Friday, December 26, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
This morning Death, this afternoon marriage and Life. This Solstice Day, so heavy with the Dance of Shiva.
We take such comfort in the security of Ceremony to heal past wounds and face uncertain futures.
Sometimes I wonder if it is really worth the time to think about it at all, but to simply enjoy what we have, while we have it. And if not able to Love it, at least appreciate it.
I looked out the window to see the flock of robins in the trees. The dog barked and a dozen or so turkeys were in the yard. They crept up the hill and one flew up and back over the trees. Turkeys look funny in the air.
I filled the bird feeder with seed and admired the multitude of persimmons on the tree and on the ground, and praised the Morning, and think of dear friends who will be married later today.
I think how happy I am of this and realize the subtle dark difference that has been creeping into my outlook as the days have grown shorter, and how I lately tend to think in paranoid cycles, so I promptly ate my zoloft and a big chunk of ginseng.
This Winter Solstice reminds me of this past year, and my intense focus on what could be pagan practice. It just seems that whatever Is, Is. Simple as that.
What if Jesus was really just using Heaven as a metaphor for the future days of one's physical life; the Father the mysterious Creative Forces; the Son our physical bodies, and the Holy Spirit as our Intuition?
I wonder why there is relative silence surrounding the "Burning Man meets Charlie Brown's Christmas" program. Is is just too crappy to be worth the time, too strange to worry about, or am I just trying to place external importance on something that should have remained an internal idea?
I am not finished though.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
A while back we teachers went to teacher school for a couple of hours.
In addition to learning that I should walk around the classroom and more effectively engage and assess you students, I learned that everything has to be put into a context in order to be understood.
Well, first, I don’t expect you to understand any of the following since I don’t understand it myself.
And second, keep this context in mind regarding my Chapel presentation this morning:
1. This is performance art.
2. I’m crazy. Sometimes more crazy than others.
3. I’m not going to do anything any crazier that I have already done on this stage at some point.
As some may know, I was given the opportunity to attend Burning Man earlier this year.
This opportunity was made possible by a grant called the NETS Fund, which is available to all faculty members who have been here at Webb at least 4 years.
The grant is given by members of the Class of 1967. The description provided by Marion Marks said:
“…No limit shall be placed on a non-traditional application by the school, and scholarships shall be awarded based upon merit of tenure and the creativeness of the program to be funded, if such a program is deemed potentially rewarding for future instruction.
Be it "under-water basket weaving," deep-sea diving, aerial photography, or documentary production, applied programs must show creativity and potential.”
So I wrote up a little proposal that started out saying that I would like to experience Burning Man, and part of it stated:
“I have wanted to attend this event for many years, but it is consistently scheduled during the beginning of school.
In the past I thought it would be too selfish to ask for leave time to attend, but
I don’t think anyone else applied, and this was the first year of the grant. I think that helped my odds quite a bit.
Mr. Marks said that a number of his friends and business associates had been to Burning Man, and that he thought it was an excellent experience.
My proposal was approved, and I am very grateful.
The effects and creative activities surrounding the Burning Man opportunity and experience have been nearly continual since last January.
That’s when Mr. Rupley very quietly told me I that my proposal was approved, and in that same breath he asked me if I planned to “go naked”.
Now if you think that’s weird, then keep in mind that when I returned from Burning Man, one of the first things Mr. Cauz asked me was if I “went naked”.
Well friends, they were joking, (I think) but I will tell you all right now that I didn’t get any more naked at Burning Man than I plan on getting later this morning.
But the thing is, we’re ALL naked, right now, underneath our clothes.
Keep that in mind when you step up here for your next declamation.
Now you may be thinking, what in the world is going on here? What is this Burning Man thing?
And yes, this presents me with quite a dilemma.
How can I attempt to even begin to explain, within the very limited time allotted this morning, or ever, an experience that has actually been personally evolving for over 30 years?
Well, I can’t.
I have a hard time limiting my focus in all of my Chapel presentations, and just tend to cram them full of incoherence.
And Burning Man? Listen, I was there for 12 days around Labor Day. I worked on projects for it all summer. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and I still haven’t been able to crystallize my thoughts into an understandable narrative.
So I’m just going to do what I do this morning, and if you want more details please ask me or e-mail me or go to my website, pmquinn.net.
I hope to have a spiffy slide show/video soon, but it is taking forever to edit.
I do have a whole lot of unorganized pictures and videos and a long audio talk posted though.
But I don’t have the time that I need to somehow relate how I think we are all Creative and Creating Manifestations and to tell you of my eternal quest for Truth and my feelings of betrayal by my religious upbringing and my neurotransmitters and how my ego always gets in the way and how I want to somehow balance my need for attention with humility and how I think we should all be open and honest as painful it may be and recognize and appreciate each other for exactly who we are but it’s impossible because most of us don’t even know who we are and if we do we may be afraid that we will be rejected if we express it and how it just seems so strange to me that human goodness so often goes unrecognized because it is blocked by some kind of cultural, religious, social or moral filter…
But for now I am going to just feed you some information, and do a performance, and not expect you to understand a thing, but you can think about it if you want too.
First I want to remind us of Webb’s Enduring Understandings. We faculty talked about these things last year and adopted them as a whole.
They read as follows:
Integrity is a cornerstone of a flourishing life and community.
Learning is an enjoyable and on-going process.
Respect for self and others is essential to a harmonious society.
Self-discipline and autonomy are essential to success.
Each person has unique gifts and capacities and a responsibility to develop them.
Each person shares the responsibility and honor of serving others.
While Webb has evolved from a Judeo-Christian heritage and affirms and expects students to uphold the common values of our traditions, Webb embraces and respects differences in religious backgrounds.
I want you to keep that in mind as give you some brief information about Burning Man, which I have taken and edited from the official Burning Man website http://www.burningman.com/ :
“Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind…
…Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather to create Black Rock City in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever.”
…Our intention is to generate society that connects each individual to his or her creative powers, to participation in community, to the larger realm of civic life, and to the even greater world of nature that exists beyond society.
…We believe that the experience of Burning Man can produce positive spiritual change in the world.
…We will always burn the Man.
The people who live in the temporary community of Black Rock City are expected to be committed to the following Ten Principles:
1. Radical Inclusion
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man.
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving.
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting…we resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience. (This means absolutely NO vending).
4. Radical Self-reliance
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
5. Radical Self-expression
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual…the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
6. Communal Effort
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration.
7. Civic Responsibility
We value civil society.
8. Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather.
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic.
We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation.
We achieve being through doing.
Everyone is invited to work.
Everyone is invited to play.
We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
(In other words, take a hand in the game!)
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture.
We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers.
No idea can substitute for this experience.
Keeping the above in mind, I am about to be joined by some students in a very short performance.
In creating this performance I was thinking of a way to somehow relate the Burning Man experience to the Webb community.
I was also thinking of the beauty of the sounds of chaos as well as the organized sound of music, such as birds singing, leaves rustling, ocean waves and the spontaneous roars of stadium crowds and concert goers.
I was also thinking of how many of our Christmas traditions are based on Pagan celebrations, and how transcendent the concept of giving really is.
Please try to be quiet while the performance is underway, even though I know it might be hard, but there is no need for shushing. It’s all good.
And lastly, please come up and pick up a flute after Chapel if you would like one. I made them myself, and they come with instructions but it may take a lot of practice to play it right. Be careful not to step on them.
The performance is over when we exit through the curtain. Thank you.
I have already lost touch with many of the thoughts that streamed throguh my brain as I lay thinking at 3:30 this morning.
Ideas seem so important to share, but sometimes they are just ghosts that disappear as rapidly as time progresses.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
- I need to relay my "educational experience" from burning man.
- I always try to say too much on too wide a variety of topics, because this is precious time.
- We faculty spent 2 hours learning that we need to engage our students by "effectively" walking around the classroom, paying attention to our students, and periodically finding out what they know. The magic is to be found in how we apply the term "effectively".
-can lessons be provided or learned simply by asking questions?
-can a talk be given effectively by only asking questions?
-give out the 500 pvc flutes I didn't get done in time for burning man.
-compare burning man "gifting" to the gifts for Magi and the gifts of Christmas and the Gift of Life.
-compare the Webb uniform to the implied uniform of the Burning Man public works crew.
-there is beauty in both organized sound (music) and chaotic sound (leaves rustling)
-there is beauty in the pvc fife melody and in the sound they make when dropped on the floor
-incorporate the Art II projects into a Burning Man presentation, have them dance around while I burn a candle on my head.
-"Christmas Song" by Jethro Tull
-Why are folks welcomed "Home" to Black Rock City?
-What makes this temporary community "home"?
-Is it family?
-Is it love?
-Is it the "Ten Principles":?
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I cut them in the summer in hopes of taking them to Burning Man as "gifting" gifts.
The term "gifting" bothers me somehow, though.
Anyway, after over 20 hours I wasn't near finishing them, so I didn't take them.
I guess i could say I "gifted" my time there, spending more than 60% of my waking hours either setting up, lamplighitng, working the cafe, greeting, or helping the rangers.
So, Ive been at it another 10 hours, trying to finish these fifes for a chapel program next week. I may work on the talk for the program on this blog, I don't know.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Various stages of the common cold infecting heads, throats and lungs.
Iv'e been reading "The mission of Art" by Alex Grey. A little new-agey, but I agree with it for the most part.
I don't agree with the use of hallucinogens though.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday was the Parents Association fundraiser, and the 12 pints of honey made $3k thanks to their generosity and silliness.
Now a sore throat starts to send signals of impending body shivers.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The past couple of weeks have been eventful:
A Halloween night camping trip in the woods next to a cemetery, complete with a dead owl and creeping cat.
A 20 hour road trip and two days in Ohio with a great group of rowdy kids to help bring in a new area of leadership, again, but in a new skin.
A cranky dear veteran instructor friend is distanced in the middle of settling dust from spinning and competing narratives.
A choke sleeper hold from a leader who fears and hears more than listens and leads.
A lovely walk in golden woods with ambling dogs and loving wife and handfuls of lucky buckeyes.
A realization of a need to be a more effective teacher, especially for advanced students.
And an ever present realization that keeping a journal up to date just isn't my thing.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
On the way we will take a "tour of homes" of local artists Sherri Warner Hunter, Russ Faxon, J.L. Nippers, and Elder Jones. Just drive by and look, not much time to stop and chat. After MTSU we will head to Nashville to the Frist, and if time allows, the galleries of Fisk University.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
A record of disjointed thoughts:
We very seldom really "stick it to the 'man'". The "man" sticks it to himself. We sometimes cannot help, or have an obligation, to point at the self inflicted wound.
In spring the birds in the hollow sing their hearts out, all at once. There is only their need to sing. Even though it is rowdy and cacophonous, it is still beautiful.
Somehow this blog is a compromise between my strong desire to be noticed and my other strong desire to fade into the woods unnoticed.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
It is only fair that if I require my students to keep a journal, I should keep one myself. But, it is nice to not be the student, and to not face this as a requirement.
I am sleepy from having stayed up all night for a school activity, a lock in for middle school students facilitated by upper school students who advocate and live drug and alcohol free lives.
I just learned that a dear student fell asleep on his way home this morning, and crashed his car. He was flown by helicopter to Vanderbilt, but his Volvo and good seat belt habits surely helped in that although he was tumbled about as he smashed through the telephone pole and rolled his car several times, he only received a cut on his head and scraped hand.
The ideas that I was having as I walked with my dogs in the woods this lovely fall afternoon before I received the phone call about my dear young friend seem so trivial in the weight of today's potential tragedy and the actual blessing to still have him with us.
I know that I will add them later, but right now I need to think a bit.