Psychosis keeps up with the times (via Mind Hacks)

Another great post at Mindhacks. Research shows delusions keep pace with the culture of the times!

Psychosis keeps up with the times Delusions in conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have tracked social concerns over the 20th century, according to a wonderful study just published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry. Psychologists Brooke Cannon and Lorraine Kramer reviewed the patient records of a state psychiatric hospital in the US looking at each decade of the 20th Century in turn. They recorded the content of the delusions for every patient with … Read More

via Mind Hacks

For the Love of Art and Artists

Photography Prints

I’ve always been a fan of art and artists. Even to the point of marrying one! But, long before meeting my husband, art was firmly rooted in my mind as a flowering garden I would always admire. My first two memories of art as a child revolve around Crayola Crayons and the picture of a horse painted by my mother.

First memory: my Crayola Crayons. I still recall them with great joy (you know, the sixty-four pack with the sharpener in the back)! Unusual names like Sienna, Thistle, Raw Umber, and Magenta conjured up images of a wild, exotic land far away from the rural, humdrum farmhouse of my childhood. I loved coloring as a child, but I could never master drawing.

Eventually, getting bored with coloring and being unable to draw, I went through a spell of melting the various individual crayons and pouring them together in molds to create new color choices. All this under my grandparents watchful eyes, of course, and to the chagrin of my mother and other adults. They would stop by and find me in the dining room with an old cooking pot (donated by my grandmother for the effort) filled with melting crayons on top of the wood stove, the smell of hot wax drifting through the rooms. My grandparents would shush the naysayers with, “she’s just a child.”

“It’s okay. She’s not hurting anything,” was the mantra as they sat watching me stir various colors into tin cans, saucers, and any other makeshift molds I could find. (Just for the record, my grandparents were so darn cool to let me do that!)

Second memory: that cute little brown horse standing in a bright green pasture. I’m not sure the exact age that I noticed the painted pony, but I was young and it was before I started school. It was vivid. I remember asking my grandmother about it. There was a tone of pride in her voice as she explained that my mother had painted it.

My mother had me very young. As a child, I adored her and believed she was the most beautiful creature on the planet. The fact that she had painted this, that she was an artist, made her suddenly mysterious and talented too. I studied the picture often, picturing my mother as she painted; begging to see the picture up close. A request my grandmother often indulged. I would hold it in my hands, staring at each stroke of paint, at the way in which the lines met to create the picture in full.

The picture held great significance because it was the only painting in my grandmother’s house. There were doilies, ceramic plates from various places, trinkets and family photographs on the fireplaces and side tables, but there were no other pieces of art anywhere in the house.

I grew up watching the little horse, trying to draw something that even slightly resembled the horse, or anything “real,” to no avail. The more obvious my inability as an artist became (I couldn’t even manage to get the paint-by-numbers pictures done correctly) the more I admired my mother’s artistic talent. I eventually turned to writing as a way of drawing pictures with words. And words remain the closest I can come to artistry. I am unable to paint with colored pencils, pastels and the like, but I learned to paint pictures with words. And, to a great extent, most of my poems and short-stories and heavy on imagery. I want the reader to see it.

So, loving art and artists as I do, I want to introduce you to a wonderful site: Fine Art America. They have numerous artists with art available in any medium imaginable, as well as offering the ability to purchase original canvas, framed pictures, notecards, etc. They also provide art images with a link for use on blogs that allow you to use the lovely work while correctly crediting the artist. Their mission, per the website says: “FineArtAmerica.com is a social network and e-commerce marketplace for photographers, visual artists, art galleries, and fine art collectors.  Visitors to FineArtAmerica.com can choose from over 1.5 million pieces of original artwork including paintings, sculptures, drawings, mixed media, jewelry, and more!” If you get a chance, please check them out at http://www.fineartamerica.com.

 

.

Contradiction

All that I ask
you will with hold.
It’s your nature
to deny me. I’m
aware of this
contradiction.
Asking less of you
than predecessors,
teachers, friends.
You have my
full attention
like brilliant sun
light looming
large in dark skies.
Hero and villain,
always
the lead character
in the story
that wasn’t
really. Anything
can happen, but
won’t. I
am aware
of this
contradiction.

 

 

March 2011 

Artwork:

Fruits of Chaos by RyoAce / © Some rights reserved at http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/onblack.php?id=3335273109&size=large

Prayers for Japan

  

I have spent the last few days watching the situation in Japan like most other people in the world. It is a horrible, unthinkable disaster of Biblical proportions.

The loss of life, property damage, and overall destruction to the country of Japan is more than we can truly understand or conceptualize at this point. What can be said in the face of such horror? Truthfully, very little. All we can do is pray, offer our condolences and blessings, and provide whatever financial and humanitarian assistance is needed.

The New York Times provides satellite imagery of before and after in Japan. These pictures leave one speechless and stunned to the point of meditative grief.

I have nothing new to add to this situation. I simply want to join the chorus of voices that are praying for the people and the country of Japan.

  

The New York Times slides can be viewed here.

Word Press Tags: Japan,situation,world,disaster,Biblical,proportions,life,destruction,horror,

condolences,assistance,York,Times,satellite,imagery,pictures,grief,Prayers

 

Book Review> Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

Harper Lee and President George W. Bush at the...

Image via Wikipedia

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee  

Author: Charles J. Shields ©2006
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
ISBN-13:978-0-7394-7846-2  324 Pages

Fifty-one years after the publication of her Pulitzer Prizewinning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, author Harper Lee is again claiming the headlines. CBS News and the Sun-Sentinel both ran stories this month about President Obama honoring Harper Lee with the National Medal of Arts. Ms. Lee, aged 84, perhaps one of America’s greatest living authors, did not attend the ceremony. Her lack of attendance is no surprise to those of us who have read Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, by Charles J. Shields. 

Mr. Shields writes, in the introduction to Mockingbird, that his book “aims to capture a life but is not a conventional biography, because – despite her novels huge impact – Lee’s writing life has been brief, and her personal life has been intensely private.” Mr. Shields goes on to explain his decision to write the book and the reasoning and research used to compose it. A beautiful and detailed introduction to the book sets the reader up to expect a hazy, distorted picture of Ms. Lee. However, the book is anything but that: clear and concise – weaving together research, commentary, and a warm narrative – the book transports the reader into a journey through life with Harper Lee. The authors desire to “capture a life” is eloquently and meticulously met in the pages that follow.            
                                   

This 324 page book provides a multi-layered picture of the woman that is Nelle Harper Lee: modern-day recluse, prior college drop-out, Pulitzer Prizewinning author, lonely airline ticket girl in New York, close childhood friend and research assistant to Truman Capote, tomboyish girl from the South, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, fervent church attendee, and winner of The National Medal of Arts. Lee, the enigmatic author of To Kill A Mockingbird, is simultaneously defined by these designations while remaining an individual that will not be subjugated to any one title that describes her. 

Mr. Shields, in Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, brings the feisty, Southern writer to life for his readers. She is a woman we can admire and understand. She is an uncommon author uninterested in wealth or movie-star status. She is simply Nelle, an author seeking to explore her talent and write something meaningful about the world and time in which she came of age. To Kill A Mockingbird is no longer just a Southern novel, but is transformed into an inevitable work of art by this writer. Her love of place, family, and the strong desire for empathetic justice fills the book as it fills her life. The clarity of Lee’s character shines in Shields book as he delves into the psychology of the time in which Ms. Lee wrote and the emotional connection she felt to time and place as displayed in her writing. 

Lee’s one and only book, To Kill A Mockingbird, is a book of substantial importance in American literature. It delves into the psyche and behavior in the American South during the period of racial unrest and blatant discrimination that characterized the decades of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. The book was a sensational hit during it’s time as summarized by Biography.com:

In July 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was published and picked up by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Literary Guild. A condensed version of the story appeared in Reader’s Digest magazine. The work’s central character, a young girl nicknamed Scout, was not unlike Lee in her youth…. part of the novel reflected racial prejudices in the South…. attorney,…Atticus Finch tries to help a black man who has been charged with raping a white woman to get a fair trial and to prevent him from being lynched by angry whites in a small town.

Cover of

Cover of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

The following year, To Kill a Mockingbird won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and several other literary awards. Horton Foote wrote a screenplay based on the book and used the same title for the 1962 film adaptation. Lee visited the set during filming and did a lot of interviews to support the film. Earning eight Academy Award nominations, the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird won four awards, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch. The character of Atticus is said to have been based on Lee’s father. 

The popularity of Lee’s book in the 1960’s demonstrates a somewhat perfect timing in publishing history. To Kill A Mockingbird captured a moment of Southern and national history that would soon change, but her application of the broad themes of good and bad, fair and unfair, to the story created a timeless, universal novel. As an important piece of American literature, To Kill A Mockingbird demonstrates the fight for good over evil in the world, and advances the premise that one person can make a difference if he will only step forward and act on his deepest convictions. 

To Kill a Mockingbird

Image via Wikipedia

 

It is this literary-cultural duality that makes Lee’s work eternal. And, Shields adeptly captures this aspect of Lee, her life and work, in Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. It is an intimately beautiful portrait where Shields artistically draws Lee as a presence larger than the time and culture she wrote about. In the end, his portrait succeeds as he introduces the reader to a Harper Lee that is as boundless and enduring as her novel.

 Sources: 

1. Madison, Lucy. “Obama honors Meryl Streep, Harper Lee, Philip Roth, Quincy Jones and others with National Medals of Arts and Humanities.” CBS News Story online. March 2011. Http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20038421-503544.html (March 7, 2011) 

2. Kellogg, Carolyn. “Harper Lee to receive National Medal of Arts.” Los Angeles Times. March 2011.
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/entertainment/sns-lat-harper-lee-to-receive-national-medal-of-arts
20110301,0,5076637.story. (March 8, 2011)

 3. Harper Lee Biography. “Harper Lee Biography.” Biography.com. March 2011.
Http://www.biography.com/articles/harper-lee9377012?part=1 (March 9, 2011) 

4. The Associated Press. “Harper Lee Writes Rare Item for O Magazine.” Washington Post. June 2006. Http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2006/06/
26/AR2006062601039.html
(March 8, 2011) 

5. Charles J. Shields, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee.(New York: Henry Holt and Co., LLC, 2006).

Reprinted from Whippoorwill: an online literary journal, Spring 2011 issue. Original source at http://whippoorwilljournal.com/issue/whippoorwill/article/book-review-mockingbird-a-portrait-of-harper-lee

Fallout I

1-her-majesty-tom-mc-nemar

When it ended
I wanted
warm goodbyes
that never
came. I absorbed
quiet, as others
watched me
retreat, disappear
into silence.
I became
loss
and fielded
phone calls from
curious players
in the game
of chess, played
with people, cities
doubling as
squares
on the board.

February 2011

  

A Post About Nothing

Wallpaper__Elegant_1680_x_1050_by_beanhugger

 

It’s been rainy and cool here in South Carolina today. Strange weather after two weeks of sunshine and 70 degree temperatures. It will be a little cooler this week, but still in the 60’s so I’m happy.

Yes, I broke the rule and started a story with the weather, but it’s okay. This isn’t meant to be a serious post about anything – surely you figured that out by the title! No, you probably didn’t expect the title of the post to be true. Nothing is ever about nothing, right?

Okay, so maybe the post isn’t about nothing, but it is a mundane post without any intentions. Sometimes it’s just nice to write a rambling post that isn’t dressed up in the finery of purpose or deep intent.

I’ve spent the day reading numerous research papers and articles about neuroscience, memory retention factors, and the psychological and philosophical elements and theories about Bipolar disorder. These are all background study and/or sources for two research essays I’m working on. Both pieces seem timely considering the Charlie Sheen meltdown and the new medical findings in several areas of cognitive science. So, I’m putting my “serious writer” hat on and actually working on some serious writing, except for here at the blog.

 

Charlie Sheen, Religious Arguments, and Self-Delusion

Is it just me, or does it seem like America has slipped down the rabbit hole with Alice? It reminds me of the Brandon Jenkins song, The Whole Worlds Gone Crazy.

Video of the Week

What is up with Charlie Sheen? He’s been notorious for years now – stripper problems, drug issues, and now seriously sad and crazy behavior. I’ve always liked his acting (and ditto for Mel Gibson and his bizarre behavior). They’re very talented actors, but what is going on? I have no answers, I’m just asking…

Earlier today I was reading my Facebook page  and noticed where my sister and friends from our school years  ended up in a heated argument over God and religion. Okay, can we all accept that everyone has a right to their belief system without having the right to inflict it on others?

It seems like a simple agreement, a basic social courtesy to extend to others, but, considering the past two thousand years of religion-based warfare, I’m probably just expecting too much. Still, peaceful disagreement is always better than a heated argument that leaves people feeling hurt and unloved.

It was a rough week at work (sales were great, but personnel issues took center stage). I’m learning that the title Sales Manager puts a dart-board target on my back and that every disgruntled worker we terminate grabs a handful of darts on the way out. It’s no biggie in the larger scheme of things, but it’s amazing to me the level of self-delusion many people live in.

Twice now I’ve hired people as a favor to my kids, their friends, and that just doesn’t seem to work out. So, no more of that! The sad part is that these people were given an opportunity that they would never had been given otherwise.

I actually care about this situation and these people. It hurts me that it doesn’t work, that they prefer delusions to true growth. I want very much to help the less fortunate, the people who can most benefit from an opportunity, but they don’t want the opportunity as much as I want to give it to them. It is sad to watch the jealousy and venomous behavior of people that you’re trying to help end up destroying them.

 

Pondering an Important Question

Lately, I’ve been pondering the following question: Am I a writer selling cars or a car salesman that writes?

I have a tendency to “fall into” situations, careers, relationships. It’s a unique and quirky part of who I am. Plans are fine. I make them, of course; but life always twists and turns in some unexpected way…and…oops, there I go, falling into the next new thing!

The car business has been an accidental success. I loved it almost immediately and my tenacious determination to win kicked in. It’s been a good business for me, one in which my verbal talents serve me well. One that pays me very well.

I was a writer for many years before I was in the car business. writing is and has always been my first love. I seldom write as I once did, my output and body of work has diminished due to time constraints. I have finally taken a few vacation days this month (my first time-off in two years) and am looking forward to some extra writing time. I have several major projects I hope to complete by the end of the month.

It’s ironic to think that two years ago while in Pryor, Oklahoma I thought I would never write again. Rather, I am at a place where major, deeper works seem more likely just a short while later.

Writer’s are writer’s because of two major things:

  1. because they write, and
  2. because they see the world with a different level of perception, depth, and detail than most people around them.

A writer is always a keen observer of the people and the world he or she lives in. Even more ironic is the fact that the same observation skills are what makes a great sales person. I suppose the answer to my question could be both. After all, we all carry various names, tags, and titles through our lives. Our identity doesn’t come from a title. Our true identity comes from the various mixture of titles and intricate details of our personality combined into the whole of us. We are the sum of all that has touched us, taught us, claimed us, and identified us, We are individually wonderful in many ways. ~

 

 

 

Clinical Despair: Science, Psychotherapy and Spirituality in the Treatment of Depression | Psychology Today

This is an interesting and insightful article about depression at Psychology Today: Clinical Despair: Science, Psychotherapy and Spirituality in the Treatment of Depression | Psychology Today.

Becoming Modern

 

I have officially arrived in the current century according to my compatriots at work. I now own an Android Phone and a new laptop with Windows 7 installed.

Of course, I had no idea what an Android phone actually was until yesterday, and I was perfectly content with Windows Vista.

The new phone, coupled with the laptop, are gigantic steps forward for me. I tend to live more by the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” world motto than the “if it’s new technology, I must have it” one. But, I’m learning how to use a “touch screen” to scroll through my “Apps” without needing assistance.

I thought the previous laptop (about 5 years old) with wireless that moved at the speed of turtle was just fine forever. And, it was until I started adding up the wasted hours and realized how long everything took on it versus my three year old desktop.

Still, having two computers that worked fine, even if one was very slow, led to an inner debate and argument on wastefulness (I’m pretty sure this is a leftover lesson from my well-meaning grandmother!).

So, months after starting an inner argument with myself, I finally gave in and bought a new laptop. Logically, since time is the one thing I never have enough of, and the old laptop was taking up way too much of this precious commodity, it made sense to buy a new one.

The phone was different, less a thought-out decision and more a flighty comment that led to my having a phone gifted to me the next day. It was strange turning off the phone I’ve had for the past 4 years – a simple flip-top, dial the number kind of phone, with real buttons for the numbers and alphabet, and an alarm I’ve used as my alarm-clock substitute for the same number of years.

Okay, I know it was antiquated by today’s standards, but I knew how to use it and it served it’s purpose. The new phone is a little more of a challenge – it took me forever to figure out if it had an alarm and how to set it, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it and am becoming modern.

Last night, as I was playing with the new phone, I started thinking about my childhood and my grandparents. They would be over 100 years old if they were still living.

I remember watching TV with them at night: Walter Cronkite detailing the news, Kojak, The Waltons, and Disney movies on the weekend were the norm.

We lived with a phone (party line only for years. Anyone else remember that?) and one television set with three channels. Cable TV wouldn’t be available in that rural area until years later when I was a married adult living far away.

I remember those quiet nights, sitting on the screened-porch, listening to the Whippoorwill calls, and everyone talking together. I remember spending as much time outside playing, making-up imaginary games and acting-out storybook scenarios with my cousins, as I ever spent inside. And, I remember a time when TV was a very small part of my day.

I miss that quiet, less-connected, less-complicated world sometimes. I can’t imagine what my grandparents would think of my new phone or the multiple computers, but I’m sure they would be amazed and lost in the world as it’s become. I’m also sure they’d say it was wasteful and I didn’t need all those things! Smile

Sometimes, I feel a little lost as well as I wonder what my grandchildren will see in their lifetimes. Will it be the vast array of changes and technological advancements that I’ve witnessed? Or, will science and technology change directions and go spiraling off in a now unknown direction? What will it mean as they grow older in world where everything is immediate? What will it mean when their compatriots congratulate them on becoming modern?

Allegory

This is the page where we end.
No epilogue to the story, no clear
closure or tying-together the threads.
Only blank pages following last
sentences. Period. A dot
concealing everything.

Enough questions. Answers. Time
the great evening breath, a token
of hours and days ticking
us away. The plot fails —
creates a short fiction,
lacking the intricate depth
needed
to become a book.

March 2011