Thursday, July 5, 2012

State of Mind

I'd like to explain the source of my state of mind in the last post. This is an image blog, but as it states in the header, it's also autobiographical in nature. I'm finding that an image isn't always equivalent to the proverbial thousand words. I believe that images and words work best together.

Unknown photographer and year
This image has been haunting my image morgue for years.

I've been spending a fair amount of time this summer with our daughter. I missed her deeply when she was at university last year, even though she was only an hour away by car. We each learned to keep our distance to allow growth and maturity (and she probably got something good out of it too).

It's wonderful, full of wonder, having her home—to talk with, to have fun with, to give me more than a hint of the adult she'll be when I'm long gone. We've watched a lot of DVDs together, crossing all genres of film-making. Even when a film goes awry in quality, we try to glean some of the positive values that by rights should be inherent if the army of talent involved in the making has utilized time, skill and money to bring it to our living room. Amazingly, I actually enjoyed Frank Miller's 'Sin City', something I never would have predicted.

Anyway, watching so many films, I have vicariously witnessed many acts of heroism, many despicable deeds of violence. I have flown among the clouds and the stars. I have seen transformations of many sorts — love into hate and vice versa, humans into animals, ignorance into understanding, sacrifice into survival, failure into success. Much of the experience has been inspirational and motivating.

And then I read the news.

Horrible events of crashes and collapses, fires and floods, snuffing out innocent lives. Spouses that murder each other, parents and children that murder each other. Young innocents that suddenly become Hitlers, intent on murdering other young innocents. Natural and man-failure disasters that kill hundreds or thousands with no mercy. Planes that fall from the sky. Drug cartels that wantonly slice and slaughter and deposit the results in town squares.

There are people plotting to destroy, people plotting to steal and scam, people with intent to enter our very homes and violate our persons and property.

Where is our movie heroism then? Where are The Avengers, The A-Team, Clint Eastwood and John Wayne? Where is the fortuitous coincidence that saves the day? Where are the clever writers that solve our problems in strange and subtle ways? Where is the soundtrack that throbs and soars mighty choruses of heaven as we heroically find the strength to get back up, even as we've been beaten into the ground? Where is the empathetic audience to witness our private tragedies and applaud our triumphs, great and small?

I sometimes ponder these sorts of self-defeating questions in the wee hours of the morning when the universe seems dark and uncaring. I rise in the morning full of hope and cheer, thinking maybe THIS is the day 'they' cure cancer. Maybe THIS day radio signals from space will be detected, proving that we are not alone. Perhaps THIS day people will accept that gay marriage is not only acceptable, but celebrated as an expression of love. That THIS day love will triumph over hate.

No, the headline is about Town Council debating what to do about homeless people sleeping in the parks. It's about the latest scandal of privileged rich people trying to be above the law. It's about coaches and priests violating the trust of children and parents.

The rest of the paper is about 'buy this, buy that' 'spend your money on useless crap and squander away time and energy looking at crap you can't afford.'

Okay, I'm really wallowing now, but you get the thread of my thought. And really, most of you have these same thoughts and feelings on various levels at various times.

What's to be done about it?

More next post.


Jeff Overturf said...

Has the entire bogosphere climbed up into our heads? Anxious to hear more of what you found in yours Thom.

Annie said...

Love is always the answer.

Larry MacDougall said...

I'm with you Thom. I've been watching lots of Youtube with Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Malcolm Gladwell and Morris Berman. Sobering stuff but it somehow helps to wake up and smell the coffee - I feel less crazy.

Annie said...

Hi Thom,

Your post has given me much to think about, echoing my thoughts in every way. One problem is the pervasive desensitization to violence promulgated in our media and on the internet; an "entertainment" based on laughing at other people's physical pain, humiliation, and emotional distress- where image and words are intended to wound and dehumanize- and I never understand it. Some would say it is just a representation of how things are; and I would say it is a representation of a world we should never accept. People with artistic sensibilities cannot hide from violence and pain; but where they may represent it, they should always question the need, and whether their impact is to sensualize rather than enlighten; artists (in the broadest sense- writers, musicians and visual artists) can choose to transcend violence and victimization, and always offer hope. I believe in the innate goodness of humanity, if only everyone would choose to embrace it- in their every day interactions and the legacy they leave the world.

As far as what to do about the problems, I'm interested in what you will have to say in your next post.

Nelviticus said...

Don't get too depressed. There are billions of people in the world and only a minority are horrible; it's in our nature for our news coverage to mainly focus on the bad things, and when you see those bad things from across the whole world summarised on a news program or in a paper it's all too easy to think that they're typical events.

Largely, the world is safe and people are good.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Thank you all for your thoughts and I look forward to hearing more from you, and others I hope.

I'm really not depressed. I'm 'sober', so to speak, as Larry, above, alluded to. I'm at a point in my life where I'm old enough to have learned a lot of the stuff of life, and young enough to still do something about it.

I have ideas, and I've never really had a forum to express those ideas, until now, thanks to blogging. And then what? I dunno. One step at a time.

B. said...

I'm glad you have matured and grown. I have too. About time for us at our age. Enjoyed your thoughts, very similar to mine. Anxious to read more.


Annie said...

OOPs.. "sensationalize rather than enlighten...," but you probably knew that's what I meant. I truly believe that creative people have a duty to consider the impact of their work; not in terms of the ego but in terms of whether it expresses something of value, beyond shock. Art, music, photography, poetry, video, and fiction all affect the emotions.

Kid said...

Nice to finally see you wax eloquent and lyrical on your blog, Thom. Agree with most of what you wrote, but not all of it. Still good to see you write it 'though.

Maya said...

I'm finding Annie's first comment to be true.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Maya, Indeed.

Kid, now I'm curious which part you don't agree with, I'm way open to discussion. And don't forget I've got lots more to say where I may end up contradicting myself repeatedly.

Kid said...

Sometimes, Thom, such discussions can produce heat instead of light - and I know from previous occasions that my view is not a popular one with some people. Have a look at the comments section of my 'Superman - Out of the closet?' post to see what I'm talking about. Then, if you want to discuss it, we will.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Hi Kid, I've read that post and its comments. You are certainly entitled to your opinions. Let's just agree to disagree on that subject.

Kid said...

Sure thing, Thom. It's not normally a subject I would have commented on anyway, had someone not made the ridiculous proposition about Superman. I'm not interested in trying to change anyone's mind on any topic - and don't have a problem with others having a different view to my own. Keep these posts coming.

Bill said...

In a nation of 300 million there is always something bad happening somewhere. If you look for it you will find it. Time for a reality check… most people want to do the right thing, crime statistics have actually improved, our government is not as bad as critics say and Americans have a good standard of living. Is there a country anywhere in the world without problems and citizens who complain? Try to remember these things. Lighten up!

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your reality check. Here's mine:
This post was written before the midnight movie massacre, which involved 'only' 12 deaths out of a nation of 300 million. But 12 deaths of wonderful people that have affected multitudes of other lives. This happened in my community, where my daughter shops and goes to see movies.

But that's not even what I mean in the big picture.

The big picture of how good and decent people treat other people. Not even the crimes of rape and murder, though that is still chilling. But how children are abused by thoughtless actions and words. How homosexuality is not tolerated and is even harshly punished. How woman are still disrespected and abused, sometimes by the very person who they love(d) the most. How racial prejudice is still rampant on various levels. How religion, asylum for the overwhelmed, is responsible for intolerance and abuse. How priests and coaches and pre-school teachers are monsters in disguise, preying on the innocent. How so many 'little' criminals there are, the scammers, the cheaters, the anything for a buck mentality.

"Is there a country anywhere in the world without problems . . .?" No, there's not. And that's our problem too, unless we are isolationists, which we're not. The women and children, and other innocents that are being tortured and slaughtered and raped and maimed are OUR problem too.

Of course I remember the good people and things of our world. I CELEBRATE those aspects of our beautiful world. I MOURN that there are those that are robbed and cheated of that beauty.

We must make a difference.

Two things that I propose to make a difference:

Better education that doesn't just teach facts and numbers, but teaches respect and appreciation and aesthetics and problem solving on all levels, from personal to professional. Yes, some schools and students do that . . . elite schools that serve the elite and privileged (and even some of those students are lost to the dark side, perhaps murdering innocents that are out to enjoy a simple movie).

Secondly, PROTECT THE INNOCENT. Oh, yes, that is the goal of parents and teachers and law enforcement. But many times it is too late, the damage has been done.

STOP the abuse! STOP the bigotry and prejudice! STOP the ignorance that permeates the wrong decisions in life. STOP the person who gets drunk, gets in a car and kills the innocent!

Thanks Bill for your comment. I tried to lighten up in mine.