Satisfaction has two different meanings. It can be a feeling of contentment, fulfillment, or gratification. But it can also be the opportunity to redress or right a wrong; or compensation for a wrong or injury. In this way satisfaction is tied to revenge. Its relationship to sadness—distress caused by loss, affliction, disappointment; grief, sadness, or regret—is a complicated one.
In Kant’s Perpetual Peace, he sees this relationship as necessary for humans to reach their potential:
Man’s will is for harmony; but nature knows better what is good for his species: her will is for dissension. He would like a life of comfort and satisfaction, but nature wills that he should be dragged out of idleness and inactive content and plunged into labour and trouble, in order that he may be made to seek in his own prudence for the means of again delivering himself from them. The natural impulses which prompt this effort,— the causes of unsociableness and mutual conflict, out of which so many evils spring,— are also in turn the spurs which drive him to the development of his powers.
To find the satisfaction in sadness and the sadness in satisfaction, I hung a blue light curtain that I bought at the new year but haven’t used much. I asked myself what shapes, lines, and points would bring me satisfaction through sadness and pain, and I thought of Morse Code. I drew Morse Code of “Sad,” “Ease,” and “Pain” on clear plastic and used them with blotch and brush shapes. I found satisfaction in the results.
Today’s prompt is to find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it!
Today’s prompts seemed to me to lend themselves to trying a couple more Nonce forms for the Nonce Scavenger Hunt. I started with Emily Dickinson’s poem 178 “I cautious, scanned my little life—.” First I tried the DoReMiDo, then I made an attempt at an American Paragraph.
What Sadness in Satisfaction
I cautious spy my little life I winnow fate by satisfy
till Heads laid still should be dreaming what fades blew; lasts fill the Barn’s mill
One winter dawn my dear hay gone and from farmer done cynic won
Thief or wind’s grief my job to find so I ransack brief Love’s relief
What Satisfaction in Sadness
I cautious, scanned my little life, winnowed what would fade from what would last. Till heads are dreaming, put the latter in a barn; the former, flittered. And lo my dear hay was not upon the scaffold nor upon the beam. And from a thriving farmer, in my anger, a cynic I became. Whether a thief did it, or whether it was the wind, I need to know! I ransack, and wonder if you’re in the little barn Love made for you.
Under the influence of the ego’s instincts of self-preservation, the pleasure principle is replaced by the reality principle. This latter principle does not abandon the intention of ultimately obtaining pleasure, but it nevertheless demands and carries into effect the postponement of satisfaction, the abandonment of a number of possibilities of gaining satisfaction and the temporary toleration of unpleasure as a step on the long indirect road to pleasure.
Very early in life the child is forced to abandon its conception of the world as merely a pleasure resort. It is compelled increasingly to give up its life of fantasy and to accept an existence of reality; and concomitant with the development of this concept of the reality of the world there comes gradually to be built up this ego system of non-sexual complexes. It is the system of conscious urges which is coordinated with the enforced recognition of the reality of existence.
William S. Sadler, M.D.
Reality, by their definition, is facing that life isn’t full of pleasure, and we can’t always get what we want when we want it. Romance would be the opposite of this reality. It is feelings or demonstrations of love or desire, especially idealized love. We think of romance as love affairs with happy endings, but romance is any idealized belief, wanting an ideal over reality.
Although we cannot concede objective reality to these ideals, they are not to be considered as chimeras; on the contrary, they provide reason with a standard, which enables it to estimate, by comparison, the degree of incompleteness in the objects presented to it. But to aim at realizing the ideal in an example in the world of experience— to describe, for instance, the character of the perfectly wise man in a romance— is impracticable. Nay more, there is something absurd in the attempt; and the result must be little edifying, as the natural limitations, which are continually breaking in upon the perfection and completeness of the idea, destroy the illusion in the story and throw an air of suspicion even on what is good in the idea, which hence appears fictitious and unreal.
For today’s images I continued to explore using transparencies with brushstroke filters.
I’m really glad I read the A to Z Challenge post about Querying first thing this morning, because for some reason I had skipped over Q in my mind and was planning to write my R post today.
Quirk & Quality
A quirk is a peculiarity of action, behavior, or personality; mannerism. Peculiarity is a trait, manner, characteristic, or habit that is odd or unusual; eccentricity; a distinguishing quality or characteristic. If a quirk is a distinguishing quality, how can it also be quality’s contradiction? Quality is not only: an essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute. It has another meaning: high grade; superiority; excellence; good or high social position; the superiority or distinction associated with high social position. These understandings of quality come from expectations, judgements, and norms and thus contradict peculiarity.
Searching through my books, I didn’t find any uses of the word “quirk” (which bummed me out because I love that word), so I looked for “peculiarity.” I found this interesting passage in Art as Experience by John Dewey:
WHY IS the attempt to connect the higher and ideal things of experience with basic vital roots so often regarded as betrayal of their nature and denial of their value? Why is there repulsion when the high achievements of fine art are brought into connection with common life, the life that we share with all living creatures? Why is life thought of as an affair of low appetite, or at its best a thing of gross sensation, and ready to sink from its best to the level of lust and harsh cruelty? . . . Life is compartmentalized and the institutionalized compartments are classified as high and as low; their values as profane and spiritual, as material and ideal. Interests are related to one another externally and mechanically, through a system of checks and balances. Since religion, morals, politics, business has each its own compartment, within which it is fitting each should remain, art, too, must have its peculiar and private realm. Compartmentalization of occupations and interests brings about separation of that mode of activity commonly called “practice.”
This made me think that understanding expected qualities that define quality, is the only way to appreciate quirks. Peculiarities wouldn’t exist without norms. In Dewey’s examples, the definition of art are the specific peculiarities that separate it from other studies and activities like business and politics.
Weight depends also on size. Other factors being equal, the larger object will be the heavier. As to color, red is heavier than blue, and bright colors are heavier than dark ones. The patch of a bright red bedcover in Van Gogh’s painting of his bedroom creates a strong off-center weight. A black area must be larger than a white one to counterbalance it; this is due in part to irradiation, which makes a bright surface look relatively larger. Puffer has also found that compositional weight is affected by intrinsic interest. An area of a painting may hold the observer’s attention either because of the subject matter-for example, the spot around the Christ child in an Adoration-or because of its formal complexity, intricacy, or other peculiarity. (Note in this connection the multicolored bouquet of flowers in Manet’s Olympia.) The very tininess of an object may exert a fascination that compensates the slight weight it would otherwise have. Recent experiments have suggested that perception may also be influenced by the observer’s wishes and fears. One could try to ascertain whether pictorial balance is changed by the introduction of a highly desirable object or a frightening one.
What normative quality of expectation can I create to then twist and show a quirk? What is a quirk that I appreciate as having quality? For today’s images I created a normative quality by only using white lights, then for my quirk I used transparency filters which are printable clear plastic printed with my photographs then cut out and used as filters. I placed the transparencies of my brush stroke and paint splatter filters.
At dVerse it’s Open Link Night, so though I missed the live reading, I’ll link this poem to the list.
A Quirky Quality of Life
After the earthquake after clearing the rubble and destruction, one devastating landslide left a new cliff-face revealed a new history in its layers , mysterious objects jumbled and protruding in the rock and sediment hidden for hundreds of years.
We’ve only begun the excavation but a picture of a quality of life quite different from our own emerges from the clustering of preserved objects and bones. We believe they were symbiotic fused with miniature animals with similarities to our predators One fused a tiny saber tooth to her chest and arm Another was attached at the calf to a mini dire wolf.
These fusions must have been their only form of relation for we’ve found no evidence of any ability of communication Not a single implant, or manipulation not a symbol, sign, or extension of extra-sensory perception.
We can only hope to discover their machine, or whatever magic there must have been to turn our giant predators into beloved friends, but we also need to find what horror made it all end.
Pleasure is the state or feeling of enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one’s liking; gratification; delight. In Civilization and Its Discontents Freud says that “the purpose of life is simply the programme of the pleasure principle.” The pleasure principle is Freud’s belief that man’s activity develops toward the absence of pain and to experience strong feelings of pleasure. He says:
“What we call happiness in the strictest sense comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree, and it is from its nature only possible as an episodic phenomenon. When any situation that is desired by the pleasure principle is prolonged, it only produces a feeling of mild contentment. We are so made that we can derive intense enjoyment only from a contrast and very little from a state of things. Thus our possibilities of happiness are already restricted by our constitution.”
In other words, we live for pleasure, but find the most pleasure in things denied us. He also seems to say that patience dampens pleasure’s potency. Patience is an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay; quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence; the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
My original idea of using the tri-pod and long exposure to represent patience, and glints of light on the water as pleasure wasn’t working because the sun went behind the clouds and I ran out of patience. I thought I would try to replicate my idea in the mirrorworld using a fan, but my shapes were distorting and the lights were too bright at the long shutter settings, and I lost patience. So I thought of when I have found pleasure in patience, and thought of the panoramic setting: it takes patience to make it work, but the results give me pleasure.
The present pleasure of dark chocolate peppermint bark takes patience to savor—not bite into, chomp down, and grab another— to let it sit with the flavors, letting them melt in my mouth like the large bag of M&Ms I used to eat while reading a novel in the tall antique bed with the small pink rose patterned canopy, so tall I had to run and jump to get in, so tall that the scary man had plenty of room to wait under there at night until I needed to go to the bathroom; I would wait and wait, knowing the second my ankle dangled low enough, his hand would dart out and grab it, and yank me under; not that I was afraid of the space under the bed, I liked it down there during the day, but the scary man only waited there when it was dark, really dark and cold, and came from the place of dark things. Sometimes in the dead of night, he still reaches from the darkest corner, and I want to scream, but instead I turn on all the lights and savor some dark chocolate peppermint bark.
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.
Opportunity & Opportunism
An opportunity is a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal; a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success; an appropriate or favorable time or occasion. We’re all on the lookout for opportunities and are told we should be open to them and seize them whenever possible. But an opportunity changes to opportunism when it serves one person by preying on the suffering of others. Opportunism is the policy or practice, as in politics, business, or one’s personal affairs, of adapting actions, decisions, etc., to expediency or effectiveness regardless of the sacrifice of ethical principles.
I found an interesting section in The Mind at Mischief called “Talking to the Dead” that talks about one aspect of opportunism and what makes people susceptible to it:
The average person, having passed through some sorrowful bereavement, craves satisfying assurance that his loved one has only passed on to enjoy the pleasures of a better world. The bereaved soul is tortured by anxiety and uncertainty, and craves that which will demonstrate and prove that his loved ones have survived death—that they enjoy consciousness beyond the vale. . . .These and many other questions throng the minds of mortals and clamor for an answer; and as long as they are there, spiritualism will have an excuse for existence—and an opportunity to deceive and to delude.
William S. Sadler, M. D.
Opportunism makes me think of ambulance chasers, people who swoop in to make money off of other people’s suffering. Ambulances and hospitals make me think of the symbol of the square cross, or balanced cross, so for today’s images I used two different square cross filters, one an open shape with hot glue randomly drawn over it, and the other the cut-out shape placed in an open circle. I see the distortion of the shape through the lights’ overlap as the way that opportunism distorts opportunities to help people in need into greed making a bad situation so much worse.
Arnold gazes out his window through the raindrops and the ache Bianca glances at the barren and the beholden burdened Carlos sees characters carousing and clearly cheating Darla doesn’t see anything through the dirty windows Eugene’s eyes are closed to the ethics of opening envelopes Franny’s fancies run feloniously far afield Grant applies for grants that should go to good charities Hannah helps the homeless hurry further from her home Ivan ignites the suffering of the people he ignores Jenna sells journeys into one’s own jealous mind Ken kills everyone slowly and silently with chemicals Laura lives for luxury but never looks Monty mourns and will do anything for momentary relief Noni never needs to know the numbers Oscar often observes opportunism but opts for obscurity Petra peers through panes at public parks and imagines pavement Quin questions the quality of the quantity of others Rhonda rues regarding the riff-raff and runs for office Steven swoops in an steals from the suffering Tara is tempted by the tears of the tormented Ulrich understands your pain while paid under the table Vera vows to vanquish the blemishes of the vain Walter washes windows while watching and wondering Xandra signs next to the X in every signature but her own Yurik yearns for your missed payment with plenty to loan Zara stares out the window at all the zebras in the rain
“The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.”
Need & Nonsense
Need is an urgent want, as of something essential or indispensable; a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary; a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation. Last year I talked about Maslow’s hierarchy of need, and how need connects to motivation, so I won’t go into that here. Nonsense is words or language having little or no sense or meaning; behavior and actions that are senseless, foolish, or absurd; and is also defined as impudent, insubordinate, or otherwise objectionable behavior.
From the definitions one could say that need is in contradiction with nonsense because needs are necessary for survival, and nonsense may be a detriment to survival. However, there are some that would say nonsense fulfills a need.
I found an article by Alex Sternick who practices “the Art of Nonsense and Laughter Therapy.” He said, “researchers found that nonsense may unconsciously influence the quality of implicit Learning. The students who read the absurd Story chose about 30 percent more of the letter strings, and were almost twice as accurate in their choices, than a comparison group of 20 students who had read a coherent short story.” He said, “If we understand from within that the external world is, by its nature, full of absurdities and contradiction, we can make choices to express meaningful purpose in our lives instead of following a nihilistic way of self-neglect and pessimism.” He believes speaking in gibberish helps us to stop fighting to understand everything and say anything without being judged or “wrong.”
Last year when looking at “need,” I saw it as a spiral as in “the way a person can spiral when needs aren’t met.” How do I add nonsense to that? For today’s images I made wire spirals and hung them on another wire like my idea for the “blinds” idea. With multiple spirals moving without my control in a blob-shaped filter, I added nonsense to my need for expression.
Today’s prompt is “to write a poem that contains the name of a specific variety of edible plant – preferably one that grows in your area. (That said, if you’re lacking inspiration, online seed catalogs provide a treasure trove of unusual and charming names for vegetables, fruits and flowers. Here’s one to get you started.) In the poem, try to make a specific comparison between some aspect of the plant’s lifespan and your own – or the life of someone close to you. Also, include at least one repeating phrase.”
Today’s prompts gave me a happy excuse to spend some time with The Complete Herbal (1653) by Nicholas Culpeper, M. D.. I searched “nerve” in the text and chose an herb (specific variety of edible plant) that Culpeper said treated the nerves.
The Benefits of Cowslips
Like cows in delicate a-line yellow slips clustered in the field in spring their bulbous lips softly petting the grass, the cowslips gather on their stalks in the pasture.
Venus lays claim to this herb as her own, and it is under the sign Aries as I am. The ointment of it adds beauty, or at least restores it when it is lost. It strengthens the brain and nerves and remedies palsies. Guess I need to preserve or conserve the flowers and eat them every morning. But for my outer wounds I’ll need the leaves to make an ointment with some hog’s grease. The ointment of it adds beauty, or at least restores it when it is lost.
I’ve never seen cows wearing slips; yellow, delicate or otherwise, and if I did would the nonsense sooth my nerves?
On April 2nd, I talked about my idea that all abstractions are on a continuum of fear between the extremes of fight or flight. I created a chart with a horizontal line with homeostasis and harmony at its center to chart all of the contradictory abstract nouns I’m studying this month.
Here’s what that chart looked like with all of the contradictory abstractions so far:
I was surprised by how many of the abstractions I’ve looked at clustered around the center and not the extremes.
This week I imagined another continuum for my chart: locus of control. All of these abstractions are perceived as inner or outer control. To see how this interacts with fight or flight, I created a vertical line (or Y axis) for the continuum of control with the extremes of completely inner or completely outer.
Though the locus of control seemed easy when thinking about it, when I went to put my abstract nouns in space, it didn’t seem as clear.
Thinking about locus of control, I wanted to play with the new filter I made yesterday of the moving lines, putting outer control in my inner expression. I put my “blinds” over different shaped “windows.”
doesn’t tear a hole it might bring a drop of blood enough to bring the finger pad to the lips, but it doesn’t bleed it doesn’t even hurt, not really only a little pressure, a little surprise ouch, and though it doesn’t stop you, it doesn’t curtail your creation, it lingers, somewhere in the back of the day, already a memory and yet, there it is, you can’t help but touch the spot, the invisible place of puncture, you can’t stop rubbing it with your thumb; you eye the pins warily as if they plot against you gathered cozily in their cushion not a plush tomato, a disguised den of point sharpening and strategizing; you rub your finger on your pant leg as if the betrayal can be wiped away, but you will never be whole
Misery is a condition or circumstance of distress or suffering; wretchedness; great mental or emotional distress; extreme unhappiness caused by need. Mercy is an act of kindness, compassion, or favor; compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; pity, or benevolence. To forbear is to refrain or abstain from; desist from; to keep back; withhold. So an act of mercy is an act of self-restraint. Somewhere in the concept of mercy is the need to restrain oneself from doing harm as well as being kind and compassionate.
Mercy also has an aspect of power. To show mercy, one must have more power than another. This contradicts with misery which is a state of distress and need, a state of powerlessness.
While looking at Misery and Mercy in The Mind at Mischief, I found this interesting passage:
It is commonly recognized that we have different personality presentations for home life and for company. We dress up, put on our best manner, and act quite differently—at least the majority of us do—when we have company, as compared with what we do when only the home folks are around.
I know a man who is “hard-boiled,” domineering and anything but pleasant in his business life; he is not much loved by his business associates. He is feared and dreaded by most of the people who have dealings with him; but I have observed this man in his home life under many and varying circumstances, and he is kindness, patience, and forbearance personified. He unfailingly shows a great affection and consideration for his family; and the entire family, including the servants, almost worship him.
This diversity of selves is also manifested in the matter of work and play. Most of us present an entirely different personality, as compared with our workaday selves, when we relax, throw off the harness, and go out to play. We are more natural and less artificial. We disport ourselves with more spontaneity and greater ease, with less of civilization’s restraint and inhibition, with less so-called dignity.
The average individual is in possession of, and constantly exhibits, from two or three up to four or five selves. Personality is certainly composite—it has many behavioristic facets which we may variously and at will turn to the gaze of the public or our immediate associates.
William S. Sadler, M.D. (1929)
What does this have to do with mercy and misery? I thought it was interesting that one person might cause misery at work but show mercy at home, or vice versa, depending on which is a more natural state, and which is a more artificial state.
Inspired by the post I did last year on Mercy, and my first transformer filter I used for it, the door, I thought about the symbolism of shutting the blinds for both misery and mercy. I made a new filter cutting out a rectangle, cutting it into strips, hanging the paper strips on tiny rings on a piece of wire, and taping the wire over the rectangle. This representation of blinds over a glass door or window, created an interesting randomization of line position controlled by my movements and gravity. I added my string of purple LED lights to the mirrorworld to represent misery because my camera has a miserable time capturing them and detects them as blue.
Today’s prompt is “Begin by reading June Jordan’s “Notes on the Peanut.” Now, think of a person – real or imagined – who has been held out to you as an example of how to be or live, but who you have always had doubts about. Write a poem that exaggerates the supposedly admirable qualities of the person in a way that exposes your doubts.”
Mercy for those suffering the misery of an unattractive shadow
We have everything you need to get the sloppy out of that shape following you around For only thousands of dollars and endless hours of focused attention you can tame that trailing tail into a trim obscuration or make it disapear completely if it won’t give cooperation Here at Glop we have everything you need to purchase bliss in your shade On those glaring days when that shadow’s too sharp buy convenient, hand-powered Glopbrella to round those edges and for the dull and lifeless umbrage there’s Glopglo with a cute little crank You’re saving the planet while contouring your blank And don’t forget the Glopness an enclosure for those times when you don’t want any shadow at all. Hurry, mercy’s in hot demand. Everyone has a shadow and most are a misery to behold. Don’t get caught with one of those embarrassing shadows next time you see the light. Act fast! Order now!
Luck is a force that “seems to operate for good or ill in a person’s life.” It is good fortune; advantage or success, and considered as the result of chance. Fortune is chance personified, and “luck is a lady”. Chance is the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency. Luck is something we blame for unforeseen events in our lives good and bad. It is external, and yet we often hear people say, “make your own luck,” which by all these definitions is an oxymoron (an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory figure of speech).
Loss is the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had. There is a lot of failure in the definition of loss: failure to win; failure to make good use of something; failure to preserve or maintain; detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have or get. Unlike luck, loss appears to have an internal component, and thus something that can be done about it.
Fortune favors the prepared mind.
In an article from PBS news hour, Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at University of Hertfordshire said that luck is determined by psychological behaviors and perception.
Wiseman focused on the personal attribute definition, saying that people who believe lucky things happen to them tended to fare better than people who felt unlucky.
“The lucky people knew how to bounce back. The unlucky ones tended to get dragged down by that failure,” he said.
“[Luck] manifests itself in a different way in different societies. But what’s underpinning that is that we like to be in control.”
While “lucky people are always in the right place at the right time,” unlucky people can’t catch a break.
“I think a big part of that, not all of it, but a big part of it is the way in which they’re thinking and where they’re behaving,” Wiseman said.
Continuing my study of Sadler’s The Mind at Mischief, I found that he connects loss to the sentiment of jealousy:
We are exercised by jealousy when the one we love gives to another that affection which we think belongs to us. We come to feel an emotion of ownership in our friends and loved ones, and the loss of their devotion wounds our pride and self-esteem. When one’s self-regarding sentiment has been severely wounded, there is likelihood of arousing the vengeful emotion associated with resentment and anger.
The green-eyed monster is ever the foe of happiness. If we permit jealousy to dominate the soul, joy is certain to depart. There is a sordid selfishness associated with this sentiment that precludes a tranquil state of mind.
William S. Sadler, M.D.
Later, while talking about the origins of an Inadequacy Complex, he connects fortune and loss:
No matter what it is, whether it be goiter, pimples or some other skin disorder, irregular teeth, an obese tendency or a tendency to emaciation— any simple physical condition may prove to be the starting point of this self-consciousness about being different from the average run of humanity. One of the most unfortunate cases of this kind I ever saw started from having to wear glasses—on account of eye trouble following measles—when the boy was only eight years old. It so happened that no other boy or girl in his room at school wore glasses, and the teasing that resulted all but ruined his life. Speech defects are still more commonly the starting point of this feeling of relative insufficiency. Stuttering or stammering, if not brought under control, is a very common cause of the early loss of self-confidence.
William S. Sadler, M.D.
In this case, he’s talking about genetic bad luck leading to teasing, but it gets to the heart of what luck is; it’s everything that is out of human control, and it can lead to perceived loss, or physical loss.
To find the loss in luck and the luck in loss, I used the luck of a sunny day on the loss of a patch of lawn due to pink snow fungus. I used the luck of the toss to position my mirror balls and sticker cubes, and the loss of control by not looking in the camera, and using the panoramic function to capture the images. Inspired by Wiseman’s thoughts about the psychology of luck, I used my neuron filter, and my psychology made some interesting associations when using my pyramid transformer filters with my colored-stripe plastic filter.
Today’s prompt is “write a parody or satire based on a famous poem. It can be long or short, rhymed or not. But take a favorite (or unfavorite) poem of the past, and see if you can’t re-write it on humorous, mocking, or sharp-witted lines.”
I looked for famous poems about luck and loss and found “The Wishing-Caps” by Rudyard Kipling. I also read the lyrics to “Luck be a Lady” and thought about what the male equivalent Luck and personification of Fortune might be.
This is another fun pair to look at as contradictory. I looked at Kindness on the thirteenth last year. Kindness can be a state or quality, an act, a behavior, and/or a friendly feeling of benevolence. Benevolence is a desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness. And goodwill is a friendly disposition; cheerful acquiescence or consent. That last definition disturbs me a bit. Kindness is just happily giving in? That doesn’t sound right. And yet through gaining knowledge—acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation—about kindness, I have a disturbing new understanding of kindness. Is disturbing me kind? I would say not. So in my own experience this knowledge is the opposite of kindness.
Continuing yesterday’s exploration of instincts and emotions in The Mind at Mischief, Sadler says that the primary instincts and secondary emotions, together with the resultant sentiments, are the building blocks of the convictions of human experience. I found kindness as part of two of those convictions of human experience (I like that phrase):
Altruism—Altruism is also a conviction, at least with many people. It is, no doubt, founded on the basic emotion of elation and the instinct of self-assertion. We have a peculiar pride and satisfaction in knowing that we are big enough and good enough and kind enough to be altruistic. Then the emotions of sympathy and pity come in for their part. We are sympathetic with those we help, and sometimes we go so far as to pity them. In fact, altruism is a sort of glorified pity, exalted sympathy, idealized elation, if you please—a species of social patriotism.
Patriotism—Patriotism is no doubt founded on the primary emotion of security, associated with the herd instinct. We defend our country and our institutions because we need their protection. The element of rivalry comes in, starting out sometimes quite innocently, and ending, when our own security is threatened, with the arousal of pugnacity and its accompanying anger; and that, many times, means war. Also into our patriotism come the emotions of pride and vanity, altho we would not care to push these to the foreground in our own consciousness. Patriotism simply means loyalty to the common herd. It is a species of social courage.
William S. Sadler, M.D. (1929)
So Sadler is saying that kindness is actually for personal safety and protection. Sadler also defines knowledge in relation to social interactions:
If your town has a public library you have an education right there on its shelves, as far as book knowledge is concerned; but remember, real education, real culture, consists in the development of the character as an outgrowth of mingling and associating with your fellow men. If you have lived well and successfully, if you know how to associate with your fellows, if you are living a life that is making this world a better place for your children and grand-children to live in, then you are educated; indeed, you are more—you are, to some extent, cultured. Real education consists in the ability, each day, to learn how one more human being looks at life.
It should take a mature mind only six or eight months really to master all the essential knowledge in the whole four-year high-school course. We don’t send our children to school for the knowledge they get, so much as for the training, the discipline, social contact, play, and other things that help to develop their social and gregarious characters. We send them to school for contact with their teachers. The encyclopedia has more in it than the teacher ever knew, but the encyclopedia can never take the place of personal influence—the inspiration that comes from contact with a devoted teacher. Don’t bemoan the knowledge you have lost by not going to school, because you can easily make up for that by reading and study. There is no excuse for having an inferiority complex regarding education and intellectual attainments. If you are lacking in anything, get busy and acquire it.
William S. Sadler, M.D. (1929)
For today’s images I decided to take a break from my abstract photography and instead play with an “Art Assignment” to photograph the abstract. I found a book called You Are an Artist by Sarah Urist Green at my local library. It turned out to be a collection of the different artists’ Art Assignments from the PBS show “The Art Assignment.”
The assignment I chose for today is from Christoph Niemann and is called “Emotional Furniture (click link to watch video).” The assignment is:
You are the director of a drama, and your actors are pieces of furniture. Scan the objects that populate the rooms you inhabit and consider them anew. What emotions might they convey, either alone or through their juxtaposition with other objects? Then get moving, arrange and rearrange your furniture, and see what theatrics unfold before your eyes.
1. Arrange furniture in three different ways, conveying three distinct emotions:
2. Take three photographs, each documenting one arrangement.
Christoph used a couch and a folding chair to show Envy, Melancholy, and Confidence. I altered the assignment slightly to show Kindness, Knowledge, and the kindness in knowledge, and the knowledge in kindness.
Today’s prompt is “try writing a short poem (or a few, if you’re inspired) that follows the beats of a classic joke. Emphasize the interplay between the form of the poem – such as the line breaks – and the punchline.”
What do you get when you cross a love seat and a bookcase?
A bloody head and a sore shoulder.
Knock, Knock Who’s there? Wood Bookcase Wood Bookcase who? Would the bookcase have cracked your head open if you were nicer to it? Maybe told it how pretty it was (before your head cracked it back) now and then?
A poet, an artist, and a photographer walk into a living room The poet sees the blue recliner in the corner and the table by the window and says, “melancholy.” The artist sees the foot rest of the recliner holding up the corner with the missing table leg and says, “kindness.” The photographer jumps up on the love seat, staring through her camera, and says, “Yes, but if I can get just the right angle, I can capture it all, the melancholy, the kindness the knowledge in kindness, and the kindness in knowledge.” She twists and wiggles and squirms, bracing her legs against the back of the couch. The poet and artist are mesmerized by her serpentine searching. “I see it,” the photographer exclaims but misses the camera’s trigger as the loveseat falls back, tossing the photographer into a bookshelf and bashing her head open.
When the photographer gets up and gently touches the wet crown of her head, her bright red bloody fingers terrify her. The poet and artist are gone. The recliner is just a chair and the table leg needs fixing. When the blood clots, she’ll right the couch and get a hammer.
How do you forgive a bookcase for breaking your head?