Tag Archives: friction

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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sitting present in the darkness

This past year and some has been a weird process. I have been angrier than I have ever been before. I have been meaner than I was ever before. I have been sadder and more confused. Those are only part of the whole experience…

I have also been lifted higher, I have had moments of intensity that I cannot compare to any prior experience, I have been deeply humbled by people who I never thought cared…

It was super intense…  It is intense.

I am in one of those places today, high off of my birthday (yesterday) greetings, feeling peaceful and loved… in a place where the dark tinge hasn’t invaded my space. I am reflective, and trying to pull myself together in this moment.

Navigating these crazy mix of emotions has been exhausting.  I am sure it has also been exhausting for those who are close to me and can see how much they torment me.

I would see a therapist, but geez.. the one time I tried it took a really bizarre accident to find the most perfect psychiatrist for me to talk to, and any after just were a joke in comparison.  I know this is temporary, and I don’t want to put myself on a course of medication (though I recognize its value,  and think they should be used… it is not for me… not at this time).  My previous experience with fighting off things like this was similar in that it came after a serious illness. What I learned then, that I believe applies now, is that I need to live this craziness and work through it and I am using the strategies I learned then to help, and they are.  The one caveat this time is that I, at a time, was rather dependent on others to take care of my basic needs… and most really let me down.  I think it is that as I prepared myself for surgery, I let go… I promised myself that I would let others take care of me. So I did, and frankly, I still ended up having to take care of myself. Please know that I am talking basic needs, like food… some of the people taking care of me couldn’t even do that to help. So, I suppose I am mad at them, and definitely mad at myself.  I was trained from an early age to take care of things, now this does not mean I keep a clean house, far from that… but I am the type that will carry all the groceries, even if I am shopping with others, mainly because they walk away from the car and leave them all there for someone else and I am like “hell if I am walking up and down my porch stairs more than once, I am taking all these fuckers (bags of groceries) in right now”.  Fuck, am I stubborn or what?

Anyway, lots of thinking about all this crap and how to get myself back in to a happy place is going on. I try not to let it get me down, but it is really in my face at times. I amble through my daily life, trying to make sense of it all, trying to make sense of a world that has changed for me. Repeating tiny mantras about how “lucky I am”, or how “this world has so much wonderful for me” flutter through my head as my body tries to grasp them and hold them close to my heart. I was a much happier person 18 months ago, when I embarked on this path, and I have learned that grief, this kind of grief (the one for loss of self, rather than loss of others) is pretty fucking intense. I have changed, I cuss more… a lot more. I didn’t use to, I saved them for occasions that seemed to benefit from a well placed expletive.

There is so much complexity to this. It involves being disappointed by members of my own family and in tun trying to figure out if I had unrealistic expectations for them… because if I didn’t have the unrealistic expectations, and they really did disappoint me, that kind of makes me kind of stupid.  So, there have been a lot of questions I have been asking myself, and I am not the type that is afraid of hard questions… so that has been easy. Learning how human I am has been a mix of easy and hard. Working through stupid things people thoughtlessly said to me and which, for some stupid reason, are ringing bells and demanding my attention has been strange. There is this strange mix of braggadocio and humility in my self reflections that is a little tough to manage.  I think though, that I am starting to tell myself that I like myself again, and that is a good thing.

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do…

One year ago I had cancer removed from my body.

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This past year has been clouded. I am still working through it. I have identified and dealt with most of what I have been identified at the root. I think one does not go through something like this and remain unchanged.

I am very changed, and that new me is still trying to find her place in the world she has to navigate. This past year I felt like I was knocked down by people who love me, I don’t know why? I don’t know why I feel this way.

I am sure they did not intend to be a part of this trans-formative year, at least in a negative way. I mean they love me… but things they said and did (and frankly say and do) blasted me to my core. The things said were things I could not relate to in a way that was meaningful.

I cry at the drop of a hat, a song I hear, an image I see, the reflection of light off of my son’s hair as he sits next to me. I don’t know that there is any pattern as they can be sad tears, or happy… some even make no sense.

I am still bitter about gratitude. I dove in and tried to be grateful, but people kept telling me I wasn’t grateful enough. I don’t even know what to do with this.  Considering that I always thought I was strong in this area, it is devastating to feel like I have failed.  Especially since it was to people close to me.

 

These gems have life in them: their colors speak… (day 33)

The Day 33 prompt is:

What is/will be the subject of your next book?

The story I am writing about centers around a young woman named Clara and how her life is filled with love… a gift imbued through some magical experience had during her parents conceiving her. It is a story about how love has so many faces and how it is so important for humans to experience it. The story looks at how love contrasts with so many different emotions (as personality types). It examines the duality of life, but with rose-colored glasses. It begins with a description of Clara and her family and how they fit in to her ancestry. It follows her as she navigates out of childhood and moves into maturity. It examines the people she loves and how they are part of the magic spell she was cast upon her conception. It is a story about the role of others in personal redemption stories. It is about love, all the different kinds of love.

Image used from this article.

I remember, as a child, sitting in my gated front yard in Quito, Ecuador, looking at the people passing by on the street in front of me. A mix of men in hats, women in indigenous clothing carrying a small child strapped to their back and leading a yellow dog on a rope used as a leash.  Considering the tremendous difference between the huge Spanish colonial home behind me and the various levels of poverty and status in front of me…

I knew the gate was to keep people out, in part because I was young and vulnerable and with a high potential to be kidnapped. I stared at the glass shards embedded on the top of the wall surrounding our property, and thinking that the sun glinting off the various colors of glass made them look like jewels.  This memory, combines with many others serve as background material for the story. I had a truly magical childhood. While it was not without some pain, it was still magical and I want to re-tell it in the style of literature that came from that part of the world.

These gems have life in them:  their colors speak, say what words fail of.
~George Eliot

My hat tip today goes to Laura Hile, because she had me at pirate!

monkey see, monkey do… (day 4)

For the past several days I have visualized my way through step four of the suggestions this article has for addressing the negative:

4. Once you’ve clearly identified the thought(s) and emotion(s), close your eyes and explore the imagery they subsequently create in your mind (once you’re familiar with the practice, you won’t always need to close your eyes—i.e., if you’re driving, or in public you can still do this.) Do the thoughts and emotions create colors, shapes, figures? Are they abstract or clear? The important thing is to let your thoughts and emotions create the imagery while you simply become aware of what they are.

Action – part 1: I am already in a much better place, though I wonder if it is just circumstance and I will again fall in to that well of negativity. I am hoping it is that I am actually better at managing that stress.

I also found out that a very dear friend of mine has passed away. A crueller than usual death in that she was young, much younger than I am and I don’t consider myself old,  and perfectly fine the week before.  A friendship that spanned countries and ages. I will miss her dearly, she was difficult and wonderful and just everything anyone would want in a good friend.

Action – Part two: The emotions are much harder to bring up now. But they were masses of reds and greens… blurred, and reminiscent of a lava lamp with roiling and boiling and always changing. These shapes were pictured as being in my chest and arms, surrounded by a dark gray or black.

sourcemagma

Action – reflection:

I was at a leadership retreat recently where we did an exercise in which we had to picture us as an 8 or 9 year-old. We were to talk to her about how wonderful she was, because it is easier to do that than to tell ourselves. It is much easier and carries a much deeper felt reaction to do this exercise.

IMG_7461                 E62EDBED-16E4-46FD-B424-D4875F8D33E9

Little girl Blair; don’t be discouraged. Life has so many ups and downs. You have been blessed with a gift to live in an upstage, even when folks would call it a down. You have a gift for being able to learn from your mistakes. Stay with that. Don’t let yourself be invited to a place where you are forced to celebrate failures, that doesn’t work for you, it brings you down… instead you should keep using the failure as your lesson learned, love the mistake for what gifts it brought you and move on, it is what you do best.

A RANT – Catching up, with myself

So, for starters — the biopsy was totally just scar tissue.

But that event led to some pretty radical discoveries.

One thing is that I deeply resent is the people that tried to write my cancer story for me.

There were people who tried to decide my treatment option.

There were people who told people false information about my diagnosis, and refused to tell the real one. “It was DES, that is my story and I am sticking to it”, they said. (for the record, it was not caused by DES).

Oh, who am I kidding it was one person!

The fact that this person is also a cancer survivor makes me all the more incredulous. And bitter. And angry.

The one place I don’t feel gentler and kinder is in those who try to take from me.

We don’t live in a world where we have to whisper the word cancer any more, where the sheets and mattresses are tossed because they are “contagious”…

It is my story.

I don’t like people who interrupt my story with thoughtless perversions of their own.

We seem to live in a land of poor listeners…

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I resent the anti-vaccine movement. My cancer is vaccine preventable. Men and women get cancer from a virus called HPV – we have a vaccine for that. Why on this earth would anyone choose to risk getting cancer????

Read this for a far more articulate version of why: http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/say-something/

I had a preemie, a medically fragile baby… to think how clueless I was when I took him out with me after he was born… it makes my heart hurt. I don’t feel much kindness towards my friends who support vaccines but pretend to be anti-vaxxers because they are afraid of conflict (or in one case because they thought it was ironic and funny) .I don’t feel much kindness to my friends putting seriously and DANGEROUSLY false information out there about the problems with vaccines.

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and lastly…

I lost god, or God, or G_D or however one wishes to spell it.

I am totally fine with this, I actually feel some relief in some ways.

It, ironically enough, happened on Easter Sunday.

I was reading some blogs, and came across a few that made claims that were completely incompatible with my thoughts on God… and as I pondered that incompatibility I asked myself about the roots of that… and came to the conclusion that I can’t buy what they said. That I think everything is far grander than they think and that they are so limited in what God means… And just like that, I left God where he belongs, in the hearts of people that need that.

I still strongly believe that religion (in any form) has some very important cultural fundamentals and is vital for many people who struggle to make sense of things… but that as I struggle to make sense of things, that ideas on God no longer require fitting in. I am happy. I would encourage people to find God… I just don’t. I don’t need re-birth in a Christian sense, I don’t need to be saved in a Christian sense, I don’t need those things at all to find my path in this world. I can make all of those transitions and shifts without God. I also don’t consider this to be a simple kind of faith.

To be fair, though… most of the things that caused me to go were about Jesus. Not God, that is if you consider them separate (in any form) and while I followed a Christian based spiritual path, I never felt that Christ was my “It” guy. I had believed that I understood God, but that all got called in to question. And I realized that the version of God that I had in my heart was based on the magnificence of things, most of those things being based on reason, some of those things based on how I made sense of the world. But, and here was the kicker, I really did not need God to keep that delight in magnificence. It was there even as I let go. I still deeply love this world. I am not about to become an atheist poster child. I don’t even like the word atheist. But I don’t feel like I fit the mold for agnostic any more either.

I am still navigating this path… but I am ok, I don’t see it as a path of reason, it is just my path.

Maybe, someday, I will change my mind again, though I feel less inclined to care. It just is.

I still believe in vaccines, though!

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.