Sunday, May 27, 2012

Admiring: A Woman Who Lived in Her Own Time

Tasha Tudor
(from Miss Moss)

I remember first learning about Tasha Tudor through some TV show, which is somewhat ironic considering she lived such an un-modern life. I remember watching the show, though, and thinking that such a woman couldn't be real, that no one would have the courage or the determination to live life so fully on her own terms. 

I read that she believed she was a re-incarnation of a sea captain's wife, and that this belief somewhat fed her determination to live the way she did. (Was this sea captain her muse and her animus?) She lived in a house without running water or electricity, raised her children and goats and cows and corgis, made candles, baked, gardened, and wrote and illustrated over one hundred books. 

Taking my inspiration a bit from Tasha, I'll be posting less regularly for a while. I need to live in my own time, and not in the time of my computer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Postmodern Hymn: God Above

"God Above," by John Fullbright is a song that gives me goosebumps. I watch him sing it, and the song looks like a revelation, the way his fingers, mouth, and his whole body work together to create those notes. Then there are the lyrics, which for me, point to the troubles that can come from a theology of omnipotence. Why does God allow feebleness, sin, and evil? 

For one meditation on this question, I suggest the first few chapters of Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes, by Charles Hartshorne, which offers helpful alternative perspectives to the traditional Christian theology.

"Omnipotence as usually conceived is a false or indeed absurd ideal, which in truth limits God, denies to him any world worth talking about: a world of living, that is to say, significantly decision-making agents. It is the tradition which did indeed terribly limit divine power, the power to foster creativity even in the least of  the creatures. . . . The only livable doctrine of divine power is that it influences all that happens but determines nothing in its concrete particularity."
    —from Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes, by Charles Hartshorne

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

6: Strength and Efficiency

Honey Comb Patch, by Field Day

It's time for the sixth installment of the number series based on The Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael Schneider. 

The beauty of hexagons comes in their efficient use of space and their strength. Like circles, hexagons have a low perimeter to surface area ratio; like triangles, hexagons are strong and distribute weight efficiently. Bees build their hives in a hexagonal pattern and reap the benefits: "a mere one and one-half ounces of wax holds four pounds of honey," says Schneider.

We use the phrase "busy as a bee," but thinking about how efficient beehives are, I'm wanting to imitate bees in other ways. (And I'll be looking at my "altar to beautiful necessity," which includes a bit of beehive I found, in a new way, too.) Rather than be busy, how can I be efficient? How can I build something beautiful and strong? How can I cram as much sweetness as I can into my life?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Love Moves Us All

Marine bleue, Effet de vagues, by Georges Lacombe

I've been doing some house cleaning, and I came across an old program from a concert of classical music and poetry readings by Robert Pinsky. Flipping through the poems, I noticed several had stars marked next to them. This is one of them: 

As when far off in the middle of the ocean
A breast-shaped curve of wave begins to whiten
And rise above the surgace, then rolling on
Gathers and gathers until is reaches land
Huge as amountain and crashes among the rocks
With a prodigious roar, and what was deep
Comes churning up from the bottom in mighty swirls 
Of sunken sand and living things and water—

So in the springtime every race of people
And all the creatures on earth or in the water,
Wild animals and flocks and all the birds
In all their painted colors, all rush to charge
Into the fire that burns them: love moves them all.

    —"The Wave," from Georgics, book III, by Virgil, translated by Robert Pinsky

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Love Creates Universes

My Universe, by Rob Ryan

A totally personal post: Today makes three years since I married my husband. It blows my mind how our love has created new universe, a totally new reality.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Food for the Soul: Black Beans and Bananas

from Be Here Now, by Ram Dass
via Good Rhythms

Here's another dish that comes from Jacques Pepin: black beans with bananas. The beauty of the dish is the harmony in opposites: dark and light, savory and sweet, traditional and unexpected. The black beans are slightly tart with the addition of some hot sauce and vinegar, and the bananas add a sweet counterpoint, like avocados only more delicate. It may sound weird to garnish a dish with bananas, but you really should try it! 

Cook your black beans with some bacon and onions, maybe a bell pepper and some chili pepper. We used dried ancho chilis. Then, when the beans are cooked, you can add some olive oil, hot sauce, and some vinegar along with salt, to make the coming contrast with the bananas more poignant. Garnish with sliced bananas tossed in some lemon juice and pepper, and some cilantro.

Enjoy eating your opposites! And look for something green to grow from your polarities!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Personal Myth: Humans

Humans, by me
Humans, by me

Here is my next chapter in my personal myth project, which explores what it means to be human in this world. For me, what's interesting about being a humans is how language, laughter, and story can be used to   mediate the natural cycles of life and death. Given that I love learning foreign languages, I really feel that language is an integral part of the human experience. Maybe it's because I feel that words fail me too often, and that stories uplift me, but my own experience of the world is closely related to the human faculty for language and for nonlanguage too.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

5: Growth and Renewal

The Tree of Life, by Gustav Klimt

It's time for the fifth installment of the number series based on The Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael Schneider. 

With the number five comes the pentagon and pentagram. Many natural structures, from leaves to hands, follow a pentagram structure, and so the pentagram often symbolizes creativity and fecundity. Check out the link above to discover more naturally occurring five-ness. 

The pentagram also holds within it various phi relationships, so Schneider uses this chapter as an opportunity to introduce the golden mean and golden spiral. This page has a pretty good explanation of how you get there. I won't dwell on the details, but do try to make your own spiral for the fun of it! (Klimt's painting above is a display of Archimedian spirals. The golden spiral is the spiral of shells and galaxies, but because the distance between its swirls expands with each round, it's harder to find in artwork.) 

Have you ever felt like you were on a spiral path? Jackob Bernoulli created a motto for the golden spiral: Eadem mutato reurgo (Although changed, I arise again the same). There's something beautiful about imagining myself journeying on a spiral labyrinth. Many authors and artists have described the spiral's magical qualities, including the great Nabokov:

"The spiral is a spiritualized circle. In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free. I thought this up when I was a schoolboy, and I also discovered that Hegel's triadic series (so popular in old Russia) expressed merely the essential spirality of all things in relation to time. Twirl follows twirl, and every synthesis is the thesis of the next series. If we consider the simplest spiral, three series may be distinguished in it, corresponding to those of the triad: We can call "thetic" the small curve or arc that initiates the convolution centrally; "antithetic" the larger arc that faces the first in the process of continuing it; and "synthetic" the still ampler arc that continues the second while following the first along the outer side. And so on."
    —Speak Memory, by Vladmir Nabokov

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Truth Dwelling on Earth

Galileo's Moon, by Scout and Catalogue
via Ill Seen and Ill Said

"It is true without lying, certain and most true.

That which is Below is like that which is Above and that which is Above is like that which is Below to do the miracles of the Only Thing.

And as all things have been and arose from One by the mediation of One, so all things have their birth from this One Thing by adaptation. The Sun is its father; the Moon its mother; the Wind hath carried it in its belly; the Earth is its nurse. The father of all perfection in the whole world is here. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into Earth. Separate the Earth from the Fire, the subtle from the gross, sweetly with great industry. It ascends from the Earth to the Heavens and again it descends to the Earth and receives the force of things superior and inferior.

By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you. Its force is above all force, for it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing.

So was the world created. From this are and do come admirable adaptations, whereof the process is here in this.

Hence am I called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended."

    —Translation of The Emerald Tablet, by Sir Isaac Newton

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Admiring: Mapper of Alchemy

Louise Despont laying out her work
(from her tumblr)

The work of Louise Despont reminds me of alchemical diagrams mapping out processes and visions. Creating her works on the paper of old ledger books, she uses muted colors to fill the pages with geometric shapes and curves. I found it difficult to pick a piece to showcase because each piece is so captivating in the way she balances simplicity of shape with complexity of design.

What do you see when you look at the circles above? A Buddhist wheel? A geometer's diagram? An ouroboros?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Postmodern Hymn: Pig

Flowers in Your Hair, by Louise van Terheijden

I woke up with a fragment of a song floating in my head the other morning, and it took me a while to figure out which song I was singing to myself. It turned out to be "Pig," by the Dave Matthews Band.

Wash out this tired notion 
That the best is yet to come 
But while you're dancing on the ground 
Don't think of when you're gone 
Love! love!? what more is there?

Apparently I had the lyrics slightly wrong, because I was singing "wash out this time notion." Oh well, the message is still the same. Enjoy life as it comes, and open up to love.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


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