first and America is working for Americans.
With this mindset, we can lead the world in the right direction. When the entire world is strengthened by this same ideas that made America great, the people of the world will know why America had to be strong. They’ll understand what has made America great and they will thank you for choosing to make it stronger on November 8, 2016.
 also have generations of the newer generations from Asia

The Rot of Abstract Lies

20 Oct

I was in Grade 5. The teacher of the enrichment class for the gifted children announced that we were going to study art. We were going to learn about all of the great artists from history and then each of us would choose one upon whom to base a project. The assignment would consist of an essay about the artist and our own painting depicting something in his style. 

I was sent to this class one day out of every 6-school-day cycle and over the next two of these days, she read from this large, hardcover book on the history of art. Starting from the ancient art on caves and the Greeks and Romans, through the Renaissance and Romantic periods, then impressionism, post-impressionism and on into modern abstract art. She read through the entire book, listing painter’s names and showing examples of their work, explaining why each is important. 

At the end of the second day, after some no-doubt glowing descriptions of the latest phase of deconstructionist art and how it shapes reality, she closed the book and laid it on the desk. “Now it is time to choose the artist for your project!” she exclaimed.

One by one, the small, all-male class mentioned the name of one of the artists from the lessons whom they would study further. When it came to me, I asked if I could look through the book and decide. It was my way of saying that I could not remember the name of the artist I was thinking of. Recalling names is a problem that has plagued me my entire life – especially remembering a single name from a large list or group of people. 

“No,” I was told. I had to choose right now.

“Well, it was the one with all the tiny dots.”

“Who do you mean?”

“Well, he used tiny dots to make pictures.”

“What kind of pictures?”

“Well there was that one at a park with all the different people.”

“I thought you said it was dots.”

“Yeah, he used dots to make them.”

“Jackson Pollock used dots. Do you mean Jackson Pollock.”

“I… I don’t think so…”

“What era was he.”

“He was an impressionist.”

“Well Jackson Pollock wasn’t impressionist.”

“I think this was impressionism.”

“Well, I don’t know what kind of dots you mean then. Was it Jackson Pollock?”

“um… maybe…”

“Do you want to do Jackson Pollock?”


“Fine. That’s wonderful.”

 The artist I was thinking of was the French Impressionist, George-Pierre Seurat, and the painting I remembered was A Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte, the one later featured prominently in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I distinctly remember her explaining his technique of using tiny dots of paint of various colours to make his paintings. Apparently, she couldn’t remember saying that, but, I was expected to remember the name. By “all the different people” I was attempting to explain her reference to the subjects of the painting who represented each class of society in France at the time. 

I had no idea who Jackson Pollock was. I was only relieved that I had the name of an artist I could study and the humiliation of not remembering the name was over. She did seem rather tickled that one of her students had chosen such a progressive artist. All I had to do was remember the name. 

Jackson Pollock.  Jackson Pollock. Jackson Pollock. Jackson Pollock. Jackson Pollock. 

The next week, I opened the book and found the section on Jackson Pollock and started reading about him. I was amazed and dumbfounded to see the scribbling messes that made him famous. Why were these considered art, much less, important art. A classmate walked over to look and said he was doing Jackson Pollock too. 

“He’s good, isn’t he?” he said. 

I nodded in agreement, still trying to work out what I was supposed to see that was good in these messes of paint. I asked the teacher if we were allowed to do the same guy. 

“No. Cully is doing Jackson Pollock. J____, you’ll have to choose someone else.

 I felt confused, threatened, relieved and disappointed at the same time. Disappointed that I was not going to get a chance to find out who the original artist I wanted was. Confused that the other student had somehow managed to change his selection from the previous class and threatened that he had somehow figured out who Jackson Pollock was all on his own. The relief was due to the idea that had begun to form in my mind the moment I gazed at one of the works by the esteemed Jackson Pollock. It was the one thing, besides the intimidation from the woman in charge of the class, that held me back from saying “Hold on, J____ can take this hack Pollock. I’ll do someone else.” 

These paintings required no artistic skill. 

See, this project had been a huge source of anxiety from the very start. I was no artist. I couldn’t even write neatly. Art was the one subject which held me back from getting straight A’s on many occasions. Math, language, music, history had been consistent A’s or B+’s every year for me. Art always garnered a B or even C (with D’s to come in later grades). In my 5 years of schooling, I had achieved a single A on a mid-term report in Art. For some reason, I couldn’t put paint, crayon or pencil to paper impressively enough to coax an A from the art teacher. So, to discover that I could splatter and squiggle paint like a Jackson Pollock painting and get a good grade was like finding the answer sheet stuck to the back of your copy of a test you hadn’t studied for. I can make something like that and call it art? Trying to explain why it was art would still be a challenge, but, creative writing was my greatest strength and most pleasurable activity. 

So, I watched J____ go off to find another painter to research while I tried to figure out why Jackson Pollock was worth looking at. All I could find was that some art critic had discovered him in an apartment filled with paintings in New York. He was featured in some galleries and became the talk of the art world. I couldn’t decipher any meaning about the work or what it was supposed to mean other than the canvases were vast and moving and blah-dee blah-dee blah, something about nature and space. He died in a fiery crash with 2 women on board. Turns out my teacher had steered me toward a depressive, womanizing drunk.

 When it came time to do the painting, I set the large sheet of paper on the floor and stared at it. Sometime later, the teacher came by and encouraged me to actually put some paint on the paper. I had my cans all ready with brushes dipped upside-down in the yellow and black and red paint. I finally chose which colour to start with and began a flurry of dripping and dabbing until the paper was mostly covered with dots and squiggles. Oops, I spilled yellow from the can as I leaned over to the top of the page. No problem, just make the splash part of it. The actual painting was probably done in about 10 minutes. It was fun and actually looked like something – what, I had no idea.

 So, when I was done splattering, spilling and squiggling, I set the painting to dry. At the next class, the teacher presented our works with construction paper frames she had made herself and asked us for the names for the bottom plate. 

“Cully, do you have a name for your work?” Names, she explained were extremely important for abstract art to give them reference. My mind squirmed with this idea trying to reconcile it with the actual names of Pollock’s works like Number 1, 1950 and No. 5, 1948. Could I call it Composition? Work 1? Nothing came forth from my churning mind. Silence resulted. The heart-wrenching classroom silence that an unanswerable question from the teacher produces.

 “Don’t you have a name?”

I looked at the confusing mess and my mind drew a blank.

“What does it remind you of?”


“Come on. Use your imagination.”


“OK, what is something that you find confusing?”

I reached into the shallow recesses of childish memories and thought of the family gatherings where adults filled the room with incomprehensible chatter. “A room full of people talking.” I muttered.

Eventually, she steered me to a more articulate-sounding word for “people talking” and my page of scribbles and splashes was named Conversations. Exasperated, but, glad to be unburdened of the task, I slunk back in my chair. Something felt empty. The work was a joke, but, looking at the works of the rest of the class, mine was the only one that didn’t look like a joke. The others all had to make attempts at painting people and none were remarkable. Still, I respected them more for their failure than for my success. The teacher might have been a passable art history teacher, but, she was definitely not an art teacher. Confusion, embarrassment mixed with a mysterious feeling of unearned pride made for a strange mix of emotions. 

My mother looked at the painting and beamed. “Wonderful!” she proclaimed. She made room on the wall beside the dining room table and mounted it prominently in the room. We ate dinner every night with the painting hung prominently on the wall. On the opposite side of the table was a formal dinette set filled with fine Royal Daulton figurines and bone china decorative plates my mom collected. I regarded it with bouts of admiration, resentment and apathy. Trying to shrug off the most overwrought compliments but unable to fend off the inevitable vanity that comes with too much praise. Underlying the sugary compliments, I knew that if I had tried to paint what I really wanted, something difficult and challenging, it would not have elicited any admiration nor would it have hung on such a wall. It would have been displayed on the fridge for a few months and then dropped in a drawer somewhere, forgotten. 

“My son, the artist.” my mother would say. I had to admit that there was a certain aesthetic quality to the work, but, I had only copied the style of a charlatan. There was less artistic merit to this than there was to wall paper.

The class for gifted children was supposed to help us grow. I grew a conceit and pomposity for having experienced modern art. I could “see” it. When people looked at a circle and a dot on a blank canvas and proclaimed that it wasn’t art, I claimed to know better. My mind had been opened to seeing what wasn’t there. I could pretend to comprehend and appreciate modern art. The main thing that grew was a kind of rot. I had learned to lie.

True to its name, the painting did spawn many actual conversations. Every time a guest at the house looked at it and told me how much they loved it. I attempted humility but internalized hubris. They looked at lines and made interpretations of what was happening in the “conversation”. The big splash of yellow was an argument. The black against red was oppression. The name that had been coaxed and dug out of my mind like a painful tooth imposed a false subtext on the random scratches and splashes on the paper. Except there was nothing wrong with the tooth to begin with. The confusion I felt as a child was normal. It was meant to be there inside me at that stage of growth like a baby tooth hiding its adult replacement. Instead of gradually loosening and falling away to make room for the larger more robust adult version, it was plied out prematurely and displayed for all to see. It left a hole into which the adulation poured and festered as shame and narcissism, rotting the growing adult before it could emerge.

I learned something about abstract art. But, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned what that lesson actually was. The falsehood that consumed my inner artist was real. Even if I didn’t define it, the effects of living a false persona were felt deeply. My life was lived with this false vanity and pretense. I walked around art galleries and pretended I was enjoying it and actually believed myself. I tried to live that inner life but it was rotting with lies. I didn’t find out that Pollock’s art was funded by the CIA in any of my research. Perhaps my pompous teacher would never have heard of Pollock were it not for the cold war. I didn’t realize that his life was empty and he tried to fill it with alcohol and sex. Still, that same emptiness was poured into my being and I was corrupted. The vanity and group-think that makes people stare blankly at a senseless painting and fool themselves into believing that it moves them corrupts everything now. When we applaud children who make mundane proclamations and call it insight, we corrupt the soul of the world and the decay spreads further.

I finally saw it in myself and have done my best to purge the rot. We all need to recognize it now and make the same attempt.

Why Come Down for Dinner?

15 Dec

This is from an actual conversation.

Dad: [Name removed]! Can you come down now?

Son: Why?

Dad: To eat dinner.

Son: Why?

Dad: So you won’t be hungry.

Son: Why?

Dad: So you’ll grow big and strong.

Son: Why?

Dad: Because it’s fun.

Son: Why?

Dad: Because there is lot’s to do.

Son: Why?

Dad: Because it’s a big world.

Son: Why?

Dad: Because of gravity.

Son: Why?

Dad: No one knows why gravity works.

Son: (sliding down the stairs on his belly face first, like a skeleton rider.) Why is the sun on fire?

Dad: Because of the energy produced by the force of gravity.

Son: Are other stars bigger than the sun?

Dad: Yes, some are.

Son: How do you know?

Dad: Because scientists with big telescopes can look at them and use math to figure out how big they are and how far away.

Son: I knew that.

Dad: Then why did you ask?

Son: Because I like to.

Dad: Then you are going to be a smart man one day.