Photos of the Day: Ushering in 2008

Recognizing Our Changing World

Recognizing Our Changing World

“The avoidance of reality is much the same everywhere, and has much the same consequences.  The Russian people were taught for years that they were better off than everybody else, and propaganda posters showed Russian families sitting down to abundant meal while the proletariat of other countries starved in the gutter.  Meanwhile the workers in the western countries were so much better off than those of the U.S.S.R. that non-contact between Soviet citizens and outsiders had to be a guiding principle of policy.  Then, as a result of the war, millions of ordinary Russians penetrated far into Europe, and when they return home the original avoidance of reality will inevitably be paid for in frictions of various kinds.  The Germans and the Japanese lost the war quite largely because their rulers were unable to see facts which were plain to any dispassionate eye.  To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.  One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events.  Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it.  Political predictions are usually wrong.  But even when one makes a correct one, to discover why one was right can be very illuminating.  In general, one is only right when either wish or fear coincides with reality.”

George Orwell, 1946.

A World of Change

Rufus Wainwright: Across the Universe

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There’s Just No Place Like Home

William Hogarth: The Strodes Family

The Idea of the Home

During holiday times, such as the winter season of festivities that many of us are enjoying right now, a substantial number of people travel sometimes large distances to re-connect and celebrate with other relatives back at their families’ homes.  This led to my reflecting not so much about the reality of the home, as the idea of the home.  The conception of the home, or “hominess,” evolved over a period of many centuries.  By the early 1500s, domestic life was rather austere, but had come to reflect a sense of intimacy and privacy.  On the other hand, if we were to have asked any of them if they felt comfortable where they lived, they would have been puzzled by the question and unable to answer.  The first appearance of the word “comfort” to mean a level of domestic contentment is not reported until the eighteenth century.

One illustration of this new found sense of domestic comfort is shown above in William Hogarth’s painting of an early Georgian interior.  Notice how the softened furniture complemented the rich costumes of the time and served as counterparts to the billowing gowns worn by women, as well as to the finely embroidered coats and wigs of the men.

The slightly pompous interiors also reflected the clothing fashions of the time.  Skirted chairs and gathered draperies reflected the details of how cloth had come to be used in skirts and gowns; wallpaper often copied the designs used in fabrics. The lavish Art Deco furniture reflected the homeowners’ own luxurious garments.

My personal thought for each of you who has been able to spend time re-connecting with loved ones is to always remember that home is where all of us started from.  I very deeply hope that going back provided you with strong feelings of warmth and deep affection.

There’s Just No Place Like Home

Michael Buble: Home

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Chippendales’ Mr. December: Very Sexy Steve Kim

Steve Kim: Andrew Holleran’s “Dancer from the Dance

Chippendales’ Mr. December: Very Sexy Steve Kim

My Faves for Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The article presents some reflections on hope. It discusses how the attempt to specify the meaning of hope is complicated by the need to clarify the many relationships between hope and expectations. And yet, we must dare to hope. It is accompanied by pictures (incorporates Picasso’s Peace Dove) and two videos (including Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up).

[tags: art, hope, music video, Josh Groban, You Raise Me Up]

See the rest of my Faves at Faves

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And Yet I Dare to Hope

Reflections on Hope

As the New Year approaches, my thoughts have turned to the idea of hope. With some irony, I recalled how modern popular culture has incorrectly come to reify the ideas of the “ego,” the “self” and “identity,” mistakenly thinking of them as real, concrete objects. Further, I considered that we may well have deceptively done the same thing with the idea of hope. The following considerations may serve to illustrate some, though certainly not all, of the complications attending the idea of “hope.” For example, the meaning of hope is not exhausted by the distinction between hope as a conscious quality of emotion that is associated with our actions (realistic hope) and magical hope. In addition, there are all kinds of mixtures between realistic hope and magical hope.

Hope cannot be fully described and its role in the individual not fully understood without at the time describing its relation to acceptance (of reality, of the world, of one’s own situation, of others). The strength (or depletion) of the influence of hope cannot be fully described without at the same time accounting for the presence or absence, and quality, of disappointment during times of frustrated hope. It can be claimed that hope is always hope for improvement of one’s own, someone else’s or mankind’s condition. From this perspective, it becomes particularly vital as an emotional influence that can provide nourishment to the pursuit of our goals. However, the more certain one needs to be that hope will not be disappointed, the more one is functioning in the realm of the idea of hope in which there is reward for effort, and one begins to engage in (either less or more extreme) magical hope.

At the extreme point of magical hope are those reformers, revolutionaries and prophets who are convinced that ultimately they will succeed, that their paths alone are the right ones and that only those paths can lead to ultimate salvation. A polar position is pessimism, a view that nothing can be done to relieve man’s painful state in this world. Even the position of pessimism can take different forms. For example, ideological and contemporary political conservatives feed the masses a magical, fantastic sense of hope, in which they themselves do not actually believe. Another, surely more preferable form of pessimism, is perhaps best represented by Camus’ Sisyphus. In this case, the fact is accepted that we cannot know and yet we still have to make the effort. This is acceptance of reality, of man’s finite situation, without abandoning effort despite being unable to rely upon hope as a resource. It is a position where the effort is still maintained, but because we want to make it, even if it will turn out to have been in vain. This is very difficult and courageous, because it calls for giving up all hope for reward.

Finally, to complicate matters further in trying to clearly specify the meaning of hope, the issue of degree of certainty inevitably becomes involved. For example, if I could not expect with some degree of certainty that by taking the subway or bus I will arrive at a certain chosen destination (or goal), I well might give up the effort altogether. In others words, the attempt to specify the meaning of hope is even further complicated by the need to clarify the many relationships between hope and expectations.

And yet I dare to hope.

Josh Groban: You Raise Me Up

Happy New Year!!

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It’s the Good Humor Guy Here, Bringing You Some Fun Times!!

It’s the Good Humor Guy!!

Type “college prank” into YouTube and you’ll be greeted with hundreds of videos. Most will be really, really dumb. Many won’t even be pranks at all. Some of them will make you furrow your brow, shake your head, and fear for the future of our country. But a few of them push the art of the prank to new heights. Being able to share videos online has encouraged the best college pranksters to make their stunts more elaborate. It also allows us to share in their glorious humorous insanity.

The Merry College Pranksters

More Fun Times:

The Official Animal House Trailer

And Even MORE Fun Times:

Freshman Orientation

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