[Bella’s intro: Mark Fallon is the distinguished co-author of a previous guest post here, the important and popular “State-Sponsored Bullshit.” He is back with another creative and thoughtful contribution. Fallon does not play an NCIS special agent on TV – that’s what he is for real. In this essay, he explains that “renditions of my art are sent to the Pentagon, and possibly to the FBI and CIA in Langley for review and possible censorship.” I am grateful to him for sharing his insights here.]

The Views Expressed are Those of the Artist

By Mark Fallon

I am an artist. A struggling artist may be more precise. I struggle with the state’s ability to intrude upon the arts, and the censorship that alters the manner in which the public can view art. In my case, that state is the United States, and the art I’m shouting about is mine.

My art is personal, an expression of my inner self. I draw from life experiences, with a palette blending passion with hues of self-reflection and introspection. It is meant to paint a picture, vivid at times, and it does not always conform with convention. A rendition of scenery from the mindfulness of the artist, as a form of expressionism, illuminating a portrait, casting light into the shadows, with an aperture and focus through the artist’s lens.

My art is who I am, who I’ve become. I am my art. My art is me. My eyes are the only eyes to ever gaze upon some of my works, yet others hang in my home on display, some tainted by the state, marked and scarred from their intrusion into my expressions, my thoughts, my freedom. While torturous at times, my art is, in its purest form, truth.

While the quality of art may be in the eye of the beholder, art is created with imagination and skill – that which is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. My brushstrokes intend to invoke emotion and probe consciences, expressing ideas and exposing feelings – truth. My artistry is compelled and intended to be compelling. Although sometimes, frankly, it’s bullshit; but even bullshit can be a form of expression and one to behold. I call “State-Sponsored Bullshit” on the government’s intrusion and censorship of my art.

To enlighten my art in its truest form, I have turned to the CIA.EDU to make sure I was expressing myself properly. I’m referring to the Cleveland Institute of Art, who in their Creativity Matters publication, from an institution of artistry, there is a glossary of art terms subtitled “walk the walk, talk the talk.” The CIA.EDU describes the psychological responses to aesthetics, the balance within hidden structure and relationships, and the dynamics of being part of a social or historical context. This beautiful publication about art is art, with hues of orange, black and blue, and references to illusory space, positive and negative space, interpretation and even pentagons. Creativity Matters explains that rendering is “to represent; depict; specifically, to make a drawing in perspective” and “to express in other words, ways; especially to translate.”

While the CIA.GOV in Langley, VA may translate things differently than the Cleveland CIA.EDU, judging art and artists is exactly what they are doing in the prepublication review process. My art is subjected to governmental intrusion. In my art, I strive to “walk the walk and talk the talk,” yet the renditions of my art are sent to the Pentagon, and possibly to the FBI and CIA in Langley for review and possible censorship, in an intrusion into my thoughts and freedom of expression.

I have painted this picture, drawing inspiration from Nobel laureate Albert Camus, a journalist, writer and playwright – an artist. In his essays on Resistance, Rebellion and Death, Camus wrote about totalitarian tyrants, with detail about unjustifiable means, crimes, alibies, truth and justice. These were the expressions of the world Camus had experienced. In his Nobel prize speech, Camus said: “another ambition that ought to belong to all writers: to bear witness and shout aloud, every time possible, insofar as our talent allows, for those who are enslaved as we are.” Camus cautioned that “censorship and oppression prove that the word is enough to make the tyrant tremble” and “whoever does violence to truth or to its expression eventually mutilates justice, even though he thinks he is serving it.”

I am a writer. You are viewing my most recent art. The truth is that the government had to approve this Op-Ed, with the caveat “The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.”

About the Author

Mark Fallon is a visiting scholar and co-founder of Project Aletheia at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and is on the Advisory Council of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Mark is a former Homeland Security Senior Executive and a career NCIS special agent, with 31 years of active national security service. A member of the Authors Guild, he is the author of Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon and US Government Conspired to Torture (ReganArts 2017) and is a contributor and co-editor of Interrogation and Torture: Integrating Efficacy with Law and Morality (Oxford University Press 2020). Mark is one of the plaintiffs represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute and ACLU in Edgar v. Haines, challenging the system of government censorship known as prepublication review.