Since Tomorrow is Florida’s Primary…A Little Political/Literary Humor

So tomorrow is Florida’s primary day.  Of course I am going to participate and do my civic duty…or is it doody?  Either way, it’s happening and there is no way anyone can stop it, because I Give a Fuck.  But to most, AKA the average citizen, local primaries are like the birthday party for the lame second cousin to the presidential election…the one where no one shows up.  Boo to that I say.  I mean really, how inconsiderate!?  People go through so much trouble and expense, and then… Nothing!  Uninformed, disinterested, and uninvolved peeps.  What I think politics needs is a little bit more humor.

 
Anyway, as I think I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been reading books by an author named Jasper Fforde.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE his books!  He has several series running, and I am forever waiting for his new book to come out.  He is super witty, funny, and, most importantly to me, absolutely freaking ABSURD.  I constantly recommend these books to people, but for some reason no one ever takes me up on it (with one exception that I know of, and she now LOVES his novels as well).

The specific book I’m reading right now is titled Something Rotten…

Credits to Jasper Fforde’s website for this image…IT’S NOT MINE!!!!!

I demand that you read his books.  If not now, then in the very near future, because they will make you laugh and smile AND think.  But right now I am going to force you to read part of one of his books because Something Rotten has a plot line about a politician and part of what Fforde does so wonderfully is lampoon politics and politicians.  So obviously reading this book was quite timely, and I just want to share with you what is possibly my favorite scene from a book ever:

“Good evening and welcome to Evade the Question Time,
the nation’s premier topical talk show.  Tonight, as every night, a panel of distinguished public figures generally evade answering the audience’s questions and instead toe the party line.

There was applause at this, and Webastow continued:  ‘The show tonight comes from Swindon in Wessex.  Sometimes called the third capital of England or “Venice on the M4,” the Swindon of today is a financial and manufacturing powerhouse, its citizens a cross-section of professionals and artists who are politically indicative of the country as a whole.  I’d also like to mention at this point that Evade the Question Time is brought to you by the Neat-Fit® Exhaust Systems, the tailpipe of choice.’

He paused for a moment and shuffled his papers.

‘We are honored to have with us tonight two very different speakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum.  First I would like to introduce a man who was politically dead two years ago but has managed to pull himself up to the second-highest political office in the nation, with a devoted following of many millions, not all of whom are deranged.  ladies and gentlemen, Chancellor Yorrick Kaine!’

There was mixed applause when he walked onto the stage, and he grinned and nodded for the benefit of the crowd.  I leaned forward in my seat…

‘Thank you very much,’ said Kaine, sitting at the table and clasping his hands in front of him.  ‘May I say that I always regard Swindon as a home away from home.’

There was a brief twitter of delight from the front of the audience, mostly little old ladies who looked upon him as the son they never had.

Mr. Webastow went on, ‘And opposing him we are also honored to welcome Mr. Redmond van de Poste of the opposition Commonsense Party.’

There was notably less applause as van de Poste walked in…

‘Thank you, gentlemen, and welcome.  The first question comes from Miss Pupkin.”

A small woman stood up and said shyly, ‘Hello.  A Terrible Thing was done by Somebody this week, and I’d like to ask the Panel if they condemn this.’

‘A very good question,’ replied Webastow, ‘Mr. Kaine, perhaps you’d like to start the ball rolling?’

‘Thank you, Tudor.  Yes, I condemn utterly and completely the Terrible Thing in the strongest possible terms.  We in the Whig Party are appalled by the way in which Terrible Things are done in this great nation of ours, with no retribution against the Somebody who did them.  I would also like to point out that the current spate of Terrible Things being undertaken in our towns and cities is a burden we inherited from the Commonsense Party, and I am at pains to point out that in real terms the occurrence of Terrible Things has dropped by over twenty-eight percent since we took office.’

There was applause at this, and Webastow then asked Mr. van de Poste for his comments.

‘Well,’ said Redmond with a sigh, ‘quite clearly my learned friend has got his facts mixed up.  According to the way we massage the figures, Terrible Things are actually on the increase.  But I’d like to stop playing party politics for a momentand state for the record that although this is of course a great personal tragedy for those involved, condemning out of hand these acts does not allow us to understand why they occur, and more needs to be done to get to the root cause of–‘

‘Yet again,’ interrupted Kaine, ‘yet again we see the Commonsense Party shying away from its responsibilities and failing to act toughly on unspecified difficulties.  I hope all the unnamed people who have suffered unclearly defined problems will understand–‘

‘I did say we condemned the Terrible Thing,’ put in van de Poste.  ‘And I might add that we have been conducting a study in the entire range of Terrible Things, all the way from Just Annoying to Outrageously Awful, and will act on these findings– if we gain power.’

‘Trust the Commonsensers to do things by half measures!’ scoffed Kaine, who obviously enjoyed these sorts of discussions.  ‘By going only so far as ‘Outrageously Awful,’ Mr. van de Poste is selling his own nation short.  We at the Whig Party have been looking at the Terrible Things problem and propose a zero-tolerance attitude to offenses as low as Mildly Inappropriate.  Only in this way can the Somebodies who commit Terrible Things be stopped before they move on to acts that are Obscenely Perverse.’

There was a smattering of applause again, presumably as the audience tried to figure out whether “Just Annoying” was worse than “Mildly Inappropriate.”

‘Succinctly put,’ announced Webastow.  ‘At then end of the first round, I will award three points to Mr. Kaine for an excellent nonspecific condemnation, plus one bonus point for blaming the previous government and another for successfully mutating the question to promote the party line.  Mr.  van de Poste gets a point for a firm rebuttal, but only two points for his condemnation, as he tried to inject an impartial and intelligent observation.  So at the end of the first round, it’s Kaine leading with five points and van de Poste with three.’

There was more applause as the numbers came up on the scoreboard.”

Something Rotten, Chapter 3, Evade the Question Time, Jasper Fforde

 

It continues on in this manner, the absurdity increasing, which is why I love it!  I hope you enjoyed!  Now go to the library and check out his books!  🙂

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If Three Trains of Thought are Running on the Same Track…

I have to be up in three hours.  Yeah, you heard me.  Up and going in three hours, at work in 4ish… But I can’t sleep, my brain has been churning non-stop since about 6 pm, and I can’t seem to shut it off, even with my normal routine of reading myself to sleep.  (Currently I’m reading Jasper Fforde’s The Well of Lost Plots, which you should totally, immediately check out…but not until you’ve finished reading my blog.)Bear with me here, this is another one of my random thought tangents that magically tie all of my unconnected thoughts together at the end.  Yay non-linear thinking!

What got my ceaseless thinking going, was that as I was laying down to read and go to sleep, I was, um, checking…something… on my, uh, cell phone…  Oh alright, I confess, I was playing a silly game. The game, while not particularly thought provoking, did suddenly give me a huge rush of deja vu (it was in fact a game I had never played before).  Now, you may be asking yourselves why this matters, and more to the point, why you should continue reading about my already been there moment.  Well…because I said it did, and because I said you should.  So there.  Also I promise if you keep reading there will be a surprise for you down at the bottom of the page. But only if you keep reading!

The way I look at deja vu is that when you experience those moments in life, it means that you are on the right path, that you have made good decisions and things are headed in a positive direction.  This way of interpreting deja vu was introduced to me by Christine D’Onofrio a few years back, and it’s really awesome.  It’s like a tiny wave from the future/past every time.  It is actually quite comforting to think of it in this way.  Try it, you’ll like it.

My moment of deja vu got me excited because I haven’t had one in a really long time.  Which, after having uprooted myself and my husband, taken on even more student loan debt, and struggled through my first year of grad school, did not exactly have me feel so great.  And, as I am wont to do, I was starting to question myself and build myself up into an anxious wreck in anticipation of the start of the school year.  In the past few days, I had, in all seriousness, been asking myself if I should really be in grad school, if I really had what it takes, etc…  I think I was (am?) starting to dread the school year (something that may very well be a first for me), because I don’t want it to become a repeat of last year where nothing was accomplished.  If you missed the finer points, I think the 2011-2012 school year went something like this for me:

Chaos of moving, anxiety, avoiding the studio, making bad art, crying, making some more bad art, drinking A LOT, anxiety, crying some more, avoiding the studio, making even more bad art, making pumpkin cookies, drinking again, crying yet again, kind of getting my shit together, anxiety, making ok art, making terrible art, hiding under a table, getting drunk and watching the Twilight movies (yes, that was a low, even for me), crying once more, drinking a little bit more, baking cup cakes, and making some decent art.  

Yeah…that about sums it up.  No really…That’s pretty much how it went.  Who would want a repeat of that?  It was spectacularly disastrous (So much for being the Best At All The Things).  So it was partly reassuring to have a small moment of peace, in which I was shown that I was, and have been, going in the right direction.  It made me smile, quietly to myself, which is perhaps the best kind of smile.

But my deja vu train of thought got me thinking about something else…  Earlier in the evening, I had been proofreading/critiquing an admissions essay that one of the Husband’s cousins had written.  Long story short, I was harping on him to make his final goals (beyond education and the specific university he was applying to) crystal clear.  I must have told him in five different ways… Good thing it was via a word doc and email…other wise I may have gotten punched in the face.  In doing this, however, I thought back to what my ultimate goals were and why exactly I was working toward my MFA.  Once upon a time, I had hoped to teach at a college or university, and if I was really lucky, as a tenured faculty member.  But tonight I realized that may not be the case anymore…

While that line of thought was running, I had a third, but parallel line going, about how much I really love what I do.  I love being an artist, I honestly do.  For me though, making art has never been about making money, or having an audience.  In fact, I’ve never sold a damned thing (and I’ve been working as an artist in some capacity for 10 years now), and I make art pretty much for myself.  It’s a cathartic and expressive experience to me, it is how I make sense of the world around me, and how I make sense of myself.  Yes I do show my work, but if people respond, react, or even like my work, its just an added bonus for me.  I know many other artists and many of my colleagues out there are cringing at this attitude right now.  But it is the truth of how I operate.  It is as much a part of my art work as it is a part of me.  Do I want to be successful and be able to support myself solely on my art?  Well of course, but statistically speaking that’s highly unlikely, so why be untrue to myself? And it is for this reason that I’ve always planned to teach in addition to making art.  I also happen to really love teaching.

When I teach older kids and adults, it’s so amazing to me to watch them when they finally grasp and truly understand a concept, to see them get excited about an idea or a project, and then witness the results that your guidance has help to supply.  Several times when I’ve taught workshops, my students have been so fired up to try the techniques out for themselves because they had never thought of it, never seen it before, or didn’t think that they could do it themselves.  And have come up to tell me as much.  They ask questions that really push me to my limits, causing me to think, re-examine my assumptions and perceptions, and of course learn even more so that I can answer those questions!

Teaching little kids, it’s just so fantastic to me seeing them create in such an uninhibited manner.  And to see them work out how exactly to do something, or solve some kind of creative problem is just mind blowing.  In fact, yesterday at work, I gave my class some free time to do what ever they wanted, and one of the younger boys asked to make a book again.  At the beginning of each two week camp session, I have been having the kids make simple little sketch books out of printer paper, card stock and yarn.  This little boy liked the activity so much, he has made one of these books nearly every day for the last week and a half!  I asked him if he would like me to show him how to make another kind of book, and he was so excited that he dropped the book he had just started working on.  I walked him through the 4 or 5 simple steps it takes to make a folded book (that’s a random youtube link giving the gist of folded books if you’re unfamiliar), and then let him go at it.  He then proceeded to make 3 of them, trouble shooting little mishaps along the way, and then telling me how cool they were.  Wow, what a really awesome moment for me, because it really reinforces the fact that I have all of this knowledge for a reason, and even if I may not use it in my own work, I can share it with others to help them learn about art!

So in sum, I love what I do, both the art making and the teaching aspect.  That’s why I was so crushed when I found out I wouldn’t be teaching at FSU in the fall.  The opportunity to teach is a HUGE reason why I chose to come to school here.  But it’s OK,  because even if, when I finish my master’s degree, I don’t wind up finding one of the rare full time university gigs, I can still teach.  There are always community colleges, community centers, art camps, museums, schools… Again, I know some of my colleagues might go apoplectic at this idea, but to me, it’s still teaching, I’m still sharing art and art making with the world.

And that, my long suffering, ever patient imaginary readers, brings me around to my moment of deja vu.  Despite my anxieties and self doubt, I have some how found myself in the right place in my life once again.  Graduate school, while terrifyingly daunting, is providing me not only with better critical/theoretical thinking and challenging me in my art making (so that I can hopefully make a career out of it), but stronger teaching skills and a better resume as well.  I lucked into the best summer job ever, making art projects with a group of really great kids.  It helped me to remember why I fell in love with art in the first place and reminded me that I love what I do, whether its making or teaching.  Even if I have a rough patch… I can survive it, learn from it, and find my self in the right place once more.  Now if I get really lucky, Lafayette Arts and Crafts Center will not close, and I will be given the amazing opportunity to teach photography classes there this fall!

Hope you all enjoyed another random tangent brought to you by me and my crazy brain.  Keep making some art, even if it is bad.  Eventually you’ll get through it and make some OK art, and then in turn you’ll get through to the good art.  🙂  It happens to us all.  Or maybe just me.  I can’t prove anything either way.

PS, I now I have to be up in 1 hour.  So maybe I just won’t even go to sleep.  Thank the art gods that tomorrow (today?) is International Dance Day at camp and I don’t actually have to teach anything….  Oh!  And I lied about the something cool down at the bottom.  Well, not really lied, as I did have something to post for your amusement and gratification for sticking with me through the tangent, but my internet connection is being uncooperative…I’ll save it for the next time.

Now I think I’m just getting punchy.  Have a lovely one!
 
 
 

Overflow/Overwhelm/Overcome

Since I spent an aggregate two weeks on this show (not including the actual time it took to create the work), I’d thought I’d share with you all the fruits of my labor.  I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to upload the video projection component of one of my installations onto youtube first.  That, sad to say, did not pan out.  Apparently it’s too long.  So, what I do have to offer you is A TON of pictures, and a shaky cell phone video of the installation itself…

I am actually incredibly pleased with the way this show pulled together and the response I got from the audience.  I really can’t believe how well it turned out.  It was, by far, the smoothest installation and opening I have ever had.  Everything went as planned, no sudden, dramatic obstacles reared their ugly heads, I never once freaked out.  That is a MAJOR accomplishment for this control freak.
So how about some pictures before I blather on more?  OK!

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, the first room at WMC was dedicated to a re-installation of Flawless…We shall hence refer to it as Flawless II.  Originally, I had thought that I would need two pieces to properly fill the space in that front gallery, but after I started installing and saw how Flawless II was taking shape, I quickly revised that decision.  I’m glad that I did, because the room would have been way to cramped and the pieces would not have had any breathing space.  I think the resultant installation came out beautifully.  Much more like the crashing wave I originally envisioned.  I installed it sans video component this time, and I loved it all the more for that.  But I think I might still add a different video…I had the suggestion of actual waves.  What do you all think about that?  We’ll see what happens… For the meantime I’m putting this piece to sleep.  Maybe I’ll recycle the prints into something else…

The back room at Working Method housed a video installation which I suppose I am calling Overflow.  The video component was an approximately 20 minute loop of a kitchen sink filling with water and, get this, overflowing!  The video was projected onto a plastic sheet with water running down it at various times.  The water collected in puddles and pools on the floor (at one point even leaking under the wall into another gallery space…whoops) which viewers had to walk through.  The resultant foot prints actually wound up making a fantastic trail through the front gallery space.  Additionally, some of the water seeped under the plastic sheeting and through the bottom of the wall between the front and back galleries, making some excellent effects on the Flawless II installation.  The final bit of the Overflow installation was that there were cans hanging from a frame on the ceiling, dripping water down onto the viewer periodically.  It made for some awesome audience reactions.

If you would like to see the video documentation, it will magically appear if you click this link.

Overall, I am incredibly proud of the way my show turned out.  I really got some great feedback, and the audience really seemed to enjoy the work over all, particularly the older (say over 30) crowed.  They truly appeared to make a connection to the work in the way the younger visitors to the gallery did, with a few exceptions.  One of them being a freaking adorable little girl (about 6 or so) who came in with her mother.  This little girl asked me some really good questions, and really seemed to understand what I was trying to get at by “making it rain” in the gallery.

So until the next time…Joseph Gordon-Levitt and make some art!  😉