No need for a clock. Time to make shit up.

February is behind us now, but there was a time in human history when February was nowhere, nothing, never heard of it—until 2,731 years ago. Some of you are envious about Valentine’s Day not existing, but you know something? When you don’t have scarce restaurant reservations on an appointed day, you don’t have days either. Just a series of sunrises and sunsets beyond skeletal tree branches. Or unmeasured winter, according to the ancient Romans.

But this isn’t about the good and bad of January and February (good and bad are just inventions that never got trademarked). I want you to wake up and realize that you can turn nothing into something. Because if Numa Pompilius (who reigned in Rome from 715 to 673 B.C.E.) could invent February in an old calendar and get us to use it in Google Calendar more than 2,000 years later, well, fuck—why can’t you just invent whatever you want?

You might say, “I’m not a Roman king.”

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And I’d say, “You wouldn’t want to be. One king thought it was perfectly fine to abduct women from neighboring lands and turn them into wives for his countrymen.”

Be you instead. Make something only you would make. And make it because you truly and genuinely desire it in your own life. Like it would change the way you live. I’m talking fine art but also commercial products. This is how the CLIF BAR® was invented. Avoid making something just because it’s currently trending.

“I could have totally made that,” I sometimes hear when a person comments on a deceptively simple book idea, or a piece of contemporary art, or a patented product. The thing is: the commenter didn’t make it. And that’s what they have to get over—their ego —if they ever want to evolve and discover what wonderful creations they’re capable of. Creating is imperative for you, me, anyone.

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As writer Neil Gaiman said in The Guardian:

We all — adults and children, writers and readers — have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on. This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.

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Some of you have imagined what you’d like to create. And some of you know that you do want to create but not so much what it might be. Start simply and genuinely: what brings you joy? You can brainstorm with a cookie.

You’ll find imagination can take you by surprise. You might look at a cloud and recognize a face in it. You’ll find that you can also take imagination by choice and play with it — just as the first 60 days of the year had no names, holidays, occasions, birthdays, or anniversaries until it was decided they would. It does not take a king to make such decisions but a person of any bloodline who dares to see things differently.

Do you dare?

— Q.D. from Culver City

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Art and magic are no different. But we are.

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We wrote the 5 mysteries.

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Thor’s day is no pun at all

Maybe you’ve seen “Thor’s day” in memes starring Chris Hemsworth and accompanying puns like “Let’s get hammered.” Or maybe friends have wished you, “Happy Thor’s Day,” and you thought they were being silly.

Well, they were being silly (they’re your friends, aren’t they?) but also etymologically accurate.

Thor’s day is real.

Thor's hammer on the cover art for the book, Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

Cover art for the book, Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

As real as the Texan law that you can’t sell your eyeballs.

We’re not surprised your parents didn’t tell you this.

Good thing you have us — we know the power of names and are quite careful about safeguarding ours. Days of the week? Days of the solar system, more like it.

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Each day was named for a celestial body. And of those bodies, the planets were named after European gods and goddesses. The first two days, Sunday (for the sun) and Monday (for the moon), don’t hold divine drama like the other five:

  • Tuesday —  for Tīw, a Germanic god of war, similar to Mars whose name then got assigned to the red planet, perceived as bloody and warlike in the ancient world.
  • Wednesday — for Woden or Odin, Thor’s dad, who was equated with Mercury. Yup and then the planet was named after him. See? You’re getting it.
  • Thursday — for Thor, god of thunder, just like Zeus or Jove/Jupiter.
  • Friday — for Frigga, wife of Odin, goddess of love like Venus.
  • Saturday — for Saturn, often remembered for chewing up his kids.

There they are. Fun facts to dispel your next awkward silence. Holiday dinners aren’t that far away.

— E.K. from Silver Lake, Los Angeles

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Art and magic are no different. But we are.

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We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.

Thinkspace before you speak | art by Brian Mashburn & Casey Weldon

What world do you live in? Does it feel like this?

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That’s the world of artist Brian Mashburn whose work, according to his website, “is drawn from everyday observations as well as an interest in history, natural science, and philosophy. The heavy mists of Appalachia and smog of southeastern China and Hong Kong further inform his foggy aesthetic.” He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

I found this world when I visited Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City on April 29 this year. So if this is your world, I love it. Just please take some Vitamin D supplements. I returned to Thinkspace on June 3 and found another world. Maybe this is yours. Take a look:

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If this is your world, it’s a curious one, which can only explain why so many feline species are in it. Casey Weldon created this world. He graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA and opened a studio in Las Vegas. Now he’s in Brooklyn, New York.

Maybe neither is your world. And hey, that’s fine by us. You can create your own or you can find one. We happened to have made one of magic and mystery. Maybe you’re a character in one of the five stories. They haven’t revealed their names yet.

— E.K. from Silver Lake, Los Angeles

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Art and magic are no different. But we are.

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We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.

Thoughtful Thursday | the quest in question

You can think of a small question as a small quest — a big question as a big quest. The words “quest” and “question” are from the Latin word “quaerere” (ask or seek). But what makes a quest or question small or big? That’s not up to one person to answer. That’s up to you, me, all of us. You’re all invited to share your Thursday thoughts in the comments below to these three questions:

  1. Painter Lucian Freud said, “What do I ask of a painting? I ask it to astonish, disturb, seduce, convince.” Your turn: What do you ask of music, literature, performance, visual art, any creative expression?

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  1. Photographer William Eggleston said, “I am at war with the obvious.” What are you at war with at this time in your life?

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  1. Anne Wilkes Tucker, a curator of photographic art, once wrote of the photographer Brassaï: “He sought neither to judge nor to change, but to fathom the living arrangements of the world.” With what you do in your life, how do you fathom the living arrangements of the world?

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Why these questions? They invite possibilities, which is why writer Tommy Tung asked nearly identical ones as part of his interview with photographer Alex Prager for Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine, eight years ago. Share your answers to the three questions in the comments below. Happy Thursday.

— Q.D. from Culver City

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Art and magic are no different. But we are.

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March was named for war

You wouldn’t know it by glancing at the calendar though. You have to dive into etymology: March or Martius (Latin) was named after Mars, the Roman god of war. These four weeks of bloodshed were so important to the Romans they made it their first month for a while. Quite an easy thing to do when January and February hadn’t been invented yet. Winter in ancient Rome had no months, pumpkin spice promotions, or sales events. When the snow melted in March, Romans resumed killing, raping, enslaving people in war campaigns.

Three thousand years later, we no longer associate March with invading territories and large-scale human rights violations. We observe other traditions such as International Women’s Day (March 8), Pi Day (March 14), St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), March Madness (NCAA Basketball). The ancient god of war? And the planet named after him? They’re not on our minds during these 30 days. We have, in fact, reinvented this month. Some might say that’s magic. Some might say that names change meaning — despite their etymology.

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And we — who are obsessed with names, words, and their power — say that your name doesn’t define you. You were assigned a word to be called. And the way you live is the way that word is spoken and remembered.

Just saying.

— E.K. from Silver Lake, Los Angeles

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“A man in armor” (1655) by Rembrandt

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Art and magic are no different. But we are.

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We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.

Facing the light in the Rain Room art installation at LACMA

Second life for the Rain Room | LACMA

You didn’t get to go to the Rain Room because it was sold out. Or you were able to go but want to go again. The Rain Room may have closed on January 22, 2017 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), but the prospect of experiencing it has not dried up. It’s reincarnating. Staying for good. Raining for good.

Thank Restoration Hardware — who had commissioned the work — for donating it to the permanent collection at LACMA. Ephemerality and availability had governed its supply and demand until now. Permanent residence granted, the Rain Room’s reopening date is the only thing between you and this interactive art installation that RH Chairman & CEO, Gary Friedman, says reflects “creative courage, trust, and a belief that all of us have the ability to affect any environment we choose to step into.” Move and the rain moves too, because precipitation parts wherever you are in the room. It’s why phones and cameras survive there and why over 54,000 photos on Instagram have the #rainroom hashtag and a liquid light shower.

Ten to fifteen minutes is all you’ll have in this room with black walls, spotlights, and 528 gallons of downpour. You may want to stay longer but the brief window of time is like any weather condition — a passing phenomenon. What we know about the design of the Rain Room is that the founders of Random International (Florian Ortkrass, Hannes Koch, and Stuart Wood) “were curious to see how it would feel to be immersed in a rainstorm that wouldn’t physically affect you,” according to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). And what we know about Random International is that “it is a collaborative studio for experimental practice within contemporary art,” with work “questioning aspects of identity and autonomy in the post-digital age…[and inviting] active participation.”

Whenever the Rain Room does reopen, we recommend reservations. F.A. and I went a few weeks before it closed, and as someone with Dual Membership at LACMA with paid privileges, I still couldn’t get a reservation for two in the Rain Room without making an advance payment on renewing my membership.

Demand is that high for rain in Los Angeles.

— Q.D. from Culver City

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F.A. who lived through the mystery, You have until Friday

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Art and magic are no different. But we are.

tamil_om

We wrote the 5 mysteries.

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A man wearing a loincloth with magical energy centers glowing along his body; the four classical elements of alchemy are diagrammed on the right

The Art of Alchemy disappears in 3 days

We’re artists. We’re alchemists. We’re magicians. Playing drinking games with the elixir of life. Designing slingshots for the philosopher’s stone. Maybe you saw us walking through downtown LA on Saturday, January 21 for the Women’s March, or peering at medieval manuscripts at The Art of Alchemy, now on view at the Getty Center until February 12. The mind of separation says these two events are different — marching for equality and human rights vs. strolling through a museum exhibition. Mysticism says that they are not, that even you and the multiverse are the same.

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Does this mean in essence you are only doing one thing your entire life? We would say yes. You are living. But that is not for us to say — for you. You can answer that yourself. The questions keep us going, as they did for the alchemists of Europe, Egypt, and Asia who the Getty Research Institute says were driven “to transform and bend nature to the will of an industrious human imagination. For scientists, philosophers, and artists alike, alchemy seemed to hold the key to unlocking the secrets of creation.”

You have three days to see their written and illustrated works at the Getty Research Institute, if not for these philosophical concerns then simply for their art. You don’t need a background in art history, alchemy, anything. You just need to keep asking questions.

That’s the only thing we ask of you.

For now.

— Q.D. from Culver City

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Ξ

Art and magic are no different. But we are.

tamil_om
We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.