"The Schemer, In Grand Perspective" Mixed media, 14.75”x18”, 2020

Nurturing Darkness: Mixed Media & Faltering Civilizations (2020)

Have we lost sight of what is important, as a civilization? Is the world out of alignment with principles that matter? Missing children, an increasing COVID-19 death rate, and constant ethical dilemmas associated with our socially complex world make us wonder: can we, as a species, come to an agreement on anything?

The jester dazzles with a complicated hex to make our sun disappear. It brings the wonder he intended but he didn’t consider all that he was taking away from us. So, we tell ourselves that he didn’t know any better, because we can’t think of any better way to respond, and proceed to exercise every worse way to respond to our losses.

The jester goes mad in the face of the potential deceptions that lie in his very best intentions. All of our most sincere embraces fail to calm our resentments.

I had sent myself the previous two quotes as notes for a fictional story since, at the time, I was growing increasingly frustrated by the state of the world. I had arrived at the questions: Have we lost sight of what is important, as a civilization? What could possibly force the world to realign its perspective with principles that matter?

The Schemer, In Grand Perspective

I imagined a trickster god taking notice of the state of the world and agreeing with these notions. He tries to intervene by introducing a mass interruption to our understanding and experience of our reality: forcing the whole world into night, indefinitely.

People are confused as they are suddenly hindered in all of these small and large ways. They soon realize that it is only the daytime that has been taken from them. They cannot explain it but the warmth still arrives on time, the solar energy can still be harvested, the moon is visible from every corner of the world and still provides a source of light. The flowers are still blooming, and the other animals seem to continue just fine. People already have the technology to adjust to the situation to light areas for safety and proper sight, but must problem-solve the logistics of implementing the adjustments that won’t dwindle their resources or cause more problems.

Mostly, they are inconvenienced. Though, it’s everyone’s problem.

Not knowing how or why it is happening, they choose to accept that this change is real and that the world must come together to address the issues it creates. They become hopeful that they could do the same with the other issues that we face — social and global. Yet, people quickly become restless with this great change. Everyone gets upset as no one can find the source. They start to blame each other — citizens blaming their government, nations blaming other nations, etc.

People begin to disband collective efforts to proceed. People begin to act out.

The world quickly begins to divide and fall apart. Connections between family and friends strengthen, only for the fact that they can feel the civilization collapsing. They know that wars are bound to break out, societies to collapse. And they do. The trickster weeps as he watches humanity plummet towards extinction — he had given them the opportunity, he had good intentions. Though, he watches the course of events as they make all of these unnecessary mistakes and hesitates to bring back the daylight. He considers walking away from the planet and moving on, disappointed.

The State of the World (2020)

When I wrote the comments on the scheming trickster god, most of us were already upset or conflicted by the state of the world and of our society; since then, things have quickly become so much worse.

We should be upset — it’s shameful. It’s disappointing. It’s all going so poorly. A horrifying number of children are disappearing daily — abducted, killed, committing suicide, or running away. Our cultures and social structures are losing integrity.

Some of our actions have spiraled out of control such that the issues they create are hard to properly address as we become too upset to want to pay attention to them at all. Invention and production have strayed so far from our needs that it is hurting our planet. The pandemic is currently claiming the lives at a terrifying rate across the world; we keep hindering our control of it by getting caught up in disagreements on how to handle it.

We live “in the now” — and not even entirely.

We ignore so much that is happening, romanticize and lie about the past out of pride or guilt, and largely do not consider consequences of our actions very far into the future. Our world has become so socially complex that we often cannot approach problems within ethical considerations objectively. Most of the problems or ethical dilemmas of the world are approached subjectively due to the division into many cultures and subcultures.

Can we, as a species, come to an agreement on anything?

We ought to.

There is a growing need to unite as a civilization so that we can stop killing everything. We kill the earth and our siblings (flora and fauna) in indirect and direct ways that are entirely unnecessary and avoidable, i.e. we are a selfish race. This is why we can’t seem to come to agreement on so much — because we get hung up on ourselves as individuals within the social identities that we have created. So, let us remove the question from ourselves while also considering the total importance of time as a variable.

We can come to agreement on what we want for our children, ultimately. So, we should define these principles and align our perspectives with them ourselves — to show respect for our parents, for our planet, and for our civilization.

Love, Integrity, Fortitude, and Education (LIFE)

We want our children to know and to have love in their lives. It is the basis of the most fulfilling parts of our experience. We want them to have integrity — to be respectful, considerate, confident, selfless, and honest. It is impossible to deny that they will know tribulation and hardship; there are dark things hidden throughout our reality in nature and within our own behaviors. We hope for our children to have the fortitude to face it and find their way through it; the fortitude to not be broken under the weight of complications and emotional strife.

So, we want to do our best to educate them, to teach them what we know and inspire them to learn beyond our knowledge to continue the beautiful pursuit for more understanding and further advancement. This effort of education is essential to their ability to understand and exist in this reality on our planet. It is how we set them on a path to lead a fulfilling life, to pursue and experience life, and to nourish it and inspire others.

Denial, Ego, Apathy, Tradition, and Hostility (DEATH)

The alternative, our worst nightmare — Death.

The looming threat that we instinctively avoid. Yes, we must avoid the physical death but not avoid acknowledgement of it if we want to survive and lead fulfilling lives. Too many of us only recognize what is most important to us the moment when we are forced to face and truly consider our own physical death. With this realization comes regret — looking back at our lives and seeing how much of our time and our life force we have dedicated to things that truly weren’t that important to us, in the grand scheme of things.

Physical death is when our time in this world ends. This time that we waste when our principles are out of line invites the death of self, the death of our potential as humans. To properly pursue LIFE, we must also consider the underlying dynamics of the deaths that threaten us.  If not, then these dark dynamics will take over our identity as a species, forcing a nihilistic social reality — breeding chaos, depriving us the potential for LIFE fulfilled as individuals and as a civilization.

Despite your philosophical or spiritual beliefs, humans exist and are creatures of advanced intelligence with the gifts of emotion and sentience. We arrive in this world with so much beautiful potential, based on these three things alone.

It would be absolutely shameful to waste it.

Nonsense, Somewhere In Between

The scene that I present (shown above) shows a man. His age, race, and even gender are not definitely apparent — they are irrelevant. There is a tattoo on his chest: three interlocking triangles representing the concept of Time: past, present, and future.

We are not the world. We are its children. No one is an only child.

We are one species on this planet. Let us learn and teach the past with total honesty, vehemently. Let us live in the present with total honesty, just the same. Let us stop wasting so much time turning on one another with such hostility and malice. Let us stop narrowing our sight of the problems facing us and instead narrow our focus on pursuits to fix them. Let us stop side-stepping them and allowing ourselves to become accustomed, living in ignorance.

Yes, the problems are many. But so are we.

No more excuses. Otherwise, look where we are headed. We are creating nonsense, nurturing darkness, killing ourselves, our siblings, and our shared mother (Earth).

We can do so much better.


daniel foley

Daniel Foley is a Navajo visual artist and writer based in Central Ohio. He works mostly in mixed media and photography, experimenting with processes and layering them to create odd subjects in strange environments that exist somewhere between representation and total abstraction. He intends to provoke critical thinking by blending symbolism into forms that approach representation with colors and compositions that defy it; suggesting a narrative but allowing the audience to arrive at it themselves and in their own way. Foley’s work focuses on the human experience, addressing themes of social conflict, intimacy, cultural decay, addiction and the philosophical/psychological dynamics that create these issues.

2 thoughts on “Nurturing Darkness: Mixed Media & Faltering Civilizations (2020)

  1. This is an emotionally authentic and brilliantly composed piece which holds the potential to move the souls who get the opportunity to experience it. I now feel it is my responsibility to brainstorm and narrow down the actions necessary to make a small difference on the front line.

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