Thursday, December 31, 2015

Eternity

The wise know
Eternity is always at hand.
As here as a kiss or a bowl of cereal
Or a warm bath.

But the eyes must have courage
To see
What the heart will always
Demand of them.

Then once the smallest bit of eternity
Is glimpsed,
You see that God
In yourself.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A big question

Have you ever asked yourself a big question? I mean a really big question.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bill and Mary

Dear Bill,
It’s not that I’m turned off by body hair. It’s just where yours just happens to be.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
I can’t help it. Your mother’s meatloaf does taste like a combination of Spam and plaster.
Love,
Bill

Dear Bill,
Sometimes I think that you like Bud Lite more than me.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
Please. It’s been more than two weeks. Please?
Love,
Bill








Monday, December 28, 2015

Introducing Bill and Mary

Dear Bill,
I like your mother mostly, but she uses “fuck” an awful lot.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
I say “No!” to cosmetic surgery. A handful is enough for me. Save the money to pay off your student loans.
Love,
Bill

Dear Bill,
Did we have sex last night? I can’t remember.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
Who hates me most? Your mother or your father?
Love,
Bill

Dear Bill,
Your mother called today to remind you to bring the urine sample. She said to make sure the cap is on tight this time.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
I think those 3 credits in Ritual Tribal Dancing should transfer. If you can’t find the course description, couldn’t you just do a few steps for the Dean?
Love,
Bill




Sunday, December 27, 2015

Our voices

As artists, we find our voices to find ourselves.

We craft our voices to reach our to others.

We struggle with our own doubts to strengthen our voices.

We protect the integrity of our voices to see that they endure.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Information...

We are adrift in a sea of information, full of contradiction and confusion. So we work to find knowledge in it.

But knowledge is not enough. It comes in chunks. So we seek wisdom to give us the big picture, to see the whole.

We are satisfied for a while. Then we realize that the truth is we don't really know anything.

This is the final contradiction, knowing everything and knowing nothing.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas spirit

Checklist
to make sure I've gotten into the Christmas spirit

--put myself on my Christmas list as a reward for just being me

--eat, eat, eat, drink drink, drink

--try not to miss any Christmas parties

--make sure to see the zombie nativity scene

--try not to nod off during the Nutcracker

--spike the eggnog

--dress in Santa wear for my facebook picture

--buy a special gift for my pet

--did I forget anything

My wish for a season of meaning for all who take time to blog with me.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Life

Life is the thing. Not my life or your life but life. Recognizing this is is what launches love into the world. Failing to recognize this opens us to the worst in our selves.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Art?

Human beings have been making art for millenia upon millenia. It comes in almost unlimited shapes and forms and media. It speaks to everything we do and think and dream. It represents the person and the culture in its present and its future existence.

But in all of its diversity and functions, what makes all of it art? What is the common element? Is it in its substance, its mystery, its transformative power, its function as a mirror, its role in culture? Is it like John Paul Stephens' description of pornography: I can't define it but I know it when I see it.

Is it simply a language beyond words?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Assault weapons

After the killings in San Bernardino, members of Congress were quick to question and blame government officials because of the failure of background checks and security procedures.

But the truth is that all the Internet exchanges and social media posts in world could not produce that horrible event with access to assault weapons.

That is the making of Congress and the responsibility of Congress in this gruesome mess.

Monday, December 21, 2015

New product...just in time for Christmas

We all know a young person whose fashion statement comes in the form of jeans hovering below the butt.  This leaves a lot of unused space.

So just i time for Christmas  giving, we introduce buttbag jeans. Sewn sturdily into the space below the butt cheeks is a butt pack designed to hold food, beverages and school supplies. It's comfortable, durable and waterproof. Buttbag jeans are affordably priced and come in all popular styles and sizes.

These jeans are safe too. After all, who's going to grab at your crotch to rob you?

For more information or to order, go to our website: buttbagjeans.com

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Art waiting

In a short essay titled, "On Criteria" Walter Darby Bannard talks about "art waiting to be art." Once art has been made it has to prove itself worthy. To my mind, most of the works of art from the mid-20th century on are waiting to be art.

They have been supported by theory, survived the politics of art, found their way into museums and had their monetary value affirmed by collectors and art auctions. In the long run, none of this necessarily matters. When they have made themselves meaningful for generation after generation, then they will have earned the name "art."

Heroes

The next time the media throws Justin Bieber at you, think of the man who lost his life saving his colleague in San Bernadino. Next time the media replays an NFL touchdown dance, think of the 15-year-old football player who died protecting two young girls. The next time the  media pokes you in the eyes with Kim Kardashian, remind yourself of "Mama," who for decades worked to heal her neighborhood.

For the media, all the time in the world is available to celebrities. Heroes, if they're get a minute or two, are lucky.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Watch a child

Watch a child. You are watching yourself. The self being formed. The self before memory. The self before culture. The self before the tyranny of naming. The self you will become again.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Being you

A flood of messages comes at us each day powered by corporate advertising. Consume piles of external things to make yourself better dressed, better looking, prepared for every occasion, always ready to give yourself the things you deserve just because you are you.

Celebrities are celebrated because they are celebrities so they can be hired to sell you the things that will make you feel like a celebrity. The beautiful you. The striking you. The you that will turn heads when you enter the room. The you everyone else wants to be.

In our culture all of this drowns out the enduring messages of the inner you. The you that is not driven by desire. The you that wants to give not take. The you that needs no adornment.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stats

We are driven to measure everything so that we feel we understand. But the answer to our problems is  not in statistics. The answer is in the person.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Taking on the world

The world will come flying at you, and you have no control over it. Still, you can have an impact on it. But you must develop a philosophy, a vision, a framework, a mythology that is supple, humanistic, spirit-filled and based in a mature understanding of love. If you do this, the world will open up to you as glorious, absurd, radiant and eminently worth living in.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Scenes I'd like to see in TV land


--MTV music video producer:
How about this? The pop star is singing at the piano, which is sitting in the middle of a raft full of Syrian refugees. As they approach shore they see a fire. When they hit the shore it turns out to be a group of young beautiful blondes in bikinis roasting marshmallows.
The refugees carry the piano ashore and begin to dance, explaining that in fact they are survivors from a capsized cruise boat off the California coast.
The singer finishes his song and begins to roast marshmallows for everyone while they continue their frenzied dance.

--Assistant producer:
I love it.


--Police detective Dave is talking to his partner, Jane:
I don’t know why they gave me such an ugly partner. You’re overweight, you have small tits and mousey brown hair. But what the hell, let’s have sex anyway.


--Head writer on a crime show:
OK, we need a change. This episode we kill off the blondes and the hunks and save all the men with potbellies, bald heads and bad fitting suits.


--Prophetess to Lovely Maiden:
He’ll ride in on a white horse. He’ll have big muscles, greasy hair, a large bloody sword, a few big scars on his face and a loin cloth made of yak hair. In an instant, you’ll know he’s the one for you.

Lovely Maiden:
Sigh.



Monday, December 14, 2015

Art

I like art best when it's generous, smart, honest and hits me in the gut.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Boundaries

Artists of the past had to produce work of substance and meaning within boundaries of style and cultural expectations. Now artists have to produce work of substance and meaning without boundaries of style and cultural expectations.

I'm not sure which is harder.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A new plan to pay college athletes

A new means of paying college football players has been proposed. To shirt legal and NCAA rules, some have suggested that players could be paid through monies raised through crowd sourcing of fans. The fact that this would be the wrong to be righted says something disturbing about American values.

Colleges and universities squirm under the shady ethics that money brings. School presidents routinely pay themselves fractions of what they pay the football coach. Presidents jump when bigwigs want a coach fired.

Sports facilities are built when other priorities are clear because that’s where the money is. One more time values skewed by money. Many serious, hardworking student scholars never get the perks and the life preservers thrown that football players do. And these scholars came to college to actually get a degree.

Obviously, I am against this latest and any plan to pay college athletes. I’ll share a story that I rarely tell. As a student at Tulane University, I majored in mathematics, minored in chemistry, studied three languages as well as art history. I was Phi Beta Kappa, won Woodrow Wilson and National Science Foundation Fellowships, got a scholarship to Harvard for summer study, was the top student in mathematics and won the Dean’s Medal for highest GPA in the College of Arts and Sciences. I went on to get graduate degrees and had a career of teaching of 45 years. In college I put in at least as many hours on my work as any athlete did on studies, practice and play.

There’s a small, engraved piece of metal on a small plaque with my name on it in some obscure office on the Tulane campus. That’s all okay with me. But it’s still hard to believe in the integrity of education when I pass the athletic trophy case.


We can find the football player on the way to the NFL, but we can’t find the scholar on the way to the Nobel Prize.

Donald Trump is a lesson

Donald Trump is a lesson:

A lesson in how to expose the ugly underbelly of American voters.

A lesson in how uninformed American voters can be.

A lesson in the poison of an ego out of control.

A lesson in how media trolling for attention can be manipulated.

A lesson in fear mongering.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ignorance

We're all ignorant at some point in our lives. That's forgivable. To choose to stay ignorant, that's
unforgivable.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

If you were God...

If you were God looking down on humanity as it is today, would you:

(a) send a half dozen asteroids in the direction of earth

(b) scratch your head and heave a big sigh

(c) stock up on virgins

(d) send another messiah

(e) pop some popcorn, call in the angels and saints, and just watch it all happen

(f) other

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Football

I’m not much of a football fan, but I watch it occasionally. Still when I do watch or think about football, thee are the things that come to mind for me—in no particular order.

If I was paid millions of dollars to manage 50 young people, was given a support staff and a handsome budget to recruit and given top notch facilities, I could produce a world class set of artists.

The president of the university is responsible for the entire university, the head football coach only for a program for a bunch of men. But the head coach makes multiples of salary of the president.

The 6 o’clock news gives a third of its time to sports. During football season, it’s sports chit-chat, interviews full of clich├ęs, and hype of high school quarterbacks.
Apparently scientists, social activists, artists, designers, etc. have nothing newsworthy to say on a regular basis.

Football is really entertainment. Scholarship money is showered on these players along with generous other perks. Is the same money available for academic stars?

College stadiums are full of fans who tailgate, consume alcohol, watch the game, consume alcohol. My guess behaviors are tolerated at these games that would never  be tolerated at parties on campus.

Many fans who attend games, purchase attire and paraphernalia, fill their homes with team stuff and affirm loyalty to a team, never even went to that school.

The NFL is the NRA of sports. It is given monopoly status, so pays unfairly low taxes. We now have 5 days/nights of football per week. Cities get scammed into building billion dollar stadiums at taxpayer expense, stadiums that get used infrequently during the year.

Football players get exorbitant salaries, gushing celebrity and the chance to make more money selling shoes, deodorant, underwear and more.

The disproportionate attention and admiration given to these players throws out of balance our culture’s sense of values.

Fans are supposed to root for the home team. We call these teams our own. But do the players live in our town, invest in our town and give back in our town?

To me, it’s not the game but the ripples of craziness that happen when it plops into our lives.

Coaches will talk about the character building aspects of football, like teamwork and discipline. But what about win at all costs, drugs, big egos, cheating.

The ability of the NFL and the NCAA to compromise their integrity when big money calls.

Compare the high school budgets and trophy cases (if they exist ) for the arts and for football.

Anyway, enough.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ISIS vs. NRA

The brutal murders perpetrated by radicalized Muslims resulted in the American response of fear, increased gun purchases and reactions against all Muslims by the likes of Donald Trump.

But look at the reality. These radicalized Muslims are a very small proportion of all Muslims. The number of Americans killed in these terrorist attacks is noticeably below the number of Americans killed in American streets and homes by lone gunmen and gangs and in suicide and murder-suicide attempts. The odds are probably higher that and American could get killed by another American than by a radical Muslim.

ISIS and perverted ideology brainwashed those radicalized. But to me, the NRA has to accept culpability in the gun deaths of Americans. It has a long history of brainwashing under the guise of Second Amendment rights and of bullying and buying U.S. Congressmen.

Should anyone have an assault rifle so a few can use them recreationally? Should access to guns be unfettered so a few can plan and execute mass shootings? Do we really want the citizenry armed to prevent a military takeover of the government? Are we safer knowing ordinary and untrained citizens will jump into a gun battle to save us? Are our children safer in classrooms with armed teachers.

If we try to solve these complex problems by knee-jerk fear, we will only fail.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Black lives matter

I'm not black, but I grew up in the South and I've been around the block a few times and I keep up on the world's injustices.

Yes, black lives matter.

But black education matters, and black families, black-on-black crime, black churches, black violence, black dignity, black churches and black roles models.


Every social problem in this country is everyone's problem, and every effective solution is everyone's solution.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

in joke

Art that is not much more than an in-joke is really tiresome.

desire, fear, duty

Joseph Campbell identifies three things that keep individuals from reaching their full potential: desire, fear and duty.

But these are three things that I think prevent America from reaching its full potential.

Desire: Capitalism exerts itself extensively to make us desire things we don't really want or need. It's Christmas. We're thinking of spending a lot and hoping to get a lot. We have to spend wildly to save the economy. We get crazed for bargains. We get caught up in the Christmas spectacle, not the Christmas message. We give stuff, not ourselves.

Fear: Another mass shooting, another spike in the sale of guns. Though the actual chance of being gunned down is low for each of us, we must be armed and ready, whether we are in a park, at work or in a bar. Fear keeps on the lookout everywhere. Fear makes any unknown into Satan. We cower, when we should educate ourselves about any perceived enemy. WE should demonstrate what courage really is.

Duty: Duty is complacency. It's the other's job. Duty is blind patriotism. Duty is rigidly towing the party line. Educate yourself. Think for yourself. Be an active problem solver.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

3 corrosive words

If I could get rid of 3 words in the English language today because they are so corrosive, I would pick
fuck, cute and boring.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Get out of the damn white box.

Though contemporary art openings may be glittering social affairs attracting many people, the next day and the day after that and the day after that, the galleries are virtually empty. It's almost as if these works of art are in prisons with few visitors or are too precious to leave their sanctums.

Design and marketing go where the people are. They go after the people to make their case. They don't assume, they appeal.

While the strategies and goals of contemporary art and contemporary art won't necessarily be the same, I don't see how contemporary art can simple get by on its cache. It must make a case for its practitioners as socially and culturally connected, as seeking a larger and more diverse audience and as being experts whose wisdom should be sought.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I have a question

President Obama, like many people I know, is mixed race, but is called "black." Does that mean that black is the impurity or that black is so powerful it dominates?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

7 billion people

7 billion people on earth right now, and this is how we live and behave. In the blink of fan eye, there will be 9 billion people on earth. What then?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Imagine a world where...

Imagine a world...

...where 13 year olds have no buying power

...where puberty comes at the same time the brain reaches maturity (25 years old)

...where people have the same passion for education as they do for football

...where the arts section of the newspaper is as big as the sports section

...where no one cares about Kim Kardashian's ass or Justin Bieber's masturbation videos.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A child

There is no greater improbability in the world than the birth of a child, and there is no greater possibility in the world than the birth of a child.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Plucking eternity

If your intellect is curious, honed and attentive, there will be a sudden awareness of oneness, unity in the world. You will have plucked a bit of eternity.

If your empathetic self is open and alert, you will realize that the suffering of one is the suffering of all. You will have plucked a bit of eternity.

If you are relentlessly creative, your sight will become deep insight. You will have plucked a bit of eternity.

If your brain is highjacked by its own chemistry, reality will give way to a world transfigured. You will have plucked a bit of eternity.

Eternity is not somewhere else. It's here. It only needs to be accessed.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Can I still be called human?

I skimmed off millions of taxpayers dollars, then kissed my constituents' babies.

I brainwashed a young girl over several years, then helped her blow herself and others up.

I molested several young boys, then heard confessions.

I beat my wife, then joined the guys at the bar for a few beers.

I ruined the financial lives of hundreds of people, then took a long vacation in Mallorca.

I drugged and raped a college coed, then went to my English class.

I killed a cop in cold blood, then shot up with heroin.

I molested my young daughter, then went to work and told a few jokes.

I took billions from the poor, then retired to a villa in Europe.

I recruited a child soldier and taught him to kill, then sat down for a cup of tea.

I made many millions for my company, paying poor foreign workers pennies a day, then sat down to a gourmet dinner with wine.

I beheaded a man, then smiled with satisfaction.

Can I still be called human?



Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Pilgrims

The Pilgrims suffered isolation, persecution, financial difficulties, dislocation, a brutal ocean voyage, hunger and deprivation, disease and death, terrible weather, inadequate shelter and Indian attacks, all driven by faith in God as they saw Him.

Daesh fighters live in dark caves, eat meagerly, blow themselves and others up, behead infidels, kill mercilessly, defy civilized conventions, all driven by faith in God as they see Him.

How can God enter the minds of men so differently? How can men hear the words of God so differently?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The trajectory of contemporary art

If we look at the past several decades of contemporary art attempting to find a trajectory of its future, it appears less of a clear path and more of an explosion sending fragments in all directions. What is the cultural purpose for all of these artists? What are their intentions? Who is the audience? How do the artists become known? Do we need them? Why are they so often out of our field of vision?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I don't even know if these are the right questions. I do know that popular entertainment artists are always given awards, even the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Creative artists are usually off the radar. There are always calls for more scientists, more mathematicians, more engineers, more accountants. Never are there calls for more artists. This is certainly one area where the trajectory needs to be changed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Children at play

Children play to discover themselves and the world and figure out  how to engage the realities around them. Their ability to experience healthy play mediated by healthy adults is key to their ability to become healthy adults acting on and in the world.

But too many children today are robbed of this opportunity. Play is replaced by physical and verbal abuse, by serving as child soldiers, by sheer poverty, by war and and religious fundamentalism, by long work hours, by brainwashing, by child marriage and more.

Even in affluent America, simple toys that allow children to imagine and create as individuals are replaced by plastic bling toys that are tied to movies, characters and Happy Meals. Toys become marketing ploys. Play plays second fiddle to competition.

To make sense of the adult world today, one has only to start at the beginning.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The local TV news

Somehow it has become a national convention that locals news should consist of news, weather and sports. There's time for chit chat, but no time for the arts. There's time for weather quizzes and
endless maps, but no time for the arts. There's time for pet stories, but no time for the  arts. There's time to interview a high school quarterback, but no time for the arts.

As a consequence, the public never expects artists to be more than entertainers--certainly never experts or serious commentators on culture.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I have a question

Does it seems strange that people of means help the poor, the sick and the disabled by dressing up in expensive clothes and jewelry, drinking quality alcohol and eating gourmet food at high-end venues?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Individual freedom

Complete individual freedom is impossible in a civilized society. Laws and morals create boundaries for individual freedom. Justice and compassion make those boundaries pliable and human. But laws and morals do not themselves guarantee justice and compassion, and justice and compassion cannot guarantee that laws and morals will bind us. Individuals must exercise their freedom so as to maintain balance between these pairs. The arts are the means by which this balance is affirmed.

Try this.

For one whole day, make a list of all the loving acts that you do.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Try this.

For one whole day, maintain a heightened level of alertness and awareness to the world around you. Expect nothing to be ordinary and everything to be new to your senses. Intend to find something fresh in each experience and to be childlike in your encounters. Expect possibility and magic.

Report back the results of this experiment.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I have a question

Is  justice anything more than an illusory ideal?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ISIS

In the 9th century the Arab Empire spanned much of the world including Spain. The Arabs loved astronomy, mathematics, science and the arts. They were tolerant of other religions. They translated the great Greek texts; and it was the Arabic translations of the texts that entered Europe through Spain and signaled the beginning of the Renaissance.

In the Middle Ages, Christianity waged brutal wars against the infidels, even enlisting children in the Crusades. Now moderate Christians generally represent the voice of their denominations, leaving the fundamentalist Christians in the minority.

In this time of the rise of radical Islam, with moderate Islam seeming almost voiceless, we see some of these historical patterns being played out again. A recent Frontline documentary on PBS showed chilling scenes of ISIS educating its children. As young as 3, children were watching 8 year olds demonstrate how to kill with guns and 13 year olds prepared to heed the call to be a suicide bomber at a moments's notice. It was children being used and brainwashed to carry out the demands of a vengeful God. It was horrifying.

But then I stepped back and thought this. Though it's certainly a different order of magnitude, our children and brainwashed from the earliest age to recognize brands, to be consumers, to want and desire with no thoughtful purpose. Desire becomes a tool of status. We learn to pay to advertise brand identity on our clothing. Having is the goal in life. We are brainwashed to carry out the demands of the god of money.

The cycle is broken if we begin with the children.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thought for the day

It's easy to be unique. It's hard to be original.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tears

Shed your tears for the victims of Paris. But save some for the dead in Beirut, the child soldiers in Africa, the murdered and starving children in South Sudan, the the victims of murder suicides, the elementary schoolers in Sandy Hook, the dead on the streets of American cities, the blown up in the skies above Egypt, the innocent victims of drone attacks, the drowned in the Mediterranean, the gunned down on college campuses, the victims of drug wars in small Mexican villages, indigenous peoples in the rain forests of Brazil...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ideals

We teach young people that they should get and education, get a good job, start saving, buy a car, buy a house. All important things.

But do we teach them that they should also have ideals? Ideals empower them to act in the world and act on the world. We should also teach them that ideals can be tested, assaulted and sometimes shattered. But in the end they will allow them to look back on a life of character.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ambivalent God

The three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all root themselves in the concept of a loving God. But God also smites and smotes, demands vengeance, and rewards murder with the gift of heaven. But then the God of love asks for reconciliation and brotherhood.

Is this contradiction in God or in us? To me, the only evidence we can ever have of God is in the behavior of human beings. In these times, heaven help us.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weft and warp

The weft and warp of a rug are like the rules, laws and customs of a society. They are there as structure and order, but we have control over how we weave the patterns of our lives through them. Soft, hard, rigid, aimless, drab, inventive, predictable, compelling. Sometimes the design is laid out at the start and mechanically worked to its end. Sometimes the design forms with the moment guided only by play and intuition. But what we weave we  must own.

I was thinking about art

I was thinking about two of my least favorite periods of art--the rococo and modern abstraction. It occurred to me that rococo threw everything in and modern abstraction threw everything out. Both were at root elitist movements which spoke little to the ordinary person but had pretentious ambitions. For me, extended looking led to boredom. They burned themselves out and left their practitioners little room to grow.

I wasn't sure what to think about my thinking. But there it is.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

In opposition

In opposition, aim for balance not for conquest. Balance asks for continuing dialogue. Conquest demands complete suppression.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

American rituals

In the mythological framework of a culture, ritual is a means of binding individuals into cohesive groups by structured actions and events to give meaning to life events such as birth, puberty and death.

In America, the two greatest binding rituals are Black Friday and Super Bowl Sunday.

Black Friday begins with the sacred Thanksgiving meal to nourish participants for challenges ahead. Shortly after the meal, the pre-ritual evening practice begins. On Black Friday all converge at the Cathedrals of Plenty with festive costuming, music and decor.

Super Bowl Sunday brings feasting and drinking all day. Participants often clothe themselves in official regalia of the day. They listen to little sermons from the TV preachers, and at designated times dance up and down with abandon. Some lucky few get to attend the actual services and bond with other worshippers who are then no longer strangers.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A little story

My grandchildren, 6 and 7, were playing, she with her dolls and he with his army men. My granddaughter brought me a box she wanted to make into a mall, which we did. A few minutes later she had opened the mall and he had provided the security forces with his men around and on the roof of the mall.

I remember plenty of play scenarios from my younger days, but never that one.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Innocence

Every child deserves and needs a time of innocence. A time of play nurtured by caring adults. A time of honest communication. A time for asking any question. A time for honest and appropriate answers. A time to be loved for who they are. Without this time of innocence what does the child have as a ground on which to build meaningful life.

But all around the world children are being robbed of this innocence. They are being raped and abused, forced into hard labor, turned into sex slaves, forced to become child soldiers, living in bombed villages, becoming refugees, becoming suicide bombers, killed in gang related violence and police shootouts, victims in gun attacks at school, abandoned by addict mothers and fathers, strip searched at airports, kidnapped for ransom and more.

Even in comfortable middle class homes, children are taught to compete not play, to expect excess, to be the best not be themselves. They get messages that consumption, bling, attitude and surface beauty define the person. They are defined by their grades and performance and not by their heart and character.

Innocence is a gift every child deserves.

Verbal barrage

Think of the verbal barrage thrown at you each day. News, talk shows, spin doctors, fuzzy truths, gossip, commentators, talking sports heads, chit chat, whining, work drivel, directives, lectures, and much, much more. How much of it has real substance? How much of it can have real substance when it is controlled by the media, whose motives must always be to varying degrees suspect.

That's why phrases like these, crafted by highly paid professionals, bother me.

"Love is what makes a Subaru a Subaru."

And from the NFL, "Family is football."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Thought for the day

Be child-like not childish.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Look at yourself

New grandchild and the 6 and 7 year olds are fascinated. They rush to our house to look at their photo albums where they can see themselves newborn and growing into the young people are now.

In affluent countries children can expect to have their lives documented through snapshots, CDs, videos, school pictures, documenting of important events, wedding albums, security cameras, selfies, instagrams and more. They can try on new identities, see how they look, watch the trajectories of their self images.

But what about children in a culture or time when this was not possible. What did it mean to be only who you were at that time with perhaps only faded memories of an image in a mirror years past? Did they look for themselves in others? Were their memories sharper? Did they live more in the moment? Were their self images always frozen in time? Did the past slip quietly away?

And what does it mean for us to know ourselves as historical beings with the images of our pasts always with us?

Visually stupid

Face it. Most people are visually stupid. Or let's say visually illiterate. But it's really not their fault. Lots of what they see through media is eye candy. Contemporary art is often distant and has little meaning to their experience. Their education, even through the college level, sees art as disposable.

In the educational system, we aim for verbal literacy and make it a staple of the curriculum. We aim for mathematical literacy and make it a staple of the curriculum. But even in a world saturated by images and mediated by screens of all kinds, visual literacy is boiled down to art so it can be easily set aside.

Children spend an average of 9.5 hours a day looking at screens according to a recent study. We are surrounded by marketing everywhere we go. We have well-paid and creative minds working at advertising aimed at seducing and manipulating us. From sports programming to movies to video games we a blinged to death without realizing it.

If we are expected to think critically and analyze critically, why aren't we expected to see critically. Seeing can be exploration and discovery. Seeing can reveal beauty and give pleasure. Seeing can unravel meaning and uncover dishonesty.

It is a difficult task in our culture to give visual literacy the recognition it deserves. The schools are far from this place. Artists take little responsibility as educators and champions of visual literacy. Most people don't have the least idea it is a gap in their learning.

Until there's a big shift in awareness, bottom line: visual stupidity.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Market to me

"I can hardly dress nicely anymore for less that $3000 an outfit, and that of course doesn't include jewelry."

"I think that handbag would be perfect for fall, don't you?"

"Me, I'm glad to pay extra for clothing with your logo on it. It's s status to be your billboard."

"I never eat an entree in a restaurant unless it takes at least 7 words to describe it."

"I've got my snacks and beer ready for the pre-pre-game show, the interviews, the pre-game show, the game, the  post-game show and the special on the lives of football wive."

"I look good in sunglasses, but I feel good in $200 sunglasses."

"So what if being a brand whore makes me happy."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Naming

Naming is a convenience, but it is also a box. Human experience is fluid, and it always slips from our grip when we try to name. And that's where we get into so much trouble.

Gender isn't male/female any more. It's fluid.

Race isn't black/white any more. It's fluid.

Love and marriage aren't male and female any more. it's fluid.

Culture isn't high or low any more. It's fluid.

We live in a fluid global world, with unfortunately too many minds full of little boxes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Discount prices on that special gift? Visit online.

Cracker Barrel Discount Warehouse Kitsch Barn
Buy one, get 10 free

Betty's Barbi Booty Boutique
75% off Bitch Barbi, Navy Seals Barbi and Actuarial Barbi

The Dominatrix Surplus Store
High end leather at discount prices

Vegetarian World
A full line of edible vegetarian cooking utensils, furniture, drapery and clothing at 25% off if ordered before Thanksgiving

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thought for the day

What happens if you think of yourself as a gift?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A modest proposal for killing-free wars

Each opposing side registers all available fighting men. The military on each side then systematically measures the erect penis of each man. Each side totals these numbers, takes an average and the side with the highest average wins the war. If the two averages are within a margin of difference below an agreed upon number, the war is declared a stalemate for five years.

Of course, some eligibility details have to be worked out relating to: female soldiers, transgender soldiers, porn stars, nationality verification and conscientious objection.

Besides the saving of large numbers of lives, verification could be much more interesting than that of nuclear materials. Also a large workforce could be retrained from weapons production to penile enhancement products.

Entertainment

In today's America, everything must be wrapped in entertainment. Teachers must be entertainers, employing an array of media experiences. Politicians must be clever and funny and ready with the humorous sound bite. Sports must have the big show, the talking heads, the bling graphics and the athlete antics. Even entertainment must be wrapped in entertainment--outrageous costumes, light shows, fireworks, multiple screaming screens. We and are swamped in entertainer stories, celebrity silliness and more.

The message is then that nothing is intrinsically worthwhile in and of itself.  No value is in the joy of learning or leading or discovering for its own sake...unless it is entertaining.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thought for the day

Everyone is trying to be unique when they should be trying to be meaningful.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Christmas book ideas

Everyone can use a self-help book. Here are some new ones on the market for Christmas.

Safe Sex with Vampires

When Politicians Turn Good

Butt Cracks and Navels: Contemporary Fashion Talk

How to Write a Smash Hit in Five Minutes

How to Keep Your Sex Life Alive during the Zombie Apocalypse

How to Succeed in College without Thinking

How to Use People and Still Be Happy

Chicken Soup for the Sex Offender's Soul