I think there is something wrong with me.
Actually, I know there is something wrong with me.
I don't get "Art." And I don't just mean "that which hangs upon a wall or stands on a pedestal in a museum." I don't get much of it at all. Or perhaps the right way to say it is, "Most art doesn't move me in the same ways as it appears to affect other humans, and that art which does get through to me then almost moves me too much, to the point where I avoid it completely, to avoid having those levers pulled and knobs twisted."
About 20 years ago I started withdrawing from reading fiction. I just couldn't stand having my emotions played with in that way. It isn't a hard and fast rule (and there is certainly some non-fiction that has gotten to me), and every once in a while (like every two to three years), I may still pull a favorite novel out and re-read it, but it is always something I've already read - known territory, known feelings.
Similarly, in the past decade I've really ramped down on watching movies, especially new movies, where modern fast-cut techniques mean the director can plant an image (and hence an emotion) in your head faster than you can close your eyes. And once it's in there, you can't get it out. So now I tend to only watch movies I've already seen (again, known territory, known feelings), or if it is a new movie I approach it very carefully and will turn it off halfway through if it is going somewhere I don't like (Fargo, Barton Fink, High Fidelity, Swimming With Sharks are examples of films I've never watched all the way through). And more and more I am tending to watch "new to me" old movies instead - film noirs, classic dramas and such - where the old-style directing and cutting techniques combined with the pre-Method character acting, while still quite capable of making a powerful film, don't seem to attack my emotions in quite the same way (just watched Grand Hotel this weekend for the first time - great flick!)
I have never "gotten" poetry. Other than Billy Collins, there are few poems, let alone poets, who "speak to me." I've tried to sit and read poetry, but I always get bored quickly, and my mind drifts. At least that isn't the same as the other arts, where I hold it apart because I fear the emotional damage it brings.
And then there is "real art." Hanging-on-the-walls, standing-on-a-pedestal art. I've been to museums in various cities. I've seen true masterpieces hanging on the walls both here and in Europe. I like ("like" with a small letter "l") the Impressionists, but mostly because I enjoy how their work looks in real life, up close - how their palpable, physical textures and techniques seen up close resolve into something quite lifelike and "alive" as you back away from the painting. Although I can't say they move me per se, more that they are interesting almost like an optical illusion is interesting.
I spent quite a bit of time in museums in London and other parts of England when I was over there doing project work and needed something to do on the weekends. I've been to the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam twice. I go and trudge through the corridors, dutifully reading the placards, looking at the exhibits, trying to feel...what? I don't know. Whatever it is others are feeling when they look at art, I guess. And always in the back of my mind wondering, "Can I go yet? Have I spent enough time here for it to count as 'going to the museum?' What's for lunch?"
Music is the one art form that I do let through my defense shields, and always have, and hopefully always will. It can make me cry, and laugh, and shout, and even (want to) dance. For some reason music is allowed to toy with my emotions while all other forms of art are not. More weirdly, music comes in via the audio channel only, and that is my worst channel for taking in information, but apparently my best for emotions.
Dunno. I'm just weird. But you knew that already.
Monday, March 29, 2010
I think there is something wrong with me.
Monday, March 22, 2010
This past weekend there was a movement by Reboot, a Jewish think tank, to have a "national day of unplugging" from sundown on Friday (the start of the Jewish sabbath) until sundown on Saturday. The guiding principles were outlined in their Sabbath Manifesto:
- Avoid technology
- Connect with loved ones
- Nurture your health
- Get outside
- Avoid commerce
- Light candles
- Drink wine
- Eat bread
- Find silence
- Give back
Hmmm...How 'bout "Easter Unplugged?" If it worked for Nirvana, 10,000 Maniacs and Eric Clapton, it could work for Jesus! :o) I am thinking of giving it a try tomorrow. Will be interesting to see if I remember when I wake up not to immediately go to the computer. May have to stick a sticky note on the screen.And that's precisely what I did - I stuck a sticky note on my screen (actually it ended up on my keyboard because it kept falling off), and I even turned the monitor off, so just knocking the mouse "accidentally" wouldn't bring it out of sleep mode and lure me into looking at whatever was on screen. I also turned off my phone and decided there'd be no music nor movies either.
The results were interesting. I definitely had to adjust - there were multiple times where I thought, "I'll look that up!...Oh, wait...No, I won't." I reflexively moved the mouse to bring the monitor out of sleep mode at least three times during the day (good thing I powered it off). And there were all sorts of thoughts I wanted to email/tweet/post that I ended up writing down on a little notepad beside the keyboard. I did make it through the day without "technology," although, as my daughter Meghann pointed out, even toilets are technology, so it's all arbitrary. I chose to define it as "technology that keeps us from directly interacting with others face-to-face, and that keeps us from contemplating ourselves." Is that better?
I did pretty good on some of the other things, too, but much of that was by happenstance. Les's oldest nephew had confirmation yesterday (Erin's is coming in May!) and so we went to that service and then over to their house for a big family get together. So the "Connect with loved ones" was covered, as was "Get outside," if only briefly because it was cold and blustery.
Avoiding commerce was easy because I almost never shop on a Sunday anyway. And the wine and the eating (no bread, though - trying to lose weight!) were part of a nice Sunday evening. As part of Sunday morning I spent a few hours reading actual books instead of pixels while the rest of the house was asleep, so I definitely found my silent time, too.
In the end, I think it was a success. Although I did wake up at 3:00 am this morning and couldn't get back to sleep - maybe I was going through withdrawal, because I ended up in front of the computer around 4:30. But it was a worthwhile experiment. I don't know if I will do it every weekend, but I may try for a monthly "technology fast," just to keep in touch with others and myself in ways beyond the ethereal. To remember I have a life, IRL.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
- 2-4 lbs steak - thinner steaks like flat iron or flank preferred, sirloin is good too, though
- orange juice - half a gallon is more than you need
- 2-3 Tbs Worcester sauce
In a large flat glass baking dish mix the OJ, Worcester sauce, pepper and garlic. Arrange the steak in the dish such that the steaks are covered or almost covered in juice. Marinate for at least an hour (two is better), flipping the steaks over in the marinade halfway through.
Grill the steaks, reserving the liquid in the glass dish. Grill them for about 10 minutes less than you usually do. While the steaks are grilling, preheat the oven to 350° with the glass dish and juice in it. Bring the steaks in and put them back in the dish and bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve. It is good to cut the steak in thin slices and pour some of the juice over it. All six people in this house like this, and that says a lot.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Tom wrote a good post last week on how hard it is to really get to know each other in a church setting. I recommend it. As part of a comment on that, I wrote:
[...] I consider most churches to be accidental gatherings - we're not there because we really knew each other beforehand or are drawn to each other, but sheerly through the "accidents" of where we live and what denomination we belong to or feel an affinity toward. In some sense it's as random a grouping as any set of people in a particular restaurant at a given time.Sure, over time we're supposed to build those relationships, but it is an unnatural starting point, in my opinion. It is as if I happened to like Taco Bells, and went to the one in my town one Sunday, and then were told the people in that building at that time were the people I was supposed to meet with every week at that time, and not just to meet, but to get to KNOW, to really SHARE myself with.Hey, I just wanted three bean burritos, ya know?Contrast that with my post about "My church" yesterday. I am friendlier and more engaged with the people there after two and a half years than I am with the church I attend after almost ten.