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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

“Some people dream their entire lives about going to Italy” I tell Husband. We are unenthusiastically packing for a weekend jaunt to Milan and I want to be reminded of how amazing the phrase “weekend jaunt to Milan” actually is. Don’t get me wrong, we are happy about going on this trip. We just have so much else going on as well.

Access to so many cultures. This is why people dream about living in Europe. When it gets integrated into everyday life it may start to feel blase.

I had a conversation with my neighbor about the sites and history we live among in Central London. He found it odd that people he met traveling were so enamored by his proximity to world heritage sites. “I mean, they live around great stuff too. You know, like in America they have the Grand Canyon.”

“Except people don’t really live at the Grand Canyon. It’s in the middle of nowhere,” I point out.

I walk past Buckingham Palace a few times a week on my way to the studio where I practice yoga and sometimes work. Because it’s me and because it’s London, I am usually late.  I should be enjoying my surroundings but instead I feel frustrated. The area is jammed with tourists. One can only stop and let tourists set up their next Facebook profile photographs so many times. I have been this tourist. I have been this tourist in London. My impatience is practicality, not malice.

I wonder how many holiday photographs feature a rushed me in the background.

I pause sometimes to contemplate the gravity of my scenery. A place I heard about but never knew if I would see is now a part of my everyday life.

I took this quick photo while dodging tourists during one of those sudden contemplations.

Just another stroll past Buckingham Palace

Gotta go, I’m late for the studio.

Don’t get me wrong, we are happy about going on this trip. We just have so much else going on as well.

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I snapped this picture of a sink at a pub back in May. Wikipedia tells me that there is no correlation to the slang word crap and Thomas Crapper, inventor of water closet improvements and the floating ballcock. The similarities between his name and the euphemism are completely coincidental.

Thomas Crapper and Company

I guess this is the same as someone named John Singer growing up to be a musician. Some things are just your destiny.

I’m grateful for his inventions, even if its provided him with a legacy I wouldn’t particularly want to have. I wonder if he would mind or if he’d be proud.

We seem to have very little control over these things. You have to work hard at something to achieve, but you don’t always get to choose your genius. All one can do is focus and channel  effort. In the end we have little control over our creativity. If you manage to catch opportunity and inspiration at the same time, it would just be wrong not to take it.

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Husband (did I mention Boyfriend has been upgraded?) wanted to see Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seed exhibit at the Tate Modern. This was an easy sell for me. I am a sucker for modern art museums.

Unilever has commissioned Ai Weiwei’s brainchild: 100 million hand crafted porcelain sunflower seeds displayed in the Turbine Hall. The colors of the concrete floor blend with the small porcelain seeds like a slight ripple in the floor’s texture continuity. As you approach you notice the individual pieces making up the whole until you eventually realize the small tiny pieces are sunflower seeds. At this point you want to pick one up and bite one, but the sunflower seeds are not real and the exhibit has been deemed non interactive for safety reasons. The dust from the porcelain is easily kicked up and can enter the lungs.

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern

A fifteen minute video shows how these pieces were handcrafted in Jingdezhen, China. You get a glimpse into the lives of the 1600 people and two and a half years that the manufacturing took place. The people are grateful for the work but I’m curious to whether they find value in the project beyond a paycheck.

This reminds me of a story someone once told me about explaining the end use of  Mardi Gras beads to Chinese factory workers. “So… you toss this at someone out of a slow moving vehicle and girls will take their tops off?”

And perhaps that’s the point – to make me consider the “Made in China” label. Or maybe it’s a statement on how all these small pieces can make up a whole. How collectively we become something we could never be as an individual. The political weaves it’s way in and out of the display. There is mention of how the sunflower seed was once a symbol of goodwill between neighbors but was adopted and altered into kitsch and propaganda by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution.

Seems like a lot to say all at once.

“Did I get it all?” I asked Husband. He is standing on the bridge above the sunflower seeds looking down with awe that I haven’t seemed to muster.

Maybe I’m not suppose to be so worried about whether or not I got it right.

The exhibit is free and runs until May 2, 2011

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I woke up yesterday morning to reports that the day was going to be the absolute worst day of the year.

“Ha,” I thought, “Only in Britain would someone come up with a statistic like this.”

This third Monday in January is supposedly the day when depression is at an all time high due to weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since you failed your new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and general ennui.

I got out of bed expecting to be depressed and in actuality I was very relieved. There’s something comforting about knowing scientifically and philosophically this is the worst it’s going to get. Life has no where to go but up!

Perhaps that’s the intended result. Very clever, indeed.

I’m really grateful that someone went through the trouble of trying to cheer me up BUT….

I’m not quite sure about this science. I mean, look at the formula I got from Wikipedia.

weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. ‘D’ is not defined, nor are units.

D isn’t defined and neither are units? Um, no. The former aerospace engineer in me wants to see a mathematical proof.

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