Nick Cave's 2014 tour of North America with The Bad Seeds. The account of this 22-city journey began life scribbled on airline sick bags and grew into a restless full-length epic, seeking out the roots of inspiration, love and meaning.
The new book – The Sick Bag Song - by Nick Cave is an exploration of love, inspiration and memory shaped around the events of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 2014 tour of North America. It "blends poetry, lyrics, memories, musings, flights of fancy, fantasy, autobiography, and journal entries."
More on the book here (The Guardian), here (The New York Times) and here (The Australian).
Maria Popova, like philosopher Julia Kristiva (b. 24th June 1941), was an immigrant from Bulgaria. In Kristeva’s case it was to France, while for Popova, it was to America. Popova describes herself as “a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large.” The means of disseminating her reading, curiosity and thinking is her website Brain Pickings, founded “mostly”, she writes, as “a record of [her] own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.
Popova has been able to scale her journey to a size I would never have the time to do, but our interests and motivation remain very similar. I too am a reader, a collector, a thinker, an asker of questions, an explorer, a wayfarer, a person who sees connection and layers of meaning and significance, and a sharer of what I discover on my own journey and quest to become more fully human, free, authentic, truthful, alive and whole. Very modest and low budget by comparison, Prodigalkiwi has been in existence for well over 10-years. It has a small readership, and at its heart it is the record of a journey: my journey, interests and explorations through the fields of theology, spirituality, art, philosophy, literature, religion, psychology, architecture, film and more besides.
I only discovered Popova via the Australian publication Dumbo Feather (conversations with extraordinary people / issue 36 - 2013) and then most recently via a regular US-originating conversation now called On Being (and before that, Speaking of Faith). I had not seen her site Brain Pickings, but since the On Being conversation I’ve visited it many times. It’s been such a fascinating experience – the intersection of so many interesting themes, stories, and people.
Over the weekend I went see a local Euan Macleod exhibition. Thoroughly enjoyed it and will visit a few more times.
For Kiwi-born, Sydney-based artist Euan Macleod (b. 1956 / Christchurch) “…the canvas is not only a mirror in which he finds himself, it is also a doorway into a world that lies beyond ... These paintings have, at their core, a sense of the mystery of human life and of a vast perplexing universe which lies beyond human comprehension ..."
Macleod’s work is concerned with the natural landscape and human presence within it, a human presence that can be read as the artist himself, or as a symbolic representation of humanity. I’m always struck by the ethereal nature of the human presence in Macleod’s paintings. It’s most often a male presence, a male who is not fully present. One wonders at why this not fully present male is actually not completely there; not completely distinct or apart from the scene; distinct and fully embodied?
On one of the exhibition’s accompanying texts it is written that: “Macleod’s paintings are parables and allegories; they sing mournful songs and tell wise tales.” But, I think they’re more than this. They invite questions. They invite an encounter with the subconscious. Two of the questions evoked by Macleod’s work are invariably, “in what ways does the walking / ethereal male lead the viewer toward reflecting on new ways of experiencing what it might mean to be a male in the world?” “What kind of male is he?”
Most helpful in engaging with Macleod’s work is the extremely well written Australian publication EUAN MACLEOD: The Painter in the Painting (Pipers Press / 2010 ISBN 0975190199) by Gregory O’Brien. It features over 200 colour images.
The Euan Macleod exhibition – The Painter in the Painting - is now on at the Waikato Museum in Hamilton until Jul 2015 – more information here.
I listened, earlier in the week, to a short but interesting conversation around the theme of the psychology of creativity. The interviewee was Dr Bruce Sheridan “is the Chair of Cinema Art + Science at Columbia College, Chicago, and North American regional Chair of CILECT, the world organisation of film and media schools. He has returned to New Zealand as the fourth Creative Fellow for the University of Auckland’s Creative Thinking Project, to deliver a series of public lectures drawing on recent research into creativity and discussing evidence from neuroscience and cognitive psychology to make the case for reintegrating art and science in education.” You'll find the conversation here.
During the interview he mentioned a couple of books and/or authors, worth exploring.
7 Ways Art Can Make You a Better Leader by Fred Mandell.
“Intense observation. There is this misconception that art is about the “beautiful.” In truth, art is about understanding a subject with what John Maeda, former president of Rhode Island School of Design, calls “extreme intensity, and then expressing that intensity with the available means to the artist.” In order to understand intensely we must observe with intensity, see something for what it truly is and where there are the possibilities of extending its potential. Such a capability requires we develop the ability to suspend pre-judgment and stereotypes. We must let go of our current paradigms and begin to see new connections and make sense where none initially appears. This is at the center of art and at the core of leadership.
Last week was a poetry week for me. I listened to poetry. I listened to poets. One of the highlights was a BBC 3 and excellent interview with Australian born-UK domiciled Clive James, broadcast on the 18th December 2014, and recorded at his home in Cambridge, UK. It runs for 44 minutes and is a delight to listen to. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“In an extended interview, Philip Dodd talks to Clive James whose writing and broadcasting in the last fifty years has made him one of the most distinctive voices in Britain. He confirmed his credentials, as a translator last year with his version of Dante's Divine Comedy and his latest book, Poetry Notebook, is a testament to his consuming love of poetry in general. Philip Dodd explores this passion with him and learns how it has informed and illuminated his thinking throughout his life.”
Mary Oliver is one of my favourite contemporary poets and what a delight it was to hear her in a recent conversation. The first of her poems I ever reflectively read was West Wind #2
West Wind #2
You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life toward it.
~ Mary Oliver ~ [Note, well worth reading is Roger Housden’s reflection on this poem contained in his excellent book Ten Poems to Open Your Heart.]
Often quoted, but rarely interviewed, American Mary Oliver is one of that country’s greatest and most beloved poets. At 79, she honors listeners of Krista Tippett’s broadcast On Being with an intimate conversation on the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing.
Today, two conversations with my favourite video artist, American Bill Viola (b. 1951)
The first, from The Spirit of Things, dates back to 2011, as far as I can tell.
“Few video artists can boast a hallowed placed in the world's churches and cathedrals, but Bill Viola's spiritual vision has been widely recognised by both the artistic as well as the religious establishment. In a rare and profoundly spiritual conversation, Bill Viola talks to Rachael Kohn at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image for the Melbourne Festival of the Arts…”
Today, an interesting programme from Australian Radio (Poetica). I’ve long understood the need for, and valued, silence in my life. Not everyone however is comfortable with it, and as I discovered recently, silence is easily misunderstood. Here’s a poetic look at the importance of silence. For a great book on silence I recommend Sara Maitland’s Silence.
“In the wired and connected twenty-first century, is there any place for silence?
And with the word noise having its root in the Latin word nausea, does the lack of silence in our lives actually have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing?
Long ago the desert fathers retreated to the open spaces of the Middle East to contemplate their god. With the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution and now the technological one, our world is vastly nosier than theirs ever was. Social researcher and psychologist Hugh Mackay has written ‘Have we …become edgy about silence? Have we lost the art of pausing? Is our diet of fast data destroying our appetite for rumination and quiet reflection?’
In this sonic exploration of the meditative and therapeutic power of silence you’ll hear poets and thinkers as diverse as Søren Kierkegaard, Thomas Merton, Judith Wright, Miroslav Holub, Henry David Thoreau and ee cummings.”
Very soon to be published. “…U2’s success and significance are due, in large part, to finding inventive, creative solutions for overcoming obstacles and moving past conventional boundaries. As it has embraced change and transformation over and over again, its fans and critics have come to value and expect this element of U2. These new essays from the disciplines of organizational communication, music theory, literary studies, religion, and cultural studies offer perspectives on several ways U2’s dynamic of change has been a constant theme throughout its career. The eight essays here come from the U2 Conference 2013, which explores the music, work, and influence of U2, furthering the scholarship on U2…” A follow up to this earlier publication that emerged from the 2009 U2 Conference.
Although an awfully expensive publication it does look interesting. However, for a 30% saving, see this post on the book by Steve Taylor (thanks Steve for that information and the "heads up" with respect to publication).
Table of Contents
Introduction: U2 TRANS-
Collaborative Transactions: Making Sense (Again) for U2’s Achtung Baby
Transvaluing Adam Clayton: Why the Bass Matters in U2’s Music
Brian F. Wright
Translating Genres: U2’s Embrace of Electronic Dance Music in the 1990s
A Transcendent Desire: In Defense of U2’s Irishness
Arlan Elizabeth Hess
A Transmedia Storyworld: The Edge Is One, But Not The Same
Transgressive Theology: The Sacred and the Profane at U2's PopMart
Theodore Louis Trost
Transmitting Memories: U2’s Rituals for Creating Communal History
CBC Radio (Canada) featured, earlier in the year (Sept. 14, 2014), a tribute to Noble Prize winning Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney. It was both an insightful and an inspirational listen, one I’d like to highlight in today’s post.
I’ve read a bit by Heaney, heard him read his poems, and have long been interested in him as a person and as a poet. I’ve been interested in his way of seeing the world.
Heaney was born on the 13th April 1939 and died on the 30th August 2013
You’ll find the CBC page here, and you should be able to download the Mp3 here.