We live in odd and curious times where politics are more performance than punditry and more perfunctory than professional. How did we get in such a mess of unequal consequences? We won’t just rise or fall and find the mean when this comet ride is over — we’re heading into a catastrophic tumble of immortal termination — just as the Gods before us fell from the temple and humankind stopped looking to the heavens for confirmation of the merits of their lives in the glow of the clouds and decided to forgive their own sins while skipping the punishments.
In critical moments, I turn to my training, and seek the greater mind, and the more universally sophisticated aesthetic for guidance and comfort. As, Aristotle wrote, in “Politics” —
Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.
We are often confronted with the mandate of youth, and the conundrum of wisdom in the matter of — “Everything Goes!” — and I stand here to humbly submit that not everything must go. Sometimes, we need prescience and determination to realize the lack of self-restraint and that an untrained, unsavory, following can become profound enough to dangerously dismiss the best of us.
Janna and I had a delightful weekend in Hoboken, New Jersey. Hoboken is a great city with a wonderful, intimate, small-town feel surrounded by massive urban areas like Jersey City and Newark and, of course, the center of the world — New York City — is right across the Hudson river. Hoboken reminds us of our hometowns of Council Bluffs, Iowa and Lincoln, Nebraska.
Here’s a brief video of a wall mural from the Court Square subway station in Queens. I like the colors. I support public Art projects in public spaces. Video after the break.
Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry. He was an earthy icon and, in some eyes, an American shame, for the man could love only himself and not his children or his wife. I’m not sure if that’s a crime against himself, or his promises, but there is no denying the man was an original and he knew how to write and he knew what he was.
Marred by the mistake of genius, Robert Frost cared only for his poetry, and his legacy, and that’s why the new fascination with protecting Frost’s legacy on the page is so intriguing.
One internet meme that is taking flight on social media is the handcrafted glory of a grocery list Michelangelo created in the 16th century for his illiterate servant to use while shopping.
“Because the servant he was sending to market was illiterate,” writes the Oregonian‘s Steve Duin in a review of a Seattle Art Museum show, “Michelangelo illustrated the shopping lists — a herring, tortelli, two fennel soups, four anchovies and ‘a small quarter of a rough wine’ — with rushed (and all the more exquisite for it) caricatures in pen and ink.” As we can see, the true Renaissance Man didn’t just pursue a variety of interests, but applied his mastery equally to tasks exceptional and mundane. Which, of course, renders the mundane exceptional.
When teaching becomes an abstraction and not something real, the learning doesn’t stick in the student very well. Imagination must first be grounded in a hard reality.
As we move closer into living in a 24/7 virtual world, it is important for all of us to keep in mind that learning is best fostered using real things, in real-time, in the same, real, room with each other getting real. That is important in all human interactions, not just the classroom. We’re always trying to learn from each other and doing it with real objects is a powerful experience that binds.
When you’re teaching about a flower — is it better to show a computer image of a flower, or hand out a flower printed on a piece of paper, or is it best to share a real flower plucked from a garden in your alive hand?
A real flower authentically engages every bodily sense and creates a sensation in the mind.