Insect Repellent

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis was published in 1915.  It’s  the story of Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning and realizes he’s become a giant insect.  Before being a bug, Gregor provided for his family by working as a traveling salesman. Unable to work now, Gregor’s  famiy now sees him as a burden.

Gregor, now an insect, can no longer speak.  Unable to express himself, his way of thinking changes.  Realizing that he is unwanted, Gregor dies.  Kafka doesn’t explain what was the cause of this metamorphosis, but the reason why seems fairly obvious.  Gregor hated his life because it made him feel like he was worth little more than an insect.  So he was.

Your thoughts determine the life you have. Therefore, before turning into a giant bug myself, I’m going to initiate some  intentional transformations and will myself into being what I want to be—like being happy. More than something magical, often happiness is just a result of practicing the right kinds of habits. The standard blueprint towards any self-imposed transformation takes energy. And to have energy, one needs exercise, diet and enough sleep. Plus dancing daily helps, too!

Transformation

 

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Critique Sheet for Every Day Life

Instead of a selfie, why not photograph a moment such as when sitting at the kitchen table, or looking out the window, or stopping on a walk around the block then critiquing the photograph as if it were a painting.

Just as a critique sheet is used to evaluate a work of art, we could use a critique sheet to evaluate certain moments of our day treating these moments as if they were works of art, too.

La Sussurrata

 

Identification of the Moment: a Parian Porch, May 2017

Description: it is a color photograph showing a partial view of a  porch with plants and a partial view of a patio with plants.

Analysis: the picture plane is divided into foreground and background.  This division is enhanced by the effect of controluce with the foreground being darker than the background.

The picture is dominated by nature’s biomorphic plants that contrast with man’s geometrical architecture. It takes the eye longer to move around biomorphic contours than it does to move around geometric ones. Natures wants attention.

Interpretation: the presence of a foreground and a background suggests “Here and There”–the distance that divides one place from another. One thought from another. One person from another. But our eyes help us go beyond boundaries permitting  ” there” to become ”here”.

La Sussurrata

Conclusion: observation brings things closer to us even when they are far away.

My memories are paintings.

 

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Daily Aesthetics

My friend Anthy is an expert at making life photogenic. She can turn even a simple act such as serving water into a photo shoot. Anthy’s Daily Aesthetics transforms the world around her into a magical place.

Anthy's Glasses

Anthy’s Refreshment Glasses

Below are some thoughts as to why  daily aesthetics are so important:

We are part of our environment whether or not we want to be. When you react to your environment with your own aesthetic code, you change your rapport with the environment. You, in some way, possess the place where you are just by being there. Because by being there, you, too, are part of the environment. So, if the world around us becomes a part of us, why not turn it into art?

Creating personal daily aesthetics implies creating a rapport with our environment. Art should be integrated into daily experience because it enhances life. Art is a form of consciousness and consciousness transforms us.

Anthy-s Potted Plant

Anthy’s Potted Bouquet

The use of the imagination in everyday life is fundamental. Imagination is a form of insight. It helps us interact with our environment.

Aesthetics are ideals that help guide us.

Aesthetics don’t come from what’s in front of us but from what’s inside of us.

Art helps us integrate with our environment. Art is the fusion of the inside and out.

Reacting to our environment helps maintain the flow of consciousness.

Attitude determines our aesthetics.

Anthy's Table Decor

Anthy’s Centerpiece

If we change our canons of beauty, we change our rapport with our environment. Our destiny is, in part, determined by how we interact with our environment. If the gap between ourselves and our environment is too wide, psychologically or physically we die. Vital adaption comes thru expansion.

Our thoughts keep us company. That’s why we must cultivate them.

Stasis does not lead to experience. And it is experience that shapes our sense of aesthetics.

Jean Renoir said that ‘true art is in the doing of it’.

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Originally published HERE (Cynthia Korzekwa  © 2003)

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Towards Paros

Finally, Paros!

We took a taxi to the airport.  On the way, motorists were honking, zigzagging, driving aggressively. But, when asked, our driver said driving a taxi in Rome didn’t stress him out.  Like Don Ruiz who says “don’t take it personally”, he’d learned over the years to detach himself from emotional driving and just concentrate on getting where he had to go.

Departure, In The Taxi

At an intersection, our driver cut in front of a woman on a scooter because, he explained, she’d hesitated. Whoever is not sure about what they are doing will be obliterated by someone who does. Furthermore, to avoid a traffic buildup the number one rule is to keep traffic moving.

So from the taxi driver I learned that  “hesitation breaks the flow” and “impose upon others before others  impose upon you”.

Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport is better known as Fiumicino because it’s near the canal of Fiumicino. It’s an airport like all the others in that it’s a transition space filled with strangers who submit themselves to invasive security checks and high prices just to get from somewhere to somewhere else.

Airport Security with Volver the Cat

According  to French anthropologist, Marc Augé, airports are non-places. A non-place depersonalizes.  In airports, we’re no longer individuals but simply part of a multitude that’s herded from one space to another.  The only thing we have in common with others is our transience.

An airport is a place where the generic and not the specific is created. An airport is about transition and temporality. An airport, because it incites no sense of belonging, leaves one anchorless.

Rome - Athens

On the plane I thought about all the destinations I’ve had. And how ephemeral a destination is because once you arrive, “destination” no longer exists.

from the Colosseum to the Parthenon

You know you’ve arrived when there becomes here.

 

Bibliography:

Augé, Marc. Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity. Verso Books. London. 2009

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Sloughing

Every day we shed dead skin and make dust.  As with snakes, old skin must be eliminated to make room for the new. And the longer one lives, the more renewals are necessary.  Stagnation is static whereas life is motion.  So sometimes you just have to dust yourself off and   make some changes.

Renew Yourself

There are basically three things to do for intentional change: 1. Analyze the situation 2. Set objectives 3. Create a strategy.

A diary can be helpful in making these changes.

Using a diary, we can reconstruct our day and observe it from a distance. After analyzing our actions,  we can decide whether or not changes need to be made.

If changes are necessary, then objectives need to be set. Once goals are visualized, a strategy is needed to actualize them.

Renew Yourself

Renew Yourself

Lao Tzu said  “Every journey begins with a single step.” Like the one you take when walking out your front door.

Renew Yourself

Renew Yourself

A diary  can also help us stay focus and document our progress.

Here’s an  example:

  1. Analyze the situation… while objectively looking in the mirror, you decide that it’s time for a change and that you need to lose weight.

Renew Yourself

2. Set objectives…you decide to lose 10 kilos in 5 months.

Renew Yourself3. Create a strategy…. after some research, you realize to reach your objective you need to consume no more than 1200 calories and to exercise for 30 minutes every day. To help you stay on track, you keep a food diary.  You also find ways to compensate for excesses. If one evening you want to go out with friends and drink wine, remember that a  glass of wine has about 85 calories so 3 glasses of wine is about, 255 calories which means walking about 40 minutes extra to burn it off.

Renew Yourself

 

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Kate, diaries, and impressions.

There are some people who leave impressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water. Kate Chopin Kate Chopin and Impressions

In the 1960s, Kate Chopin’s grandson discovered some of the writer’s personal papers including a 1894 diary entitled “Impressions” written in a school copybook with a rat hole gnawed in the middle. The diary is full of her observations regarding, most of all, the impressions she had of others.

Kate Chopin (1851-1904), was born and raised in Missouri. She was just a little girl when her father lost his life when the train he was travelling on crossed a bridge that collapsed. So Kate was raised in a household full of women who believed in living life “clearly and fearlessly”.

Kate Chopin and Impressions

During the Civil War, Kate lived in St. Louis, a town  split between Unioners and Confederates.  At the age of 19, Kate met the wealthy plantation owner, Oscar Chopin. They married and moved to New Orleans where, at that time, married women were considered the legal property of their husbands.  But that didn’t keep Kate from smoking cigars, wearing boisterous clothes, and wildly riding her horse around town.  After her husband died leaving her in debt, she moved back to St. Louis to live with her mom.  But shortly afterwards,her mom died leaving Kate feeling overwhelmed and depressed. So her doctor suggested writing as a form of therapy.  And this was the beginning of her literary career. Almost 40 years old, Kate began writing poems and short stories when the responsibilites of being a mother permitted.

Kate Chopin and Impressions

Kate was impressed by Impressionism.  She looked at Monet’s water lilies and thought “Oh, to be able to paint in color than in words”. Like the oils in an Impressionist painting, perception and impression blend together and that’s what Kate wanted to do, to.

Kate Chopin and Impressions

When Edgar Degas stayed in New Orleans in 1872, he became acquainted with Kate. During one of their many conversations, he told her about the Morisot sisters, both painters.  Berthe, a victim of her love for Edouard Manet, continued to paint but Edma stopped when she married and regretted it for the rest of her life. This inspired Kate’s short story “The Awakening,” a story about a woman’s desire to be herself and the conflict this causes for herself and others. Kate was influenced, too, by Mary Cassatt, Impressionist painter involved with Degas whose “Modern Women” mural created much scandal.

Kate wanted to write honestly and with no regard for conventional standards. She wrote about women and their semi-slave status, psychic traumas, and sexuality. The patriarchs were not happy and her worked repressed.  They could keep Kate from being published  but they couldn’t stop her from keeping a diary.

Kate Chopin and Impressions

Excerpts from “Impressions” (May 1894):

-Kate goes to her publisher’s office.  An old gentleman is reading an excessively long poem about the army.  He asks if there’s a possibility it can be published but is given a negative response.  So the man stands up, bows, and gives a brief apology before leaving. Kate learns that the elderly poet was an anarchist and wrote: “Fancy an anarchist armed with no more serious a bomb than a poem which he carries into the offices of publishers there to accomplish its deadly work.”

Kate Chopin and Impressions

-another day in May  “I have no leaning towards a parrot.  I think them detestable birds with their blinking stupid eyes and heavy clumsy motions…it made me positively ill today when I had gone to pass a few hours with Blanche, to be forced to divide her society and attention with her own parrot and a neighbor’s which she had borrowed….but on the other hand, she gave me delicious homegrown strawberries (the first) for luncheon.”

Kate Chopin and Impressions

–22 May “I have finished a story of 4800 words and called it ‘Lilacs.’ I cannot recall what suggested it. If the story had been written after my visit of last Sunday to the convent, I would not have to seek the impulse far.  Those nuns seem to retain or gain a certain beauty with their advancing years which we women in the world are strangers to.  The unchanging form of their garments through years and years seems to impart a distinct character to their bodily movements.”

Kate Chopin and Impressions

Impressions.

First impressions are a point of departure for interacting with others. They give us a means of making quick evaluations. For example, to see if the person in front of us is friend or foe. But the person in front of us does the same.

My impression of you talks with your impression of me.

We are not always the same person.   Society is not homogeneous so we are always modifying the role we play and the impression we give.

Kate Chopin and Impressions

Even the impression we have of ourselves fluctuates and sometimes we perform even for ourselves. Sometimes we wear masks even when we are alone.

 

Kate Chopin and Impressions

 

Kate Chopin and Impressions

Like Kate Chopin, we can use our diary to record the impressions we have of the world around us. Because perception is not static and often flickers like the light in an impressionist painting.

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Bibliography:
Toth, Emily and Seyersted, Per.  Kate Chopin’s Private Papers.
Goffman, Erving. The Presentations of Self in Everyday Life.

 

 

 

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My Maieutical Diary

Socrates taught by asking questions.  The method he used is known as “maieutics” from the Greek term for “midwifery”.  Because, believed Socrates,  the teacher was a midwife in that he helped give birth to latent knowledge in a person.  By the way,  Socrates’ mother was a midwife.

Maieutics

Maieutics  uses interrogation to arrive at logical reasoning and to elicit the ideas of the interlocutor rather than of one’s own. Like a psychologist.

Maieutics

So, for DIY therapy, use your diary for self-interrogation. Some typical psychologists’ questions are: What brings you here? What is the problem you’d like to resolve? What would it take to make you happy? Etc.

Maieutics

Why?” is always a good start for ping ponging questions and answers.  Example: Why do I like to drink wine so much?  Because it relaxes me. Why do I need to relax so much? Because my work stresses me out. Why does my work stress me out so much ? Etc. Then you give yourself a series of possible answers and study these answers eliminating those that lead to contradictions.

Questions I asked myself today:

Maieutics

Maieutics

Maieutics

  To get the right answers, sometimes it helps if you ask the right questions.

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