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Getting It

In Art, Life in Society, Poetry on April 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm

To be content, I must create.

A work of art, of literature, of science;

Something unique, something my own.

And to be happy, truly happy,

My creation must be recognized,

Acclaimed, and enduring.

http://fugatur.wordpress.com/about/

Street Art in Oslo, Norway by Alice Pasquini

How sad, his wife replied,

That evoking a smile, teaching a lesson,

Watching a sunset, relieving a burden

Provide you with neither contentment

Nor happiness.

You don’t get it, he shouted.

Thank goodness, she sighed.

 

By Robert Deluty

[Motherhood: Journey Into Love, An Anthology of Poetry, edited by Edwina Peterson Cross, published by Mothers At Home, Inc. (c) 1997]

Is Feminism Still the “F-word?”

In Life in Society on March 17, 2012 at 1:46 am

 Answer: Yes, because we’re all still insecure about it.

Part One in a Series

By Bekah McNeel

I once heard feminism referred to as “the f-word.” A brilliant play on words really, because I thought, Yes, in some circles, calling a woman a feminist might have exactly the same impact as calling her some other vulgar name. In other circles, calling a woman a housewife would have the same effect. Women are pretty sensitive about which camp they are in.

Nothing seems to swallow a woman’s identity like where she stands on the feminism debate.

To illustrate this point, here’s a conversation from my book club a few months ago –the participants were a married middle-school teacher, and a married ministry professional – neither of whom have children:

Teacher: My house is never as clean as I’d like it to be.

Ministry Professional: Mine either. I just can’t keep up! I constantly feel guilty about it.

Teacher: Yeah. I blame the feminists.

Ministry Professional: Really? I blame the traditional housewives!

The two women stared at each other.

The Ministry Professional thought to herself, “How could feminists possibly be to blame for the guilt I have about my dirty house? Feminists are all about NOT feeling guilty for that stuff.”

The Teacher thought to herself, “Traditional housewives? They are all about taking their time to beautify their homes! If we were all like them, our houses wouldn’t be dirty, so we wouldn’t need to feel guilty!”

What keeps the topic so heated is the intangible sense that most women have that they are being judged. By society, by men, and especially by other women. They can feel the seething condemnation like laser beams, whether it’s aimed at their performance as a wife, a mother, or a worker.

This is not just my own observation. I had already started writing this essay when I heard an interview with the stage actors for the show “God of Carnage” [which has been adapted for the silver screen under the shortened title “Carnage”]. The play takes place in the apartment of a couple seeking to have civilized conversation with the parents of the boy who struck their own boy with a stick during free-playtime at school. Two sets of educated, wealthy, urban adults, seeking a calm resolution. It devolves from there into total chaos, as the couples duke it out over whose parenting style and personal issues are to blame for the rift between the children (obviously many factors come into play).

The interviewer asked the actress who plays one of the mothers why she thought the play was able to escalate so convincingly, over something so trivial as a playground brawl. The actress answered, “I feel like everyone I know who’s a mother has to defend the way [she] raises her child and I think a lot of women judge each other.”

(http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/01/31/god-carnage-huntington, accessed Feb 2, 2012)

Did you catch that? It’s not that women just feel judged. It’s that they are judged. The performance culture, in which parenting, domesticity, and productivity are all presented to the world for evaluation, did not create itself. We created it. We the men and women of the Divided States. With insecurity and judgment for all.

Women who feel judged often respond defensively. In an effort to justify our own choices, we belittle those options we forwent and fully espouse those we did.  I noticed this tendency even in college students; to align one’s whole self with the choices one makes. So the conversation is NOT:

Emily: I like chocolate! I don’t care for vanilla.

Jessica: That’s cool; I like vanilla better than chocolate.

Emily: Great! Here’s the vanilla ice cream. I’ll take the chocolate.

Instead it is more like:

Emily: I’m a chocolate-lover. Whomever does not like chocolate stands in moral opposition to me.

Jessica: Well I am a vanilla-lover. I stand in opposition to your identity as a chocolate-lover.

Emily: Well, then. We will never be friends.

Now, motherhood, professionalism, and marriage are not as trivial as ice cream, obviously. But we still stake our whole identity on every choice we make. We put forth that we chose the RIGHT choice. Not because we wanted to, but because there is some cosmic court in session to determine the moral imperative of the feminine gender and we are all pleading our case.

Stuart Hall lists feminism as one of the five major “de-centerings” of the 20th century. It radically shook up the social order. It took the realm of “private” matters and made them “public.” When our private lives are broadcast, when our assumptions are publically challenged, we feel the need to defend ourselves. We feel that we are on stage, and we must give a good performance. It’s been this way since the beginning.

First-wave feminism started as a plea for agency and citizenship. Women wanted to vote, hold property, work, etc. They wanted to be citizens.  The feminist cause was also a moral one. Early feminists wanted protection from the STD’s their husbands were bringing home from brothels (their solution was to promote chastity and monogamy). They wanted to be able to live and move in society before they were married. These women were judged. And they judged back in ways that often landed them in jail. The private lives of women like Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) were under the kind of scrutiny that would have stripped Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin of their public position. Women like Emmeline Prankhurst (1858-1928) of England advocated a militant approach to protest, and she found herself a frequent occupant of the British prison system. These were not always friendly women.

Over time, as the United States government became more friend than foe, feminism took on corporations. They used their status as equal citizens to carry the cause into the workplace.  Since industrialization women have been in the workplace. Jobs that were once necessary at home were now taking place in factories. So the woman who worked at home became the woman who worked in the factory. Thanks to industrialization and World War II efforts, working women were nothing new by the 1960s, but soon women wanted equal pay, and that was new. They protested, went on strikes, and litigated. They spoke harshly and were harshly spoken to.

Slowly but surely they challenged institution after institution, until they reached the intangibles, like marriage, gender roles, and reproductive rights. Just like the classic slogan, “The private is public” or “The personal is political” soon the moral became the legal. Second-wave feminism was born when women discovered that formal equality was crippled by the cultural inequality experienced by most women during the so-called “decade of the housewife,” the 1950s. The cause of feminism now challenged not only legal and civil rights, but also the choices of women and the influences upon them.

Second-wave feminism is where most of us get our impression of “the f-word.” We think of man-haters, femi-nazis, and the like. Women fought sterotypes by flaunting their sexuality and rejecting anything “inflicted” by society. They glorified the natural female and refused to let bras, razors, or makeup interfere. This is what Christina Hoff Sommers calls “gender feminism.” Before, the prevailing ideal had been “equality feminism,” the desire that women should be given the same opportunities as men (Sommers, 1992). Second-wave feminism was deliberately provocative, and invited those who would judge them not so much to a dialogue but to a debate.

Throughout all of this, women had found their alliances powerful but volatile. Unity around a common cause could quickly be dissolved by disapproval over religious, political, or private differences. Feminism was happening by degrees. It was not until the 1980’s that the most appealing and all-inclusive movement emerged: post-feminism. [There’s also talk of a third-wave of feminism centering around the LGBT movement, but that is outside the scope of this essay.]

Post-feminism encourages women to pursue “having it all.” Women realized that in order to “have it all” (the power, the love, the happiness, the equality) they really had to be not just a woman, but a superwoman. They had to “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man. (1980 ad for Enjoli perfume).” This post-feminist mentality – that for a woman to have it all, she’s got to do it all – pervades playgroups, magazines, television, and corporate daycares across the nation. This is where we meet the anxiety-ridden mother whose child is not speaking…at 10 months. Or the guilty professional who says things like, “I’d lose my sense of self if I didn’t work…but I feel like a terrible mom.”

Feminism is still the f-word, because it’s a threat to others’ approval of our performance. How can I have it all, do it all, and enjoy it all, if people don’t approve of my performance? Because approval, honor, and admiration are part of that “all” that I’m trying to “have!”

Many of our African and Middle Eastern sisters are still fighting battles long disappeared into our history. Their journey is just beginning. I hope that a society emerges that can find true solidarity in the many paths available to free women. I hope that one day the stay-at-home mom and the CEO can sit down for coffee without trying to one-up each other on whose life is harder or more fulfilling. Or that the homemaker and the professor can watch their kids play together on a Saturday afternoon without fear that their child will reflect badly on their lifestyle. I hope we can vanquish this great repressor of women, the Performance Culture, and support each other in our diverse and unique callings.

I think that the conversation at our book club reflected part of the resolution to this dilemma. Here’s how it ended:

Teacher: I feel like feminism tells me that I have to work in order to be valuable. So I work, and then I’m too busy and tired to clean. I feel like I would be judged if I stayed home and cleaned like I want to!

Ministry Professional: Well, I feel like traditional housewifery tells me that my value comes from the spotlessness of my house. I like working and have no desire to stop, but then I feel guilty when I’m too tired to scrub the white grout or sweep up for the 9th time in an evening. I feel judged by every speck of dust!

The two friends laughed and reflected on their opposing anxieties, and in the process they remembered that they were just that: friends. In each other, they had an ally who viewed the world differently. That point of view was valuable and challenging, but it didn’t have to be condemning. A common enemy – The Performance Culture – had snared them both, in different ways. They realized that in their differences they had the power to set each other free.

Leaving the Comfort Zone

In Life in Society on January 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm
Wadi Rum @ Sunrise

Photo by Roger Brown
Wadi Rum at Sunrise
Petra, Jordan

By Bekah McNeel

I just wanted to stay in my hot pink world for one more minute. The garish, saggy mosquito net suspended over my bed created a delicate membrane protecting me from the unfamiliar world on the other side.

It was late in the morning, and I was probably the last in the guesthouse to rise. No one was disapproving, as I had only recently arrived and was still horrifically jet-lagged. Plus, we’d been awakened that night by a scurrying, scratching, unmistakably vermin attempt to break into our suitcases, which were strewn across the floor. As there was no electricity in the guesthouse after 10pm, we had not been able to switch on a light so we’d been hunting by sound, jumping from bed to bed with only a plastic wiffle bat to brain our foes, should we magically find them in the blackness.

By morning, with the equatorial sunlight careening through the makeshift curtains, I could see the world more clearly–except that it was tinted hot pink, thanks to the uniquely festive mosquito net draped over my bed. All my roommates were awake too–I could hear them through the “wall” that my bed shared with the dining room. The happy clatter of mix-matched flatware. The muffled discussion between mouthfuls of typical Ugandan missionary breakfast: peanut butter on toast and PG Tips. (I did not yet know how fond I would become of PG Tips.)

The world was hot pink, and I was out of sorts. I’d been in Uganda for four days and managed to commit every Africa-virgin faux pas. My luggage had been delayed in arriving, so I’d been squeezing into borrowed clothes two sizes too small. When it finally did arrive, that bag had been nothing but trouble. The vermin from the previous night had been after the granola stashed in my suitcases. The missionaries were not a particularly chastising group, but I did get some long looks for that one. Also, as I mentioned, I was still jet-lagged. All that, and I was a spare wheel on someone else’s adventure. My friend’s parents were setting up a computer lab at a private school on the same property as the guesthouse. I was, in essence, there to watch the process. So all of this discomfort felt rather in vain.

That’s how my hot pink world became my only comfort zone for tens of thousands of miles in any direction.

I was mustering up the will to face a room of smiling strangers, native Ugandans, and slightly annoyed roommates. I was steeling my nerves for another day of feeling completely superfluous, obtuse, and burdensome. Right as I was breaking the magical barrier of my mosquito net, a booming Dutch voice drowned out the clamor of knives and plates. “Dr. K” was going to lead morning devotionals.

Dr. Henry Krabbendam is about 6’5”, white-haired, and completely immune to social inhibition. I was terrified of him. He was the patron saint of both guesthouse and school. Every morning he led a devotional for the assembled staff and guests. The last thing I wanted to do was walk in late to the devotional, opening myself to all sorts of notice and embarrassment, so I listened through the walls. I don’t remember much of what he said, but one line changed my life, or at least my morning:

 

To have a comfort zone is idolatrous.

 

I don’t remember how he explained it then, but over time his point has made a home in my heart. A “comfort zone,” consists of the people, places, habits, conversations, and culture we look to for assurance that we are all right, that life is good and safe. We look to those things instead of looking to Jesus. When we’re in our comfort zone, we’re happy and secure not because we have Jesus, but because we have an alarm system, a like-minded friend, or a savings account. We have a reservoir of strengths so that we don’t have to do the uncomfortable business of trusting Jesus.

That morning, I was looking to the privacy of life inside the mosquito net to give me a sense of comfort and rest. Outside the net I was frequently misunderstood and misunderstanding. Inside, I could think through things until I had reassured myself that I was noble and good and gracious. Outside people bothered me and asked me for money. Inside I only had to answer to myself. But wasn’t that why I’d come to Africa, to “get out of my comfort zone?”

According to Dr. K, there should be no question of getting “outside my comfort zone.” Either it is the whole world, or it is nothing. Comfort does not come from a “zone” it comes from a King.  Either Jesus is enough, or he’s not. If Jesus is enough, then I have to see the world his way…and his way is not the hot pink tint of looking out from my comfort zone. His way is clear and immediate. If certain people annoy me, it’s because I’m missing their divine stamp. If fear keeps me from going to places of need, then I fear the wrong thing.

Another wise man wrote, “I always believe that being obedient puts me in the safest place I could ever be.” And isn’t it the spirit of Moses’ plea in Exodus 33, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

I am never any safer or in any more danger in one place than I am anywhere else, if I truly believe that it is Jesus, not crime statistics and good investments, that keep me safe.

No one is advocating needless stupidity or recklessness. They are advocating a radical perspective on safety that allows us to follow God with confidence, no matter what the neighbors look like. It’s giving to the poor before you put the maximum allowance in your Roth IRA. It’s opening your home to the person who drives you nuts…on Christmas.  It’s doing these things with joy.

That joy is crucial. The Christian life is not some dreary slog through the mud, nor is it trying to pick the rose with the most thorns.  In the modern church, we tend to see “mission,” “calling,” and “generosity” as endeavors that are virtuous on the basis of how much they hurt. Like if you love Jesus you will become a missionary, but if you really love Jesus you will become a missionary to a remote village with no running water and a leprosy outbreak. And if you catch the leprosy, well, now the whole world knows you love Jesus. Cheer up, this should be the best day of your (swiftly shortening) life.

One problem with the above mindset (among many) is that if we evaluate our work based on how miserable we are doing it, then we’re not going to have longevity or depth in our mission. Yes, mission, calling, and generosity all carry the inevitability of suffering in some way, but that’s not what makes them virtuous. The result of that kind of thinking: very few people reaching out to the barrio, and lots of once-per-year clean-up projects ending in celebratory dinners back on the good side of town. Lots of burn-out, lots of avoidance. Because at the end of the day, if it’s misery with lots of Jesus or comfort with a little less Jesus, eh, I’ll take the half-portion, thanks. Like a long, grueling hike, the excitement gets you through the first 1/100th of the task, then you are left with trying to ease your misery until you can figure out how to get out of the adventure altogether.

Discomfort, even to the point of suffering, is not the thing we avoid, or the thing we seek. Neither is comfort. Comfort and discomfort ebb and flow wherever we go in a world that is both broken and Jesus’. And the Christian who has no comfort zone is comfortable with that. That Christian has, like the apostle Paul says, “learned to be content in any circumstance.”

Rather than trying to muster up our strength to go suffer for Jesus, and leave all the things that delight us; what if Jesus delighted us, and nothing hindered us from pursuing his call? What if we believed he was protecting us… and our children? What if our greatest joy was being a part of his work? Then he wouldn’t have to compete with Starbucks and alarm systems for a place on our “must have” list. We would be free to go everywhere, even if there was no internet, Home Owners Association or national infrastructure! We would be free to take on the wild, radical adventure of living like we were made to live.

Living without a comfort zone would make us bold. It would make us brave and generous. We would be the kind of people who “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and fear no evil. We would give cheerfully. We would count it joy when we suffered for Jesus’ sake. We would care for widows and orphans. We would do those things in real and practical ways instead of just doing whatever we want and then trying to redefine it so that it fits Jesus’ commands.

As for me, it got me out of bed that morning.

Photo by Doug Stutler
Monarch Cliff Dwelling
Utah

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.  – Brian Tracy

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2.3,4

The Art of Aging

In Humor, Life in Society on January 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm
Binka and Betty, Hong Kong-RB

Photo by Roger Brown
Binka and Betty
Hong Kong, China

By Heila Rogers

In the 1920s, Tokyo high school student Hideichi Oshiro read a haiku poem he never forgot … it described coming across the subtle beauty of a wildflower during a walk in the mountains.

“I wanted to make this kind of haiku in my life,” he said at age 100.

“Nothing else, just one haiku.”

(Nichi Bei, 12/22/11)

I would like to suggest, how about make one haiku OF our life?

Catch Sun

Photo by Roger Brown
Catch Sun
China

How about the art of living involves humor.

People are dying (!) to know the secret to longevity. Scientists poke and prod centenarians and test their blood, analyze their daily habits, and report on their diet and exercise habits. Conclusions vary. Some drink, some don’t. Some eat meat, some don’t.

I have a file with articles interviewing older people. Usually when they reach a milestone birthday like 90 or 100, they get their picture in the paper. Something I love about them and always notice is their humor.

One 90-something lady was asked if she’d lived her whole life in the town where she was born and raised, and still lived. She answered, “Well yes … so far!”

Robin Le Breton, People's Park - Chengdu-RB

Photo by Roger Brown
Robin Le Breton
People’s Park, Chengdu, China

Jeanne Calment of France released a CD at the age of 121 which included a rap song. That’s not a typo. Her age was 121 years old. No, she didn’t in fact take herself too seriously.

Hear it here.

Read the centenarians’ quotes below and look for the embedded humor. It’s not the cracking jokes kind of humor, it’s more of a deep, abiding perspective on life, that looks for and is aware of “the funny.” An outlook that appreciates human foibles and is interested in laughing.

Christian Mortensen, originally of Denmark:

On his 115th birthday Mr. Mortensen said, ”Friends, a good cigar, drinking lots of good water, no alcohol, staying positive and lots of singing will keep you alive for a long time.”   (NYT)

Tell me there’s not humor in there – “lots of singing” is not a medical prescription.

Maria Gomes Valentim of Brazil:

“She says she has lived long because she has always taken care of her own life – and not the life of others,” granddaughter Jane Ribeiro Moraes, 63, told a local newspaper.   (The Huffington Post)

You know she has some stories though!

Besse Cooper of Georgia, United States:

Sidney Cooper said his mother was told she is the oldest person in the world …

[S]he said,“I am? I should get a box of chocolates – assorted.”   (Walton Tribune)

What a funny answer!

Ann Nixon Cooper of Georgia:

Until the age of 103 the lively centenarian still danced the electric slide.

Enough said.

Bucky Williams of the U.S. – former member of the Negro Baseball League:

It was an era before Jackie Robinson, when the color line prevented these players – some of the best players in the world – from playing in the National and American leagues. The black players couldn’t play on the same fields, use the same water fountains or eat in the same restaurants. Bucky used to tell the story of the time he and a fellow player were approached by female fans but didn’t speak to the women for fear of being lynched. But Bucky remembers the good times too. “You didn’t make any money. Some of us might have made $10 or $15. But we had what you call fun.”

(www.100yearsproject.org)

We had what you call fun. I wish that quote could be stenciled onto every sports arena and stadium in the country.

I honestly don’t know if scientists have studied this about humor and longevity, but it’s verifiable.

Laughter is good medicine.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17.22

Young Monks @ Play

Photo by Roger Brown
Young Monk’s at Play
China

A quote from Ushi Okushima, a daughter of one of the semi-famous centenarians on Okinawa (not a baby herself, she’s 74):

She says her 100-year-old mother still treats her the way she did nearly seven decades ago.

“She criticizes my hairstyle,” she sighs. “She still talks to me like I’m a small kid.”   (globalaging.org)

Look for it! It’s there in every interview.

Finally, Run Run Shaw, who ran a large entertainment business addresses the joy of making people laugh:

‘In my business, its all a guessing game. You’ve got to go along with it, watch audience reactions and then guess. I like sitting among the audience, especially in Hong Kong where people make comments continuously. Entertainment is a kind of service to the people. In Hong Kong, people work all the time and have nowhere to go. So keeping them amused and entertained is a challenge.’
    (www.shaw.sg)

Again, to be clear, this humor is not sarcasm, it’s not laughter at others’ expense, it’s not crude. Instead it’s joy and gladness. It’s love really. An acknowledgment of beauty and wonder — and pinpointing that in everyday activities.

See it in their eyes.

Photo by Heila Rogers
Eggs by Daniel Rogers

Addition 8/1/12: 100 year-old Idaho woman on Jay Leno show

Performance Art & Flash Mobs

In Art, Life in Society, Music on December 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm

The Hallelujah Chorus in the Food Court one.  The “Doe, a Deer” one, dancing in the train station.  What is it about these flash mobs that moves us?

I think part of it is a breaking through of the disconnect that we experience in large public spaces, or maybe in life.

Also, it’s a gift.  From the participants to the watchers.  A raw, pure form of art in that way.  Free, meant to give pleasure.  The participants (artists) practice and refine their creation.

The other thing that I can figure out , is that it invites involvement.  Formal boundaries between “artist” and “audience” are blurred if not obliterated.  There’s an implicit invitation to participate.

The watchers are a part of it.

People are free to smile, videotape, cover their mouths in shock, or dance.

Some people run away, too, I think.  Or are confused and leave.

What do you think?

What about the sneaky, surprise element?

The second one of these was a kind of publicity stunt.

Food Court Hallelujah Chorus

Train Station Do Re Mi

Plus there’s the element of the unexpected — both location and activity.

Or are these “smart mobs?”  Which are “mobs” and which are performance art?

What about the disruption of business or normal public activity?

Evidently Germany has outlawed them.

~ HR

By Spike Dolomite

Jazz & The Art of Medicine

In Life in Society, Music, Nature on November 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Check out this excellent article in The Annals of Family Medicine, written by a doctor about how the symbiosis of the doctor-patient relationship can mirror the way jazz musicians create by listening to each other and then improvising.

~ HR

Photo by Doug Stutler

Crop Circles

In Art, Life in Society, Nature on November 12, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Unsigned, gigantic, corporate, public art interacting with nature.

Attributed to the mystical or the alien.

The nature of human beings wanting to worship … something, anything.

Described as phenomenon.

People sit in them and expect to receive healing.

Unquestionably fascinating and beautiful.

Creators hide their identity.

Clip from National Geographic report about crop circles.

~ HR

“Artistic Crime”

In Art, Life in Society on November 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm

In 1974 after the recent completion of the World Trade Center, Philippe Petit after months of planning and spying with accomplices, snuck in and wire-walked between the top of the towers.

Is this art?

He was arrested immediately afterwards.

One of the officers, Sgt. Charles Daniels remembers,

“I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’—because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’—approximately halfway between the two towers. And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire….And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle….He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again….Unbelievable really….Everybody was spellbound in the watching of it.”    (Wikipedia)

Was his disregard for and insult of the policemen justified?

“As a child I loved to climb everywhere.  I’ll let the psychiatrist decide why.  Maybe I wanted to escape my time.  Maybe I wanted to see the world from a different perspective and I was an explorer at heart.  Who knows and who cares, but I was a little climber.  And nobody, not my parents, not my teachers, nobody could stop me.” (Man on Wire)

Annie Allix his girlfriend at the time –
“There was always and still is, this ‘bad boy’ side to Philippe’s character.  He had a very strict upbringing and he would never have strayed too far down that illegal road but he got great pleasure from taking certain ‘liberties.’  He’s so excessive, so creative, so each day is like a work of art for him.  What excited him most about this adventure, aside from being a beautiful show, was that it was like a bank robbery and that pleased him enormously.  (Man on Wire)

On the rope, he told [an interviewer], he lives intensely. He doesn’t think of anything, he just lives.  (Murphy Williams, The Telegraph)

He calls himself a “poet in the sky.”

But what about the selfishness of his actions?  What about the fact that he essentially holds people hostage with the threat of his death?  Or is there really much risk, since he is so practiced and focused?  How does this differ from a ‘regular’ suicide attempt or threat?  If the definition of art is pushing boundaries, where does respect for others come in?

Traffic was stopped up and probably dangerous situations were created during the performance of his stunts.  What do you think about the fact that all charges against him were later dropped and he was basically given the keys to the city of New York?  And deemed a high-wire artist?

What about the question, “Is all art performance art?”

Philippe says,“[What really attracts me; [is] the challenge part of doing something that’s supposed to be impossible, and in the meantime doing something that’s so beautiful that not only doesn’t hurt anybody, but gives something to somebody.”  (Man on Wire)

~ HR

What is News?

In Life in Society on October 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm

… it’s none of my concern whether newspapers make money or not, nor should it matter to anyone who reads them. Making money is their problem. As a reader, I’m only concerned with getting solid news and reporting, and I think I know what that is when I read it.

This is another thing that is backward today: news comes at us relentlessly, one cannot avoid it, yet we’re rarely engaged or involved in stories, beyond lurid interest or ennui, because they’re rarely told (or ignored) with the general public or—gasp—the greater good in mind.

…good readers will seek out good content. As a lifelong newspaper reader, I’ll attest to this.

therumpus.net

The Art of Conversation

In Life in Society on May 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Photo by Kent Bartlett

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”  William Shakespeare

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”  Mother Theresa