Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"I see" said the blind carpenter

As a kid I found great amusement in this word play. "I see said the blind carpenter as he picked up his hammer and saw." It amuses me even more now as the irony of its vision becomes clear. Its focus on that humble carpenter. This morning in response to a friends comment about the blindness of the 'seeing class' I shared the following:observation (here slightly modified so as to stand on its own)... "Watching things unfold of late, here's what has come to interest -- and teach -- me: There was a time when the "uneducated" were Barnum's rubes. When he could lead them quickly out of the circus side show simply by posting a sign that read in fancy script "THIS WAY TO THE THE GRANDE EGRESS." But those days are past. Today it is true that there are many things that only an educated person is foolish enough to believe. The reason is, I think, exposure. Unadulterated and unguided. And thus in this vast complex world the basic skills God gave man to navigate the old "smaller" world are now working to help him navigate the larger one. Today the common man sees and *gets it.* No persiflage stands in his way. That is why the pundits have been, and continue to be, totally wrong. And the people -- "We the People" in that old but by no means outdated phrase -- so very, very right. We the People did not walk away empty handed last night. As Scott "Dilbert" Adams wrote on his blog "Clinton won the debate last night. And while she was doing it, Trump won the election."
Then this evening I came upon this article by Newt Gingrich... Trump won the debate. Don't believe the "Intellectual Yet Idiot" class Newt seems to be observing that same exciting "new" but old reality as I. And he provides data to support it. I do encourage you to give it a read. It may give you a basis for hope that our Republic can survive. And if it does that it will be because of people like us. Seeing. Speaking. Acting. "We the People."

Last Night's Theater of the Absurd (I.e., the "Debate")

Yes, I watched it. Painful as it was -- and, especially, came to be.

My normal morning routine is to have a cup of coffee and then get busy absorbing the world news; searching for cogent and meaningful discussion thereof.  This morning, though, I wanted to put these few words into pixels before anyone else's thought, cogent or otherwise, blended in with my own.

The "classic" American political debate was something quite different from what we call a "debate" today.  The greatest of these, but not by far the only "great" ones, were those between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during their run for the Illinois senate. That was back in 1858.

What made those debates "great" was two fold:  One, they were true debates -- that is they were formal arguments about ideas. Ideas important to those who they hoped to represent. And, two, they were the expressions of focused minds with strong and clearly distinct opposing points of view.

If their intent was to win public office -- and it was -- their method of doing so was to inform and win people over to possibly for them new ideas.

Last night's affair never reached anywhere near that level. Nor, frankly, was it intended too. It was at best to be good theater - a performance put on for show. For entertainment. And in fact it in the end proved to be far less than that.

Interestingly -- and maybe informatively -- it started out on a plain, if not quite up to that of Lincoln/Douglas, at least elevated enough to provide a vista worth viewing.  Both Clinton and Trump had what we could call "lines."  Clearly memorized sentences that they hoped would become news sound bites, or, failing that, at least something that would stick in a listener/viewer's mind giving them something to 'take home.'

In Trump's case the most obvious was his supposed graciousness toward Hillary.  How 'important this was to him.'  Something that any viewer of his performances in the Republican primary debates knows is simply not the case.  What is important to him is to win. At everything. (And, indeed, it is the later quality that so caught some of the public's imagination. What might America be like if it were to actually have a President devoted to this country's citizenry, who felt just that way - and had the proven means to succeed in it?)

Hillary, too, had memorized lines. So many in fact that it is hard for me to single out any one. She, even more than Trump, was (and is) a performer. Not meaning a good one.  Her "lines" are too easily seen to be what they are: Words written in advance -- a script -- at best read out in her own, odd, artificial, sing-song way.  (Unless she is having an off day -- then her underlying nastiness quickly shows through.)

Still, despite all of the above, the opening half hour or so of the "debate" actually was that, without the quotation marks.  Differing ideas were put forth. Ideas worth considering. Ideas important to voters, to help them -- us! -- make up their/our minds.  Maybe even change a few? (Wouldn't that have been wonderful!)

Then the "debate" became a non-debate. That was when moderator Holt got involved.

I shan't here go into a list of his obvious (yes, and expected) one-sidedness.  Too bad that, but it goes with the territory.  Something true every year as the "owned media" is just that, owned -- and not equally by both parties. They are coastal entities and thus they lean left.

But this year all the established media -- yes, even Fox News -- is on one side: The side of the establishment. They may well loath Hillary Clinton -- so many, including her supposed "supporters" do -- but Trump is to them far, far more a threat. He is not one of them. And he says and does things according to his own goals and vision.  Scary stuff to those who have found a protected and comfortable perch in these windy days.

The bad thing about Holt's involvement was thus not that. Its favoring Hillary was a given.  No, what made it bad was that he changed the subject from things that we care about to things that in fact we don't.  -"Birtherism," released tax forms, and the like. And even the subjects he raised that are of some (if not primary) interest to us, the way he asked the questions and the things he didn't say, showed that answering our questions and helping us make an important informed decision was by no means his primary goal.  Indeed, not his goal at all.

Just to site a clear example... Holt raised the concern about internet security.  Important?  Yes.  But how can Hillary talk about that without the fact of her intentionally putting classified information on an unsecured server even in this context being raised?

No, I do not mean that Holt should have attacked her -- that was not his job, he was the moderator. But to obviously steer the discussion away from that towards a focus on the Russians -- well that made even this possibly worthy point of "debate" superfluous. And in doing so made his real goal rather evident.

The live audience understood this. For they, at that point, started cheering and applauding. And he, who earlier had reminded them of the agreed to "rules" forbidding such, suddenly (and, again, quite obviously) went mute.

I watched the show till its painful end. Saddened more than surprised. Left with the question not "who won," but who lost. Us. We. The American people.

'Tis a shame that.  But then again, so is so much else in recent years.  Not things that will so much effect me (well they could, if the proverbial "shit hits the fan"), but what all this will mean for what some day will be quaintly called "history." And for those who between now and then have to live it.


Monday, September 19, 2016

My Other Voice

Today, perhaps more than ever before, the axiom is true. Talk is cheap. We are inundated by it. TV and radio, yes. (How old hat!) Facebook, email, tweets.

Well, at least we rarely anymore hear pagers going off!

Music is a lovely escape from all this word chatter.  But so can be pictures.

When the camera was invented some thought it would be the end of painting.  But the human imagination being what it is that newer form of imaging -- so literal and real -- instead moved painting in a new direction. Towards impressionism and abstraction.

Today, with cameras everywhere, seeing what "is" in almost real-time is commonplace. But much as with the nearly endless increase in words so much of today's imaging seems to have very little to say. Another face. Another smile. (What is it about selfie smiles?  That lip stretching unreality that is supposed to pass for joy and enthusiasm.)

I have, for most all of my life, taken a somewhat different path.  To not ask the viewers of my work to see what the camera saw (It needs me not for that. Nor I it), but what I saw in my mind and then made 'seeable' to others via the tool of photography.

Here are several of my favorite such images, limited by what I have made available to  myself in digital form.

Yes, the newer ones were created that way. But others -- no more or less literal -- were created using chemical means. Film and paper. Or transparency. Then digitized as they appeared in that earlier modality.

In no particular order. Accompanied by just a few words.

"Charles in Winter"

A silver print "brought out" with potassium ferricyanide. Mid 1970s

"Grapes at Sunset"

Any 'manipulation' was done in camera with light. Natural light, just as the name suggests.  Late 1970s. 

From a Cibachrome additive print.


Ektachrome printed on Cibachrome additive color process.

This was an "eureka!" grab shot taken in the Everglades National Park. Sisters from Mother Teresa's order.

Whether the sisters were prayerful at the time I cannot say. What had caught their eye was a large alligator swimming underneath the only slightly elevated boardwalk.


My then young son carefully placed in the composition with a remnant reflecting pool shortly after the tide went out at New Hampshire's Rye Beach,  The ethereal quality was, again, carefully created in camera.

Ekatachrome on a Ciba print.


A "found" shot.  One of my favorite photographic experiences. Isolated, yes, but largely otherwise as seen.

Ektachrome on Cibachrome.

And now some created in the digital modality.

"Bench in Autumn"

Like many here this is from a series I call "My Morning Walk."  Grab shots of the beauty all around me/us here on my property in the Monadnocks, NH.

As I saw it, not the camera.

"Wild Flowers"

"Winter Sunrise"

Nothing here, apart from the sun and the cottage, is quite what the camera saw. But it is exactly what I saw. Even to the contributing "lens flare."

"Sunrise on a Misty Morn"

How much was in the scene vs in my mind I almost cannot say.  But the scene called everything forth. I just had to let my eyes see it all.

"Storm's End"

Probably the most "natural" shot here. Light did all the creation. And color. But it lasted a mere moment and was caught forever.

Taken through our bedroom's "glass wall."

Thank you for allowing me to share these. 


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Music

The blog is largely about ideas.  Things that I think about.  And also, to a lesser degree, about my life and the people I have the privilege and joy of sharing it with.

But my life is also about the arts -- both visual and music. So I think to make this blog complete I really ought to be posting some of those things here as well. For friends. For family. For posterity. For whatever.

Fortunately we today have YouTube and thus the ability to share things -- informal, quickly put together performances made with a smart phone camera, such as these -- is easy.  What's lacking in quality is somewhat made up for (hopefully at least) by spontaneity.

Here, then, then are a few quick videos of me and my guitar..

First a couple of original songs which I wrote, and here perform, along with a programmable electronic accompaniment unit that I call "The Black Box Band"...

"This Ain't Lovin'"...

And another, also an original, entitled "On and On (She Keeps Goin')"...

I also have a love for "surf music" and its late fifties, early sixties, precursor: instrumental rock. Indeed it was the love for these sounds that got me playing guitar in the first place.

Songs such as this one -- The Ventures' 1959 hit "Walk Don't Run"...

And this somewhat later surf classic entitled "Mr. Moto"...

These days I largely play for myself.  And that knowing that time and age are taking a bit of a toll on my ability to do so.

But still, the pleasure of playing remains for me as real as it ever was.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Wife, Friend and Lover

The Labor Day Weekend, just past, traditionally marks the end of the summer season, and, if not on the calendar, then most certainly in our lives, the start of autumn. 

It was typical during my work years for friends and workmates to, upon first seeing one-another after the holiday,  ask "how was your weekend"? -To compare notes about places visited, burgers grilled, beers imbibed and good times (hopefully) had.

In my own case my answer was typically that I'd had a wonderful time. But if pressed I'd have to admit that I had typically gone nowhere. Burgers indeed may be been grilled and a few beers enjoyed, but my joy and pleasure generally wasn't due to such things. 

No. For me the joy was always the same: The company kept. And for me that meant, especially, Jan. My wife, my friend and my lover.

Now entering the autumn of my life -- our lives -- how really significant that is becomes more and more, well, "obvious." 

Was it ever less so than now? No. But perhaps less confidently spoken.

Our society puts great stress on things outside of ourselves.  On things done. Experienced. On places gone. On things possessed. Wives, friends and lovers are merely people we have done them with, not themselves, of themselves, the center.

It's odd, I suppose, that such has never been true for Jan and me. Especially so since our relationship is not symbiotic.  We are not a couple who are "attached at the hip."  We are not one combined person, but clearly two. And in some ways we are very different from one another.  Yet being together -- two people sharing time and space --  is what has been central to our joy, and this now for a good many years.

Every human being is an individual.  There is no one right way to live a life. 

Those eternal words -- that people should be free in their search for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" -- referred not to some collective whole, but to individual persons.  For some the fulfillment of those words would include doing things -- travel and experiences -- for others the pursuit of wealth and property. For yet others involvement in the world of the arts and ideas. 

Some would choose to do so largely alone. Others with friends. Yet others with an extended family or otherwise related community. And for some, such as myself, several of those things but with, especially, a single person. A wife. A friend. A lover.

As Jan headed out to the office this morning I thanked her for making my weekend so special.  She returned the thought and expression.  And such were not mere words. We both really, really meant it.

But what had we done to make this past weekend so "special?"  Little that I could have shared with workmates. 

We talked together some.  We did some chores -- yard work, choosing and putting together a fire pit, a bit of house drudgery. 

We smiled at one another.  We watched some movies together. We did some shopping and took in a restaurant meal.  That's it. Nothing "special."

Or was it? How many can say that their weekend was "special" after just doing such things? And what could possibly be more "special" than time shared with the person who is truly central to one's life?

When we are young we look ahead to career goals and the like.  Such is (hopefully) purposeful. But little seems to be spoken about finding that right companion to do such with. For a man that'd typically mean a wife, a friend and a lover.

I was never instructed about such things.  How then did I know to show care about it? Was it just "luck"?

Or was it because the things that are outside myself never really drew me in? Nor did they Jan.  That we were both oddities even among our families and friends -- people driven toward an inner life. Undistracted by so much that is "out there." Free to truly think about what we ourselves valued, in life as a whole and in seeking a life companion? 

And thus today, after so many summers, with autumn approaching, I can hear that question -- "how was your holiday weekend? '' -- and answer "Great!" I did just what I wanted to do.  And most of all I did them with my very best friend who also happens to be my wife and lover.

When I wish good for others it is particularly that wish.  That they find such a companion. A person who just by being there and sharing it can and will make every holiday weekend wonderful.

Thanks Jan! 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

"Hastily"? Really?

"Hastily." -That's a strong word, is it not? If one does something "hastily" it means that one did so with excessive speed; hurriedly, carelessly.

It thus struck me, at least at first, as somewhat odd that FoxNews twice in its article about Donald Trump's meeting with Mexican president Nieto chose to use that word to describe his quickly made and executed plans for that meeting.

Careless? In what way? To me -- especially after seeing the two men standing together at the press conference following their surprisingly lengthy meeting -- the word that came to mind was brilliant. Or, if the fact that the meeting was planned and executed quickly, without the months of planning such visits usually require, with dozens of front men pre-arranging every conceivable detail to avoid risk or (worse to a politician), embarrassment, how about this word: Nimble.

That FoxNews of all media sources chose such a word -- using it twice for emphasis -- seems to demonstrate once again both how frightened the ruling class has become -- what a threat Trump is seen to be to their hold on power -- and why, so completely out of the blue, Roger Ailes sexual misdeeds became an issue forcing him to step down as chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel, thus allowing the placement of a new CEO apparently more inclined to do the elites bidding.

There is a war going on friends. The outcome of which will effect each of our lives.

If Trump can win that war against the elites of both parties and their media abettors he will have proven himself to be more than nimble. He will have prove himself a leader that all who want to hold back America's return to greatness will have to reckon with.