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Peace On Earth: You Can’t Get There From Here

December 17, 2014

Here in New England, you sometimes hear the disconcerting expression, “You can’t get there from here.” It’s something said jokingly to a stranger who’s lost and has stopped to ask for directions.

It doesn’t really mean you can’t get to your destination from that point. It means you have to backtrack, and take a different route.

I thought of that expression in a different context while I was illustrating a very somber essay for The Rumpus. I thought about how difficult it is to find peace when one has gotten hopelessly lost and mired in hate and violence. You can’t get there from here.

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The essay was written by a Kashmiri expatriate.

Kashmir has a convoluted history. India and Pakistan have fought at least three wars over the region, the first in 1947. The two countries (along with China) control different parts of Kashmir. There are Kashmiri insurgents who favor independence. The author of the essay shares the latter’s wish for self-rule.

The author goes back and forth in time, sharing memory fragments. One involves his grandfather, a devout Muslim, whom he remembers “seated quietly on a woolen rug in
his room, surrounded by an army of cats he fed with pieces of lawas bread.”

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Muslim prayer rug showing image of old man surrounded by cats symbols lawas bread

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I sometimes need photo references to fine-tune an idea. In this case, I googled “prayer rug” and “old Muslim man,” and used the following for inspiration.

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photos of Muslim prayer rug and old wrinkled Moslem man with turban

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Here’s a detail image. The rug “squares” were completely ad-libbed. I drew them as fast
as I could, dashing off whatever popped into my head.

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detail image Muslim prayer rug showing image of old man surrounded by cats symbols lawas bread

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The rest of the essay is unremittingly bleak, and centers on betrayal: a childhood acquaintance (a Kashmiri) joins a militia group to fight for Kashmiri independence.
The group is ultimately “co-opted by the Indian army” (this is never explained) to
fight against the insurgents.

The traitor is later killed by Indian soldiers who mistake him for an insurgent– which conjured this image about the dangers of joining the “wrong club.”

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pigeon with snake club membership card about to be eaten by rattle snake with big fangs

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There are several references to pigeons in the essay. I used that to advantage here, since “pigeon” is also an American slang term for a dupe: someone easily taken in, deceived.

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detail image pigeon with snake club membership card about to be eaten by rattlesnake with huge fangs

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The saddest aspect of the essay is its familiarity: we may not know the details of the Kashmir conflict, but we recognize the entrenched cycle of atrocity and revenge that makes peace so hard to attain.

Near the end of the essay, the author makes an allegorical reference to daggers “cutting wounds in the red dome of the sky.”

It conjured up this image. Violence feeds on pride. It’s always an easier choice than the slow, arduous work of peace and reconciliation.

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daggers of war hate piercing cloud raining blood on dove killed hope of peace

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If this were a stand-alone statement on violence, I would have made the victim a dove– the traditional symbol for peace. Instead I used a pigeon, to keep the imagery consistent.

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detail image daggers war pierced cloud raining blood on dove killed chance for peace

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Are you familiar with the Kashmir conflict?

Have you ever been personally touched by sectarian violence– conflict based on religious or political differences?

Any thoughts on how individuals might strive to effect peace on earth?

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Merry Christmas From Spokane!

Did The Animals Really Talk On Christmas Eve? No, They Jammed!

Busker’s Christmas Carol: Miser Beware!

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footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information

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Jolly Old Saint Christmas Mailer– What Was I Thinking??

December 9, 2014

First of all: my apologies for being so long between posts. I’ve just finished a challenging assignment, and must immediately begin another.

Desperate times call for desperate measures– and desperate illustrators who blog call for weird stuff from their dubious past. Like the following piece, for example.

It dates back to 2008. I used it as a Christmas mailer. I actually sent it to all my past clients. I look at it now, and wonder why I still have any clients– what was I thinking?? No, don’t answer that…

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Illustrator Mark Armstrong promotional mailer postcard Christmas holiday gretting to art directors clients

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Historical note: the photo’s from a local community theater production. I played a
slightly unhinged politician. I know, I know: is there any other kind??

I’m older and more decrepit now, but even more ruggedly handsome.

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Have you ever come across an old photo or keepsake and wondered what on earth could have possessed you?

Do you use postcards or other items to promote your business? Care to share any tips?

Would you buy an illustration from the dapper gentleman pictured above??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.

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If you’d like to buy prints or greeting cards, click on any of the large preview images in the sidebar below the Get Updates button.

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

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Put On Your Cowl, It’s Time To Howl– Hallelujah!

Snowball Vs. Hat: A Drama In 4 Panels

Baby Handed Off Into Next Apartment, Scores Touchdown, Becomes President

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footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information

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