Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Sunday, September 09, 2007


I occassionally save a blog post either so that it cannot be linked to a particular event or person, or because I'm not sure the thought is really complete. I also occassionally review previous posts. This post is both a review and something that I've held off posting for quite a while to see if the perspective is valid. I'm not sure it is completely my thoughts for TODAY, but I'm finally putting it out there anyways.

Could you be a great CFO without the work experiences? Maybe. Could you be a great spouse without the experiences that help you develop skills for being a successful partner? Maybe. But do you really think the person who has been at many short-term, low-responsibility jobs will adjust easily to the pressures, hours, and responsibilities of a C-Level position? Do you really think what we (of the West) seem to consider "ideal" for a young person today is really best preparing them for a married life?
from my blog (here)

I had a discussion with a friend last week about marriage, early marriage, divorce, and remarriage and I was trying to remember why it was I had written this. What values I had determined society was esteeming that were so detrimental.

The things I had listed in that blog as our societies underlying "ideals":
-having a sexually adventurous life (at least while young),
-becoming emotionally and financially independant, and
-getting great toys (material possessions such ascars, clothes, computers, and aesthetic or cosmetic "improvements" to oneself-- might be considered a part of this category)

All are still, in my brain at least, considerably influential in our society. Every bit of advertising and music video and even, to a degree, what we teach in schools seems to lean towards teaching us that at least one or two of these things are to be considered essential. Even the people our society sees as ethical and moral leaders (Oprah?) seem to buy into the superficiality that a "make-over" and a bit of self esteem through independence are all a person really needs to turn their life around. But what is interesting to me is that when I tried to recollect this blog posting I couldn't remember these ideals off the top of my head. Even when I read it it took a moment to recognize it, so now I'm not sure I fully agree with the way I said it just one year ago.

I think the difference is in me. In great part I've removed myself quite a bit from society and the media's "circle of influence" (great term I've been using since I read "7Habits of Highly Effective People" at age 16) over the past year. We no longer have cable television and I watch less television and listen to the radio less than in the past. I've become more involved with people and activities that are based on substance rather than just entertainment. And I've been making changes in my lifestyle and habits that are really positive, energizing and lead to more awareness and reflection. My change in diet has been a huge paradigm shift for me making things I once considered marginally healthy to be absolutely unhealthy and not worthy of being considered food.

All of this, ultimately effects not only the way I REACT to the world, but I think to the way I see it. And although I feel a little less involved in the "normal" trappings of the world, the way I see it is not critically, or remotely, but with more of a sense of love and compassion for society, even with its stumblings and shortcomings. I almost feel pity for it in much the same way as one might look upon a child, struggling to get their own way even when their choice of path or occupation the observer knows would bring them no joy, no love, no growth. I watch society crying out in its "I want, I want, I want!" tantrum, stomping its feet and insisting that THESE things will make it happy, when I know that what it really needs is a bit of loving guidance, a good long nap and a bit less sugar in its diet.

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Love is an action verb.

"In truly compatible relationships, love deepens further between partners through cycles of self-discovery and then rediscovery of each other. Over and over again, they fall in love in slightly different ways, reaffirming their shared commitment toward the relationship they share."

"Your type IS someone who…

* Excites you
* Shares your core values, core traits and relationship skills
* Makes you laugh
* Appreciates your dreams
* Respects you
* Makes you feel good to be around
* Helps you to be a better version of yourself

I've been thinking lately about relationships: those I've known, those I've been around, those I've admired, those I've cringed at, and those that have failed. On one of the surveys I filled out lately for some online deally one of the questions asked what my ideal of romance was and I replied:

"Finding a way to show the person you love your love, kindness, and respect." For some people that may involve candlelight and handholding, flowers or chocolates, front-row seats or trips for two, or it can be as simple as showing up when you said, putting the seat down, or watching the action movie over the girly-flick. And this, of course, holds true for non-romantic relationships as well.

Maybe it is just me and the people I've been around, but I have been noticing a distinct lack of respect, consideration, and selflessness in a lot of people's interactions with their friends and their loved ones.

It often seems that "romantic" gestures are just surface actions done to please the other person, but I think when you consider it a means of showing your love, kindness, and respect for the other person, NOT doing them would not simply be "unromantic", but would be a cause for the other person to question how much you love and respect them.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Are all arts the same?

I've considered myself an artist for most of my life. I started at art school when I was something like 10yrs old. I spent five years studying art at the University of Cincinnati and ended up getting a college degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis in sculpture. But while in college I got into dance as well. And when I say "got into" it wasn't some passing hobby that I participated in from time to time, it was an instant addiction that had me out dancing 5 nights a week for several years...and it never really disappeared. I still go out 1-3 nights a week and have a large number of friends that I know solely through the dance scene.

One of my dancing friends is also a singer/songwriter. It was through her that I was introduced to a place that I go to almost every Tuesday night now. It's a small bar in Bucktown with an open mic night that is attended by a number of Chicago's singer/songwriters with their guitars, their keyboards and/or a number of accompanists. Because of my regular attendance I've become friends with a number of musicians and they indulge me in discussions about music, about instruments, and my endless stream of queries about everything and anything that intrigues me--which, it seems, is a lot.

When I began dancing I found it natural that my figurative artwork could draw from my dance, and my dance was often viewed through my "artistically trained" eyes. I drew comparisons between movement in dance and visual "movement" or the dynamic flow of a sculpture, a painting, a drawing or other static artwork. The idea that music could be expressed through dance and even enhanced or emphasized; or that the dancer in someway "played" the music as much as another piece of the ensemble might, made as much sense to me as the expression of anything through color, light, form, mass, density, warmth, scale, texture and symbolism might in a sculpture.

As a figurative sculptor I would raise questions about my work and its relationship to real life : Is it a reflection of life, or a comment upon life? does it say something new about an experience, emotion, or belief people/I have? do I want to change my audience's mind, or expose them to something new? do I want to express something that my audience will understand better through my work? Do I want to use recognized symbols/gestures, or abstract forms to express something?

These type of questions were easily translated into questions about my dance: Should I dance to the melody or the rhythm? do I want to mimic the music or add to it? do I want to say something about the music through interpretation, translation, or by symbolic "commentary"? do I want to use recognized gesture or abstract reactions to the music?

So now I find myself a fan of singer/songwriters and I find a new set of questions and I feel as if in someway I should be able to connect them, although in some cases I don't know how.

In someways I've always felt that all art dealt with life and our experience of it. Perhaps this is a poor premise. But my questions like "Does it try to portray life, abstract life, or speak about life?" in art directly translated to "Does it try to imitate the music, or speak about it?" in dance. It seemed to make sense. Art was about art's relationship to life, and dance was about the relationship to music. But in music itself I find I don't know what the artist is dealing with. Surely music is also about life, but as life is not generally set to a score, music seems far removed from it. I tried to believe that music was just an expression of emotion, but that seems far too narrow.

The key to me seems to be abstraction. By taking something and making it in a different medium, all art is an abstraction of something else. A painting of an apple is not an apple. A sculpture of an apple is not an apple. No matter what you make, and how realistic it may appear, you are making a representation of an apple, and because it is not the "real" thing, it is in some form abstracted. Even the most hyper realistic pieces are abstractions because they are taking something and making it in a completely different medium.

So dance as well is a different medium. It is a visual medium representing an auditory medium, just as a painting can be a two-dimensional medium that is representing a three-dimensional item. These are not to say that the imitation is necessarily inferior, as the art often enhances the thing represented, or can make the most boring things spring to life. But none the less they are a shift, a change in mediums that brings a different aspect or view of the original.

So all of this had me questioning: what about music? What is it an abstraction of? The voice and song can be said to be an abstraction of speaking, but of music itself, in all it's nuance and complexity, what does it represent? It does not imitate in the way a painting might. It does not express one physical sense through another as dance may be said to embody music. Although there are rhythms and language that influence it, it does not seem to directly imitate or represent anything. It is in a realm of its own.

So my only thoughts, my only (unsubstantiated) conclusions have been that music DOESN'T imitate one of our senses, or some physical movement or object. But music DOES imitate life; because life is not only physical, as dance or a painting may represent. Life is time and life is cycles and life is balance, and life is emotion and experiences and things that are not static, things that are not physical, things that are not felt externally by one of the 5 senses, but felt internally and processed intellectually and experienced individually...So maybe music can be said to be nothing less than the imitation of our emotion, our experience, our spirit? An expression of the idea, of the feeling, of the thought, of the non-physical? A physical, auditory experience, made up solely of the waves of sound travelling through the air, as insubstantial, as indescribable, and as unique as the feelings and experiences they may portray....and yet another abstraction of life.

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