Which also means looking at THE PROBLEMand deciding how to proceed in view of the possibly that paradise may not be lost!



This was more than three years ago before Rod's vision was
compromised suddenly,  by a series of unfortunate events, for which no one was entirely to blame. And no, he was not slavishly copying a photograph. There were no cameras around during the War of 1812, when the American privateer, Young Teazer, was torched by one of the crew. The explosion in Mahone Bay was completely devastating. The image was created first on a computer original, printed out and then rendered by eye and hand in the traditional manner. Some time was saved in creating that imaginary scene for the illustration, which was decidedly not fine art.


Heinrich Kley (1863-1941) was a German illustrator, political cartoonist and painter. Kley studied "practical arts"(Applied Arts, intended to bring in money) at the Karlsruhe Akademie and finished his studies in Munich. He was decidedly a master of pen-and-ink but his sensuous subject matter offended some Germanic volk. Unlike some Fine Artists he was recompensed for his scribbles. That's worth remembering?



M.C. Escher (1898-1972) was a Dutch graphic artist who made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. His work also required very good eyesight and a reactive nervous system. Like fag ends dots leave something to be desired in attempting to squeeze order out of chaos. Maurits Escher said said that "chaos may reside in my basement, let me go upstairs and look." He also said "We adore chaos because we love to produce order." That, of course, applies to some of us?



Images can impart a message, but interpretation is subjective. Combining text with graphics can help if the vocabulary is understood. An occlusion is a bad happening in the interior eyeball caused by glaucoma, unusually high internal pressure there.



And the human response? I do the best I can for where I am at!" That's another Heinrick Kley who retains more popularity in America than Germany. Controlled scribbling!



The centre of the eye, which is typically dark, is actually a transparent lens. A cataract is a medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision and ultimately blindness. At bottom an artificial lens implant. Tho old lens can be blasted to bits using a laser and the debris siphoned off.  After that a plastic replica (costing at most about $300) is inserted surgically. Those spiral arms go in folded next to the lens but expand to position it. Less than 10 minutes. No anesthetic! Usually works!




There are various types of cataract, and Rod is not unique in having them. His mum also harboured them and her operations were not successful. A nuclear cataract is the most common type of cataract, beginning with a gradual hardening and yellowing of the central zone of the lens, also known as the nucleus. Over time, this hardening and yellowing will expand to the other layers of the lens. Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up your eye's lens and are not genetic.

Rod's cataract were nuclear and slow to develop but he always noticed that he had a warm eye and a cool eye when it came to colours and it was the warm right eye which was destined to cause most trouble. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. The clear lens slowly changes to a yellowish brownish color, adding a brownish tint to vision.Those with advanced lens discoloration, you may not be able to identify blues and purples.


Clumps of protein reduce the sharpness of the image reaching the retina. The lens consists mostly of water and protein. When the protein clumps, it clouds parts of the lens and reduces the light that reaches the retina at the back of the eyeball . The clouding may become severe enough to cause blurred vision. Most age-related cataracts develop from protein clumpings. With artists, many attempt to compensate for the lack of light and sharpness of image by moving away from the concept that "back is not a colour."When they do, a deadness of tonality is introduced into paintings. The design may remain attractive but jet black...



Poor Edgar was unfortunate in having to deal with eye problems early on.  The term “age-related” is misleading. One does not have to be a senior citizen to get this type of cataract. In fact, people can have an age-related cataract in their 40s and 50s. But during middle age, most cataracts are small and do not affect vision. It is after age 60 that they usually cause problems with a person’s vision.



Degas was a great delineator so it is sad to see what poor eyesight brought him in terms of mapping out proportions and colour-matching. Some critic preferred the later, "mature work" of the Impressionists, but clearly these efforts were aesthetically flawed. These observers may have had their own acuity issues?



Her final works were just as sympathetic to her subject matter but two-dimensional as if over-exposed in sunlight.



These have been European instances. Unlike Cassat, O'Keef was not an expat. She almost lived to be 100.  But she lost a lot to macular degeneration, a condition affecting the central part of the retina, known as the macula. This results in distortion and/or loss of central vision. It occurs largely in older adults, in which case it is called age-related macular degeneration. That left hand painting looks as if she mapped the condition.



Rod was annoyed at losing most hearing in one ear, followed by most vision in one eye, but ...
That's "Colorado," and "sculptor"  Rod's eyesight is far from perfect!  Point is, visual disaster can hit much earlier in an individual's life.



Ah, those Art Deco, Modernist Eyes!



Rod and Ruth like earth tones, but this colour filtering is a bit extreme.



Still, given her control of the genres in which she works, her innate sense of design and her prices, Rod might buy if he were able.




It is hard to dismiss Irish Leprechauns? Rod is only 49% Irish, but a sympathetic soul, since this bodach lives at Martin's River. Wish we could see more of his work. He was apparently attracted to the fine arts by a Van Gogh exhibition. "After a second retinal vein occlusion left painter Leighton Davis with just eight per cent vision, he didn’t think he could paint any longer.
An artist-in-residence at Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery and director-curator of the gallery between 1979 and 1997, he gave up painting entirely for a couple of years." On a bus tour of Portugal he took digital photos and tried painting them form the back screen.



Eight percent is not good, but it sufficed, and he has since added binoculars and strong reading glasses to his arsenal of art tools.  He is quoted as saying, I have “a very good visual sense, a very good visual memory. It’s like a built-in GPS. I remember things and can still paint.”He adds that, “Early in my career, I had some big shows, and I’d sell all my work. There would be 500 people at the opening.” He no longer works fifteen hour days in the pursuit of Fine Art. His ophthalmologist, Dr. Ann Hoskin-Mott, assistant professor in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Dalhousie University organized a show at the Canadian Ophthalmology Society conference in Halifax in early June 2914.Davis, Sandi Komst and  Barbara Berry exhibited and sold their work to conference goers. Rod thinks a sculpture of the human eye might have come out of this meeting and gone into the waiting room of his ophthalmologist.



"Old age, also called senescence  in human beings (is) the final stage of the normal life span. Definitions of old age are not consistent from the standpoints of biology, demography (conditions of mortality and morbidity), employment and retirement, and sociology. For statistical and public administrative purposes, however, old age is frequently defined as 60 or 65 years of age or older."
- Britannica. Many of the myths surrounding the process of aging are being invalidated by recent studies in gerontology. For example, sexual activity tends to decrease with age, but if an individual is healthy there is no age limit for its continuance.



"There is no universally accepted age that is considered old among or within societies. Often discrepancies exist as to what age a society may consider old and what members in that society of that age and older may consider old. Moreover, biologists are not in agreement about the existence of an inherent biological cause. Certain aspects of sensory and perceptual skills, muscular strength, and certain kinds of memory tend to diminish with age, rendering older people unsuitable for some activities. There is, however, no conclusive evidence that intelligence deteriorates with age, but rather that it is more closely associated with education and standard of living." One thing that is certain is that it is a double whammy to be aged and close to blindness.



Throw this handicap into the mix and society may end up with a totally displaced personality or an angry old fart. Every so often some attention moves away from those pretty young "upcoming artists" and centres briefly on "submerging artists." There actually is a Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network, CSARN (pronounced see-sarn) on line. They claim to have been "created to help Canada’s senior professional artists maintain creative and healthy lives. We do this through a number of programs: mentorship, seminars, our annual Maintaining Creativity conference, our Seniors’ Care Advisory Program, and the resource section of our website." We will look in on them a bit later.


The more resent report was prepared by Hill Strategies Research, a company based in Hamilton, Ontario created by Kelly Hill in 2002. He is based at the University of Regina and a  holds a BA in Economics from the Universite Laval and an MA in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario.ON U of R pages it is noted that "His monthly, on-line Arts Research Monitor is an invaluable resource for arts researchers across Canada and beyond. Thanks to support from Heritage Canada and the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, he provided a detailed presentation on the State of the Arts in Saskatchewan as a kick off to the Saskatchewan Partnership for Arts Research and its Arts Ecology research in March of 2013."




“A St. Trinian’s girl would be sadistic, cunning, dissolute, crooked, sordid, lacking morals of any sort and capable of any excess. She would also be well-spoken, even well-mannered and polite. Sardonic, witty and very amusing. She would be good company. In short: typically human and, despite everything, endearing.” - Ronald Searle. Ronald had a similar view of the Fine Art elite and fled Britain to live in France. Not often quoted he did say that he had an "irresistible impulse to draw. I cannot remember wanting to be anything else other than an artist." And he was a thorough going "professional," This study, sponsored by the usual suspects, attempted to define that adjective. It made the expected promise of "designing practical solutions to the long-neglected issue of the plight of senior artists in our society."

Searle entitled this lithographic print (limited to 50 copies, "The Leader." Those of us not the centre of the art world and not well placed to admired the elite. Rod's first art teacher, Thomas Acheson Junior, warned that tyros should wait for the public to identify them as "Artists." That was before art was democratized. Having been sidelined for a few year, Rod would now be forced to call on provision "(a)" to put together enough credits to be worthy of calling himself a "professional artist." He has not been exhibiting, has not been able to afford memberships and cannot afford to travel in pursuit of markets.He has a spotty record of income back of that required by income tax legislation. Which does more work, a physics teacher once asked on a questionnaire, "a work horse or a saw horse." You could be a "saw horse" pro under the above criteria.



Rod has never been asked to respond to any surveys of this sort although a member of "professional groups" in days past Apparently Mr. Hill did locate 1,512 respondents age 55 and over, although technically that age seems low on the scale of seniority. Of these 82% identified themselves as professionals; 16% said, not and the rest never got back.  Interest focused on the majority who were surveyed in more depth.



Everybody was asked, "In which one artistic discipline would you say you spend the most time?" Here's how the it was cut: 1. Film, Television, Recording Media, 308 replies;
2.Critics, Writers, Correspondents; 300. 3. Musicians, 222; 4. Actors and Associates; 210.  5. Others. 36; 6. Dancers, 32; 7. Undecided, 16; Visual and Media Artists, 351. This was the largest group at 24%, but a broad category of which elderly painters would be a part. Survey, 2009.
 


These figures are for old-timers aged 55-65. After that age the number earning a living from art drops to 14%.If you are really old like Rod, you never contributed much to the Canada Pension because at first it didn't exist and then was not open to independent contractors. That meant there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, nothing but cold tea until some benefits were extended universally followed by a Guaranteed Income Supplement.  That's truly financially helpful where partners happen to be of the same pensionable age and that's why the aged artist may still be struggling, and in trouble when ill health intervenes.


In better days Rod earned more tan the median income for senior artists and the cost of living was lower years ago. He has remained at zero income for at least three years. Just before the well went dry he was in that "most common earning category" usually closer the top end. Remember that these figures are for all artists and not just painters.


Unlike Gauguin and Van Gogh, Giacometti was never near financial ruin. Again is chart is for all professional artists, and simply suggests that painters were not doing well at that time.


There have been cost-of-living increases in th social net since then but the median income is still around $20 bucks per hour for every category.


Combining incomes still leaves artists and spouses in a situation where there is still not much discretionary income, although they must be tempted to gamble!
 

These conclusions are entirely invalid due to the massive increases in housing values and rental rates.  Nova Scotia is not even at the hub of this potential "housing bubble," but landlords have been increasing rents, even in the outback, and "affordable housing" of any kind is not available for those on fixed incomes.



Still,  that was a bit below Canadians ending other career paths.

Asked "If you had a chance to relive your life would you choose art as a career, 87% seemed to say yes. The pie-in-the-sky breakdown follows.

The brew their own wine or beer, but second hand and are easily amused. If they are lucky, Like R&R they have support both virtual and real from relatives and friends.



Illustration: Maxfield Parrish. Motto: Ingrid Bergman's suggestion for improving one's mental health in trying times.  She says, "Share with others what you have learned. Include research to back up your thoughts. Be ready to open your minds to other opinions that are supported by good research. Synergize.

Send ideas to rodneymackay@gmail.com?



4. If you can't do it, don't promise it. No pie in the sky please. Only honest discourse will engage others long term. Only honest promises will build trust in individuals and in the systems that are supposed to serve the public.



“Broken vows are like broken mirrors. They leave those who held to them bleeding and staring at fractured images of themselves. - Richard Paul Evans.

Rod's Stuart ancestors remained deluded by Bonnie Prince Charlie's circumvented promises into my Grandmother K's time.




"Baby seal under the impression that clubs are the centres of social activity."

"Promises based on ignorance always prove
disappointing."                                           Jussi Adler-Olsen



One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes. Better break your word than do worse in keeping it. The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present. When a man repeats a promise again and again, he means to fail you.

                                                                    English Proverbs



"The Old Man and the Sea is a short novel written by the American author Ernest Hemingway in 1951 in Bimini, Bahamas, and published in 1952. It was the last major work of fiction by Hemingway that was published during his lifetime. In 1953, The Old Man and the Sea was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and it was cited by the Nobel Committee as contributing to their awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway in 1954."   - Wikipedia Literary critic Robert P. Weeks. followed Searle's sentiment in writing "Fakery in The Old Man and the Sea"  claiming that the novel was a weak and unexpected divergence from the typical, realistic Hemingway. Others, said he was wrote this novel following negative reaction to Across the River and into the Trees.



One does not need to be a biblical scholar to comprehend Searle's title, "Idiot camel looking for a large needle." Ontario based mental health adviser Ingrid Bergman was probably not thinking about financial stability as a reason for staying focused, which Hemingway's old man decidedly did to the point of idocity. She wrote, "As a ten year old I know says, 'It takes a lot more steps to achieve one goal than you think.'  The chosen goal should be foundational. It is not the final answer, but like the foundation of the house. If you get the foundation right, the rest of the house won't fall down later."

 

"6. Meanwhile do something tangible today." However, be very careful about defining that foundation goal! There is a lot of room in this world for the pursuit and consummation of idiotic wishes.




Unintentional anachronistic irony is hugely great?  Our mental health adviser continues, "If  you can't think of anything that give your life meaning today, you need to focus on the fact that you had worth from the moment you were born, regardless of whether anyone sees it or not."  She is not talking about material wealth, but clearly it does cost proportionately more for the subsistence of lower classes of people as well as type faces? In the old "hot type" days, before the invention of mechanical linotype machines it was massively expensive to hand set 8 point letters. The above pricing is facetious and coincidental.


 
Molesworth developed routes for escaping his matrix.  Bergman went on to say, "You do not need to earn value - you already have it." Some politicians in America see this as an anarchistic rather than an anachronistic stumbling point when it comes to disadvantaged folk, who they think do not try hard enough! Bergman concludes, "Maybe success today is just holding the line." Rod's not sure that is true but the idea is worth considering?



Whatever their failings, it has been the Brits and not those of us who are North Americans who pioneered the concept of democratic free speech and the idea that there may be more than one logical solution for a given problem.

"7. Remember truth is like an elephant. You see large parts of it in your point of view, but you need to hear others in order to understand the entire situation."



The vicious circle is a sequence of interactive cause-and-effect. Two or more elements interact repeatedly, intensifying and aggravating each other, worsening a bad situation. It is reminiscent of the ancient MS-DOS computer loop problems, where it became impossible to exit or reboot softw
are. As late as 2009, one Dell user complained of attempting and failing to reboot after more than 1,000 trys.
 



"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein. If not insanity it is the path to becoming a misfit. The wages of fear can be loss and grief even when people are not dead or dying.



"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower"
- Steve Jobs.

However, nobody gets thanked for figuring out how to hatch another square egg, and it is usual for critics to chew away at it's substance. One explanation of this was Galileo Galilei was an Italian polymath: astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician, and "bleeding edge" theorist.  He said, "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." However,he was forced by the Catholic Inquisition to recant the idea that the earth moves about the sun.



Early birds can be found in every department of human activity, but hatching a cubic egg is a potentially harmful experience.  One rare possibility is "Dissociative Identity Disorder," formerly referred to as "Multiple Personality Disorder," a condition of identity is fragmentation. People with this rare condition are often victims of severe abuse.



Psychiatrist, David Yeung, has written on this subject, and noted that "One aspect of DID is the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) suffered by some of the alters. PTSD is similar to Panic Attacks in that once turned on, the anxiety is fed into a vicious cycle." Bergman warned about trying to reinvent the wheel, and suggested that merely "holding the line" might be the best policy until a useful foundation  goal has been formulated. The DID hypothesis suggests that "Not all monsters come from Outer Space."





Last year at this time Rod had not hear of the
"alt-right" The  "alternative right," is defined as a small group of people with right to far-right ideologies who are at odds with mainstream conservatism. "Always Right "might better describe them. One big boggey for them is Science. The term seems to be been first used in 2008 but was made infamous during Trump's presidential campaign. While this group is deeply impressed with the idea of "scientific" racism they are not fans of the scientific method and are leery of non-meme thinking.
 


ME, ME, ME! There is another strange Trumpian word! "Meems" are "defined as ideas that arose spontaneously among 'informed (intuitive) people' and spread mind-to-mind among the populace, like  a mental virus, creating 'new ways of thinking." - Dean
Koontz.

Rational thinkers are excluded from this club. Practitioners are warned to be cautious and somewhat fearful.

Decidedly prophetic. We will not argue that the Alt Right has supplanted the Christian Right, but if they do assimilate it that tummy ache may get even worse. Some of the former group certainly umbrella under Christian ministries. While Einstein claimed to embrace both religion and science, others have seen these human activities as antagonistic. Here's one view: "Science (says) Always doubt the evidence; always question (and) When challenged Replies with evidence. Religion (says) Never doubt, never question. When challenged Become hostile." That how the alternate world, based on alternate truths, turns.



God only knows, but this has not stopped social scientists from addressing the question.  Even if you never took Psychology 1000, it is a good bet that you have heard of the "Five Stages Of Grief." More than three decades ago Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a book entitled On Death and Dying featuring ways for the doomed to eventually accept their lot. The term has been extended by pop psychology to include those who have loved and lost as well as those in harm's way, misfits encircled and trapped by a vicious environment. Psychology is as much a black art as a science, and the belief that there is a right way and a wrong way of facing grief is now being questioned.




Megan Devine the author of Everything is Not Okay,  is among those who has noticed that, "Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote that she regretted writing the stages the way that she did, that people mistook them as being both linear and universal. Based on what she observed while working with patients given terminal diagnoses, Ms. Ross identified five common experiences, not five required experiences. Her stages, whether applied to the dying or those left living, were meant to normalize and validate what someone might experience in the swirl of insanity that is loss and death and grief." It is a subversive world. In the above illustration, Searle again meets Gorey.




We can wring our hands over this situation but it does not change the fact that a hard-packed mythology concerning grief has become pseudo science. Devine suggests that, "The stages are used as a corrective reproach, the process of grief turned into a race: Even the stages themselves are not meant to be lingered in. If someone is identified as being in a stage (especially a messy one, like anger), they need to “get through it” as quickly as possible so they can move on to the end goal of acceptance. Conversely, whatever stage someone is in, they must stay there until they are done, otherwise their grief work will suffer." But "linger" now suggests, "remaining too long."



She's singing, "Why. Oh Why, did I ever leave Wyoming?" Our critic insists, "There is no set pattern, not for everyone and not even within each person. Each grief is unique, as each love is unique. There are no stages capable of containing all the experiences of love and pain. There are no stages of grief." That said
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's work is no without value.




Searle illustrations for Christopher Frye's book, A Phoenix Too Frequent.  With any luck, even the young will have heroic moments. With great good luck, their elders may escape grief for long periods of time.




"Who the gods love they first make low."  In this case he was made very low.



The degree of 1. Denial, depends on the age-related experiences of the griever, although that does not mean this emotion is absent or less profound.




2. Anger. Rod was very keen on classical legends and myth which is why he ignored declensions in favour of struggling with the sense of Virgil's Aeneid in high school. He opted for "Classics In Translation" at university, which is how he came to read Robert Graves. Two course, both fun! Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War and the  greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad. His mother was the immortal nymph Thetis, and his father, the mortal Peleus, was the king of the Myrmidons. He was betrayed and killed in spite of his heroic qualities. He had so much to be angry about that one has to doubt that post mortum counseling would have helped settle issues. Sometimes lingering anger is justified!



3. Bargaining. In one of several near-death experiences, Rod tried this, but does not think it was influential. In one instance he was informed that it was simply not his time, but that was probably a fabulous fiction born of extreme stress?

In mythology it is explained that immortal gods have no interest in striking bargains; while mortal gods have no right to negotiate the future.



4. Depression. This is Edward Gorey's Doubtful Guest, arriving unannounced on a winter's night and creating mayhem. You will have to google this creature if interested.  State of mind does not seem a governing factor, but it is a perfectly sound reaction to some events.



5. Acceptance. Does this stage of grief look like this? It has been said that grief is "a vicious circle. While systems become denser, their energy has decreased. Devices are getting smaller and smaller, but they are getting hotter."



It is probably not this idyllic.



Acceptance may look like this. R&R have never been fans of very strong drink. Parting word, till we meet again on Rod's resolution page: "I'm actually tougher on myself as I get older. It's a vicious cycle. The things that are important in life are the things that you can't buy in life" love, health and happiness. I say that, and I believe that, and I try to live that.
- Criss Angel.

Rod spell checks but never rereads what he has written. Who cares?