Architecture and Construction by Sapata Fofana-Dura and Santigie Fofana-Dura; electronics by George Lee, Zeal Mayfield, and me; concept and painting by me. Composed of about 1200 bricks cut from wood salvaged from multiple sources, including a from house fire, The Shrine of Humility was made to exist for only three months of 2019, and is now no more. The unsuspecting, possibly reluctant supplicant would enter the shrine alone and be cast into darkness, enduring this for some time, when at last they are granted a vision.

The relevance of any undertaking can only ever be proportional to its purposiveness.

The Shrine of Humility, or ANIMVS·SVMMISSVS is a reaction to the affronts to consciousness and dignity we face in a world of ever greater depersonalization and isolation. Technology has allowed us to consume more than what we could ever hope to actually assimilate, more than what our own native sensorial metabolic rate can sustain, whether speaking about the merely material, or sensation, or thoughts and ideas. It’s expected that we will consume many hundreds of images and impressions in any single minute of any day, a single image only commanding perhaps at most some few seconds of direct attention. In this way, impressions and thoughts remain only the constituent parts of unformed ideas, and may then never go on to ever being anything more than assumptions which cannot be consciously attended to, where no inquiry is possible. This sort of overloading of the faculties induces a psychological state of passivity, somnambulance, confusion, and purposelessness. Life is thus proportionally less lived.

What if we were to have an image which is only seen by one observer, in a liminal space, for longer than a few seconds, yet perhaps only for as long as any reasonable directed attention might last, knowing that the image is not extant elsewhere in any form and that sharing the experience is not possible. Neither artist nor viewers are looking for “followers” because there is no association of images to be had. And the image may only ever be experienced once. The purpose of this exercise is to remind us that this is in fact always the nature of any experience: an image that can be seen by only one observer does not possess an objective reality— objective experiences are the varying attempts to share what is ineffable, observed as a functional state by any present consciousness. Only you know for sure what you have seen, and of course even that is impossible.

Take back your Subjective Truth because it is the only Truth. Here is a humble shrine where we hope you may find a moment of illumination and awakening.

For further elaboration on these ideas and how this relates to the message of the Encyclical theme, please see the accompanying project monograph.

Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Draftsmanship

Lecture: The Blue Face: Establishing a Relationship Between Artist and Viewer

Monday, Jun 25, 2018, 7:00 PM

ENSO Winery
1416 Southeast Stark Street Portland, OR

13 Members Went

This class is part of a course titled “PHILOSOPHY, AESTHETICS, AND DRAFTSMANSHIP” It’s taught by Elliott Wall, artist and philosopher. • Class Introduction: Art, like anything else, must exist in some system of context. Let’s explore together the cooperative principle, mutual intelligibility, and the audience’s burden, and share some thoughts on cu…

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Origin and meaning of Garmonbozia: “hormone-booze”

My attempts to find out the origin of the word garmonbozia, and whatever ideas informed its use in Twin Peaks, surprisingly turn up nothing, just like in 2011 when watching the series for the first time, so I’ve decided to create my own.  (All bold is mine)

Loosely speaking, “garmonbozia” is a negative spiritual energy of pain and suffering, or perhaps created from pain and sorrow. The bad spirits who inhabit the Black Lodge, such as BOB, intentionally manipulate people in Twin Peaks into negative situations in which they will experience emotional pain and sorrow, in order to generate garmonbozia.


The denizens of the Black Lodge are evil personified; they consume garmonbozia— creamed corn— in order to instantiate themselves into corporeal form (or because of this).

One of the most plausible explanations is that it is derived from “ambrosia”, not the fruity dessert, but the “food of the gods” in Greek and Roman mythology. This is merely speculation, but fits well with what is seen in FWWM.


Shortly after seeing the series in 2011, I was watching a travelogue show of some kind where the destination was the various Baltic countries. Consider this local treat that was mentioned, with regard to the -bozia root:

Boza, also bosa (from Turkish: boza [1][2]), is a popular fermented beverage in Kazakhstan, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan and other parts of the Caucasus, Uzbekistan and parts of Romania, Serbia. It is a malt drink made from maize (corn) and wheat in Albania, fermented wheat in Turkey, and wheat or millet in Bulgaria and Romania. In Egypt where it is known as “būẓa” (بوظة) it is usually made from barley.[3] [4] It has a thick consistency, a low alcohol content (around 1%), and a slightly acidic sweet flavor.


The etymon boza is also known from the Bulgar drink buzá, ‘a grey kvass-like drink’, borrowed from Turkish and perhaps the source of English booze, ‘an alcoholic beverage’ via Romani (cf. also Chagatai, Ottoman Turkic, etc.; boza, ‘drink made of camel’s milk’ and Chuvash pora, its r-Turkic counterpart, which may ultimately be the source of the Germanic beer-word).


Garmon- is probably the word hormone (гармон in Russian is what came to mind), but the root is greek:

1900-05; < Greek hormôn [ὁρμῶν] (present participle of hormân to set in motion, excite, stimulate), equivalent to horm(ḗ) horme + -ōn present participle suffix, with ending assimilated to -one


If gods consume ambrosia, then demons would consume ambrosia that was in some way corrupted, so surely garmonbozia is a corruption of ambrosia, and given its purpose I think it a plausible kind of portmanteau, meaning “hormone-booze”. Maybe this describes David Lynch’s aesthetic adrenal overdrive too?

Public Works — Substance

Please Applaud with Hands Only

I have often held in my hand a black walnut. It has a shell like stone. It has many internal stony reinforcements. But in between is an unimpressive, unimportant-looking meaty substance that has a mysterious and tremendous power. If you plant this seed under certain circumstances, heat is produced inside.

Now, whether it is a seed, or a teacher, or a businessman, or a student, when we begin to heat inside, something begins to happen. Your leaders may put a lot of heat on you from the outside, but that doesn’t always do much good. The heat that does the greatest good is the heat that is generated on the inside. Success, like failure, is an “inside” job.

When this walnut begins to heat inside, it produces a mysterious power that breaks that stony shell as though it were paper, and a little shoot works its way up through the soil to become a great walnut tree. That is, there is some mysterious power inside of a walnut shell that has the ability to attract out of the soil and the air and the water all of the elements necessary to become a great walnut tree—including wood, and foliage, and blossoms, and fragrance, and fruit.

From The Miracle of Personality, by Elder Sterling W. Sill

Statement of Purpose

We live in a wish-fulfillment society and are all drowning in beauty, yet in general people are possibly more demoralized than ever. Beauty and pleasure, at least as we now understand them, are clearly not ultimately satisfying. Art, therefore, must be edifying. If it isn’t then it is only just attending to the current sensibilities of the audience, and is therefore proportionally only just craft. The criteria for success with craft is well understood (paint pictures of Greeks standing around in places, in the style of Bouguereau; or paint wan looking people in rooms, like Sargent; or paint sweaty or wet people photo-realistically, for example). Contrariwise, there seems little point in making art of something which the viewer already fully accepts, and the more artistic something is the more inscrutable it becomes. Beauty, like craft, is being studied scientifically, and will also soon be well understood, and beautiful things are at all times being created almost totally programmatically through technique alone, which is to say, as a craft. We’re extremely susceptible to beautiful collisions of sounds (e.g., fancy words or “gorgeous” music), or beautiful forms of any kind, but it begins to feel vacuous and predictable, as just another pretty face or pretty painting. Then some artists try to ugly things up to relieve the boredom; and surrealism depends on the viewer having a rather normal, sane view of reality, and it seems like low-hanging fruit to just merely seek to scandalize normal, sane people. For now I’ve settled on making paintings that are pretty plain, beautiful or crafty enough, and on a painter’s technique that is good enough for our purposes, preferring to work on establishing instead a technique of thinking and technique of living life. The vehicle being, to achieve mimesis with portraits of ideas. This is all only a personal prescription however.

Who are the intellectuals?

[Noam Chomsky, from Understanding Power]

WOMAN: Noam, I’ve noticed that in general there’s a strong strain of anti- intellectualism in American society.

When you say there’s “anti-intellectualism,” what exactly does that mean? Does it mean people think Henry Kissinger shouldn’t be allowed to be National Security Advisor?

WOMAN: Well, I feel there’s a sense in which you’re looked down on if you deal with ideas. Like, I’ll go back and tell the people I work with that I spent the whole weekend listening to someone talk about foreign policy, and they won’t look at that in a positive way.

Yeah, because you should have been out making money, or watching sports or something. But see, I don’t call that “anti-intellectual,” that’s just being de-politicized— what’s especially “intellectual” about being concerned with the world? If we had functioning labor unions, the working class would be concerned with the world. In fact, they are in many places— Salvadoran peasants are concerned with the world, they’re not “intellectuals.”

These are funny words, actually. I mean, the way it’s used, being an “intellectual” has virtually nothing to do with working with your mind: those are two different things. My suspicion is that plenty of people in the crafts, auto mechanics and so on, probably do as much or more intellectual work as plenty of people in universities. There are big areas in academia where what’s called “scholarly” work is just clerical work, and I don’t think clerical work’s more challenging mentally than fixing an automobile engine— in fact, I think the opposite: I can do clerical work, I can never figure out how to fix an automobile engine.

So if by “intellectual” you mean people who are using their minds, then it’s all over the society. If by “intellectual” you mean people who are a special class who are in the business of imposing thoughts, and framing ideas for people in power, and telling everyone what they should believe, and so on, well, yeah, that’s different. Those people are called “intellectuals”— but they’re really more a kind of secular priesthood, whose task is to uphold the doctrinal truths of the society. And the population should be anti-intellectual in that respect, I think that’s a healthy reaction.

Continue reading “Who are the intellectuals?”