Watercolor on paper with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleedproof White. 12″ x 12″. 2023

This artwork was commissioned by Mia Priest for Absence of the Sacred’s 4th studio album
“IV: The Hand That Wounds”.
Check them out on Bandcamp, or on Facebook.

Just as there are 2 sides to every story, my inkblot paintings all have two symmetrical hemispheres that are separated by a line at the center. One can call this central crease a “common denominator” that makes each half mirror the other, even if they aren’t exactly alike. This central fold isn’t mere aesthetic, it’s part of the message.

Each half of paper plays part in a bigger picture, and this painting equipoises Mia Priest’s Hobbesian concept statement with my own theories. What do we even need consciousness for in an overstimulated, consumerist, distracted society ?

Mia’s original concept statement:

The album is a reflection of our times; questioning the meaning of our existence, the self-fulfilling prophecies of doom, climate change and the horrors of unregulated power, echo chambers of social media and the extreme polarization of viewpoints created to sow division through disinformation and hatred, the classes and hierarchies we have created growing further apart from each other as we slowly reach the end-game of this societal collapse. 

The title of “the hand that wounds” is a play on the expression “the hand that feeds”, the hand that we have chained ourselves to in the belief that it will feed us but instead wounds us. This is a metaphor of capitalism (of course), and how it has become this monolithic system where we are stuck in this endless cycle of meaningless work, bureaucracy and false ideals of contentment and happiness through material gain and wealth, keeping us enslaved in a class prison of their making. This entire system is a giant Ponzi scheme, where those who have established themselves first reap everything while everyone below churns the wheel to keep their machines going. It is the hand that exploits while giving the illusion that it feeds.

In terms of how anything and everything is an ad campaign to garner patronage, I wholeheartedly agree that nothing is sacred at all. A lot of people are simply living on autopilot, under the notion of autonomy. This unknowing majority consensually overstimulates itself to avoid feeling anything. They fill every void imaginable with data to avoid facing themselves.

Ironically, even by resisting I am reacting, so one can easily say that I can also be steered by information. This is why creativity is important, because it is a means to truly experience freedom and control. As for the rest, it makes one always wonder whether we’re really as free as we think we are.

In “The Scientific Method”, I discuss the living contradiction we are in. Why bother with enlightenment if reincarnation will make us reach it eventually? Since there are enlightenment “ushers” like the Rosicrucians, then it only means there is a motive behind why we need to evolve our consciousnesses ASAP. If reincarnation will get us to eternal bliss and peace as long as the system runs its full course, why even hurry at all? Why are we being ‘herded’ if we have free will? Maybe we are being HARVESTED under the guise of an evolutionary cycle of death and rebirth after all!

While Mia’s main idea discusses the demise of humanity’s empirical/physical/somatic wellbeing, her concept also encompasses the welfare of the inner self –the consciousness, which in theory extends beyond death and time. As humanity subsists for survival, the essence of sentience gets lost in the consumerism of earthly life. Much as I dislike the “E” word, it really is one of the largest industries nowadays with all the products you can slap on to fortify your soul.

Being civilized aside, once you stop looking for signs of approval from society, the Universe, God, Satan, Thoth, The Rosicrucians, tralala, or the flying spaghetti monster,  suddenly every single diabolical supernatural force wants to recruit you. The “other worldly” agencies really start lining up. There also seems to be an unspoken rule where you have to be a disciple of something or the matrix of reality goes awry. This is around the time when one realizes that you’re being distracted from following yourself. But again, by whom? What do I know? I might have schizophrenia!

They did plant that creature in my chest so that when the screaming started, they would be first to know. And when it wasn’t enough, it was the opposing faction’s turn. Something with a pitchfork knocked on my doorstep and made a really exciting proposition. Then came another offer from the “feathered friends” that used exactly the same bribing tactics for exactly the same agenda. Ahhhh Tanqueray!

Belief can also be used as a disguise. It can also be worn like metaphysical armor, or a battle vest full of band logos that brandish that you are “different”, but still part of a group. Anchovies! All this Alchemy, Satanism, Christianity, Order of the Golden Dawn, ad infinitum stuff have one thing in common, to recruit you into “flavored conformity” under the guise of upgrading your identity.

The things one quotes or puts on one’s body should not precede one’s essence. They should not have to serve as some form of social armor, ice breaker, or sealant over all the cracks and holes in one’s (lack of) personality. It’s really about time we rethink our conformist choreographed rebellion. Your Esprit de corps is simply distracting you from knowing yourself. Perhaps “Esprit Decor” or “Esprit de corpse” are more like it.

Without iconology and iconography of your own, you will always be just another ad campaign for someone else’s flawed system. And when you are no longer needed, you will be harvested at someone else’s convenience. Mass produced beliefs will be used against you, so don’t even bother using them to be cool. It’s only the prisoners who look, anyway.

The only way to break free from this vicious cycle is to define yourself without referring to anything. And once you figure out who you are by using absolutely nothing, now THAT’s cool.

original inkblot

“IV: The Hand That Wounds”