Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

If you have a normal brain, you take reality for granted. It stays relatively fixed, and your brain stays relatively transparent. You think with it but not about it. Life goes on.

But if you have a brain in which the chemicals wreak havoc, this is another story. Voices inside your head can be as real—or more real—than those of the people around you. Reality can change from day to day. One day the world is painted with the darkest colors of gloom, self-deprecation and utter joylessness. The next day you are invincible, capable of anything. You drag your body around as dead weight, and your thoughts race so fast you can’t keep up with them or make any sense of them. One moment you are virtually immobile, and the next you are on an irrational manic spree.

This is what the life of Robin Williams was, probably from early adulthood, if not before. And this is what the life of many mentally ill individuals is like. And there are many tragic endings in a culture where mental illness elicits shame, treatment is expensive and not always accessible and medications can be unreliable.

Robin Williams made a difficult choice, and no one will ever know the mental and emotional circumstances surrounding that choice. But the unbearable pain is gone pain which not even fame, wealth and public acclaim could erase.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Children of God

Have you ever thought about what it means to be a child of God? Of course, a great deal depends on how you think of God. Is God a loving father, a stern father? Does God expect us to never bring shame on the family name? Will God let us crawl up on his  lap? Are we ever the child of the mother God.

My perception is that God (at least the God of institutional religion) expects us to be well-behaved, obedient and compliant children. In other words, we must always be children. We can never become adults of God, sent out to think for ourselves, take responsibility for our lives and our minds, making our own ways in the world.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Holy Church of Art: Sermonette #1

My brothers and sisters in art,

The Great Goddess of Art selects her artists at the moment of conception and decides a future passion for each. Some get nature, some get geometry, some get voluminous flesh, some get death, some get the wrongs of the world, some get the color orange. In this way the whole world is meted out to art to be caressed, scrutinized, glorified, re-imagined and dissected.

But such great gifts come with great responsibilities. The Goddess demands that we strive and suffer in her name. Brothers and sisters, we must not get stuck on weathered barns and geraniums. We  must resist the temptations of gazebos floating in a pastel mist. The Goddess does not desire that we crucify our work on the walls of motels and fast food restaurants or even mansions.

It must be genuine so the truth may set it free. It must be generous so it does not beg shamelessly for attention.

So, my brothers and sisters, let art come among. Let its presence be known to you. Destroy the false idols above your couch. Only in this way can you be saved.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

When is it art?

If the artist tells you it's art, it's not art.
If the work tells you it's art, it's art.

If it looks like everything else, it's not art.
If it asserts its own authority, it's art.

If it looks like it's been made, it's not art.
If it looks like it couldn't be any other way, it's art.

If it begs for your attention, it's not art.
If it promises real rewards, it's art.

If it expects you to look, it's not art.
If it challenges you to look, it's art.

If it leaves you when you leave it, it's not art.
If it just won't go away, it's art.