Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OMG Honey bee!

Hi guys,
tonight we focus on the issue of missing honey bees. We do this because I am embodying the ghost of a honey bee for Halloween, and also for a performance piece I am creating.
We do this because we love honey bees.
Here is a link to a pretty cute You Tube video about honey bees:
and in case disco aint your thing:
Yo, where my bees?
Okay, you've already heard of the missing honey bees, so tell me what you think happened to them, and don't worry about "science" and "facts", just make it an interesting story...the creator of the best bee story will get a free ticket to my "dance of the bee ghosts" at Naropa University on November 22nd.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I don't like violence

It has been a very busy weekend where I pretended I was on vacation, but I am back! I did not live the monastic life these last two days, thankfully, but rather saw some thesis performances from the second year students of my program and had many drinks and debates about the merits of said performances.
I have something life changing for you. If you have not already seen it, please for the love of God watch the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.
It should be mandatory viewing for all Americans. And here is a question that I have; can fire be fought with fire, or should it be fought with water? For example, in this movie they talk about a tactic that Republicans use of coordinating a "message of the day", particularly during election time, and watching this message effectively echo, pretty much verbatum, across the mouths of politicians, "newscasters", shock jocks and eventually the American public. I have noticed that some of my favorite "liberal media" types, such as Moveon.org, tend to use this method as well. Of course, they are a small non-profit online list serve, versus being a huge broadcasting network that reaches millions of people in their homes, auto shops and sports bars, whether they want it or not. I feel very uneasy about using the propagandish tactics of right-wingers to try to fight back. Even though I agree with the spread of true information and the need to spread it fast in these times of lighting speed communication, the truest of true information requires time to digest and, well, contemplate. I believe in my heart of hearts that until we change the roots of our culture we cannot change anything, not really. Until we look honestly at what violence is, on every level, we cannot be peaceful. Violence is defamation, violence is manipulation, violence is polarization. How do I spread truth without spreading these things, which are at their center lies? I can focus all I want on my "enemies", Rupert Murdoch, Bill O' Reilly and the many other assholes who make this country feel like a war zone, but I am them, through and through, until I decide not to be. Until I decide that I will never tell Bill O' Reilly to "Shut Up" because I don't need to because I don't need to perpetuate the chain of violence that he tries so desperately to start. Okay, so I will probably never have the opportunity to decide whether or not to tell Bill O' Reilly to shut up, but I can apply this to all of the people I do meet and talk to, and I can apply this to the way that I talk about others. But I have to admit this is very hard. It is very hard not to want to perpetuate some form of violence on Bill O' Reilly, isn't it? Violence is much sneakier than we give it credit for.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another day in Boulder...

...ah, the monastic life. Wait, what's that you say? I don't live in a monastery? Oh sure, not the conventional kind where they feed you and there's other like minded people in the rooms next to you. Nope, this is more like some kind of purgatory. By day I am immersed in "peeling off the layers of the onion", as they say, and by night...not a lot going on. Just waiting. Waiting for my real life to begin.
Okay, enough whining. Let's talk about my big night on the town last night! I was up until 1:30AM at the International Film Series-wow, call in the curfew enforcement. And you wouldn't believe how wild I got--I actually asked Charlie Kaufman a question in the Q&A--do I know how to party or what? Seriously though, it was an amazing movie, highly recommended: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0383028/
And it happens to be about a theater director who makes what might be the biggest budget experimental theater production I have ever witnessed. This is pretty much the highlight of my week, oh blog readership. I went to school, I rolled around on the floor, I made loud and quiet noises, I came home and fried some tempeh. I am considering going to bed at 9:00.
I will report back later this weekend, after I have at least done something thrilling, like attended a yoga class! Incidentally, when you see the new Charlie Kaufman movie remember to make a fun of the irony of my line "waiting for my life to begin". That is pretty much the theme of this epic masterpiece. You'd think I would learn my lesson and stop waiting!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Artistic Superheroes

Today one of my teachers, Barbara Dilley, presented her artistic lineage and history to us. It was quite fascinating--she used to be in league with some of the biggest names in post-modernism. She was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Troupe, and she showed us video of their work that was sound-tracked live by John Cage, and one of the pieces had film design by Stan Brakhage. It was quite interesting to watch these artists at work in the 60's, making work not unlike what we are doing today, and getting just as little respect and money for it. Of course today at least some of them are "famous", in that we study what they were doing and the influence it had on the art forms they were working in. Barbara Dilley herself never made a living as an artist, she had to keep side jobs as a waitress until she started teaching at Naropa in the 70's. And she left her first child with his father in order to keep pursuing her art. I would like to think that we live in an age where women and men have learned how to work together to support both their careers and their families, or that at least I have what I need in order to do that. Who knows--it is a definite challenge that us "dancer" types face, especially women. There has to be an order to things in order to live a sensible life as an artist, and the questions "when will I be able to quit my day job?" or "when will I have health insurance?" must come before "when to have a child?". At least it seems that way...it was wonderful and sad at the same time to see Barbara's life laid out like that--she had so much "success" in terms of recognition, she worked with some huge names, and yet she had to sacrifice so much it seems. But she is very at peace with herself--one senses this as soon as you meet her. I feel that her generation did a lot of experimenting, and that my generation is in this amazing position to be able to learn from the outcome of their experiments, both with their artistic work and their personal lives. I take my hat off to all of those anarchistic artists who have come before me, to all of the children of the 60's who had to learn for the first time what would happen when women experimented with their own power in new ways, to all whose findings inform our work today.
Okay, it is now time to go because I have another artistic superhero to meet; Charlie Kaufman!
If the name doesn't ring a bell, its because screenwriters are sadly neglected in the world of celebrity idols. But everybody knows his films--some of the most brilliant of our time. Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Being John Malkovich, to name a few.
Charlie will be at CU tonight presenting his new film, which has not even been released yet, for FREE. CU makes us Naropa kids look like paupers, but at least we get to take advantage of their resources every now and again.
I will report if anything mind-bending occurs, and in the meantime go and look up your own artistic superheroes and find out how they got where they did--that is your life changing assignment for the night.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Breathe, and they fade...

Let's go ahead and start out with a few nice quotes from my Buddhist book by Chogyum Trungpa Rinpoche:
"You have to completely conquer the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with your human nature and that therefore you need discipline to correct your behavior...discipline is simply the expression of your basic goodness."
"You understand that your life, as it is, contains the means to unconditionally cheer you up and cure you of depression and doubt."
"Wherever you are, it is a palace."
"Dignity comes from using your inherent human resources, by doing things with your own bare hands--on the spot, properly and beautifully."

These are the quotes I wrote down from my few pages of reading today, they probably express my mood as well as anything I could say. These quotes are today's lifeline.
It is so hard not to get dragged down by the aggression, doubt and fear that people are constantly unloading on each other. It is doable for me to work toward eliminating these things in my own life, and then I encounter the people I share the planet with and I feel poisoned. This is where practice comes in--the practice of meditation, of basic goodness, of moving toward and through any doubt and fear that could ever plague me until I prove it to be illusion.
I believe the Trungpa quotes may count as today's life changing reference, but I will throw in something extra for good measure...today I memorized one of my favorite Dylan Thomas poems to work with in my voice class. Read it out loud:

"I fellowed sleep" by Dylan Thomas

I fellowed sleep who kissed me in the brain,
Let fall the tear of time; the sleeper's eye,
shifting to light, turned on me like a moon.
So, planning-heeled, I flew along my man
And dropped on dreaming and the upward sky.
I fled the earth and, naked, climbed the weather,
Reaching a second ground far from the stars;
And there we wept I and a ghostly other,
My mothers-eyed, upon the tops of trees;
I fled that ground as lightly as a feather.
'My fathers' globe knocks on its nave and sings.'
"This that we tread was, too, your father's land."
'But this we tread bears the angelic gangs
Sweet are their fathered faces in their wings.'
"These are but dreaming men. Breathe, and they fade."
Faded my elbow ghost, the mothers-eyed,
As, blowing on the angels, I was lost
on that cloud coast to each grave-grabbing shade;
I blew the dreaming fellows to their bed
where still they sleep unknowing of their ghost.
Then all the matter of the living air
Raised up a voice, and, climbing on the words,
I spelt my vision with a hand and hair,
How light the sleeping on this soily star
How deep the waking in the worlded clouds.
There grows the hours' ladder to the sun,
Each rung a love or losing to the last,
The inches monkeyed by the blood of man.
And old, mad man still climbing in his ghost,
My father's ghost is climbing in the rain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Barack the Vote

I hope you enjoy my title, stolen from a t-shirt that is popular with the college kids here. Kids these days! I hope you also enjoy the subtle hypocrisy that just a few nights ago I was bemoaning that Obama was our only choice and now I am going to tell you, in no uncertain terms, that I would like you to vote for him (that's right, I'm speaking to you undecided Ohio voter friends--I know you're reading this!). Tonight's debate was nothing new, but there is a consistency to Obama's ability to see the inter-connectedness of issues and talk about the long-term, versus old man McSnore, who is trying his best to hear what that young whipper snapper is even saying, and comes back with a broken record response of epic proportions. I can't even handle how obvious it is, the disparity between these two men. Not only should Obama win, he should win by a landslide. The fact that his win will probably be a narrow one only proves how necessary his presidency is. The people of this country need to start using their brains, just a little. What baffles me is the idiocy (or subtle manipulation) of the economists, journalists and "experts" who discuss the debates and policies afterward. How difficult is it to see that our economy is related to our educational system, our wasted war, our insistence in continuing to prop up oil dependency instead of turn away from it, and our desire to keep feeding cheap plastic crap into the void of our existence in hopes that we will someday stumble upon substance? The most insulting thing is when McCain refers to Obama as an "extreme" environmentalist and liberal. Listen up old man McMuffins--I will out-extreme Obama any day of the week, and not even break any laws doing it!
Okay, end of rant. Let's focus on something more peaceful, shall we? How about today's link of the day? Props to Mom and Amber for bringing my attention to "Speaking of Faith", a public radio show that covers a multitude of topics relating to faith, religion and spirituality. Check it out! www.speakingoffaith.publicradio.org
I listened to the interview with famed yogini Seane Corn, who is way less of a hypocrite than I had pegged her for. She's actually pretty awesome.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My name is Kate, and I am a...

Joel came to visit me this weekend and for a brief period I remembered myself. He left early yesterday morning and the sun came out in Boulder again (it hides whenever someone from the NW first arrives, maybe to make them feel more at home?). It was then that I realized I have been wallowing in escapism ever since I got here. I'm a pretty moderate escapist, to be sure. At my most desperate I simply get addicted to watching tv shows on DVD (okay, okay, sometimes with a glass of wine). I think I like the shows because I can get to know the characters, and I follow their lives like they are my friends. This has been my escape since I was a tiny child. Its when I find myself thinking about the characters throughout the day that I realize I am in trouble. "What would Veronica Mars do?" I will confess it to you, blog-readers. Since landing here I have watched the entire first season of at least 3 different shows--do you know how many hours of piano practice, meditation, cleaning my room, learning about the stock market, etc. etc. I could have gotten in with that time? I don't even want to utter it.
So I live this double life, by day a Boddhisatva warrior, a wisdom seeker, an artist and thinker. By night, an episodal addict. I think what I really realized during Joel's visit is that I have not succeeded in loving myself as much as he does. Or else I don't appreciate my own love as much as I appreciate his. On my own, my tendency is to wallow and be self-destructive. I know that making art and doing yoga are the best ways for me to love myself completely, and I need to be doing more of these things. Yes, I am in an artistic MFA program, but when I get home at night its like I want to turn my brain off, hide in my room and stay away from the soft and tender heart that I have been working so hard to cultivate. I will try, in baby steps, to get better. I have woven political documentaries and foreign films in between television discs on my Netflix cue, hoping to interject some intellect at least every other night. And I have been looking into some other living options. Perhaps it is living like I am still in junior high that has led to me holing up in my room like a teenager. I feel the strong need for my own living space, or at least to live with other people my age who want to build the same kind of home that I want. My landlords are lovely people, but it is a bit like living with one's grandparents--anytime before 9PM they are occupying the kitchen and dining room area cooking pies and doing bills, anytime after 9PM the lights are all off, the counters are wiped clean, and I sneak around in the dark indulging in the pleasure of spending time in the main living space, trying not to leave a trace.

P.S. Tonight's life-changing reference to something besides my life...Right now I am listening to the new Antony and the Johnsons EP "Another World": http://www.antonyandthejohnsons.com/
If you don't know Antony, then get in the know! If you do know Antony, perhaps you can appreciate the tip on his hot new EP. And if that weren't enough, little known fact--Antony went to Experimental Theater Wing where my teacher Wendell used to teach. I can totally picture Antony wiggling around on the floor like a starfish, as we do every day. Perhaps that's where he got the line "I'll grow back like a starfish". He also studied voice with Jonathan Hart, who is the son of Roy Hart, whose voice technique we are learning extensively with our teacher, Ethie Friend. In other words, I am on my way to becoming the next Antony (or at least a Johnson)!

Friday, October 10, 2008

My blog will change your life

Okay, admittedly I have fallen behind on my "one Ted talk a day" promise, but come on--I'm in grad school and I do have a tiny bit of a life outside the internet. How about a more realistic promise? I will offer at least one reference to something you can read, watch or listen to that might change your life every time I post. Today I watched the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon. It was what you would expect, not an exceptionally well made documentary, but still I couldn't help but cry through much of it. I guess there's something especially poignant about the work that John Lennon devoted the latter half of his life to, considering where we are today. Another senseless war that won't end (amongst other national blunders and tragedies), only this time who will rise up and lead us? Where are the constant streams of candle-light vigils and peace-niks? Where are the artists? What are we doing? Rolling around on the floor in Boulder, Colorado! Actually, I am just where I need to be--what we need is more famous, rich and influential artists like John Lennon to get on their damn soap boxes. After several years of trying to convince myself to become more moderate, to integrate with the world I live in rather than railing against it constantly, there is a truth that I always return to. We have to stop collaborating with corrupt power, and this includes large corporations who only want to make a buck and politicians who's views get more middle-of-the-road every day as election draws near. Seriously, Barack Obama is all we've got to unite around? Shopping at Whole Foods and buying a new hybrid car is going to stop global warming? Don't get me wrong--I will vote for Obama, and as a symbol he will represent a massive cultural shift which might trickle through our country in positive ways. And I will shop begrudgingly at Whole Foods since this "hippy" town I live in doesn't have any other option besides Safeway. But who will take a stand for peace, regardless of profit? Peace is not a fad--it did not go out with bell bottoms. Peace is a vision, a way of life, and something that one Mr. Lennon and his lovely lady artist worked tirelessly to promote. Peace is in art, peace is in collaboration, peace is in refusing to accept less than peace. One does not have to roll over and get whipped just to be peaceful. One can develop a strong core and not be so easy to tip over.
I will finish my tirade with a quote from my latest re-read, Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart;
"All over the world, everybody always strikes out at the enemy, and the pain escalates forever. Every day we could reflect on this and ask ourselves, 'Am I going to add to the aggression in the world?' Every day, at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves, 'Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?'"

P.S. Here is the million dollar question of the year for me; How do I practice peace and still take a stand? Is it unpeaceful of me to talk about Whole Foods in a derogatory way? Is it unpeaceful to show scorn, cynicism and doubt? Can I be a collaborative person and still have a list of "those who I will not collaborate with"? Its just that we are so easily duped, us humans. We can spend our whole lives thinking that we are participating in the "fight against breast cancer" only to find out that the entire pink ribbon movement is funded by the dairy industry and this is why the dialogue only starts once you've been diagnosed, but the movement with its millions of dollars does nothing to educate women on the possiblility that they could prevent breast cancer with certain lifestyle changes. I am not saying the movement hasn't done anything positive, but what is their motive? There is almost nothing but dirty money left in the world...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A new obsession

I have decided that I should try to watch a TED talk every night until I have seen them all, and then I will officially be "really damn smart". It has come to my attention that perhaps the TED talks are an obscurity to some, please peruse their website: www.ted.com
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and their annual conference is a place for the leading thinkers of our time to come together and give brilliant presentations, aka "TED talks". I am pretty sure that getting invited to the TED talks would be the one thing I could do in life that would make my mother the proudest, so I am working on becoming one of the leading thinkers of the world, but it is surprising how much competition there is! This is a good thing. Anyway, if you would like to join me on my "one TED a day" mission, I will try to post links. Here is tonight's:
Sir Ken Robinson on why creativity is as important as literacy in education. So far this is one of my favorites. If you haven't checked out last night's recommendation, I am still deep in thought on that Jonathan Haidt talk.
Okay, I suppose I should say a thing or two in my own words. I have been thinking a lot about the development of the human being, a topic I am constantly inspired about with the work we do in my MFA program--in developmental movement we learn about the various movement stages that fetuses go through in the womb and babies go through upon being birthed, which have an uncanny similarity to the stages of evolution. We spend a lot of time rolling around on the floor and re-learning how to crawl. My parents will be happy to know that I have very little neurosis--I can move homologously, homo-laterally and contra-laterally with relative ease, which means I wasn't deprived of any essential stages as a baby (or else it means that I have already done my re-patterning work through 10 years of yoga practice). We also work with our voices, another sort of re-patterning, getting past all of the times in our lives we were told not to make certain noises. In this work, we begin with the premise that all sounds are equal. It inspires me to think what a child could achieve if every sound they explored was encouraged, rather than discouraged. I have already talked to Joel about the sound-proof room we will need to build in our home for when guests with sensitive eardrums come over.
So in last night's post, I put a link to "This American Life", which goes into how and why we must educate children in the developmental stages of baby-hood, knowledge that is commonplace now amongst many middle class parents but has not made it to more poverty-stricken subcultures of our country. The episode reports on a program that was developed to address ending the cycle of poverty by focusing on the babies, rather than the parents. So far it appears that this may incite the sweeping change that is so badly needed to end the cycle of poverty. I am not doing it justice here, so please listen to the episode!
I think tonight's featured TED talk is also addressing a sweeping change that is badly needed in order for humans to develop to their fullest potential and for us to evolve as a species. I love this metaphor he uses--"human ecology". He says that education has mined our minds in the same way that we have mined the Earth, and in our search for the more profitable qualities of the Earth and mind we may have destroyed the diversity of our biosphere, and thus our capability to survive in the long-term. I see it all the time, how creativity is smashed, destroyed and neglected in the same way that nature is--relegated to being a luxury that we all enjoy but certainly not a necessity. The day that our culture learns to value nature and creativity over commodity will be the turning point for human existence.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An evening with the internet

Hello good friends,
Tonight I would like to let other smart people speak for me, so be prepared for links galore!
I have been reading Shambhala; The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa (founder of Naropa), and while the name is a bit dramatic, as Buddhists sometimes are, I highly recommend it. It is extremely readable and profound. I start to understand how Trungpa was such a respected leader and teacher, despite his questionable lifestyle choices. But why do so many great leaders have to create such a scandalous life for themselves? Anybody?
Well, read the book and follow me toward the way of the Great Eastern Sun, or else these blogs may become increasingly hard to interpret as I pepper them with this type of Buddhist secret language.
In further food for thought, I have been watching Ted talks all night and my mind is spinning on some of what I have seen. The funny thing is that I really am starting to see things from a Buddhist perspective, and this talk even references a Buddhist quote as an ancient wisdom that is now backed up by research: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html
Okay, one more link. I listened to this week's "This American Life" and found it deeply inspiring (though I must confess this is my reaction to almost every episode of that show).
Listen, and see if you can find the connection between this, Jonathan Haidt's talk, and Buddhist philosophy. I know I did!
My mind is too full of other people's ideas to articulate my own at the moment, but if you want to philosophize with me start with these links and we'll get some cyber-coffee or something.