Art
Another Week Ends: Walser’s Wounds, Diet Supremacists, Homeless Christ, Hart’s Lament, Flat Circus, Mad Men, Parenthood, and The Secret Sisters

Another Week Ends: Walser’s Wounds, Diet Supremacists, Homeless Christ, Hart’s Lament, Flat Circus, Mad Men, Parenthood, and The Secret Sisters

1. Much of value comes across one’s desk during Holy Week, and this year was no exception. But the sources are seldom the expected ones. What stopped me in my tracks this week was an interview The European conducted with prominent German intellectual Martin Walser on “Kafka, Faith and Atheism” (and Karl Barth), which was picked up by The Huffington Post in 2012. Don’t gloss over! Despite the somewhat confusing allusion to Martin Luther–a generous read of which would surmise he’s referring either to the -ism that followed the man, or the way the Reformer’s understanding of vocation was culturally…

Read More »

Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable (According to DFW)

Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable (According to DFW)

The time has come to post four rather astounding quotes from the 1993 interview that Larry McCaffery conducted with David Foster Wallace. It first appeared in Review of Contemporary Fiction, and the second paragraph will be familiar to those who attended last week’s conference:

I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves….

Read More »

Bringing You the (Hippie) Gospel: “Oh, And That’s Right…He Dug It.”

Bringing You the (Hippie) Gospel: “Oh, And That’s Right…He Dug It.”

I was recently introduced to this rare bit of hipness by my friend and fellow seminarian, Susan Sevier.

An early attempt at cultural relevance, Pastor John Rydgren’s circa-1967 Silhouette radio shows are so much fun.  Rydgren was serving as the head of the TV, Radio and Film Department for the American Lutheran Church at the time he produced this series.  With his hip, rhythmic baritone jive, Rydgren was seeking to connect people with the Gospel message in fresh and down-to-earth ways, and he was doing so in the midst of the cultural upheavals that characterized the Summer of Love.

Talk about dramatic parables!  Can…

Read More »

NYC Preview: Searching for Myself at the MoMA

From art historian, curator, and King’s College professor Dan Siedell:

Can’t wait for the Spring Mockingbird Conference? Let’s get an early start—at the Museum of Modern Art. Meet me on the front steps of St. Thomas Episcopal Church on W. 53rd and Fifth Avenue (1 West 53) at 2:00pm on Thursday, April 3.  We’ll walk next door to MoMA and spend a couple hours in front of some of the most important paintings in the modern tradition, paintings that challenge our expectations. In 1899 the young painter Henri Matisse purchased a little painting of Paul Cézanne’s at great financial sacrifice. In an interview in 1925, long after he had achieved international acclaim, Matisse confessed:

cezanne.applesIf you only knew the moral strength, the encouragement that his remarkable example gave me all my life! In moments of doubt, when I was searching for myself, frightened sometimes by my discoveries, I thought: “If Cézanne is right, I am right.” And I knew that Cézanne had made no mistake.

We’ll look at paintings by Matisse and Cézanne as well as many others (including an exhibition of Paul Gauguin’s work) and explore the fragility of identity through our experience of these awkward and wobbly pictures. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about his long struggle to understand Cézanne’s paintings, which fascinated and perplexed him,

I remember the puzzlement and insecurity of one’s first confrontation with his work…And then for a long time nothing, and suddenly one has the right eyes….

As we walk through the galleries at MoMA, we’ll keep Matisse’s doubt and fear and Rilke’s “right eyes” before us. And we’ll explore how these strange looking pictures address us as vulnerable sufferers, in constant search for ourselves, and help us to learn to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5: 7).

Admission is $25.

The conference will be at St. George’s Episcopal Church in NYC April 3-5, 2014. For the full schedule, go here; to register, here.

A Monument to Loss

A Monument to Loss

This insightful and personal reflection on Edvard Munch’s work, as well as the plans for a new museum commemorating it, comes from our friend Daniel A. Siedell.

One of my most cherished memories from last year was a trip to New York City to see Edvard Munch’s The Scream on view at the Museum of Modern Art. The painting had made news in May 2012 because it was purchased by New York collector and businessman Leon Black for $120 million, at the time the most ever paid at auction for a work of art.

But The Scream has been an American pop…

Read More »

“Abjection”…Or, Better Yet, Taylor Swift and a Postmortem Body

“Abjection”…Or, Better Yet, Taylor Swift and a Postmortem Body

This wonderful reflection comes from Emily Stubbs.

Often times we self-justify through the things that we associate with and claim as part of our identity: I am a vegan, I am a Phi Mu, I am a fellow at Christ Church, and I wear Led Zeppelin t-shirts from Goodwill and earrings that I bought from a Peruvian man (hypothetically speaking). While, indeed, we attempt to prove our identity by vainly clinging to other people, things, ideas, organizations, etc, we also self-justify through the things that we turn away from. My identity as an independent, autonomous human being is equally dependent upon…

Read More »

Another Week Ends: Language Limits, Nadia’s House, The Impostor Effect, Theologies of Rock, Facebook Mobs and GYPSYs

Another Week Ends: Language Limits, Nadia’s House, The Impostor Effect, Theologies of Rock, Facebook Mobs and GYPSYs

1) An amazing interview with contemporary artist Chris Martin (not that one), that I wish I could reproduce here in full, over at the (ironically named) Believer. He talks about the art world and its tendency–in being seekers and conduits of “reality”–to talk about nothing that is real at all. He also talks very bluntly about the world-glossy term, “spiritual” and limits of language:

BLVR: Some people talk about how the art world is comparable to religion. It has a community, a shared language about something ineffable, a sort of icon worship.

CM: When people have a hard time with the word…

Read More »

Jigsaw Puzzle Box Tops and Wes Anderson’s Happy Failures

Jigsaw Puzzle Box Tops and Wes Anderson’s Happy Failures

Spoiler alert: There’s a knee-slapping section toward the end of PZ’s Panopticon: An Off-The-Wall Guide to World Religion in which the author ranks “religions that are not called religions.” He gives us a tongue-in-cheek US News and World Report-styled guide to which of them (Sex, Power, Ideology, etc) will serve a person best, which has the longest shelf-life and the most return. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will tell you the one that comes in last and therefore qualifies as the most consistently disappointing object of worship: Things, or Possessions. Unlike, say, family, “these get…

Read More »

Banksy, FOMO, and the Hippest Law in NYC

Banksy, FOMO, and the Hippest Law in NYC

The street artist Banksy is all over the news lately–or at least he’s been there since October 1st, when he began a thirty day stint of public art projects in the New York City area. We’ve mentioned him before on Mbird, including his Exit Through the Gift Shop, with a particular interested in the ueber-creative, borderline absurd prophetic law-voice that pervades his work. You’ve probably seen his trademark stencil-based-style and tongue-in-cheek dark humor before, and if you haven’t, here are some of our favorites.

Since we last caught up with Banksy, a strange thing has happened to his subversive persona. In an…

Read More »

On Being a Finalist in The New Yorker’s Cartoon Caption Contest

On Being a Finalist in The New Yorker’s Cartoon Caption Contest

I recently received some of the most exciting news of my life: I am a finalist in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest this week, Oct. 21 to Oct. 27. This is kind of a big deal. So I am shamelessly begging you to go to newyorker.com/humor/caption to vote for your favorite caption (hopefully mine, please) in Contest #399 by Sunday. This isn’t just a self-promoting plug though. Since I have your attention, I am going to take the opportunity to say a few words about this famously cool albeit geeky contest whose devotees have included the likes of film critic Roger…

Read More »

Miley Cyrus, Socrates, and Life as Imitation

Miley Cyrus, Socrates, and Life as Imitation

This comes from Mockingbird friend Chelsea Batten. You can read more from her here.

Everyone’s mad at Miley Cyrus, and not for the reason you think. Well, no, it is for the reason(s) you think. But also for some new reasons. The little darling has made herself a whole new group of enemies with the racial overtones of her performance at the VMAs. In case you’ve just recently been released from prison, I’ll explain:

Ms. Cyrus performed her current radio vehicle “We Can’t Stop” at the Video Music Awards, surrounded by a slew of able-bodied African-American women. These women, backup dancers…

Read More »

Joss Whedon Avoids the Void and Searches for Hope

Joss Whedon Avoids the Void and Searches for Hope

A terrific and wide-ranging interview with filmmaker-guru Joss Whedon appeared in the recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, ample proof that he remains the most interesting guy in Hollywood. A couple of memorable soundbites/aphorisms include:

“I look back at my work and see a rage-filled hormonal autobiography that spans over four different series–five now–and several films. There’s lots of fear, lots of love and confusion and sex, and deep-seated anger at the bullies of the world, be they corporations or demons. I don’t have a ton of enemies. I get along with people pretty well when I’m not annoying them to death….

Read More »

Flannery O’Connor Writes About Freaks For the Good of Us All

Flannery O’Connor Writes About Freaks For the Good of Us All

A few choice passages from Flannery O’Connor’s brilliant manifesto (she’d hate that word) – “The Grotesque in Southern Fiction” – for the bizarre ways that larger-than-life characters of experiences somehow communicate sin, grace, and, subsequently, the possibilities of redemption. It also doubles as an oblique commentary on her biblical influences as a writer:

Since the eighteenth century, the popular spirit of each succeeding age has tended more and more to the view that the ills and mysteries of life will eventually fall before the scientific advances of man, a belief that is still going strong even though this is the first…

Read More »

With Only a Look, Marina Abramovic Is Making People Cry

With Only a Look, Marina Abramovic Is Making People Cry

During the spring semester of my sophomore year, a time when I was still very impressionable and not the world-weary upper classman I now consider myself to be, I took an introductory acting class in which I learned the difference between internal and external gazing. At the command of our animated professor, the whole sleep-deprived class would practice switching from the internal gaze—what happens when you’re lost in thought and not paying any attention to what you happen to be staring at—and the external gaze. The external gaze is observant; you switch your attention from interior reflection to awareness of…

Read More »

Reanimating the Word: Mockingbird Interviews Christian Wiman

Reanimating the Word: Mockingbird Interviews Christian Wiman

Last month, Mockingbird co-sponsored a talk with poet Christian Wiman, whose Ambition and Survival, My Bright Abyss, and Every Riven Thing have quickly become Mbird favorites. We also had the great pleasure of interviewing him – transcript below:

MB: Thornton Wilder said that “the revival in religion will be a rhetorical problem – new persuasive words for defaced or degraded ones.” And you reference the need for a “new poetics of faith” in your new book – could you expand on that?

CW: I’m of two minds about that. There’s another quote in that book from a Polish poet, Anna Kamienska, who…

Read More »