What I find most interesting in this Vanity Fair portrait is how her brand of conservatism does not seem to be driven by ideological impulses so much as her own brand of common sense reasoning. It's refreshing to read about someone who believes in knowing what the hell they're talking about without fetishizing or valorizing their work as a moral triumph. I get so tired of hearing about how wonderful someone is because they've accomplished something extraordinary, as if their achievements were the product solely of their own ingenuity or rugged individualism. Doing something awesome does not make me better than someone else. While it may help me keep a job, doing awesome things and knowing how to learn are skills acquired and cultivated over the course of my life. Accomplishments and hard work, while admirable, are not what should give people their sense of self-worth. A person's accomplishments extend from who they are, and every person has inherent worth, and is deserving of regard and respect.
According to the article, early on in Megyn Kelly's tenure at Fox News, her boss, Roger Ailes, told her to "make more mistakes." That's great advice for anyone starting out in a new venture. What is the point of having knowledge, enthusiasm, vision, and dedication to a field if one is afraid of making errors? How can we learn if we don't try new stuff out? Over time, Kelly's voice in journalism began to emerge when she became less concerned about making mistakes and more interested, in the words of Steve Martin, in "being so good they can't ignore you." (She is said to like this quote very much.) To take on a mission like that necessitates hubris that can produce groundbreaking work, but also some errors along the way. My takeaway from the Vanity Fair article is that those two outcomes are not separate, or, as buddhists like to say, "they are not two." Groundbreaking work means that one must make mistakes along they way.
Talk all you want about the evil Roger Ailes and Fox News have rendered onto our republic and the world by making candidates like Donald Trump appear to be viable alternatives to the very un-glamourous and important work of governance, and I will largely agree with you. And if the folks at Gawker are to be believed, Kelly is an odious presence on television, and a virulent racist. There is a case to be made, however, for the rise of Megyn Kelly, no matter what Donald Trump or Gawker may say about her. My lesson from the article is simple: living with a voice can be challenging sometimes. Any composer worth her salt knows this. But to move through challenges, humbled and informed by them, and everyday be un-ignorable by virtue of one's good works--maybe that's the hokey pokey. Maybe that's what it's all about.
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice," King said. Perhaps it bends like an asana, or yoga pose. Yoga translates roughly from Sanskit to "yoke," which ostensibly brings ugly associations of enslaved ancestors to my mind. But perhaps the idea of "bending towards" something (instead of "fighting for" something) can reframe our understanding of what and how we strive in social justice work.
The vocabulary of social justice work is filled with struggle and battle. Much like the war on crime, the battle against HIV/AIDS denotes, for example, a direct enemy, and specific sites for confrontation. We "struggle against" racism, and "battle for" a living wage, thus demonstrating our commitment against corruption. But to "bend toward" desired outcomes involves a very different set of material and psychological tools than to "battle for" or "struggle against."
King observed a force within the universe that binds all of us, long before the discovery of the Higgs field or the musings of master Yoda. He observed that the work of social justice is as much a question of inner alignment & disposition as it is of material struggle. For King and many others during the civil rights movement of the 1950s & '60s, fervent religious conviction was a primary instrument of that sense of alignment with the world around them. Their struggle for radical change through non-violet revolution was rooted in a deep-seated belief in the inherent goodness of their cause.
So, thirty years into our MLK Federal holiday, what shall we call King? A jedi for justice, perhaps? What we can say with certainty is that he recognized justice to comprise more than the absence of corruption, and peace to be more than the absence of war. He understood that the fates of every person on earth are tied together.
So let's not celebrate Martin Luther King as an icon, or idea, but rather as a person who deeply understood our interconnection. He knew that we are yoked together in a lifelong bending towards justice, today and everyday. That, for me, is worth celebrating.
If you are in or around Banja Luka, on the 25th of November, stop by and listen to the MAN trio (flute, flute & piano) for me. The trio is putting on a concert that night that features fifteen 1-minute premieres, and my frisky little romp, BOP!, will be among them. This group has a lot of energy; to put together a program like this demands some serious technique, and I wish I could be there to experience the concert in person and meet them. If you're close by though, you owe it to yourself to check them out.
Timbre: soft, sweet, with brightness of modern piano accents shaved off; Key: G-flat/F-Sharp, with pentatonic undertones, hints of 7ths, and a 9th finish; Prevailing tonal gestures: scale degree 6 to 5, exhaling on 3 over a plagal sigh, and pentatonic affirmation, as if sanctioned by a higher power. Working Title for the sonic environment: Don't Panic, Relax, We'll Take it from Here.
Consent culture thrives in societies that celebrate a person's ability to mean Yes when they speak it. In this video, sex researcher Dr. Lindsay Doe addresses a boy struggling to live within that culture. Her words to him are instructive.
If you had to complete the sentence, "Consent culture thrives . . . ," how would you? I invite you to let me know in comments. I invite you to let others know too!
March is National Nutrition Month, and to celebrate I am focusing more on what, how, and why I eat. A year ago my wife and I started taking wellness, physical fitness and exercise more seriously. It's been a wonderful journey thus far. We've been playing within a wonderful community of like-minded people aspiring to better themselves, enjoying what the poet Donald Hall calls "the joys of the body and creation." In this case, we've been working at creating what our friend Jill calls the best versions of ourselves. It is a fun effort, and an ongoing, lifelong adventure.
While my exercise habits have improved over the course of the last year, however, my eating habits are still kind of chaotic. If anything, I think they may be worse now than before I started working out regularly, because now I'm under the pretense that whatever crap I eat I can later work off. But, like a movie director that too often says "we'll fix it in post [production]" when something isn't working during filming, there is only so much bad behavior (or bacon-crusted pizza) that one can later melt away in a spin class.
A quick Google search of "nutrition" this morning brought me to The Nutrition Source, a site administered by Harvard University's School of Public Health. With so much misinformation out there, I found it reassuring to consult a site that isn't trying to sell me a quick-fix pill or fad diet. And as I peruse the pages, it is becoming clearer to me that cultivating good eating habits is often a decidedly unglamorous endeavor; there are no tricks or gimmicks involved. For me it is a matter of connecting regularly with real food, with whole food--with food that engages the senses instead of assaulting them.
Andrea and I participate in Community Supported Agriculture through our support of the Three Sisters Farm, a local and organic source for our vegetables. We're lucky that we live in a place that allows us to eat locally. While I remain mildly suspect about the benefits of organic vs. conventional farming (click here for a summary of why), I'd be a fool not to recognize the virtues of eating whole food grown close to home. The challenge for me now is to eat *all* of it without feeling like I need to have some sort of fancy recipe to really enjoy it. I really don't want to let any of our farm share go to waste simply because I didn't know what to pair beet greens with!
So this morning, as I was packing my lunch, I grabbed a fistful of leafy greens from the fridge and put them in a ziplock bag. And during my lunch, I washed them off and ate them. No dressing. No oils or expensive vinegars. And it was wonderful! It was really nice to eat good food the way I eat crappy, processed food: by grabbing a handful of it, and stuffing my face full of it!! So liberating!!
So Happy Nutrition Month Everyone! May it serve as a gentle reminder for each of us to be a bit more mindful of what, how, and why we eat the way we do. I'm going to have some fun this month, and I hope you do as well!
I'm honored this year to perform my song cycle "Quilting" at Cal State L.A.'s "Claiming Freedom" Symposium on Thursday, February 5th. "Claiming Freedom" celebrates a great constellation of milestones in the fight for civil rights and human rights in the United States: the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Summer, Freedom Schools, the Free Speech Movement, Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, as well as the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Many of these events took place in Los Angeles, and I'm so glad that Cal State L.A.'s department of English is marking the city's important role in furthering these causes, and using arts as an instrument to remember them.
As we bear witness to the matrix of injustice and disenfranchisement that still marks racial and gender bias here at home more recently, it is important to place our work now within this larger narrative, or what Dr. King might call a longer "arc of history, [that] bends toward justice."
More information can be found about the "Claiming Freedom" Symposium via the link below. Countertenor Darryl Taylor will perform "Quilting" (settings of Countee Cullen's poetry) with me at 6:30pm on Thursday, February 5th in Cal State L.A.'s Music Hall. It promises to be a festive evening of poetry and music, and I hope you can join us!
I've got Good Friday on my heart, its sobering and ecstatic, cathartic release. We get it all backwards when fetishizing Jesus' pain at crucifixion. The passion of the saints is so vast, and for all of us, no matter how one names the multiverse. dukkha. It says, over again and always, "show up for your life."
"Wear your mask & practice social distancing. Together, we can defeat Covid 19!"
"Literacy in Music & Arts is one of your vital links to global citizenship!"
"Be sure to support the arts in *your* community!"