Saturday, November 26, 2016

Defining the Darkness.3

"Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”."

The Guardian
November 22, 2016
(the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy)

Defining the Darkness.2

"Where are the superior minds, capable of reflection, today?  If they exist at all, nobody heeds them; instead there is a general running amok, a universal fatality against whose compelling sway the individual is powerless to defend himself.  And yet this collective phenomenon is the fault of the individuals as well, for nations are made up of individuals.  Therefore the individual must consider by what means he can counteract the evil.  Our rationalistic attitude leads us to believe that we can work wonders with international organizations, legislation, and other well-meant devices.  But in reality only a change in the attitude of the individual can bring about a renewal in the spirit of the nations.  Everything begins with the individual."

C.G. Jung
"The Role of the Unconscious" (1918)
Civilization in Transition p. 27.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Defining the Darkness

"As the contemporary world and its newspapers present the spectacle of a gigantic psychiatric clinic, every attentive observer has ample opportunity to see these formulations being enacted before his eyes.  A principle of cardinal importance in studying these phenomena is the one already stressed by analytical psychology: that the unconscious of one person is projected upon another person, so that the first accuses the second of what he overlooks in himself."

C.G. Jung
"The Role of the Unconscious" (1918)
Collected Works Vol. 10: Civilization in Transition
p. 25

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gratitude and My Last President

It's the time of the year to express gratitude, and I am grateful that I lived during the presidency of Barack Obama.  It already seems like it was all a dream. Considering what came before and what is to come after, maybe it was.

I've been trying to define my relationship to the American presidency but so far not successfully.  Maybe I'll have something cogent to say before this presidency is over.

 But I will say that along with my notions of what the President represents and what he means to the country is a more nuanced and practical appreciation of what the job is.  That's always been part of how I view the office and the individuals who held it in my lifetime.  The gold standard for scholarship apparently still is Richard Neustadt's Presidential Power.  I read that when I was 15, along with a book on similar lines written from within the Kennedy presidency: Ted Sorensen's Decision-Making in the White House.  These were the beginnings of seeing what the job is.  A job that humans do, within the limits of the day.

This time around I could not have asked for a better presidency, a better President and First Family than we've had for the past eight years.  It will be a beacon that shines for whatever history is left.

I've paid particular attention to this presidency and savored it, believing it would be the last I would follow and care about so much.  Now it seems it will be the last in other senses as well.

But, back to gratitude.  As the last continuing act of the year on this site, I'm posting some favorite photos from the Obama presidency, starting with this year and working back.

This group may include photos from earlier as well, but mostly the past year or two.  Because of the limitations of this template, some of the right side of photos posted "extra large" get cut off, so I may have to post some in a smaller size.  In any case, click on the photo to see it full size.

And for those also in the US, Happy Thanksgiving.

R.I.P. 2016 Edward Albee

"Are we to be one of those bizarre civilizations that is on the way to its downfall without ever reaching its zenith?"
Edward Albee

Edward Albee was a playwright and a force in American theatre for nearly 60 years.  He pretty much was American theatre in the early 1960s, and stood practically alone between the generation of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, and the explosion of late 60s/1970s playwrights like Sam Shepard and John Guare.

He shocked New York theatre with The Sandbox and Zoo Story in the late 50s, and was still shocking a much decentralized but once again timid American theatre with The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?) in 2002.  He wrote two American masterpieces in the 1960s--Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance that are also remarkable for how different they are from each other.  He wrote many other worthy plays throughout his writing life.

He was a tireless advocate for theatre and truth.  The job of a playwright, he said, was to get people to pay attention to the things they should be paying attention to. When the film success of "Virginia Woolf" put money in his pocket, he put it back into developing younger playwrights, thus helping to create the late 60s generation that essentially supplanted him as the fashionably daring voices.

The quote above comes from a speech he gave at Carnegie Mellon University in the early 90s.  I was in the audience and wrote those words down.  I've remembered them many times since--especially quite recently.

I met him after that speech. The original production of The Zoo Story was still running when I visited New York in 1965, and it was the first play I ever saw in New York.  (In fact, it was the first modern play I'd seen outside of college theatre, so it was shocking in a way to see actors of the same age at their characters.)  We chatted about who might have been in the cast when I saw it--it changed many times.

It turns out that this was a singular and formative production in his life.  It was an evening of two short plays--Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape and Albee's The Zoo Story. They were first produced together in Germany when Albee was unknown, and Beckett not well known in America.  It was in fact Albee's first production.  "I saw my first Beckett play and my first Albee play the same night," he said much later.  "Both in a language I don't understand."

For those judging by the verbal violence of some of his plays, and the stringent integrity of his public pronouncements (or even his inflexibility with directors), his amiability and openness in person sometimes came as a surprise.  It did to me when I talked to him that day. He was patient and friendly and unpretentious.  In earlier days and in different circumstances he was known to be acerbic and merciless. And he could be contentious and dictatorial when it came to directing his plays.

Perhaps a key to understanding the apparent contradiction was something he said in several interviews I saw on YouTube shortly after his death was announced this fall.  For instance in the Theatre Talk in 2014 (in which he recounts seeing that first The Zoo Story, and mentions that Samuel Beckett was one of the funniest and gentlest people he'd ever met.)

"Participating fully in everything that happens to you is the exciting part of consciousness," he said.  Another quote to remember.

May he rest in peace.  His work lives on.