HARMONY: Sounds Of Comity & Chaos

October 6, 2021

When I posted this illustration on Facebook earlier this week, a visitor asked, ’What’s happening here?’ I promised a brief response via Imaginarius that I hope will suffice:

At first glance, the elements that comprise this image make it appear to be an illustration meant to accompany a Chinese folktale. Yet, it is more. While this genre of folklore does feature bronze bells in some of its stories, this image is specific to none of them. 

Inspired by a collection of ancient bronze Chinese bells seen at the Cleveland Museum of Art some years ago, I sketched out a rough idea for ‘Harmony’ in one of my journals, imagining the dramatic sounds these bells might have made in their original context and what cultural values they might have represented. Here is the sketch:

Some initial research opened a vast trove of information about Chinese culture, religion and philosophy. Since I am not a scholar in these areas, I was sufficiently overwhelmed and reluctantly allowed that rough sketch to remain in my files with no strong incentive for further development. 

Then, the pandemic struck with all of its attendant fears and anxieties. Amidst the enforced isolation, I came to acknowledge my ‘mostly retired’ status (from 50+ years of freelance illustration) and made the decision to begin developing ideas that had long sat on my creative back burners. In a recent post, I showcased several of these ‘Quarantine Journal’ images

https://imaginarius13.wordpress.com/2021/09/21/if-wishes-were-wings/

Harmony is the latest in this series of works, unrelated in content to the others but united as products of the psychological and physical turmoil of this period in our history.

In addition to the title (Harmony) of this image, the three bells were meant to represent modesty, integrity and unity from the twelve core values in Chinese culture. I chose these from among the others (prosperity, democracy, civility, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship) to remind us of how minimally these exist in our own current culture.

The tiny junk (Chinese houseboat) is a symbol of mundane daily life about to confront an ravenous mythical dragon with an insatiable appetite for political, environmental and moral dissolution whose by-products are tragedy and chaos.

In sum, I propose that ‘Harmony’ is a wake-up warning to clean up our act for the sake of our future and that of our planet. And therein is a folktale for our descendants, may they live and thrive. Our ancestors are counting on us.

Curiouser & Curiouser?

September 29, 2021

Dear Readers:

This year marks the 12th anniversary of Imaginarius’ debut here at WordPress. In retrospect, after 212 illustrated posts, I am always amazed that I still look forward to sharing my words and images with you!

However, among my nearly 50,000 visitors from many countries worldwide, I find it interesting that a great many of you come here from Brazil. I’m glad that you do, though I am just curious as to why?

By the way, my query is open to all readers!

Please be assured that I respect your privacy as visitors to this site and you need not identify yourselves by name, but I would very much like to know what led you to Imaginarius and what you have thought or found interesting about some of the posts you’ve read here that prompted you to return. Also, a little general information about yourselves such as your profession and worldview would be nice to know as well. Like any author, connecting with my readers enriches my work and your experience. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks in advance for indulging my curiosity!

Imaginarius

If Wishes Were Wings…

September 21, 2021

As many of you may understand, it has been very challenging to maintain the joy in our normal creative processes under the onslaught of global and domestic bad-news cycles that screech relentlessly about inept, cruel and corrupt politics, Covid fears or uncertainties and the horrors of climate-change fueled disasters.

So, since January of 2020, instead of posting essays here which might risk echoing the words of pundits and news analysts, I’ve focused on making a series of new images to express where my mind has been turning during these pandemic years.

Metaphorically, I’ve often felt like a flightless bird whose wish to fly motivates its dreams and inspired this most recent series of drawings:

If Wishes Were Wings…September 2021:

The Alteration Series 2020, evolved from my fascination with the imaginative possibilities in dressmakers’ mannequins patiently waiting to tell their own stories…

from The Alterations Series: A Creation Archetype, The Navigator’s Illusion and Sanctuary For A Siren

Pandemic Musings 2020-21, is a group of drawings that keep me centered as I negotiate between the clouds of reality and misinformation.

from Pandemic Musings: BrainCaged, Bewildered and Between Chaos & Cosmos

from Flights Of Fancy 2021: Armchair For A Time Traveler, Song Of The SphinxCat and Knight Of The Thimble

A Conference In The Trees, A Game Of War and Memories Of Earth

These drawings are but a selection from many more that are available as gicleé prints at: http://www.magiceyegallery.com

I look forward to hearing your shared creative experiences during this difficult time for us all and to any questions that occur to you!

January 20, 2021

It was Sunday, 6:30 P.M. Irving Zitkin, hamburger and cookie eater, sat at the dinner table staring at his vegetables, hoping they would disappear. Then he made a face; only for a second, but long enough for Mrs. Zitkin to see.

Violet Zitkin, mother, housewife and saint, frowned and sighed helplessly. “Darling,” she purred, “Please eat your vegetables. Don’t you want to grow strong, healthy and handsome like your father?” Harold Zitkin beamed from behind his newspaper.

She reminded Irving how lucky he was to have a mother who cared about what he ate. “How about eating just a little bit?” she persisted. “Vegetables are so-o- good for you!” Irving shook his head defiantly.

“That’s it!” Violet muttered between clamped teeth, “Harold!”

Harold Zitkin, father, local greengrocer and diplomat slowly lowered his Garden Variety Journal. He also loved his son but preferred peace at the dinner table. “Irving,” Harold offered reasonably, “How do you know you won’t like them unless you try?” The stubborn seven-year old looked to the ceiling for support.

“I mean, aren’t you even curious to know what they taste like?” his father went on. “Nope.” Irving pouted. “They look disgusting. My tongue might shrivel and fall off!”

“Well, son; vegetables are not there just to decorate your plate,” Harold said sternly, shaking a stringbean shaped finger at Irving. “So stop this funny business and eat your vegetables! NOW!”

Irving smirked and proceeded to push the vegetables around his plate. He arranged his peas, corn, diced carrots and broccoli so they spelled out his name.

“I’d really rather have another hamburger instead of these stupid vegetables,” Irving shrugged indifferently, still testing his mother’s patience. “Irving!” Violet Zitkin begged.“Please!” Suddenly, Irving decided he’d had enough nagging.

Jumping up, he shoved back his chair and headed for the garbage can, plate in hand. The Zitkins watched in shock as their son savagely dumped his vegetables into the trash, shouting, “That’s it! I’m never going to eat these yucky things for anybody again!” Tossing his plate (fortunately it was plastic) into the sink, he turned to face his parents with an innocent smile. “So what’s for dessert?” he cooed, eyeing the plate of chocolate chip cookies on the counter.

Quickly recovering their wits, the Zitkins glared at their son. “Dessert? We don’t THINK so, young man.” they grumbled in unison. Disappointed and still hungry, Irving stomped upstairs and slammed his door. It was going to be a long night.

Kicking his way through piles of books and toys, Irving plopped onto his bed. “Well, I’ll just sneak down to the kitchen later and snag some of those cookies,” he vowed, giving in to a loud yawn. Soon however, his eyelids slid to half-mast, sinking fast. He didn’t see the dim bulb above his head flicker nor did he feel his bed lurch gently from side to side as the walls of his room slowly faded away…

Awakened by soft breezes under a sunny green sky, Irving lay perfectly still and frowned, trying to figure out where he was. He reached a tentative hand towards the floor. It came up covered in some spicy, slimy stuff. “E-e-u-uw!” Irving gagged. Then he saw it. Out of the corner of his eye, a huge orange thing with green hair and strange root-like hands had sidled up to his bed. Terrified, Irving dived under his quilt. “Ma-a-a!” he wailed. No answer; just a dry, crunchy chuckle. “Good Morning, Irving Zitkin. said the huge orange thing. “We were wondering when you’d get here.”

“Here?” Irving squeaked, dropping his quilt. “Where is here? And what are you?”

“Why, you’ve arrived at the Garden of Eating, you silly boy! Welcome to the first course! “I am Corporal Carotte.” The orange thing introduced himself with a stiff bow. “Follow me, if you please!”

Suddenly Irving realized he was talking to a giant carrot! He shut his eyes, muttering, “This isn’t happening…”

“Oh, yes, it is,” asserted the Corporal cheerfully. “King Bountiful has been expecting you.”

Irving crawled out of his bed, stepping gingerly through the slimy salad dressing. “What does King Bountiful want with me?” he huffed, hurrying to keep up with his guide.

As they bounced through leafy green valleys, and waded through haystacks of shredded cheese., the Corporal sneered, “Well, my boy, it seems His Royal Vegginess is not thrilled with your treatment of his loyal subjects. You see, we VeggieBeasts pride ourselves on our roles in maintaining the health of you ‘carnivorous types’ and we don’t take kindly to being wasted!”

As they descended a hill of croutons, Irving gaped at the panorama ahead. Rolling, bouncing and slithering towards them were an army of giant vegetables! He saw retinues of radishes, bunches of brazen broccoli, swarms of sentient squash, and throngs of tumbling tomatoes. They seemed to come from everywhere! Then Irving noticed the enormous potato creature marching towards them on his fat, gnarled roots.

King Bountiful, dressed in robes of ridicchio and romaine lettuce was crowned with a cornucopia of tiny vegetables. As he marched, His Royal Vegginess pointed an ornate rhubarb scepter in Irving’s direction!

“Ah, here he comes now. It looks like he means to teach you a lesson!” said the Corporal with a sinister smile. “I’d mind my manners, if I were you.” The huge carrot bowed low until his fuzzy head greens swept the ground.

All at once, Irving understood. The King and his VeggieBeasts were going to get him for trashing his salad! They might even boil him in oil and vinegar! Desperately, young Zitkin tried to remember the way back to his bed as the ground began to shake! The VeggieBeasts were hot on his trail! With a frantic screech, Irving made a mad dash for anywhere but here! He’d better eat his vegetables before they ate him!

At that moment he found himself back in his bed. “Yow, what a dream!” Irving sighed with relief. Then he smelled something suspicious. Turning over, Irving faced a steaming plate of vegetables left on his nightstand by his loving mother. He stared at them in annoyance and considered trashing them for a second time that evening.

Suddenly he heard someone shuffling up the steps to his room. “UH-oh!” Irving gasped, remembering King Bountiful and the VeggieBeasts. “I’d better not take any chances!” Frantically, he held his nose and shoveled spoonfuls of carrots, broccoli, green beans and potatoes into his mouth.

“Irving… are you all right?” came a concerned voice outside his door. Gulping down the last of the green beans, he mumbled, “Yeah, Ma. I’m fine. Sorry I made you upset.”

“Oh, Irving, don’t worry about it,” Violet Zitkin said with a smile in her voice. “How about getting ready for bed now? I’ll see you in the morning, OK?”

“OK…Um-m, Ma?” Irving called sheepishly, “I’m done with my dinner now.”

“I know you are, ‘sweetheart’.” came a dry, crunchy chuckle. Irving suddenly froze in terror. “Yow! Corporal Carotte’s come back for me!

Holding his breath, he listened as the strange voice and shuffling footsteps faded down the stairs. Then he tiptoed softly to his door, opening it just a crack…

But all Irving saw was a plate heaped high with chocolate chip cookies.

Illustration & Text © 2006 Ilene Winn-Lederer

If illustrations appear distorted in your browser, just double-click on them for clear view.

Note To My Readers:

If you enjoyed this little story, would you like to see Irving & The VeggieBeasts fully illustrated as a book for children? Please comment!

A Word About Words…

January 1, 2021

“In the beginning, G-d created the Heavens and the Earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

Much has been made of our fascination with the written word and created image whether it appears on architecture, parchment, broadside or bound in book form. We are taught to understand that with iconic or alphabetic symbols, our subtle thoughts and ideas which reflect our development as a species, can be shared while acquiring powers of their own to influence others and by extension, their cultures. Images ranging from the most ancient cave paintings to public sculpture and political cartoons have provoked an array of emotions, political and civil actions that have in turn inspired a long cycle of written responses.

But how, exactly, does this happen? And could the perceived power of written words and images fuel a certain primitive fear of them, driving us to selectively ban books or art in schools to reflect current political doctrine or mores? Can absorbing the written thoughts and ideas or imaginative images of others really alter our mundane realities? In a sense, yes, if only to affect our perception of them.

Historically, written words and images were always considered powerful, from the earliest cave paintings to the development of written languages. When artisans were commissioned to carve, incise or paint them on stone, bits of wood, metal or clay amulets, the owners held great store in their power to afford personal protection and manifest wishes. In various cultures throughout the Middle East, prayers, blessings or magical incantations were written on the inside of clay bowls as a way to influence supernatural forces to protect a household, encourage fertility or promote healing from illness while some of these objects were imbued with curses or negative wishes* that were intended to vanquish enemies or bring about social and/or political change.

Incantation Bowl-Babylon
Hebrew Protective Birth Amulet
Mezuzah: Hebrew Doorpost Amulet

Rationalists dismiss such ideas and practices as magical thinking, pure fantasy. After all, aren’t words merely static marks on a two or three dimensional surface? Physically, of course they are, and yet…

How do our minds extract and engage their power? Reading and listening to public speech invites them to inhabit and work through us to reveal and accomplish what their creator intended. Despite their seeming static quality, they quietly captivate our synapses like viral entities. They provoke images, questions, connect ideas, arouse memories and activate emotions all in service to their author(s); all without leaving their walls or pages!

Several essays appear in this blog that address the interactions between words and images and their effect on the reader and viewer:

https://imaginarius13.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/from-parashah-mattot-words-of-worlds/

https://imaginarius13.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/can-art-be-lost-in-translation/

https://imaginarius13.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/a-blessing-for-peace-protection/

While these ideas are certainly not new, I intended this essay as a timely reminder for 2021 that words and images can be powerful, intertwined tools to use in altering existing realities and create perceptions of new ones. What’s not always obvious is that as often as they are employed altruistically, their subtle use can easily become weaponized for malicious intent. Globally, in the past few years we have seen ample evidence of their use in corporate and political misinformation campaigns and hate screeds promoted on social media, in print and by news organizations that have been allowed unlimited freedom to express their often harmful biases.

With benevolence or malevolence aforethought, the choice of words and images offered for public consumption is always ours and always will be. But the legacy our words create beyond our lifetimes may not always be.

Illustrations©2020 Ilene Winn-Lederer

The Simple Truth?

May 4, 2020

 

In mainstream and social media, truth is frequently distorted or labeled ‘fake news’ and propagated by those with shadowy ulterior political and/or financial motives who view our well-being as an inconvenient roadblock to those motives. In 1994, I wrote this little story for my ‘Visual Fiction’ column in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that now seems naive, yet strangely relevant…

Everything Midas Moodle touched turned to gold.

Well, not literally; that’s just what the financial media gleefully trumpeted since the software entrepreneur was the most successful man in Wall Street history. Everyone wanted to be his friend and though he was nothing to look at, he suffered no lack of beautiful women. When he wasn’t attending board meetings or scanning spreadsheets, Midas indulged in fits of arcane software coding, ‘just for fun’ he told himself. Of course, he knew these electronic forays always became mega money-makers. Yet the King of CrabApple Computers was profoundly unhappy.

One day, in his office, as he scuffled despondently down the information highway, he heard something crunch beneath his mousepad. Cautiously lifting its corner, he discovered a half-eaten fortune cookie, its fortune still intact. Brushing away the crumbs, he read the simple words that would change his life forever: “Seek The Truth.”  

“Hmmph.” he muttered, then sat back and munched the cookie for a moment. Moodily, he reflected that as his empire had grown, the truth had quietly disappeared from his life. Midas had long ceased to worry about it as lies and unkept promises became the coin of his realm. Would my legendary ‘golden touch’ have survived otherwise?” he wondered. Impulsively, he decided to find out. Pouncing on the escape key, he veered off the internet and headed home.

Creeping impatiently through rush-hour traffic, Midas made up his mind to follow the cookie’s advice. Speeding up the labyrinthine driveway to his palatial estate, he headed for his home office where he sealed the slip of paper into a plastic amulet which he placed around his neck. He packed a small valise, then arranged to distribute his worldly goods to worthy causes. Finally, without a backward glance, he set out to scour the four corners of the earth, leaving no city, town or village unturned in his search of the ‘truth’.

Then, in the seventh month of the seventh year since he’d left home, he heard about a cave in a distant mountain where a strange old woman and her companion had lived for longer than anyone  could remember.

Laboring up the mountain towards a grassy plateau, Midas was unprepared for the chilling sight of a ghost-like figure that seemed to float towards him enveloped in an odd but compelling fragrance. Involuntarily, he shivered, then gazed curiously up at a tall, gaunt woman in a shabby grey tunic beneath a colorful, intricately patterned shawl. Bright azure eyes shone from a wizened face scored by a thousand wrinkles and framed by long, wispy white hair. The entrepreneur listened awestruck as her nearly toothless mouth parted to release a clear musical voice that welcomed him to her humble home.

Because Midas Moodle hadn’t a clue as to whether ‘truth’ was something tangible or merely an idea, he introduced himself and humbly stated the purpose of his quest. The strange old woman glanced shrewdly at his fortune cookie amulet with an inward smile and settled delicately onto a throne-like rock.

“Mr. Moodle, I am Truth”, she began. You simply didn’t recognize me because I left you years ago. You had no need of me as I appeared, naked as Eve in Eden without her fig leaf. At first, my plainspoken manner frightened and annoyed you. Later, as your lies grew more fanciful, I tried to embarrass and scandalize you but to no avail. You pretended that I didn’t exist, condemning me to a lonely eternal life. Midas cringed with guilt.

“Then one day,” she went on, “as I wandered sadly down an alley, I was nearly knocked over by an elegantly dressed fellow whose name turned out to be Parable. He apologized profusely. Then, noticing my wrinkled birthday suit and miserable slouch, he abruptly frowned, “Is there something I can do for you?” he asked solicitously. Sunk in self-pity, I wiped away a tear and moaned, “Oh, I’ve become so old and grungy that no one wants anything to do with me!”

“No kidding,” he sniffed delicately. “Forgive me for saying so, but your breath smells rather like a sewer, too. Anyway, listen; no one cares if you’re old! Look at me,” he preened. “I’m just as old as you are. Why, the older I get, the more attractive and interesting I become! Want to know my secret?”

I nodded half-heartedly.

“Well,” said Parable, “I’ve found that people just can’t handle a naked, truthful idea, but they’ll always entertain one that’s dressed up and smells good!” “Here, I have something for you.” From a deep pocket in his fine velvet cape, he drew out a packet that held a beautiful shawl and an atomizer of Eau de Mystique. “Here you go,” he patted my bony shoulder and turned around so I could try on his gifts. “Ah, that’s much better!” he smiled approvingly.  He then offered me his company and ever since, Parable and I now travel everywhere together! You see,” she continued, “When a truth cannot be told or accepted, we work our magic to make it easier to tell and a bit less painful to accept.”

“Will I ever see you again?” Midas asked hopefully. Truth laughed a lovely musical trill. She had divined that the entrepreneur, having lived without her for so long, wasn’t really sure he wanted her back. “That all depends on you,”  she answered. “We travel as a team, so you can summon us whenever you wish! By the way,” she added, “Don’t worry about your ‘golden touch’. When you employ our services, it will probably glow brighter than ever!” Sighing with relief, Midas admitted, “I’m so tired of living my life in virtual reality; lying and making promises I can’t keep!” “I know,” Truth nodded gently. Then she turned and chirped sweetly at the cave entrance.

An ancient man in an Elizabethan doublet and a russet velvet cape emerged. His deep green eyes and smile were those of a wise child as he quizzically regarded his companion and their visitor. With obvious affection, Truth introduced Parable and explained the nature of Midas’ quest. Parable tilted his head sympathetically and offered a taste of his own wisdom…

“Once you believed that lies were the only coin of your realm,” Parable said, “but you’ve forgotten that your coin really has two sides; truth and lies. Each side can be useful if the coin is flipped with good intentions! The choice was always yours to make!” “But,” he winked, “from now on, when you must tell a lie, remember that it will only be convincing if you mix in a little truth with it!”

Midas stood quietly for a long moment. Then, with a dawning sense of déjà vu, he understood that truth and lies had always been folded inside of him, rather like the fortune in the cookie.

At last, Truth and Parable said to their guest, ” Well, Mr. Moodle,  have we been of help in your quest?”

“Oh, yes!” Midas enthused, feeling reborn. He cordially thanked his hosts and promised to engage their services regularly. As he prepared for the long journey home, a worried expression creased the entrepreneur’s high forehead. He turned to Truth and Parable. ” I was a very wealthy man once,” he said, but thanks to you both,  I’ll be rich again soon enough. Is there anything I can do for you in return?”

Truth pursed her thin lips thoughtfully, shaking her head. But Parable, whose face crinkled mischievously, leaned over to whisper something in his companion’s ear.

Finally, her eyes glittering, the old woman answered, “Oh, okay. You can do just one thing for us. When you speak of us to your friends, tell them that we are as young and beautiful as a god and goddess!”

 

 

Evolutionary Amnesia?

April 9, 2020

BY our own estimates, human evolution has made vast progress over the millennia in our dominance of Earth as a species; particularly in the development, capacity and intuitive functionality of our brains. Which leads me to question, why, as clever and technologically astute as we have become, even in the face of historically evident patterns, can we not learn from our mistakes?

Inevitably, I have more questions than answers.

Driven by our good and evil inclinations, we repeatedly experience periods of war or peace as we veer between prosperity and paucity. Although we are now engaged in battling a global pandemic, this is not a traditional theater of war with a clearly visible, organized enemy; unless you have access to a scanning electron microscope and a fully equipped lab to make sense of it.

However, our conflicting responses to it make me wonder about that ancient argument of free will vs. determinism. Given my penchant for science fiction, are we ‘pre-programmed’ to behave this way by some incomprehensible ‘entity’? And might that ‘entity possess a dual nature that encompasses both good and evil that eternally vie for dominion over us?

Perhaps we were created to evolve with a ‘bug’ in our neural coding; ostensibly to help us navigate our way through life’s physical environment, develop civilizations and address the bombardment of misleading or insufficient information in each generation? For lack of a scientific term, have we dubbed this ‘bug’ ‘free will’?

Or, perhaps our overactive imaginations are merely a random side effect of our physical evolution? Since I have no philosophical or scientific creds to bolster technical arguments for either idea, my curiosity and incessant reading habits of both secular and religious literature will have to do.

I suppose that my religious beliefs urge me towards determinism but depending on the circumstance, I occasionally waver between the two ideas. And here is why:

In each go-round, we are presented with chains of man-made and/or environmental events that soon result in reduced populations, prejudiced political dogma and sometimes polemic leadership. The latter rises by promising that life will surely improve going forward under their watch (which it may briefly do). Still, when negative situations arise, our response remains confined to predictably static phases: denial, then outrage and finally, surrender to performing damage control while bemoaning our fate.

For centuries, historians have documented this cycle of events with their often tragic denouements yet offered only theoretical remedies for them.  Such remedies, beholden to hindsight rather than foresight leave us trapped in the disasters we’ve created through our complaisance, economic manipulation and deadly political mischief.

It would seem that while we have dramatically evolved physically from our knuckle-dragging forbears, we have remained psychologically frozen as teenagers; prone to impatience, addicted to excitement and often intolerant towards others.

Holocaust denial may be one of the most cited examples of this idea despite the copious historical evidence and heartfelt efforts of the few remaining victims of its atrocities. Nevertheless, in succeeding generations, individuals arise with a superficial understanding of Nazi culture and its role in these horrific events yet they know enough to twist the facts or form groups of like-minded acolytes in order to activate its worst malevolent characteristics.

Many years ago, this idea struck home when I was commissioned to draw caricatures by a local department store (remember those?) during the holiday shopping season. Taking a break, I was watching the zombified shoppers wander through the glittering aisles, when a young teenaged boy approached my table asking if I would draw him. Sure, I said. Then I noticed that he had inked the sign of a swastika on his hand. Not wishing to provoke a confrontation, I asked innocently as my eyes narrowed involuntarily. “What’s that?” Without hesitation he explained proudly that it was a sign worn by a group of his ‘friends’. “Oh,” I said. Never one to let a teaching opportunity pass, I further inquired, ” Do you know what it means?” “Not really,” he shrugged. ” I just did it because they said it would be cool.” “Uh-huh” I nodded, then proceeded to give him a brief but graphic history of the Holocaust. As I explained, I watched his face drain of color and without a word, he raced to the men’s room. Upon his return, he waved his hand in my face. “See?” he crowed, I scrubbed it off! I think I need to find some new friends!” In common social media parlance, SMH.

So, considering our long, fraught history (the ‘woke’ teenager notwithstanding) , to what extent does free will ‘bug’ exist, if it does? Do we not learn from our mistakes because in order for evolution to continue its mysterious trajectory, each iteration of humanity must be doomed to make its own mistakes? And could this be why ancestral wisdom gets poorly translated and/or misinterpreted in succeeding generations? Or, in simple street terms, does sh*t just happen?

I realize that this essay opens a pungent can of worms, but it’s just my opinion and I’m truly curious as to what you think…?

 

Quarantine Day 24: Flying In Place

April 5, 2020

I first became aware of the 17th century French philosopher and moralist Blaise Pascal in 1990 while working on the illustrations for ‘Sometimes I Am A Kite’, my first book for children. Under contract with Green Tiger Press in La Jolla, CA, I was assigned to work with a California book designer whose work habits were not only irritating, but hampered my own via time zones and her aversion to picking up her phone (no email or smartphone texting back then).

She left me no choice but to listen repeatedly to this odd message on her answering machine: “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” There was no attribution given but I eventually located the source which only reinforced my notion of her eccentricity. Considering the circumstances, I found this quotation annoying but it must’ve resonated somewhere in my subconscious along with my penchant for illustrating the tales in classic mythology. Not long after the book project was completed, ‘The Memoirs Of Icarus’, an ink and watercolor drawing, came to be. 

Of course, I couldn’t have predicted the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, but Pascal’s philosophic bon mot seems apropos to the world now figuring out how to survive in isolation from the disease, so I decided to post that drawing here. In retrospect, it joins the other illustrations in my ‘Quarantine Portfolio’ that can be seen on Facebook and Instagram at the links below:

https://www.facebook.com/ilederer  https://www.instagram.com/ilenelederer/?hl=en

 

Looking Backwards To See Forward

March 17, 2020

20-AMIDAH-CLOSING-PRAYER copy.jpg

The idea that history repeats itself is not a new one, except when its lessons come back to bite us. So I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at the rapid rise of the current coronavirus. Sure, we’ve all had our fill of constant media fear-mongering mixed with coping advice and though I don’t wish to downplay its seriousness, I have been particularly concerned because of late, a strong childhood memory has been haunting me…

As a child, I was made sharply aware that other children I knew had grandparents because my own maternal grandmother had been gone for a very long time. As a young, newly arrived Eastern European immigrant, she had been one of the millions of victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic or Spanish flu.

Although my grandfather had soon remarried, I was told that his new wife had treated my three-year old mother and her older brother cruelly. They were then brought up by my great aunt. Bitter at having no children of her own, she loved them in her own way but mostly tolerated them out of a sense of duty.

I remember being sad much of the time at having no close, extended family because although my paternal grandparents were still living, I had little physical contact with them due to other family dysfunctional relationships beyond my control at the time. Still, there  are times that I imagine hearing their voices arguing or cursing in Yiddish at each other and times when I can hear their softer tones expressing worry and affection.

Nevertheless, my brief experiences with those generations were surely part of the alchemy of who I’ve become whether through the mystery of memory or genetics.

Now that I am grandmother, those early memories have become more relevant since I am squarely within the demographics of those most vulnerable to Covid-19. With my own history of respiratory ailments and our grandson in pre-school, my husband and I have spent much of the past several months fighting off a repeating cycle of common colds courtesy of that pre-school environment.

Even as age brings a certain acceptance of so much that is beyond our control, particularly illnesses put in our path by global events, I find  that it is also important to search for spirituality, humor, positivity and beauty in our lives and allow it to mitigate these concerns. Accordingly, I’ve just published my new book, A Visual Amidah: An Essence Of Prayers & Blessings. The Amidah is my visual interpretation of the set of 19 prayers and blessings that form the core of the Jewish worship liturgy.

The book includes an artist’s preface, a brief history of The Amidah and artist’s notes on the intent of each prayer and blessing with explanations of the imagery chosen for each. Size: 8 x 10 inches Price: $36.00 To Order Your Signed Copy, visit: http://magiceyegallery.com/BookPage.aspx?id=1011

The book cover is shown below and the illustration shown above accompanies the ‘Elokai Netzor, a  prayer offered at the conclusion of the three-times daily recitation of the Amidah. In it, an ethereal angelic messenger reveals the dual nature of our choices for speech and behavior with the Hebrew letter ‘peh’ (which translates as ‘mouth’) and a mirror image of itself. The ‘peh’ at the right represents ‘loshen ha-ra (evil speech that may lead to evil actions) while the ‘peh’ on the left represents ‘loshen ha-tov’ (good speech that may lead to good deeds). The presence of the messenger indicates that all words have consequence since Gd hears, feels and responds to the effects of both.  I wish you all good health and safe passage through these perilous times. Take care!

 

 

 

 

 

Between Heaven & Earth: Availability Update

January 14, 2020

BH+ECover copy 2.jpg

Dear Readers:

I’ve noticed that many visitors to Imaginarius have attempted to locate or order my book Between Heaven & Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary (Pomegranate, 2009) via a link that no longer exists. I’m sorry to say that this book is no longer in print, nor has it been re-issued.

HOWEVER, I do have a limited supply available through my online Magic Eye Gallery! If you wish to order an inscribed, signed copy, please visit: http://magiceyegallery.com/BookPage.aspx?id=2 

You may also email me at the gallery site if have a special request: http://magiceyegallery.com/Contact.aspx

Your other option, though it will not be signed or inscribed, is to order through Amazon: https://amzn.to/387lUsu You can read  reviews at Amazon, too.

Between Heaven & Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary makes a unique and thoughtful gift for birthdays, Bar/Bat Mitzvot or special occasions. I hope you will check it out; supplies are limited!

Best Regards,

Imaginarius

ps. Here are some of the interior illustrations:

BHE-Exodus-Bo-Seder.jpgBHE-Numbers-Beha'alotekha-ShivitiDetail.jpgBHE-Deuteronomy-Akdamut.jpg