Archive for the ‘The Center’ Category

Navigating Political Craziness: Lamentations and Provocations

October 13, 2012

“The Occupy Movement is about unity. People talk, then they think, and then they act.”

–Guitarist Ry Cooder discussing his new album “Election Special

Election seasons, like the 2012 presidential race, give opportunity to reflect on one’s identity and location on the political spectrum. I experience most of life as an exercise in uncertainty, ambiguity, doubt, and fragile conviction. Certainties and absolutes are not available in this life. Yet, the environment in our society currently is full of expressions of ideological rigidity and political sureties. The few of us (minority it would appear) who have modest opinions and considered perspectives but are not inclined to hold them tightly and are forever editing and revising:  how do we describe ourselves and communicate our complicated and complex understandings in such a hostile and toxic situation? I, for example, would self-identify as a progressive who is registered as an independent voter and draws heavily from anarchist, socialist, democratic, and populist political thought. This cocktail of political influences keeps me relentlessly calibrating my positions.

From this point of view, my sensibilities require me to be exasperated at the Republican Party for its domination by right-wing ideology and propaganda. I find myself being frequently frustrated with the Democratic Party for its continual marginalizing of its more progressive members.

I think it a mandate to have a rich variety of political persuasions debating and dialoging about public policy directions and the problem – solving of economic and social issues. I wish there existed a thoughtful conservatism, a vital liberalism, as well as a robust progressivism to engage in political discussions concerning legislative action and organizational governance. The blood-sport partisanship in play, does not allow for a deliberative process inclusive of all voices. I  am not alone in asking for a verbal de-militarized zone for protecting spirited but civil conversation. We are repeating a bad habit in American political history that historian Richard Hofstadter labeled “The Paranoid Style.”

I strongly suggest that those of us who want to be direct-action advocates, but without the rhetorical bile and true-believerism, should generate political imaginations and develop moral improvisations that encourage economic, political, social, cultural, and religious freedom locally and globally. Peace, justice and equality for all.

 The United States today is not a democracy: at best, it is a plutocracy and tempted to oligarchy. It is time to retrieve our democratic dreams and aspirations. Navigating the political craziness demands confessing laments and issuing provocations. We are inescapably in difficult times stumbling to see some better times. Woody Allen once remarked that we have two choices: “One road leads to disillusionment and deep despair; the other to death and total destruction. May we have the wisdom to choose the correct path.” This election presents us such a fork in the road: maybe we should listen to our artists and poets!

“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

“A Bridge between Landscapes” a sustained gaze

October 7, 2012

 

I recently visited One Colorado Artist Studio in Pasadena featuring Artist in Residence Gregory Michael Hernandez and his exhibition titled “A Bridge Between Landscapes.” Amidst the impressive and convincing hybrid forms, interactive environment, and beautiful images generating metaphorical flights of fancy sits a ping pong table. Why is this object so arresting and compelling? Is it installation sculpture so ordinary that it triggers queries of a profound nature? Is it simply a playful work station? Is it a respite of recreational distraction from the intensity of the surrounding images requiring viewers to pay critical attention? I wonder if it actually is an alter that summons us to a place of hospitality and generosity? Hernandez’s creations are not devotional or doctrinal in any formal ecclesiastical way. His work is theological in its sublime gesturing toward questions of ultimacy and offering visual gifts to the art lover with a sustained gaze. The ping pong table is a dynamic piece that calls and convenes in its centered placement. It simultaneously encourages return trips to the curated walls that encase it. Sacred Space in a vernacular place!

The Tree of Life – special screening with panel Saturday, January 14, 2012 UCLA

January 5, 2012

City of Angels Film Festival March 12-14, 2010 DGA

March 10, 2010

The City of Angels Film Festival is arriving this weekend (March 12 – 14, 2010) at the Directors Guild in West Hollywood. I had the great fortune of being a co-founder, festival director for several years, and now one of the programmers. The theme this year is “Hidden Gems, Buried Treasures” and information can be found at City of Angels Film Festival 2010

I am directing a sidebar to the festival on Saturday, March 13, also at the DGA, called “Cinefiles: Revivals & Retrospectives”.

1 pm FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES Director, Gerald Peary

Documentary on the (melo)dramatic story of film criticism

“a fascinating look at the vibrant personalities who changed the way we look at film”  Chris Gore

Screening followed by panel discussion: “Writing On Film”

Panel Moderator: Scott Young

Panelists: Claudia Puig, USA Today film critic, Scott D. Young, and Sr Rose Pacatte, FSP, film journalist and author

3:30 pm BEST FILM RESTORATION OF DECADE

KILLER OF SHEEP Director, Charles Burnett

Considered one of the finest student films ever produced. Selected as one of the 100 Essential Films by the National Society of Film Critics.

“an American masterpiece,independent to the bone”   Manohla Dargis, New York Times

Post-screening discussion: Scott Young

7:00 pm  BEST FILM OF THE DECADE

MULHOLLAND DRIVE  Director, David Lynch

Voted Best Film of the Decade by Film Comment (survey of 100 international moviemakers/critics/academics)

“Hypnotic”  Roger Ebert         “A Maniacal Thrill”  New York Times

Post-screening discussion: Scott Young