bogomils

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Gross Dereliction of Duty (Beverly Hills Cop inspired artwork for Bottleneck Gallery’s ‘It Came From 1984’ show, February 2014, NYC)

18” x 24” giclée print, numbered edition of 30, $60. Available to buy now!

I grew up extremely fond of buddy cop action movies, and of course Beverly Hills Cop is an icon of the genre and the era. As such when Joe from Bottleneck asked if I’d tackle it for the show, I was more than happy to watch the movie again and ‘go all 80s’ with the pastel shades, neon and diagonals.

This is my first contribution to a Bottleneck show and that alone demands that I celebrate by listening to ‘Axel F’ one more time. Such an amazing track and of course inextricably linked to the movie’s appeal.

On another note, it blew my mind a little bit when I discovered that henchman Zack is played by Jonathan Banks, aka Mike from Breaking Bad. It’s obvious now I know, but my brain simply hadn’t connected the cultural dots. Thanks again, IMDB. 

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I’m thinking of drawing some of my favorite myths. Here’s the first. 

Forgotten Creation Myths Pt. I [The Bogomils]

One legend is that of the Bogomil’s (a 10th c. Byzantine and later Bulgarian sect who believed the world and all the matter therein was created by the devil in an act of deviancy). Here is that act of deviancy:

God, who is reluctant to get wet, sends the devil to the bottom of the sea to fetch him a grain of sand. He tells the devil to reach for the sand and say the words, ‘It is not I who take, but God.’ But the devil dives to the bottom and obstinately cries, ‘It is not God who takes, but I.’ 

A proud devil. 

Of course, the sand does not give and so the devil must dive three times to the bottom of the sea (in such cases, everything is done three times). Eventually, the devil becomes tired (diving to the bottom of the sea will do that to you) and, coughing, sputtering, and probably weeping, he finally obeys God. He swims to the bottom and says, ‘It is not I who take, but God’ then surfaces with the sand. As a reward, God promises to grant the devil whatever he wishes and so, out of the sand taken from the bottom of the sea, in an act of both reluctance and benevolence, God creates humankind.

Adapted from Viktor Shklovsky’s Zoo or Letters Not about Love. Trans. Richard Sheldon. Berlin: Helikon Publishing House, 1923.

Already before the Turks extinguish the last remnant, it becomes clear that the liquidation of paganism and heresy did nothing to arrest the decomposition of the Empire, and also that the heresy-hunts failed to extinguish resistance.

Either through contact with Turks who remembered Mani, or through contact with Persians who remembered the great uprising of the Persian peasantry against the Sassanid nobility and Zarathustrian aristocracy, Byzantium’s Bulgar converts rediscover the Manichean heresy. They call themselves Bogomili, “God-lovers,” and they consider Byzantium’s Christian priests agents of Ahriman, whom they call Satan. They are convinced that it is the oppression of peasants that is sinful, not the peasants. They say the evil ones are not the poor and miserable, but the landlords and tax collectors who make people poor and miserable. They urge peasants to brighten their lives and the world by withholding their crops and their services from Satan’s agents.

The Bulgars carry the message to Serbs and Bosnians who share it with Italian residents and visitors of Dubrovnik. The Italians carry ancient Mani’s vision, couched in the Pope’s language, to their Lombard, Norman and Frankish neighbors.

—  Fredy Perlman, Against His-Story, Against Leviathan