Posts Tagged Arts

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes That Are So Great People Repeat Them Over And Over

I wanted to start the New Year off with some valuable, insightful nuggets of wisdom from the most quoted man in American history, Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Here are a few particularly brilliant ones that have touched me at nearly every level of my being.  Hopefully, you can carry these words with you as we embark on a journey into another year of wonder and beauty.   This is my gift to you, dear reader.  May they fill your days with sunshine and your nights with endless darkness.  

“A dreamer is a person who is asleep and is thinking about things.”

“A man of genius is a man who can find a way to make large amounts of money in a short period of time without going to federal prison.”

“If you follow the path, you will eventually find the thing you were looking for.  Unless that thing is at the beginning of the path.  Then, you’ve missed it.  But, you can always go back.  Unless there is a gate that automatically closes when you go through it.  Or guards.  With rifles.”

 “Make sure that you live each and every day as if you were going to be hit by a bus at any second.”

“Live your dreams, except for the one where you are trapped in a cow’s stomach.”

Thoreau spent a night in jail and a few years in the woods and suddenly he has something to say.  No one has ever gotten more out of less suffering.  Y’all act like he was Job or something.”

“As we grow old, we tend to wrinkle more.  Like a shirt.”

“Democracy is a good way to get people to go along with absurd rules and even believe they had some role in their creation.  If that doesn’t work, tell them they are going to hell if they don’t obey.”

“Children are vile.  Except in soup.”

“Don’t waste your life on useless things like going to work, personal hygiene or repairing misunderstandings. Live as if you are going to die and you don’t really want anyone at your funeral.”

“Finish each day as if it’s 11:59 PM.”

“A confident man is someone who catches fire and asks for a cigarette.”

“Live in the sunshine every moment of the day or night.  Drink water directly from the ocean.  Eat poorly prepared, undercooked meat.  Pretend no rules apply to you.”

 “Nothing can bring you peace except for the extinction of the other 7 billion parasites around you.”

 “Nothing great was ever achieved without a fawning and deluded public.”

“Shallow men believe that getting hair restoration will make them attractive to 22-year-old women.  Smart men know that it’s better to pay them directly.”

 “The world belongs to those who have lots of money.  Or an army.”

 “Tis a good person who would be willing to give up a kidney to save a friend.  Tis an idiot who would give up a lung.”

 “We all boil rice differently.”

 “Whoso would begin a quote with the term “whoso” is probably trying to say something that is pretty simple but might appear to be more complex due to the use of arcane language.”

 “It’s easy to be misunderstood when you mumble.”

“For every genius, there are 100 men smarter than him who have bad breath.”

“When times are difficult, buy gold and help no one.”

“The reward of doing something well is watching someone come along and carelessly screw things up.”

 “Remember that guy who sat behind you in health class in 10th grade and stuck a paperclip up his nose and had to have surgery.  He now runs a bank.”

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Gods and Ends

Greek Mythology has always been a source of great fascination to me.  The Ancient Greeks had an uncanny way of explaining the random, capricious nature of life through their deities.  The gods were wild and erratic.  They could hand you a check for a million dollars one minute and throw you in a pit with a thousand rattlesnakes the next.  Imagine the entire Old Testament was The Book of Job and you have a decent sense of how things worked for The Greeks.

The gods seemed to be a great way to explain anything and everything.  At times, it can seem as if there were more gods then Greeks. Often, scholars spend their time focusing on the better-known gods like Zeus, Poseidon or Athena.  However, there are many fascinating stories of gods that were widely worshiped in their day, but have disappeared into the great dustbin of history.  Here are some great examples:

Arteriosclorities-The God of Deep Fried Foods

Beyond contributing democracy and many other key philosophical insights to our world, The Greeks are also the first society to deep-fry their foods.  From yak to Snickers bars (a delicacy first created by Aristotle), the Greeks would throw nearly anything into a bubbling cauldron of oil.  It is no wonder that the Greeks are believed to be the progenitors of Western medicine.  Most Greeks weighed upwards of 300 pounds and were barely able to run.  This fact tends to throw their achievements during the Olympic games into a whole different light.

Supposedly, Arteriosclorities was one of Zeus’ many sons from an affair with Eris, the goddess of strife and discord.  In order to hide this affair from his wife Hera after the child was born, Zeus placed Arteriosclorities into the stomach of Dionysus while he was sleeping off a wild night of overeating and general debauchery.  Dionysus awoke with a terrible feeling of discomfort and collapsed.  Zeus, not meaning to have harmed Dionysus, sent Indigestius, the Greek god of stomach acid and ulcers, into his stomach to destroy Arteriosclorities.  The two had a great battle, which was won by Indigestius.  Dionysus finally awoke with terrible stomach pains that could only be allayed by eating massive amounts of antacids.

McKuenius-The God of Bad Poetry and Greeting Cards

The Greeks are known for creating some of the most poignant and moving poetry in human history.  But, for every Homer, there were 1,000 less talented hacks trying to write their own Iliad.  Many of these no talent writers ended up working for the Hallmark Corporation, which was founded in 654 B.C., with the mission of sending sappy, dull poetry to people on important days of their lives.  Their patron saint is the god McKuenius.

McKuenius was known for writing terribly boring, pointless poetry and asking Hermes to deliver it.  Hermes, the busy messenger god, was forced to deliver idiotic compositions like “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, You are a Goddess and Athena is too” to Aphrodite or “Poseidon likes water, Demeter is his sister, She gave birth to his daughter,” to the god of the sea. After growing tired of having to read this drivel, Hermes begged Zeus to punish McKuenius in order to make him stop writing.  First, Zeus sentenced him to one hundred years of writing dirty limericks on bathroom stalls.  However, Zeus quickly discovered that he was enjoying his job.  Zeus realized he was a lost cause and sent him to pits of Tartarus and made him write a detailed description of Sisyphus rolling a rock up the hill for eternity.  He is still there today, happily describing suffering and misery in a pithy, gleeful, and highly moronic way.

Aggasius-The God Of Male Pattern Baldness

The gods seemed to all have some sort of fatal flaw.  Be it rage, greed, avarice or just plain old insanity, they all seemed to have something locked into their character that made them both all-powerful and amazingly vulnerable.  One of the earliest examples of this is Aggasius, the god of male pattern baldness.  Aggusius was one of the original Titan gods who were overthrown by Zeus and The Olympian gods at 4:22 PM on February 12th 3212 B.C.  Aggasius was capable of creating tornadoes, causing earthquakes and smiting entire nations with a wave of his staff.   However, he was unable to grow hair on the top of his head.  The tragic irony of Agassius was that he could grow massive amounts on his back, his ears and even on his shoulders like Sonny Corleone in the first Godfather film.  He tried several potions created by Greek pharmaceutical manufacturers, a terribly made hairpiece created from the beard of Hyperion, and even tried to rubbing pomegranate seeds on his head three times a day, nothing seemed to work.  In spite of his great power, the other gods laughed at “The Bald One” whenever his back was turned.  Eventually, he grew tired of the mockery, quit being a god and moved to a suburb of Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he still lives today working as a successful middle manager at a meat packing company.

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What If There Is Nothing Worth Writing About?

“The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying.”

TS Eliot from Ash Wednesday

Recently, a terrible feeling has been crawling up the base of my spine.  It awakens me in the middle of the night, it hounds me when I am driving home from work, it swims in and out of my mind every time I consider this cursed blog.  I think I had this thought in my mind even before I started blogging, but over the last month its light buzz has grown to a deafening roar.  This feeling is in the pit of my stomach and the recesses of my mind all at once.  It is a voice that talks to me while I write and a spirit that haunts me when I do not.  Nothing makes it grow quiet.  It is omnipresent.  It is a simple idea, but if you follow it to its logical extreme it is as dangerous as a nuclear bomb.  The question is this…Is there that is really worth writing?

It seems a rather harmless line of questioning.  That is how it starts.  The point of writing is to create something.  I hope to create something new.  Have all the worthwhile thoughts already been had?  Has someone else already put down all the truths and mysteries of life on paper?  With the Internet, you can find access to nearly every idea that has been conceived of.  Most of us concern ourselves with whether LeBron is better than Kobe or who is married to who and who is getting a divorce or who wore what on the red carpet or who embarrassed themselves in front of the world.  If you want to dig deeper you can find recipes for how to prepare ox tail, the history of Buddhism, better and more in depth formulas to calculate the value of third basemen or the performance of treasury bonds, or the lost works of some 19th century poet you came across at three in the morning on some insomnia driven information binge.  But to what end?  Is it just more and more stuff to fill our minds with?

Maybe I shouldn’t concern myself with creating something original.  After all, what is the point of originality?  Am I simply trying to justify my existence by conning myself into the belief that I am so special and unique that I can think a thought that the rest of the 6 billion of us could not come up with?  Am I so narcissistic that I think I am capable of an idea that has never been here before?

Maybe the point is to appreciate the experience of writing.  Maybe the whole thing is about letting my synapses fire and my fingers pound away at some keyboard.  To what end?  I do it again and again.  Words appear.  More words appear.  Then more.  More.   They mean something, but who really knows what?  They dance in patterns.  I already have forgotten most of what I’ve written.  I could look back.  To what end?

Why bother sending this nonsense out to the world?  Looking for fellow travelers on the good ship Earth as we spiral towards our own personal oblivion.  To what end?  Am I simply standing in front of the Grand Canyon shouting at the top of my own lungs in the hopes of hearing an echo?  And then what?

Maybe my words will help ease the pain of human suffering.  A noble goal but when you look at what we are up against, it hardly seems possible.  A dying heap of flesh and consciousness trapped in a fading world that is saturated with mountains of disconnected ideas adding up to nothing in particular is going to be helped by some random guy typing random words on a computer screen? Really?  I haven’t watched enough Frank Capra to buy it.  It is a pleasant delusion, but a delusion nonetheless.  Maybe the goal is to delude others into forgetting their troubles.  They will remember them soon enough or, worse, they will enjoy the delusion so much they will forget what is happening to them and the ones around them.  Apathy or sadness. Ignorance or constant horror.  To what end?

If I could write something that could teach people how to live forever or convincingly show them that their actions are connected to something greater then maybe I would be writing something worth reading.  But I am not that good of a writer and I doubt I will ever be.  I wonder if anyone is.  Existential dread is what it is and I can’t write it away for myself or anyone else.  Can writing change the truth of what we are?  I simply don’t believe that.  And even if it could…to what end?

Maybe all of the thoughts have been thunk and all of the dreams have been dreamt and we are simply recycling the same old nonsense in slightly different packages again and again and again.  Over and over.  The paint job changes but it’s still the same old world.  Meet the new boss same as the old boss.

This isn’t my MacArthur speech to the troops blog.  I plan to keep doing this again and again for no apparent reason.  It is a complete waste of time.  It has no value and is utterly and completely useless.  I enjoy writing more times than I don’t.  I like hearing how my words hit people.  I am deeply curious as to how my innermost thoughts are perceived by strangers.  I guess that is something, but it will fade after a while.  These are simply words on a page and they don’t mean anything.  Nothing lasting or real or forever or genuine will ever come out of my mind or my hands.  They are shapes, they are colors contrasted with the background, they are a speck in the eye of history.  They are words.  Their lifespan is about as long as it takes to get to the next sentence.

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An Inconsistent Truth: A Psychological Review of The High Art Museum’s Showing of La Moustache 11/5/10

The Citizen Kane of mustache hallucination films

“No one who has not experienced how insubstantial the pageant of external reality can be, how it may fade, can fully realize the sublime and grotesque presences that can replace it, or exist along side of it.”

-R.D. Laing “The Politics of Experience”

 

It is truly frightening to be in a room full of people who are laughing and not get the joke.  I don’t just mean not get the punch line, but not get the words, the meaning or anything else.  To feel as if one is from another planet and has landed here with a cursory knowledge of the English language and a two-day session on the lives and mating patterns of human beings under his belt, only to have to listen to two voracious baseball fans discussing the importance of the infield fly rule.  Maybe I missed something; maybe something was never there.

I walked into the High Art Museum at about 9:30 at night and was greeted by one person in a fake moustache, then another, then another.  I was overwhelmed and confused.  Apparently this was the theme of the evening.  Moustaches, moustaches everywhere.  I had heard that at some point in the evening some men who had real moustaches were going to shave them off.  It was one of those hipster rollicking good time things that I’m sure would have really impressed me back when I had rollicking hipster intentions.

The main purpose of this whole thing was to show Emmanuel Carrere‘s surrealist film “La Moustache“. Because of this, I decided to leave my house on a Friday night for the first time since Carter was in office.  I love the film.  It is a deceptively simple story of madness and personal alienation.  A man shaves his moustache and no one believes he ever had one.  That’s really all of it.  In spite of its insane story line, it manages to come across as a remarkably realistic picture what it is like to experience genuine confusion. For some reason, I had it in my head that seeing the film in a theater would be even better.  What I didn’t really get until the lights dimmed was that seeing 2001:  A Space Odyssey in a theatre is a unique experience because you have an opportunity to see special effects that were meant for a big screen.  Seeing a yuppie French couple arguing over the husband’s bizarre personal grooming fantasies is not anymore enjoyable around a bunch of popcorn chomping film fans.  As a matter of fact, it’s pretty damned depressing.

The woman who introduced the film was some former film critic from the Atlanta Journal Constitution who really didn’t know very much about the film or the writer or the director or French cinema or how she got to the building in the first place.  She kept saying over and over that this film was “funny…really, really funny.”  This set a monumentally bad tone for the evening.  The crowd immediately settled in, ready for a French yuckfest on par with the work of Johnny Knoxville.  I have to tell you, I’ve laughed at a lot of thoroughly inappropriate things in my day, so I guess I had this evening coming to me.  I nearly got tossed out of the Phipps Plaza Theater some years back for nearly laughing myself into straightjacket for the last 15 minutes of the faux horror classic “The Devil’s Advocate”.  I spent a good portion of my younger years telling horrendously insensitive jokes about everyone from Mother Theresa to Ted Bundy.  This night was my punishment for many a sin against good taste. Hopefully, this will count as my confession and I will be absolved of further mental floggings.

I sat there for a good hour and a half with blank expression on my face.  The audience exploded with laughter over and over again at the most inopportune times.  Marc, the main character played by Vincent Lindon, wanders through the film slowly losing touch with everyone he knows and loves.  He begins to doubt the very fabric of reality, becomes a stranger in his own body and disappears into a blinding fog of regret, scorn and loneliness.  Hysterical stuff!  Marc sifts through the trash, trying to find any proof that his experience is real, that he is not living an unexplainable fantasy and that his mind isn’t decaying.  Stop it, my side is hurting!

Truth be told, this is a horrifically sad movie.  So many wander through life trying to catch up to the world, trying to understand an endless series of in jokes and references that fly by them, hoping to understand what the world means while being handed self-help books and truisms about “being yourself” and “trying your hardest”.  Our personal realities often do not mesh with the world.  Our truths are often only true in our minds.  One minute’s certainty is the next minute’s mirage.  There are nearly 7 billion of us blindly groping for a light switch in the dark only to be handed an octopus.  This is the message of The Moustache.  To take this film as a lighthearted romp is to miss a wonderfully genuine explanation of what it is like to be a human.  Or maybe I just don’t get it.

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