Monday, 30 April 2018

Touched By The Muses' Madness

Mohamad Kraytem, Morning, 2018, page 1 of 4.



For the sake of creating art, this artist puts his own life at risk going all in or maybe we should say all out, or to be more specific and in the words of Plato, he experiences the "touch of the Muses' madness in his soul". 

Since long before Plato we have been discussing what drives the human inspiration. Divine intervention, perhaps, such as from the Muses, while later ages would point to chemical substances such as absinthe or opium, but whatever the reason for hallucinating or passing downright out, the line of thought was each time to explain the ability of the artist to transcend their human frame and create something of value beyond their own time and place. 

In the present case the ingredients are the ones presented above: A pen, a cup and some hot liquid to which is added a piece of music.

The liquid is coffee, the music Black Coffee by Black Flag, which if you click the link in the name will take you to the music while seeing the present comic, and the one leading us into hallucinating is Mohamad Kraytem, who created the four-page comic at a workshop at the American University in Beirut earlier this spring. 

This would not be Mohamad if he did not take us directly into the impossibility of the turn of the tale. In this case from the enjoyment of beginning a day of work with its chain of preparations to the total eruption as overwhelming to take in as it is to the one acting it all out, before... but, first things first. It is time to brew that coffee and get to drawing:


Mohamad Kraytem, Morning, 2018, page 2 of 4.



Mohamad Kraytem, Morning, 2018, page 3 of 4.


"STAB through my heart..."


Mohamad Kraytem, Morning, 2018, page 4 of 4.



The comic is courtesy of Mohamad Kraytem and must not be reproduced without his permission.



Thursday, 26 April 2018

Three Years and Nine Months


That is the prison sentence given Musa Kart this week.

In total 14 journalists, editors, board members and chairs of the paper Cumhuriyet were given prison sentences ranging from seven years to little over three years.

They were charged with terrorism, i.e. for being in liaison with Fethullah Gülen and PKK as a convenient cover for shutting down their critical voices.

Musa Kart wrote a beautiful manifest on the nature of the cartooning voice after the initial round of the trial, in which he was released from prison - he and his colleagues first entered the courtroom from prison after having been arrested at their office and thrown behind bars.

We are now waiting for the verdict from the appeal.

Even describing the above is reeking with sickness of despotism that is the reality of Erdogan, so without further ado Fadi ToOn on the new Turkish flag:



Fadi Abou Hassan/Fadi ToOn, July 24, 2017:
The New Turkish Flag - My Solidarity with Musa Kart.


The cartoon shown is courtesy of Fadi Abou Hassan/Fadi ToOn and must not be reproduced without his permission.


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Strategically Lying


So... considering the Malaysian government has put into law the limitation of critical reflection in public space while calling it a need to halt lying taking place ... Who lies, or more to the point, who lies strategically?


Bonil, April 17, 2018: Throwing out rumours.


Bonil has placed two bombs identically on the picture plane, but heading in each their direction while highlighting the two sides of strategically lying.

History proves to us that when bad journalism takes place it is just that - bad journalism - while poisonous press coverage or actual propaganda is found where it is backed by institutions or is itself institutionalized as an organ of a despotic or despotic adjacent rule.

The strategically throwing out rumors tend to be accompanied by another kind of bomb of the problems which are willfully neglected or stem from lack of concern for their long term implications. An "after" has no place to this mindset.

We recognize the situation from all too many places, but consider the sentence above "Bonil has placed two bombs". That is the act of a directly speaking cartoonist pointing to two opposite sides of the same problem, while hiding behind no institutions.



Bonil, April 17, 2018: The displaced... An eventual bomb?


The cartoons shown are courtesy of Bonil and must not be reproduced without his permission.


Monday, 16 April 2018

The Anti-Fake News Act 2018



Zunar, October 2017.
Zunar's drawn autobiography leading up to this year.
They have attempted to chain him through charges of "sedition" still looming,
but by doing so they chained him to his working chair.
His brain signaling to his arm to keep drawing.

Zunar, March 14, 2018.
All the elements of the overt corruption,
from the money-grapping to the luxury
spending into the one criminal bundle.

In December 2017 Zunar spoke about a new focus in his work. He would show the direct impact, which the corruption of the government has in the daily life of the Malaysians. To wit, the rakyat, the people to the right has been turned into Atlas, carrying on his back the excesses of those in power.

Zunar's words highlighted his strength of mind considering his work is continuously sought eliminated by the ban on his leaving the country, the ban on his books and the ban against his being published, not to mention his exhibitions being removed, whenever his cartoons are shown.

Zunar, August 18, 2017: We Are All The Same
The stones around their necks stating that the prices of goods are rising,
as is petrol, customs, the price on milk increasing and on diapers.
So while we are continuously concerned about his situation, he decided to go in a new direction in his cartoons. This way he is seeing to that Prime Minister Najib Razak and his 22-carat pink diamond-ring wearer of a wife, not to mention their associates shall not turn into icons. Popular demand wants to see what her ring is up to today in Zunar's cartoons, but the spotlight must stay on the menace to democracy that their actions represent.

Then came April 3 and the Anti-Fake News Act 2018.

Zunar, December 4, 2017.
- Go and get it!

Presidents with anti-democratic tendencies worldwide use the term as a diversionary tactic from their daily doings. The former Ecuadorean President Correa would call it lying, lamenting, how he could not govern due to all of the "lying" taking place. Critical scrutiny is thus labeled "stories", as in being fabricated. Lately the term has been "fake news". Malaysia became the country to formalize the term, turning it into law, with the expectation that the Philippines and Cambodia shall follow.

Zunar, March 28, 2018.
On top is a critic, while the other is the pervasive one, protected by law
His wife's finger is pointing directly at the critic.


Any person, who "maliciously creates, offers, publishes, prints, distributes, circulates or disseminates any fake news..." can be sentenced to a maximum of six years of imprisonment.

The law formulates fake news as an empty term, as we would expect. Yet, "maliciously" is defined as "capable of suggesting words or ideas". Anything creating food for thought, in other words.

In that sense the law turns out to be specific in content. Of its intent we were never be in any doubt. We have a word for that. It is censorship.


Zunar, Kick These Fakers Out, March 27, 2018.
The math of the new law in an election year.
To highlight said intent of the law, the government dissolved the parliament three days after its coming into being. It is election year and every step to silence the opposition is being taken.

Oh, and Fake News Act, sorry Anti-Fake, contains an "Extra-territorial application" making it illegal for someone like this blog post to criticize it even outside the borders of Malaysia. Which is a easy fact to brush off for me, but even my writing about it, may trouble the situation of Zunar further.

Such is the situation writing about any cartoonist in trouble, only this time the menace is put into law, giving its intent an air of righteousness. The law made certain that the use of "visuals" was included.

Zunar, The Story of The Cartoonist Zunar,
November 29, 2017.
One struggling dot and it is the black wig of the Prime Ministers wife 

Once again we are in a situation in which a cartoonist is menaced into silence by way of waving the courts before him or her - often for years at a time - and while it seems formal and clean from the outside, it is mental violence.

To which Zunar of course has a visual answer. He has scanned his brain.

It IS indeed mental violence, which is going on. They place themselves in there, censoring any and all thoughts, only in his case, he lets his brain ink out what his brain sees...
Zunar, My Brain Scan, February 8, 2018.


Zunar has declared his cartoons free of copyright to be distributed as far and widely as possible. Please do exactly that, wherever and whenever you all can.



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