Thursday, May 25, 2017
When I heard about a recent Ted talk that got “thunderous applause” and a standing ovation what made it especially thrilling was that the talk was about the fact that we could give a guaranteed income to all the poor of this country for a quarter of the defense budget.
This reminded me of a quote from a previous president, General Dwight D. Eisenhauer.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It’s spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
The current president’s proposed budget takes from the people who need it most to give to those who have plenty already, a blatant dismissal of the actual needs of the country’s population in favor of already bloated defense spending. This wastes the potential of so many who won’t be properly nourished and educated and thus never have an opportunity to offer contributions based on their own capabilities.
We find out who we are by finding out what we can do, what we’re capable of, what we love most, which open up abilities we didn’t know were there. To eliminate fear of poverty or being in a position where humiliation is part of the price of a paycheck, people’s own inclinations could begin to assert their presence. The idle TV and facebook time is because people are so tired. Their happiness and well-being are not built into the equation of modern success. Even if they achieve the advertised result of wealth and status, it’s no safeguard from sadness and disappointment.
The limited goals and avenues presented as the road forward often lead away from the untapped resources that all humans have within themselves. Instead of mimicking the indulgent rich, discovering a world of what they like to do develops an original person with a unique contribution. Pursuing many interests builds a brain of many circuits filled with skills and observed patterns for future analogy. The nuclear accumbens, often called the pleasure center because of its role increasing dopamine, has many inputs from the prefrontal cortex, location of our most evolved capacities, areas of imagination and problem solving, analysis and planning, putting words on the undescribable. Taking interest in something and action in relation to it stimulates more dopamine, giving greater focus and concentration. It’s a system that rewards personal development.
Who knows what problems could be solved, innovations discovered and culture advanced if we treated human beings as our greatest resource. The work of Martha Nussbaum argues that quality of life in a country is not shown by GDP but by opportunity to find “what each person can do and be” In her book “Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach” she presents an evolved model that focuses on respect for everyone’s ability to define themselves through their own capacities. She writes ,“The Stoics taught that every single human being, just by being human, has dignity and is worthy of reverence”.
Verbal fluency has dominated history and created a mindset that separated out things from the whole and pinned them down with labels. Visual intelligence embeds everything in context. Everyone has a perspective to offer on a big picture built from their accumulated visual experience. This is a unique set of understandings at the base of a unique visual mind that each has to offer. Economic growth without human development does not tap the potential of the majority and is an enormous waste of the resources of a country.
Monday, April 24, 2017
In the examination of different images to express time I’ve lately been seeing time as a ball that grows in size as layers of the new are added. I haven’t left my past behind. It goes with me everywhere. It is the substrate for the new layers added by recent experience. The old is there to draw from and forms the perspective that chooses what is relevant from scenes and events. Where there’s a grievance other grievances pile on and create sensitive peaks on the ball.
This image grew from this semester’s Visual Ideas class where in our discussions I’m struck by how onion-like the accumulation of information is. The class centers around current events and representing ideas about them visually, so each issue is a ball that grows as new substance is added to each layer. Fresh experience enfolds the previous. There are intersections among the balls that build around each issue like a Venn diagram in 3D. This could be a good image for how the brain builds memory connections around a starting point. The Beatle tune “Glass Onion” develops that image in a way that can be applied to many phenomenon of mind. Though I mainly use it to reflect on layers of consciousness, lately the idea of the oldest memories encased at the center, enfolded in similar types of memories up until most recent is an image that offers the whole of time at once. We bring the whole of our experience to be overlaid with the next
Our bodies offer a model of how many variously organized structures are held within the shell of skin and tissue and muscle, held up by the scaffold of bones, so a nested image makes sense. Scientists of ancient bones can tell the story of repeated behavior from the bones, see what actions were central to our meaning. Future layers of the earth will show how the current cultural history enfolds and is enfolded.
In the linear view of time, the past is gone. If we look at it as an onion, it is always within the present. One of the important points in Rupert Sheldrake’s banned Ted talk was that the mindsets that are currently used by science to explain reality have become so entrenched that it becomes hard to view what is still unexplained from another perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKHUaNAxsTg
In invoking vision metaphors I mean to emphasize that looking at something differently needs new images. At the heart of the onion the originating seed, what activates it is as big a mystery as death. What is that animating force? With images that connect, reflect, and encompass we reveal the interconnections of growth that flourish with diversity.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
This was inspired by the spectacular play at this year's Australian Open when four tennis legends competed in the finals. Venus and Serena Williams played each other in the women's. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer went five sets in the men's and when Roger said even if he'd lost he'd have won, I got teary. He and Serena won but it felt like we all did. One of the best weekends of tennis ever and all of the finalists were in their thirties. It is now part of the complete grand slam to be seen on the post "Tennis Drawings"
In the many times I’ve returned to Ocean City since the summer of 1969 when I worked there as a desk clerk, I never had the urge to revisit the hotel and reflect on back then. As much as the idea of working at the beach might be romanticized, it was an unhappy time in my life when I felt cut loose from everything that made me feel secure. On this visit the doors of memory were flung open by the fact that from my chair in a restaurant across the street I found myself facing the attic window where I lived that summer. Looking at it over a period of time let the memories build and deepen, images of the other girls that worked there and lived in the same attic dormitory. We would sit by the fan in that window because everywhere else in the attic was stifling. The hotel was not air-conditioned then and the attic was the worst. Thinking about the music we played and roaming on the boardwalk late at night shifted my inclinations toward the sensations of then and the next morning I decided I’d walk over and peek in the lobby.
A woman was standing on the broad porch where the rocking chairs were once lined up. Not wanting to worry her when I approached I called out to ask if it was open. She shook her head no but I kept walking up the stairs saying. “I worked here in 1969. Do you mind if I peek in and see what it looks like now?”
She shrugged and backed off, a woman with very dark skin and very purple hair, she wasn’t sure what to make of me. Enjoying my role as old timer with stories from before she was born, I looked in the front window and immediately saw what I went on to tell her, a moment in history I hadn’t thought about in years.
“I saw the first man step on the moon right there.” And pointed to the front corner of the lobby. “I stood right behind that counter and watched it on the only television in the whole hotel. People from all over the boardwalk had crowded in with the hotel guests to see it. And when it happened everybody cheered. It was a moment everybody felt together in a national achievement. My heart pumps faster now when I go there in my mind, see the grainy back and white picture, me standing on a chair so I could see over the crowd. Because going to the places in life’s picture reignites the experience with the feelings. I must have been smiling the smile of there and then because the woman was smiling and nodding with me.
I felt really good when I headed back to my hotel, so many things I hadn’t thought about in years, how the events from history weave into the personal tapestry and the richness of detail that could be tapped at each location. With time’s distance, my loneliness that summer was an abstraction I no longer felt, eclipsed by the shared moment just so recently reinforced.