Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Going For Baroque, Or Trying To Get Someplace You've Always Been

Paul Banham, one of my music professors at the University of Utah, once said that baroque music sounded like an attempt to get somewhere one has always been. This sentence has stuck with me for over 40 years because it describes so much of my personal journey.

I've always looked for new ways to experience the world, get closer to nature and understand relationships on a deeper level, but every advancement I've made, in retrospect, seems superficial. All of these attempts were like getting in touch with things that were always there. In trying to go beyond mere existence and find new ways of being and experiencing the world, I think I have become quite baroque.

Baroque artists between 1550 and 1750 had to look beyond themselves for expression because they were following such impressive "acts" as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. To "reach beyond themselves" in an artistic sense, meant to revolt against Renaissance ideals; to depart from an established order, much as I have done by rejecting certain aspects of my society in search of a more meaningful one.

The baroque period has been described by William Fleming in Arts and Ideas as one " which the artists cultivated eccentricity and reveled in their inner conflicts. They found excitement in breaking established rules and violating artistic assumptions. For the baroque artist, the adaptation of an affected manner arose out of the breakdown of an ideal order." 

To me, much of this description sounds like a diagnosis of schizophrenia. In describing the baroque style, Fleming says, "Naturalism gave way to the free play of the imagination; classical composure yielded to nervous movement; a clear definition became a jumble of contorted figures; symmetry and focus on a central idea were replaced by off-balanced illusions."

Any wikipedia definition will tell you that schizophrenia is a distorted sense of reality, bizarre thought patterns, disturbance of thought and language, and withdrawal from society.

In the baroque era, the notion that space on a canvas or notes on a staff could be filled with such varied, eccentric possibilities may have been the result of Copernicus's revolutionary theory of a solar system in which the earth revolved around the sun. Galilea's telescope further enabled baroque man to hold a new view of himself in the universe. This strange, new, moving universe did not have man (or earth) as its center. Faced with the dissolution of the framework from which baroque man existed, he was forced to conclude that he was not the center, only a part. This fragmentation was expressed in his art. 

In this respect, the excessive ornamentation seen in baroque art and heard in music of the era, could be an expression of that vain attempt to get someplace man has always been. Baroque man in the universe was a fragmentation of a whole, not a central theme. Instead of writing single notes of music, he wrote florid passages of trills, turns, and countrapuntal diversities in a frantic attempt to distinguish himself in a nebulous world.  As an artist, he painted obscure, ill-defined forms, reflecting his status in the universe.

Many of my friends have described me as being "all over the place" with my artistic and literary expressions. My baroque, schizophrenic reaction to the world may be a reflection of my status in the ever-expanding universe; a universe that, as physicists tell us, is steadily becoming more disorganized; gradually moving toward chaos. Cosmos aside, I have wanted to escape the chaos of a society that seems at odds with my search for esoteric truths.

My library is full of books that talk about ego death and mystic oneness with all things. Could mystic oneness be finally getting to that place we have always been? On the days I come close to feeling "at one" with my surroundings and relationships, everything seems to come together. My family is good. My friends are good. Everything is exhileratingly complete. Then things inevitably begin to break down. How do you sustain bliss?  What happens after the all-time, end-it-all culminating experience? If you'll pardon the pun, after The Big Bang in the universe, didn't everything break apart, become the random stability that we know as the universe today? Isn't it natural for elation to fracture after culminating moments of oneness with earth, friends, and self? 

Man has always had schizophrenic reactions to his environment, whether or not someone was there to label the symptoms. We're all mannered, ornamented and baroque in our reaction to life. Our "place" while peripheral in the universe, is central in our consciousness and therefore, open to vast and diverse interpretation. Perhaps the challenge is to find a stabilizing grace, symmetry and perfection to all this disorder. Like baroque artists, we can express, in our own schizophrenic ways, that there is no single "correct" reality; that distortion is as natural as the normal appearance of things. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ya Gotta Love, Admire, Adulate, Worship Roget

Like kleenex, for tissue
and funky, for rank,
a guido is cool
a cistern's a tank.
Roget was a marvel,
I am a big fan,
let's all tip our hats
to this long-winded man.

© 2010 by Kathryn Feigal. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm driving to Nebraska tomorrow to visit my son's family. Be back in a week, weather permitting. I'll miss you, but look forward to catching up when I get back.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Sound Of Music Sing-Along

One of the most joyous nights at a movie theater EVER!
Everyone dressed as one of their favorite things from the movie.
I went as Maria (the version from the record album).

Whiskers on kittens -

A Lonely Goat From A Lonely Goat Herd

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes - 

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes -

Silver white winter (that turns into Spring) -

Brown paper packages, tied up with string -

Maria makes the children play clothes from the curtains.

Liesl and Rolfe

Goat Herding Fraulein from the puppet show

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ah, Gee, Ain't It Grand?

The summers of 1966 and 1967, I worked at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. When conversing with Limes through comments, I mentioned that these were some of the best times of my life. She said she wanted to hear more about this. It got me digging around in my dusty photo box and mind.

The first summer I was hired as a cabin maid for the astounding sum of $.74 an hour - plus tips. Oh, and we got dorm rooms and food too. The second summer I worked as a waittress in the dining room and the Soda Fountain. One of the famous people I served was Gregory Peck.  I have to admit that the memories all merge together in my head as to what happened which summer, but these are the highlights:

Water fights between the boys and girls dorms -

outings to the other resorts and Las Vegas -

singing the tour buses away - we all had to be moderately talented as one of the requirements was to put on shows at night for the guests - (is it starting to remind you of Dirty Dancing?) one of my numbers was "I'm The Greatest Star" from Funny Girl -

hanging out with crazy roommates who couldn't decide if we should go smoke with the wild girl from Omaha, or go door to door teaching from the scriptures which were sometimes tucked neatly under our arms -

We all tried to form summer romances -

One of the strangest experiences of my teen-age life occured when these two men rode up to the lodge mid-season in a car that looked something like this:

Hank and Joe were hired as cooks and they worked hard and mostly kept to themselves. Joe was a little friendlier than Hank and I used to hang out with him on breaks and watch him smoke his Camel cigarettes. He was roguishly intriguing, especially to a naive girl from Salt Lake City. When he mentioned he might be selling his Chevrolet, my ears stood up. I was already fascinated by funky old things and this certainly was that. I agreed to go on a test drive after work.

My roommates thought I was crazy, but I really wanted that car so I drove all around the canyon with him. The interior of the car was shredded and there was a big hole in the floor. We joked that I could put my foot through it and scoot along to increase speed. After we got back to the dorms, I told Joe I couldn't buy his car. During the drive, I had become vaguely disturbed about something I couldn't put my finger on. Perhaps it was the smokey smell in the car and all my Sunday School warnings. I was also nervous about spending my hard-earned tip money.

Shortly after this, Hank and Joe left suddenly in the middle of the night and two weeks later, someone read in the paper that Hank had murdered Joe with a shotgun after a drunken fight.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eternal Embrace


February 12, 2007 3:14 PM PST
It could be humanity's oldest story of doomed love. Archaeologists have unearthed two skeletons from the Neolithic period locked in an eternal embrace and buried outside Mantua, Italy, just 25 miles south of Verona, the city where Shakespeare set the star-crossed tale of Romeo and Juliet. After being found at the site where a factory is planned, people worldwide have speculated on the circumstances surrounding
the couple's death. The are thought to have died young because they both had all their teeth intact, but beyond that, the skeletons are a mystery. Archaeologists announced Monday that they will move the entire block of earth the skeletons are resting in for further study and eventual display in a museum.

Photo by NewsCom/Gamma Press

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Black And White Poemophoty

A gate unhinged to nowhere,

a door I can't see,

a tune too old to hear,

messages I've missed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Chalk Line

(found this in my file of notes today)
     This morning, April 25, 1998, I realized at 7:30 in the morning, that a lot of my life has been lived in terms of the chalk line. The chalk line was drawn for me by my father probably 45 years ago. He sat me down, along with my two older sisters and drew a single line on the blackboard we used for games, after the religious instructions we received at 'Family Night.'  We children endured the lectures, but looked forward to 'Hangman' and dessert. On this particular night, Mother was absent as she was suffering from one of her frequent headaches, which made her dizzy and landed her in bed. The three of us were aware of the many things that triggered Mom's 'spells.' One of them was the way the neighbors burned their smelly garbage, making Mom sick because she had an extra sensitive nose (she was extra-sensitive in many ways) and anything that bothered Mom gave her a headache. We could always tell when a headache was ruling. Mom would get that pursed-lipped, furrowed-brow, set look and often she would tap her foot impatiently. On this Monday night, after the line was drawn (which obviously was not for Hangman because it was long and uninterrupted), Father began talking in extra subdued tones.
     "Do you see this line running all across the chalkboard?"  he asked. He leaned forward and looked at the three of us.
     "Yes, Daddy, we see it."
    "Kitty, do you remember when you chased Misty Gray Mouser all around the yard and caught her by the tail?"
    Of course I remembered. It was a startling event. When Daddy saw me waving the screaming feline around by the tail, he quickly scooped my bottom up with one of his enormous hands, releasing the cat, and waved me in the air by my bottom.
     "Do you see how this feels? This is how that poor cat must feel." The grip was so tight and the position of my body so unusual that I was sure I would always remember it.
     "I remember, Daddy," I answered." I held my head down, feeling shaky and sick to my stomach, just like I did after my bottom was plucked up into the air and spanked.
    Daddy picked up the eraser and erased part of the line. "Kristy, do you remember spitting out your whole dinner last night?"
    Kristy didn't say anything. She was timid and sensitive. She was also a fussy eater. Again, Daddy erased part of the line. When he came to Carolyn, Daddy just looked at her and said, "We both know what you did, don't we?" She nodded. He erased more of the line.
     There was a meaningful pause.  "This line is your Mother's life, and this is what happens when you misbehave." He erased the rest of the chalk line. We all sat in silence.
    Now, forty-five years later, I feel the impact of that statement and my whole life in connection to it. Maybe turning fifty has made me more contemplative.
     "What the f---!"  Saying these words would definitely shorten Mother's life if I said them out loud in her presence, and yet I have always done largely what I've wanted to do, not because I wish my mother's life diminished, but because I am in awe of how life just keeps going on, even when I defy family rules. People don't die when you upset them. People die on their own terms and how others view their lives has only the impact they choose......and yet, there is something in me that really believes people's lives are shortened if I displease them. Maybe they don't die, but something in them does. How else can I explain staying in unhealthy relationships way beyond the expiration date?
( am I still dealing with the chalk line?)