“An Open Letter to Chick-Fil-A” — and the Dilema it Leaves Us

This is a letter by someone I don’t know.  But he represents such a vast number of people I do know and care about —

JOHN PAUL – An Open Letter to Chick-Fil-A.

This presents a dilemma.  I know why Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays.  Anybody raised in a fundamentalist protestant church knows why.  Because somebody wanted to “keep the Sabbath holy,” but didn’t know enough to realize that the Sabbath meant Saturday.  And besides, what fundamentalist wants to share a day off with a bunch of Jews?  And what lunatic would close a business on Saturday?

So we all knew that Chick-Fil-A was run by those kinds of arbitrary rules.  And I understand that.  There is and will always be a segment of the population who believe they have the one and only true truth in the world, and everybody else is either choosing to disregard the truth, is too stupid to know the truth, or have been persuaded of a lie.  They are a very absolute people.  Everything in their world is solid black and solid white — like the little cows in their ads.

And that’s fine.  They’re entitled.  It is, as they say, a free country.

And as long as I didn’t know all the things discussed in this open letter and the supporting documents linked in it — it didn’t matter.  They make good food for a fair price.  No MSG.  No trans fats.  Lots of fruit and veggies.  They’re reliable.  They have a gluten-free menu.  They try and treat their employees fairly.

But now, having read and searched out to be sure of all the things in this letter — I know of other things in their black and white world which are counter to my own beliefs and practices.  And I can’t ever un-know what I know about Chick-Fil-A.  And I don’t think I can ever drive through one of their outlets again without being reminded where my dollars may get applied through their charitable giving.

And I have no idea how to resolve this.  No amount of boycotting is going to change their black and white beliefs.  They would rather lose profits and even go out of business than waver one iota from their absolutes.

And I know that I (and we — my family) inadvertently support other businesses who channel money into things we wouldn’t approve of — if we knew about them.  But we don’t — and so life goes on.

And we DO know about Chick-Fil-A.  And it makes me a little sick to think such a well manged and honestly good little eatery will be off the list of choices — but it has to be.  Because I can never not know these things about them again.

If I cared so much about the crimes being committed by banks that I would move my money to a small, locally owned bank or credit union — if I care so much about the business practices of other institutions that I would take my business elsewhere , then it’s not really a choice.  This is like leaving a country club that wouldn’t allow people of certain races to be members.  Or choosing a different university based on prejudicial admittance policies.

It’s such a little thing — but little things are important.

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The High Price of Moral Growth: Prohibition, Civil Rights, and the 99%

The High Price of Moral Growth: Prohibition, Civil Rights, and the 99%

by Lynn Whitlark on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 2:15am

Before we were the United States, we were a colony of the British Empire.  We drank tea, because the British had fallen in love with the Chinoise of the tea found in some of their other ports — tea was the drink of the day.

 

That ended with the Boston Tea Party, in part because our access to tea was through the Empire, in part because coffee was closer and due south, and in part because we wanted to forever blow a big raspberry at the Empire, and not drinking tea was a good way to do it.

 

Enter the United States of America — a colony no more — with it’s expanding and enveloping philosophies.  Suddenly we had farmland, and thus grapes, corn, barley, rye, hops, and wheat –and all those good things that let the brew-masters and vintners immigrating from all over the world could use to make wine, beer, and all manner of alcoholic beverages.

 

So coffee was moved to the back burner — and beer, rotgut, sour mash, and bathtub gin were in every glass and on every table.

 

Yes, there were “tea-totalers” but for the most part, we were a pretty hefty drinking nation.  The stats from the early 1800s through the early 1900s tell us that the average consumption of hard liquor was upwards of 40 quart bottles per year.  That’s more that 2/3 of a quart (about 20-25oz) per person-per week.

 

Let me put it another way.  That’s an AVERAGE of 3 shots of hard liquor every day of every year for every man, woman, and child.  And we’re pretty sure the kids weren’t drinking their share, so it must have been their parents.  And times being what they were, that would be mostly the men.  So we’re talking about 6-8 shots of liquor a day.

 

And that’s a lot of booze.

 

Then — along comes prohibition.

 

It’s a little hard to imagine what would cause an entire nation to go along with Prohibition, unless you think about what a world would be like with half or a third of all the people consuming 8-12 oz of whiskey a day.  Is it any wonder there was so much wife and child abuse?  Is it any wonder there were so many industrial accidents in the early part of the century?  Is there any question about how so many people “died of drink” in those days?

 

But Prohibition cost the US a lot.  Before it was done, our politicians and police were corrupted by pay-offs.  Organized crime was so organized that it had permeated every major city in the country.  Our economy was based on police who turned a blind eye, and bootleggers who made their fortunes on a tax-free money stream.  If it’s not legal — it can’t be taxed.

 

When the folly of Prohibition finally became too obvious to suppress, the society that emerged was very different that it had been only a few years earlier.  There was, in fact, a single — lonely — but clear change in our attitude toward over-consumption of alcohol.  Before Prohibition — constant drinking from morning until night was the norm.  After Prohibition, it became a sickness.

 

A sickness.  A disease.  Alcoholism.  We didn’t clearly understand the mechanism of addiction — but we’d figured out that constantly altering our physical chemistry was not only altering our morals, our consciences, and our inhibitions — it was also deadly.  Drunks — with their continually altered state — were having unbridled emotional experiences; loss of physical and emotional control; loss of consciousness; and complete alienation from the world around them.  They could not hope to have an honest emotional relationship.  They could not hope to enter the world daily and be safe — or without being a danger to others.  They could not see themselves or their own actions as they were seen by others.

 

Before Prohibition — this state of being was everywhere, common, and part of the “normal” world.  After Prohibition, this state of being was a sickness, and something to be seen as a medical and physical abnormality.  Drink was a sin and a weakness as we entered Prohibition, but afterwards, it was a treatable and cure-able illness.  It was no longer “normal” and accepted to be addicted to drink.

 

———-

 

Back up now to the 1800s.

 

After slavery ended, the US changed.  Well…. In some ways it changed — in many other ways, it never did.  The deep south adopted the KKK as it’s cover story for anger, racism, and hatred.  Segregation was everywhere — and in some ways was as heavy a chain as slavery had ever been.

 

Then we went to war.  We ALL went to war.  In WWII, there were black troops in the same uniform as white troops.  Navajo.  Hispanics.  Immigrants from every corner of the globe fought in US Army and Navy uniforms.  We weren’t exactly sure what Hitler was up to, but it was obvious that he had far-reaching goals — so we entered the war (much later than many countries) and went off to fight in the name of freedom.

 

It was only after the war was over, when Hitler was dead and the war in the South Pacific was drawing to an end, that we marched into the camps across northern Europe and realized that there was more evil to Hitler than anyone had imagined.  Gas ovens.  Mass graves.  Horror stories.  Nightmares.  Tattoos on the arms of thousands of people  we didn’t even know were missing.  Medical experimentation on living subjects. Gulags to rival hell itself.

 

And those who came out of the death camps were jews with yellow stars of David sewn onto their clothes, and homosexuals with pink triangles sewn onto theirs.  Enemies of the State (of Hitler’s regime.)  Dissidents, misfits, and downtrodden souls of every stripe — all but exterminated by a madman and his jack-booted brown shirts.

 

And our troops were there.  ALL our troops were there.  And many of them died in Europe, North Africa, and the South Pacific.  Men of every color — and every stripe.

 

And suddenly it began to be difficult here at home to make those same distinctions that Hitler and the Nazis had made — without feeling a twinge of familiarity.  How could we segregate and label and ostracize and hate people whose only crime was in being NOT LIKE US.  Hitler’s crimes were so abhorrent, that I believe the American (and the global) consciousness shifted — and we changed our moral minds in the 20 years that followed those days at the end of the War in Europe.  I think we, as a nation, could no longer stand the thought that we might be as guilty of something like racism or prejudice — as Hitler had been.

 

Because his name would forever be linked to murderous bigotry — what had been “normal” here in the States before WWII, was beginning to be seen as a kind of illness.  Prejudice, like addiction, could no longer be accepted.

 

Before WWII, antisemitism was so widely embraced that children learned it in school.  Jews were the “other” known to be the bottom rung of acceptability.  (Shylock at least had his “Hath not a Jew eyes…” speech in the Merchant of Venice.)  But WWII made it completely unacceptable.  65 years later when the West hears arab nations and people of the Middle East espouse hatred of the Jews and of Israel as a nation, we still cringe, even though their wars and strife have been going on for centuries, and we know their institutionalized hatred is more than a passing tiff.  Still — Auschwitz is the image we carry in our heads.  Smokestacks churning out the greasy stench of death.  Children hiding in latrines.  Pink triangles, yellow stars.  Blue, green, white…symbols of hate and of Hitler’s own self-loathing.

 

The moral change happened slowly for those living through it because it truly was an internal shift first.   Marches and bus-rides and speeches made on the National Mall came long after the initial change in the morality of our country.  It seemed to take forever, but it was lightning fast in terms of the arc of history.

 

And even though it was much slower, there has been a difficult and welcomed change in attitude toward people of various sexual orientations, I believe it was the same association with the outright evil, hatred, and ambition of the Nazis in WWII that began to soften the American heart and mind — and throw off the prejudice against these people as well.  It happened (is happening) more slowly — but it is happening just as surely.  The man who shouts “God hates fags” might as well just grow the toothbrush mustache and wear a swastika armband, because he has no more chance of being heard than Hitler would if he were out on the streets today.  He is the moral grandson of a monster.  We have seen that injustice before, and we are growing up to be a people who will not stand for it.

 

Like Prohibition, the lessons of WWII came at a very high price.  Outrageously high.  Unthinkably high.  Unforgivably high.  Thousands and thousands of lives.  Millions of lives.  Millions of lives paid.  And the world saw and memorized the sounds and images — the results of anger, hatred, fear, and prejudice.

 

 

And — I am persuaded that we may be looking at that same moral “growing up” about to happen now.  Right now.

 

We have lived with people drunk on their own money for a while.  We see people who don’t look twice at a hungry child, or a homeless veteran.  We’ve seen the addiction called GREED, and the amoral behavior it produces.  We’ve seen the pathology of greed, and the hardness of heart, the selfishness, and the inhumanity it leaves like a footprint.

 

We’ve seen people standing tall and proud in churches and synagogues and mosques — then begrudging children foodstamps and school lunch programs.   We’ve seen the Madoffs and the Enron Corporation stealing the life savings of those about to retire and calling it “high finance” and “natural selection.”

 

We’ve seen people willing to pollute rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, and even oceans without a second thought — in order to up the bottom line on a quarterly report.   And we’ve seen them evict hard working families from their homes through dirty tricks, and then, out of pure meanness, dress up as the homeless for a Halloween costume party.

 

And we’ve reached the point where we can no longer call it normal, or acceptable behavior.  Greed, like addiction and prejudice, is an illness.  A sickness.  An excess of something poisonous in the body.  Something that needs to be addressed by professionals who can help the greedy come to terms with what must be done to live in our society.  More profit at any cost is the creed of madmen.

 

Greed can no longer be seen as a quirk or an overactive and adrenaline-soaked habit.  The Church of MORE has to come down, and the addiction to money has to be seen as a character flaw and a pathology so un-American and so inhuman as to be driven out of society.  This is an obcessive compulsion that cannot be allowed to harm another generation.

 

Greed, corruption, addiction, and prejudice are the maladies of a society committing slow and narcissistic  suicide.  In the same way that addiction to alcohol will kill you by rotting your body–   In the same way that prejudice and anger and hate will kill you by inches as it destroys your heart, and strangles your mind–  Greed, and the selfishness that it demands, will create a wall too high and too thick to ever have contact with civil society again.

 

Greed is the moral addiction and prejudice of the 21st Century.   And we know that simply pointing out to the greedy that they no longer fit into civil society will not make them suddenly generous and kind — any more than pointing out to a drunk that he has alienated everyone who ever loved him will turn him sober.  Addicts fight back.  In fact, they can be vicious and more self-destructive than any wild animal caught in a similar trap.

 

I expect the same will be true with the greedy.

 

And since money is the object of the dependency — that money can be played as power.  The power to fight back harder and longer and stronger.   The power to destroy those who want to lock the liquor cabinet.  The power to strike out at those who hold the mirror (and the camera) up for all to see.  Drunks may be physically strong and able to put up a hell of a fight — but the greedy are armed to the teeth with media, lawyers, lobbyists, ad agencies, private security firms, and accountants.

 

The price of moral growth is always high, and doesn’t always take the path we imagine.

 

But it is inevitable.

 

There are still drunks — but we call them alcoholics and they are seen universally as the “other.”  We all are able to spot the symptoms and tell-tale signs.  We all know that Amy Winehouse really should have gone to rehab.

 

There are still those who live everyday with their prejudices and anger and hate.  But their behaviors and beliefs are not those of mainstream America.  They are isolationists.  They retreat to their own little worlds and block out all those that they hate and fear.  They live in dark and curtained worlds.  They are not really part of America.  They live their lives with their fists clenched and their jaws set and their teeth grinding.  Hate is its own punishment.

 

And in the end so is greed.   I suppose a rich and greedy man could live a long time locked up, far away from the America that grew up and forgot his American Dream.  If you look at the saddle-leather face of Bernie Madoff, he looks for all the world like an alcoholic.  His circulation is slow and his heart barely beats.  His hands are like meat-hammers, and his eyes are only focused inward.  As well manicured and coiffed as Madoff and Ken Ley were — there is no tan, no haircut or dental work, and no plastic surgery that can hide the addiction and the selfishness of greed.

 

Moral growth — especially on a global scale — has a price.  So be ready for it.  I don’t know what the price will be; but I know as sure as I am breathing that there will be one.  Hopefully it will not cost as many lives as it cost to expose the wickedness and evil of prejudice and bigotry.  Hopefully it will not so corrupt the system it hopes to change as Prohibition did.

 

Sobriety and equality are good for the world.  Loving our neighbors and being our brother’s keeper will be good for the world, too.  Having a government  that is free of corruption and greed will be good for the world.  Just know as we go into this that it won’t be free.

Art, and Artists Making Art

This is a copy of my paper on the relationship
between art and brokenness.


Brilliant Insane Genius Lunatic Creative Mad-as-a-March-Hare
Inventive Abnormal Artistic Nuts Innovative Just Plain Crazy

I am writing this, in part, to satisfy my own curiosity.  I have heard the idea that genius and insanity were linked, in one form or another, all my life.  Whether people claimed the two were flip sides of the same coin, that the relationship was cause–>effect (though it is never clear which is the cause and which is the effect,) or that there is some as-yet-unknown neurological or genetic link; the effect is the same. Both the general public and artists of all stripe seem to buy into this notion at some level – if not consciously – then lurking somewhere just below the surface.  This presupposition changes the way we, as artists, think about our work and our existence; and it certainly has an effect on how we, and our work, are perceived by the public.

I believe the best potential counter argument to this culturalized belief is the claim that humans are, without exception, all broken or damaged.  We all experience pain, loss, damage, broken faith, unfortunate circumstances and misunderstanding; of the world around us.  We all experience death, fear, anger, and sadness – and some experience much more than others.  We all enter the world made of chemicals, genetic patterns, electricity, water, and breath – and the world being what it is, we all enter with glitches, skips, breaks, gaps and holes.

In reading about and considering the very full lifetime of work by artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), it is brokenness and the damage of her early life which is trackable in her art – not insanity. In fact, her genius is tied most closely to her handling and expressing her own past, rather than some Freudian suppression of it.

According to Leonard Cohen’s poem Anthem: “There is a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in.”  (This is a kinder and more optimistic view than Yeats’ entropic fatalism of The Second Coming, which observes that “things fall apart.”) It’s true. Things do fall apart. Entropy is a real thing – but the more complete truth is that as humans, we have some say in how and where entropy moves, and whether we are engulfed by it or ride it like a wave.  If our inevitable brokenness is where “the light” gets in – whether it is the light of innovation, invention, and creation; or the light of faith and hope; it is this shared crack in everything that makes it possible for us to minister to each other by way of cathartic Dionysian ritual (theater/art), the spiritually cleansing catholic confessional, or the psychologically purifying  therapist’s couch.  We may not be able to control what happens in the world around us, or what happens to us; but, we can control how we respond to it.

And it is that response which makes Bourgeois such a glorious counter-example to the presupposition of insanity/genius.  In her own words,

All my work in the past fifty years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood….  My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.

At first glance, we might assume from this that Louise lived an enchanted childhood. The reality, however, is that the magic of her childhood was made up of a revolutionary feminist mother who did her duty by her husband and had two children, then left him to find himself a mistress. Further encumbrances of motherhood were not on Madame Bourgeoise’ list of coming events. The mistress also served as a live-in caretaker for the children, tutor, and governess.

Strident and independent Mother was foreign, cold, and absent; the Mistress was a villainous pseudo-stepmother; and father was not just cold, but abusively cruel to the children born so dutifully by his ultra-social wife. This was a house full to the brim with angry, self-serving adults, and a couple of clueless children who only pieced together the truth of the arrangement as they entered puberty. The only magic I found in this childhood is the near miracle that there were no poisoned apples, huntsmen, or cinder-covered hearths involved.  Louise left home in her teens to paint live in a house full of surrealists in Paris (the house full of surrealists.) Not surprisingly, hardly anyone noticed she was gone.

It is only been in the last 200+ years that painting could be thought of as self expression.  As soon as the self, the mind, and the intentions of the artist began to become important players in the making of art, all sense of trade and craft disappeared from all the arts. Meaning became the subject of a work of art rather than some object or model being copied.  Since this was happening just as the unconscious mind, mental health, and general psychology were creeping into everyday the 1st World cultures, it’s no wonder that artists were perceived as breaking the rules and wandering into the sinful landscape of the criminal and insane. Vincent van Gogh was the poster-boy for the insanity/creative genius camp right up until the culture of the 1st World grew and discovered he might have been bipolar or schizophrenic. Then he became the poster boy for physical chemical imbalance. Whether it was a serious food allergy, and/or PTSD/abuse/neglect-induced fugue states, those are late 20th and early 21st Century understandings of his life.  The more we learn, the less insane, criminal, sinful, and weak van Gogh looks. (see Wilfred N Arnold’s  Chemicals, Crises, and Creativity for more on van Gogh’s relationship to his own biology.)   At the beginning of the 21st Century, Vincent is an unfortunate victim.  If we could choose for him and pick a different century for him to be born, would we give up his art works in order to allow him a peaceful, balanced life?  Is it a fair trade?

Louise Bourgeois, on the other hand, turned those magical, mysterious, and dramatic bits of her childhood into art by choice – by all evidence, fully aware of the metaphorical connections between her art and her past.  Her cold, alien mother became Maman (colloquial fr. for mother)

"Maman" sculpture by Louise Bourgeois

the giant spider that seems to wander through forests of cement and steel.  Her installations are   experiences to be fashioned between the individual and the place/object.  They are her home.  Her rooms.  Places of memory and rite, built to elicit feelings and ideas to be shared between the artist and the single audience member.  She has built these places and made this art so people will understand and build relationship through these intensely personal conversations. We all experience her isolation and loneliness with her – and we recognize it because we have felt it, too.  Bourgeois’ father appears in her art – though not in the dramatic and shocking form of her monster mother.  Instead, his presence is felt in these rooms and in many of her other installation. He is a tangle of objects and a claustrophobic lie of a room.  He informed Bourgeois through every action and word that being a girl – a woman – was to be grotesque, useless, ugly, ungrateful, unwanted, foolish, stupid, and disgusting.

Red Room installation, by Louise Bourgeois

Listening to Bourgeois as she demonstrates her father’s trick with the tangerine reveals a pain so deep that after 7 decades – it still reduced her to a weeping child.  There are some pains – some breaks and rips in our being – that, like a wicked witch’s spell, never lose their magic.

The Father and the Mother are responsible for Louise Bourgeois reaching out to communicate with the rest of the world.  Had they been loving and affectionate – she might never have picked up a paintbrush or sculpted a frail hand.

Why?  Because there is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.  It’s the light (energy,) memory, and emotion that travel through those cracks that connect us. That’s where we meet –and where communication happens.  Those universal cracks are where art does what art does, and where artist and audience share and survive together.

I believe that the question about the relationship between genius and insanity is an old, out of date question.  It presupposes that what is not normal can be labeled criminal, insane, sinful, stupid, useless and/or weak. But that’s a 19th century understanding of normal – and a 19th century understanding of insanity.  By starting with the wrong question – there is no chance of finding a right answer.  The real question artists, critics, audience, and history have to start asking has to do with understanding and choosing how to express and relate to our own individual and cultural breaks, cracks, quirks, skips, and bumps.  What is the relationship between brokenness, health, and the making of art, invention, and creativity?

I know that we must have care with the words we choose and the presuppositions we make.  If we start with the question: What is the relationship between brokenness and making/creating (or just between brokenness and art), then we have changed the playing field of presuppositions.  Brokenness carries a few negative bags of its own – but it also carries the solution for itself: it carries the presuppositions of repair, mending, re-finishing, correcting, and healing. A broken pot can be fixed.  A broken window can be replaced and made good as new again.  A broken person can be brought back to health.  An insane person just gets more insane until s/he finally succumbs.

Some people presuppose that artists and other creatives somehow experience more deeply.  They are especially sensitive and have a stronger emotional life than an accountant or a short order cook.  I have no idea how true/not true those assumptions are.  But I know that artists in all the arts find a way to express what is inside their own minds and guts in a way that is recognizable and creates a link to others through Leonard Cohen’s cracks.  I don’t believe artists make art as a means of self-therapy (though it may sometimes happen as a side effect) – but I do think there is something to be said for extending a helping hand to all those accountants and short order cooks through art, music, story, poetry etc.

Art requires us to be generous and to be able to need without shame, simultaneously.   This is a very great evolutionary step.

As for how my own thoughts and self expression relates to the life and art of Louise Bourgeois, I suppose the first point of contact is that we share some of those “magic” childhood experiences.  There is something about profound neglect and intentionally inflicted pain that is, as Bourgeois says, never lost.  What we choose to do with those experiences makes the difference between her building giant, alien looking mother-spiders, and Van Gogh at his most disturbed eating tubes of chrome-yellow paint.  While Louise Bourgeois spent the first 30 years of her 70 year career just learning to use her tools and talent to express what was going on in her mind; I spent those 30 years learning what was going on in my mind, and about the minds, motivations, and puzzlements of others.  It has only been the last 5 or 6 years that I have begun looking for materials to start creating expressions of those things.  I am just now comfortable with the tools of the trade.  But like her, I know the language of metaphor.  I understand the layers and pieces of the puzzle, and I have a long-running intimacy with opening boxes.  Communication, in whatever form, has always been the crux of what I have done, said, made and searched out.  Whether that ultimately makes art or not is another question.  But it is certainly fun trying.

Lock step and barrel….

I heard a woman’s voice on TV saying these words yesterday (9/13/10.)

Today, I found the footage on the internet.  She is Christine O’Donnell, and is a candidate of the Tea Party running for the senate in Delaware.  The US Senate.

The clip doesn’t link directly, but you can find it at ABC News.

Before I knew who she was, I wrote this on Facebook:

what? what did that woman just say on TV? I don’t know who she is or what the context was, but she said she wasn’t going to just do what was expected of her and jump in all “lock step and barrel.”I know why education is in trouble — we hand microphones to people too stupid to know their own language.

While I’m happy to hear she is Pro-abortion rights, and Pro-gun control, I maintain my position.  I live in a country that actually had at one time a political party called the Know Nothing Party.  If we go that route again, then we deserve what we get.  While this woman has an education (in marketing – one of the great capitalist inventions) she fumbled her phrases like a drunken quarterback in front of the big microphone.  And as anybody in marketing knows — perception is everything.

Let’s be clear.  LOCK STEP is what soldiers and marching bands do.  Close formation, identical steps.  A good metaphor for those who “fall in” and obey norms and become part of a machine.  The most negative connotation has to do with Nazi troops goose-stepping their way to oblivion — an allusion that both Republicans and Tea Party guests would like to call up at every opportunity.  However, it works well not only for the military and marching bands, but also for medical professionals, law enforcement, fire departments, and any field where consistency, agreement, teamwork and cooperation are important.  Goose Step is the unmistakable negative reference to the Nazis — lock step is the softer allusion.

LOCK, STOCK, and BARREL is a gun metaphor — not unlike THE FULL MONTY.  ALL IN.  HEAD FIRST.  It is a full commitment and requires that every aspect of your resources are fully engaged.  Not holding back because of doubts, embarrassment, pride, or any other reason.  You put everything into every action when you go in lock, stock, and barrel.

To blend these 2 perfectly good metaphors into one mistake is called a MIXED METAPHOR.  Like, “killing two birds with one in the bush.”  And yes, that is an intentional reference to W.

“Why is this a big deal?” you ask.  It’s a big deal because it indicates that this speaker — with a national microphone — didn’t think before she spoke — or if she did, her motivations are more nefarious than should be tolerated.

Either she didn’t think at that moment, and so “slipped;” or, she intentionally tried to make both points without enough grammar to pull it off; or, she didn’t think as a matter of habit and so had not thought through the meaning of either “lock step” or “lock, stock, and barrel.”  They are not the same.  They don’t belong together unless linked by grammar and context.  They are both part of defined American English — and she either didn’t know the correct phrases, or didn’t think ahead and use them correctly.

“Maybe that’s what she meant…” you say.  And that is the most troubling of all the possibilities.  If it was not a case of jittery-mouth stumbling, or mouth-running-without-brain-fully-engaged, and was instead an intentional blend (which is possible, considering her marketing background) — then you have to assume malice.  If she was intentionally trying to forge the idea that those who respect and participate in the expected norms of society (lock step) and those who dive in with full commitment (lock, stock and barrel) are the same — two sides of an undesireable thing to be avoided at all costs  then there is a problem.  Her implication is that she will never fall so low as lock step and barrel.

Once again let me say I do understand the impulse to fight against the bad politicians of the past and the present.  That’s not my problem with this message.  But to intentionally try to fuse the negative associations of military lock step and the positive associations of lock, stock, and barrel (all in, the full monty, jumping in head first – or feet first) into one negative characteristic is an attempted manipulation of perception that I am not willing to accept.  Not all lock step equates with goose-step; and not every all-in is a leisure activity or a fool’s leap.  That’s the pleasure and the tripwire of metaphors — they are complex and carry the baggage of centuries.

This kind of error is a lot like intentionally mispronouncing a word (like nuclear) out of stubbornness or ignorance.  Regardless of which cause is true, it isn’t cute, it isn’t intelligent, and it belies either an inability or a contempt.

Because we glorify, elect and reward ignorance, we continue to slip in the global marketplace and global authority.  What incentive is there to become the best and the brightest, when the second-rate, the narcissistic, and the proudly ignorant continue to occupy the microphones and cameras of the media?

Scholars, creative minds, explorers, inventors, and brilliant innovators should be what we aspire to and what we emulate.  Instead, the media feeds us a diet of racist Florida sheep-dogs and politicians unable to think 5 words ahead of their mouth.

Even in schools, we place a higher value on being pretty, running fast, personal charisma, and wealthy parents; instead of high academic achievement and innovative thinking.  Nerds, dweebs, bookworms, freaks — we’ve got a lexicon full of insults for the kids who don’t fit the popular, jock, or rich-kid mold.  In every aspect of our society, we boost those who are part of the social norm, and exclude those who are exceptional in ways that don’t fit the mold.

I don’t want to be led by the ignorant, the ordinary, the emotional, or a guy with whom I’d feel comfortable having a beer (if I liked beer.)  I want to be led by the exceptional, the thoughtful, the brilliant, the creative, the innovative, and the courageous.

My friend Carrie asked what patriotism is.  I think it’s the courage to take the difficult high road to make the country better, rather than the easy, foolish, selfish, racist, sexist, greedy, self-serving, intentionally unread, intentionally ignorant, delusional, proud-to-be-common low road.  I don’t want an Ordinary-Joe in the White House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, or even the House of Representatives.  I don’t want to be led by someone who is financially successful at any cost.  I don’t want to be led by someone who prays on street corners, on his/her way to a board meeting that will cheat millions out of ten or fifteen cents a day and call it capitalism.  I don’t want to be led by people who make it their primary goal to turn a profit at any cost.

Don’t get me wrong — there are noble, honorable, honest, hard-working, loving, generous, loyal, clever, creative and good people of all kinds and in all walks of life.  But those who lead millions have to be exceptional.  If they are not — then their leadership simply won’t hold up to the negative pressures and overwhelming prevalence of what is easy.  How simple it must be to slip from painful honor to easy dishonor when thousands of people and millions of dollars bear down upon you, telling you, “It will be okay just this once.”

Graves Model Time Tables – L7

TIME TABLES

As we said earlier, this developmental model is not only a useful map to tell us where we have come from, and where we are now, but it also has predictive qualities. One area where the predictive nature of the model is interesting has to do with our perception of time.

First of all, let me provide a key to the tables that will follow:

Ø this is unconscious awareness.
:: and this is conscious awareness. The ability to see and understand.
-o- and this is conscious awareness, the ability to see and understand, combined with the ability to use what you see. You see it, understand it, and use it.
<> and this is something else. Like incorporated or congruent use. It’s not new or novel. It’s become part of the structural makeup. It’ not even use any more as much as it is a part of the person’s structure. It’s more like breathing. We do it naturally more than it being something we use deliberately.

At L1, there is only awareness – conscious or otherwise – of the present moment. Like this:

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
PRESENT -o- <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
PAST
FUTURE

But for every level after that, the present is a given. We all presuppose the present in everything we do.

And you could make a case for L1 not really being consciously using anything. L1 may be purely reactive. But that’s somebody else’s research and doesn’t really have any effect on time. Now. At L2, we pick up the ability to see the past. Tribes may worship ancestors. Families may revere elders for their wisdom. Wisdom itself is accumulated past. So to be consciously aware of the past at L2, leads to L3, where we can not only see the past, but we can use it, too. All those conquerors don’t conquer without learning from past mistakes and inventing strategy based on that past. They use the past to get the present they’re wanting. After the new wears off at L3, then at L4 it becomes a given. Like this:

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
PRESENT -o- <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
PAST :: -o- <> <> <> <> <>
FUTURE

The L4’s get to see the future. The conscious awareness of the future is what makes law work. Anticipated punishment and reward. It’s what makes the concept of heaven work. Delayed gratification only works if you’re conscious of the future, but incapable of actually altering it.

But something else happens at L3. L3’s conquer the known world and build monuments to themselves. Pyramids. Statues. Coliseums. They want to proclaim their own greatness. Cast everything in the gold they’ve plundered. Use the slaves they’ve amassed to build these Ozymandius tributes. ‘Behold ye mighty and dispair,’ they say. But why do they expend all this energy and wealth to build monuments to be seen by the future, if they can’t see the future until L4?

Unconscious awareness. Even if not consciously aware of the future, there is an unconscious “sense” of something more. Both L2 and L3 have a perception of the future as a repeating seasonal cycle, and as the birth of the new accompanied by the death of the old. This unconscious awareness is all that is required of L3 to leave its markers on the landscape.

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
PRESENT -o- <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
PAST :: -o- <> <> <> <> <>
FUTURE Ø :: -o- <> <> <>

At L5, the future stops being something that we just see, and begins to be something we use. All of capitalism is based on the ability to use the future to build a better now. We have financial forecasts. We use poles and demographics to predict trends. We map the future and use the map to decide who to hire and who to fire, how to invest our money, and where to buy a house. By the time we hit L6, the future is the given. ‘Of course there’s a future,’ L6 says. ‘Of course there’s a future.’

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
PRESENT -o- <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
PAST :: -o- <> <> <> <> <>
FUTURE Ø :: -o- <> <> <>
Ø :: -o- <>

The unlabeled line represents other people’s time lines.

There’s Past—-Present—-Future. We draw it like this:

-o-– •–• – • – •–• – •– •– • –-o-– •–• – • – •–• – •– •– • –-o-

And at some point in L5, we start to get the feeling that everything we do and experience isn’t just points on our timeline. Every point is actually an intersection. And at every intersection there are other people’s timelines intersecting ours so that our actions and decisions effect not only our future, but other futures. If a supervisor pulls out his back and stays at work even though he is in pain, at L4 that would be a selfless act of loyalty to the company. He would be doing the right L4 thing. But at L5, if he stays at work even though he is in pain, and then snaps at one of his people and they feel like their job is in danger because they did so badly that they got yelled at – and they go home and snap at their children and kick the dog or get in a car wreck because they are so upset about their employment – the L5 won’t do the L6 thing and take care of his people. He may not feel sympathetically for their plight, or consciously recognize the part he plays in it. But there will be an unconscious awareness of the interconnectedness. He’ll probably feel guilt, and then go to a therapist who will let him justify it or ignore it.

But wouldn’t the same thing happen at L4? If he stayed at work in L4, wouldn’t it have the same effect? The people under him still suffer the same consequences whether he knows it or not.

Probably, but he wouldn’t be able to know that at L4 because there’s not even an unconscious awareness at L4 of other people’s timelines. Especially not of intersections. Even at L5 it’s not awareness. At L4, he’d never feel any guilt, and if the people under him are L4, then they’d never think to blame him. The problem for L5, as if L5 needed any more problems, is that there’s a sort of gnawing suspicion that things are not as rosy and simple as just using the future map to make decisions. By L6, multiple timelines is a full blown conscious awareness. All those predictive L5 models of the future become worthless because they don’t take into account all the myriad timelines of everyone involved. Where an L4 wouldn’t think to blame his boss, an L5 to some extent, and an L6 to the fullest extent, sees very clearly that everyone in his life has contributed to his problems and thus begins assigning blame and fault like numbers in a bakery. It’s only after the initial shock of recognition that a mature L6 steps back and takes responsibility for their own life again.

Then, by extension, the L7 must be able to use those multiple timelines . That’s the very definition of collaboration in the scientific community. And so we get people who make it their business to step into other timelines and use that information. That’s what this profession of profiling criminals is all about. And for that matter, that’s all those people who help lawyers select juries are doing. They’re looking into another timelines to see what that individual is likely to do in a given circumstance. And in a way, that may be what distinguishes L5 actors from L7 actors. The L5’s draw a map of what a character would do and they just follow the map. L7 actors actually step into an alternative timeline and become the part they’re playing. They don’t predict what a character would do, they just do it. That is the very definition of “method acting.”

We’re drawing a pattern that implies a continuing developmental structure. There should be another unconscious awareness here at L7 because it is a very consistent pattern.

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
PRESENT -o- <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
PAST (LINEAR) :: -o- <> <> <> <> <>
FUTURE (LINEAR) Ø :: -o- <> <> <>
MULTI-LINEAR Ø :: -o- <>
NON-LINEAR Ø ::

Non-linear time?

L7’s are the first ones to have even an inkling that there’s some other way to do time than in a linear stream. Maybe it’s that the particles of time – the millions and billions of intersections out there between all the millions of timelines and events – aren’t the deep and wide grid of static events that we think they are. Here’s one drawing of multi-linear time:

The space between each of the intersections is so small that it’s really no space at all except for the ease of drawing. There is no distance between one moment and the next. In reality, this model should be a solid mass of particles pressed up against each other and with infinite intersecting points – which wouldn’t then be intersecting points at all, but just links of close proximity. And if you make the leap that it isn’t, therefore, linear at all – it isn’t static – it can be seen as linear if it needs to be, but it isn’t by nature linear – then movement across to a different timeline as the L6 and L7 temporal model allows is only one step away from movement across in a non-linear way. If all the particles of time are in some great soup-pot full of this liquid, a constantly bubbling broth of time and events, then what I step across to may just as well be Henry V’s England or Lao Tse’s palace as the office of a physicist in Geneva. If time is fluid, as matter is fluid, then linear is just a structure we impose upon it. It can be linear. Or it can not.

In the same way that light can be seen as particle or wave, – And depending on what you need to know about it, you can study it and how it behaves in either construct. You can use it and see it clearly in both constructs. You can understand it in both ways at once – and it still works.”
And what does this mean?

It means there is a logical deduction to be made when you see a pattern this solidly repetitive. It means there is predictive value to the pattern. It means we can be sure that there are no L9’s because there is no inkling, no hint and no clue what the next temporal construct would be.

But how do we know?

Because it starts to show up in similar places every time. In art. In literature and music. In the behavior of crowds. Think about the Renaissance. We’d just come out of the long, dark ages. The extreme unhealthyness of L3 and L4 gone sour. People were chattel. Slaves. Disposable and expendable. Then suddenly, there was the printing press.

Individuals began to read and learn. Universities came back into existence. People began to acquire property – not purely by conquest. Sometimes by purchase. Or barter. And they became the subjects of painting. Prior to that time, most of the paintings and sculpture were either L2 totems, L3 political tributes, or L4 organized religious tributes. But for the Renaissance when the first blossom of L5 kicked in, individuals suddenly became worth recognizing. Even in the first decks of playing cards in Italy, the face cards were small portraits of members of the household who paid the artist to paint the cards. We were, in our rush to enjoy our L5 wealth and success, already – albeit unconsciously – recognizing each other. We recognized what we were each experiencing. And it had never happened in that way before. At least never acknowledged.

And even though L5 didn’t really take hold in the world as a dominant force until centuries later, we had the history of having recognized each other’s value hiding in our collective memory. L6 made it’s appearance in the 19th century with the first true multi-linear jazz and with movies that could be shot from any point of view; with Charles Dickens literary protests of forced child labor and his Scrooge transitioning from L5 to L6; and with the most savage war in history being fought in the states to end slavery. The next great ‘inkling’ didn’t come until the early years of the 20th century when we saw the first glimmers of L7 and quantum physics. It is impossible to theorize quantum mechanics or Special Relativity without the ability to use multi-linear time. And at the same time we began to use multi-linear time, we began to recognize the possibility of something else. The possibility of non-linear time crept into literature in the form of science fiction. There had never been science fiction before L7’s emergence. In music it appeared as American experimental jazz, and in poetry it transformed into concrete and free form poems. Movies are shot as a non-linear collection of bits and then assembled like puzzle pieces.

Then Marshal McCluhan comes along and proclaims that the medium is the message in the global village. In one stroke he takes a handful of L8 fragments and forms them into a cohesive developmental step. He gives us all the L8 insight to bypass form and structure. He understands and explains that the L6L7 pattern – the medium – is both means and end. That if you can see and understand the pattern – then you can model it. Duplicate it. Borrow it and use it. Even manipulate it. But beyond that, he invents the popular concept of the global village. It’s a village full of presupposed and useable L7 patterns, but with the ability to see the village as temporally non-linear, all the L2 through L7 skills and abilities become a greater responsibility, because their impact is no longer a matter of effecting this time line or that time line. An action at L8 seasons the whole pot of temporal soup. It is a global village, but it’s even more than a global village. It’s a – something. A body. A single living organism and we are the cells. A cut on the hand can cause enough bloodshed to kill the whole. Pollution in the lungs can deny the brain of its necessary oxygen. A build-up of cholesterol in the arteries can put so much stress on the heart that it bursts – or decrease circulation to the point that a limb could die. And pleasure. And joy. And contentment. They spread through the body like tonic. We all feel victories together. We all feel sympathy together.

And look at the patterns L7 works with. The global village where an L8 action seasons the whole pot. Where a cut on the finger endangers the whole body. Where a butterfly flapping its wings in China changes weather systems all over the world. All of chaos theory is nothing but another L7 pattern where every action effects every other action and every idea effects every other idea. Where every observation effects every outcome. Where everything effects everything else.

And it is that realization at L7 which either paralyzes you or sends you straight into L8.

In the bigger Gravesean picture, the odd numbers, which have more to do with acquiring something new for the individual, gain a new set of personal skills. Then as they move to their next even number, they use those new skills for whatever group is next. L7’s acquire data, knowledge, technology, the ability to see patterns – and then those who go on to L8 somehow use that gain for the group. In this case, the global village. But temporal shifts are just the opposite. Acquisition of the new temporal knowledge happens at the even numbers, while the ability to use the new construct comes at the next odd level. L7’s are using multi-linear time as they are acquiring the ability to see patterns. L8’s are getting the ability to see and understand non-linear time as they begin to use patterning and modeling to help the global village. L9’s will be acquiring the next set of individual skills as they are learning to use non-linear time, and begin to sense the next temporal construct.

So by L8, past, present, and future linear time, as well as multi-linear time, are as natural as breathing. They’re all presuppositions of everyday life. Plus, there’s the added conscious awareness of non-linear time.

And would we know the new temporal construct if we saw it? Probably only from the L7 and L8.

It’s important to notice how rapidly the new systems are emerging. It is now possible, for the first time in history, for one individual to have been alive for the emergence of two new systems. If we count L7 from the first glimmers of existentialism, and L8 from the words of Marshal McCluhan, an individual could have been alive and able to observe both. The lesson here is that while it took thousands of years to get from L1 to L2, and then hundreds more to get to L3 and then to L4; a few hundred more to reach L5, and even fewer to get to L6 – the total time span from the emergence of L6 to the emergence of L8 is less than two hundred years. It is safe to assume that barring some natural catastrophe, if there is an L9, we will see it emerge within our lifetime.

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
PRESENT -o- <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
PAST (LINEAR) :: -o- <> <> <> <> <>
FUTURE (LINEAR) Ø :: -o- <> <> <>
MULTI-LINEAR Ø :: -o- <>
NON-LINEAR Ø ::
X-TIME

Where X is the unknown.

Taking Stock on my Birthday

Today I am 55 and I still don’t know most of the answers to the things that really matter to me.

I understand the difference between the choice in a person to change, vs the choice not to change.  It has to do with intention. ( see blog post: “What I Know About Change” )  Choosing to change is not just the first step — but the greatest percentage of the distance between what we are now and what we want to be.  Ask anyone who has ever changed their life — and they will describe in elaborate detail the moment that “clicked” — where they went from being what they always were to the person who is actively changing.  What I don’t know is why that “click” occurs in some people and not in others.  How it is that some people go that great percentage step toward what they want to be — only to turn back, or be swept backwards.

I also understand the difference between art and non-art. It may also have to do with intention.  I’m not sure.  It may have to do with energy and meaning and the human spirit.  Or divine intervention.  As the Supreme Court said about pornography — I know art when I see it.  Sometimes.  Some art has to grow on you, while other art leaps into your mind like a panther.  Some art is context dependent, while other art spans centuries and still carries its meaning and emotions. (or the artist’s meaning and emotions?)  Some art depends on context, while other art seems to be permanently imbued with its own context. Some art is beautiful and appeals to everything we know about beauty and perfection; while other art is edgy and confrontational — and seems to challenge us to think differently every time we see/hear it.

When Pompeii was excavated, the archeologists didn’t just find the shells of people who were frozen in negative space and preserved as they were at the moment of the volcano’s eruption — they also found art.  They found ART.

From what I understand, this couple’s portrait was found painted into the plaster (fresco) of one of the rooms in their home. Now, it reaches across time and tells us about them.  So is it information — a decoration in a dining room — or is it great art?  Does rarity — just surviving such a cataclysm, or surviving this long — somehow elevate it to greatness sufficient to be studied in art history classes and catalogued with the most impactful works of all time?

From where I sit, the portrait is somewhat badly done.  They eyes aren’t right.  Her fingers and hand are curved instead of jointed, and not proportioned well.  Or maybe that’s what hands looked like back then, or a convention of the day.

The truth is, this wasn’t the best painting in Pompeii when the end came.  There were probably better paintings and great sculptures there in town that didn’t make it.  But this is the one we have, so this is the one that goes into the history books.  Who these people were, what their lives were like, what they did for a living — those are things we will never know — but we know their faces and their curly hair, and their focused brown eyes.  We assume it was painted by an artist who made his living decorating the walls of homes in Pompeii with tribute-like portraits of the residents.  He was a commissioned/ commercial artist.  Compare it to our popular idea of all the paintings on the walls of castles — portraits of the owners of the residence going back centuries — uncle Posh, his father, his grandfather, his great uncle and maiden aunt — and on and on back as far as there were pennies to pay the painters.  In Pompeii, instead of hanging the portraits on the wall — they just frescoed them into the walls.

The cave paintings found in the Caves at Lascaux are also in the history books — but for different reasons.  The couple from Pompeii were probably well off enough to afford or be gifted with a fine decoration for their home –that may or may not necessarily be the best work by their artist — but the paintings in Lascaux are masterpieces for the time and place in which they were created, and thousands of years later, communicate to us more information about who we were and still are than most of us can bare.

The Pompeii artist probably did not work alone — he may have had a “paintman” who prepared the paints.  The Lascaux artist just had black soot from the fire; blood; red, yellow and brown dirt; a little chalk; the grease dripping of his cooking fresh-kill; and spit.  Man’s first attempt at visually recording the world around him was pretty good considering there were no Art Institutes, or mail-order art schools to teach him about motion and perspective and dimensionality.  Whether created to record the events of the hunt; as an offering or communication to the spirits of the animals or the gods of the earth; or as illustrations to the stories told around the fire — the cave paintings are great art.  If they started out as religious, historical, or even as protection banishing the evil from the cave– they have evolved or magically transformed into information about who and what we are.  –which is what the couple on their wall in Pompeii do for us.  They tell us about ourselves.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is not a painting, but part of a series of sketches and notes from the artist’s collected notebooks.  Vitruvian Man is basically Leonardo, thinking on paper.  While almost everyone would agree on the “great art” status of Leonardo’s artworks, the “great art” status of his notes, scribbles, idea-journals, and engineering designs is less clear.  If he’d had a good CAD program and a home computer, Vitruvian Man might have been drawn there, rather than being worked out on paper.  It’s status as great art is a questionable bet.  Even less certain is the art by association bestowed on Ceninno Ceninni, Leonardo’s paintman who wrote a book called The Craftman’s Handbook, and whose nearly alchemical recipe for turning the beautiful stone, lapis lazuli, into the rich, clear blue of the artist’s palette has obtained the Holy Grail-culthood of Erich von Stroheim’s 10+ hour-long silent masterpiece, Greed; William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labors Found; and Aristotle’s Comedia.

Leap forward a few centuries and we have Picasso paying bar tabs with scribbles on cocktail napkins.

Somewhere in there, the line between great art and a great tale for the art history books gets blurry.  I have Vitruvian Man hanging on the wall in the office — and truth is, if I had a Picasso signature on a cocktail napkin — I’d probably have that on a wall somewhere, too.  Or in a safe deposit box.  But that has more to do with capitalism than it does with aesthetics.

What I do know about art is that it has to do with communication. Whether poetry, dance, music, painting, sculpture, film, architecture, story, drama, or some subset, combination, or totally new medium — it has to do with getting some kind of thought/idea/emotion/information/energy from the mind of one artist into the minds of other people.  It is made with the intention to create this transfer of energy — and to send it on its way out across time.  Whether in the form of the stolen Elgin Marbles, or the silent footage of Isadora Duncan dancing across an empty stage, or El Greco’s idealized view of Toledo, art manages to touch us, alter our state of mind, and burn itself into the collective unconsciousness of humanity, so that we recognize it as “us.”

If communication is one of the marks of art vs. not-art, then is it safe to say that an object, dance, piece of music ect. that does not touch us, alter our state of mind, or burn itself into the collective unconsciousness of humanity is NOT art?  This is an awfully strict list of requirements.  Is this the difference between the popular song that becomes a “classic” and the 4 million songs that we hear once or twice on the radio and then release into the ether of forgotten rock and roll?

Then there’s also that “if a tree falls in the forest” question: If a painting is painted in an attic, remains in the attic, and never sees the light of day — can it be great art?  If Shakespeare really did write a play called Loves Labours Found, can we say it was great art even though it no longer exists, nobody is alive who remembers seeing it, there are no quotes (that we know of) in the common vernacular from it, and we don’t have any published analyses of it?  If the whole communication thing is central to distinguishing art from not-art, then is the artist loading communication-energy into an object sufficient to make it ART without other people there to receive the energy?

If Vincent van Gogh and his brother, Theo, couldn’t find anyone who “got it” (it being the commuicated-energy of Vincent’s paintings and drawings — then were they really great art? The brothers only managed to sell one.  Ever.  Until after they were both dead.

So did the Vincent canvases suddenly become art at a later date — long after they were completed?  The paintings didn’t manage to communicate what Vincent painted into them to the people of Arles, and all those who ambled through Theo’s gallery.  How is this possible?  Were they bad art for the first few years, then suddenly magic happened and they became GREAT?

Probably not.  Which means we must have changed.

We changed.  Let’s drift back to the first thing I know for sure — people can change.  People do change.  All the time.  Individuals change, and societies change.  Cultures change.   And in the case of van Gogh’s art, we changed into human beings who could “get” the communication Vincent embedded in it.  Either we changed to meet Vincent, or Vincent predicted what we would choose to become.  I’m not saying he consciously laid out the cards and then painted toward that prediction — but I am saying the one other thing I believe to be true about great art in general:

Artists change first (if they choose) and their art is liminal.  That is, their art is the edge — the bridge between what was, what is, and what’s next.

Whatever the magical fairy dust is that makes artists into artists in the first place — it allows them (when they choose) to write, paint, or tell the story of what lies ahead, and to paint or draw in a way that communicates with the new and improved us.

Art is liminal and predictive, and artists change first.  Great art communicates energy.  Change is possible, but only with intention as the engine.

Everything else is up for grabs.