“For the last time, we don’t need artists. We need laborers. If everyone did what they wanted, what would we eat? Where would we live?”
“There are millions of us! Why can’t I be different?”
“But why you?”
“Because I’m asking.”
She let him try. In a month the hill was covered in a rainbow of swirls and circles. The word spread. In a jungle of 400 trillion ants, he was the only one with a name.
. . .When you don’t, you’re all they see.
* * *
In 1835, French naturalist George Valentin came across a nest of Argentine ants in the Corrientes province of Argentina. It was three feet high and covered in symmetrical patterns of berries and twigs, including one design that many claim to be the figure of an ant. It was destroyed in a flood the next year. To date, it remains the only example of ant artwork ever found. Source*.
*Okay, so this didn’t actually happen. But it makes a good story.
The first thing I hear in the morning is the pervading hum of the massive ether generator above my house. I go up onto the roof and gaze up into the mass of wires, like the mad weaving of some colossal steel spider. The collector ring, the focal nodes, the arc needles: each piece fits together perfectly. There are a million parts going in all directions, each one exactly where it needs to be.
The sun sets and the sky darkens. Above me, the wires start to reveal their faint glow, which was overwhelmed in the light of the sun. There are twinkles and flashes of every color imaginable. I lie back and stare up at the man-made galaxy above with me with its celestial host of linear stars.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a story premise challenge and offered one of a variety of prizes to the winners. Two of them chose for me to take a picture of a word, spelled out creatively. So here are the pictures of the two words: Swoosh and Phewf!
Swoosh: This was requested by Michelle Proulx. Actually, she asked for Shwoop! which is the sound of a spaceship bending the space/time continuum. But I got mixed up and did Swoosh, which is a more mundane type of speed word. I think I will have to do Shwoop! at some point. My apologies, Michelle.
It was pretty fun drawing this, although I got some strange looks. Luckily our street is so quiet that no cars passed while I was drawing it. The downside of that, of course, is that I had to wait a long time for something to drive by. It’s even more fun, since it’s not a word that people could find in a dictionary if they looked it up.
Phewf!: This was requested by Jilanne Hoffmann. It’s an expression of relief, such as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes might use.
I made this by wrapping thread around pins in a very specific pattern. Here is what it looks like uncropped:
There were three third winners, but the third one, nightlake, opted for a story, so I’ll post that when it’s ready.
So, what are your nerdy hobbies? One of mine is making designs with a pencil and straight-edge. I used to do it all the time in high school when I was bored. Another hobby of mine is using MS Paint. I admit that it’s no Photoshop (which I love, but can’t afford at the moment) and the lack of layers can be really crippling sometimes, but you can do a lot more with it than some people think. My friend Sharmishtha Basu is a good example of a great MS Paint artist. Anyway, today I decided to play around with designs in MS Paint. All of it is done by hand, just using the tools in the program.
In this first step, I just measured regular distances and connected the lines, just as you’d do with a pencil and ruler.
For this step, I just colored in the blocks. MS Paint doesn’t have a gradient tool, but you can adjust the color manually, so I colored one part and then successively made the color darker or lighter.
The middle seemed a bit empty, so I used a similar technique to put a diamond in the middle. It’s a lot of fun, if you have the patience for it.
I wake up at the workbench again, the dust of my unconscious labors packed under my fingernails and my hands aching from clenching the mallet and chisel all night. I recoil as I see what is emerging from the block of plaster: Morpheus and Hephaestus—Dream and Craft—overlapping and melded into a macabre amalgam; a thing which cannot be, yet is. It is a thing I feel myself slowly becoming.
People marvel at my sculptures at art exhibits. They beg me to share my secret inspiration, but I just smile.