Friday, August 6, 2010

the power of truth is the fuel for the flame...

While on vacation in Minnesota earlier this summer, I read Marcelo in the Real World.  The story is about a 17-year-old autistic boy who spends the summer working in his dad's law firm, although that's really secondary to what's relevant for this post.  Here's a conversation between Marcelo and one of his coworkers:
"I have a CD of the Goldberg Variations at home.  It is by a pianist named Glenn Gould, and I think Glenn Gould plays the Goldberg Variations more correctly than Keith Jarrett."
"More correctly?  More correctly?  Is there such a thing as more correctly?"

"Yes," I say.  But in fact, I'm not sure "more correctly" is grammatically correct.

"Okay, fine.  I'm going to skip the 'more correctly' discussion for the time being.  I can't believe you said that.  You are so, so wrong.  But let's leave that aside for now.  I want you to answer me this: Who is the better artist, who has the most talent?  Your Glenn Gould interpreting Bach's Goldberg Variations 'more correctly,' as you put it, or my Keith Jarrett improvising, creating on the spot?  Answer that for me."
Ever since I read that, this question has been rolling around in my head, and it came to mind again while sitting in the van in Beltway traffic today.  I'm not entirely sure what brought it about, but I think it was a combination of gardening, Crime and Punishment, and thinking about my tendency to look at institutions and systems and processes and very quickly start thinking about ways in which they could be improved or done more efficiently or done in a way that makes more sense to me.  This is both a curse and a blessing.

But like Marcelo, "I can't.  I am unable to answer her question.  I am at a total loss.  I see the skills and talents required for both types of playing, and I am stuck."  I am unsure whether this aspect of myself is more of a curse or more of a blessing.  I imagine that my time at EIRENE, where a large amount of my time will be spent doing "routine office work," will make that clear rather quickly... and I sure hope that it'll turn out to be... well, not a hindrance at least.  Perhaps my perception of office work is slightly skewed, but I feel like as long as everything gets done on time and ends up in the right place, it shouldn't really matter what my method is.  I'm probably wrong.

As with my last post, the title comes from an Indigo Girls song that's been on heavy rotation lately -- Let It Be Me, which is from Rites of Passage.  (I think.  I can't be bothered to actually look it up.)

Lots of Indigo Girls love going on 'round these parts.  Not that that's particularly uncommon, I guess.  (Also, this live version seems way faster than the album version.  Who knows.)

Anyways, I should get to bed.  I'm in Delaware right now staying at a fellow BVSer's house as part of an extended journey home -- I get to sleep in(!) and then we're probably going to the beach tomorrow afternoon.  Good times.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

you've gotta tend the earth if you want a rose...

Over the past few weeks at orientation, I've rediscovered the (for me) necessity of blending work with my head with work with my hands. While in college, I had tech theatre, so when I didn't feel like reading or analyzing or theorizing or whatever, I could go and do stuff with lights or build random stuff or (as it usually turned out), go throw things at my boss. In that light, I've had a few... awakenings, if you will, here at orientation.

1) I'm going to go spend the next two years doing office work. I am okay with this, and can handle it, and am excited about starting my work with EIRENE soon. I'm just going to have to make sure that I make a conscious effort to get involved and do stuff outside of the office building where I'll be working and living. I'd love to be able to start a garden on-site (square foot garden on a balcony, perhaps?), but there's a lot upon which that depends, obviously.

2) At this point, I don't want to spend two years working in an office and then launch right into a 5-7(+?) year Ph.D. program. A year or two of working-with-my-hands volunteering between EIRENE and grad school sound wonderful at this point -- and then I can probably still be ABD by the time I'm 30.

3) I'm really going to need to get a bike when I'm in Neuwied, and preferably this'll be a non-crap bike that's good for riding distances. Ideally, I'd find an abandoned-but-still-in-nice-shape old road bike that I could adopt and turn into my very own, but this is kind of a pipe dream.

Today we're talking about the death penalty at orientation, and although I think that this topic is really important and that many issues within the prison industrial complex desperately need to be addressed, I'm not sure if I think that the direction it's taking is one that I agree with. I guess there are a few reasons, including the fact that it's focusing a lot on the personal stories and emotional appeals of a few people, and I (thus far) haven't seen it as compelling reason to abolish the death penalty in general... even though I already think that it should be abolished.

Tomorrow is to be spent cleaning, packing, and spending our last day of intentional community together... and apparently it will include footwashing, something common to the Church of the Brethren, but which I haven't experienced, as a participant or as an observer.  My biggest worry about it is that someone will tickle me and I'll kick them in the face.  This is a legitimate worry.

Oh, also, my flights to Europe have been booked!  On August 23rd, I'll be flying Indianapolis-New York City (JFK)-Paris-Geneva.  I'll be in Geneva for a few days before heading off to Neuwied.  I can't believe it's this imminent.

Well, I need to leave the Artful Dodger and head back for lunch pretty soon -- for those of you wondering about the origin of this post title, it's from an Indigo Girls song that I've been listening to a lot lately.  Here's a video of them performing it.

Well, goodbye, everyone!  I'll be home starting around the 9th, and will be around Indy (and hopefully Fort Wayne) for most/all of the two weeks after that.  So call me/text me/Facebook me/send me a carrier pigeon and we can work something out.  :-D