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Is there such a thing as an art based EULA?

“A good book deserves an active reading. The activity of reading does not stop with the work of understanding what a book says. It must be completed by the work of criticism, the work of judging. The undemanding reader fails to satisfy this requirement, probably even more than he fails to analyze and interpret. He not only makes no effort to understand; he also dismisses a book simply by putting it aside and forgetting it. Worse than faintly praising it, he damns it by giving it no critical consideration whatever.”
~ Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

One of the biggest arguments I ever got into when I was in college was about artist (and specifically to the discussion then, authors) responsibility.  It was one of those life changing conversations and it has played out in my mins for the last 25 years in varying forms and with multiple applications.

One of the concepts that was brought up minimally then, but seems much more relevant now is that of the artists spectator. The actors viewer, the artists watcher, the authors reader.  I would argue that art is a social process, there is an end-user and a silently understood agreement (a EULA, if you will) between the artist and the one who “experiences” the art. I am not saying that a painter paints for a specific audience, I am saying the artist paints for an audience. This plays out in many ways.  I am not speaking to message of the art form, nor am I speaking to interpretation of the art form. I am speaking about the end-user. The watcher, reader, listener, or viewer.

I think we readers, watchers, viewers have gotten piss spoor about this part of the social contact. I know of only a very few people who consistently do these things actively, and even they slip up. We have gotten lazy, we react before fully reading, watching, listening or viewing. It may be that artists have stopped giving a shit about that their audience thinks or responds to their work, but on some level they have to want the people who experience their works to not pass by it in ignorance? I don’t know.

I, personally, write in the hope that the person reading my works thinks about something.  While I may be working through something deeply personal, having a reader respond often offers me greater insight. If they misunderstand, it helps me learn how to be clearer.

 

 

I have a friend that writes. They have an incredible vocabulary, though it is sometimes a bit archaic. They are pretty good at giving the reader what they want them to react to. I would say it is a mark of a good writer.  The interesting thing with my friend though, is that there is a general laziness with interpersonal conversation. That is frustrating. I imagine that the marvels and instant gratification of social media play out in these things.  Based on how I see communication working out now a-days, people seem to like to get their panties in bunch. They read a post, or see a picture and form these hard-line reactions.

I am no saint in this regard. I caught myself doing it all the time. it was to the point where it became personally embarrassing. Thankfully I have some friends who loved me enough to tell me to go back, read it again.  So, I would pull my panties out and go back. And 99% of the time, I had reacted rather than read.

So, what are some things that I do that help me know I am doing this?

If something pisses me off, I go back and read or look at it again. Occasionally I will read it out loud, or view it in a different place.  I pinpoint the words/images that I am reacting to. I ask myself what are they trying to communicate? If I am still unclear, I ask questions.  Am I reacting very strongly, then take a break and go back to it later (in instant gratification land, this can feel tough). In the case of written work, write it out. Look up words that you may not be sure about how they are being used (this one has been fun, for my friend with the archaic vocabulary, I sent them a list of all the words I had looked up when I had read their work… I thought it a fun conversation).

In the world where texting, email, posts, and comments have become a regular form of communication, it might behoove us all to become better at what I might call active appreciation.  Actually, you do whatever you want… but as for me, I am going to try to listen, watch, read, and view  with more attention.

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Queen of my cancer domain

There is a bit of nervousness and apprehension as I approach my oncology follow-up visits.

I know to expect the following;  a vaginal exam, a pap smear, and my scar gets a review.

I never really thought I would ever blog about these things, but here I am talking all about my girly bits.

My oncology center has a pretty new office, it is fancy schmanzy. I was able to see their previous office space several years ago. I helped a colleague through their own diagnosis. The space has different kinds of patient rooms and this visit I got a room that I call a throne room. They have these modern chair-that-turns-in-to-an-exam-table-complete-with-stirrups-that-miraculously-appear things.

After being ushered in to the room by the nurse  I proclaimed that I was glad I got to get a throne room. I  sat down with royal aplomb, gestured grandly,  and proclaimed myself as queen of my own cancer.

This is the chair, with me in it… and yes, you can see my butt poking from behind that silly paper drape if you look hard enough:

Anyway, turns out that my abdomen is not lit up by my disco ball ovaries. 

My oncologist is incredible, there is a gentleness to him that is unseen in so many other physicians. All the Ob-gyn’s I know consider him their go-to guy for their patients with oncology needs. I understand why.

When he examines me, there is a certain gentleness. A real look at his handiwork not in how they reflect on him, but on how they are for the patient. If you are open to the idea of therapeutic touch, I would say this doctor was born with it. 

So, as I lay on that table-formerly-a-chair, I asked him what he had done with my ovaries. He explained that he had tied them down to a ligament. He followed up by explaining that they are about 3 cm lower than where they used to be. he added that they should continue to function as long as they normally would. My ovaries were not left to roll around. Nor were they hung up on my ribs like a disco ball.  

I told him my story was better. He laughed and said he thought so too.

Cancer patients tend to develop a kind of crush on their oncologists. I can totally see that. It is not the kind of crush where you feel love. It is the kind that comes from feeling gratitude, It is pretty amazing.

I am still reflecting a lot on gratitude. It is hard to properly express gratitude to people  in this experience. Gratitude, it seems, is my lesson that is still being developed in this experience.

On The Facebook today, I came across an essay on suffering and gratitude. There was something intense to ponder  in the message. And the message was made moreso when the essay ended with this message:

I am grateful for your hair, the beauty of your eyes, your way with words, your heart that always is ready to give, your willingness to grow, your willingness to not know, the way you garden, naked, early in the morning, your love of family, your love of wine, your love of Scrabble, your glass-half-full ways, your love for your son, your belief in God, your belief in the power of poetry, your belief in the power of love, your Catholic ways, your love of your mother, your love of Mother Divine, your pale white skin, your lips, your smile, the way you love your friends, the way you love. (Source)

It appears that little piece was about a woman named Adele. I believe Adele is pictured at the bottom of the page in source link. That part, though, touched on some of the things that people comment about me or that I feel about me. In some divine sense, I want to believe that I was meant to see it. And to relish this sisterhood I share with this woman named Adele.

Lent – and COAK (aka Calculated Acts Of Kindness)

It feels like a new beginning and how wonderful that this feeling coincides with the first day of Lent.

So, I am following after Kelli, from over at AfricanKelli, with a commitment to Calculated Acts of Kindness… (COAK)

I will post updates on:

Flickr Pool

Instagram

Facebook

and of course HERE (and on my other site)!!!!

What a wonderful way to start the season…

Peek-A-Boo – I can’t seeeeeeeeee you…..

Oh my, how many times did I play that game as a new mother…. There were countless delights in the delight and giggles of my newborn son. I loved watching my son take his turn,  cover his eyes, and then swiftly moving his hands away. Staring at me, wide eyed, with the expression of “Mom, I was here the whole time”, laughing as I pretended that I could not see him.

The idea is to learn object permanence.

My brother, when he was young, used to close his eyes when he wanted to be alone (no matter how many people were in the room with him). He was completely convinced (I believe) that if he could not see us, that we were no where near him.

People were and are always present to each other. This is true, even if you adopt some sort of frantic philosophy in which you would argue that everything is not real. That my brother was, in fact, alone and/or there was no one in front of my son when he had his eyes covered.

I thought about these times after I read this article  the other day.

I find humans to be fascinating, we are social beings. There must be some kind of thinking that has an application to technology and how we tend to act towards each other. I mean, why do we act so terribly when we can’t see the face of the other… trolls, for example, thrive on this, I would argue that they depend on it.

I’ve been told that gossip serves a crucial social role for us humans. Gossip moderates our social behaviour… and I think that it applies to this in a certain context. So, imagine if you will, how easy it would be to scold someone you know via text or email if you did not have to see them. One would put their scorn into a few words and be as clear, concise and I might argue brutal… after all we want to make sure the point gets across.

This message puts the other end of the social interaction on the defensive. It is more likely than not, that a series of texts or emails get exchanged with a defensive end and an aggressive end. For delicate social relationships, this is probably not the best way to go about communicating.

This is so hard for people like me who hate talking on the phone. I prefer a text, or an email. I tend to not even want to talk to people. I am an introvert.

This is a modern day reliance that tends to be abused. When I sit on a board or committee, I tend to default to this. I have noticed that feelings get hurt so much more quickly over text or email. I know that I have been on the hurt end. I know I have also been on the giving end…. though not usually in giving of a complaint, but in pursuing a conversation.

So, I ponder the reliance I myself have on technology to communicate my feelings. I am trying to move away from it. Of course, I have this (these, actually) blog(s), they are a public written communication. And my blog is also subject to vitriol and complaint.

Text, email, and even blogs are devoid of any kind of social interaction. When we speak we can at the very least know that the subtle intonations are being heard (even if misheard). When we write, sarcasm doesn’t usually translate. When we speak, there is a possibility we can react to body language. When we text, we don’t.

So much is inferred through sight and hearing. I can see if the person I am speaking to has outward signs of having a bad day. I can hear if someone is making a joke. And though people miss these cues often when in person or over the phone, we are less likely to miss them than if we text.

In the days of “The FaceBook”, Twitter, email, text, instant message… we have lost the physical interface.
If you consider things like Facebook, Twitter, or even blogs you can see  how there is a modicum of backlash. Will we learn how to do this better?

When will learn to be more gentle with one another?

The friction of being

I came across this quote today:

“In effect, the cost of being who you are is that you can’t possibly meet everyone’s expectations, and so, there will inevitably, be external conflict to deal with- the friction of being visible.” 

~Mark Nepo

The opposite, the friction of being invisible, is that you are unable to meet you own expectations and thus there is great internal conflict.

I don’t know that one way is better of the other, it is a balance of the two, the totality of the friction of being.

Last night I was part of a panel of speakers for a women’s membership organization that I belong to.  The group is struggling with member retention and one of the areas they are focusing on is creating a culture of acceptance.

Acceptance is an interesting word to use, though a good one.

Acceptance does not mean that I freely love and enjoy all that passes my path. It is more like a time to observe. Not everything will make me happy. And I will need to be allowed my opinion. And acceptance means that I have to work at not letting it bother me.

Oh would that that be easy. I can still list of things that are the actions of others had a direct affect on me and for which I am still not happy. I have accepted the situations. I am dealing with them as such, but acceptance also means navigating the complexities of the “friction of being”.

I am choosing, for example, not to speak to my aunt right now. It is for a variety of reasons, springing from her and her husbands choice to not have interaction with my brother, coupled with her saying that she will not acknowledge that my cancer diagnosis was the result of HPV and will instead tell everyone that it was because I am a DES daughter. To me, her choice speaks of being ashamed of my diagnosis, after all it has been called the whore cancer. Add to this the fact that she was insulted that I did not thank her enough in a blog post and cried to my mother who proceeded to lecture me via phone, email and text about how insensitive I had been.

I still speak to my mother, but the conversations are related solely to my son as she is his grandmother and I will not interfere with that relationship. I answer her when she brings up the fact that I am choosing not to speak to my aunt right now, but my mother calls me hateful.

Actually, it is about choosing gentleness.

I can’t be ashamed of my diagnosis and anyone that puts me there can’t be in my circle right now. I still cry when I think about the whole thing; the diagnosis, my surgery, the good, the bad, the gentle, the insensitive, the whole mess.

I can’t be around people who flutter about in their own narcissism.

I suppose, though, that it could be argued that I am in a bout of fluttering about in my own pool of narcissism… but in that respect who isn’t.

I see this more about choosing things that lift me up, rather than bring me down. I am still choosing gentleness in this who friction of being.

trolling and menopause

As I have been pondering my move over here…

I have been thinking about how I have heard my mother and aunt say that because they are over a certain age, post menopausal,  they are entitled to speak their mind freely and as they want. Frankly, at this point, I think this makes them out to be more like trolls (definition here) than adventuresome women who are fearless.

I recall I time when I heard them say this and thought it was so wonderful, that they were fearless. But does age really allow us to be rude?

I don’t think rude is ever good.

I actually think it, this tendency to speak ones mind freely and without censure,  is more about the anonymous public thing…  when you don’t have a sensory interaction with another person, it is as if you have a license to be a rude asshole. I have seen it in a few different places. With other people. In general, I don’t like internet assholes… and it takes a special talent to interact on the internet without coming off that way, I can only name a few active “online” friends who can usually manage it with a modicum of grace, most others are just rude assholes.

There is enough bullying going around.

Notice how when you see a face, or hear a voice… that you often have a deeper understanding of the situation and I would guess that we are kinder and gentler in those circumstances.

Journalists, of course, suffer this consequence… being a silent voice to challenge and stimulate conversation Journalism is certainly not for the faint of heart in this. But I have never thought of bloggers as journalists. I tend to think of them as people willing to expose a part of themselves. In my case, I started my blog so I could document my pregnancy. I found tremendous support through my friends who read it, but the strangers who came across it were kind and gentle with me. I developed several friendships with people I had never met. They are different kinds of friendships than the people I know if life. But they were deep enough to get invited to funerals, to foster connections, to grieve together via email. It was kind. It was gentle.

I myself have engaged in an ungraceful manner on-line. I usually realize it and apologize… and have tried really hard to be mindful that we have enough horrid in our daily lives that something kinder and gentler is probably more productive.

There is even a news piece about how to deal with anti-vaxxers saying that putting them on the defensive may cause more harm than good.  And what happened when this writer met her cruelest troll.

I think people are feeling disconnected.

I just see how ugly and horrid things like politics has become – in the case of politics both sides using horrible terms to refer to the other side, names for the president that are shocking (at least to me), names for our female politicians that are misogynistic at best… I recognize that this is not new, but it is more vulgarly inflammatory now.

Then there are what I traditionally avoid when reading news stories… the comments section. Often full of hate and vitriol, scathing off the cuff accusations against the author or subject… its a little much.

As I age, I am finding it mandatory that I be more gracious and kind. That I invite into my life (and by default my family) something kinder and gentler. That I find a way to shift the ugliness of character in myself, that I allow my exposure to grace to be the driving force. Age is not allowing me to tell people to fuck off, it is not allowing me to be mean, it is not allowing me to speak my mind with freedom.  It is calling me to be quieter. It is calling me to be gentler. It is calling me to use a phone or move to be in person when I have a concern or opinion.

I know that we all need to face ugly and deal with criticism and hear unseemly things, but there is just so much. And as I sit here, managing life after a cancer diagnosis (which shifted my way of thinking) I want to commit to gentleness. I want to commit to kindness. I want to avoid trolling.