Little Highwood Pass

The painting of the larch trees was finished last evening and another begins after teaching today.  As I was painting into the dark passages, I was most wondering about how we can see forms in the dark.  When we hiked in during the morning, everything was light….but it did not take long and the sun was on the west side of the mountain top and a huge shadow was cast over everything, leaving only the water below, illuminated, along with a bank of larch trees.  Such a beautiful sight so early in the afternoon.  I found that cerulean blue could be painted over magenta and ultramarine/burnt umber forms to create the mass of rock that I was looking for in the shadows.  I also used some barium red to invigorate the darkness.
 
 
 
 
 

LOVE!

Moving into February, and given my attendance at the recent symposium on LIFE, I am focused on LOVE…on building HOPE…and on growing in FAITH.  I am setting my heart and mind on creating goodness…being kind….and generating positivity.  Join me, alright?
 
Iris: One of Forty in First Solo Exhibit

Dead Man Walking

I had the opportunity to hear Sister Helen Prejean (writer of the book Dead Man Walking), along with,  music composer Jake Heggie and director Kelly Robinson in a panel discussion last evening.  Sister Helen chatted with me about my teaching as she signed the inside of her book, The Death of Innocence, with the words, “Choose Life”.
She was such a strong presence on the stage, an extremely articulate and ‘immediate’ storyteller.  I could only describe the encounter as ‘magical’ and filled with passion, intelligence and thought-provoking content.  I wished very much that my children had been sitting alongside me.  I believe last evening was for me, a life-defining moment.

Sister Prejean

Image from here.
Some of the words taken from my notebook this morning….no commentary will be offered on these….but I put them out there for you all to think about.
“Right relationships.”
“Live your life about essential things…don’t trivialize your life…be concerned with hearts, lives, doing things about anything ‘essential’.”
“We only change when we feel loved.”
“We are an unawakened society.”
A light hearted moment was when speaking of one of the musical motifs in the opera, Sister Helen broke into singing…
“My journey, my journey, my journey to the truth….”
Another, was when I had the opportunity to visit Jake Heggie personally, while he ate his jumbalaya (we were all served red wine and good cajun food….red snapper and jumbalaya) and he visited about his schedule….and the various events in other major cities leading up to the Opera.  What an awesome evening!

Cousin

I had a cousin recently visit.  She might appear to be the opposite to me in ways…truth is, she’s an ol’ ‘softy’!  She smiles…sometimes laughs at my intensity….my way of seeing things, always so deeply.   But as we sat in the studio chatting quietly one evening,  I looked into her eyes, heard her dreams, shared stories….and know that she GETS IT!  She gets it all! My cousin has grown out of her giggling youth, to be a woman of huge grace and good will.  She is now counted among the kindest souls I know.  She is precious to me.

Dead Man Walking

 
  
 
Screening of the film Dead Man Walking
 
Following the movie, enjoy some refreshments as Dr. Anne Moore discusses: Dead Man Walking: What Gospel to Follow – The Intersection of Religion, Film and Popular Culture.This lecture is will explore religion as a dynamic force within popular culture, especially film. Using the film Dead Man Walking as an example, we will examine the numerous religious and spiritual themes current in the popular medium of film, the different versions of the gospel portrayed in Dead Man Walking and how these different gospels are part of the religious conversation in our contemporary culture.
 
A Taste of the OperaJoin special guest Sister Helen Prejean and the creators of the opera including composer Jake Heggie, and stage director Kelly Robinson, for a lively discussion hosted by Andrea Marantz about the making of Dead Man Walking.After the panel discussion, there will be a Q & A session followed by some light refreshments and food from the region where the story takes place – the southern USA. Catered by Cannery Row. Refreshments supplied by Wine Cellar South.
I was so pleased to be a part of the screening and discussion led by Dr. Anne Moore on Friday night and am anticipating meeting Sister Helen Prejean this coming week, as the opera, Dead Man Walking makes its debut in Calgary this week.  Many issues of religion, film and popular culture were explored after a screening of the film, one that I had seen some time ago, but through a completely different lens.  The introductory remarks were well-crafted and left the attendees quietly munching on popcorn and sipping from straws…as the story unfolded in new light.
 
A contempory issue of concern….a search I think, for identity versus anonymity….a classic case for humanity!
 
 
 
 
 

A Failure to Communicate

 http://www.afirstlook.com/archive/gensem.cfm?source=archther

 

"Korzybski believed that the ability to communicate is the essence of being human. He advanced his belief by contrasting what he regarded as the distinctiveness of plants, animals, and people. Vegetation has the capacity to transform energy from the sun into an organic chemical nutrient. Because plants can photosynthesize, he labeled them "chemical binders." Animals can improve their situation by moving from place to place. Since they are not planted in one spot, he called them "space binders."

Human beings have an additional capacity to use symbols to pass on the accumulated experience of the past. We can tell our sons and daughters how to grow food, which snakes are poisonous, and the best way to find a job. Since language has a high value for survival, Korzybski saw a moral imperative for human beings to exercise their language ability and referred to us as "time binders." Communication is a solemn obligation; we ought to do it well. According to Korzybski, we don’t.

He and his followers picture us spinning enormous webs of words and then getting caught in our own symbolic nets. It’s not that we’re careless, irresponsible, or mean. Rather, the very structure of language leads us astray. As the fox in Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince warns, "Words are the source of misunderstandings."  Not only do we possess a unique capability to bind time, we’re also the only creatures who can talk ourselves into trouble.

Wendell Johnson said that many men and women do just that. He surveyed people in all sorts of quandaries and concluded that, despite the diversity of their maladjustments, they shared a common inability to articulate their situations clearly. Is it possible, Johnson wondered, that the tyranny of words is responsible for their emotional distress–that language is the "crazy-making" agent? Korzybski believed so. The title of his epic tome, Science and Sanity, reflects his thesis that a careful, scientific use of language will guard against the confusion and unreality that words tend to produce. He agreed with the Sapir- Whorf hypothesis that language molds our thoughts.

English teachers often remind us that dictionaries don’t tell us how words should be used; dictionaries merely reflect how words are used. Traditional semantics focuses on the is rather than the ought. General semantics departs from this descriptive stance by urging us to alter the structure of language so that our word usage matches the clarity of scientific inquiry in mapping out reality. This quest is not so much a theory as it is a methodology to ensure that language more clearly mimics reality or a perspective to show the limitation of words."

These are things I have thought about tonight….

The Little Prince

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"The Little Prince" is still the most widely translated book in the French language.  Vastly different from Saint-Exupery’s other writings, this story of wisdom and wonder is cleverly disguised as a children’s book.  It’s not a book to be described, but experienced on many levels.  Part of the appeal of the book is in its charming watercolors executed by the author.  Among its many themes are the importance of love and friendship, the ignorance of "grownups" who do not understand the difference between "matters of importance" and trivialities, mission, duty, and the fragility of joy.  Written in New York, the book is filled with ironic jibes at American culture and its hurried, materialistic society.  German philosopher Martin Heidegger regarded "The Little Prince" as one of the great existentialist books of the century. "Life is a comedy for him who thinks, and a tragedy for him who feels," wrote Jonathan Swift.  Saint- Exupery was both a thinker and a feeler, so he was full of both humor and sadness, as was "The Little Prince."

Perhaps one of the most valuable interpretations of "The Little Prince" is to apply it to your inner life. This is a book to savor.  Read it over and over.  It’s bound to incite you to write, so you may want to think about stopping for freewrites.  You may find the tale sufficiently haunting to engage in some spiritual searching of your own.  Can you see sheep through the walls of boxes?  Have you ever been stranded in your own inner desert?  Can you live with the uncertainty and tension of opposing forces?  And despite sorrow and longing, can you find laughter in the stars?  Ellen Moore

Politics

I’ve been painting in the studio…decided to photograph some works in progress.  I was happy about how the ‘rock’ spilled out of me for eight hours yesterday.  I was listening to Damien Rice and Joni Mitchell and Wilco. 
 
I receive many e-mails regarding the up and coming elections these days.  Do you? Forwards of every shape and size and variety.  Like any good and decent argument; each message includes the facts that support a particular platform.  In the midst of it all…I sat and read an excellent article that followed a quote by Marshall McLuhan.  It might interest you.
 
 
If the work of the city is the remaking or translating of man into a more suitable form than his nomadic ancestors achieved, then might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and the human family, a single consciousness?

– Marshall McLuhan, 1964

 

 

In the end, I think that our lives are built on our ability to wonder, question and translate.  God has truly blessed us with imaginations and with minds.  I celebrate my individual will and the opportunity to live my life consciously…whether that is in my studio, in relationship with my family and friends, or in spiritual and political forums.  The blessing in the political arena is that we have the opportunity to express our personal views. Again, I thank my parents for causing me to explore both my individual politic and my individual expression of faith.

 

The strongest message that can be sent at this time from any perspective, is for all Canadians to exercise their privilege to vote.

 

Now…some poetry by a man who used writing (1900) as a way of expressing his views and to some degree, those of the collective unconscious.

 

Today the paper reads…

 

"Canadian killed in Afghanistan."

 
 
 
Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

66. I Dream’d in a Dream

I DREAM’D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;  
I dream’d that was the new City of Friends;  
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love—it led the rest;  
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,  

And in all their looks and words.

 

83. I Sit and Look Out

I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;  
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done;  
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;  
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer of young women;  
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid—I see these sights on the earth;          5
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and prisoners;  
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill’d, to preserve the lives of the rest;  
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;  
All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,  
See, hear, and am silent.

Words

"The faculty of creating is never given to us all by itself. It always goes hand in hand with the gift of observation. And the true creator may be recognized by his ability always to find about him, in the commonest and humblest thing, items worthy of note. He does not have to concern himself with a beautiful landscape, he does not need to surround himself with rare and precious objects. He does not have to put forth in search of discoveries: they are always within his reach. He will have only to cast a glance about him. Familiar things, things that are everywhere, attract his attention. The least accident holds his interest and guides his operations. If his finger slips, he will notice it; on occasion, he may draw profit from something unforeseen that a momentary lapse reveals to him."

— Igor Stravinsky Poetics of Music
Translated by Arthur Knodel and Ingolf Dahl