The Arts section of Orient Lodge

The Supermoon cannot be stolen

I continue to be overly busy so I am not getting as much writing done as I would like, but I've got a few moments, so I thought I'd reflect on the 'supermoon'.

What does it mean when the moon reaches perigee in Capricorn, the tenth house of the Zodiac, shortly after the summer solstice? There are many different ways to look at this, so I'll try a few different angles.

Larry Sessions, a writer for EarthSky, asks the question, Does a supermoon have a super effect on us?

He finds:

A supermoon’s effects are imperceptible, far smaller than those encountered in other everyday situations, such as being near a mountain or even a large building.

He talks about this in terms of gravitational force, and finds the effect to be "about 110 milligrams, roughly equivalent to about 1/9th the mass of a paperclip." That's not much of an effect.

He did acknowledge that "the full moon can appear as much as 14% larger in the sky and 30% brighter to our eyes than at minimum size and brightness." This change of brightness to the moon is likely to be unnoticeable from one night to the next, but when someone mentions it, it can lead to observational bias. Mention to people things that happen during full moons, especially during supermoons, and people will look for the occurrence and when they observe it, generalize about it.

If enough people mention something, it can start trending on social media. It can become a fad, a meme, or a topic of the day. Enough people are talking about the 'supermoon' that it has become a top news story showing up in my Google Feed, including a link to Larry Sessions' article.

So, while the effect of a full moon at perigee may be minimal gravitationally, it can be profound psychologically. Some may think about this in terms of vampires, werewolves, and the zodiac. Yet I'm interested in other aspects. I find the moon beautiful. Anything that gets people to stop and think about beauty, to gaze on something beautiful, is, in my book, a good thing.

Tying this to science, anything that gets people to stop and consider the motions of the earth, the moon, planets, and stars, perhaps even ideas like gravity and inertia, is also a good thing.

What would it be like if everyone took a moment every day to reflect on something beautiful and to share it? What would it be like if everyone took a moment every day to think about the wonders of how the universe is created and how humans have used science to broaden their understanding of the universe?

Unfortunately, too many people have too much on their minds in terms of making money and gaining power. Perhaps, instead of focusing on the fabulous creatures, the zodiac, or even beauty and science, another reflection is called for.

There is an old Zen story entitled, The Moon Cannot Be Stolen

A Zen Master lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening, while he was away, a thief sneaked into the hut only to find there was nothing in it to steal. The Zen Master returned and found him. "You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was bewildered, but he took the clothes and ran away. The Master sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, " I wish I could give him this beautiful moon."

So, I give to you this different way of thinking about the supermoon. It cannot be stolen.

"Flowers are Red"

The week started off with a trip to Boston for the launch of my middle daughter's book, Don't Make Art, Just Make Something.

Have you ever noticed that
whenever someone does
something particularly well,
we call it art?

The thing is, if we're always
trying to make art, we miss
out on everything else we
can make.

It was the final week of the General Assembly up in Hartford, which passed AN ACT CONCERNING DISSECTION CHOICE.

A local or regional school district shall excuse any student from participating in, or observing, the dissection of any animal as part of classroom instruction, provided the parent or guardian of such student has requested, in writing, that such student be excused from such participation or observation.

It was also Artweek at Beecher Road School, where my youngest daughter is a student. Recently, they took a trip to the Yale Center for British Art, where they saw George Stubbs painting, "A Lion Attacking a Horse". To a young girl who loves horseback riding and who has recently given up eating meat due to her love of animals, it was a disturbing painting.

Even more disturbing was when she was told to reproduce the painting in art class. She didn't want to reproduce violence and because of the subject matter, she asked if she could do a different painting. When she was told no, she did her own version where the lion was lying down with the horse. It was rejected by the art teacher. Perhaps, as Isaiah 11:6 says, a child shall lead them.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

Fiona related this to us over dinner this evening. I suggested that she should ask to reproduce paintings from de Kooning's Women series instead, but didn't go into details. I also introduced her to the song, "Flowers are Red" by Harry Chapin.

A Lion Cuddling a Horse

It will be interesting to see what directions her artistic express takes.

Anticipating Glass

There are times when I don't write a blog post because the idea is still formulating in my mind. There are times when I don't write a blog post because I just don't have time or am too tired. Then, there are times when I have a great blog post, or perhaps a few different ones, that I have to wait to write and post them because of other timing issues.

Today, I received a direct message on Twitter that basically wrote a blog post for me for my job. At the same it sets up potential interesting personal blog posts about Ingress, the arts, and traveling to New York. Friends who have been following closely probably know the background to these pending blog posts, but the posts will have to wait until the right time.

Until a couple final details fall into place, hopefully tomorrow, the blog posts will have to wait, no matter how hard it is for me and for others.

The Secular Millennial Transcendentalists

The oppressive early June heat bore down so heavily on the asphalt parking lot, you could almost hear the quiet desperation as young men walked past the old Milk Row cemetery on their way to the market. Beyond the gravestones on the second floor of a nearby building people gathered to make something as a means of combating this ennui inspired existential despair.

Some gathered around a traditional printing press printing posters for a new book, Don't Make Art, Just Make Something by Miranda Aisling. In another corner, various musicians gathered around a keyboard with guitars, drums and a saxophone to make some music. In the center of the room, various guests make a 'something' village out of recycled materials, and the author flitted around the room, welcoming guests and signing copies of her new book.

Many of the guests knew each other from the local universities, museums, coffee shops and farm markets. It would be tempting to call them something like the secular millennial transcendentalists; steeped in an interesting mix nineteenth century transcendentalism, with the growing secularism of our age, and the digital technologies of the twenty-first century.

The Judeo-Christian tradition holds that we are created in the image of a creator. So, what does that make us, if not creators? Yet our schooling and work leads us further are further from being creators, leaving the creativity to the realm of specialized professionals called 'artists'.

Yet we don't have to buy into this division of labor that divides us from a core part of our being, this alienation from creativity which leads to the quiet desperation that Thoreau wrote about years ago, and can still be seen in the sweltering parking lots of Boston. Instead, we can just make something, anything, to keep that spark of creativity alive, to fight off the ennui inspired existential despair, and reunite us with the creative core of our being.

Don't Make Art, Just Make Something. If enough people do this, it could be a movement, a new awakening, and with the political, economic and environmental realities of today, it is something we desperately need.

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Something - #DMAJMS

I sit here again to confront my old nemesis, the blank screen, as I have so many mornings before. It has been an ongoing battle of many years, especially during that time when I was putting up at least one blog post a day, every day, for years in a row. It is a common problem many of us face, how do we get started? It is more of a problem when what we are doing is very public, like a blog post. What will my readers think? Will this be a profound statement? Will this be art? Will this be just something that fills the page?

I've often ended up writing blog posts that lack profundity, that I'm sure various people reading it will wonder why I even bothered spending the time writing it. My daughter's master's thesis and upcoming book, Don't' Make Art, Just Make Something, captures an idea, actually, many ideas, about getting started.

Yet I'd like to suggest that many of us have already started. How many of you have doodled on the sides of various pieces of paper? I doodled a lot more when I was younger. How many of you arrange your room or prepare a meal as a creative outlet? For me, one of my creative outlets is paper clip art.

I've always fidgeted. I've often take paper clips and bent them into new creative shapes. Yesterday, at work, I took a few paper clips to make a miniature abstract paperclip sculpture. I then arranged it in front of a BuddhaBoard my daughter had gotten me for Christmas, which I drew a question mark on. I placed a penny in front of the whole layout and cleared the area of my desk around it.

Perhaps it isn't art, maybe it is, but at least it is something, something that conquers the nemesis of the blank page.

Something - #dmajms

Don't make art, just make something.

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