Countenance

In 2005, PBS aired a series entitled, “American Masters” which showcased the work of legendary if not ground breaking artists. I enjoyed watching the series, but one program struck a chord: Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light.

One comment in particular stuck with me. Essentially, Avedon mentioned “the landscape of the human face.”  Lines, creases, smooth or rough, dark or light and every combination in between, a person’s countenance says a few things about an individual’s life journey and current life stage.

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Face-to-Face

I suppose any season is good for “time travel.”  Case in point: The Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Throughout New England and other parts of the country, living museums provide a chance to feel what we could only imagine.

Such places serve to remind us of what we have. Or what we’ve lost.

On a particular Saturday evening, I was reminded of the power of conversation. The Shakers traditionally have family dinners, meaning you sit at a table–often a rather long one–and enjoy supper together.  This particular night came via the Food for Thought series, a HSV summer event whereby one sits and enjoys a gourmet farm-to-table dinner and conversation. From June thru August, an author is invited to dine, discuss and engage about a recent book that she/he has published.

Traveler, award winning writer, bestselling author, Mr. Simon Winchester.

The narratives can be compelling. Unsurprisingly, there’s the conversation of getting-to-know a bit more about a person, not the least being the author who’s about to recount a journey of research, writing, editing and more.

Like the author, the guests had their own experiences to share. Most were familiar [snippets of life’s journey from a father-mother-engineer-lawyer-financial manager-medical doctor, e.g.], and others were fascinating to hear and talk about. In attendance was a young student of epidemiology, and I should have talked with him beyond his academic CV [Princeton, then John Hopkins].  It would’ve been fascinating to hear more about the rise of diseases and other ailments that can quickly wreak havoc on populations around the world.

The beauty of talking face-to-face is that beyond the words you hear, you’re also emotionally involved. Expressions, gestures and tone each hint at nuances that can be missed when engrossed with email and text messages.

I enjoy the various digital communication platforms and they can be timely if not helpful. However, there’s still something to be said about connecting with people face-to-face. And that kind of connection can make such a difference in your comings and goings day in, day out.

 

Nothing but Blue Skies…

“Blue skies, smiling at me, nothing but blue skies, do I see.”  Irving Berlin

It just hit me. This color blue. It was electric, cheerful, optimistic, surreal and more. Not sure why, but it just was.

So, I took a  photo.

Ella Fitzgerald recorded a terrific rendition of this song. Perhaps we should cue it up and listen to it more often. The lyrics just might move you from a place you don’t like, to one that’s much more hospitable if just kinder.

Dali

Many artists come to mind when the genre of surrealism becomes a topic for discussion–or bone of contention–but Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali y Domenech is one that occupies a notable position in the annals of imaginative imagery and surrealistic interpretation.

The Slave Market & Disappearing Voltaire

If your preferences lean toward realism, then Dali can and will, leave you wondering why such creations are in a museum, indeed, an eponymous one at that. Art is Art and its value depends on so many areas of technical and aesthetic measures. For the rest of us mortals, subjective interpretation is all we can muster. I overheard someone trying to understand one of his paintings and his somber remark was, “Salvador Deviant.”

Portrait of deceased brother if he lived to be an adult.

Art is what you make of it. It means you can be apathetic, sympathetic, curious, appreciative, angry, happy, bewildered, uncertain, confident, disappointed, insulted, overwhelmed, inspired or even validated.

You have to appreciate his creative genius when you’re pulled into one of his canvases only to be taken aback  when the image changes. In one moment you see 2 nuns, then a blink later, you suddenly see a face made in part by the same 2 nuns [cf first image above for Voltaire].

Interactive self-portrait.

My self-portrait is an interesting take on a photo booth, but one more entertaining if not interesting.  In a way I’m borrowing a slice of time from Dali’s world. A simple souvenir for me,  though I suspect Dali would’ve seen a leitmotif kindred to the impertinence and sarcasm of his painting, Persistence of Memory.

Arrive Here to get Over There

The itinerary reads, “4-hours, 34 minutes” of travel time. Not unreasonable considering point A to B is about 1,200 miles [1,931 km]. Fortunately, I can get a nap without much effort.

Alternatively, I can journal and even snap a photo or two. Which I did. And I also thought back on Christopher Nolan’s film, Interstellar. The recent news about capturing a photo of a black hole and what seems to be renewed interest in the cosmos has sparked [again] my curiosity about time and space and relativity.

One line in the movie fascinates me to no end: “One hour here [on an alien planet] is 7 hours on earth.”  Because the crew traveled through a worm hole at almost the speed of light, time dilation occurred. Theoretically, it means time moves slower when you’re travelling extremely fast.

While it would be a major convenience to reduce travel time across the globe, I consider some of that time in transit as quiet time, even meditative. We’re already rushing–to arrive here–to get over there. It’s an overused saying but, “life is better viewed as a journey rather than a destination.”

Clearly Clear

The most fearless among the fearless are the workers that brave conditions which make our primal–often most private fears–come to surface.

The professionals who clean the windows of tall buildings are a good example of the breed.

To think they’re suspended in place with nothing but a saddle harness, a rope connected to that saddle, and the rope routed typically through a figure-8 or other type of belaying device. And where that rope is anchored on the roof is a mystery to me.

Not surprising, but always impressive, the windows are wonderfully clean and clear.