October 31st, 2011

What is often missing in modern culture is this depth of connection. When you see a culture dividing into simplistic polarities — which is all of our politics nowadays and most of our religion — what’s going on is a loss of soul. People who are in touch with their soul know what they’re supposed to be doing in the world and what their way of contributing to life is, in the same way that people know what music they love and what food they enjoy — not just life-sustaining food, but food that has flavor, that makes you feel nourished, even inspired.

The U.S. has become mired in spiritual materialism. People are substituting material accomplishments or possessions for the thing the soul loves, such as music and meaningful speech. The soul even loves suffering when the suffering produces realization. In a mass effort to find superficial comforts and avoid suffering, the whole culture has lost soul.

Everyone needs some help learning who they already are. That’s the root of genuine education and the task of real culture.

-Michael Meade
(from an article in the Sun Mag which I have read and reread many times this week.)

thoughts (unfinished)

-media used to be the only thing that was commodified (magazines, newspapers, television, radio), by commodified I mean that advertising began to influence the content. Now with the advent of blog advertising (and we could also add social media) it is our very lifestyles that have become commodified. Our lives are now advertisements. Everything is for sale. The clothes we are wearing, our children’s clothing, their toys, the cream we use, our shoes.

-As with traditional media, and now with the prevalence of blog ads at some point the content exists merely to feed the advertising (no longer does the advertising support the content). Loss of honesty/integrity results.

-our relationships with people should not be connected to or influenced by consumerism.

-it used to be that culture was created by the artists. They held strong beliefs, had very strong political ideas, integrity was everything.

-now the lines between entertainment and advertising are becoming more blurred/non-existent. Advertising is entertainment. Thus advertising is culture. So culture is now formed by corporations who have no interest in the greater good of society or the planet and are self-serving and profit driven.

-what are the implications of growing up in a culture where everything is a commodity? what are we teaching our children to value?

-what is most surprising is the apparent acceptance of advertising and product endorsement as just part of the culture, especially in places where it was formerly taboo (i.e. Mothering Magazine). What has happened to the cultural consciousness that makes this okay? So-and-so is doing it so it is okay for me to do it too?

Culture is not about what we buy, or what our friends are buying.

What we really need…

What we are craving is true connection with ourselves and the people in our lives. That means deep and messy interactions. The internet makes everything tidy and keeps relationships at arms reach.

is to place value on things that actually benefit society (social welfare, health, soul, art). take the power away from corporations.

I am thinking about these things as I prepare to do another interview on the advertising and culture (re: web and social media).

October 26th, 2011

The Austrian Ministry of Science has nominated “How to be an explorer of the world” (“Wie man sich die Welt erlebt” in german) to be voted as science book of the year? Until next january everyone is free to give her/his vote for it here: wissenschaftsbuch (I had to use Google translate to read it).

I feel so very flattered and grateful for this, you cannot even imagine. I’m on top of the world today!

October 24th, 2011

We are responsible to ourselves for our own existence. Consequently we want to be the true helmsman of this existence and refuse to allow our existence to resemble a mindless act of chance. One has to take a somewhat bold and dangerous line with this existence, especially as, whatever happens, we are bound to lose it. Why go on clinging to this clod of earth, this way of life, why pay heed to what your neighbor says?

“What have you truly loved up to now; what has drawn your soul aloft; what has mastered it and at the same time blessed it?” Set up these revered objects before you, and perhaps their nature and their sequence will give you a law, the fundamental law of your own true self. Compare these objects one with another; see how one completes, expands, surpasses, transfigures another, how they constitute a stepladder upon which you have clambered up to yourself as you are now; for your true nature lies not concealed deep within you, but immeasurably high above you, or at least above that which you usually take yourself to be.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, excerpted from Untimely Meditations, found in this month’s The Sun magazine

October 20th, 2011

Look it Over

I leave behind even
my walking stick. My knife
is in my pocket, but that
I have forgot. I bring
no car, no cell phone,
no computer, no camera,
no CD player, no fax, no
TV, not even a book. I go
into the woods. I sit on
a log provided at no cost.
It is the earth I’ve come to,
the earth itself, sadly
abused by the stupidity
only humans are capable of
but, as ever, itself. Free.
A bargain! Get it while it lasts.

~Wendell Berry

October 13th, 2011

Big brands are lining up to harness the clout of online moms

I could have filled an entire book with all of the things I had to say about this, but at least I seemed to have the last word in the article. Sadly I feel things have gone much to far to be turned around now, the article illustrates this perfectly, (though a part of me still holds hope for a smaller niche of mom blogs who do not believe in mixing parenting with advertising money). This supposedly democratic medium has already been eroded to such a great degree that I no longer trust in it. To be honest it has gone much further to the dark side than I ever could have imagined, (whole conferences dedicated to matching women up with advertisers and free stuff). I attended BlogHer several years ago and will never attend again, given the aisles of advertisers giving away free stuff so that you will talk about it on your site (even basted turkeys, yes it’s true). I have since turned down several of these “conferences” which exist solely to make money for advertisers.

I wish I could write here all of the things that didn’t get printed. I will try to find time to do so. But I have a little one who needs my attention. So for now the article will have to suffice.

I will still continue with my own little war against it. I do not attempt to win the war, but to exist as a voice for the opposition (there seem to be not many of us). My problem is really with our culture at large that values money over more important aspects of living (love, health, education, connection). Since giving birth to my children I have become more passionate about this than ever. What kind of world do I want them to live in?

I have a quote that says it better than I can right now:

We need to ask questions like ‘Why do we think that economic growth and high levels of consumption are so important?’ The conventional answer would be to point to the economic consequences of not having economic growth. But in deep ecology, we ask whether the present society fulfills the basic human needs like love and security and access to nature, and in do doing, we question our society’s underlying assumptions.

from Arne Naess’s 1973 paper “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement”

It is the asking of questions that is important to me. I feel that is my important work now.

October 10th, 2011

1. I love all of my readers. You guys are the best. (Especially “Folks call me Johnny”, who makes me laugh at least once a week. I almost peed myself several times.)

2. Today was a wonderful day. Happy baby. Happy Momma. Happy family.

3. For Elizabeth: I would recommend the Pema Chodron lecture “Getting Unstuck” (available from Sounds True). It is also available in book form. It is just easier for me to listen to lectures currently, and hers are really fantastic.

4. My dog got sprayed by a skunk a month ago. He still smells. He is sleeping by my feet. Can you conjure that smell right now? Try it.

5. My “Adfree” interview went really well. I realize after not talking about the matter for a couple of years I had so much built up about it and I completely unleashed it all in one fail swoop. Actually there is a lot more in there but I will save it for another time. I have never been more passionate about questioning advertising than I am after having my children. I want to reinvent the whole world for them. But if I can’t do that then at least I will speak out against what I feel is wrong. I will let you know when the article is out/up later this week, after I read it myself first. I’ll give you a hint, it’s a Toronto newspaper.

6. The feedback for “Finish This Book” is really amazing so far! Seeing people working on the pages thrills me to no end (and makes me a bit jealous because I really want to do it too but as I mentioned, time is short). I want to tell you to go see what people are doing in the Flickr Group, but I realize that you probably shouldn’t go because it will give too much away (the book is in part a mystery after all). So don’t do it. Save it for yourself to discover. You’ll thank me for it.

7. The fall weather makes me reminisce about my bookstore, where I worked before I became a full time illustrator/author. On the cold days we always had a fire going and you could cosy up in the big, feather stuffed couches and read to your heart’s content. It is a magical place, with creaky wooden floors and beautiful paintings with secret hiding places behind them (true story). I haven’t been there for a few years now. I wonder if they carry my books?


9. I left number 8 intentionally blank.

10. Number nine didn’t really have much content to it.

11. Neither did ten now that I think about it. To make up for it I will write about the next thing that comes into my head. Right now…

12. My feet are cold.

13. I didn’t promise it would be interesting. I should probably go to bed now.

October 5th, 2011

a list

1. the colic is not yet finished. my little one has ceased napping during the day and is not a happy camper. I should not have celebrated.

2. I found out recently that I am a “post consumer”, after doing a google search on “how to make your own shoes”. I should have known. This prompted a new book idea.

3. I get a new book idea every week (on a good week I might have several). yes, it’s true. Some make it. Many don’t. I write them all down.

4. I had thought that not many people were reading this blog as I have not been posted as frequently lately. Then I found out a friend’s site was swamped with traffic after I linked to her. oops.

5. So, um, hi there! Apparently you are still here in large numbers.

6. I got a new book idea while having pre-labour contractions, though I didn’t really know they were contractions at the time. I thought I was just feeling a bit “crampy”. My body was telling me that time was short, so I did a book proposal in 48 hours and submitted it before real labour began.

7. I use “U’s” in my words. Favourite, Labour. It’s okay, I’m Canadian.

8. My wikipedia page used to say I was American. Someone fixed it though. Thank you.

9. For anyone out there who still has a problem with my adfree viewpoint, there was a nice piece on NPR today about TV shows that are ads themselves. Talk about blurring lines.

10. On that note, I am being interviewed for a largish newspaper tomorrow about adfree blog. Nice.

11. I scored a review for Finish this Book in a magazine that I really love and respect, but I can’t tell you yet who it is. I’ll give you a clue though, it’s kind of a literary magazine. I’ll let you know when it’s out. It’s kind of a dream come true. I just hope they like it.

12. I got two good reviews for Finish this Book on Amazon. The first one is really wonderful. It was also reviewed in Nylon, and hit a bestseller list in NYC!

13. I am going to make my own shoes. Did you guess that already? I’ve been reading this blog in preparation. Plus he has a beautiful Vardo.

Ad Free