• Tag Archives Africa
  • Partners and Co-Creators

    Fall                                                       Waning Harvest Moon

    Went out and picked raspberries for pancakes this morning.  With a definite chill in the air the garden felt different, a bit sleepy, ready to bed down for the cold season.  After a month or so of feeling burdened by it, wanting it to disappear, my spring affection reappeared.  This patch of earth, these beds, work together with the plant world and Kate and me.  We share a joint stewardship of this property, each in our way committed to making it healthy, beautiful and bountiful.

    The soil has given of its nutrients, its water holding capacity, its sturdiness as a base for roots and stems.  The plants have combined the chemicals of the soil with that water and pushed themselves up and out of the earth, then blossomed and in many cases fruited.  Kate and I weed, tend the soil, watch the plants, picking bugs off of them, pruning, replanting.  We also harvest and, when the harvest ends, we replenish the soil with composted manure and mulch.

    When we use the plants and their produce, we take the leaves and stems and other unwanted parts and put them in a compost bin to return to the soil.

    This complicated working partnership among many different parties here is, in microcosm, the partnership we humans have with the natural world and the world of soils, air, water and sunshine.  It’s significant to note that the one unnecessary party to this the work is the human race.

    Plants will grow.  Rain will fall.  The sun will shine.  Soils will improve.  Fruits and vegetables will be made and distributed, all whether humans enter in or not.  We exist only as part of a richly integrated chain of being and we exist as its wards, not benefactors.

    We do have the capacity to intervene, but too often, far too often, when we do intervene, we disrupt what nature does willingly and foul the process, in the end harming ourselves.

    I wish our gardens and our orchard were more than supplements to our diet, but that is all they are, to be otherwise would require a commitment to the work I no longer feel able or willing to give.  Even so, as a supplement, this growing of flowers, potatoes, tomatoes, beets, carrots, leeks, beans, onions, lettuce, chard, spinach and peas, this caring for bees and harvesting honey, does keep us intimately engaged as partners with the natural world, a partnership so often hidden from view in this, the most capitalistic of all possible worlds.

  • First Titian Tour

    Imbolc                                                                         Full Bridgit Moon

    First Titian tour today.  If I examine my own touring skills, as I try to from time to time, I find that I’m better touring old master’s of Western art and Asian art than I am art of the Americas.  The Thaw collection, which I admired, found me at my clunkiest, a bit wooden perhaps, more didactic.  In talking with Allison today it occurred to me that it might be as simple as the fact that I know far more about Asia and Europe than I do about the native peoples of this continent.  It’s much harder for me to talk about historical context with art of the Americas because I just don’t know it as well.

    When I tour Western art or Asian art, I can draw on many years of reading history, going to museums, thinking, traveling; but, when I tour either art of the Americas or Africa for that matter, the context is just not in me, literally.  In that way then those objects do become more like ethnological artifacts than art objects.  As a result, I find myself a bit more distant from them, put in a more scholarly mode, not as engaged.

    At a different point in my life I would have wanted to fix this, to dive into native peoples history and ways, stuff I studied in college, but from an anthropological perspective.  The same situation with Africa.  Today I want to deepen, not broaden my knowledge of art history, so I’m going to continue working with Asian and Western art.  In those areas I still have so much learn and my passion is there.

    The Titian show is in my sweet spot though and a lot of fun.

  • Love and Politics

    Another busy week.  Guess it’s a good thing we’re headed to Colorado on Saturday.  Time for a rest.

    Yesterday I worked outside all morning, then took a nap, worked out and went to the Woollys at Paul’s house.  We talked about love.  Love was central to each of our lives and, we all agreed, to the Woolly’s.  Scott talked about the tough, tough time financial planners had in the last month and how it had been very difficult for him personally.  Stefan spoke of his children and the active love a houseful of teens requires.  Frank feels bringing novelty to people’s often boring lives is a way to show love.  Bill read poetry.  Love, marriage (31 years), fear and family dominated Paul’s presentation.  My stuff you read yesterday.

    This morning I worked on material for the Sierra Club’s Ex-Com, it’s local (Minnesota) board of directors.  I have to present a report on the candidates whose races we chose for targeted effort.  That’s tonight at 7:30pm.

    This afternoon the Africa checkout tour tomorrow morning at 9:30 requires my attention.  Then, phone-calling at the Sierra Club tomorrow night.  After that I can return to work outside until we leave on Saturday.

  • What Does It Mean To Be An American?

    85  bar falls 29.75 0mph E  dew-point 66  sunrise 5:53  sunset 8:44  Summer

    Waning Crescent of the Thunder Moon

    The hangover from the docent program continues.  We have to do an Africa check-out tour with two partners.  We each prepare three objects, then share the information and come ready to present any of the objects.  This is a sort of multiple choice test, I guess.  All of us have favorite areas in the museum and less liked areas.  I love the Asian collection.

    The African collection does not excite me.   I’m not sure why.  Africa as a continent and African history, especially pre-colonial Africa have fascinated me since college when I took several courses related to these areas as well as African anthropology.  Contemporary African politics also hold my attention.  The art does not.  There are pieces that are, for me, exceptions.  The Ife Shrine Head.  Kente cloth.  The Magadelene Odundo reduced black ceramics.  The gold weights.  The female sculptures.  The rest does not draw me in.  This is me, I know, for many find these objects stunning, even path breaking when it comes to representation.

    Still, I have to do this check-out tour and I will.

    The drive in was unremarkable, though notable for its reduced heat from the Texas weekend.  On the drive back I encountered several drivers in a row who had not yet graduated from the real world driving class we all take each day.  Left me with a short fuse.  Again.  On me.

    Switched for a third time the Woolly meeting idea.  First was permaculture.  Second was your media stream.  The third, and final one is this:  What does it mean to be an American?  When did  your feel your most patriotic?  Least? Who is your favorite American author?  Painter?  Poet?  Poem?  Book?  Painting?  Does America have a manifest destiny?  How do we or should we fit into the global reality?

  • Miles and Miles of Flat Sameness

    66  bar steady 29.92 0mph N dew-point 58  Summer night

    Waning Crescent of the Flower Moon

    The drive into the MIA this afternoon was the first time I’d driven any distance since the long trip to Alabama.

    Sheila gave a walking lecture on the African check out tours.  She showed pieces in Egypt, then the Nok figure, the Ife Shrine head, the Benin head.  She spoke briefly about the linguist’s staff, the kente cloth, the elephant tusk and the leopard. It was a usual well-informed presentation.  Sheila knows the African collection in some depth.  She tried to provide so-called Pan African ideas, but I didn’t find any of them unique to Africa.

    Africa, like Asia and North America, is a land mass, not a cultural designation.  It has, like Asia and North America, a bewildering variety of indigenous peoples, colonial adventures, global corporate interests and all this mixed now in the stew of politics referred to as developing nations.  Seeking for identifiers by continent,  across Africa, for example, is like seeking for unity across Asia or North America.  It is a category mistake.  Continents do not have cultures, people do.  To maintain that somehow Algiers and Tunisia share a common cultural underlayment with, say, the Zulu or the Ashante or the Tutu or the Masai attempts to shoe horn disparate peoples in a too tight continental shoe.

    Kate and I watched There Will Be Blood tonight.  This is a powerful movie with mythic overtones.  The push for oil, the mania required to build an oil company or a church, the violence of men competing for power and money and the interlocutor of the barren land combine in a peak at the roots of contemporary American society.

    Much of the filming was done near Marfa, Texas.  Marfa is the location of Donald Judd’s open air show places.  It is a unique town, a place a reporter for the Ft. Stockton newspaper told me is “Taos fifty years ago.”  She didn’t see this as a good thing.

    The land in the movie is bleak.  Until my trip to Imperial, Texas a few years ago to see our land I hadn’t understood why people would say West Texas and shake their head.  It is mesquite, sand and rattle snakes.  In a few places, for a time, there was oil and natural gas.  There is a stark beauty to it, a beauty similar to the high plains, miles and miles of flat sameness, broken at the horizon by low mountains and foot hills.

    More garden work tomorrow.  Get the red car, too.  The heads were delayed at the machine shop.