Put It In Context [on Two Artists Tuesday]

THIS from the ferry copy

Context (noun): the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

I love this photograph. It could be of the salt flats. It could be desert landscape. It could be the arctic snows. Absent of context, how can we know?

The headstone of the 21st century will read ‘Taken out of context.’ I was a teacher when the internet first washed over the land and the question on every educator’s desk was this: how do we teach students to discern what information is valid and what is not? Education is, at least partially, the pursuit and discernment of what is true and what is not.

Discernment (noun): the ability to judge well.

In a world in which any one can post anything about any topic in service to any agenda, void of context and with an astounding expectation of 280 characters or less, how do we judge well? No attention span available. No context necessary. Discernment is out of reach. As W.B. Yeats wrote, “The center cannot hold.” 

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”  (Yeats, The Second Coming)

Context avoidance and manipulation is not unique to the 21st century. It’s been around since the invention of preachers and politicians. We simply have the tools to amplify it and glut ourselves on the fat that remains.

‘Taken out of context’ comes with a cold surgical sister phrase: after the fact. They knew after the fact. He was an accessory after the fact. It was only after the fact that they saw what was there all along.

fact (noun): a thing that is known or proved to be true.

How do you know or prove something to be true? It is the same question educators faced so long ago: how do we discern what information is valid and what is not? Well, begin by slowing down enough, care enough to place the thought, idea, opinion, data, in its full context. Conviction, ideals, truths…all of these lofty words, have meaning and value, become grounded, solid, and meaning-full – in the presence of context.

(The photograph was taken from a ferry cutting through the surface ice at Death’s Door).

lake ice copy

pull the camera down and this is what you see

 

read Kerri’s blog post on ICE LANDSCAPE

 

zigzag through ice website box copy

 

Close The Gap [on Merely A Thought Monday]

kenosha tire sign copy

Do you remember Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten? Share everything. Play nice. Don’t hit people. Clean up your own mess. It is filled with simple undeniable wisdom. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all—the whole world—had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

It’s really not that complicated to get along. Everywhere I look I find credos and guides and statements of belief. Aspirations and inspirations. In fact, we are fairly drowning in statements of how to get along and how to create a better world. We are also awash in news streams screaming about deep division and our inability to play nice.

There’s a gap between our rhetoric and our choices.

It’s not that we have to see from the same point of view or hold a single omnipotent intention. We don’t. We won’t. The genius, the ideal, of our system is the notion that opposing points of view, wildly disparate beliefs, can come to a middle way. Compromise is possible if the common good is more important than winning at all cost. Sharing toys is possible if sharing is among the…shared values. Sharing engenders empathy, the consideration of the other person’s point of view. The things we learned in kindergarten and actually believe enough to enact. Dog-eat-dog, cheating, lying, exploitation, every man or woman for him/herself; these were not among the things I, or anyone else I know, learned in kindergarten. I was never punished for sharing or for service to others. I was never sent to my room for being fair or for speaking a truth – even if it wasn’t popular.

And, so, on this MLK day, in the midst of our mess, we ask again (and again and again), what is the difference between what we say we value and how we actually behave?

 

read Kerri’s blog post on WHAT THEY VALUE IS ON THE WALL

 

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Ask A Question [on Merely A Thought Monday]

NoSides Climate copy

“The world is as full of opinions as it is of people. And you know what an opinion is. You say this, and somebody else says that. Each one has an opinion, but opinion is not truth; therefore do not listen to mere opinion, it does not matter whose it is, but to find out for yourself what is true. Opinion can be changed overnight, but the truth cannot be changed.” ~ Krishnamurti, Think On These Things

She said with easy confidence and utter conviction, “The earth is warming because it’s spinning on its axle.” I was so stunned that I had to close my eyes and count to ten.  This thought-tree has no roots. It contains no thought. It’s lost in a mix-master of metaphor. It is a common marker of our times, a wildly confused opinion mistaking itself for a fact.

Propaganda (noun): information, especially biased or misleading in nature, used to promote a particular political cause or point of view.

I am wary of using the word ‘ignorant’ because I believe it applies to all of us. Ignorant (adjective): lacking knowledge or awareness in general. I’m not wary of using the word ‘lazy.’ Lazy (adjective): unwilling to work or use energy. Belief without investigation is lazy. And, it is dangerous.

“Political ideology can corrupt the mind, and science.” E.O. Wilson

Denial, as Roger once taught me, is one of the most potent forces at play in the human drama. David Neiwert tells the story of German villagers, at the end of the second world war, stunned to learn that the facility next to their village spewing ash was an extermination camp. Even though, every day, they watched trainloads of people enter the camp, and every day, saw empty train cars leaving the camp. They did not question. Every morning the villagers swept thick ash from their sills and walkways; they claimed that they had no idea. They were told it was a work camp. They believed what they wanted to believe – what they needed to believe. They did not question what they were told.

We are not the first human cohort to exhaust our resources or poison our environment. We are the first to attempt it on a global scale. We did not invent propaganda machines nor are we the originators of intellectual laziness. We simply have bigger, louder machines and more potent tools to toss around our unquestioned opinions. In the meantime, the earth, I’m sure, will continue to spin on its “axle”…er…axis. With or without us and our dedicated opinions.

 

[for grins and a good place to begin asking your questions, visit the NOAA Global Monitoring Division. Take the time to watch the CO2 movie – all of it. Write a few questions for yourself. Then, for grins, Google human population growth and sustainability. Draw no conclusions. Spout no opinions for a spell. Simply ask questions, check sources. Read some more. Learn to discern between fact and opinion…and your opinions about facts].

 

read Kerri’s blog post on NO SIDES IN CLIMATE

 

 

dogga in snow website box copy

 

 

 

 

Eat Some Laughter [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

flawed pillows copy

“Every lie begins with a truth.” Jonathan casually tossed that gem-of-a-phrase into our dinner conversation. I could write pages on his prompt – especially in these times – but that is a rant for another day. What matters at this writing is that, just as a lie is rooted in truth, so is a cartoon.

Today’s pillow onslaught is in honor of Kerri’s designs inspired by our it-went-nowhere-but-made-us-laugh-every-day-Flawed Cartoon. In revisiting her designs, I realized that her pillows reach into the truths that inspired the laughs. Face Your Giant.  Dream. So Much Possibility. You Are What You Eat.

Eat some laughter. Taste some truth. Surround yourself with Kerri’s designs.

(from the Flawed Cartoon Hall of Fame)

Pinochio BIGcopy copy 2

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FLAWED PILLOWS

 

 

laughing website box copy

 

flawed cartoons, designs, & products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

Pray In Opposites [on DR Thursday]

 

I love this painting and for some reason have never included it in a show. An early version of it hung for a few years in the undergraduate offices of Antioch University, Seattle. After returning from Bali I took it down, hauled it back to the studio and repainted it.

On my gallery site I wrote about this painting that paradoxes and oppositions are lively topics for me. Truth is always found in the “in-between” spaces. Truth is connective tissue.

Separation is only the beginning of the life-story. The rest of the story is a search for connection. It is lived as a quest to find the common center – through a prayer of opposites. As the Balinese would say in shorthand, many faces, one god.

 

if you'd like to see david robinson.. copy

read Kerri’s blog post about A PRAYER OF OPPOSITES

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

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a prayer of opposites ©️ 2002/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Savor Good Moments [on KS Friday]

goodmoments song box copy

When you find yourself wondering what it’s all about, play this game: fill in the blank, “In this life I have….” Fill in the blank again and again and again, searching your memory banks for all the magic, mysterious, and miraculous experiences you’ve enjoyed. The good moments.

I like this game because, inevitably, I arrive at the realization that the good moments are the smallest of moments. Although swimming with whales or seeing the northern lights are miraculous, the really good good moments are first kisses, watching your baby sleep, holding hands after the storm passes. Laughing hysterically with friends just because.

Kerri’s composition, Good Moments, is a musical river of small moments, quiet yearning, tender touches, the smell of autumn leaves. Play the game and begin with Good Moments. It will transport you back. It will unlock the door to your memory bank. It will also help you realize that this moment – this very moment – is a very good moment, indeed.

 

GOOD MOMENTS on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about GOOD MOMENTS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

if you'd like to see kerri sherwood.. copy 2

 

good moments/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Let It Catch You [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

Pinochio BIGcopy copy 2

Although I wish I could claim otherwise, I drew this before our most-current age of Truthiness (thank you, Stephen Colbert).

All those years ago when I first saw a photographer alter a photograph with Photoshop, I wondered what in the absence of photographic proof would become the baseline for truth? I’ve lived long enough to have my answer.

Now, on this July 4th, amidst the collapse of civil dialogue, the dearth of shared values, I wonder in the absence of any baseline for truth, how long before truth circles around and catches up to us? Of this I am sure: Photoshop will be of no use.

[Doesn’t it just make you think of Yeats? The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.]

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copy

read Kerri’s blog post on Truth Sometimes

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

i always tell the truth sometimes ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood