Month: November 2014

The wisdom of John Taylor Gatto

I stumbled upon this video of the educator John Taylor Gatto yesterday as I was hanging around in the “dark playground” and avoiding writing 1 of 2 remaining papers for the class I’m taking this semester. I’d never heard of him, but he was apparently a pretty well known dissident educator/intellectual, at least in New York City in the 80s and 90s. I really resonated with a lot of what he was saying about the nature of school systems as we know them, about how the learning experiences of the children in school are so abstract and unrelated to the world of work and real life that of course they will fail to be interested in doing the rote memorization and silly busywork that the adults would have them do. I thought it was really awesome how he helped to connect the kids back to themselves — their inherent wonder, curiosity and intelligence — by encouraging them to pursue their own interests and to take themselves seriously as future brilliant members of the world. It made me feel very inspired and really quite bummed out about my own education. Though I went to a well regarded “magnet” high school, I still felt that so many kids, including myself, were going through the motions of “excelling” in school in order to competitively move on to the next pre-ordained step in life without really considering what is uniquely brilliant and special about themselves. I do think that its best for all young people to exercise more control over their learning path as early as possible so that they and the world can benefit from their gifts in a more joyful and direct way.

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a picture gift

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This polaroid-style (actually fuji instax) photo of a man and woman was handed to me by a very tall man dancer at the pina bausch dance company performance on halloween night! Apologies for the crappy phone picture of the photo. I think  he chose me because I was sitting with my feet up on my chair and my knees in front of my face and perhaps that struck him as odd because well, who the hell sits like that at the theater ha ha. The photo evokes a couple of things for me–first it brings to mind photos of models at a “go-see”, where a designer is just shuffling through dozens of these polaroided women–just the way that they are staring directly into the camera and looking so poised. They could also be people at a fancy party, like something given at an embassy somewhere except for the lighting in the picture is so dim that it really couldn’t be and is instead on the creepy side. The image is otherworldly, like a photo that you found on the street and couldn’t even start to imagine how it came to be. An artifact of a ritual that makes sense only in a real specific reality.

A bit late to post the IKEA Halloween commercial. But “The Shining” is always a classic!

Watching “The Shining” after taking my first photography class made the movie so much richer for me. I loved the way the frame was used throughout the movie to make us visually feel each scene. It truly became one of my favorite movies. Many years later, I also remember telling a student who was struggling with composition to watch “The Shining”. I thought it was a perfect suggestion for a film student. However, his responds was – The Shining is not even a great movie. It broke my heart (a little), but I was super excited to see that the IKEA team decided on a Shining-like commercial, and I think it turned out almost as awesome as the movie. Happy Halloween! (late).