Assumption of the Virgin by Mateo Cerezo

I tend not to like paintings with muted color palates, and yet, I like it.

Mateo Cerezo Assumption

I think it actually works for the subject matter; it avoids sentimentality and sap.

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Meditation on Irrational Thoughts Part 2

The idea that you must prove yourself thoroughly competent, adequate and achieving, or that you must at least have real competence or talent at something.

I have to admit, I don’t know how this is an irrational thought. After all, we make our living in the modern era by our skills. I just finished my semi-annual review and I was, once again, compelled by custom and work to evaluate my competencies against strict criteria. Soon after this, we will meet with our managers who will discuss our progress throughout the year and what we need to improve. My job security, chance at promotion, salary, and bonus is based on these review. It is based on my ability to perform well on my job. How can I believe that I do not have to prove myself competent?

At the same time, I think the key is “thoroughly” competent. We cannot know everything, and it would be dangerous to presume that we can. Socrates’ journey began when the oracle declared that no one was wiser than Socrates. He did not believe it, because he knew very little. Yet, he did not believe that the oracle could be wrong. As he sought out and conversed with the wise men of the world, he realized the ignorance of the supposed wise men. Even more shocking, he discovered that he knew something very powerful; he knew what he did not know!

It is perilous to think that we have all the answers. I am faced with this all the time at my job. There are so many times when I do not know the answer at work. However, with time, patience, and perseverance, I can frequently find the answers. Plus, I learn more with each new problem. There are times when I can imagine how I am going to solve anything. And yet, each time, I learn and grow. Last week, I realized how much better I would feel if I received cases to solve as an exciting challenge rather than a terrible burden. Imagine if I changed my thought pattern from, “Oh no! I don’t know anything about this! This is a nightmare!” to “This is awesome! I am going to learn so much more from this case. This is an opportunity to grow!” If I thought like that, my life would be a whole lot easier.

As for talent, this is one that is difficult for me. When I was young, I had to be the best at everything, at least when it came to things I cared about, :) I dreamed, like many children, of being a famous actress or a Nobel Prize winning author. At times, I still do. Of course, I have only submitted one story for publication, and it was rejected. (Oddly enough, it didn’t hurt all that much.) On my better days, I accept the fact that I will never be a great writer.

At the same time, I rarely feel jealousy for Shakespeare, the greatest writer ever. I do not feel much envy for his talent; I feel a profound sense of gratitude that he existed at all. When I saw Timon of Athens or The Merchant of Venice, I was so thankful that Shakespeare existed, that he wrote, and that we are in possession of this great patrimony.

Perhaps these are the lessons of this irrational thought. Our worth is not tied to our talents. We must see ourselves as growing and our struggles as a natural part of this progress. Instead of being threatened by the talents of others, we should celebrate them and be grateful for the way these talents benefit us.

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Films About Women 32

1 The Duchess

Keira Knightly, in the special features, lamented how difficult it is to find great roles for women. It is no surprise then, why she was drawn to the story of The Duchess. The film tells the story of one of Princess Diana’s ancestors, The Duchess of Devonshire. She married one of the most powerful men in England, but her marriage was not a happy one. Nonetheless, she finds her own way to make the most of her situation, and in the process, become a fashion icon and an 18th century celebrity.

The clothing in this film is amazing. I was also very impressed with Keira Knightly’s performance in this film. She realizes that this role is a tremendous opportunity and she relishes it. Moreover, Ralph Finnes is also excellent in the role as her husband. He brings a surprising amount of sympathy to this character who is, at the heart, a bad person. Or is he? He treats his wife horribly, no better than one of his dogs, as his wife bravely proclaims. However, is he really any different than any other wealthy husband at the time? I’m not so sure. Either way, see the film and decide.

2 It

I am so thrilled, at long last, to feature another silent film. It stars Clara Bow, one of the biggest stars and sex symbols of her era. She stars as a counter girl at the department store who becomes involved with a wealthy man. In this early screwball romantic comedy, misunderstandings emerge, disasters ensue, but all ends as it should.

Annex - Bow, Clara (IT)_01

Clara Bow’s own personal story did not end so happily. She was one of the many stars who could not make the transition to talkies, though she did star in several talkie films. Eventually, she began to suffer from mental illness and attempted suicide. She was placed in a psychiatric ward and, upon release, became a virtual shut in before dying of a heart attack at age 60. However, long before that, there was a film called It, which earned Clara Bow the title of “The It Girl.”

3 Gorillas in the Mist

This film is on my list for two very different reasons. This film tells the story of Dian Fossey, a woman who studied a troop of mountain gorillas in Rwanda. She originally had no training in anthropology or zoology, but she convinces an anthropologist to take a chance on her. As she studies the gorillas, she grows attached to them and concerned for their safety. This concern becomes an obsession and places her in an antagonistic position with the locals.

gorillas-in-the-mist

I am sharing this film for two reasons. One reason is that Sigourney Weaver is wonderful in this film. The second reason is that, while I support wildlife conservation, I find Dian Fossey’s actions deeply troubling. Perhaps I view the Rwandans differently, knowing that 6 years after this film was released, the Rwandan genocide would begin. I see that the gorilla trade exists within a fragile nation and wonder how the problems of the nation affect this trade. Moreover, Dian Fossey, a white woman coming to Rwanda and punishing the locals, seems to be a new kind of imperialism. I hope that as people watch this film, we might be able to encourage Africans to manage their resources responsibly without descending into paternalism (if this is possible) and whether Western influence in Africa is conducive or corrosive to wildlife.

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Unemployment, ie What I Did Not Write About: Reality Sinks In

For the weekend, I had no feelings of sadness. I called my friends and family and told them how the last day had gone. I went to the library and rented Superman and The Wrath of Khan on DVD.

On Monday, I went back onto K12 Jobspot to apply for jobs. At this point, I still felt very much as I did during the summer. However, as I logged onto the website, I quickly realized two terrible facts. First of all, I realized that all of the teaching jobs had been filled over the summer. I suppose I knew that intuitively, but I had blocked out that fact until that moment. Second of all, I realized that I was far less free to travel than I was over the summer. I had signed a year lease, and I was not sure if I could get out of it.

I applied for a number of substitute teaching positions in the local school districts and applied at a substitute agency that my friend had recommended. I also applied for unemployment benefits, which I had never done before. The process seemed to be a little cumbersome, if I remember correctly.

It was around that time that shame began to sink in about being laid off. I know that it was false shame; ie, I was laid off for lack of work, not fired. Even so, I began to find it difficult to tell people that I had been laid off.

Perhaps I would have felt differently if I had not had cancer the previous year; I felt cursed.

It was not until I visited Cleveland again that I really began to realize what had happened. I stayed at my mom’s apartment and we talked that Friday night. As we talked, I suddenly broke down. I don’t know what either of us had said to trigger it, but I completely fell apart. My life seemed pretty empty at that moment. I had gone through all of the effort to get certified to teach, and I had nothing to show for it. Far worse, my life seemed even worse than it would have been if I had not taken the job.

When I was in high school, I read a hypothesis that said that revolutions do not start when a nation hits rock bottom. Rather, they start when conditions start to improve, and then they threaten to get worse. This may be melodramatic, but that was how I felt at that moment. It is far worse to have something and have it taken away from you than to never have it.

The weekend was not a total loss. I went to the theater to see Richard III, which I reviewed on my blog. At the end of the weekend, I returned to my apartment in Not Cleveland. Very soon, I would have interviews for substitute teaching jobs.

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Angela GHEORGHIU – Je veux vivre – Roméo et Juliette

It is a little strange seeing an adult women play Juliet. Nonetheless, this is still gorgeous.

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Mary Magdalene in Contemplation by Guido Reni

This is a fascinating image of Mary Magdalene. Guido Reni’s paintings remind me of Peter Paul Rubens, both have a strong sense of sexuality in the artwork. Mary Magdalene is shown in religious contemplation, and yet she is topless.

Mary Magdalene in Contemplation Guido Reni

In Guido Reni’s painting, she is both a saint and an erotic object.

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Tall Case Clock by Jean Pierre Latz

This is an amazing piece that I would love to take home with me.

augustus III clock Jean Pierre Latz

Do you think the Cleveland Museum of Art would let me?

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