Posts tagged ‘photography’

July 31, 2017

Art is My Religion

by lisa st john

Art is our new religion and museums our cathedrals.” Theodore Zeldin

Art is everywhere.

This is not a new idea. Alain de Botton’s beautiful talk “Art as Therapy” expands on Zeldin’s idea. He says that art’s function is in “giving us hope.” It reminds us that we are “not alone in our suffering.” Sounds theological doesn’t it? Recently, I realized I have a religion after all: art.

I got a last minute invitation to an event by The Secret City (“Sincere and fabulous community celebrations of the everyday creative life. With outfits”) recently, and it was nothing less than … spiritual. Artists getting together and

Chris Wells

sharing what they do with the rest of us, but also engaging us, inviting us to join them.

 

This interactive event included music by the Secret City Band, dance by Energy Dance Company, guided breathing, a shared ice cream treat by Cashewtopia, an amazing musical interaction by Sxip Shirey, a powerful a cappella protest song by Prana, fabulous memoir excerpt reading by Chris Wells, the most wondrous “Ukulele Anthem” by Amanda Palmer, and visual art provided by Martyn Thompson: meditation, music, singing, mingling, recitation…sounds like

 

AFP

church. It felt much better than any church-going I have ever experienced. It was a truly joyful celebration. We weren’t celebrating our union with a separate-from-us god; we were celebrating art and artists and the harmony that our union with them can provide. We need this. We need to connect with art so we know there are others like us. We are not alone.

 

“In times of dread, artists must never choose to remain silent.” –Toni Morrison

 

This brings me to how we connect to the arts. What can we do to promote and enjoy and partake in the magical making of things? One way is Patreon. We do not have to be insanely rich Medicis to support the arts. With crowdsourcing and gofundme and kickstarter, indiegogo, et cetera, we can all make a difference in the world; we can all be patrons. I give a little + you give a little + someone else gives a little = an artist has the money to record an album. That’s about as mathematical as I get, so … .

Let’s be kind.

Let’s share art,

and let’s be fucking joyful.

July 5, 2017

Little Things

by lisa st john

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.

-Marcus Aurelius

It really is all about the little things. Cigarette machines repurposed as little Art machines, for example. Art-O-Mat is part of The Cosmopolitan’s fabulous, changing Art Program. This is only one of the many wonderful things about this hotel–the only one on the strip (I believe) to have balconies. Las Vegas is opulent and ostentatious, welcoming and lonely.

The nighttime lights of this city laugh at the vast desert, but the mountains hush the neon into submission at sunrise. Oh, Duality.

 

 

Back to little things.

Here is a brief list of little but magnificent.

-campfire light in the backyard
-roses and daisies together in a vase
-watching your son live a life all his own, beautiful as his birth almost thirty-one years ago
Halo Top ice cream
-landing on your feet again
-loving your tribe and feeling the love back
-Art
-romping dogs
-just…landing

 There will be time; oh yes Mr. Eliot. This year there will be gorgeous amounts of time.

sabbatical (adj.) 1640s, “of or suitable for the Sabbath,” from Latin sabbaticus,

from Greek sabbatikos “of the Sabbath” (see Sabbath). Noun meaning “a year’s absence granted to researchers” (originally one year in seven, to university professors) is from 1934, short for sabbatical year, etc., first recorded 1886 (the thing itself is attested from 1880, at Harvard), related to sabbatical year (1590s) in Mosaic law, the seventh year, in which land was to remain untilled and debtors and slaves released.

And where is my metaphorical untilled land? Who are the debtors and slaves of my heart?

This too, I will explore. Adding to the little list: gratefulness.

 

I just landed. I’m a little rusty. It’s time to let the writing genie back in (or at least unlock the door).

 

December 10, 2016

More links than content, but isn’t everything connected?

by lisa st john

censorship-quotes-85

Some things happened recently that made me remember that not everything is okay. Not everyone is okay. And I am not even talking about the elections. I teach English Language Arts in high school. But really, I teach kids. I try and teach kids how to be good adults. I do not always succeed. And that knowledge hurts, because I forget sometimes. We all have choices.

But I have noticed over the years that physical pain can take me away like fucking Calgon. So thanks, Doc, for the cortisone shot in my thumb that brought me to tears. Yes, there is crap and Trump and Orwellian cabinet positions but there is also Art.

I can go an hour south and see Modigliani at the Met or Clyfford Still at MoMA. I can re-read American Gods (again) and visit Roland in his Dark Tower quest again and again.

Until they close the museums.

Until they burn the books.

orwellian

I can go hear live music like the amazing Joanna Teters and Amanda Palmer. I can go to poetry readings and workshops like Word Café, and I can even occasionally get published (thank you Chronogram).

 

Until they close the theaters and the clubs.

Until they round up the artists and intellectuals.

The fear of being helpless is dangerous. We are not weak. We are more connected to each other than any time in human history. When we feel powerless, we can go to real places and virtual places and listen to each other, and share silly cat videos and remember to smile and to see.

My mantra for today: Make Art. SEE. Join. Don’t give up. Don’t go back.

And we will not go back (to the kitchen or the closet or the back of the bus). Will we?

 

This is just a little list. There is SO MUCH MORE out there.

American Civil Liberties Union
LAMBDA Legal
Planned Parenthood
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Campaign

 

Look at the beautiful things going on in the world that we can ALL be a part of!

Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding so, so many.

 

See you in D.C.

pussy                                      a new poem 

May 30, 2016

Some Things I Know

by lisa st john

 

I may not know the difference between a rosebush and raspberries, admittedly. But there are some things I do know.

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I know rain at an outdoor celebration staved off by kindness.
I know the universal joy of sharing a meal with the blurred line of friends and family.

I may not know why Pi can do what it does, or why ferns speak fractals and they, in turn, speak chaos.

But I know the blissful tears of the father and the harmonious tears of the mother. I know that the tenuous strands of young love spin and weave, creating the strength of an unbreakable union.

With the multitude of horrible things in this world—things I do not want to know—I am indebted to the goddess of perspective for allowing me to also see the first hummingbird of the season, and to hear the “wild rumpus” of worshipped children.

And if there is a secular word for “blessed” then please, someone tell me. Because I am.

I know pain, but also gracious healing. I know fear, but also comfort. I know the darker side of turmoil and the gentle light of peace. And right now, in this moment, I am alive with all I know.

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Ponderings is available at Finishinglinepress or you can get a signed copy from me directly 15.00. paypal.me/lisastjohn

February 6, 2016

What’s Wrong with My Head?

by lisa st john

“You live too much in your own head,” she said.

I am still trying to understand what that means. Where else do I have to go?

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Ken Robinson explains that university professors, “look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads.” Why is that so bad?

I like the inside of my head—my mind. It’s safe there. I have friends there.

When I had my first kiss at age12 (yuck), I could go and complain to Meg. Any girl who can travel through wrinkles in time would understand.

When I had an abortion at age 16 I could go to Narnia and snuggle deep into Aslan’s fur. I had nowhere else to go.

My mind let’s me remember swimming in Isla Mujeres or walking through Central Park or rocking in my hammock. But spaces are not places and inside spaces are more difficult to navigate than outside spaces. So it’s not about where I am, it’s about where my mind is.

I can walk and walk and be back in Guanajuato when I was twenty-something traveling with the love of my life. And he was/is alive.

But it’s not just about confusion or comfort or memory. Isn’t it just one more place to travel? Not only can I go to the past, I can go to the future. Like AFP’s song, “In My Mind,” I can circle around to the almost-or-will-be places. Why not? I can spend a few hours visiting Future Lisa as she finally writes that novel or goes dogsledding in Alaska or becomes a grandmother or buys a house in Mexico. But after those couple of hours, I cannot tell you whom (who sounds better) Present Lisa was sitting next to on the train. Is that so bad?

I will never truly understand the phrase, “I’m bored.” I have never been bored. I don’t know what that means. Of course, I can define the word bored (lacking interest in a current activity? unoccupied?). But I am too busy wondering:

  • If Lolita came to life and wrote an answer to Nabokov, would it be as an adult looking back or in the voice of her child-self?
  • If we kept cats awake, would anything about them change other than their grumpiness?
  • Who is really the closest to my version of Sherlock Holmes? Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Lee Miller or Robert Downey?
  • If I could go into the world of American Gods, would I want to be Shadow or be his mate?

 

All I know right now is that when I Google the phrase, “too much in your own head” I get over 80,000 hits and too many of them are self-help garbage sites. I haven’t yet figured out what’s wrong with living in my head. Maybe I will walk some more and ponder the movement of light. IMG_3958

 

 

 

“Our minds are all we have. They are all we’ve ever had. And they are all we can offer others.” Sam Harris 

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You can visit my author page at Amazon HERE.

You can also buy by book of poetry, Ponderings, from Finishing Line Press.

July 1, 2014

No Time for Advertisements

by lisa st john

daisy

 

Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you?”

Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot

 

Dear Reader (Wait. Weird how Jane Austen that sounded.):

I promise to never put floating hypertext ads on my blog. If you click on one of my links it’s because, like me, you are interested in tangents and are willing to play in the world of hypertext reading theory.

Delany and Landow define hypertext as, “the use of the computer to transcend the linear, bounded and fixed qualities of the traditional written text.” Wow. I like the hyperbole of “transcending” anything linear. Anyway…

 

Time. How to act for the next few weeks when my world is not measured by the clock? I look at the LED and 8:30 seems a reasonable time to get up. I switch the coffee maker from Auto-On to Brew. She’ll stay that way for awhile. I’ll check the weather. Humid. Yeah, well, it is June in upstate New York. Sun and clouds. Really? They are both going to be up there today. Okay. In Arizona, I rarely checked the weather. How many synonyms are there for hot, really hot, and treacherously hot?

 

So. I will check my email. Yawn. I could pay some bills. Yuck. The computer tells me it is 8:56, but the numbers have lost their meaning.

 

I gave the kids a ten minute warning.”

But…”

It’s okay. They have no idea how long ten minutes is. It could be five minutes or half an hour.”

 

Ten minutes waiting for a bus in the rain is a long ten minutes. Ten minutes before the betting windows close is a just-enough ten minutes. Ten minutes of lounging in the sand watching the waves is far too short.

 

But if Einstein is right, why can’t I play with time dilation; why can’t I choose to see the future rather than the past?

 

Kindergarteners learn to “tell” time (much too early in my humble opinion). The only way to explain time to my son when he was five was to tell him that time wasn’t real. Then he got it. “Philosophers like McTaggart who claim that time is unreal are aware of the seemingly paradoxical nature of their claim. They generally take the line that all appearances suggesting that there is a temporal order to things are somehow illusory.” What’s wrong with a little paradox?

 

Composer Jonathan Berger claims that music can, “hijack our perception of time.” Schubert knew, before science did, that time is based on perception. The logical conclusion here is that artists like Schubert can manipulate time. So what time is it?

 

Wait. There’s a cat, a hammock, and a book. That’s three. The time is three today.

 

Always in motion is the future.”

Yoda, Star Wars Episode V:The Empire Strikes Back

 

 

 

 

March 1, 2011

Two Squared

by lisa st john

“Cleo found a sausage link.”
“What!? Where?”
“She must have found it under the stove.”
“She can’t fit under the stove; she’s a 15 pound cat. She’s too big.”
“Remember when she hid in the Holiday Inn hotel room for 3 days?
She’s a cat. She’s big but she can get small.”

I would rather watch House reruns than the Oscars, and I admit to adding lettuce to my croutons in order to make the dreaded salad. A really good cheeseburger tastes much better than a filet mignon and the only exercise I truly enjoy is sleeping (rapid eye MOVEMENT, hel-LO…). Extremes and contradictions. Where would we be without them?

I cannot make small talk to save my life (thank you technology for letting me pretend to text rather than meet a new person), but I love going to work where I talk with people (teenagers actually) all day long. I enjoy (can and have) wearing pajamas and not leaving my house for 72 hours straight. However, I also love traveling with my husband Kent and staying in hotels. Not making the bed is a favorite perk.

A recent jaunt to Beantown got me thinking about dualities. Blue collar dudes in Carhart are eating next to white collar Prada skirts everywhere you look. It’s a town of blending opposites.

A congruency does exist, however with the Museum of Fine Arts and the pattern of Boston streets in general. Circular, seemingly aimless and difficult to transverse, Boston’s MFA is also extraordinarily complex but well worth the passage. Their Modernist photography exhibit made me sigh with delight. Someone recently remarked that they didn’t know enough about art to enjoy it and I wonder if that is like my love of mathematics although, ironically, I don’t speak the language. I have a somewhat rational fear of Alzheimer’s, and I think that if I learn mathematics I may keep my brain awake and alive for a little longer.

The weird duality of my respect for math and my ignorance of it is confounding and annoying. I am fascinated by physics, and I know that I cannot truly understand it without speaking its number-y language but the task seems daunting. Maybe I’ll try learning Chinese instead. At least I am not afraid of numbers like ridiculously superstitious people. We stayed in room 1313 on the 13th floor of the Liberty Hotel in Boston and guess what horrible thing happened? NOTHING! I didn’t even need to sprinkle salt over my shoulder or spit on the floor. The proverbial black cat was crossing my path while I was under the ladder and I admit to regularly opening umbrellas indoors. But that is a thought for another post. Until then I will continue finding the closest parking spot to the gym entrance and ordering diet Coke with my french fries (side of mayo please).

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