Monday, June 27, 2011

And....what is NOT art.

As synchronicity would have it, a friend sent me a link to a piece on Fox News about a new art form.....or not. You'll have to decide that for yourself. It is worth a laugh, if not a tsk, tsk.

Of course you will be familiar with actor James Franco. His movie about the hiker who cut-off his arm with a dull pocket-knife was a grand success last year. Franco has also dabbled in other areas of creative endeavor, and his latest one is quite interesting. Click on the above title and read the linked article.

Franco and some cohorts, have apparently discovered a new level of sophistication in making art: i.e. you actually ask the collector, client, buyer....uh, okay sucker, to pay for something imaginary, and then you give them a tag or label telling them what they bought.....or actually DIDN'T buy. I think.

I mean, it's just a little confusing to me. If you are selling them 'nothing' but their own imaginary thoughts....did you sell them 'something' or 'nothing', because if you sold them nothing and they paid you good money--over $11K so far--exactly what took place here?

During an interview with FOX--those elite sophisticates and connoisseurs of all things nice, eh--Franco was careful to point out: "We're sincere. This isn't a scam". Which is probably the first thing that any good scam artist would want you to believe.

I just sold you some, pay up, or else. Seems to me that they should be willing to accept payment in imaginary dollars.


What is art....Part MCVII....or whatever.

If you click on the above title line, you will be whisked off to an article that appeared in the London Daily Mail.

It seems some English journalists wanted to find out what you and I, the art viewing and museum going public want to spend our time looking at in a museum. In order to write this article they spent time sitting in galleries in The Tate Britain, a world-class London museum, and they clocked how much time visitors spent on a variety of different works, in a very broad spectrum of genres. I won't blather on because you'd be much better off just reading the article. Seems we don't show much interest in the 'body parts and dead animal' school of modern art....or the 'field of dots that look like wrapping paper' school.....or the " I am sitting in a chair in the desert" genre of photography....or pretty much any of that crap, in fact.

It should come as no great revelation that we want to look at art that moves us emotionally, touches our humanity, enriches our sense of beauty, has a little poignancy, maybe a sense of the poetic....and is just plain accessible without a masters in the history of art.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bat-shit crazy...doesn't begin to describe Michelle Bachmann

Do yourself a favor and click on the above title line, and reat Matt Taibbi's piece on Bachmann in Rolling Stone magazine.

But......don't laugh.

Just read it, you'll see why.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bantering with terms like "Mass Extinction"

"If the current actions contributing to a multifaceted degradation of the world's oceans aren't curbed, a mass extinction unlike anything human history has ever seen is coming, an expert panel of scientists warns in an alarming new report." This is the opening paragraph in the story on Huffington Post that is linked to the title above.

Here is some more of that story:

"The scientific panel concluded that degeneration in the oceans is happening much faster than has been predicted, and that the combination of factors currently distressing the marine environment is contributing to the precise conditions that have been associated with all major extinctions in the Earth's history.
According to the report, three major factors have been present in the handful of mass extinctions that have occurred in the past: an increase of both hypoxia (low oxygen) and anoxia (lack of oxygen that creates "dead zones") in the oceans, warming and acidification. The panel warns that the combination of these factors will inevitably cause a mass marine extinction if swift action isn't taken to improve conditions."

So, I sit here and wonder how much more dire things have to get....before we wake-up. If I open up a news-site and read that a large asteroid has been detected on a collision course with Earth, due to arrive a year from now, will my day go on as previously planned? Maybe I will just short-out and act as if nothing new has come up. Or maybe I will just snicker that those idiots with the big telescopes are full of crap. What do they know? I have too many plans, hopes, dreams for the future to get sucked-in by all this 'Chicken Little" nonsense, anyway. I mean, you could spend all of your waking life worrying about one thing or another and what would it accomplish in the end, right? So, to hell with all those doomsayers; I plan to just continue on with my life as if nothing is happening.

And, if you just nodded your assent to the above line of thinking....then you are fiddling while Rome is burning. Here is something that is an indisputable fact: IF THE OCEANS DIE....SO DO WE. The oceans of this planet are the source of life. The vast majority of photosynthesis takes place...not in forests, but in the oceans. It is the tiny little blue-green algae who carry the bulk of the responsibility for absorbing carbon-dioxide and off-gassing oxygen. If that process is stopped, or even if it is significantly as we know it will be unable to continue. This is the WATER PLANET, dear friends. It took some billions of years for it to evolve into a stable mechanism, as delicately balanced as a jeweled watch movement, providing all that is necessary for life to flourish.

And now we are actively destroying that balance. What I find so utterly agonizing, even worse than merely being stupid....we are doing this intentionally and denying it as we do so. All the truly conservative candidates that want to run for Big Kahuna--to become The Decider--deny that Global Warming is either real, or man-made. They want to believe that it is a conspiracy, cooked up by people like Al Gore to serve their own greedy purposes. What we are doing to our host planet is indeed VERY INCONVENIENT....but, that is all it is to these people.

So, if you read this article and note the reminder that we must act and act effectively and with great will also possibly say to yourself: "Yeah, what are the chances of that?"

In listening to the public discourse on the subject of our own mass extinction becoming ever more must hear the denial, the hopelessness, the inability to comprehend that we're really looking at the end of life as it presently exists....and still find a way to keep hoping that somehow, some way, some time...we will reach the critical mass referred to as 'the tipping point' by Malcom Gladwell. This is the point at which one might say, 'an idea's time has come'. But, if that doesn't happen we, and our children and our grandchildren will be forced to witness what is already being referred to by some scientists as the Sixth Great Extinction.....our own, and the first one to be brought about by one of the species that will be extinguished.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What you need to know about Michelle Bachmann....

Just in case you are skeptical about my last post, here is an article on The Daily Beast that you might want to read: (Please click on the above title line).

What I find most alarming is her reaction to being approached by two women who wanted to talk about gay marriage.  She actually tried to set them up for being charged with attacking her physically.

 This tells me that she has a basic underlying willingness to lie, to trample on the rights of other individuals in order to protect her own agenda.

I will not back away from my clear opinion that Michelle Bachmann is potentially a very dangerous person if she ever comes into a political position that would give her power.

And, as much as I would like to be proven wrong, I have a sense of dread about what Bachmann intends to do with the office she is seeking.

And, dear friends, she is GAINING MOMENTUM.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Here She Comes......

Well, you had to know it would happen.  Michelle Bachmann used the Republican debate in New Hampshire last night to inform the nation that she has filed the papers declaring her candidacy for president.  David Gregory, a senior NBC political corespondent, said this morning that he had never actually seen anybody manipulate the media so cleverly in this way.  She knew that doing this would almost guarantee her the spotlight in this news cycle, despite all the other candidates trying their best to stand out from the 'crowd', and it worked just as she had planned.

When Bachmann emerged on the national political scene, my initial reaction, along with many others, was that she was a joke. She said things that were so astonishingly stupid, made such outlandish statments--like that we should require a 'loyalty test' for members of congress--that it was impossible to take her seriously.  We also had another woman who was saying and doing things that would preclude thinking of her as an intelligent and sane adult: Sarah.  So, it was easy to imagine that Bachmann was just another Palin, but possibly even dumber.

Now, hold on, just one cotton-pickin' minute, there, fellah. Lately, Bachmann has been reminding people that she has been a 'tax attorney'.  She's been quite aware of her image and is taking steps to improve it.  She also knows that her audience is the far Christian right....the so-called 'Evangelicals', and she plays to their sensibilities in clarion tones that resonate with them, big time.  It seems apparent that she is improving her technique as she goes, and suddenly the congresswoman from Minnesota, who was regarded as a slower and nuttier second to Palin until just recently, is sitting on a stage in Manchester New Hampshire with a small group of politicians who are considered the only serious possible contenders for the Republican nomination. And, Sarah Palin was not there. Whoa!!!!  Wha' happened?

I can tell you this: Michelle Bachmann is NOT the stupid bufoon and Christian pedant that we so blithely dismissed.  She is smart, determined, sly, manipulative and--hold on--one of the most dangerous figures to emerge onto the American political stage in generations. She is the personification of Sinclair Lewis's archetypal fascist figure who, on arrival among us, will be: "....wrapped in the flag and carrying the Bible". 

She sees the world through a lens that filters everything into categories: Christian, not-Christian,  Patriotic, not so much, for me, agin' me.  And, should she ever gain real political power, the means to enact policies and directives that conform with her world-view, it's going to be a dark day in American history.

She will be inclined to persecute her perceived enemies in any way that she can.  She will move this country in subtle and not so subtle ways  towards being even more Christo-centric than it ever has been.  Tolerance and acceptance are weaknesses in the world she inhabits.  If you are not on her side, you will be 'the enemy'.  Left unimpeded, she would create the Christian equivalent of an Islamic Republic. Luckily, she is not running for dictator, and there are built-in balances and constraints....which, I predict now, she will try to dismantle if we face another crisis on the order of 9-11. 

A decade ago I wrote a novel, "Above and Beyond" much of it set in Nazi Germany in the 30s and 40s.  It followed the lives of a young couple in southern Bavaria.  The young woman, Gabriele, knew from the outset who Hitler was, and when she tried to explain how she knew this, she ultimately resorted to, "I can see it in his eyes, Hans. It is right there."

And, that is how I feel about Michelle Bachmann.  I HOPE I am wrong....but, I don't believe I am.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ah, the Contrasts....

If you are a regular follower here, you already know that almost every morning of the week, four seasons round, I am forced to walk in the Maine woods.  Emma, and Holly, two 8 year-old golden retrievers, insist that I do this. Should I attempt to ignore them, they come to wherever I am and stare at the side of my head.  It soon becomes unbearable, a feeling of laser-vision from big brown eyes that bore into me....until I finally relent and put my jacket on, or pick-up a walking-stick and head out the door.  It is more a ritual than merely a routine.  And, if you love dogs, you know that having a predictable rhythm in their day is very important to them.

So, come rain or shine, snow or mosquitoes, there we are treading lightly on trails that intersect a large-ish block of un-trammeled northern forest.  The woods have a rhythm too.  It has more to do with their seasonal cycles than the weather on a given day, but it is utterly predictable and very enjoyable as it progresses through the year. We are now in the period when spring has begun to morph into summer....not really there yet, but now more the latter than the former, to be sure.  The delicate yellow-greens of new leaves have started to become darker and more towards the 'iron' greens of high summer, but the leaves are still soft to the touch. 

Flowers are in their second stage now, the trillium is gone-by, and there is a plethora of tiny star-shaped flowers, mosses are burgeoning, and this year the ferns are blasting off for the moon. Perhaps the wet and cool spring set them up for such growth, but I passed some today that are shoulder high and still growing.  The bug season, has, of course, taken-off too.  Depending on the time of day, how humid and warm it is, the black flies and the mosquitoes are at bumper crop levels this year.  The streams are running well, which is great for the black flies, since they lay their eggs on rocks in running water...and there are large pools of standing water in the depths of the woods, which is a natural paradise for the muzzies. 

Fortunately, I just found an article on DEET that indicated it is not the chemical disaster that most of us have felt it was.  Research has proven that it is actually much more benign than I would have guessed.  So, now I can apply it as I have all along...and just not feel as self-destructive and guilty as I did.  Good for me, bad for the hungry insects who need my blood. Boo hoo.

As I was walking today, it occurred to me how eminently 'sane' nature is. Not only is it beautiful and pure in its intent to simply get on with its process of living and constantly becoming...but it all just seems to make sense.  I listened to a veritable cacophony of song-birds, all of them trilling, warbling, and tweeting with obvious intent.  And, while we might imagine they do it because it sounds nice, the truth is I was hearing a battle for breeding territories.  All the "Hey, here I am," and the "This acre is mine," calls are according to a firm and ancient ritualized understanding of how they will propagate and who will do what and where they'll do it. I was hearing not just the thrushes melodic calls; I was hearing their entire history as a species speaking to me through their DNA.  A bird of a particular species has an indistinguishable call from every other bird of that species.  Otherwise the whole system of recognition and establishing breeding and nesting territories would  break down.  We crave being unique individuals....while they are drawn to be simply a perfect example of what they are.  I love it.

I was going to contrast this green world of perfection with the folly that goes on beyond it...out here in the not so real world.  But, it doesn't feel like I want to do that anymore.  Somehow it would be wrong to mention the parade of clowns who are now posturing for an opportunity to lead us.  It doesn't matter that the entire shootin' match is getting progressively weirder.  I want the taste of perfection that awaits me each morning to maintain some of its separation from all of this.  I almost don't think I could climb into my car at the edge of the woods, and drive straight to Wal-Mart...without having an experience that would approach some kind of mental crisis.  And, it is hard to accept that I spend almost all of my waking reality in the weird world, and not the one where absolutely everything is perfect and makes complete sense. 

Go figure, eh.