Scatter News [on DR Thursday]

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I’m reading a book by Derrick Jensen, A Language Older Than Words. If you google him you will read that he is “hailed as the philosopher poet of the environmental movement.”  He is also described as a “radical environmentalist.” He is thoughtful. He is well researched. He asks very big questions. Agree or disagree, he has strong, clear opinions and reasoned beliefs. Step back from his environmentalism and you will find that he speaks directly into the layers of shadow and denial that wrap our national narrative. He isn’t afraid to call a lie a lie. I suspect he is considered radical not because of his beliefs but because of his insistence on bringing into the open what the national narrative would rather keep hidden.

Lately, this word, radical, has become curious to me. Like so many of my friends, I have felt our community is the rope in an angry tug-of-war. We plug into news sources tailored to our political leanings that seem dedicated to reinforcing our divisions.  Dedicated to keeping us angry. And, we know it. And we eat it up. We tear ourselves apart, define ourselves too narrowly, and that is not understood as radical.

For example, we do not consider it radical that there have been 22 school shootings this year alone (at this writing). We do not see our utter inability and/or unwillingness to address it as radical. That more American school children have died of gunfire this year than soldiers in combat is astounding. Or should be.

What should be radical is now the new normal.

A few decades ago, Neil Postman wrote that we were in danger of amusing ourselves to death, that we were going down a path that would render us incapable of discerning between what has gravity and what is concocted. More to the point, we would invert the two, investing in the dross at the expense of the substance. It seems that we have arrived at the doorstep of his prediction.

Our acceptance of the radical is radical.  And what is the cost?

This is the meditation behind Earth Interrupted VI: News. Worthy. and this week’s morsel, Scattered News.

 

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earth interrupted vi: news.worthy. ©️ 2018 david robinson

Acquire Taste [it’s Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

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It came as a great shock to me to learn that I was hard to live with. Well, actually, that is a lie. I’ve known it for years but hoped no one else (read: Kerri) noticed. Well, she noticed. I think she was on to my game from the start but for some reason decided to focus on the good bits. Lately, I’ve been telling her that I am like a good wine and will get better with age. That, too, is probably a lie, but I think this time she might have bought my line! At least she is giving me another day so there’s a good chance she might someday think I am perfect! A boy can dream….

From studio melange on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday, a nod to acquired tastes everywhere.

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Choose Your Way [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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One of the ideas behind the melange was to invite you into our studio, to offer a peek behind the curtain into the messy art piles and chaotic processes that spark and give fuel to our creative lives.

We make it a practice to walk through life noticing things, appreciating moments. It is a muscle we consciously exercise. It is the reason we write. It is the reason we take photographs of the food arranged on our plates or the evening sunlight topping the trees or the funny sign posts on the paths we walk. Kerri recently said – and I think it is true – we are inspiring ourselves and perhaps, through our art, words, and designs, helping others live appreciative lives.

In a past incarnation, when working with teachers or corporate types or artists, I said again and again, “See what is there, not what you think is there.” Try and see beyond what you think. A full spectrum of beauty bubbles brightly right in front of our noses but largely goes unnoticed through the mind chatter that dulls our perceptions. It renders us sense-blind.

On this Two Artists Tuesday, a not-so-subtle reminder to slow down, choose a piece of quiet, open your eyes and appreciate your moment. Take a stab at seeing what is bubbling out there just beyond your oh-so-important-thinking. It just might take your breath away. Or, more to the point, it might bring you a deep creative breath. It just might give fuel to your creative life.

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Enjoy The Puddles [it’s Chicken Marsala Monday]

 

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Puddle is a fun word to say. Try it. Puddle. Muddle. Fuddle. In fact, when fuddled or muddled, there is only one thing to be done and that is to find and jump gleefully into a puddle. Essentially, become puddled.

Chicken has a decidedly Buddhist side. If he had three simple rules for spiritual growth, one would certainly involve puddles and play. Speaking to we too serious adult-types, he might say: you can never control the rain, but you can most certainly control how often you play in the puddles .

On this Chicken Marsala Monday, from studio melange, leave behind your muddle and go to the puddle side of life [begin by reading this post out loud to someone you love – puddles are more fun with friends].

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Let Me Take You Back [it’s KS Friday]

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Before Kerri and I were married, I asked her daughter, Kirsten, to tell me ‘the one thing’ I should know and understand about her mother. Kirsten’s answer was immediate. “Mom’s the most thready person you will ever meet,” she said.

It is true. Kerri is the most ‘thready’ person I have ever met. Thready means threaded to the past. We mark auspicious days. Each piece of furniture in our house carries a story. Every day she writes in her calendar what we did or what happened; at the end of the year it is our ritual to read the calendar and retell the stories of the days just lived. We light candles for lost loved ones.

She is rooted, deeply rooted, in family, in ancestry, and she actively and consciously tends the root through her thready-ness. And, what is most remarkable to me, is that her thready-ness is not weighty. It is in no way heavy. It is light-hearted and surprising and lively, just like her composition Let Me Take You Back. On this KS Friday, take a moment, and let Kerri give your spirit a lift. Let her take you back.

 

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Prayer [on DR Thursday]

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Naming paintings is problematic for me. I’ve never been good at it. Sometimes I bristle at it. People project their own meanings into the images I paint (as it should be) and sometimes the name I’ve given the piece gets in their way.  A favorite quote from a Joseph Campbell lecture: “If the artist doesn’t like you he will tell you what the painting means.” At openings, when people ask me what the painting means, my standard response is, “What does it mean to you?” I like most people though most people dislike my standard response.

Nowadays Kerri helps me find names. I ask her what she sees. We talk about the paintings and usually a phrase or name that I like floats to the top.

This one is simple and obvious. Prayer.  One who looks inward and entreats.

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Say, “Oopsies!” [it’s Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

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Working with fabric is and always has been a mystery to me. My grandfather had a sewing machine repair business so you could assume that sewing machines are in my blood. They are not.  Among the stranger episodes of my life was my unsolicited acceptance into a graduate program for costume design. They liked my drawings and offered me a full ride. I actually went and provided hours of amusement and a lifetime of what-was-he-thinking stories for my professors and peers. I can draw anything. Just don’t ask me to sew it.

This Flawed Cartoon might be autobiographical. Although it is possible that I never sewed myself to a garment [‘garment’ is a word I use to betray my status as a costume shop veteran], it is also possible that I did. Happy Flawed Cartoon Wednesday.

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