Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Relationships and Loneliness

The ends of so many relationships begin the same way. You start to feel lonely with someone. And loneliness within a relationship is really hard to fix. You can’t just go to the other person and say, “Help me not feel so lonely with you.” Could they even do that if they wanted to? First, they would have to understand the source of this feeling and there is a good chance that this is something that you cannot even define yourself.

I think that the things that we crave the most from other people are never things we can ask for. They are things that must happen naturally and cannot be forced. We can ask someone to try to understand us but we cannot ask someone to want to. We can ask someone to notice us but we cannot ask someone to stop seeing through us. We can ask someone to be kinder and more patient but we cannot ask someone for true love. We can only recognize and appreciate these things when someone can give them to us, and learn to forgive them when they can’t.

It’s hard because it’s often nobody’s fault. Sometimes we end up in this situation merely because we had the courage to let ourselves grow and change. And somewhere along the line we grew into someone that the person who used to know us best doesn't understand anymore. 

I’ve always thought that a truly wonderful relationship, just like a truly wonderful day, should be easy. It should be magical in a slow, sensuous, flowing kind of way. When you lose that flow I think is when the loneliness starts to fill in the gaps. I just don’t think you can force it to come back through therapy, or effort, or changing. You can either wait to see if it does or move on. There are those who leave to soon and those who stay too long. And sometimes timing is everything.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Favorite Responses to the Question: What Good is Art?

Last week, I posted the question, "What Good is Art?" I know a lot of my readers are passionate about various forms of art so I was very interesting in seeing how people would answer this question. Thanks to everyone who sent a response! I received a lot of great answers, but managed to select five of my favorite that I'm so excited to share! Also, I've been thinking a lot about how I would answer this question myself, so next week I hope to post my response. I hope you enjoy reading the following responses as much as I did, and thanks again to everyone that participated!

What Good is Art?

From @DeiStarr

"Art is the outpouring of one soul's inspiration, inspiring others.  It lifts, fulfills, and sustains our hearts.  Art is emotive, with the power to move hearts and minds.  It is provocative, with the power to shock, disturb, and revolutionize our way of thinking.  Art influences the way we see the world and ourselves.  Without art, we would be a poor culture indeed."

What Good is Art?

From Blythe Crowe

"Art is a release of thoughts and emotion. It can become a portal, so that you may close your eyes to another reality. Art is truth, and lies... Without art this world would have no emotion, no personality. Without art we (Society) are merely science. Art allows us to tell a story, some of which we make through fantasies. Art can be good or bad. You may save a life through a painting or poem by pure inspiration, or you may alienate another through exaggeration."

What Good is Art? 

From Nathaniel Stewart (@NateStewart_TLA)

“My definition of art is, for all intents and purposes, anything that stands out to any individual person. It goes without saying that we are all different from our cultures, our likes and dislikes, our upbringings, our tastes....but we all have that "sense" about us as far as art, what catches our eye, and what actually qualifies as art. Most people look at classic pieces like the Mona Lisa or the 16th Chapel and go, "Wow," but there are other people who look at much more simplistic, less skillful pieces such as Piet Mondrian's paintings where he used a lot of primary colors and simple lines and have the very same reaction.

There is a friend of mine who has an enlarged, close up, and cropped black and white photograph of a fork on a countertop hanging in her house. To me, it's just a cool but slightly useless picture of a glorified fork. But to her, it's one of the absolute best photographs that she has ever seen and it is her favorite. Why? I'm still not sure, and she won't give me a definitive answer but she will say things like, "I just love the way it looks," or "I like the angle of the fork." Obviously, something about the piece resonates with her and causes it to stand out in her minds eye. To her, it's art. It gives her a feeling, or provokes a memory that she maybe likes to revisit. Or, she simply thinks it's beautiful, and who am I to tell her that it isn't just because I don't necessarily dig it?

Art is personal, whether you are the creator or the admirer. I have seen people damn near go to war arguing over a piece that one thinks is amazing and the other thinks is complete crap. Even outside of the world of what is commonly considered art (such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, etc.) you see the same type of thing. We have all been in situations where we like a song and someone else is all, "That song is stupid and you're stupid for liking it," and vice versa where we do the very same to them.

That's the beautiful thing about art. It has so many forms, meanings, and intents. Art is beautiful, art is personable, art is mysterious...art is us essentially."

What Good is Art?
From Jena

"The arts exist as the best expression of the human condition. When someone takes a completely original idea, formulates a plan and executes that idea into reality, it's the closest we get to understanding creation.

No matter what art form you consider -- visual fine arts, dance, film, music, theater, literature, design, photography, architecture and more -- from cave paintings to graphic novels, they may be thought of as community identifiers, gathering reference points that include and define people. As consumers, these genres offer shared experiences that tell us who we are and what is important to us.

There is a fairly accepted rule that contemporary art reflects the society in which it exists. I'm not sure that's true, since academia has its thumb on the scale in turning out contemporary artists who in turn portray contemporary society. I say give it a hundred years or so and see what still holds up as relevant. Then we'll see."

What Good is Art?
From Jim Dirkes (@thefilmthugs)

"What good is art? Well, that’s easy. It’s all pretty paintings for nice people to look at. Right? I mean, that’s what art is, like... paintings and stuff, right?

It sounds dismissive, but it does get to the heart of it. Really, how you answer that question relies entirely on how you answer a few other questions.

What is art?
Who is art for?
What is the purpose of a particular piece of art?

Bruce: You have no idea what I want. What is chess, do you think? Those who play for fun or not at all dismiss it as a game. The ones who devote their lives to it for the most part insist that it's a science. It's neither. Bobby Fischer got underneath it like no one before and found at its center, art. I spent my life trying to play like him. Most of these guys have. But we're like forgers. We're competent fakes. His successor wasn't here tonight. He wasn't here. He is asleep in his room in your house. Your son creates like Fischer. He sees like him, inside.
Fred: You can tell this by watching him play some drunks in the park?

Bruce: Yes. You want to know what I want. I'll tell you what I want. I want back what Bobby Fischer took with him when he disappeared.
 - Searching for Bobby Fischer- (written and directed by Steve Zaillian)

I think that sums up the first question for me. If you are able to do something in a pure and beautiful way, and understand it, and it speaks to you in a way that nothing else can... how is that not art? I mean, baseball is just a game, but if you’ve ever seen the poetry that is a perfectly executed  6-4-3 double play you can understand that there is art in the heart of that game. Even if you don’t like the game, a play like that is so fluid and moving that you can’t help but feel it. Not just see it, but feel it.

Hell, look at the history of the Boston Red Sox, which was an outright tragedy for 86 years. When you see the years of suffering and heartbreak that the fans went through, then see the release of emotion when they finally won a championship... it’s operatic. How many pieces of classical art have had that level of emotional effect on that many people?

Essentially, art is where you find it.

John L. Sullivan: I'm going out on the road to find out what it's like to be poor and needy and then I'm going to make a picture about it.

Burrows: If you'll permit me to say so, sir, the subject is not an interesting one. The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous.

John L. Sullivan: But I'm doing it for the poor. Don't you understand?

Burrows: I doubt if they would appreciate it, sir. They rather resent the invasion of their privacy, I believe quite properly, sir. Also, such excursions can be extremely dangerous, sir. I worked for a gentleman once who likewise, with two friends, accoutered themselves as you have, sir, and then went out for a lark. They have not been heard from since.

 -    Sullivan’s Travels (written and directed by Preston Sturges)

This really sums up my feelings on the second question. A lot of art is created for people who “get” art, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are people out there who see art as being something that only people with training can really understand. They hold that there is an elite class that can truly understand and appreciate art and everyone else is a petit bourgeois who is content living a consumer driven life. That’s fine... for them. It also happens to be complete nonsense.

Art is for anyone who feels a genuine emotional response to something. I will return to sports again (fyi, I’m only using sports metaphors because for many people sports is as far removed from art as you can get). You may not see the poetry of sports, but there are people who see someone like Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky or Peyton Manning and they way they play the game stirs something in them. The grace, the athleticism, the strategy, the very understanding of themselves and those around them creates a balletic symphony of movement that gets to the very heart, the viscera of what it means to be human and to what we as humans are capable of.

For some people, a crucifix floating in a jar of urine does the same thing. So be it. But just because someone went to art school doesn’t mean that the experience of another person is invalid.

John L. Sullivan: There's a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that that's all some people have? It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan.

 -    Sullivan’s Travels (written and directed by Preston Sturges)

 I don’t believe the nature of art has ever been as concisely stated as it is here. For a lot of people there is a stark divide between “high” art and “low” art. From this view some pieces of art are inherently better than others. If we were to focus on the film world this is where the master directors reside. Hitchcock, Kubrick, Bergman, Fellini, Forman, Bunuel, Kurosaua, and countless others are held up as this ideal of cinema, and rightfully so. These are absolute masters of their craft who created some of the most amazing films that have ever been created.

But what about people who aren’t fancy pants filmmakers? What about people who just make movies?

I’m no great fan of Adam Sandler films. I have enjoyed some of his past work, but the stuff he makes now just doesn’t do it for me. They are broad, crass humor that doesn’t really strive for anything more than cheap laughs with outrageous characters and predictable plots.

But is that a bad thing? If someone works way to hard for way to little money at a job where they are disrespected by their boss and the clients, has a horrible marriage and a few kids that hate him and he can sit down and watch “That’s My Boy,” and for 90 minutes forget about everything awful in his life... how is that not art? It may not be your particular cup of tea, but if a stupid move is able to cause a reaction of pure joy in the heart of someone who desperately needs something to feel joyous about that seems, to me at least, to be the very essence of art.

So, after all that blustery hoopla let’s return to the question.

“What good is art?”

Art is an objective good. It elevates us when we fall, grounds us when we get too far from center, it distracts us when we need it, it reminds us of things we need to remember, and it helps us forget things that are best left forgotten. It exists where we need it to and is there if we need it or not."


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Fine Frenzy's Third Album, PINES, Worth Checking Out!

This album is more than just a collection of songs but a story, a fable actually about a pining tree. It was released along with an animated short film and a companion book illustrated by Jen Lobo.

Alison Sudol (A Fine Frenzy) described PINES as a place you could go to feel.

"Sometimes I feel like the world has been strapped onto the back of a giant rocket and it's hurtling us into the unknown at a pace we're not entirely equipped to deal with. All kinds of things are falling off, good and bad. It's a crazy, exciting, terrifying time- so much is changing, and fast. Yet some of the most wonderful things in the world are slow- rivers and seasons and turning leaves and growing older with the ones you love. I wanted to create an environment where a person could retreat to, somewhere vivid and real where their minds and hearts could wander freely. I wanted it to be a place you could go to feel, like a quiet spot in a forest or the sea on a cloudy day."

Also, check out the video below to learn more about inspiration behind the short film "A Story of Pines"!

As a big A Fine Frenzy fan ("Ashes and Wine" and "Almost Lover" are two of my favorite songs!), I must admit I think I like the first two albums better. However, I did enjoy it and certainly appreciate it's uniqueness. It was not what I expected but I was not disappointed. Check it out and I'd be interested in knowing what you think!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Answer the Question: What Good is Art?

What good is art? I would love to see your insightful and original responses to this question? Please send your answers to karamonterey@hotmail.com with the subject line "What good is art?" by October 28th. I will post my favorite answers on the blog next week! Please share this with anyone you think may be interested in participating. I can't wait to see your thoughts!