Art and Teaching as Nonaggression

In a public talk about dharma art, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche described how the ruling monasteries in Tibet were funded before the Chinese took over. He refutes the assertion that peasants were flogged and forced to work for the monks. Instead, he says that land and resources were set aside to support certain festivals enjoyed by monastics and lay persons alike. The purpose of his economic digression during an art lecture was to raise the basic question: How are we to organize our life so that we can afford to produce beautiful things, not at the expense or suffering of others? ?

I have chosen a funding model typical among artists and writers I know; I am an educator. Teaching seems to be the common method for artists to support themselves so that they may continue to practice their craft, not at the expense or suffering of others ?. While this isn’t ideal, the alternatives are no more attractive. I would not enjoy being subject to the whim of a wealthy patron or working within […]

New Year’s Resolution

In a 2007 Stronach Memorial Lecture, Peter Sacks explores the trope of the dolphin in poetry from Homeric to modern poets. An evocative and empowering image, the dolphin continually shows up in poetry as a surprise and as a mystic escort. As 2010 ends, I find the dolphin a fitting image of the soul in transit.

In past years I have made New Year resolutions, and they are often effective. I set specific goals using strategies I’ve learned as a professional: specific, attainable, timely goals whose outcomes can be measured. But this year I’m interested in what Sacks calls the dolphin’s turn, a metaphor for a process to realize outcomes that can’t be measured.

In the Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo, a dolphin intervenes with merchants on route to a trade city. The dolphin forces the sailors to turn their ship and sail to another coast, an unknown coast, and another life. Sacks draws a connection between the dolphin’s transformative veering ? and the transport system of poetry ?. As the dolphin leaps between two […]

Labor Day

Today is the last day of my summer vacation. Fittingly, this is the day set aside to celebrate the achievements of Labor unions (40 hour weeks, child labor laws, etc). Tomorrow I will return to work, refreshed and grateful for the time I had this summer.

The last few months have been filled with writing and creativity. The writer residency at Artcroft provided me a space to begin a new project. I also received some valuable feedback from Gordon Warnock that helped me to re-examine an older work. And last week I went to Chicago to read at the Reconstruction Room, a reading curated by my good friend, Luis Valadez. I was able to visit an old friend and make new ones. I couldn’t ask for a better conclusion to my summer break.

I resolve to sustain my creativity, even as I return to work. While I may not be writing as much as I wrote this summer, I will continue to write. I have a deadline in October to finish one project, and several […]

Journal 7/5th – Public Republic

I am pleased to share the news that a story of mine, Journal 7/5th is up at Public Republic. I wrote this story about PTSD in class with my creative writing teacher, James Baker Hall. Jim passed away a year ago this month. His encouragement and support in that class led me to the decision to become a writer. I am forever grateful for him.

Public Republic started in 2006 in Bulgarian as a forum for citizen journalism. The English version of the online magazine began in 2008 providing English speaking readers the opportunity to actively participate in the creation of topics and discussions.

Journal 7/5th published by Public Republic

I WANT TO BE DEAD. I am not thinking about divorce or mothers crying to God as their sons are taken away or the two guys in my company who were killed driving down a thousand year old street. I am thinking about my life and all the life that surrounds me and flowers and sunshine. I want to be dead. My apartment […]

Stop the Violence!

Today I was listening to Tavis Smiley’s show My America 2008: Gun Violence. The show was in response to the recent weekend of shootings in Chicago: 36 people shot, 9 die, during weekend in Chicago. In the show, families of victims past and present were interviewed.

At work I was talking to one of my co-workers about it. He grew up in Chicago and showed me where he’d been shot when he was a teenager.

Listening to the the radio show I could really feel for these families: a father who lost his son, a daughter who lost her father. And I could almost see the boys and men who’d pulled the trigger, their hearts so small and scared, their minds so twisted and confused.

A man […]

Modern Art as Buddhist Practice

I’ve been listening to a lecture series recently that has me inspired/excited about writing. The speaker is Joan DePaoli, author of Transparent Thread. Her talk is Buddhist Art as Buddhist Practice, but I think it would more aptly be called Modern Art as Buddhist Practice.

The first two lectures give an overview of 2500 years of dharma art history. When the Buddha was alive he told his followers not to make any art with his image. For the first few hundred years his instructions were followed and Buddhist art were primarily meditation sites, like stupas. Then things changed and people started to make statues of the Buddha. DePaoli discusses this change and other changes as Buddhism spread into various cultures.

This discussion was interesting and informative. But in the third and fourth lecture, she begins talking about western art. […]

Fancy Broccoli

Since I’ve been working as a house painter I’ve been able to listen to hours of interesting podcasts daily, everything from lectures on the Brothers Karamazov to fanboys talking about comic books.

Last week while listening to wzen.org I came across a new podcast that is worth sharing. The Fancy Broccoli Show combines music and discussion of prison reform. So far I listened to the Ron Hayes interview from 2007. I was very moved by his story, dedication, and wisdom.

One of the important things Mr. Hayes is working on concerns PTSD among people in US prisons. He talks about the link between PTSD and drug use (aka self-medication). And near the end he reads some of his own poetry.

[…]

Montel Williams

I don’t usually blog media news (or even pay attention to it) but this one is deep. My friend Tim Hernandez pointed me to it.

Here’s the exchange on Fox News that led to Montel’s show being canceled.

A little more explanation from wiki:

Shortly before Fox-owned and operated television stations in major markets terminated Montel’s talk-show contract, Montel appeared in an interview on Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends, and was asked to discuss Heath Ledger’s death. He used the interview to point out that TV networks had continued to extensively cover Mr. Ledger’s death while ignoring the deaths of 28 US soldiers in Iraq since the beginning of the year.

Montel expressed sympathy […]

Logarithms, adjectives, and big life transistions

Life is always changing but there are moments when the transitions become significant in ways that make us see them clearly, poignantly. I am experiencing such a moment, which explains why I haven’t been posting here as frequently as I would like.

One big change coming up for me is the NYC Teaching Fellows program I will be starting in June. Not only does this mean I will be moving the New York City in a few months, but it also means I will be starting a whole new job, as well as, another master’s program.

I have a folder of paper work that needs to be completed and sent to New York. I also am beginning to prepare for the LAST and CST Mathematics exams. The folks at NYC Teaching Fellows sent me some useful study material, pages […]

How is this antiwar?

I found this collection of photos on a fashion blog. They appeared in Vogue Italia a couple of months ago. I’m not usually interested in fashion (or very knowledgeable about that world) but I am curious about the anti-war nature of art.

When I first saw them I would not have thought of them as antiwar, except that the flickr title is Make Love Not War. They are lovely photographs. The photographer, Steven Meisel, has worked with Madonna. I’m pretty sure the MTV programming of my childhood makes me especially susceptible to his style.

But how are these photographs antiwar?

For me the answer to that question came to me with this photograph, which reminds me of M * A * S * H. Here is an […]