Monday, September 28, 2009

Meet Marcus 2, Soapbox Edition

He decided to keep preaching in this week's email to me :) Can you tell he's twenty years old? Gotta love him.

2) As Abraham Lincoln said, and as quoted in the movie Pollyanna (<--Good movie! Buy it! Netflix it! Download it illegally!), "When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will."

This is good shtuff. We can always find and pinpoint the flaws in peoples, unless you're Michael Scott and your "weaknesses ARE your strengths." Me personally, I'm not the greatest looking man in the room. If I'm at a party I'm probably the 3rd best looking guy in the room. If I'm walking down the street I'm probably like.......number 9 best looking guy in the street. That's not bad, but it's something people could frown upon me for. (*Lindsey-the-Editor's Note: He's usually number one or two, and he hopes I will write back and correct him. HAHA Done. Love that Marcus-style humility.)

To me, this world would be a LOT better if everyone wasn't so judgmental and self-righteous. Lot more REAL love and kindness would be abundant. It's kind of like an old movie. You can tell in those older family movies, that there's a different "feel": people seemed to get along better, and everyone was more relaxed and didn't have to worry about their iphones, and their facebooks, and the type of shoes they're wearing. Pssh, shoes.... Then again, they are movies. Then again, again, we got movies where everyone hates each other, and every one always ends up dying, and it's always the black guy who dies first. Jazz on Transformers 1. He was a black robot and died first. Bubba on Forrest Gump. Sauron on LOTR. He was kind of black I guess.

D) Everyone that I meet, I find that the "Family" is their number 1 blessing. It doesn't matter about religion, race, age. Family is number one. And I LOVE that! My family is number one. We're all super close and knit together, and I'm so grateful for that. And I've noticed in the HARDEST, TOUGHEST times, where parents get sick, lose jobs, friends and girly-friends fall away, when your oldest sister puts your $5.75 Darth Vader action figure in the microwave out of revenge for putting your younger sister's hair on fire and you get mad, that the family is still always there, and is closer than EVER.

Man I do miss that Darth Vader action figure though. (*Lindsey-the-Editor's Note: NOT a little girls' hair that got set on fire. **MY** hair! David, Spence, and Marcus yanked my hair, stuffed the ends of it in the microwave and pushed MINUTE!! And there I was, stuck with my head against the microwave, my hair getting caught in the little spinning plate and getting pulled out of my scalp, with the scent of burning hair filtering through the kitchen! Screaming, yelling, and the evil boys cackling. Good times. I think I had a very adequate excuse for my retaliatory destruction of Darth.)

Well I think that's it. Religion, Values, Family, and What's Really Important. That's about it. I've got to get going. Got work to do. Sure do love you Lindsey. Love your example, and your strength, and love the way you feel about others. And I sure am glad we both got the same bomb-diggity parents. They're pretty dang special!

"Okay Lady I love ya buh bye!" -Animaniacs

Trailers & The Origin of Happiness, Brought to You by the NY Times

Seeing as how 100% of my female friends' blogs have featured links to the movie trailers of either Where the Wild Things Are or Whip It in the last 2 months (PASS on both for me!), I'm taking it upon myself to infuse the Internet with my own cinematic enthusiasm for something else! Something different and classy. Here are just a few select words about this film, Coco Before Chanel, taken from this Friday's New York Times' review:

Audrey Tautou, biopic, orphanage, 20th-century social mores, "The blossoming of her ambition," brutal candor, and PG-13.

WIN WIN WIN! I don't care what you say. It's gonna be good.

Confession: although I'm pretty darn sure they don't really care, I always love to flaunt the fact that I read the New York Times to my dad and my cuz Michael Brown, my two favorite hardcore conservatives. (Once in a while they humor me with a mock round of consternation). I read "Satan's rag" in the name of being well-rounded, informed, a little closer to "edgy," and last but not least: because I genuinely regard this paper as unmatched in terms of intellectual depth, robust questioning, and journalistic talent. (Dad wants me to add: and liberal eco-communism)

Back in May, for example, NYTimesOnline published an article by philosopher Simon Critchley entitled Happy Like God (full text HERE) that may or may not have changed my life! I have wanted to discuss its ideas ever since I first read it; I probably think about this article and its contents weekly still, four months later.

Aristotle says that "Happiness is the solitary life of contemplation." How many of you balk at that statement? I certainly did. Happy=solitary??? No way man. Most of my happiest memories entail a lot of familiar smiling faces! (and sunshine, and fast engines, and face cards*), but wait just a second. Mr. Critchley puts up a good fight. He describes the sensation of "reverie," as experienced by the philosopher Rousseau. Floating on a little rowboat in the middle of a lake in his homeland of Switzerland, Rousseau found perfect inner contentment just studying and delighting in the moments as they passed, thinking of nothing else. This is a more lasting and fulfilling state of mind, apparently. As I've thought more and more about this peculiar idea of mini, mental, and super-charged happiness, I've realized that I have had a few of these "reveries." They're tiny flashes, single seconds sometimes, where I don't do anything else, just grin. Unusually crystal clear in my memory, often for the oddest reasons, they DO have the peculiar power to warm me up just as much if not more than all the combined memories of, say, the hours playing Flip Over Tens at the CCC Cabin (one of my favorite activities growing up. :)

Most recent example: this weekend. Saturday, after volunteering a long 5 hours at the Hirshhorn at a children's art workshop (on a busted ankle, no less), I finished cleaning up the ArtLab, then walked-slash-limped around the sculpture garden and out onto a bench on the National Mall, where they had some "Festival of the Book" going on.

And I thought to myself, "This is home." A grin slowly spread across my face. My home. Not collapse-on-a-mattress-kick-off-your-shoes home, but perfectly-content-state-of-mind home. In that moment, I could have stayed there forever; by myself, with other people, I didn't care. I was happy! Gordon Bunshaft's impressive cylinder of a museum is at once imposing, interesting, familiar, and enfolding to me. I have friends and colleagues at that museum that challenge and esteem me. It is where I cut my art history teeth, and it's where I confirmed the fact that contemporary and modern art is my arena, my power alley. Earlier that morning I had enjoyed walking back through those doors, being greeted by name by one of my favorite security guards, seeing the new Nick Cave sound suit (at right), and helping kids see colors and shapes and themselves through artists' eyes. All these elements combined and welled up into that moment of sheer bliss on the Mall! I'm thinking (and hoping) that that memory will be good enough to sustain me through the long months of kid-herding at the NBM yet to come.

For those that are interested, it is in fact an actual suit. Nick Cave creates these fantastic... well, you don't even call them costumes, they're artworks! Google for more of them, they're crazy! When the artist has a show, he and other performers walk gingerly around IN them. This piece (sans human occupant) is one of the Hirshhorn's newer purchases, and it is such a delightful pastiche of kitsch, found objects, postcolonial disdain for high art, and glittering fantasticalness!! I almost made like a two year old and dashed up on its pedestal to touch it when I first saw it.

My point is, there are all types of happy. This philosopher in the NY Times wanted to hierachicize them, using the absence of any other impinging thoughts as the marker of the highest happiness. I'm still not sure I can agree with him on that, but it's made for great food for thought these last couple of months. I'm more inclined to take note now when I feel at ease, or devoid of worry, or totally glowing, and to call myself happy therein.

And life is good today. That's pretty much the end of this speech. Have a great week!

*Other loves: lakes, mountains, shirtless boys, possibility of injury, thumping beats, skating, cheering, getting cool points for being one of the few girls that will go do the crazy stunts, the Danvillans.............. I know the following video totally defies the above thesis on alone-happy-times, but I don't care. It is everything I love and miss about Utah and Santa B and SUMMER and I have watched it more times than I want to admit this week. Wish I was there. Enjoy! (My buddy Dan, the one in the yellow shorts who does a gainer with his bike, is the video artist. Genius. I may or may not have started humming this beat under my breath in sacrament meeting today when the speaker mentioned things that make us happy):

Friday, September 18, 2009

Raise your hand if you're NOT a philosopher!


I let that single word go, with swagger, at the end of a 2.5 hour grad course discussion (slash mental roller coaster) on art historical philosophy Wednesday. It was the answer to one of my teacher's final questions of the day, which, in case you were wondering, went something along the lines of, "What is it within a natural tulip and a sketch of a tulip that produces the disinterested delight in the judgment of taste?"

... It took me a solid 48 hours of diligent reading of the hardest texts I have ever tried to wrap my head around to come up with "Logos." Well, 48 hours, and then 2.4 hours of sucking up my pride and being the kid who raised her hand and asked the retarded questions EVERYONE in the room was wondering, too. I am officially the Hermione Granger of my class, my hand is up every five seconds. I'm so happy, though, cuz the feeling of connection and understanding and confidence that came within that one single Latin word was SOOO worth it. Worth the pain of page after page of reading stuff like this:

"In the French language, if there is one that is one and which is not painting, and if nonetheless it can open its system up to its own parasitism, 'the truth in painting' can mean and be understood as: truth in the domain of painting and on the subject of it, in painting, as in the saying 'to be knowledgeable in painting.'"

QUIT MESSING WITH MY BRAIN! Where did he lose ya? Or are you like me, who slowed way down, grabbed a dictionary, and went at it word by word until some vague idea of what Mr. Jacques Derrida might have been trying to say finally, feebly, stirred in your brain. Welcome to grad school, peeps!

And I love it. Even if it might be the death of me.

In case you are wondering, no, it's not Logos like MickeyD's Golden Arches and the funky green and black Starbucks lady (does anyone really know what she is? No! But some lucky or brilliant graphic designer out there sure made a fortune piecing her together, I bet he's so happy every time he sees it). Tangent.

"Logos!" my professor repeated, "Correct, logos- the word of God!"

Interesting reply, no? My battered and bruised little brain, for a couple seconds, passed the torch on to my heart when I heard my professor's response. First, I was filled with pride for having gotten the answer right and been brave enough to put it out there. Second, I just got really happy, despite my mental exhaustion, because I had stumbled across an eternal truth there in the middle of AH 261 Historiography. Logos, or The Word of God (Imma try and put this in as watered-down language as I can), is the little bit of the Ideal or Perfect that exists in everything beautiful (tulip, sketch, member of the opposite sex, etc.) We recognize this little piece of almost-perfection and are moved to call it "beautiful." Not "perfect," because only God is perfect, but beautiful, because it, whatever it is, seems to us a little bit like Him who is Wonderful, Glorious, Charming, Fabulous, even Awesome (Uncle David, I thought your word choice was just dandy, thank you :)

PS I knew I was in the right major when I could finish four days of HW h@$#% and come home and still be excited to crack open the next book, Painting Religion in Public. Signed, Hermione

PPS UPDATE: Aw, Mom, what a cute little 'tude you got there! Because I feel like being an hoity-toity elitist brat, here's a second excerpt from THIS week's homework, try this one on for size... but don't come whining to me afterwards when your brain hurts, too! :)

"This particular oscillation in the analytic of pure taste replicates exactly that of the analytic of the beautiful, defining the status of both as parerga. The frame is supposed to decide what is intrinsic to the artwork, defining its ontological character as such. Yet it must also be a bridge, for the whole point of the third Critique is an extrinsic appeal- the relation between the spectator and the artwork and how that confrontation between two unique identities produces a unity in the form of judgements of pure taste. In Derrida's words, it is 'summoned and assembled like a supplement because of the lack-- a certain "internal indetermination'' in the very thing it enframes.' This indetermination is, in fact, the ontological uncertainty of the very idea of the aesthetic."

I'm going to bed now. Peace.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet Marcus

Welcome to my very favorite picture EVER of me and my little brother Marcus. BAHAHAHA oh my gosh it still slays me! So, we were totally lost on this dirt mountain last summer, trying to find the HOLLYWOOD sign in LA, and we whiled away the hike by having an INTENSE fiery debate about the merits of The Dark Knight. He was devoutly pro, I was obnoxiously con. Right in the middle of our fight I turned him sideways, tugged my digital camera out of his backpack (probably still sniping about how I don't CARE that the score is musical genius), and we leaned our heads in as close as we angrily felt we could stand, and snap! Favorite photo was born. I'm 99% positive that after we turned the camera setting to "PLAY" and laughed our heads off about how stupid we looked, we picked up exactly where we left off and waged war on each other's cinematic opinions all the way back to the car. Good, no, AWESOME times.

This is a much more typical (and aesthetically pleasing) picture of me and that bro, taken a year ago this week! That's right; Elder C hits his one year mark on his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints this week- GAAAH LONGEST FREAKING year EVER! Some of you recognize him, some of you don't. Marcus is 4 years my junior (got a wonderful brother Spencer in between us... love you too, man!), but as my parents and siblings will all whine-ily testify, Marcus left a gaping hole in our family dynamic when he took off. Oh he's living the high life, hanging out with God and all types of Latinos in the ghettos of Orlando, Florida. Good boy. We, on the other hand, miss him every day.

For those that miss him, too (or for those who do not have the pleasure of his acquaintance but would like to understand why he gets a whole post to himself), here are some of Marcus' most magical qualities, in honor of his big 1/2-way day. I haven't made an OCD-style list for a while, humor me here:

Why Marcus is Neat
- He possesses the extraordinary ability to hold comfortable and cohesive conversations with you using only quotes from Disney movies.
- He possesses the maddeningly enviable skill of making EVERY baby he meets love him instantaneously. This is achieved through
- His elastic face, which he can contort into the world's funniest looks.
- He develops really random talents, like free running (a la Casino Royale, which got him into trouble at BYU once upon a time), making spectacular facebook graffiti drawings, and who can forget his Oscar-worthy imitation of Gollum in The Two Towers???
- He is thoughtful, loyal, genuine, working hard, and growing weekly in the gospel. It's so fun to read.
- It's even MORE fun to read when he writes home gems like these (oh yes. A list within a list):
  • "YOU have the choice to be happy, and to be positive. Same thing with the people. Sometimes you just want to punch someone on first contact, but we need to see the good in everyone."
  • "I've started to bash again. I know it's wrong. I can't help it, because it's so dang fun! E. C________ = 2, Adventists = 0."
  • "So with a combination of Vicodin and Barricade the Decepticon, My happiness level is plaining out."
  • "Man spinach is good. It's healthy, tastes good (to me), and it goes well with everything. Except ice cream and Kellogs Power Ranger's Fruit Snacks (which are delicious and only 79 Cents here at Walmart). Tangent."
  • "Feliz Navidad, WHITEYS!"
But I'll let him speak for himself. Ladies and gents, friends and foreigners, I introduce to you now Embrace Your Liberty's first guest blogger, all the way from Orlando, Florida (via email), Elder Marcus C________ himself! Mwah ha ha.... parents and siblings, you all really believed he shafted you this week on email, huh??? NEVER! We're just tricksy. Ok, ok, on with the show. Ahem. Elder C_________:

.....oh..... Hey big internet. Haven't talked to you in..... one whole year. :) It's my mission birthday. I'm one years old! I'll die when I'm two, but what a fruitful amazing God-saving way of life I've been blessed to have these past 12 months!

I don't know any of you. At least I don't think so, I'm kind of writing this in an awkward state of thought right now, because I'm not sure if this is going to be reached by the masses, (hopefully not) or by some stalker-like aunts who love to view the growing brains of their nieces and nephews. (Auntie Cheryl!!!) I hope you're being good to my beloved sister Lindsey, she's an amazing person you know! (*Lindsey-the-Editor's note: I'm pretty sure most of you are my stalker-like aunties and co., but I read on my secret counter thingy that people in the Phillipines, Denmark, England, Korea, and Brasil have all visited this site. Welcome, one and all!)

So these blog gigs? They're supposed to entice and persuade people out in the lone and dreary world to do better and to make people pause and say, "Man, that guy's wise in the ways of _____." I rather doubt this awe will happen today, but I'll take a whackity-whack. So I'll share what I know, share a little bit of what I've learned, and share the things that are important in this life, (which subsequently slide in perfectly into the world hereafter).

A.) Serving a mission in the Florida Orlando Mission has saved my life. Saved it spiritually, and saved it eternally. Before I became an "elder" I was revealed as a good, humble (*Lindsey-the-Editor's note: Haha.) mormon-boy, who did what he was told, and tried his best. But inside I had so many doubts, questions, bad expectations, and "come on give me a break's." But while serving a mission, I've learned that EVERY question HAS an answer. EVERY doubt HAS an evidence. EVERY "thing" that is hard to believe HAS a reason for being hard; it's a test of faith, and if we are WORTHY, and READY, we will understand and receive enlightenment on the subject. That is what I've learned most of all I believe. Let's take an example. The good ol' Book of Mormon.

No, it's not the Mormon-Bible. We believe whole-heartedly in the Bible. The BOM is another testament of Jesus Christ that was written by the Prophets in the ancient American continent. I've run into a lot of people who have said, "ehhhhh... nooo... bleh.." to its message. I don't blame a lot of people. It's kind of hard to believe in ANOTHER book, when so many churches have OTHER books: Muslims - The Qur'an, Jews - Torah, Jehovah's Witnesses - New World Translation, Christianity - The Bible. To me, it's kind of wierd that God would send another book in our day.

BUT BEHOLD! :) He did! This is my outlook on this nice book. We have soooooooooo many religions today. It's hard to choose. Many believe in Christ that he was the Son of God, and there are MANY that don't. The religions that don't are actually on the incline. God KNEW that people would be confused, lose faith in the Son of God, and go off the straight and narrow. So what did he do? He revealed ANOTHER record that is physical tangible evidence, which one can read and pray about, and from which one can recieve a testimony that Jesus IS the Christ, our Elder Brother, and The Way. And this record was kept for who? Us. Us in these hard troubling times. Times where we lose faith because we're losing jobs, moneys, hope, and an over-all happiness in the world.

But I know that God loves us, and he will NEVER leave us here by ourselves. That is why I'm here on a mission. To share this message of hope and happiness with everyone. And I'm not coming home. "Nope-itty nopeitty nope." (Ratatouille) As one of the modern-day prophets wrote: "We have a great work to do, and we CAN NOT come down." And in this work, my life has been emdified and saved in the loving arms of God. (Lindsey note: You can always tell when Marcus is in a hurry, his spelling tanks :)

2) As Abraham Lincoln said, and as quoted in the movie Pollyanna (Good movie! Buy it! Netflix it! Download it illegally!), "When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will."

LINDSEY!! I'll write more later today! I gtg shop! BRB!

Monday, September 7, 2009

At the end of this Labor day, you will be hard-pressed to find a happier camper than ME.

Visits from Dani and Clark this weekend, my #22-ranked BYU fought valiantly and beat #3 OU, and TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF MY SUMMER SLAVERY... I mean, work. Happy, happy day!

Like the new picture at the top of my blog? It's part of the Rotunda ceiling at the US Capitol, the one I'm studying so hard right now. Have a fabulous week, my friends!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pain? Suffering? SUCCESS!

"Dad, we learned about political parties today, and I think I am a Democrat."

-Once around age 13 and 8th grade, being at the time a student of US government, I thoughtfully approached my dad at work on his computer to make the above proclamation. I had some trepidation about making this statement, of course. I vaguely understood at the time that my dad was a Republican, and a persistent one at that. I remember he took his hands off the keyboard, turned to face me, and said kindly, "That's ok, Linds, your grandpa is a Democrat, too." Then he cocked his head in that psychoanalytical, battle-ready way he has (my siblings all know exactly what I'm talking about!) and asked, a little more belligerently, "So what about them makes you want to be one?" I bravely announced that we had learned in class that Democrats think it's important to help the people who are in need, and that their leaders, like FDR, establish programs to help feed and clothe them, and THAT, I thought, that sounded like the humane way to go. I just felt so bad for those who didn't have any food and blankies or mommies to love them.

And that's when dad wound up and began his speech: "Well, yes, Democrats DO make those kinds of programs, but you know, Republicans believe ___________ and ___________. Don't you think those sound like better ways to help?" Haha, I can't remember the examples he selected, but I will always remember that moment as the beginning of my foray into the Republican and conservative schools of thought, which I have since adopted as my own (insert the sound of my dad cheering [here]). I guess I'm a poster child for the adage, "If you're not liberal when you're young you have no heart, and if you're not conservative when you're old, you have no brain."

I share that experience with you because sometimes I still feel a little bit different than a lot of my conservative friends. I mean, my core-- my childhood tabula rasa-- was slightly tinged blue, can you believe it?? The little Democrat on my shoulder appears only at one particular moment anymore: when I see a failure by some Reps to recognize and allow for the plight and/or needs of those around them with empathy. I hate listening to politicians use harsh stereotypes and loud language against "enemies," and I feel like this diverse of a nation should and always has been a land of compromise, first and foremost (insert sound of my dad chomping at the bit to interject [here]). Yes, libs criticize and stereotype, too (Paul Krugman... boo.). Not an excuse. And I'm ending this post's political nuances right there, because believe it or not, I actually came here to write about ART.

Painful art!

The kind of art that asks you to experience the feelings of another that are not pleasant and pastel-y, but perhaps just as poignant and important. Believe it or not, you already know and love works of this kind. Remember this big guy from my first foray into the blogosphere? YOU ALL LOVED HIM AND YOU KNOW IT!

On the back burner of my mind I'm currently brewing a nerdy conference paper submission about "The Poetics of Pain" (the conference's choice of title and subject, not mine). My new graduate course about American mural art has me thinking about the way that "The Powers That Be," especially governments, show up in the art and literature that express pain. I'm currently seeking suggestions of literary works that do the subject of pain justice- all I've got so far are Dostoevsky and Kafka. Anyone got better ideas? I'm reading this dry, boring book about the art in the US Capitol Rotunda, and I swear, after each paragraph detailing the who and what of each frieze and mural, the author compulsively adds in a line about how the artworks' subliminal message is a steady, propogandistic demonization of the Indians, courtesy of an 1820's-era federal government bent on procuring support and enthusiasm for the intrepid settlement of the West. Sigh. Politics. And pain.

My as-yet cloudy thesis will state that pictures of pain used to be utilized by the powers that be for their own purposes. The Mayan temple pavilions at Chichen-Itza feature carvings of dozens of splayed sacrificial human bodies spouting blood. Ow. For example, the chipper fan-like shape in the middle of this photo is, in fact, the graphic illustration of a sacrificial, ceremonial decapitation for some calendar event by the religious and national leaders of the temple. Ah learning about these carvings in my Mesoamerican art class at BYU felt so thrillingly rated PG-13 it was AWESOME! No doubt the government wanted the Mayans to get jazzed about sacrificial pain, too. Kept them in line.

To your right is my example of pain from the powers-that-were in Colmar, Germany, in 1515, but it was apparently used not to terrorize viewers, but to help them. The owners of this village chose to place what my professor deems the world's most painful picture, The Crucifixion, by Matthias Grunewald, in their hospital for the poor and the plague-besieged. This altarpiece would have been opened up to the bedridden occupants' view only on feast days. My professor thought that this was a caring, empathetic gesture on the part of Grunewald and his patrons. The visual reminder of the Savior's suffering (via greenish skin, twisted limbs, and emaciated body) would have hopefully been something the poor plague-suffers could have identified with. Well I don't know about that; if I were bed-ridden, the last thing I'd want to contemplate in the world would be this poor Savior right here. But hey, I've never had the plague, so I don't know. Misery does love company, they tell me.

Around the twentieth century, successful images of pain start to be used by people against the powers that be. Politicized images urging action against government and leadership are abundant in our culture. Francis Bacon's terrifying pictures of the pope, anyone? Picasso's Guernica? Martha Rosler's anti-Vietnam collages? The two Obama pictures in my last post? My pieces-de-la-resistance in this essay I'm brewing will be analysis of two contemporary works that are pretty much disgusting, and it's Sunday and you're probably getting sad from reading all these macabre ideas so I'll stop there and keep it to myself. They're really juicy, though. Poetics of Pain. Ew. I promise I'm not a crazy person, but it is a topic I haven't ever thought about in art history before, and to my surprise, a lot of good art examples popped into my mind as I contemplated ways to illustrate and elaborate pain.

Movie quote!
-"What do you think about leaping off a building?"
"I don't think about leaping off buildings. I try to think of nice things"
-"Everyone thinks about leaping off--"
" Well I CERTAINLY do not think about leaping off a building."
-"I don't know how to kill Harold Crick. That's why they've sent you." :)