Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sir Isaac Pitman's Shorthand

She was the watcher of her mother’s short-term memory.  And while she was watching it, the mother was attempting to learn Sir Isaac Pitman’s Shorthand.

At that time the youth were getting high and/or contemplating overthrowing the establishment or the powers-that-be.  But she was, first of all, unaware unconsciously of her mother’s condition.  Then she was aware, painfully consciously, of her mother’s condition.

Then the songsters sang songs mocking the dupes who live in houses made of something called “ticky tacky”.   Then she was in one of those houses.  Then she was getting up to go to work.  At 5:30 a.m. she would join her father in the kitchen.  He had prepared tea and Sunny Boy Cereal porridge.  They would breakfast and chat before she left for her 7:00 a.m shift at “business school”, and he went to his work as a janitor at the downtown department store.

In those days, “business school” did not mean Harvard or an MBA.  In those days it meant a place where young women were trained in the trade-skill of keeping the daily work life of those MBA’s organized.  Pretend that the MBA is able to think, theorize and hustle.  The trained woman does the work.

Business school was manual typing, filing, reading, writing, bookkeeping, learning how to be a valet (receptionist, seamstress of buttons, shopper for wive’s gifts, server of tea and coffee, good listener, waterer of plants, greeter of loud fat guys with cigars, compiler of documents, letter writer, dialer of phone calls, rememberer of numbers and taker of dictation).  It was a trade-skill because they made them master manual touch-typing before they allowed them access to the sophisticated electric “IBM” typewriter.  All this is true.

Dictation was taken down with the wonderful and intriguingly simple and elegant tool of Pitman Shorthand, the gloriously phonetic, invention of the linguist and Swedenborgian, Sir Isaac Pitman.  Then, she was small, while the giants of the past, the men of renown, such as Sir Pitman, were big.  Then, how terrible was her mother’s condition within which the mother also attempted to learn Sir Isaac Pitman’s shorthand.

Her mother was suffering a dark and deep depression.  She would come home from work and shut herself into her bedroom.  The daughter formed an image called “My Mother’s Bedroom Door” because that is where her mother went at the end of each day into  a black and limitless void.  People can’t survive in a deep, dark depression.

Then, what was the solution to this passive rebellion?  Then, why of course, it was Electro Convulsive Therapy!  Buzz the bejesus out of the frontal lobes to forget the worries of today and yesterday  and glide through with dreams of walking in a garden in the past, not keeping up to your mother, who is gone, never to return.

Her mother’s doctor had the cure, that is, ECT at the psychiatric ward at the top solarium floor of Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, BC, Canada.  That’s where the mother started her working life, learning nursing work in the 1930’s.  That’s where she ended it in the 1960’s, sitting in a bed with her short term memory erased.

The shift at the secretary school was 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. so the daughter was free to visit her mother at the solarium in the afternoon.  She could even take her mother out for a painfully slow walk, which is another story.

  Presumably her mother never really gave up because, when she heard her daughter wax on about the elegant simplicity of Sir Isaac Pitman’s shorthand, she had a flicker of inspiration and decided to try it too.  If she could no longer work as a hard-labouring nurse, which, in those pre-union days, meant nurses did everything; make beds, serve up meds, massage, dress, clean up, serve meals, all of it, she could perhaps learn shorthand, typing, filing and combine that with her knowledge of medicine to work in something less physically demanding, such as medical records.

Every day the mother would learn her shorthand lesson.  This required rote learning as well as insight and understanding.  Every evening, Dr. Shrink Mengele would zap her lobes electrically to produce the desired accepting state of stasis.  The downside of stopping someone from habitual worrying with electric currents to the frontal lobes, is stopping all remembering that requires the kind of short term repetitiveness used to learn something like Sir Isaac Pitman’s shorthand.  So her mother would say to her, each afternoon, “I am so stupid.  I can’t remember any of the shorthand I learned yesterday!”  Dr. Shrink Mengele’s compassion did not extend to letting her know about the short term memory erasing side effects of “ECT”.  The daughter was dutiful to the extent that it went right over her head.  It was one of those things when a person says, a day later, “Oh, why didn’t I think of that?”

Proud activists dismissed and pooh-poohed such things.  They didn’t have time to be depressed!  They were busy with truly important things like proletarian revolution and/or smashing the state.  They didn’t need to learn a skill that could help allay the tedium of daily survival.  They could afford to wear fatigues and carry a Dream Automatic and maybe even get so far as to praise the Leader Addicted To Heroin.  Smash, instead, the state!  Overthrow, instead, the bourgeoisie!  Prepare, instead, for proletarian revolution! Go to San Francisco with flowers in your hair!

At least one of them had the decency to quote Captain Bligh, “We are civilized people!”  Above all, don’t tell your friends your parents are crazy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Leaping Goddess: Where Is She Now?

Leaping Goddess is Black Uterus's best friend.  Where is she now?  Remember, way back when, in 2005 I think it was, Leaping Goddess was horrified to learn that somebody was trying to shut her down! Yep! That's right! Close her down.  "Cease and desist" as it was said, in a 2005 letter sent to Leaping Goddess by one Janna L. Sylvest, 
"A LAW CORPORATION", calling herself
"the in-house legal counsel for Womyns'Ware Inc."
in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  You are, the letter writer alleged, "confusingly similar" to another apparent "goddess". Sylvest even went so far as to allege Leaping Goddess was "imitating" something which was the exclusive property of "Womyn's Ware". Leaping Goddess looked in the mirror (again), for she does like to admire her great graphic beauty, and found no resemblance there to the loosely-defined, more graphically-embryonic form of the other "goddess".  Leaping Goddess doesn't "imitate"! She's an original, through and through. Here's some "news" about Leaping Goddess's struggle for survival, from an East Vancouver newspaper:

...the list of "unacceptable uses" to which The Courier refers above are such things as Leaping Goddess appearing on a t-shirt, a coffee mug or a fridge magnet, and many other "novelty" items. But what 
really got to Leaping Goddess was the gall of Sylvest's demand that her (Leaping Goddess's)
beautiful picture be removed from the personal art porfolio website of 
her creator, artist and illustrator Dorrie Ratzlaff, of which Leaping 
Goddess is the artist's ORIGINAL work of graphic design (here look at 
Dorrie's online portfolio under the heading "Design" and you will see Leaping 
Oh, you see, Leaping Goddess was not a person of great financial means at that time (nor is she now!) so she was somewhat taken aback that a seemingly "woman friendly" entity would put her in a position of having to dip into her meagre "woman" pension in order to defend her "right to exist".  Nevertheless, Leaping Goddess persevered, hired herself a lawyer, and proved the Sylvest person wrong, when it was demonstrated that ideas can't be copyrighted (copywritten?).  Ha! Even later it was discovered in a related correspondence that the Womyn's Ware "goddess" had actually just been using the vulnerability of Leaping Goddess to establish a proof of having defended her (WW's) pictorial turf.  "Woman Friendly" indeed!

No, Leaping Goddess was not to be suppressed so easily.  One thing she has gotten herself up to in the meantime, is to have herself tattooed on the right shoulder of artist Dorrie Ratzlaff.  Here's a picture:
 This lovely tattoo was created collaboratively with the excellent tattoo artist Monique of Sooke Ink on Vancouver Island  

Leaping Goddess continues to put herself out there on t-shirts, coffee cups, stash boxes and other trinkets and gewgaws, here's some more links to pretty things, joining with "East Van Lips" under the rubric of "Dorrie's Far Out Artistic T-shirts":
...and, since the other "goddess" said "no images on fridge magnets", here's Leaping Goddess's selection of design variations for fridge magnets: 
Oh, CAN get a Leaping Goddess on a fridge magnet, even still!

and, of course, the ever artistic "keepsake box", a really classy Christmas gift!

So, you will be pleased and relieved to hear that Leaping Goddess is alive and well, living for the time being on Galiano Island, planning trips to New York City, and has traversed the hypotenuse of Canada from Vancouver Island to Baffin Island!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Black Uterus Fabric Design

Now you can get your very own Black Uterus fabric yardage, in silk, cotton voile, quilting cotton, knit or linen. Order on-line! Black Uterus
Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Black Uterus Signal

Black Uterus Signal Spotlight for USofA Election 2012
in the early seventies the Black Uterus could be summoned to come to the rescue in the streets of East Vancouver...and has been unsummoned for several decades...however the recent revelations from "south of the border" have stirred her denizens into action to reignite the "signal" ... he he he

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Accompanist

The Accompanist
          I went out for a walk on a beautiful, sunny December day, onto "The Bluffs", which are in my back yard on Galiano Island. On the way up the hill, through the old growth, to the crest of The Bluffs, to where the panorama of the Gulf Islands, westward to Vancouver Island is suddenly revealed, with the music of Pachelbel’s “Magnificat” swirling through my imagination, conducted by me, at my own walking pace, by happy co-incidence, I met Will Guthrie, the Accompanist to our Coro Galiano, which choir had so recently sung in concert, Pachelbel's same "Magnificat". How great it is to walk freely on the face of the earth with the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and the gorgeous Baroque harmonies playing for my imagination. I can greet my neighbor and accompanist with an open smile, and share the freedom of the music.
          I have walked this path to The Bluffs before.  One walk was to heal my bruised spirit after having been brusquely and emphatically silenced by a woman, whose pristine leftist correctness had compelled her to invalidate my contrary opinions on restrictive and cloistered dress codes for women in the twenty first century, in particular, Islamic Fundamentalist, Wahabist fetishization of the entire female body by way of complete covering, including "niqab".
          What does this have to do with a baroque composer and a classical accompanist, a piano man? It has everything to do with it, for on that day of taking a walk to soothe the spirit, after the previous leftist feminist had pronounced my point of view invalid due to the accident of my birth (as a so-called "white", "western", "christian" woman), I had asked myself, how is it that "A Hitler” can come to power? How is it? It is, I concluded, because we let him. My own ineffectiveness and hesitance, my fear of being marginalized for having a contrary opinion, was what kept me inarticulate in the face of this anti-social political correctness, taking the form of "cultural relativism".
          As I passed Mr. Guthrie on the path, I smiled and said "Hello". We both agreed, Pachelbel's "Magnificat" is a tune that sticks in the imagination. Here I was, a Canadian woman, out for a walk, by myself, in the middle of the day, uncovered but for shoes, socks, underwear, dark, warm leggings, a large sweater and a zipper jacket with a hoodie which I chose to wear off my head, as the mildness of the day made it too hot to wear covering over my hair. I thought “How fortunate, I can greet my neighbour, a man who is not a relative, while I am out walking, on my own recognizance, chaperoneless, and nothing bad happens!”  All of my living male relatives would be younger than I, anyway, for at this point in the unfolding of our generations, I am the matriarch, so how else could I take a walk on my own recognizance?  The last time I checked in, my motives for a walk were not prurient.
          When my very correct leftist friend had so thoroughly scolded me for not holding to the dogma of “free choice” to buy into the fetish of "covering", she had made it clear that the reason my point of view was completely invalid was because I am a western, "white" woman, (never mind my patrilineage in Georgian peasantry, that is ,Georgia by the Caspian Sea).  I recall once hearing a political speaker denounce the “visible minority” label, characterizing it as ultimately racist, asking which scale of visible “colour” these ideologues (of “visible minorities”) were using for their comparison. 
          Two other experiences with "western" classical music and leftist correctness come to mind. Once I read an essay written by a Canadian woman writer (whose patrilineage happened to be Ukrainian). This writer has a way of making tedious and inelegant, obtuse references to the "fact" of her supposed working-class gaze, a tedium that can be downright embarrassing, if not enough to make one run screaming from the proverbial building. This supposed working class bias is hedged in a disingenuousness, the writing peppered with allusions to Marxism and the supposedly innocent and clear gaze of the working class. Probably only in the DRNK could workers be so downright innocent and uncorrupted in the naiveté of their clean and socialistly pure observations of the rotting, old, clunking-to-its’-dying-destiny, culture of "the rich". In this leftist bias that sees all things Western as justifiably doomed, not only the niqab fetish covering is championed as a symbol of the emancipation of women, yea, verily, Western music, especially classical forms, are relegated to history's dustbin. So where Islamic fundamentalists would ban all music but chanted prayers to Allah, the properly correct leftist writer dismissed Mozart, Boccerini, Vivaldi et al as discordant and wooden sounding to her properly tin working class ear. In a world where niqab fetish is a mark of opposition to western/capialist/usimperialist oppression and corruption, the silencing of choirs and orchestras for their bourgeois influence cannot be far behind.
          Second time for me a properly correct leftist revealed the probable demise of beauty under fundamentalist rigor was in 1979.  I had joined some politically active friends in celebrating the ouster of the Shah Palevi from Iran. The activists presented a film made by Iranian activists depicting the history of the struggles of the people of Iran for political progress, presumably, democracy. After the film, a "comrade" commented that he liked the film, but he could do without the "Beethoven" sound track. Beethoven? I wondered? Oh, that soundtrack over the documenting of the ongoing struggle the Iranians with the forces of reaction, THAT Beethoven! THAT was G F. Handel's "Sarabande in D. Minor"!
          I can buy into the “choice” of a pious woman to cover her face.  I wonder, however, how that can become law for all women and girls, regardless of their religious persuasion, which apparently it is in some locales?  Under cover of multicultural inclusiveness, can we look forward to the eventual exclusion of all things "beethovenish" along with the getting rid of prurient dalliances of greetings between unrelated members of the two opposing sexes along forest pathways in broad daylight?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Self Portrait

Recently I was "unfriended" on Facebook, the reason being that allegedly, I am "mocking black women" with my cartoons and caricatures.  The person who "unfriended" me said she didn't like seeing the images that kept appearing from my Facebook page, and took them to be "mocking black women".  I suppose, because I am not "black", she had decided I am not allowed to make any commentary that might be construed as "mocking black women".  Well, she said, she realized "art is art", however, apparently, from her view, I had gone too far...thus, it seems that "art is art" but needs to be censored when the "wrong" people say things that one can only supposed the "right" people are allowed to say.  Then she said, in her closing email to me on Facebook, that she would remain "unfriended" with me, until we had time to "talk".  I suppose that meant that, after I had duly gone and received my lecture in political correctness, and perhaps, oh joy, permission to make cartoons that might APPEAR to be "mocking black women", then, and only then, would she "befriend" me again.
Ha! So you think that  my first reaction was to feel badly, to want immediately to rush over and apologize for making inappropriate and offensive  drawings?  Well, no, exactly I had thought this does not even deserve an acknowledgement of a "return" email.  "Unfriend" me if you wish, oh, Art Police, for, in fact you have been so very wrong, revealing your most racist prejudice yourself, your assumption belies your own deeply seated racist outlook.  And here is why:  you see, after receiving this unusual Facebook email, I thought, oh, I wonder what she is talking about?  I ran my memory over the pictures that had recently been my profile on facebook, and thought, I wonder which one she was referring to?  And then, Oh Yes, I remembered, it is probably THAT one, the one I call "Big Tat", here it is:

Oh, of course, naturally she would jump to the conclusion that I am "mocking black women", since in her racist book, only if I were a "black woman" would I be able validly to be allowed to speculate thusly with my pen and ink.  Yes, perhaps someone might be thinking, that is "mocking black women" because someone might also be stuck with stereotypical thinking on that subject.
But, you know, if she (the "unfriender") knew anything about it at all, and didn't have knee-jerk, racist attitudes herself, then she would understand that this is a SELF-PORTRAIT!  Oh, yes, I forget, the Politically Correct Woman "Of Colour" can dismiss my self-portrait without question or inquiry into how this picture might have come about, because The Politically Correct Woman Of Colour is much higher on her pecking order of whose opinion is valid, and whose is not.  Because this "critic" sees me as being "white" (compared to her measuring paper that classifies people accordingly?) therefore she has seen the picture and jumped (incorrectly) to the conclusion that what I am doing is "mocking black women".  I am a sinner by virtue of the accident of my birth...and who is the racist?
I will not elevate the critism "mocking black women" with any kind of explanation as to how this self-portrait came about (although, I may sometime in the future, put in this blog the story out of which my self portrait came.  I will keep you posted).  Nor will I validate such claptrap criticism with any kind of justification for the drawing, for no such justification is necessary.  All I can say to this PC Censor is "YOU figure out why your comment is so much claptrap, and YOU figure out how and why this is indeed a self portrait!"  How dare you call my self portrait "Mocking Black Women".  You are a fool!  A racist fool at that...oh, wait just a minute, you're a "black" woman, so how could YOU possibly have a racist attitude, especially about "black" women.  Ha ha ha, you figure that one out, too!