Monday, April 28, 2008

Sweet Calico Goat and the Orphan Works Act

This sweet animal has a beautiful calico coat and an engaging and unwavering gaze. My sense of awe and reverence for animals grows, as their soulfulness and apparent ability to feel and even think, become more evident to me.

If you've seen the video that's been going around the Internet, of an elephant painting his self-portrait, no doubt you have felt the same exhilaration that I did, when contemplating how this giant mammal seemed to "think" about the accurate placement of each brush stroke. Even if he was prompted by his trainer, by touch or visual prompts, his behavior is still deliberate in a way we humans have not historically attributed to animals.

I think we all have enjoyed many of those inter-species, "love-and-relating" email forwards, as well. The bottom line is that we all want and need love, and it's sometimes easier to find animal behaviors to stand in awe of and applaud, than it is to find laudable human behaviors. Predators in the animal kingdom hunt and kill to survive, just as we take animal life, as part of the food chain. But lacking our level of critical thinking, they don't have all those nasty defense mechanisms that are borne of our human propensity for self-doubt. In my opinion, our self-doubt projected outward leads to a lot of unnecessary tangles and confrontations for many people. Imagine the time and resources we waste being angry at strangers. We may sneer behind their backs or scold them either tactfully or rudely, or we may walk away silently, puzzled by a suspect behavior that we disapprove of, yet vesting our energy in it.

Yesterday while driving on a busy secondary highway coming home from an art show, I signaled to move from the left to the right lane, to exit onto another parkway. The guy behind me not only sped up so I couldn't move over, but he flipped me the bird as he passed me. I was astounded at his rando
m act of free-floating hostility. I'm glad I'm not that angry!

Animals vie with each other for supremacy, but in a more direct way: for physical dominance of habitat or available territories, or for the attentions of a fertile mate. Yet we humans vie with each other on so many more levels and with so much more at stake. What's at stake as a result of the culmination of competing human behaviors is nothing less than the survival of Earth and all her inhabitants!

I think it would be a good idea for us to ponder the interactions of animals and begin to evaluate our institutions and behaviors from a survival standpoint. I've seen squirrels, robins, blue jays, and a baby rabbit, all occupying the same meagre footage of my back yard, all foraging for food while ignoring the others who are doing the same thing in their own way. They are different species, living a peaceful co-existence. Their truth may be "to eat or be eaten," but they are not tied to status issues, political correctness, or supremacy issues. They don't vie over ideologies. Maybe they are lucky, to be at a "lower" level of intuitive and intellectual functioning. As for peaceful coexistence, maybe we humans can do a better job of using our intuition and intellect in more constructive ways.


I'm grateful that some members of WWAO have brought the Orphan Works Act to the group's attention. As I understand it, this act was defeated in Congress several years ago, but is currently under consideration again. If passed, this law would drastically reduce your control over your ownership of your creative works, especially images posted on the Internet. I'm not an expert on it, nor on legalese, but I've read enough to know that the outcome of this proposed law is very important to artists and photographers, as well as writers.

Here's a link to a site where you can sign a petition against it. Why not sign and pass it on? This is so important to all of us!

And here's a link to artist Walter King's blog on the Absolute Arts site, where he cites letters from other sources, on the subject.

Let's make our voices heard. We should all blog about it, too, or we'll become just another casualty of corporate greed!!! (If you want more information on the bill, just Google "Orphan Works Act," as I did, and numerous sources of information will pop up. Spend ten minutes reading, and be your own judge!)

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