SERESTATIC: The Eve of Evolution

Artemis Sere Serestatic The Eve of Evolution
Tuesday, December 29. 10°. Gray skies, white ground, fucking cold.
 

I feel like a powder keg about to blow the powder off these slick streets. Not necessarily angry at anyone in particular. Not terroristic or blatantly suicidal. Not twisted or realistically violent.

I know I’ve felt this way for  most of 2020, and know I need to change. This trend isn’t healthy or hopeful.

But I seem to be mired in a constant state of head-shaking these days. Nodding through the failures, smiling through the dismissals.

2019 was a year of deep alignment, sadness and separation; 2020 was the year of collapse, of everything I built over a decade.

2020 began positive promise with the completion of my first book in five years, the largest thing I’ve ever created, and the coalescence of nearly one thousand hours of work. It started with my enthusiastic application for jobs that I thought I was qualified for, following the acceptance of the delay of my #metalmorphosis. It started with the development of Grimspell Gaming with a circle of trusted friends and brothers.

2020 nears its end with my confidence shaken, my professional career on lifelines, and the Artemis Sere universe jilted. This static isn’t a cry for help. This isn’t an emo tantrum. This isn’t a wistful whine.

This is a serious accounting of where I’m currently at, and acknowledgment of the reckoning that has befallen my life. This is the esoteric crackle of #xoterica kinetics. This is the basement level of Six Martyr Place.

I’ve applied for over 50 marketing jobs in the Twin Cities Area in 2020, trying to claw my way back into the vocation where I have the most experience and success, That tireless work has resulted in 45 minutes worth of interviews and a two-month project that sadly ended up as fruitless.

I’ve given away as many copies of “Echoprism Vol. 1” as I’ve sold in 2020. Even with the promotion I developed which gives a discount on hundreds of dollars of tangible art with the a simple $50 purchase, I’ve sold less than ten copies. As it represents 300 of my fine art pieces and some of my best work, I take it personally that my audience hasn’t embraced it, appreciated all of the work I put into it, and made it part of their lives.

But I don’t let that slap stop me, only sting me.

I spent most of 2020 away from the majority of social media, sticking with Twitter to maintain the soft heartbeat of my brand. But even my Twitter audience continues to fade away, with engagement near zero and no regular engagers without my political rants. My return to Facebook and Instagram have provided me outlets to share my work, but offered me windows into who is no longer connected to me, no longer interested in my art.

For all the work I put into art, I’m mostly paid with silence, distance, and indifference (note: deep thanks to those people who have stuck with me on this long, dark road). I needed to sell well this year to dig myself out of the hole my Welding misfire put me in, and I failed. For the first time in over a decade, I’m facing complete professional, financial, and personal crashes. I dwell at rock bottom these days, and am struggling to find my way up.

In 2020 I produced some of my best work in my history – best book, best blogs, best website, best brand content, best paintings, best photography, best art yard sale, best digital art. Yet, I feel farther from successful than ever.

And I feel like I’m running out of answers – or, at least, I’m running out of the passion to try to find new answers because the old ones, the ones that are supposed to work, aren’t working. Inspiration is at an all-time low. The fires of hope have dimmed as low as the days when I was chronically ill.

Why do I have to try so hard? Why do I constantly have to redefine and recommunicate my value? I have friends that kick off new art and businesses and their efforts spread like wildfire. My LinkedIn feed is filled with positive stories of progress and success.

I want to believe that human existence isn’t one big popularity contest, where you’re either part of the pageant or part of the audience. I want to understand what my role is here. I want to feel like I’m part of the party again.

It seems like I just don’t know how anymore. I was once a fearless leader; I now feel more comfortable as a feeble follower. I once believed that you make your own luck, but have learned the hard way that there is truly no such thing as a self-made person.

I’ve been watching the “Manhunt” series on Netflix lately, and becoming reacquainted with both Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph. They’re certainly not inspiring stories, nor people to emulate. They were two people who were twisted enough by society to turn against it. Intelligent, gifted men that became so frustrated by the system and the humans within it that they turned to preying on it. Trust me, I’m not considering preying on the system or the people in it, but I do understand how the system can turn people against it.

Violence doesn’t lead to positive change, and raging against the system only makes you a target of the system.

But the system only benefits those that it chooses. As a single, unmarried, family-less, childless white male with more art assets than fortune, I have few places to turn for help. The pressure to conform to the system and to society around us turns some of us into flawed diamonds, but renders most of us as compact cores of coal with soft shells and hardened, calcified hearts.

I’ve lived without healthcare in any form for two years now. I simply can’t afford it. I’ve had to prioritize my life in very dramatic ways since I started my metalmorphosis in early 2019. Presently, I have an ear infection which has reduced the hearing in my right ear by half (or more, depending on the day). Earlier this year, I suffered a major on-the-job injury and had a month-long brush with covid. All outside of a healthcare system that I can’t afford to be part of.

Ironically, I spent half of my last 10 years of working a well-paying job to pay off back taxes and medical bills that I acquired while I was part of a system that I couldn’t afford. I didn’t transition to trying something new with wealth or a wealth of opportunities.

I did it with raw human courage, hope, and passion. I fight this battle by myself and what little resource I have, appreciating the friends and social programs that kept me afloat during 2020’s #yearofcivility.

I held in a lot of fire and rage during this divisive, explosive, and confrontational year. It’s far past time to let the inferno scream and burn as a passionate pyre.

On this eve of evolution, where I dream about the opportunities and possibilities of a new year, I hold hope for a brave new future.

I’ve survived tougher times than these.

#serestatic

Artemis Sere Serestatic The Eve of Evolution

Xoterica 34: The Forty-Seven

Artemis Sere Xoterica 34 The Forty-Seven

“Maturity does not mean to become a captive of conceptualization. It is the realization of what lies in our innermost selves.” (Bruce Lee)

In 2002, soon after my divorce, I got my first tattoo. I had only been suffering with my chronic condition for a year, and within the year of its onset, I lost everything in my world – home, marriage, stability, a vision of the future, faith, hope, life.

Every day was an adventure in physical pain from my severe ulcerative colitis and emotional anguish from being cheated on by the one I cherished then thrown away like used trash. Every day, sustenance passed through me like my system didn’t work at all. Every day, I was forced to redefine my reality. Every day, I felt closer to death. Every day, I became a shadow of the man I once was.

I became something different, and that called for something different.

After failing at my one serious suicide attempt, I decided to get a tattoo. This was before the era of Artemis, before I had spent focused time on re-teaching myself art to help heal, before I designed tattoos for others. I didn’t have an idea about the concept, and didn’t really have a location in mind for the inking. I’m not sure what guided me to choose oriental kanji for my design, but I did feel synchronicity with the character: ghost.

I Am Ghost

On that day, my “ghost” era began. I decided on the oriental kanji for ghost as my first tattoo with black and red as the colors. I chose my upper right shoulder for the tattoo location. I hired a popular La Crosse tattoo artist to imprint the sigil.

I drew the kanji myself, though I literally traced the kanji printout instead of inking one myself like a talented calligrapher. By going that path, I fattened up the lines and angles of the character, and when the tattoo artist was done with his work on my shoulder, the kanji looked less like an oriental script for “ghost” and more like the numbers “47”.

I talk about this strange occurrence in my second book “Xenomorphine” (2013) in the passage “Ghost 47”.

The start of the darker road, the schism between who I was and who I was becoming. Diagnosed with two chronic health conditions only one year earlier, my life had completely unraveled. First it was my health, then my job, then my love, my marriage, my condo, my friends… and everything I knew as familiar. In one year following my prognosis, I was single, broke and living alone in a new, cursed world.

I felt like a ghost–physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And, thus, I adopted the nickname. It seemed to fit. Typically, people don’t assign themselves their own monikers. Friends or family bequeath such labels upon you. But, in this case, I felt like the incorporeal dead. Non-present. Translucent and disconnected.

The wires couldn’t be reconnected to life, not in the common means. In that darkness, someone else awoke. It was necessary to face the disassociation and make it part of me.

Now, here I am on the first day of my 47th year, and I feel like a ghost, more than I have at any point since getting the tattoo almost 20 years ago. With covid, silence is everywhere now. Solitary living is the norm for safety reasons. Since leaving social media, the distance from my friends and loved ones has grown.

Cloak of Fog

All roads have been clouded by the fog of my father’s death. The pall of the end times is ever-present. Failure is common and structural breakdown the way of this day.

Is it possible that a tattoo that I got two decades ago foretold the present? In years following, I haven’t been able to find and replicate the kanji I found in the inker’s shop. At this point, I’m not even sure if the kanji is legit, and if someone with understanding of the language could even decipher it now.

Now, it just looks like the number “47” encircled on my arm.

It’s grim business talking about death on the day of your birth. These matters are better left for stronger times, not days that make you realize how fast you’re slipping into spectre. However, the “ghost” moniker stuck with me in years following. It was my primary handle in Myspace, became a nickname that reflected me well when I was sick and everything of substance passed right through me. Since then, I have added a couple more “ghost tattoos”, including braille of the word “ghost” on the digits of my right hand (palm-side).

If anything, the ghosts are still haunting me. The ghosts of tragedy, of failure, and of paths not taken. Once, I didn’t believe that I would heal from the conditions that sapped the life from me. The future was limited and bleak, a roadmap of painful surgeries, uncomfortable living, and embarrassing situations.

Echoes in Ink

Through tenacity, persistence, and patience, I won hope back. But now it all feels like a dishonest exchange, a pyrrhic present offered by wicked giver. My fading and unfamiliar kanji feels like an ironic marker, a cryptic clock frozen in time.

Or maybe the hands of progress are being held back by the ghosts. Maybe the events of the last two years of my life were necessary to exorcise the demons and clear away the lingering haunts and guilt from my past. Maybe fading away offers resurrection.

Maybe year 47 is tabula rasa, the renewal, the calm after these storms of life.

I sure could use the respite. While I’m waiting for fate to offer that sort of grace, I spent my birthday much like I spent the rest of my year – distant, chill, and reflective. I painted/finished seven pieces today, and shots of the following are provided below. These haven’t yet been formally added to my Serenity Gallery, but they will appear in “Echoprism Volume 2”.

“Barely Alive” – multilayer acrylic-resin-acrylic on canvas, 16×20
“Ever Adrift” – acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16
“Twenty-Twenty Vision” – multilayer acrylic-resin-acrylic on canvas, 12x 16
“Death’s Caress” – multilayer acrylic-resin-acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20
“Freedom” – acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20
“Mystereons” – multilayer acrylic-resin-acrylic on canvas, 12x 18
“House of the Harvester” – acrylic on triangle-shaped canvas, 16 x 16 x 16

Happy birthday to me.  Happy Saturday to you. I hope you enjoy my birthday song of the day by a new favorite artist of mine, appropriately named Ghostemane.

May the next year not be so venomous.

#xoterica

Artemis Sere Returns to Ritual Madness Podcast for Best Music 2020 Show

Ritual Madness Podcast Episode 216 with Artemis Sere Best Music Albums of 2020

Unique to my 10th annual best music blog, I visited the Hexican’s Ritual Madness Podcast to chat about the best music of 2020. I unveiled my Top 10 albums of 2020, and the Hexican added a few to round out our list. 

It’s always a pleasure to chat with brother Hexican, and we indulged in a healthy podcast that dug deep into our personal struggles through this challenging covid year.

Clocking in at over 3.5 hrs, this podcast includes 14 new tunes, chat about the artists that made our favorite tunes of 2020, and exposition of our current artistic endeavors, including the Hexican’s new adventure with tie-dying (check it out on Facebook or Instagram, if possible)!

It’s the first time that I’ve brought one of my music lists to air, and it was a lot of fun playing pudnit for a spell. 

If you’re interested in giving the podcast a listen, you can click here to find it on the Ritual Madness Podcast website, or click on the flyer below to access the podcast page.

Enjoy!

Ritual Madness Podcast Episode 216 with Artemis Sere Best Music Albums of 2020