Monday, August 11, 2008

253. Formatting the Question Reality Manuscript via Lulu: Evolution of the Bird in a Cage Cartoon

I showed an image of this Bird in a Cage to my good friend, Robin, in Goleta, California, back in fall of 2005, and instead of placing pre-existing "holistic title page" of Question Reality in the front, Robin advised me to place this bird-in-the-cage in the front of the book. Robin stated that this would be more shocking and intriguing to people because it represents where most of society is at right now (or at least how society is overall operating). I consider the bird-in-a-cage to be like a visual koan: it automatically stimulates the mind into shock and encourages one to think. The dilemma, I found out later from my mentor, Dr. Miriam Polne-Fuller, that this bird-cage image that she showed to class was not her own creation. Perhaps it came from The New York Times or the New Yorker, but she was not sure. So... I ended up needing to create my own bird-in-a-cage cartoon. Please see below!
The Old Bird in a Cage. From The New Yorker or The New York Times? I sent an email to The New Yorker, thanking them for the inspiration if the source of this image truly was from their magazine. I encountered this Bird in a Cage image twice as an undergrad: (1) it was in the hallway of the Ecology and Evolution Department, right in front of Dr. James Reichman's office (a cool vertebrate prof I never was able to meet or take a class from), and (2) Dr. Miriam Polne-Fuller showed this image to her pioneering Shoreline Preservation course. Miriam showed a bunch of images and shared quite a few poems that stimulated students to think about things. Another image Miriam showed was something that looked like a mountain but ended up being the tip of a safety pin. Talk about being in a scale-funk! I suppose Miriam is in part practicing Chinese philosophy, and maybe she doesn't even know it!
The New Bird in a Cage cartoon. I added a little squirrel trying to get the bird out of the cage. For me, it represents the internal turmoil and synergism of my evolving self and this environment I am in. I seem to be the bird and the squirrel simultaneously. I am the bird, seemingly trapped in my own self-constructed trap, and then I am the squirrel who thought outside the box and is trying to get this trapped bird outside of her rut. The theme extrapolates to the entirety of society: trying to get the system to think outside the box in terms of human-environmental relations. And can a really tiny squirrel really get a very big bird outside it's self-induced prison? The image ended up being on the title page of my book.
Now with the help of new friends--returning to UC Santa Barbara, participating in the Blue Horizons program, meeting my friend Tariel--it is starting to seem a little bit more feasible to get this big bird out of the cage!

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