Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Traffic jam in Dyersvile

Today I had a flashback to my commuting days in old Boston MA. I was heading into D-ville for some disposable brushes to apply finish to project I am completing for the holidays. I went the back way through down town when suddenly as I pulled onto the main drag traffic stopped??? there was a line of vehicles, as I came over the hill there was a line in the other direction too! Gridlock!

What in this peaceful town could have caused such calamity...
As I rounded the water tower I saw the culprit, The squeamish may want to stop now, all 500 lbs of him. The cow was casually trotting down the street. He seemed calm as he inspected each passing car with an air of "WHAT the hell do think your lookin' At" on his face and in his gate.

May be more surprising was the lack of response from other drivers and even myself. People slowed down, let him pass and then went about their business me included. I wonder what the response to this might have been on I 93 say between Quincy and Granite AVE? I picture State troopers and possibly SWAT. But alas in D-ville all the response was one man, watching his cow run down the street a look on his face that said, "Wonder when he's going to get tired of this and come back?"

The great thing about being home is knowing that this won't make the news, and I am sure the situation resolved itself as everyone else who saw it is confident the parties (the cow and the man) must have some agreement that will surely play out.

Boy am I glad I ran out of brushes!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Animism in a scientfic world

Animism is the belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena. IE a sacred stone that can make crops grow(ala Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) A belief system that supports the idea that objects have spirits and worth outside of their material make up.

This last week at work I have been discussing in depth the renaissance in Europe. After the "Black Death" swept through killing at will and debasing the mystical power of the Christian church the world was "blessed" with the enlightenment and the developments that would lead to contemporary modern society. The scientific method was soon to follow and science would begin to rationalize and explain away the magic in our lives.

Upon the end of this section in our class we move directly to Africa and The Pre Colombian Americas. A land that had been previously left to develop in it's own ways was full of myth and magic that was in no way kitschy or banal (as western tourism has made it today) but was genuine and part of a broader holistic view that required belief in something that makes sense with out proof.

I then received an article from a good friend about a Man who upon finding a sweatshirt washed up on the beach decided that he would (if not cynically) explore the world of fashion with this new line of clothing. He considered the sweatshirt a collaboration between him and the sea and as a unique item priced it at 1200.00 (on par with other items in the store). Some people bought into the idea other thought the thing was only worth 4 or 500.00. Others thought he was an ass. You can decide.

All of these things make me wonder why we have lost that ability to have things of meaning in our lives. I feel like what is good and important in an object is simply what someone else says it is. Unless I am naked in a snow storm a sweatshirt is not worth 1200.00(never mind where I would keep the money to buy it) On the flip side some where along the line Americans have decided that 4 t shirts for 3.00 is better than 2 t shirts for 3.00 and as a result the clothing industry has moved away and has taken advantage of youth and poor people on the other side of the planet to provide objects that are cheaper and to me represent a misunderstanding of how we value objects. Better farming through science has killed the spirit of the plants and animals, and the earth itself as farmers pull more out put less in as if there is no spirit in the things they deal with. In our efforts to go go go we would put in place plans to burn food. So little disregard that our option is to burn food?

With the holidays around the corner I think a lot about getting things. We are thing makers and collectors and as Kurt Vonnegut mentions in "Sirens of Titan" humanity has to leave the earth because the museum collections over crowd the earth and we are forced out by our collection of the past

I am not one of those people who thinks it would be great if society collapsed and we all went back to simpler mystical times. But I do think as a people if we are to succeed into the future we will need to rediscover the spirit of the world we live in and mesh it with our incessant need to understand.

Next week the saga of the plastic trees our asininity knows no bounds.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog...

It has been 3 weeks or more since my last blog entry. I'm not sure why but here I go, back on the horse!

Some how in life I never left school. I had one year off from academics after I graduated College the first time and even then my lovely wife was a teacher so the academic schedule still ruled our home. Here it is 2 weeks till finals and then the all to necessary Christmas break! I love teaching, I specifically love teaching college the students are somewhat more engaged and infinitely more interesting,( although they do lack the unbridled enthusiasm of the HHFN kindergartners and the Santa's helper relay race I created).

As the end looms it becomes a great flurry of getting things done. I am more motivated, they are more motivated and soon it will be time to start over. I think that is the real catch for me. Every semester provides an opportunity to do it better, to try something new and expand on what you had. While staying up late to reread textbooks over and over does loose its luster about now. I take sollice in the fact that on Dec 16th I will be done with this chapter and on to the next.

That chapter is of course the holiday season! Holy crap! This year has been simultaneously the longest and shortest of my life. We moved 1300 miles across this great country twice. Bringing with everything that we own. We had our second child, I ran my own business, taught at 3 colleges and started my first full time teaching position. We bought a house, set up a new studio, and now I have completed the first semester of my new job. This is like 4 normal years of life crammed into one!

But on the other hand we spent most of this year waiting... Waiting for the baby, waiting to hear about the job offer, waiting to here about our house, waiting to move, just waiting.

Alas the end is near and then it will be time to start over, things to do, places to go, But I do hope we pace ourselves and enjoy the trip.