“The magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we inquire the reason of self-trust…. The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
It is impossible to understand the Socratic Dialogues without understanding Plato’s allegory of the cave. In Book VII of the Republic, Plato weaves together the story of a single man released from his imprisonment. Curiously, this man (the “philosopher”) returns to his peers, incessantly, to attempt to free them from seeing truth as the shadows, despite their threat to kill him. To trust ourselves—according to Plato—is to adjust our weak eyesight to the brightness of the day, beyond the institutions which enslave us. [click to continue….]
“Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an object as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”—Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number 1.
The centerpiece of the New American Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Emmanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware, invites strong reactions from whoever happens to behold it. Responses, which range from anecdotes of soldiers, who stood in tears before the masterpiece, to tourists, who laugh out their bellies at the same piece, are in no short supply. What is so interesting is the fact that the emotions evoked by the painting are either on one extreme end of the spectrum or the other. Initially, I found the romantic style and excessive patriotism of a German-“American” artist painting in Germany quite repulsive, to say nothing of the relative lack of symbolism in this 150” x 255” piece. After spending three weeks trying to create a film from the piece under the auspices of the Met Teen program, however, I realized this painting has already become a symbol of the ethos of the American people. This sentimental and histrionic still attempts to convey a story just as compelling as any theatrical performance or film that anyone could happen upon. Given that Washington Crossing the Delaware is the blockbuster of its day (which is more or less true, since it was created in 1851), it’s no wonder that a reasonable viewer cannot help either exalting or disdaining it. [click to continue….]
Sarah Cameron’s translation and direction of Jon Fosse’s A Summer Day, presented by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater at the Cherry Lane Theatre, unveils the psychological maelstrom which destroys the life of a man and a woman. Starting with two women in a little house by the sea, step by step the play washes us towards the autumn sea and buries us under the freezing cold of the seashore. [click to continue….]
Antigone Unearthed is an eccentric yet revolutionary adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone played by the all-female cast from “Our Ladies of South 4th Street.”
In Antigone Unearthed, the directors Rachel Broderick and Sophia Treanor cleverly recreate Antigone’s journey of no return– driven by her morbid attraction to death and hopeless indifference towards life. Here, Antigone is seen as much as a puppet swayed by the hands of the Greek gods (in this case the Furies) or a human being who lost her wits to the familial curse which she has no control over (being the offspring of Jocasta and Oedipus), as a girl who stands up for her beliefs even against an oppressive autocracy.
The actresses stood with their backs against you before the lights are turned off. When it is turned back on again, they are in their positions, gazing directly at you.
Then Antigone’s dream is reenacted. [click to continue….]
“The lamps are going out all over Europe. They will not be lit again in our lifetime.”—Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, August 1914
Set in World War I era Europe, the Lincoln Center Theater performance of War Horse reminds us of our boundless power, which may be used to destroy as well as to create. The hero of the show—the stallion Joey—symbolizes the innocent beings who are physically and psychologically destroyed by war. [click to continue….]
As I amble towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a bright summer morning, I am once again struck by its flight of stairs which seem not to lead into one of the world’s most prestigious museums but a haven in which series of beautiful efforts to capture the essence of life could forever reside in peace. All mundane thoughts dissipate and it is as though I am drawn into the works of the past. And yet, concurrently, a sense of awe and helplessness coalesce into a suffocating force. This contrast with the gentle zephyrs in the park ground outside.
Ah, the clouds above me are drifting. How beautiful are the trees, with light creating a natural collage with its leaves! But how can humans imitate this ideal; how can humans reach into the clouds? In this peaceful state of mind I look forward to a special exhibition by my favorite museum.
Tomas Saraceno’s Cloud City (now through November 4, 2012)–a collection of metal framework which puts on display three-dimensional hexagons (polyhedrons) piled together as a super-sized bee hive (or alternatively, as a pod high up in the sky)—is truly an architectural and aesthetic marvel on the 5th floor Roof Garden. [click to continue….]