Monday, December 31, 2007

What Art is For

I am finding it hard to find a place in my life and an explanation for all things art and science. Because for every single concept or organization that purports to fuse them into oneness, I still maintain that they are so damn different that sometimes my head spins and strains and hurts to reconcile the two, while my heart reaches out for both beyond reason.

Recently, I was at a funeral and someone I used to know asked me what I did and I told them. She was working as a party planner and she said {wow it makes my job seem so shallow} and I said to her {dont feel that way, because ultimately all anybody wants to do is go to a party} and it awakened the feeling in me that so many seemingly frivolous things are just there, not to cure illness or put food in mouths, but to make life a little nicer and that is in itself a very important function.

So, In honor of the new year and my new outlook, I am posting something that I heard on the radio the other day. It is a list that the artist Mary Frank put together in her journal about what art is for:

to comfort the dead and to awaken the living.

to feel the power of color and shape and to fill an unspoken hunger for community

to give courage use the heart to risk and never be afraid of tenderness or the absurd.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Lightness and the Sweetness

I am re-posting an old post of mine that I keep thinking about and that is relevant again:

The smell of evergreen embraces me as I walk down the sidewalk where they sell the cut trees in the city, we know they are dead now but somehow they still hold a little piece of some impossible hope. A hope that is unique in each one of us. A hope that burns out come January and is forgotten entirely by bleak February. Sometimes I think that Christmas in the city is unbearable, people shopping shopping shopping, dropping money all over the place for things that no one really needs.

But it is the mood that people get in to that is really so fantastic. For Christmas this year I want to take a little piece of Christmas spirit, the lightness and sweetness, and capture it in a paper coffee cup and sit it beside my bed and sip it slowly throughout the dry and leafless winter.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Grass Is No Greener

So tonight it was solved, and its over for now. I was telling my brother all the reasons why I am miserable in my current position and we discussed how I always want to do something other than what I am doing, no matter what I am doing. He said that its a problem of imagination that I have. What? I thought?

He said that it is easier to imagine yourself 180º from where you are than say, 3º from where you are. In other words it is hard to make your current situation into what you want it to be than it is to imagine a total overhaul being exactly what you need.

done and done. I am off to do some homework.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I Can Never Go Back Home Again

I have been putting off blogging actually, because I have so much to say that it is almost a burden. This is a post about what I have learned this semester, my first official semester as a graduate student. Because even though I have kicked and screamed and faked apathy towards my classes and fought vainly the old ennui, now that I look back I am certainly transformed and, for better or worse, I can never go back home again:

In the field I am in, there is no way to know the truth of what exactly happened in the past and how evolution got us to this point, in our molecules or our bones, its all conjecture really, but you have to love the basic craft of aspiring towards the idea of “truth.” You have to love the process and not get bogged down by what you cant know. This is a very difficult thing.

The process of science and all the sensibilities that it requires, efficiency, logic, details, big picture comparison, is a highly pervasive set of skills. Is there a way to keep all of these things inside the lab and not start to clean the bathroom or paint your nails in a scientific way? Again, very difficult.

Also, is there a way to look at something and be content with its mystery again and not want to know what exactly makes it tick? because sometimes the clock itself it just a thing of beauty without having to know the unpoetic particulars of how the gears meet each other. This has been very, very difficult for me, I have learned.

Scientifically deconstructing a painting, for example, has been a very depressing thought for me. I need to learn how to separate my life from this. I need to learn to enjoy getting flour all over me at home, but not enjoy getting luria bertani broth all over me in the lab, if that this possible. For example, I know that music is math, but isn't that just the driest and saddest summation of it?

When you embark on your wildest dream, you may have no more dreams left, so you better make it work.

This is why people have regular jobs that deal with ‘lighter’ topics. I have always strived for a career that would really be in perfect agreement with my values, but it is just a terribly risky thing to be so entrenched in something that you really believe in.

And I am afraid I will never recover.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

a tip for a tab

Anyone know if the little tab of fabric that sticks out of the top of a beret has a name? just wondering.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Men Say They Know Many Things

How I am feeling lately, described perfectly by Henry David Thoreau-

{Men say they know many things;
But lo! they have taken wings, —
The arts and sciences,
And a thousand appliances;
The wind that blows
Is all that any body knows.}