In the end I think I'm better at painting that photography, or maybe my camera is poor, or maybe my lighting is crummy, anyway, this one is (and take my word for it) nicer than it looks. But it's also pretty complicated and hard to explain. It was hard to think about too.
Here's the image I was going off of. You notice that it's #11 in the Waite deck - but that's to do with Astrology and I honestly haven't included any astrological themes so far, I don't know if I will. Astrology is cool and all, I won't speak against it exactly - but this is my deck and it's all about the Wasteland and my experience and I don't see a lot of stars in my city. When I do - I don't recognize them, so Astrology is out. But Justice is often enough and traditionally the 8th card. So I started thinking about Justice.
This wasn't awesome for me - it turns out that I don't really value justice as a virtue. True fact, I think of Justice as being fairly regressive as a quality - right up there with Honor. It is altogether worse to have Justice than it is to have something else, that Justice, conceptually, negates. This was just a feeling I had, a sense, but I wanted to understand it so I did a little studying. What is Justice? I looked into it and thought about it a lot. In the end I concluded that Justice is a concept in the West that is based on principles of Natural Law - which I do not condone. Life-Liberty-Property - okay? Sure you have these rights? Except that no. No, that's a purely western and I think, reckless construction. Now in that state where you have those natural rights, then Justice is a significant concept because you're constantly going to be in conflict with other people. Your liberties and properties, maybe even your life is always getting on the toes of everyone else's life liberty and property. So you have to have a system of justice to figure things out within the paradigm. You with me so far? So I thought and thought about what that all means - and I couldn't get anywhere. Locke is, fine I guess, Tabula Rasa.... hey man, if you say so. But people who know me know I tend to hold with Hobbes, a little more. And after looking into Utilitarianism etc... I found that I liked Hobbes a little better in terms of his ideas about Justice.
So this image was very informative for me. The Leviathan, the state, the power of the overwhelming giant-king. See? I put it in there too. Giant menacing kings.
At this point though - the symbolism kind of spoke to me. The sword- my sword is the Sharpie Pen - the pen being the sign of political stakeholders (i.e.: Legislators) and intellectualism (i.e.: Me and you). So a pen, he's got that big pen? Sure, I get it. And the little village, heck I like that little village, that speaks to me.
But what's my idea here? What's my thought? What is the concept I'm trying to convey that will eventually have a mythic and mystic connotation when removed from this (overwrought) context?
So I consult the I-Ching, and it's showing me Hexagram #8 - Holding Together - Union So I had it. The union of people. From there some of the imagery came. Now - I'm kind of happy that I paint these things without a plan or special insight, and maybe I'm doing a lot of after-the fact rationalizing. but look.
Here's the little village in the valley with the wall of bricks in a ring. The Bricks. Unity - apart, alone? What's a brick? Together they make the strong wall that holds the predatory giant king at bay. More than that they're a ring, it's a ring - the union of lovers, the sanctioned, unbreakable union. Together - together and united the little village in the valley is not menaced by the king, he may prey upon them, but together they resist his overwhelming strength, force him to reconcile, to wait. His pen, the law, his official strength, it looms over the village but the walls are strong. The roads - the roads join together, all unity of the hill. There are the terraced little farms on the hillsides
in the image of hexagram #8 - they're common, together, the road leads to the safety of the village where they are joined together into the one road.
But what about this guy?
This shirtless little weirdo? Well, this came about. Honestly this was a hard painting to paint. I had ideas, but couldn't make them come together, I actually erased and repainted it a few times. But I kept having this other hill. And I thought - it's got to mean something, and the menacing king. Look - Justice, conceptually - is delivered by an overwhelming power - in our society justice is handed down from the court, it is decided by the bureaucracy. There is an element of inequality inherent in systems of justice - of all vs. all within the concept of Natural Law. So this shirtless little madman represents that - the idea of the individual claiming his rights, challenging the power of the king. He stands atop the other peak and is not effectual, not against the power of the giants. He carries his own pen, trying to go to the battle, thinking that it is a swordfight. See, he's undone already, he has contended according to a lopsided system that automatically doesn't favor him. He is aggrieved and considers Justice to be something he deserves, but that he must fight for. Because Justice has within it that quality of inequity. So there is the little village, that is untroubled by the predation of the great, because in communion the many have the power to resist. So... Commonwealth.
I suppose I should note that these cards, these ideas flow out of one another, into one another - there's an organism being made. $6 Satisfaction leads to a journey - the journey requires the #7 Infrastructure, which suggests the unity of action, but is also a destination for the querent - #8 the Commonwealth.