Jan 31 2012

#276 Less is More (31)

From David in Siauliai, Lithuania

I only received this illustration yesterday, but I have already experienced so much joy in trying to unfold its intricate mysteries that I simply couldn’t resist sharing it as soon as possible… Enjoy! And bravo to David for this epic creation.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a
stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in
awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

~ Albert Einstein


Oct 23 2011

#176 “Ride the Wind”

From Ashlee in Nine Miles Falls, Washington

Voiceless it cries
Wingless flutters
Toothless bites
Mouthless mutters

For those of you that are somewhat Tolkien-savvy, I’m sure you recognize this riddle as being printed in a little book called The Hobbit. The answer to this puzzle, of course, is the wind.

In many ways, the wind is just as mysterious and enigmatic as the wolf itself. It is powerful yet peaceful. It has the capability to change at the drop of a hat. It can calm and soothe us or it can drive us to seek shelter from it cruel blasts. Indeed, it is truly a fickle mistress. More than this, though, it is all around us all the time. It is a part of us. Its existence is as closely tied to our lives as the air that we breathe, and in fact, it is a part of that as well.

I don’t know how the wind works, where it comes from or where it goes. And similarly, I face the same riddles when I set my mind on the beautiful and majestic wolf. All that I know is that the creature exists and is a part of this blessed Mother Earth that contains so many more mysteries than our minds are ever capable of comprehending. In the end, I suppose that I don’t need to understand the wolf in order to appreciate it, just as I don’t necessarily need to understand the wind in order to treasure a cool breeze on a warm day. Efforts of comprehension leave room for error, but love transcends misunderstandings.

The wind. A wolf. They seem like ordinary ideas on the surface, and yet Ashlee has combined them here in a triumph of art that shatters the ordinary. In honor of you, Ashlee, I have posted the video below. The song is called “Windfall,” and it is performed by the alt/country group Son Volt. If you’ll notice, the hook in the song repeats the words, “May the wind take your troubles away.”

This is the wish that I have for you, Ashlee. Thanks for the awesome picture.

Sep 7 2011

#130 “Impasse at Dead Moon”

From a stranger in Morgantown, Pennsylvania

What/where exactly is “Dead Moon”? I can’t say for sure, but what I can tell you is that it must be a place of twisted mystery, a place where Ralph Steadman meets Leonardo Davinci, where “Starry Night” meets a horrific nightmare rendition of Scooby Doo. It’s a place where all roads converge at a dark dead end of a spooky stained glass canyon, flooded with the bizarre light of brightly twinkling red stars and the pale light of a yellow vermiculate moon.

It’s a place of perplexing and mystifying oddities, of sights and sounds beyond description. Dead Moon is a place that hums with curiosity and electricity buzzes through the air and sets the hairs inside your nostrils to itching. It’s a place where wild, mutated wolves howl in a twisted chorus of arcane loneliness so soul-stirring that few are able to withstand its lonesome cry. In the background of this illustration, you can see one such victim of these queer wolf howls, hanging from the sharply pointed tip of the dead moon, itself.

Those who find themselves in this place of unfathomable mystery often don’t know how they came to set their feet upon the shifting sands of this crazed world, this realm of warped wonder. But they do know one thing: when those wretchedly pink lips begin to curl back from the misshapen jaws of the dead moon wolves, there’s anyplace they’d rather be. Some say Dead Moon is a deep valley in the heart of a small undiscovered island off the coast of Thailand. Others say it’s a strange dystopian oasis in the middle of Death Valley. Still others say it exists only in the minds of those who have been bitten by a rabid wolf born under a crescent moon.

Some say Dead Moon doesn’t exist at all, but those people… well, somehow they always seem to… disappear.


Aug 25 2011

#117 “Wolf Call”

From Cody in Jacksonville, Florda

Illustrations of wolves howling at the moon are nothing new to me, but I have to admit that this picture did take me back a little bit, and ultimately I am still scratching my head. It wasn’t necessarily the play on the words “wolf call” (printed next to the original picture) which caused my brow to furrow with curiosity; it was more about the formatting of the illustration, itself. As you can see from the picture above, the canvas used for this piece of artwork is actually a piece of styrofoam shaped vaguely like a telephone. And to top it off, when the illustration found its way to the WBS post office box, it was in the form of a photocopy of piece of this styrofoam artwork. Since the styrofoam does not necessarily appear too large or cumbersome to fit into a standard sized envelope, I can only imagine that the illustrator wanted to keep this fine piece of artwork for himself (which is perfectly fine).

And finally, another enigma that plagues me is related to the “Verizon” label written at the bottom of the telephone. From what I can tell, the word has been changed to something that looks similar to “Lizrizon,” but I can’t tell for sure. Who is Liz? What is her relation to Cody? Are these two individuals involved in an illicit office romance at a Verizon store local in the the greater Jacksonville, Florida area? I’m not sure, but I would certainly like to know.

So, Cody, if you’re out there, pick up your wolf phone and give me a call. I’m “in the network.”

Jun 28 2011

#59 “A tough nut to crack…”

From the_disability

At first when I began to show this picture to friends and family members, no one had a clue of what to make of it. While the details of the picture can be effortlessly assessed on a surface level, formulating a meaningful interpretation of the individual elements has proven to be nearly impossible. I searched and searched, but no one could offer any substantial clues. After a while, though, I realized that I was asking others to interpret this picture more than I was actually trying to interpret it, myself.

At this point, I locked myself in the crawl space underneath my home with only this illustration, 8 ounces of tap water for sustenance, my childhood Ouiji Board, and a tuft of wolf fur that I received as a gift from a Shaman in 1998 on a trip to Bhangarh, the most haunted place in India. The cave crickets and spiders proved to be a distraction at first, but 6 days later, I emerged from the crawl space dazed and disoriented but with what I feel is a true interpretation of this illustration.

During the time spent in isolation, I began to realize that this drawing is rich in symbolism, but the first aspect of the picture that I examined was the text. Since the drawing was mailed to me, I assumed that the words written to me personally. This seemed to conflict with the picture, seeing as how the wolf is spinning the plates and I am not. Then, though, I realized that the wolf is actually supposed to symbolize myself: the collector of the wolves. It is true that this project has become an activity and a process that very much resembles the act of spinning multiple plates. There are so many different aspects of this growing social experiment that need constant attention. These activities include updating the facebook page, sharing relevant information via twitter, responding to emails, writing and scheduling posts, advertising for new pictures, etc., etc. Please do not interpret this list of responsibilities as a complaint. It surely is not. In fact, it is a blessing, and it is the life that I have chosen for myself. But it is quite a bit of work to keep up with.

When I successfully interpreted this message delivered to me by the_disability, I was uplifted by its encouragement and positivity. But I soon became confused again. Why would this artist deliver this motivational message but then picture the wolf (me) naked with only censorship bars to cover the most private of body parts? Then it struck me: this is, in fact, the perfect representation of my actions as the wolf collector, the alphastranger, the lover of the lupine. For you see, my friends, in these posts I am both hidden as well as exposed. The words that I share are often soul-bearing ones that give great insight into this wolf-filled life that I lead. In many ways, I have stripped down before you to share with you the most intimate parts of myself. But in another way, my anonymity enables me to remain more or less a mystery to the vast majority of my readers. I am naked. I am clothed. I am bare. I am exposed. I am unseen.

Thank you, the_disability. I’m not sure if you had anticipated my ability to break this complicated code, but I have triumphed nonetheless. I always appreciate the opportunity to take another step on that difficult journey of self-actualization, and with your help through this illustration, I feel as if I have come to know myself all the more. Truly this illustration will forever serve as a mirror for my soul.

May 23 2011

#23 “Pure Mystery…”

From Jan in the Netherlands

It probably goes without saying that if you were to actually encounter a wolf in the wild, you would most likely be filled with awe and wonder. But you would also probably experience a profound sense of intimidation. I mean, when one inadvertently stumbles upon very definition of natural beauty and savagery, it is a momentous occurrence that would surely make one stop in his tracks. But for a picture… a mere illustration, mind you… to evoke this same reaction… what a moving portrait that must be!

When I first slid this particular illustration out of the envelope that was postmarked from the Netherlands, this is exactly what happened. The emotions described in the previous paragraph are the very ones that began to flood over me. In some ways, though, this revelation might come as a bit of a surprise. The wolf in this picture is anthropomorphic, wearing a suit and tie, and not pictured in his natural environment. In some ways he appears more human than lupine. Also, although the portrait is artfully rendered, the wolf itself is slightly cartoonish. How then could this wolf illicit such a strong emotional reaction?

After much pondering, I have decided upon an answer: No matter how much you dress the wolf up in the clothing of man, no matter how much you attempt to change or transform him, no matter how many t-shirts you screen his image across or how many times you depict him in pop culture through films and television… the wolf will always be intimately connected to the mystery of the natural world around us to a degree that we, as humans, cannot imagine or ever hope to achieve. This is what I see when I look into the deep yellow eyes of this lupine masterpiece: a deep connection with the earth that is so mystifying and enigmatic that it can evoke nothing but wonder and fear and can never be hidden or denied.

In the end, I think Cormac McCarthy sums this concept up best in the final lines of his beautiful story, The Road.

“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”