Monday, June 29, 2009
To get in the mood for my trip, I watched the video Screaming Masterpiece, a survey of Icelandic music in which Barði Jóhannsson, of the band Bang Gang, answers the question: “Why is Icelandic music so special?” For a country whose largest city is about the size of Akron, OH, and where they speak a language shared by no other, it produces an amazing amount of great music. Barði says it’s because “all the bands that are any good know that their music won’t be played on the radio and that they won’t sell more than 200 albums in Iceland, so they make music just as they please.”
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Human beings are by nature spiritual beings, created by God to receive the Holy Spirit. The evidence of this receptivity is that we cannot be human unless we live ecstatically. In other words, each of us lives by participating in a larger reality than our particular location and perspective, than our particular consciousness, and, conversely, each of us, enriched by that larger world, adds his and her unique sensibility to it.....
Our spiritual potential is given a particular inflection in everyday life through music and literature. We all know what it is like to be moved by a poem or a novel, or any other work of art, for that matter. An aesthetic work enables its audience to enter and explore a different way of seeing something, a different way of feeling about the world, or, a way of feeling that is already ours, but which we may have repressed. To appreciate a literary work, for example, is not simply to be informed about the author’s point of view. It is to feel the sense of things expressed in the work.
You enter into the characters, so that it seems as if it were your own heart beating beneath their clothing. Hence literature, music and art do not isolate us in egocentric desire or self-pity; rather, they invite us to actualize our capacity to love, that is, to abandon our self-preoccupation, to stand outside ourselves and within the world as experienced by others. This is what love does, and what art fosters. It enlarges the boundaries of the self.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I love your place. Such artistic order. Carol's Blog reminded me of a story about my friend Peter in Stuttgart. I was staying with him about 4 years ago and was struck by how impeccably the place was organized. He doesn't have your artistic sense so it was just super neat and very clean. When we left in the morning, after the beds were made, the dishes cleaned and put away, the sink wiped down with a fresh, dry rag (who wants those unsightly stains on the stainless steel?), he stopped in the doorway and turned around one last time to make sure everything was in place. Sharing with me that he "doesn't like it when things are too perfect", he went back inside and took a coat off of one of the hooks by the door, walked over to the couch and tossed the coat on the armrest. Not happy with the way the coat had fallen, he picked it up again and threw it a second time. Ahhhh. Now, for him, the place was imbued with just an air of the casual.
Note to manically tidy self: go downstairs and throw some magazines around.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Scott Cole is often mentioned in my posts, sometimes as Scott Who Knows Everything, as he’s frustratingly multi-accomplished. Musician, painter, and chef (Scott owns Caffe Pomo d’Oro in West Stockbridge, MA) his home is an ever-changing work of art.
While the furnishings could not be more opulent, comfortable, and New England in orientation—as well as festive—Scott’s emphatic use of black adds a slightly sinister edge to his style, which I have dubbed “Goth Colonial.” Every room is permeated with a sense of mystery, the objects in whispered conversation with each other, telling cryptic stories, alluding to histories and secrets we’ll never know:
When I’m there I’m always taking pictures and the only challenge is editing—basically you can point the camera anywhere and get a beautiful vignette. For instance you can guess what vantage point I took this from. But really, isn’t this just the world’s sexiest toothbrush?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s Scott, preparing the dinner he made last night for a few friends, in his kitchen which, except for the black cat lurking nearby, is white and innocent:
Because it fit him perfectly, I gave Scott this kimono, which was made for my uncle when he served in China during World War II. He wore it once for Halloween, then hung it on the wall:
And outside, the hand-carved pickets on the fence that came with the house. Even they tell a story:
Friday, June 5, 2009
I was back in Pittsfield today, at the Berkshire Medical Center (for an MRI on my foot which, of course, was completely cured by the fact that I was going for an MRI—just the way a snuffly, crying baby turns into a smiling picture of health the minute you enter the pediatrician’s office) where this sculpture caught my attention. Although I’d go for something a little more comforting and calming for a medical center—incorporating a water feature perhaps, or vegetation (it would be a great place for some surprise topiary)—the sculpture itself is not so bad, and its sleek lines and mirrored surface contrast nicely with the traditional architecture of the building behind it. But what’s with the sign at the bottom? What’s the point of installing something if you’re going to overwhelm any redeeming qualities it might have with a tacky sign? Who’s thinking here?
So I’m driving home, ranting to myself about how I’ll gladly add public sculpture to the list of things (museum wall text, artists statements, children’s music) that I plan to outlaw when king, when I see this—unmarked, unattributed, and perfectly at home in its environment—and am reminded, as with the Kinderhook snow sculpture I came across last winter, that the human artistic impulse has a place outside after all, just best, perhaps, when it’s not institutionalized.