Monday, December 17, 2012

Oh hey. I finished grad school 6 days ago. Would you like to know how I feel about it?

Now you know. It feels Pretty. Dang. Good.

Also, on Friday I got nailed with a nasty flu bug that took full advantage of the fact that I didn't sleep, eat, exercise, or do anything else proper or kind to my body since before Thanksgiving, so right about now I look more like this:

Also, whoever hacked into my computer a month ago and aided "me" as "I" sent the following message to myself, thanks :) It entered my inbox at just the right low point!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Problem Smiling Me in the Face

Visual Scripture Reprint and Thoughts After a Baptism.

Last night was so special, seeing my friend Kristin get baptized. There is an incredible, unique spirit at a baptism. I felt it powerfully when she was baptized, and again at confirmation. It's just about her and Christ (or, to put it more generally, it's about you and Christ). Baptism is a signal that you're willing to go the distance. Then it becomes more- you fuse to the road the Lord wants you on when you are baptized. And it's up to you to stay on it. And hopefully you will always keep in mind the fact that the savior wants you on that path, and that he has given you a precious gift: the holy ghost, received that same day you got baptized, to get through it all.

The bishop gave remarks that started with the seeming randomness of being assigned to a ward by something as arbitrary as zipcode. Then he advised- there will be people in your ward who are so strong in some principle, whom you will need to rely on and learn from. And there will be people in your ward that are struggling with something who will need your guidance and example. You can't know, just by looking at them, who is on top of their testimony, and who hasn't read their scriptures in months. You only find out as you throw yourself into your ward!!!

I sent Kristin a letter containing a reprint of one of my blog posts on faith from several years ago, I just wanted to reprint it for the Christmas season:

How often do scriptures cause us to visualize something in our minds? Stories, people, places, things... all the time, right?? In fact, once you take out the ubiquitous "And it came to pass"'s, you'll see that our holy writ is pretty much stuffed full of amazing visual ideas and symbols. This is one of my favorite features of the scriptures. Somewhere, (you are about to see how much of a scriptorian I am NOT) it says that God speaks to his children at their level of understanding, wherever that is. I feel like he also speaks to us through all of our senses! In addition to the heart and mind, God speaks to our ears, our sense of touch (baptism by immersion, the warm hug you offer to friends in their trials), our sense of taste (sacrament emblems and visiting teaching cookies :), smell (cookies again :) and last but not least, our sight! There are a few vivid "visuals" that I count as my favorite in the scriptures. These visuals, some symbolic and some literal, I imagine again and again, and they never fail to affect me. I'm going to set a couple of them before you, and not offer any art historical dissections. Scriptures sure can stand on their own. That's one of the many reasons why I know they are not a construct of man alone. (I can't resist, however, including a few select illustrations of these scriptures' ideas. The following scattered images are the nearest that reality and the internet come to resembling the truths of these verses, at least as I imagine them. :)

D and C 84: 82-84 For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these.

For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things. Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet,they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 49: 15-16 Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.
1st Nephi 11: 8, 33 (Lehi and Nephi's Vision) I looked and beheld a tree... and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.
I beheld that the rod of iron,which my father had seen, was the word of God.

This scripture is perhaps my favorite of all these; it comes into my mind all the time when I'm studying the stories and images of the Savior. I'm on an eternal hunt for images that really strike me as looking like Him. It was told to me once that I would recognize the Savior if I saw him before me, which was a sweet thing to be told. It's kind of cool to me to think that somewhere in the back of my subconscious mind I know what Jesus Christ looks like. BYO Illustration to this one :)

Isaiah 53: 2-3, 5 He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Bechdel Movie Test

Have you read this article from the New York Times Magazine proclaiming 2012 a "Year for Movie Heroines"? Having been involved in the conversation about women's roles in society, and the reflection (or obfuscation) of these roles in art for six years (since my 2007 art history study abroad under the marvelous tutelage of Professor Martha Peacock), I blasted through all four pages of the article, totally engrossed! I was really moved by the following paragraph, a moment of contemplation tucked into the center of a rolling, energetic analysis of past and present film heroines and the motives they are ascribed:

"The rush to celebrate movies about women has a way of feeling both belated and disproportionate. Pieces of entertainment become public causes and punditical talking points, burdened with absurdly heavy expectations and outsize significance. It should not, after all, be a big deal that movies like “Bridesmaids” or “The Hunger Games” exist, perhaps because it should have been a bigger deal when such movies didn’t. In 1985, the comic-strip artist and memoirist Alison Bechdel first formulated what has since become known as the Bechdel test, which assesses movies according to a three-step formula. To pass the test, a film “1. has to have at least two [named] women in it 2. Who talk to each other 3. About something besides a man.” It is a stunningly simple criterion, and stunning how few movies manage to fulfill it. (Though a visit to suggests that things have been improving recently.)"

What a fantastic formula. I thought about the movies I have been most excited about this year. Brothers, I'm sorry to tell you that all three Lord of the Rings movies failed in a big way (two women in each, but they don't converse), and something tells me the Hobbit will follow its siblings' patterns. (Maybe it's the promo poster of a bajillion male dwarves, I don't know):

Les Mis will be saved, but only by dint of the abusive conversations held by Cosette and Madame Thenardier.

Skyfall- fail.

Lincoln- fail.

It really gets you thinking! The isolation of female characters, the removal of the bond of female friendship, and writers' disdain to create conversations that don't link the females verbally to their male counterparts; all are intuited by us, female watchers, but often elided as we follow the injunction, "Just identify with the male characters!"

Thank heavens for Catniss. That's all I have to say.

PS. Don't forget to click on the photo stream of 2012's movie heroines. You'll find more stunning photographic portraits like these:

Emmanuelle Riva of Amour

Amy Adams of The Master and The Trouble with the Curve
Quvenzhan√© Wallis of “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Elle Fanning

Monday, December 3, 2012

On Keyboard Landmines: A Note from the Art Historian's Lair

You know what I loathe/find hilarious? That awkward movement with your keyboard when, months after you've picked a research topic, you realize there's one landmine of a word, which is imperative to your argument, that does NOT roll off your fingers easily as you type.

Like that time I wrote about Edouard Manet's The Railway. Try typing "Edouard" three times a page for twenty-five pages, see how long it takes you to get used to that letter combination. I was still going all, "E D U A bcksp bcksp E D O U A R D"  20 pages in. To this day, I recite the letters under my breath whenever I jot down his name.

In my thesis, the word was Menelik. Although that was kind of a fun combo, like a mini roller-coaster for my fingies. Didn't take TOO long to get used to, M E N E L I K.

In this week's final paper, the word is "Reliquary." You want to write Relicary, but you can't. At least my poor little "Q" button is getting some attention. Next week's final paper has two keyboard landmines: KEHINDE and FEMININITY.

I comfort myself at every snafu with the knowledge that my nail polish this week is bomb:

Matte blue polish and a meta blog. I'm all style.