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Yugasan in Bizan Province. Hiroshige. 1858. Snowy landscapes were a common them in ukiyo-e just as they were in Impressionsim.

One often thinks about the east borrowing from the west. But many times history has shown that the west has borrowed from the east. Nowadays, the west borrows from the east, particularly from Japan’s art style of anime and manga. However, this borrowing of an art style from Japan, such as American animators have done with Avatar the Last Airbender and Americans drawing their own manga, is nothing new. In the latter part of the 19th century, Japan would inspire European impressionists with ukiyo-e.

But first some background.

What is Ukiyo-e?

Ukiyo-e is a style of Japanese woodblock prints. Different blocks of wood are carved and then applied with ink to paper, thus making layers. Hard to understand? You’re not alone. I had a hard time understanding it just by reading it. …

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A Journal Writing Book by David Schwarzenberg. Wikimedia Commons.

A writer or any artist can’t expect to be embraced by the people…. You write poetry books that, you know, maybe fifty people read, and you just keep doing your work because you have to because it’s your calling.” — Patti Smith

A challenge to being a writer is knowing that many of your friends and family don’t read your work. But you’re not alone. This is something that many struggling writers deal with. It’s hard when so much passion and hard work is put into crafting poetry, creating a short story, or completing a novel, only to have those who should be supporting us be indifferent more often than not. I know the feeling all too well. …

“Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief, they kill their inspiration and sing about their grief.” U2 — The Fly.

“Your idea reminds me of another book I’ve read,” or of “a movie I’ve seen,” a friend says to me when I tell him about the idea I have for a novel or a short story. The fire of my exuberance is extinguished under the cold water of reality, leaving my ‘so-called’ original idea in a heap of ashes.

I thought it was a unique concept for a book. I thought that I alone had thought of it. This other book, or movie or show with a similar concept, I have never even heard of. I then get frustrated because after all of my attempts of trying to be original I find that I’m not so original at all. …

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Bookshelf by Stewart Butterfield. Wikimedia Commons.

“Would you like to edit a novel I’m working on?” a man asked me. “Also, I would like you to have free reign to make any changes you deem necessary.” I’m honored. For not only is this man a friend, but he’s a university professor, and he’s asking me to be his editor. Sure, part of it is because he wants me to learn the editing and rewriting process, but it’s still an honor because he sees my potential. It goes without saying that I seize the opportunity.

As authors we are always trying to improve our craft, and perhaps there isn’t any better way than becoming someone else’s editor. Some may disagree. After all, with our own projects taking up our time, why engage in editing someone else’s work? …

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Timeless Books by Lin Kristensen. Wikimedia Commons.

When young we’re natural storytellers, concocting tall tales to tell our friends and our parents. During that brief moment of childhood, we are a temporary microcosm of primitive man, telling stories not on cave walls using pigments, but upon paper using crayons and markers. Within our small frames is the soul of ancient mythopoeic thought, enabling us to see the world. We anthropomorphosis the world around us, everything from the animals to the plants. We tell outlandish stories to our parents with gusto, taking upon us the mantle of bards. Mankind was born to tell stories.

Yet, as many people age, that self-confidence in storytelling, endemic within children, wanes. Practicality takes over passion. …

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Nature is harsh. Paradoxically, it can also be strangely beautiful and even, — dare I be audacious enough to suggest — spiritual in it’s violence. While I can’t state Katsushika Hokusai intent behind his woodblock print of The Great Wave off Kanagawa as a fact, — besides, I’m not a scholar. — I can at least state it as a layman. Think of me as the poor man’s Sister Wendy, except I’m not a female and I’m not a nun.

First, some background info on Hokusai.

Hokusai was born in 1760 and lived to 1849. According to the artist himself, he began drawing at the age of six. He would become the pupil of Katsukawa Shunsho, and work as an illustrator. Later, he would study under Kano Yusen. But if you think things were hunky-dory, you would be wrong. Artists — as well as most creative types — can be highly temperamental, and after a heated argument over the style of Yusen’s art, Hokusai was expelled. …

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Sunrise on the Navajo Nation by Mark Gunn. Wikimedia Commons.

I wrote an article entitled COVID-19 is Only a Small Virus Out of a Larger One that Native Americans Face in which I brought up the hardships Native Americans face in this country in the present with COVID coupled with the problems of the past. But it wasn’t enough, I wanted to give a voice to the indigenous people of our country.

Ruthie T works in the medical field in a hospital and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. In contrast, Aaron Long is a student at California State University and an employee of The California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center and, now living in the city, had lived lived on the Navajo Nation at one time. …

The poet Robert Frost in his poem The Road Not Taken mentioned two diverging roads and taking the one less traveled. Now imagine because of racism and segregation that the choice of roads you could take were limited to begin with.

In the 1950s segregation and Jim Crow laws didn’t just prohibit blacks from drinking from the same drinking fountain, or having to give up their seats on buses, or separating them with black only schools. It also sometimes entailed into the arts. I know, this might be hard to believe when there were famous black actors, actresses, and musicians back then, who were lauded and revered. But life isn’t simple with straight rules. There are always the exceptions. The case of a group of 26 African-American artists who became known as the Highwaymen prove this point. …

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Statue of Liberty. Gerd Eichmann. Wikimedia Commons.

Why are there a substantial number of Americans who turn a blind eye towards racism?

Like most Americans, I was appalled over the murder of George Floyd by Officer Chauvin. But I was sadly not surprised. Many blacks in this country are afraid of the police. That’s not to say we don’t have good officers, but too often officers are only given a slap on the wrist instead of being charged when they commit a crime that would land anyone else in jail. According to Statisa, blacks are “2.5X more likely than whites to be killed by police.” This is a high number when one takes into account that blacks make up only 13.4% …

Cosmic Osmo and the Worlds Beyond the Mackerel isn’t a game most modern gamers are familiar with. In fact, many old-school gamers have probably forgotten about it. Cosmic Osmo was created by the same programmers who made the Myst series, Rand and Robyn Miller. Yet, while Myst and its sequels are remembered, Cosmic Osmo has been nearly forgotten.

But some of us remember it. In the year 1990 (maybe 91) my dad bought a copy of Cosmic Osmo for the Macintosh.


Jonathan Scott Griffin

Independent author and freelance writer who is working on getting a book published.

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