Consider The Intention [on Merely A Thought Monday]

My least favorite character in Romeo and Juliet is Capulet, Juliet’s father. A few years back I thought it would be a good exercise to tell the story from his point of view. In his world of privilege and order, he has an out of control daughter, a teenager no less, ignoring the rules of the house and society, having sex with the son of a sworn enemy. He imagines a better future for her (and himself) and has worked hard to protect her and match her with royalty. Like every parent I know, he just wants his daughter to behave and thrive.

Every story has an agenda. That’s true of the stories we tell of ourselves at parties, it’s true of the stories we shout at each other when we are having fights, it’s true of the stories we tell when we are falling in love, it’s true of the stories we tell when breaking up. Every story has at least two sides and each side has an intention.

Stories are never neutral or passive. It’s precisely why Blind Justice is so important to the health and well being of a society: between two opposing/competing stories there is a point of equilibrium that we call “fact” or “truth.” Blind Justice carries a scale to symbolize that place of story-equilibrium, ideally free of status, privilege, sway…weighing the stories to arrive at fairness and equity.

Health is the capacity to consider the other side of the story.

It is the truly despicable character that steps with intention into the gap between competing narratives solely to create discord. To lie for gain. Iago is just such a character. He creates an illusion with no greater intention than to hurt, to destroy. Desdemona dies. Othello murders because he cannot see through the lie Iago is telling. Othello’s love turns to hate. He cannot or will not hear the other side, the love story, the truth of Desdemona.

Hatred is a territorial flag planted in a one-sided story.

The modern GOP is Iago. Othello is a cautionary tale relevant in our times. What or who will be murdered before the lie is laid bare?

I have always been a lover of myth and parable, stories that reach with intention to deeper truths. It is why I stepped into the theatre in the first place. Art, like Blind Justice, uses story to reach deeper truths, truths that can rarely be captured in words. It’s the paradox of art and truth is always found there.

No story has a single point of view. No truth is singular – that is the hallmark of the truly important challenges that every society faces. It is why successful governments tell their story with truth as their intention. It is why successful relationships sail through stormy seas. The intention is pure. The desire to stand in the shoes of the other-side-of-the-story is genuine and necessary in order for the relationship, the community, the country to thrive.

Capulet is not a bad man. He has good intention. The play ends when he becomes capable of standing in and considering the other side of the story. Hope and equity is the promise rising from the pain.

Iago, on the other hand, is a wholly different story. His play ends in a cage with a nasty celebration of the pain, death and havoc he’s wreaked, gloating about his capacity to snare others in his big lie. All are made fools.

read Kerri’s blog post about THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY

Sit In The Sun [on Merely A Thought Monday]

I made a third run at my Polynices & Eteocles painting. Brothers who kill each other over control of the kingdom. Reds and Blues. In the two previous attempts, the brotherly violence morphed into images of shared fatherhood. A quiet unity. On this, my third and last attempt, I grew bored with the image and the statement I wanted to make about these-un-united-united-states.

Kerri avoided my basement studio while the brothers, sketched in charcoal, were killing each other on canvas. With a few swipes of a rag and adjustments of line, the murderous brothers became an angel embracing a dejected soul. And, although Kerri was much happier passing through the studio en route to the laundry room with angels on the easel, I found that I was equally as bored with my feel-good statement as I was with my feel-bad statement. The rag cleared the offending charcoal angel.

I don’t want to make statements.

I know I am in an artistic growth phase when I find myself at cross-purposes. Sit still. Get busy. Get Quiet. Say something. The sitting still and the getting quiet are what’s really required. Germinate. Listen. The getting-busy and saying-something are puritanical overtones. Fear of…

A few years ago, Jonathan told us that a tree must split its bark in order to grow. It seems my bark is splitting.

Yesterday, while moving through my david-yoga practice, I had a wee-epiphany. Every yoga pose is a study of oppositions. The stretch, the balance, comes from oppositional reaching. Inner-space, flexibility, equilibrium are intentional contrast. Contrast need not be combative. I think I am out of balance.

Angels and dejected souls. Brothers warring for control. Combat and consolation. No wonder I’m bored. My statement-subjects are as dusty and old as humanity itself. I think the truth floating to the top in my silent sitting is that I have had too much of darkness. There is a lighter side to poetry and human nature.

I just might need to cross over and sit in the sun for a while.

read Kerri’s blog post about TWO PATHS