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The art of communicating - the communication of art

It's all about drawing the lines....and who draws them.

For the better part of my life, many folks have told me I have a kind of gift for 'writing', and should pursue it. I accept their comments as their view, but I seldom have accepted it as mine. I've always considered myself superficial and unoriginal (and often, far too opinionated!) when I write. I hear all the words and messages that I want to say in my head, but whenever they find their way out here they just don't convey the same message. Of course, what changes is that they no longer exist within the total context of me; and I have no idea what context you'll accept, read or hear them in. Cripies, I don't even know who 'you' are! That's the classic fundamental basis of eternal misinterpretation isn't it....are you hearing what I'm saying? I heard a comment some weeks ago that kids using 'street talk' nowadays no longer say things like "y'know", or "do you hear what I'm sayin'?". Instead, their verifying self-loop question now is "Do you feel me?". That's beautiful. And powerful.

But I'm from the 'old school'. Proper grammer. Proper spelling. Full sentences. In addition, of course, and especially within my 'older generation', we live in an age of suffocating political correctness, so much so that long ago we made up an entire new language in order to avoid the pain or raw emotion of words (i.e. collateral damage, the n-word, the f-word...). We used to call it 'doublespeak' or CYA talk. Now, though, it's layered with a whole new sheathing of frightening proportions. We now live in a renewed age of McCarthyism, of not-so-subtle implied censorship, openly-defended secret wiretapping, cyber-data-collecting that would make even an already paranoid person paranoid. The frightening consequence is that there is an easy tendency to subjugate ourselves to a sinister form of subconscious self-editting, in case the secret speech police come knocking on our door in the middle of the night.

Lest you misinterpret, because I suspect by now that you might be, I'm not castigating the United States alone here. I sense the whole mindset is becoming pervasive in western, perhaps global, thinking. Also, lest you misinterpret, I'm not so presumptuous as to pretend that many of you hold essentially the same opinions and views to these I express; in fact, I'd have a major problem if most weren't different up to and including being dynamically opposed. That's exactly the point. That is what scares me. The homogenization of thought. "You're with me or you're against me" philosophy. The repression of opposing thought, instead of the challenge of it. The philosophy of "My country, right or wrong" is wrong. It can't be about countries, borders, ethnicities, religions, sexual identities, secret brotherhoods, wealth distinctions, ad nauseum. Those will always, and always must, exist.

All those lines we draw always serve two dynamically opposed but necessary purposes. They can, and often are, used in a positive way to show pride and identity: "I'm proud to be a Canadian", "My Irish roots go back seven generations", "The Toronto Maple Leafs can kick anyone's ass!", "My church gives me strength and purpose to direct my life", "I love my gay partner".

But those same lines can also imply, and often openly expose the ugliness of pus-filled sores: "Treat our aboriginal founders as second-class citizens", "Why don't you go back to where you came from?", "The only way to get out of the ghetto is dead, drugs, or the NBA", "My religious beliefs should be forced on everyone by law and through mandatory school teaching", "I'm bored. Anyone up for some good old-fashioned gay-bashing tonight?".

It's the classic "half-full/half-empty" dynamic, and it cannot be avoided or denied. The mere existence of one creates its own antithesis, if by no other means than simply through an implied rejection of it. My point, let me be clear, is that it 'is'; closing our eyes doesn't make any of it go away. It doesn't need to be accepted...but it must be acknowledged and tolerated. Critically, no matter which side of any given line anyone stands on, an absolute requisite is to recognize that, as soon as you chose to draw your line, wherever it might be, it becomes the separation between 'something' and 'everything else'. By drawing our lines, we are creating who we are. The deeper we draw them, the more intransigent we become.

I suppose, in that sense, we are all artists, and the only art we can possibly create is a representation of ourself. What tools we use, what style, what exposure, all the elements and components of creation is our personal choice. The interpretation of the results is left to others. The closest we can ever come to seeing our personal interpretation is to look into our own mirror, through our soul, through the eyes of others, through self-introspection, through the legacy we create. That is the fine art of a writer, and the fine brush stroke of the artist as we paint/create/write/sing/sculpt our own persona.

The very real dangers we're facing today are that we're turning philosophical, political, religious, geographical and idealogical differences into physical, legal and military walls and fences, instead of mental debates and negotiations. That of course begs the question, "Are we fencing ourselves in, or others out?" If allowed to proceed unchallenged, it will inevitably lead to self-rot and destruction.

So, I always seem to face this overwhelming conundrum of getting "out THERE" all of what's "in HERE". There are a lot of reasons, but here are the main ones, as I see them:

1) sometimes I get thoughts I want to 'purge' just by dumping them;
2) sometimes it's pretty ugly or far too opinionated or angry stuff;
3) on occasion I find the courage (or perhaps weakness) to expose very personal information;
4) on far too rare an occasion for me, I want to both capture and share one of those life-pauses that become reverent personal touchstones when I feel a need to re-align again;
5) my bitter tongue and strongly-held views sometimes spews forth material that is apt to rile someone else, but nonetheless my internal soapbox demands it be expunged;
6) and then there are the moments when the seas calm enough to allow time to re-focus once more, in a personal yet shared moment of reverence and prayer.

That's the journey I've pretty much travelled over the past month, as you'll have seen if you checked out the links I've included above.

My personal frustration stems from my struggle to find the right words, context, and framing to paint a single, precise, verbal picture; or, as I've tried in my last few blogs, to find a few carefully-selected pictures to say what my words can't. The first approach is original, but usually seems to leave me feeling I've fallen somewhat short of my intent; the other appeals to me when words fail me altogether, but reminds me that I'm defaulting to the re-cycling of the artistic messages of others, and simply adding context through association and sequence.

Perhaps, in the end, that's the best message of all. Perhaps none of us is completely original no matter how hard we might try to be. It's ok to sing someone else's song. No matter who we are, where we're from, what we think of ourselves or others, we're inextricably interwoven with each other. I fundamentally believe we are all basically good at our very innermost core. We just need to be reminded of that from time to time.


Lots of good thinking there.

Rick, I got your second message. It's meaningful for me when I learn that something that moves me has the power to move other people. Something you wrote, or quoted, intrigued me. "The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function" -F. Scott Fitzgerald

I don't know if you're aware of this, but there is a theory of creativity that holds that the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time is the hallmark of the creative mind. There's a psychiatrist (Albert Rothenberg, MD), an expert in the creative process, who has termed that process Janusian Thinking, named for the Roman God of the doorway who is depicted as having two faces looking in opposite directions. You're a creative person, Rick. It's both a blessing and a curse. You're more sensitive and more intense than the average person. You have a greater awareness of what goes on inside you and what motivates other people.

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  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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