Friday, July 21, 2023

Oodlies creator Joi Murugavell interviews Antares (another blast from the past)

Joi: If you were stuck in an elevator desperate for sex and the only way you'd get to shag the only girl left on the planet, was to tell her about your career as a cartoonist, in exactly 117 words. What would you say (she's hot and standing in the good corner of the elevator, naked). Also, animals will die if you don't do this and your nipples will be yanked by a deranged tiger as Larry the male nurse pours a mixture of salt and hot tar into your fresh wounds, if you don't do this in exactly 117 words.

Antares: Well, here we are trapped in the ultimate wet dream scenario. It will take at least two hours before any rescue team can reach us and the CCTV was stolen by vandals. I can see you're hot... as you've taken off all your clothes. Damn good idea, think I'll do likewise. Feel free to resurrect my libido... or tell me the story of your life. Either way my interest will be aroused. See those funny little bumps on my head? That's how you can tell if someone's a cartoonist. Feel free to titillate all my senses while I fondle your brainlobes. Promise I won't mess up your hair. What's your name by the way, darling? I'm Frank. [Exactly 117 words, count 'em!]

Joi: How do you pronounce your name? I do like your name and its the reason I friended you on facebook even before I knew the 'well known' in your title of 'well known cartoonist' was so deserved.

Antares: "Ahn-tah-rays" (with the accent on the second syllable). The name is neutral enough. No ethnic, biocultural or gender clues there. That's the way I like it. I'm not sure if it connects with the binary star system called Antares. All I know is, Antares is a very ancient gas giant with an impressive flatulence quotient.

An oodleee by Antares & Joi 

Joi: What does your name mean? Joi means Victory, the right pronunciation of my name is ... actually forget it! a whole bunch of idiots I know will start mispronouncing my mispronounced name if I told you.

Antares: I found out (shortly after "receiving" the name "Antares") that it's actually Greek. Combination of "anti" and "Ares" (Mars) - in effect, counterforce to Mars (Antares and Mars both appear distinctly red to the naked eye). Mars is the Roman God of Division and the planet also rules the plow and the sword (agriculture, warfare and surgery) - so Antares may be regarded as an intermediary or bridging force (in Sanskrit, antara means "inter" or "between"). Later I stumbled across some intriguing cosmomythological aspects of Antares: Chinese astrologers call it the Red Phoenix Star and the Hindu name for it is Jyeshta. Some say Jyeshta is the last portal of purification every soul must pass through on its way home to Godhead. In astrology, Antares is known as the Heart of Scorpio, because it appears to the eye as being the center of the constellation. I recently acquired a DVD of the 1959 epic movie Ben Hur and was amused to discover that Prince Judah Ben Hur's favorite horse was named Antares.

Joi: I love the feeling of aggravation and being aggravated. Its like playing with a loose tooth, slight pain but extremely pleasurable. The trick is to know when to stop, as aggravation can very quickly turn into annoyance. I know this because I often seek out irritating human beings, if I think they'd supply me with good aggravation and then I feel bad telling them they're annoying, so I'm stuck with this motley crew of friends, particularly on twitter. What's your flaw, when choosing humans as friends?

Antares: Well, I'm attracted to intimacy on all levels. I tend to befriend those who aren't ashamed of being themselves, who don't go around wearing masks or heavy armor. Ron Hubbard sagely said that true communication is only possible amongst equals. So I avoid those who are trapped in games of status or whose egos are overly competitive. I like being surrounded by folks in front of whom I can undress without a second thought. The upshot of this is that I have minimal contact with table-thumping rabble-rousers and professional pundits - in effect, your typical beer-swilling, soccer-watching pub regulars. I don't view this as a "flaw" - but it does cut me off from "popular" culture. My disdain for the Lowest Common Denominator ensures that almost everything I produce has little or "no commercial potential."

Cartoon sex, anyone?

Joi: If you munted your hands and couldn't draw, would it bother you, at this point in your life. Or would you be more concerned about the other things you couldn't do without your, hands. I'd be devastated, and I was for 2 months when my hand was injured. But in a few years, who knows. (I am aware this is the second violent thought I've had about your body parts, it wasn’t unintentional).

Antares: Contrary to public opinion, I don't see myself as a cartoonist. I'm primarily a writer-musician who happens to doodle a bit on the side. In effect, drawing isn't a MAJOR part of my life. If I lost my hands, not being able to draw is unlikely to be my main gripe. There are so many things we take for granted, Joi. When I emerged from a 5-day induced coma in December 2009, I couldn't even drink water for a couple of days. That was sheer hell. When I found myself able to drink more than a few drops of water, it was absolute bliss. It took me more than two weeks to regrow the muscles in my legs so I could jump from rock to rock and climb hills. Not being able to do that was a big shock to my system. I now relate to people with physical handicaps with far more empathy and admiration - simply because I can appreciate what it took for them to carry on, regardless.

Joi: Do you have a favorite shampoo and conditioner? or any tips on how to care for long hair.

Antares: I had to lop off my locks in October 2010. I inherited my mother's extremely fine hair and I used to have a fantastic mane (see 1991 pic at right)... but it began thinning out with age and my hairdresser suggested I cut it short, so it could regain a bit of density. Right now it's just touching my shoulders. I do miss my waist-length wildman image - guess it's part of growing older maturing and letting go of unnecessary accessories like hair (though I prefer to view the process not so much as "losing hair" but "gaining face"). When I had glorious tresses a few girlfriends offered an assortment of tips on hair care - using a brush instead of a comb, applying conditioner after shampooing, and so on. I never had much patience for preening, so I'm not a good role model for tonsorial hygiene. However, I'm still vain enough to apply dark henna to my hair once every 2 or 3 months - not only does it obscure the white hairs, henna also strengthens the follicles. And, best of all, I can buy henna for RM1.50 a packet!

Scatological resonances

Joi: Have you ever shaved your armpits? Or any other bits?

Antares: I don't have much body hair. My paternal grandmother advised my mum to avoid beef during pregnancy, so her offspring are all relatively hairless, which makes it impossible to grow a beard (I gave up after trying for 30 years, even resorting to magic hair-growth lotions that obviously don't work). As for other bits... um... I did attempt to shave my pubic hair once, to make my penis look bigger... but ended up nicking my balls with the razor. Now I'm a connoisseur of other people's hair - armpit or otherwise, visible or otherwise.

Joi: I love this series of cartoons which you started drawing in 1991. I'm not just a fan of the whimsical lines in the sketches but more how one thing led to another that made someone sit down and act silly, for quite a while. You've dedicated the website to your grandson, Max. What does it feel like having a grandson? Most grandparents are more relaxed with their grandkids than they were with their own kids. I mean my mum hardly swears at my nephews. Her favorite thing to yell at us was "I'll give you a slap and send you flying"; it was really difficult trying not to laugh as she was always dead serious when she said that and yet it was such a ridiculous thing to say.

Antares: The Goon Gallery, as stated in my notes on Goonology, was the result of a single outpouring of looniness. I used up an entire drawing pad trying to explain what a "goon" looks like to an ignorant Canadian. Like most improvisations, it's an unrepeatable performance and I'm glad it's finally been digitized and published online. I view digital tech as something heavensent, since I don't enjoy offering stuff to publishers - only to be told there's "no market" for my work. Thank Google for free blog templates! Now anyone anywhere with internet access can have a good chuckle at no expense. My grandson Max (who turned 11 on 28 August 2011) is an enthusiastic doodler himself and he drew me some inspiring get-well cards when I was in hospital. I'm giving him a Tacoma guitar for his birthday in the hope that he will someday do cover versions of his grandfather's songs. The idea appeals greatly to me. Thus far, Max has fulfilled his father's ambitions to be a jock. I'd be overjoyed to see him continue the family tradition of crooning and doodling. The best thing about my grandchildren is that I only see them on rare occasions - so we have no negative impressions whatsoever of each other.


Joi: Are you a horny doodler? (a doodler who can't keep his hands to himself and dry humps paper constantly with long objects that squirt ink). Or a binge doodler?

Antares: My doodling days are all but over, Joi. I can't find any pens that work reliably (25 years ago I could buy China-made Hero fountain pens for around M$4.50 and they not only worked fine but lasted years; these days Hero pens are absolute crap, and the last few I bought are lying around unused in some drawer). Also, I used to yak on the phone extensively - and doodling was something to do with my hands. These days, 90% of my social interactions happen via facebook - and that doesn't exactly inspire doodling. The most recent cartoon assignment was in 2009 when I was asked to illustrate a book on the Malaysian budget and how the government was squandering it. I took it on as a challenge, as I hadn't done any cartoons in years. Managed to produce 9 usable illustrations within a week, so I'm relieved I haven't completely lost it.

Joi: There are countless websites on the ‘poor graphic designer who has to make that logo bigger’. When you worked as a cartoonist, did you find a similar noose around your neck? What did you do, to keep the juices flowing? and did you know when it was time to leave? (when I think I've asked someone too many questions I simply chuck multiple questions into one paragraph). I always giggle when people say 'juices flowing'. Because I'm extremely childish.

Antares: I was never a full-time cartoonist. In fact, most people didn't even know I could draw until my first book, ADOI! came out in 1989. After that, I was offered occasional commissions to illustrate various publications. Only rarely did my cartoons appear in the newspapers. Mostly they appeared in magazines, illustrating my own short stories, etc. I only recall two instances when I was required to "tone down" a cartoon: the first was when the editor felt nervous about the Madonna figure I had drawn to illustrate "The Black Marker Brigade"... I had to redraw her minus the nunnish tudung. The second instance was when I had to add a bikini top to a nude female figure for a full-page cartoon featured in a short-lived monthly called Journal One. Nothing too serious - it's always about religion and sex, isn't it? They are inextricably bound together, it appears. I like the idea of your creative (or procreative) juices flowing, Joi. I'm not only childish, I find the word "juice" rather delicious. And it makes me think of James Joyce, and Joi Murugavell.

Commemorating Joi Murugavell's historic visit to Magick River on 6 January 2012

Joi: If we were ever in the same room, I will be equipped with stacks of paper and a box of sharpies. I'd love to oodlie on a large sheet of paper, pass it to you to continue my lines and vice versa. We'd listen to music and I'll accuse you of farting even when you don't. For now, I'm not exactly content, but happy with combining our lines to make (non)sense out of non(sense).

Antares: Sounds heavenly to me, unfair accusations of flatulence and all. I'm a bit Joycean (Juicean?) in that whenever I'm really fond of somebody, I tend to think their fart is divinely fragrant. How come your questions for me are so serious, Joi? I was expecting some off-the-wall ones... but, no worries, I enjoyed answering them anyhow.

Joi: I’m a very serious person, I often try not to be. I’m glad you survived 2009, clearly, we need more of you. I find you very soothing, like a lozenge. Though I’d never suck you, I'd hate for you to get smaller. (I love that I haven’t given you an opportunity for a come back here … here’s a customary gesture ‘xoxo’). Thank you for your art, trust, kindness and time … stranger from facebook with the fab name. 

Another oodleee by Antares & Joi  

[First posted 26 September 2011, reposted 29 April 2017]

Monday, July 17, 2023


Cosmic Serpent by NahimaArt
Subject: [magickriver] The Christos Mythos
Date: Sat, 03 May 2003 13:07:01 +0800
From: Antares
Organization: Magick River
To: Magick River Network 

This is in response to Sherry's incisive comments about the "Christ" mystique and how it fits in with our innate ability to free ourselves from external control mechanisms, reclaim our self-governing, self-navigating skills, and regain self-mastery through self-knowledge.

At 14, I attended a Presbyterian Sunday School on a fairly regular basis but, by the age of 15, had begun seriously questioning everything that was preached. At 16, I was generally agnostic, verging on atheistic - indeed, I was fond of describing God as an Atheist!

And yet, throughout my entire adolescence (or perhaps even when I was 7 or 8) I remember chatting telepathically with an entity I called "Jesus" (my mother was a Methodist, my dad a freethinker) in my own childish way. By the age of 15 or 16 I was aware that this "Jesus" character was actually my own Higher Self - a really kind and wise entity, totally accepting and extremely cool, never scolding or judging, just happy to be my best friend.

At 19, I found myself staring (completely stoned on marijuana) at my own reflection in the mirror and coming to a sudden conclusion - nay, an explosive revelation - that "Christ" was not a personal name, "Christ" describes a state of being or consciousness. And that state can also be called Universal Compassion or All-Embracing Love... what Buddhism calls the Bodhisattva, the next step beyond Buddhahood wherein the enlightened soul vows to remain in embodiment to serve those as yet unawakened. From agnosticism I crossed over into my own species of Gnosticism and began to devour all manner of esoteric knowledge. Mythology became "Mytheology" and History became "Mystery." "Jesus" became "Yeheshuah" (IHShVH) = "The Word Made Flesh" or Spirit-as-Matter (and vice versa).

Later I began to understand other implications of Christhood: that it was a mystical force denoted by a specific syllable or syllables - "Chi-Rho" or "Kri" - found in Sanskrit as "Krishna" and "Kris"; in Greek as "christos" or "crestes" - and that it was a code for a complex mythology involving Divine Rulership and the idea of Evolutionary Perfection, as in the Crest of a Wave, or the Family Crest. Some etymological research yielded the notion that the idea of Anointment - the ritual preparation of a candidate for a Heroic task or ascending a throne by massaging his or her body with fragrant unguents, known as "chrisma" in Greek (which may well be connected with the word "charisma") - was subliminally associated with the practice of greasing meat before grilling it, which may sound grisly to the modern sensibility but which has deep roots in all Sun-god myths wherein the deity is sacrificed to nourish his or her tribe - as in the Hiawatha legend or the Feast of the Eucharist.

[I just received an email from Ramsha suggesting that the word "christos" can be traced all the way back to a a Vedic term meaning "semen." Stands to reason: Christ as Divine Impregnator, Cozmik Hyperzoon, Sacred Groom, etc]

Anyway, to keep this brief, I discovered many more levels to the idea of the Christ than is to be found in conventional Christianity - and since I view Christhood as the state of being towards which all humanity is aspiring, it was only natural that I used the term Christos as a code name for my Core Self. In other words, the Christ for me is not some deity to be worshiped but a state of initiatory consciousness to be attained through direct experience. That's why I have no problem with the expression "Christ consciousness." It's something we're all going to experience sooner or later.

I'll begin typing out the chapter on the 'Three Christs' from Ashayana Deane's VOYAGERS II. If I can get it done tonight, it will be posted tomorrow

I was excited by the information revealed therein because I've long felt that there was a multidimensional mystery yet unsolved in the entire Palestine Project that initiated the advent of the Christian Era. But no one had a grip on the whole story. Ashayana's version may not be all there is, but to my mind it's a good start, and much of it feels right to my cellular memory.

With love,

[First posted 3 December 2006, reposted 20 December 2013]