When you watch a movie that’s a re-make of an older movie (which was also probably adapted from a musical adaptation of a novel) – do you ever mope and wonder if anything out there is original anymore? Is there really nothing new under the sun? I like to be cynical and sleep bitterly in this camp from time to time, sure that our collective imaginations are being mercilessly wiped away by some Never Ending Story-esque of a Nothing. “This is all that’s left of Fantasia!?” But then I consider the very concept of originality and I start to chuckle…
Instagram enhances Facebook’s most essential quality.
Facebook allows you to keep in touch with old “friends,” but keeping in touch means subjecting yourself to climate-change rants from that girl who failed biology in high school, college football highlight videos from that guy who never went to college, and (if you’re friends with me) shameless plugging of Mockingbird blog posts. But we subject ourselves to this cacophony for one reason and one reason only: So we can see their pictures.
Their pictures allow us to establish our place in the hierarchy. Her kids are cuter than mine, but mine are way cuter than his….
To be honest, I didn’t even know Thomas Kinkade was dead. That was until I read this fascinating piece on Kinkade, America’s favorite sentimental “Painter of Light,” from The Daily Beast by Zac Bissonnette: “The Drunken Downfall of Evangelical America’s Favorite Painter.” I also had no idea Kinkade was (a) an Evangelical Christian and (b) an alcoholic. The story is at once alarming, yet not surprising, and ultimately really sad. Thus, I can’t help but explore it here.
(Before I move on, I should preface this essay by noting that Kinkade died on Good Friday two years ago, so I was probably distracted…
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….
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…
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:
If 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.
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…