Good vs. Evil

Daily Prompt Sweeping Motions What’s messier right now — your bedroom or you computer’s desktop (or your favorite device’s home screen)? Tell us how and why it got to that state.

On October 14, 2014, I wrote this response to this INCREDIBLY stupid prompt. Since then, I’ve developed the philosophical position that 1) I don’t have to write blogs on WordPress, and 2) even if I do I don’t have to respond to the Daily Prompt. That being the case, I more or less decided not to bitch about the Daily Prompt too much.

But lets just think for a moment about messes. I have a puppy and she has been the perfect puppy as far as messes go. She hasn’t. Not once. However my vacuum cleaner broke a couple weeks ago — it’s still more or less usable if you don’t feel the need for a handle to push it around… Still, it was an amazingly effective vacuum cleaner for the price ($50), but now I know that the price was not related to its ability to clean but to its ability to stay together. Yesterday after much thought and hesitation (July was an expensive month — puppy, fence, hedge trimming) I invested in a Dyson. I have owned Dysons for years and they are incomparable, IMO.

There is another mess in my life. One of the other “artists” at the co-op. I have (I’m told) an extremely high tolerance for other people but this person sends every filament of follicle radar straight up. She’s a bad painter, panders cheap new-age philosophy, calls herself a “counselor,” and is a shameless self-promoter whose bad art (‘spiritual’ painting) swallows up wall space in a very un-co-operative way. If you were to walk into the shop you’d think it was 1) her private gallery and 2) a New Age store. She’s also demanding and manipulative and does not listen to others. And she did an evil thing. A new artist brought her work (too much of it) and she and the display chairperson were hanging it. Ms. New Age came in and said horrible things to the new artist, who is a photographer. “Your prices are too high. My work is original paintings (the word “original” is very inaccurate) and yours is just photography.”


I made a suggestion to the president that we designate an amount of wall space to each person who does wall art. She was unable to see how that would result in fairness and eliminate situations like that. Never mind other galleries do it. The upshot? I’m not crazy about hanging my work in that space. In fact, I will probably take it down and bring it home. You can’t see it, anyway, pushed to the sides and corners.

This has been bugging me for two weeks. What to do with Evil? Because that’s what I think this woman is; evil.

Then I remembered the I-Ching. Traditionally, the I-Ching has been used as a method for divining the future. I studied it as part of reading Chinese fiction — it is pretty difficult to understand the characters and their concerns without knowing something about the I-Ching.  A person asks “it” a question, toss some coins, get an assortment of heads and tails, look it up, read what the book says. Since 1) I don’t want to know the future, and 2) I thought it was bogus, I was surprised to find it was useful at all. The way it was useful was in helping me think about something from a different perspective.

And now I know it pretty well. Yesterday, walking the puppy, I was worried that my dislike of this woman was envy (her work sells and mine doesn’t). I thought about that — do I envy her work? No. I do envy that it sells. Why would it sell? It’s accessible to people and, most of all, anyone who comes into the store can’t MISS it. Aha, back to the starting point.

I was glad to know that part of my problem is envy. That I can deal with, but the rest? What to do? Talk to the president? Push harder on the wall space allocation thing? Push for monthly rotation of wall art so everyone gets time on the good wall? (There’s only one.) Then I remembered this from the I-Ching: “Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.”

It turns the issue on the reality that I don’t control other people; only myself. How many times have I needed this lesson? I got home from the dog walk and read the whole passage. It offers clear instructions: “Even if only one inferior man is occupying a ruling position in a city, he is
able to oppress superior men. Even a single passion still lurking in the heart
has power to obscure reason. Passion and reason cannot exist side by side-
therefore fight without quarter is necessary if the good is to prevail.

“In a resolute struggle of the good against evil, there are, however, definite
rules that must not be disregarded, if it is to succeed. First, resolution must be
based on a union of strength and friendliness. Second, a compromise with
evil is not possible; evil must under all circumstances be openly discredited.
Nor must our own passions and shortcomings be glossed over. Third, the
struggle must not be carried on directly by force. If evil is branded, it thinks of
weapons, and if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose
in the end because thus we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion.
Therefore it is important to begin at home, to be on guard in our own persons
against the faults we have branded. In this way, finding no opponent, the
sharp edges of the weapons of evil becomes dulled. For the same reasons we
should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them,
they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make
energetic progress in the good.”

22 thoughts on “Good vs. Evil

  1. There is now a lot of disappointment existing in the country of the prompts. I also stopped complaining some time ago, as I was getting to the point where I might, would probably, be accused of being a misery so and so. What astonishes me is that although people complain, they complain to each other and not in the forum – although I do not know if that would be acknowledged – and so we continue, perhaps for our own benefit to be able to write. I am not sure if I-Ching would cure me of my dislike of certain people, I usually just ignore them.

    • I complained in the forums and got smarmy “These prompts are good for beginning writers” and some other patronizing drivel. Meh. I ignore people I don’t like, too, but this woman gets in my face and that makes it difficult.

  2. Wow. Screw her NewAgeyness. You’ve hit the correct solution with your own bit of old NewAgeyness. Nothing like using the I Ching to get a handle on a modern problem. My guess, as long distance arm chair quarterback, is that she is either deluded or massively insecure. This may will be protective coloration to hide her own lack of self-worth. I know the type, unfortunately, and my guess is that, in the arts (writing included), these people grate on others of the same artistic bent. The manager of the space may be intimidated by her and unlike you does not have the critical faculties to rebut the woman.

    I have two solutions with my brand of this woman. 1. I don’t go to workshops she is signed up for. 2. I am unremittingly polite to her when I meet her, but volunteer nothing. I simply refuse to engage. These are not helpful in your situation, but I hope they can give a hint for how you can work it in your world of visual art.

    • I think you are right — she is insecure (she’s admitted it — she was afraid to participate in the window mural project because she’d be painting in public) and at the same time she’s very narcissistic. I don’t engage with her. I just have to let go of my desire to exhibit my work in the co-op shop. I don’t want to fight this kind of fight now, as a retired person. I want something else in my life as an artist. The only way to have that is to HAVE that. It’s the kind of situation in which my mom used to say, “It’s OK, honey. Just pick up your own toys and come home.”

      • I think your Mom is right but it’s a shame. In my case, I can go to other workshops. Your’s just doesn’t have that option.

  3. My mom often encountered “artists” and general types like this in the Santa Fe cooperatives. I wonder if it’s par for the course in the beautiful Southwest. After all, beauty attracts all sorts of creatures, especially the New Age nutjobs. Anyway, thanks for sharing this!

  4. You could always try to out-woo her. Get as crazy as a loon and spout made-up new age crap and leave totems to evade evil everywhere around her artwork.

  5. A time when women pretty clearly had their defined roles which are not necessarily the roles we would choose to play today…That’s what I meant. And, the advice it gave for students and teachers was spot-on!!! It could be printed in a teacher’s manual!!!

  6. Words:
    It may be argued that a word so definitive and extreme could best be employed in a real evil context.
    Art works are hardly an arena for extremes.
    What language can be then used to describe mass slaughters, Guantanamo, detention without trial, torture etc.
    Evil is a word reserved for extremes of mans inhumanity to man.
    When PC , PR and spin are challenged by simple use of language addressed directly to evil … “You are an evil wo/man , When I think of all the deeds that you have done”.
    Creative art personalities clashing is a very mild storm in a tea cup and requires creative solutions …


    • Yes, but, this person seeks to win followers. There’s “more” to her than bad paintings; she’s attempting to ‘save’ souls. Not all evil has a world-arena on which to play.

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