Some notes on Dieter Roth for a Walker Art Center tour. Roth was born in Hannover, Germany in 1930 and he died in 1998 in Basel, Switzerland, at the age of 68. During WW2 he moved to Switzerland to avoid the war while his family remained in Germany. After the war his family moved to Bern where Roth began studying commercial illustration. Roth was a very talented illustrator. During the 1970s he produced a number of books that were based on ambidexterous drawings he would do in a very rapid style.
We tackled the topic of American cultural literacy last night at Socrate’s Cafe and, as always, the topic immediately turned to politics. A gentleman quoted Patrick Fitzgerald (the attorney involved in the Blagovich scandal) saying that “there is a fine line between politics and criminality.” Extend this to gross generalizations about all politicians and you begin to see the tone of the discussion. He asked whether anyone looking at the American political system from outside would see anything other than criminality.
A question that’s been kicking around my head for the past few days. This is just the start of a rough outline. Determining what is excellent: Judgment based on history. The “time will tell” adage. What is good and beautiful is sieved by history and reveals itself over time. This is also the base for the quantitative approach that Charles Murray takes in “Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.
Barnett Newman was born in 1905 and died in 1970. When he was 40, at the end of World War 2, he destroyed all of his earlier artwork and began to develop a new visual language to express his hopes and fears for humanity. He strove for an art that was Sublime and “which through symbols will catch the basic truth of life which is its sense of tragedy.” By 1948 he had developed a mature style of large fields of monochromatic colors interrupted by narrow bands, called zips, of different colors.
Steven Pearlstein, business columnist for the Washington Post, wrote a column on the lack of leadership that led to the current financial mess - Just One Real Leader, and We Could Have Avoided This Mess - and thus commits one of the fundamental fallacies of business reporting: the leadership fallacy. And that’s where leadership comes in. Because real business leaders don’t just sit there and accept a competitive dynamic, let alone a dysfunctional one that is likely to result in a bad outcome for everyone.
On or off. True or false. One or zero. This is how life feels right now, as another year ticks off on my personal odometer. The input/output circuitry has been set on high input and appear to be stuck. I’ve been inhaling books, web pages, podcasts, lectures, art museums and more for the past year or so, and now I feel like there is little to show for it. Everything is unidirectional.
What if social networking and media apps such as Twitter improve our collective sense of empathy? When I joined Twitter I followed two types people, personal friends and complete strangers. The friends were neighbors or colleagues whom I met regularly in person. Sometimes I met them at school, others I met through other electronic media such as blogs. The complete strangers were celebrities, people whom I had heard of or read about.
Time for another mashup of ideas. I recently read about the September project, a group of good-hearted librarians who have been hosting discussions during the month of September around the themes of democracy, patriotism, and citizenship. So connecting this back to Harry Boyte, my ongoing interest in Open Space, and a nascent Citizen Media Camp, I start thinking that Minneapolis needs to have a September project event. Consider this post a marker for the idea.
I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a classic literature reading group to meet somewhere out here in the Western burbs of Minneapolis. This post is a riff on that idea. What if the group were to meet at a local retirement community? Surely there is an audience of people who are retired and interested in reading Shakespeare. Perhaps they never had a chance to read it before, or maybe they are just lifelong learning junkies like myself.
There are two extreme answers to the question of what we are responsible for? The maximalist position is that we are responsible for everything. When we act, whether consciously or not, something happens in the world. A series of effects propagates outward from our actions, and that series may be endless. For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost… and on, and on.