As I Am: We Are Meant to Find Each Other

As I Am: We Are Meant to Find Each Other

The more I keep thinking about when I died, when I was a child, I got a job to do.
I wish I could remember what God told me to do.
I wish I could remember the cuts I’m supposed to take, what cuts I’m supposed to create.
What I know is, we are meant to connect, to find each other.
Eyes to see. Hands to feel. Hearts to love.

As I Am is a beautiful, sensitive documentary short film by Emmy-Award winning photojournalist/filmmaker Alan Spearman. The poetic and powerful imagery of the film follows the Memphis landscape of remarkable young Chris Dean, revealing the many lives that have shaped his world. Told in Dean’s own words, the film is a long spoken word poem describing his trenchant observations about life: his thoughts and feelings regarding the places and people that make up his home. As I Am portrays Dean’s hopes, fears and, more than anything, his sensitivity and grace. The film has recently been nominated for Best Live Action Short Film in the 2013 Short of the Week Awards, with winners to be announced beginning February 4, 2013.

Chris Dean’s heart stopped when he was two; he died but he came back. When Chris was five, his father was murdered, shot with more than 20 bullets in a gang shootout. In 2011, at age 18, Chris gained national attention when he introduced President Barack Obama at his high school graduation. Chris is an observer-philosopher who has always had a few things to say about life from his vantage point in South Memphis. As I Am is a wonderful work, which originally premiered on the website of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

As I Am: We Are Meant to Find Each Other

Booker T. Washington Senior Christopher Dean Introduces President Barack Obama

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W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Biographic Notes

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) was born in York, England. He moved to Birmingham during childhood and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford his precocity as a poet was immediately apparent, and he formed lifelong friendships with two fellow writers, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood.

As a young man, he traveled through Germany, Iceland, and China, served in the Spanish Civil war and in 1939 moved to the United States, where he met his lover, Chester Kallman, and became an American citizen. A prolific writer, Auden was also a noted playwright, librettist, editor, and essayist. Considered by some to be the greatest English poet of the twentieth century, his work has exerted a major influence on succeeding generations of poets on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dark Night of the Soul

In 1952, Auden and his life-long companion moved to an apartment at 77 St. Marks Place in New York’s East Village. It was, more or less, Auden’s permanent home for the rest of his life. During the initial years, Auden lived, however ambivalently, actively engaged in social and political interests, as well as enjoying his status as an internationally renowned poet. In his later years, Auden became increasingly withdrawn and lonely.

This was profoundly reflected in his writings, through which he deliberately attempted to discard much of his own public dignity, a significant sign that indicated the painful depth of his feelings of personal isolation. Many of his last poems spoke to, rather than about, silent objects and people who were either absent or dead. Ruminations about “night” (the darkness and ending of one’s day/life) dominated his writings in 1972, and particularly in his poem Lullaby that was addressed to himself. In that poem, writing about sleep was framed by the language of finality: “Let your last thinks all be thanks,” anticipating a time of final endings, completions and a state surpassing all feelings of resentment.

On another note, Auden’s life-long anxieties about his seemingly paradoxical wishes to maintain a clear sense of autonomy, versus his strong needs for attachment, were perhaps no more clearly presented than in his book of poems, About the House, inspired by various rooms in his home. Writing about groups of people visiting in the “living room”, Auden’s thoughts turned to the impact of the size of such rooms upon the internal experiences of psychological boundaries versus a lack of boundaries.

If the room was too small, he believed that, “…people can’t forget at will that they’re not alone.” In other words, they can’t remember that while together (or part of a “we”), they are also alone, instead drowning in a sense of enmeshment, lack of personal identity, autonomy and achievement.

At another extreme, if the room was too large, it would encourage people to engage in ever-more strong efforts to make contact with each other, with intensively forceful attempts to achieve a sense of attachment, along with heightened wishes and strivings for nurturing dependency.

Near the very end of his life, Auden’s poem entitled Loneliness purported to convey his prediction that his intense feelings of solitude would be relieved on the following day, when his companion, Chester Kallman, was to return. In fact, the poem only addresses in the first person his own terrifying image of Loneliness itself, the “Gate-crashing ghost, aggressive / invisible visitor.”

Concluding this brief commentary, we return to Auden’s feelings of the dark night of his soul as the end of life approached, best captured in his poem entitled Lullaby

Lullaby

First stanza
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Kenneth Granham Reads W. H. Auden’s Lullaby

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Tell Me the Truth About Love is a BBC documentary film looking at the poetry of W. H. Auden, revealing how it came not just from inspiration but from a rigorous personal analysis of love itself. When he died in 1973, he left behind some of the greatest love poems of the 20th century. Most of his unpublished material was destroyed, apart from two short journals and a series of jottings, containing diagrams and notes about the nature of love.

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Photo-Gallery: W. H. Auden Through the Years

(Please Click Image to View Gallery)

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Even Miracles Need a Hand!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Even Miracles Need a Hand!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is a 1974 animated short film, originally a television Christmas special based on Clement Moore’s famous 1823 poem that opens with this line. For some unexplained reason, all the letters sent to Santa Claus are being returned to the children of Junctionville. It seems that some disenchanted resident of the small town has angered Santa, calling Christmas nothing but “a fraudulent myth!” The skeptical resident turns out to be little mouse Albert, who has to be brought to his senses. The way in which Albert is persuaded to change his tune paves the way for Santa’s jolly return to Junctionville and the joyous finale of this charming animated fable.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Even Miracles Need a Hand!

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Imagine Your Dreams: As I Am

Imagine Your Dreams: As I Am

The more I keep thinking about when I died, when I was a child, I got a job to do.
I wish I could remember what God told me to do.
I wish I could remember the cuts I’m supposed to take, what cuts I’m supposed to create.
What I know is, we are meant to connect, to find each other.
Eyes to see. Hands to feel. Hearts to love.

As I Am is a beautiful, sensitive documentary short film by Emmy-Award winning photojournalist/filmmaker Alan Spearman. The poetic and powerful imagery of the film follows the Memphis landscape of remarkable young Chris Dean, revealing the many lives that have shaped his world. Told in Dean’s own words, the film is a long spoken word poem describing his trenchant observations about life: his thoughts and feelings regarding the places and people that make up his home. As I Am portrays Dean’s hopes, fears and, more than anything, his sensitivity and grace.

Chris Dean’s heart stopped when he was two; he died but he came back. When Chris was five, his father was murdered, shot with more than 20 bullets in a gang shootout. In 2011, at age 18, Chris gained national attention when he introduced President Barack Obama at his high school graduation. Chris is an observer-philosopher who has always had a few things to say about life from his vantage point in South Memphis. As I Am is a wonderful work, which just premiered on the website of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Imagine Your Dreams: As I Am

Booker T. Washington Senior Christopher Dean Introduces President Barack Obama

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In Memoriam: Be Near Me When My Light Is Low

In Memoriam: Be Near Me When My Light Is Low

Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson (In Memoriam, 1850)

Be Near Me is a thoughtful 1-1/2 minute short film directed by John X. Carey, a short love story based on Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, In Memoriam. The film is a quiet reflection about talking to those you’ve lost and finding a sense of solace in their memory.

In Memoriam: Be Near Me When My Light Is Low

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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Opsin: An Inspiring, Simple and Powerful Piece of Urban Visual Poetry

Opsin: An Inspiring, Simple and Powerful Piece of Urban Visual Poetry

Opsin is the new beautifully shot, pristine monotone short film/music video by Ivan Villafuerte, an inspiring and powerful piece of urban visual poetry. It can be viewed as a follow-up to Villafuerte’s Destello, a magnificent tribute to the city of Chicago that allowed us to rediscover the beauty of images that we have before us in everyday life.

Villafuerte is a Chicago-based videographer, who has been creating some great atmospheric, running visuals over the past few months. An important element in these projects has been the inclusion of progressive imaginative audio, which really precisely sets the tone of each piece. The music is combined with contrasting focus and a selective eye that captures some very unique viewpoints. Villafuerte seems to be making this imaginative and evocative style his own right now, and it’s vividly shown in an earlier short work that is also presented here, olololololololxl_l_l_l.

Opsins are trans-membrane proteins essential for the conversion of photons to biochemical processes; they can be viewed as the essential points of contact between outside reality and our interior world of visual perception and experience.  So I recommend putting them to work with the wonderful frames of these videos. And try to make sure you aren’t doing anything else when you watch them, so that you can just sit back and really enjoy the views.

Opsin: An Inspiring and Powerful Piece of Urban Visual Poetry

olololololololxl_l_l_l: An Imaginative and Evocative Visual Art Piece

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Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

Nicholas was,
Older than sin,
And his beard could grow no whiter,
He wanted to die.

Nicholas Was is a darkly humorous animated short film, the 2010 Christmas Card created by the Beijing studio, 39 Degrees North.  The animated short is an adaptation of a wonderful poem by the fantastic Neil Gaiman.  The film begins by taking a rather unconventional route, and after that there’s simply no turning back. The pull of the dark side becomes just too strong, resulting in an arduous and thankless trip for St. Nicholas that is way beyond awesome.

Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

(Best Watched in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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