Cross My Heart and Hope to Write


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ferno and More Art

A combination of various, seemingly uninterconnected images into one. I took the symbol of a question park and incorporated into it an image of a noose. The noose is decorated to resemble a candy-cane, and I placed a black barb at the end to further make it resemble a fishing hook. Lastly, the dot beneath is modeled to look like a bursting bubble.   

Something new in store for you, kiddos. Up until now, we have seen my art, short stories, photography, essays, even short film. But here we have something totally different: Rap lyrics. That's right, you heard correctly, rap lyrics. I have only written a handful of these things in my day. Dabbling, you know. This particular piece came about on a dare. I work with a gentleman named Dontay who is an up-and-coming rapper. I first noticed his talent after hearing him subtly rapping under his breath at work one day. He raps under the name "Ferno" (a reference to Dante's Inferno) and I must admit, he's pretty incredible. For a taste, here's a link: Ferno & S. Dubz - Get Cream. He is the first gentleman who "tares it up". He's got several videos on YouTube that I highly recommend. Anyhow, he challenged me to write a rap for him and this was the result. As you can probably guess from the title, its about him. Now, I must point out, my rap style is a bit wonky and is somewhat hard for others to get down. But, alas, I must perform it to explain, and that sure as hell ain't happening! So enjoy the rap and the art that accompanies it, and let me know what you think.

The edges of this sketch have been carefully burned (as you can see to the right of the image). I was inspired after watching rain drip from my fingers. The spindly design also invokes spider silk. 


Talking to himself, he can always be seen,
conniving and striving for a shallow dream,
but he digs deeper,
into places unseen.
Inside himself, he finds the strength to achieve,
he ever understood to be real;
the right to exist,
and for the world to know what he feels;
that there's a mind
that lies
behind these eyes,
and to recognize the fight that comes with life. 
While other’s tot pistols and deal their dope,
he gets high and shoots up with the words he wrote
and arrested with a concealed weapon
that he keeps cocked and ready to blast with a passion.
Never before seen,
never before conceived;
energy that burns holes in the souls of the industry.
Yet, we see
just another solemn man on the street,
talking to himself,
but could we ever believe?

His soul bleeds
And we wear the stains.
Sip from the same cup
He refills with his pain,
But we can’t taste
Of the beauty contained,
As we wash our clothes of
The colors he paints

June moonlight
illuminates an note pad, 
its 4am
and there’s no sound but his chest.
As it pounds,   
a beat that he writes to in the dark,
his eyes closed,
but his pen continues to mark
up the paper.
He tares off another sheet
and starts again clean.
His frustration mounts,
but his heart still beats.
So he scribbles another line,
which only he can read,
as it’s a race between his pen
and the thoughts he can’t free,
and the page he tore off flutters down to the floor,
where it joins another heap of a hundred or more.
Some are torn,
some are crumpled,
some are folded in two,
and there are a thousands of them scattered around the room.
Some believe that the Bible was written this way,
but there’s a difference between what we believe and what we say,
and he struggles with this flaw everyday,
between what his heart tells him
and how fast he can write on the page

His soul bleeds
And we wear the stains.
Sip from the same cup
He refills with his pain,
But we can’t taste
Of the beauty contained,
As we wash our clothes of
The colors he paints.

His tongue flicks ghostly under his breath,
rhyming words mostly, senses are deaf
to those that take time to stare and oppress
the expression of his emotions, under a blanket of breath.
And they stomp out the sound
until it sticks to their shoes,
and they carry it around
until it becomes a nuisance,
banging on their eardrums,
concocting new songs
with a beat that spreads like cookie crumbs
to the corners of their hearts,
where it curls up and dies,
like they forced the beat back
in his own, and he cries
tears that fall like a bow on violin strings,
until it explodes into violent things.
A cacophony,
a symphony
for the sympathy
that was never granted to me.
Now you see
that the man that you pass on the street 
with his hands in his pockets and his tongue in his cheek
was the man that you see
with the mic in his hand,
bathed in light,
on the stage where he stands
inside his mind,
but all you understand
is a man with no means
to succeed,
but everyone has the right to dream.
His heart sings,
But all we hear is muffled sighs.
We are blind to the tears
That well in his eyes.
We can shake his hands,
But are numb to their touch.
We could listen a little closer,
But it will never be enough.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Possession and Recognition of Beauty

I have here a treat for all of you who have diligently been following my blog. You may not know, but I am currently a Psychology & Philosophy double-major at Stony Brook University. The psychology is for career purposes; the philosophy is for pleasure. The treat (which you may not all think of as a treat) is, instead of giving you all a mere excerpt, I am posting an entire philosophical paper I have spent most of the day slaving over. It is called "The Possession and Recognition of Beauty" and deals with my own theory on beauty. I make reference to several well known philosophers within the text and its considerably thorough. Its pretty extensive, so rather than attempting to summarize it, I'll just let you all take a crack at it. Let me know what you think by sounding off in the Comments section or by responding on the Facebook page/group. Enjoy!

The Possession and Recognition of Beauty
by The Sven-Bo!

Concerning the section entitled Love of Beauty of Plato’s Symposium, I do not think that beauty is some superior, absolute, pure concept or entity, independent of any particulars. Indeed, there is a saying I have adhered to that occurred to me in my teens: “Beauty is not defined by those who perceive it – it is defined by those who possess it”. The gist of such a quote is in direct opposition of the classic, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. George Berkeley famously wrote in A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, “To be is to be perceived”. So too might the acquisition of beauty – that is, the subjective observation, acceptance, recognition or assertion of beauty – be dependent upon our ability to perceive it, such that beauty does not exist independent of perception. This, of course, compliments the “eye of the beholder” argument.
However, the perception of beautiful objects is vastly more subjective than the perception of mere objects, for there appears to be more general consensus when perceiving a common object, while the perception of beauty within that object is much more variable. I do not speak here of mere objects as Martin Heidegger does of mere things in Thing and Work, but objects generally that do not invoke beauty. Certainly, the man who collects pens perceives the pen with a certain degree of beauty that someone who is equally familiar with pens (though perhaps not as intimately) may not himself perceive. We can of course argue that any object has the opportunity to be perceived as beautiful, something Immanuel Kant seems apt to accept. Yet, even the man who collects pens holds certain individual pens with a somewhat heightened degree of beauty than others, though it can be said he finds the form of the pen beautiful (if we are to invoke Plato’s theory of Forms, though these forms lie beyond human experience). Kant will argue in Artistic Genius that beauty lies neither in the object that invokes nor in the person who judges beauty, but in the universal experience of beauty. Beauty, than, seems independent of the particular.
Nevertheless, I believe beauty is dependent upon the particular. To disregard perception for a moment and to focus instead on the object as an object, every composite in the universe (or any object composed of particles) is unique, for no two objects, no matter how similar in dimension or appearance, are ever exact representations of one another. No two objects in the universe contain the same atoms of matter! To draw a more familiar inference, in the case of human beings, though two individuals may share the same DNA sequence (monozygotic twins), their personalities differ, the scars they acquire in the course of their existence are randomized, and memories, experiences, mutations, and ailments never coincide. Even emotions or experiences that in our swoon we call beautiful have a chemical basis within the brain and are unique, for they are released in an instant and are recycled or destroyed in another, with each burst never the same as the last nor the next.
To speak of perfection, these purely individual aspects attest to the perfection of each object, for no other object is an exact replication of any other object, and therefore represents the singular representation of itself, making it perfect. The beauty that is contained within each individual object is than likewise uniquely composed, for each part may indeed be somehow beautiful, but when brought together to form the object as a whole, they simultaneously construct its unique beauty, for individually they cannot represent the object – that is to say, the perfection of an object as evidenced by its singular construction attests to its particular beauty.
            If one conforms to Plato’s theory of forms mentioned before, they may point out that the true beauty of an object as a whole lies with its Form or the idea of the object contained in true reality beyond our sensuous experience. Each individual part, so also conforming to its corresponding Form, possesses a singular beauty as well. We, being creatures trapped in a sensuous world, are subject to its confinement and cannot access the true beauty of an object, but can only infer it subjectively, leading to inconsistencies. To challenge this, I would present the possibility of an object that is ambiguous in form. We may be able to recognize certain aspects of the object, but as a whole we cannot even grasp what the object is; there is disagreement of what we are looking at. This is the case with many contemporary art sculptures. We cannot agree on what the object is or what it depicts, and yet we can still find the object beautiful. A counterargument may be that the object’s true Form exists and that we simply cannot access it and its beauty, but than how can we access its beauty if we cannot access what the object is, for in true reality I would imagine its beauty and its Form to be synonymous? Once more, we are left only with the object and its beauty.         
To return to the role of the observer, the recognition of beauty appears entirely subjective. However, as Elaine Scarry attests in her On Beauty and Being Just, there are moments when an object formerly perceived as non-beautiful suddenly becomes illuminated and is seen as inspiringly beautiful. Even Heidegger, writing in The Work and Truth, writes that, “Beauty is one way in which truth occurs as unconcealedness”, where truth is conceived as a kind of revealing of the true nature of a thing (perhaps Plato’s Forms). This suggests to me that the unique beauty possessed by the object of perception has existed since the existence of the object and the observer’s recognition of that beauty is evoked by some illumination or sudden realization on the part of the observer. But what of instances where the beauty is lost? Once more, the recognition of beauty within an object may fall out of favor due to changes in the perception or preference of the observer. Kant’s testament that beauty is really the shared experience of recognizing beauty may have something to say here.
Yet, there appears to be a difference between a declaration of beauty and the experience of beauty. Certainly, anyone can call something beautiful, but is my experience of beauty identical to anyone else’s? Do I experience beauty in the same manner as the next person? When I recognize a flower as being beautiful, that is not the same beauty with which I recognize a car. Though they may both be blue, even the same shade of blue, and I may recognize the blue as a beautiful aspect of both objects, my experience of the blue of the flower and of the blue of the car is not the same, for the blueness of the flower belongs to the flower and is dependent upon the flower and the blueness of the car belongs to the car and is dependent upon the car. The characteristics that make an object of beauty beautiful are dependent upon the object of beauty. In a like manner, my experience of beauty is dependent upon my ability to experience it, as Barkeley wrote. Similarly, I cannot collectively experience the beauty of one car and another car, even if they are identical, and the same goes for flowers. If I eventually no longer find a particular car or flower beautiful, my experience of that beauty has been lost. If sometime later I again find the former car or flower beautiful, I cannot experience the same experience of beauty as before, but a different experience of beauty, though the beauty remains identical. All of which is to say that Kant’s universality of the experience of beauty is flawed due to the transient nature of the recognition of beauty. 
For we as objects in nature as well are subject to change and decay just as the objects of beauty are. We are reborn in every instant, such that I am not the same man as I was when I began this essay; indeed, when I began this sentence; indeed, when I began this word! We are changing in each and every moment, our beliefs evolving, our emotions maturing, our knowledge growing vaster, and our fears smaller. Our acceptance and acquisition of beauty, therefore, is likewise subject to change, thus we lose the recognition of some beauty to gain or even regain others (though not the same recognition as before). In like manner, stone erodes, wood molders and colors fade, abandoning the beauty they once possessed. And yet, the beauty that is lost gives way to a new beauty. The object is no longer the same, its pieces fallen away, and thus the beauty is no longer the same. The beauty of the dilapidated mansion is not the same as the beauty of its prime. The relationship between our continuing acquisition and recognition of beauty and the ever-changing nature of beautiful objects, ebbing and flowing through one another, gives rise to this notion of beauty as subjective, non-universal, and “in the eye of the beholder”.
As has been mentioned, multiple layers of beauty may be found within the same object of perception, but these multiple layers cannot equate to the beauty of the whole. Though an object may be seen as beautiful for certain aspects, those aspects may fall out of favor within the observer and the beauty lost, while the observer may discover or rediscover later other aspects of the same object that rekindle, though different, an awareness of beauty. Yet, the beauty of the entire object and each aspect remains untouched, and if the observer cannot regard the object as beautiful as a whole, than it has been lost to them. There appears to be than both a possession of beauty within the object independent of the observer (as well as other objects) and a subjective awareness of beauty on the part of the observer at play in the recognition and possession of beauty.
Objects as a whole are beautiful by means of their construction as composed of atoms found no where else in the universe. Each individual component of an object may be perceived as beautiful, but cannot singularly attest to the beauty of the object, only collectively. Each object as a singular representation of itself is, by virtue of that fact, perfect. Any change in an object is accompanied by a change in its beauty, for it no longer represents itself but something else, which is itself a singular representation of itself, and is therefore perfect (though in possession of a perfection that is not identical to its former self, which has been lost along with its beauty). We, as creatures who are continually in a state of change, are continually opening up to and closing ourselves off from the beauty of objects, are becoming aware of certain aspects (and thereby their beauties) within an object and the beauty of an object as a whole due to the changes within us. The beauty, however, both of the pieces of an object and the object as a whole, remain untouched and immaculate. So too is the perfection of the object.
The role of the observer, than, is learning to recognize the beauty that exists in all things, both individuals and objects. Each person is beautiful in his or her own rank. Rank indeed, for even the flaws, the mistakes, the negative acquisitions of the individual contribute to their beauty just as much as the goodness, the serenity, and the benevolence. As cliché as the declaration may seem, we are each unique in our construction; the combinations of human characteristics are infinite. So too is each object, whether its art, nature, a structure, or a piece of rubbish, every object that exists and has existed contains within it its own beauty and perfection that we rarely ever observe in its entirety. Perhaps, for a fleeting moment, we do, but it never lasts – still the beauty of the object remains eternal. It is never changing, until the object changes, whereupon it dies and a new beauty is born, like nothing else before or since. Our responsibility as observers of beautiful things is to recognize the beauty that is contained within all things. It is not a selfish act, it is not what is beautiful to us, it is recognizing beauty in general – it is learning to accept, respect, and appreciate the beauty that exists within each and everything, alive or otherwise. That is the challenge; that is the secret to the possession and recognition of beauty, for "Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, it is in that which can be beheld".  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

1.7 and Photos

Its time for a new poem entry and some new photos. I've started a new poetry series as well, barely in the making. It deals with schizophrenia. I'll have more to offer once I get writing. Anyhow, seeing as we are approaching Halloween season here in New York, I have a poem that deals with a theme that I have become particularly fond of: Death. As with my previous entry Dust, Death is a subject that I am fascinated by. I even for a time contemplated studying Thanatology - the scientific study of death. This particular poem, as such, I am very fond of. It came about as a combination of a desire to write an Iraq war poem and research I had been doing for my novel. The title "1.7", is an estimate of how often something in the world dies (taking into consideration every living creature, including plant matter, on the planet, though I'm sure this is an under-estimate). Also, I've created a Facebook Group in addition to the page. Its called, "Fans of The Sven-Bo!" ( I designed it as a place where people can better connect with my work and hopefully give my feedback on how I might be able to better market my things. At any rate, please enjoy this entry and the photos that accompany it.


The sensation of being shot is not an easy thing to describe,
Nor the crisp realization that you are about to die.
No longer cause for concern, the latter things I had in mind.
Only this crisp realization: Here and now is how I die.
My back against a wall in some depleted Iraqi town,
The blood seeping from my body sprawled across the ground.
The slug is hot inside my gut, all the pieces shattered and screaming,
Lodged inside my spine, small intestine, lung, and kidney.
There is no need for moving, as it only causes tension,
Bullets and debris, still blasting off in all directions.
But they matter to me not
As I lie dying in this spot.
The cold concrete on my back; I feel my heartbeat in my boots;
I hear off beyond the wall a sergeant ordering to shoot;
And it all I seem to understand and covet with unfamiliar ease,
Yet that crisp realization covets all the curiosity in me.
And then I see across the absence, in a huddle under a tree,
Among the haze that lingered above the scars that were scored out of the street
And through the black serpentine smolder of a bombed out army Jeep,
The chard and rag-clad corpse of an Iraqi, nigh fourteen.
Then that crisp realization seems to transcend into bitter,
And it’s sweet flowing taste I am forced to reconsider.
For whom am I amid a world quite tamed by man or beast,
Who upon the slightest proclivity of a whim may conduct a thing to cease?
For in that moment I lay dying, so too were hundreds more:
Trees, insects, stones erode, cells, and distant stars;
Metaphorically, physically, mentally, emotionally;
The ultimate integer of greed, mistake, or infidelity.       
Yet those who push their carts and tote their baskets past the case
That contains sectioned off and price tagged pieces on polystyrene trays,
Disregard the fact that they once belonged to beings of the same
Flesh and butchered bone that now lay wrapped in cellophane.
And tomorrow will be another day for hundreds more to die 
At the hands of the ever more resourceful equations of demise.
Their numbers spill out into a symphonic cacophony,
And who stands there wielding the baton, but man, impeccably.
I feel the corner of the wall at my shoulder vibrate into detritus  
As an RPG-7 disintegrates against the buildings partitions.
With concrete raining all around, an officer approaches cautiously
And huddles down with rifle drawn to cover me.
But seeing my present shade of blue and the blood soaked into my thighs,
He grasps the crisp realization that I am about to die.
Looking once more all around as the ground trembles under continuous tracks,
He props his gun against the wall and wraps his arm around my back.
Holding the back of my neck with his hand, he watches as my eyes grow dim
And drowsiness envelopes me, as the world begins to spin.
I reach up and draw him near to me to whisper my final breath,
Which I conjured using all my might and the last thought in my head:                 

“Do not ask for whom the bell tolls:
It tolls for thee
And crown thy good, with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Art at Last!

First off, let me thank everyone who took the time to vote on my video, "Don't Donate Your Organs to Zombies". We ended up in 4th place after only being up on the site for three days! I have all of you to thank for that. Hopefully, there will be more videos to come (I'm currently working on a YouTube channel).
We finally have here some samples of my art. I will be adding them along with their proper titles to the Facebook page. Some critics might argue that I am merely a doodler, but I truly feel as though my art work has merit. Indeed, I would very much like to enlarge these samples and transpose them onto canvas or wood, but the life of a college student is one of financial constraints. Yet, I do long to return to paint and sculpture...
At any rate, I must point out a few features of my subject matter. Most of what you will see is just ink or pencil on loose leaf paper. I take great joy in symbology - that is, designing symbols. A lot of my work is incredibly symbolic and goes beyond the perimeters of the actual work. I have many different concepts of hearts and different takes on the heart shape. I also tend to incorporate exclamation points, question marks, and crucifixes into my pieces. Alas, the symbol that I have associated with my artistic personality (the stick-figure to the left of this post, that persona being The Sven-Bo!) I first sketched when I was nigh ten-years old. Enough chit-chat, I presume - let us take a look at some of these pieces.

Here is an example of an extremely cubic take on the traditional heart, having been sown into the palm to symbolize the need to stop and let love become a part of you, such that there is love in every touch.

A humanitarian take on the Biblical quote found 1:3 of the Book of Genesis 

The idea that music has laid claim to my heart. 

A surrealist eye, the pupil resembling more closely that of a goat, the eyelashes purple, with a nail incased in a tear of blood.  

Yet another conception of the traditional heart, almond shaped like a face and adorned with devilish horns, windows seemingly cut to allow a view of the substructure within (to the left, an upturned ribcage, and to the right, the spines of a leaf); below, a tear seems to drip from its pointed chin. 

The idea that love is elementary in a literal sense. The numbers all correspond to this conception of love: For example, it's atomic number is 2 (atoms representing two souls), and so on. 
A conception of Liberty built from the juxtaposition of several symbols: The horseshoe representing luck and prosperity, the exclamation point professing the vigor of freedom, and the crucifix as a representation of religious acceptance.

Once more, the peace sign is conceived as a skull, professing the dangers of leading a life of peace. 

Interestingly, here is a sketch of a flower that plays a significant role in a story I wrote when I was 16 called "The Tear Collector" (an excerpt soon to be included here). The flower is called Formosus (Latin for "beautiful"), brilliant purple petals flanked by curling vines surround a bulb of poisonous black thorns; the flower only blooms in moonlight.  

I will end this post on a comical note. Having worked in a deli for three years, you start to experiment with different meat and cheese combinations to see what tastes good together. Since we are talking about art in general, why not include a sample of my culinary art as well? I present to you: The Svenwich!

The Svenwich
Boars Head London broil roast beef, honey maple chicken, pepper-jack cheese, and cajun remoulade on a croissant. The official sandwich of The Sven-Bo!

The Sven-Bo!