Hunger: Cravings of the Weary Forsaken

Music: Mavis Staples/Hard Times

Hunger: Cravings of the Weary Forsaken

The filmmaker, Samuel Christopher, is actually a duo consisting of Chris Turner and Sam Tootal. Their short film examines poet Billy Collins’ enigmatic poem “Hunger” by posting the poem’s lines up against a silent urban landscape like hyper-literary graffiti. Christopher interprets Collins’ textual riddle with his own visual rendering of the poem, a forsaken and depopulated cityscape’s lonely craving. In particular, the “fox” that was lugged over your shoulder is anything that you thought was “in the bag”, or “success.” When it escapes, you might mistakenly think you’re stronger, instead of realizing that you’ve lost whatever it was that you thought was safe and secure. Your “cottage” in a forest that “covers the world” refers to the fact that no matter how great your house, it is a very lonely place on a very big planet, and no matter in what esteem you may hold it, or yourself, ultimately you’re very insignificant. In the end, no one is much different from the people who are poor or are homeless.

Hunger

The fox you lug over your shoulder
in a dark sack
has cut a hole with a knife
and escaped.
The sudden lightness makes you think
you are stronger
as you walk back to your small cottage
through a forest that covers the world.

Billy Collins

Hunger: Cravings of the Weary Forsaken

Short Film by Samuel Christopher

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Seductive Bare-Chested Masculine Confidence

Seductive Bare-Chested Masculine Confidence

Actually, now that I’ve had some more time to think about it from the perspective of a quick character study, while looking more closely at the very interesting photographs of this guy, perhaps I should have described him as “alluring,” rather than “seductive.” “Alluring” suggests, I think, a less cold-hearted stance toward/with others, while “seductive” implies intentionally hard-hearted and calculated schemes to take advantage of others. But the “bare-chested masculine confidence” is certainly a fitting description of the aura he projects.

This is a very handsome, muscular fellow, who most men and women would probably find to be quite attractive. The guy recently won a national title, Mr. America, Mr. American Glamour, Mr. Fascination, or some title like that. Well, at least I know for darn sure that I’m correct about the Mister part. In almost all of the photographs of him, this manly man looks you straight in the eye. In that sense he creates an impression of invitation, with an implication of closeness.

On the other hand, his gaze has a certain vacant quality, conveying a decidedly disinterested air. In other words, there exists a paradox of social attachment or closeness, accompanied by an opposite message of social distance. I’m wondering if this social ambivalence might be somewhat characteristic of people who are celebrities, as well as of people who want or are trying to be celebrities. Anyway, at the very least my comments here have attempted to establish an underlying point that there’s nothing improper about looking closely at men who are alluring and very attractive. Perhaps it’s more a matter of how you think about it.

The Alluring Guy with Bare-Chested Confidence

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Empathy: A Foundation for the Complexities of Love

Empathy, Mutual Recognition and Feelings of Love

I truly hope that readers won’t mind my writing this message that attempts to convey some sense of tranquility. One of the most wonderful opportunities made available and nurtured by writing on the internet is that there arise moments of inspiration which can beget an artistic container enclosing, and a liminal space that relates to, differing personal and public interests with a variety of perspectives. In my case, the art of blogging or writing on the internet evolved or transmuted into a focus upon creative blog composition. My earlier compositions were somewhat lengthy expressions of my understandings of and perspectives on contemporary psychoanalysis, clinical psychology, art, photography, diversity (including the rights of persons in the GLBTTQSA community and other ethnic/minority groups), politics, multimedia and music.

My current blog compositions tend to be short and condensed, but which at the same time embrace several layers of meaning. For example, this composition simply consists of a photograph, this descriptive and interpretive introductory text and a 60-second short-film. A later post might consist of just a single thoughtfully chosen photograph. Regarding this particular composition, in the midst of our current climate of heatedly divisive national political discourse, worrisome economic stressors, environmental and energy concerns and ongoing involvements in international crises, I thought that it might be helpful to offer readers a small oasis, a few moments of thoughtful calm and, perhaps, serenity.

Empathy is a one-minute short film that was a Regional Winner in the 2008 British Academy Film Awards. It is a film of elegant simplicity, which demonstrates how people of different generations can briefly be united by even small gestures of empathic mutual recognition. Empathy reveals how even very young children are capable of showing their passions from an early age. In this short film, the brilliant young actor is able to convey a deeply touching sense of truly heartfelt empathic compassion from which many of today’s adults could well learn.

Empathy: A Foundation for the Complexities of Love

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Out and Golden, Australia’s Matthew Mitcham Wins Men’s 10m Platform Diving

Out and Golden, Australia’s Matt Mitcham Wins Men’s 10m Platform Diving

Matthew Mitcham did two very surprising things at the Beijing Olympics. First, he snatched a gold medal away from the apparently invincible Chinese diving team. Second, Mitcham openly told anyone who asked about his sexuality that he is gay. Matt is undaunted on the platform, and he’s just as fearless about his personal life.

Making his Olympic debut in Beijing in the 10m platform event, Australia’s Matthew Mitcham earned four perfect 10′s on his last dive Saturday night, winning the men’s 10m platform diving competition. “I couldn’t hear the crowd. In my mind I was saying ‘just enjoy it’,” he said of his last, magnificent, dive. Mitcham put his hands over his face and broke into tears after making his winning dive, later saying, “It’s absolutely surreal. I never thought that this would be possible.”

I wasn’t even sure of my medal chances at all. After I did my last dive and I saw I was in first, I thought, ‘That’s it, it’s a silver medal, I am so happy with this’ and then I won. I can’t believe it, I’m so happy.” His stunning upset victory prevented China from sweeping all eight of the Olympic diving gold medals. Not only was Mitcham’s triumph an astonishing upset win, his sixth and final dive was the highest scoring dive in Olympic history. Mitcham is the first Australian man since 1924 to win a gold medal in diving, and only the third Australian ever to do so.

Mitcham grew up as a non-athletic, rebellious kid, and he’s probably the only elite diver with a tongue piercing. Matt, who is often described as “free-spirited,” still has the piercing, which he says he doesn’t even notice while diving. Mitcham first caught the eye of the then Australian national coach when he was doing back-flips into a public swimming pool as a young teenager. From 2002 until 2006, Mitcham was an award winning diver in both junior and senior national and international diving competitions.

But in 2006 he suddenly quit diving, having become sick of the sport after spending years in the Australian program’s rigid training regimen. After both emotional burnout and physical exhaustion, Matt decided to retire from the sport while he was still a teenager. For a long period of time the young Mitcham had to battle anxiety and depression, which led him to begin psychotherapy and required him to spend some time on medication.

A year later, Mitcham returned to the sport and began training under his current coach, Chava Sobrino, at the New South Wales Institute of Sport. In 2008, Mitcham won all three of his diving events at the Australian Nationals, clean-sweeping the gold medals in the 1m, 3m and 10m individual platform diving events. He followed this spectacular comeback appearance by winning the 2008 Diving Grand Prix event earlier this year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Then just three months prior to leaving with the Australian team to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Mitcham made headlines in Australia when he revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald that he is gay, becoming one of the first Australian athletes to do so. In fact, according to a recent sports study, Matt Mitcham is the only man among 10,500 Olympic athletes to have publicly stated that he is gay while still participating in Olympic competition. Mitcham wanted more than anything else for his longtime partner, Lachlan, who has fought the tumultuous battle of Olympic dreams with him, to be there in Beijing’s stands cheering him on. When Mitcham couldn’t afford to pay for it on his own, a grant from Johnson and Johnson’s Athlete Family Support Program enabled his partner to come to Beijing and support him.

The first thing that Mitcham did in the “mixed zone” with the print journalists, after getting off of the Gold Medal ceremony platform, was to hug the Sydney Morning Herald reporter who had handled with such particular sensitivity the story in which Mitcham had revealed that he was gay. He was asked what this Olympic victory meant to him after the tumultuous ups and downs of his last few years. “Everything, absolutely everything I’ve done has been for this,” he said. “I knew it was a far chance, but I did absolutely everything I could to give myself the best chance of doing it. It’s actually happened, and I never thought it would.”

Matt Mitcham Wins Olympic Gold in 10m Platform Diving

The Olympic Gold Medal Ceremony

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The Danish Poet’s Pilgrimage Through the Uncertainty of Life

The Danish Poet’s Pilgrimage Through the Uncertainty of Life

The Danish Poet: Questions about the Meaning of Life

The Danish Poet won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The film follows the pilgrimage of a poet named Kaspar who has lost his talent for inspired creativity. In his desperate search for help, he travels to Norway to meet a famous writer. As the Danish poet’s journey to recover his sense of inspiration unfolds, he has to deal with bad weather, an angry dog, a fair damsel, a careless postman, hungry goats, a broken heart and other seemingly unconnected circumstances.

Although the tale of The Danish Poet proceeds with a sense of unexpected humor, it is also an allegory for deeper questions about the meaning of one’s life. If we look to the past for meaning, can we really gain such an understanding by tracing the little, seemingly trivial things in the particular chain of events in our lives back to our earliest years? Or, on the other hand, is existence and the course of our lives simply a matter of coincidence.

Learning to Become Prepared to be Unprepared

There is, of course, an alternative perspective about attempting to achieve some understanding about the meaning and course of our lives. If we focus on the present, rather than upon the past, we are faced with acknowledging that human choice always involves choosing one particular course of action while abandoning others, some of which may have turned out to be in some respects equally, or even more preferable. Furthermore, our choice of a particular course of action is always complicated by the unknowingness or ultimate uncertainty about where the path or paths not taken actually might have led.

While life’s ambiguity ultimately is irreducible, learning to embrace the ambiguous and uncertain nature of our lives can vitalize and enrich our experiences of surprise. In other words, focusing upon the present can expand our capacities to become engaged in depth with the ongoing, day-to-day events in our lives.

This in turn calls for us learn how to become prepared to be unprepared for new experiences.

The Danish Poet: On Becoming Prepared to be Unprepared

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For Motorcycles, The Future is Now

For Motorcycles, The Future Is Now

There are several out-of-this-world motorcycles traveling amongst us. This is probably caused in part by the rapidly increasing sales that motorcycle-industry designers and executives are now enjoying, in turn due to the craziness of soaring prices at the gas pump.

To take advantage of this newfound popularity, motorcycle designers are introducing new ideas, with many creatively original approaches to design and functionality. There is a noticeable outpouring of radically different concept and production motorcycles hitting the scene, which challenges our preconceived ideas about motorcycles as we known them in the past.

Many of these bikes are designed like pieces of art, with a conviction that experienced and wealthy motorcyclists would like something more exclusive. The following videos and photo-gallery convey some idea of what many of these creative designs are like.

Yamaha’s Deus Ex Machina and Other Futuristic Designs

The Incredible Yamaha Morpho II

For Motorcycles, The Future Is Now

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All Kids Have Rights

All Children Have Human Rights

The United Nations’ 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first legally binding international law to incorporate the full range of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Built on a variety of legal systems and cultural traditions, the Convention is a universally agreed upon set of non-negotiable standards and obligations. These basic standards set minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be respected by governments. They are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual, regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability and therefore apply to every human being everywhere.

With these rights comes the obligation on both governments and individuals not to infringe on the parallel rights of others. These standards are both interdependent and indivisible; some rights cannot be ensured without, or at the expense of, other rights. Its implementation is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. National governments that ratify it commit themselves to protecting and ensuring children’s rights, and agree to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, along with international criminal accountability mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court, the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, is said to have significantly increased the profile of children’s rights worldwide.

The United States is one of only two countries in the world which have refused to ratify The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.

All Kids Have Rights

All Children Have Rights

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