Fanny and Alexader

or Fanny och Alexander by Ingmar Bergman. Happened to be on TCM last night. It was compelling enough to keep me up for whole 3 hours. It is no surprise it won so many awards for its cinematography by Sven Nykvist. The contrasting visual evocation of the two worlds of the children is so complete and powerful, that little dialogue has to be expended to explain their feelings. The visual aspect is so engaging it is one film I want to see again without the subtitles. I found it distracting from “taking in” the entirety of the movie, to have to let go of the visual composition to “read”.

The Family Genealogist

My father’s sister, Ruth, passed on just after the New Year. She had no immediate family, but has 20+ nieces and nephews and 40+ grand nieces/nephs. She had done decades of research on her (our) family tree and had made meticulous notes. It was her plan to put all that information on the standard genealogical forms. I found a stack of blank forms about 1″ thick. I also found all of her genealogical documentation. I have inherited the post of family genealogist. Fifteen years ago, I visited with my aunt, and she let me look at her work. I had made copious notes, but now the originals are all mine as well.

The major thing I have inherited from my aunt is the role of family genealogist. I found her meticulous work, and have been able to put in on a website. There is so much here – family papers, documents, photographs.
This is just a start:

Ernest and Anna Cripps Genealogy

What makes this so spooky is the cipher my grandfather, Ernest Cripps, Sr. has been. None of 8 aunts or uncles ever spoke of him. I did not see a photgraph of him until just this year! What I know about him I could put in a thimble.

I am fortunate to live in the era of online genealogy sources, and especially computer programs. It took me about ten hours to input all of her data, but now thanks to Tribal Pages, our family tree is online for all of the many descendants to view and use.

It is my hope to create a digital archive of documents and photos as well to add to this start. There is a treasure trove of stuff to go through, about three bankers boxes worth. Also time to go visit my cousin Georgiana to see if she can identify some faces in pictures for me.

Being Able to Write Again

I am finally recovering from my Creative Writing & Mental Constipation course I took this summer in Missoula. Last year, the general consensus is that Bolton’s course from 2004 was not as good as the one this year by young Grad Student writer guy. Maybe from some perspectives, but the first one was much better for me – I gained tiny bit of confidence to give myself permission to jump in and put the words out there.

This year I found myself back in the tied-up-in-knots-can’t-write-a-word state I experienced at the end of my Honors Creative Writing course I took my final semester in college. Whatever “they” real writers do, doesn’t work with my process at all. I have processed my denial-anger-grief-acceptance cycle to know that I will never be a “real writer” by whatever standards they use at CutBank and other journals. However, I am regaining that sense I had at the beginning of the summer that I have a lot to say, and have begun to find my own voice in how to say it. This year’s Creative Confusion Seminar was just a little detour, but you can put all the “real writers” on their little island together, and hey. I won’t even try to attend your party, so you won’t be troubled by having to vote me off the island.

Psych & Cognition & Human Development

Empire State College – Center for Distance Learning
has great courses in multicultural and interdisciplinary focus.

I am looking into studying basics in psychology, cognition, and human development that the U of D professors will not let me take as I am not a “major”. Hah.
This college has an undergrad degree focused on either Early Childhood OR Adolescents, which is HTF.

It Has Been Disorienting

I am back again from Creative Pulse in Missoula MT.
Even with 4 days traveling on road the transition has been disorienting.

I am just beginning to figure out what to do with myself. all last week I wandered around house trying to figure out what I am doing there. Logically my mind was operating but functionally I had a hard time doing anything but rest, eat, and read.
I guess my mind thought it needed to be thinking hard and studying – so I read two “large” as Ken observed books in two days. Hey – we had been putting away 10-40+ pages of “thick” reading a day. Of course you could barely digest it all. Part of the unwritten curriculum of program is to restudy all the material once you get home – I think.

Books I read:

The Royal Whore
by Allen Andrews
Chilton Book Co 1970
the story of Barbara Villiers Palmer, Duchess of Cleveland, paramour of Charles II.

Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century
by Katie Hickman
HarperCollins Publishers 2004
interesting point Hickman makes is most of courtesans she profiles speak of the desire for autonomy and independence in a time where women had next to no options for either unless they were born wealthy.

Next book to read is one on Veronica Franco – as she is from period of incepton of Commedia Dell’Arte – interesting comment as she is referred to in her book description as “onesto” – or an honest courtesan !
The Honest Courtesan : Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice
by Margaret Rosenthal 1993

another one:
My Lady Scandalous : The Amazing Life And Adventurous Times Of Grace Dalrymple Elliot, Royal Courtesan
by Jo Manning 2005

Poetry Archives

The quest began with a simple request by a friend to help with her son’s homework assignment. There were choice fruits to be picked along the way.

Poets.org – Academy of American Poets web site

Poetry Archives at eMule.com – This is a classical poetry archive though

Poetry Daily – The urge to “tie the poem to a chair with a rope and torture a confession out of it*” lessens when poetry arises freshly each day
*from Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

Poetry 180 – Library of Congress site – A Poem a Day for American High Schools

Poetry 4 Kids – Ken Nesbitt’s site for the “funniest poetry for children on the internet”. Kids can publish their own poems here, and there are rhyming and other resources for poets

Wondering How to Find the Beef in Reading

From Poetry Daily.com:
Five Points
“Since the publication of its inaugural issue in 1996, Five Points has become one of this country’s best literary magazines. Published three times a year by Georgia State University’s Department of English and Creative Writing Program, each issue features poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews with the most compelling writers working today. Five Points is named after an area of downtown Atlanta where cattle paths once converged at the site of an artesian well. As editors, the name offers us a metaphor for our goal of presenting a convergence of ideas and genres, photograph and text, north and south, east and west, young and old.”

http://www.poems.com/featured.htm

http://webdelsol.com/Five_Points/

Poem Hunter
http://www.poemhunter.com/

Poem Online – Bringing Poets Together
http://www.poem.org/index.shtml

Interesting Places to Study

AllLearn – Alliance for Lifelong Learning
http://www.alllearn.org/
the blurb: {snip}
AllLearn, an online learning consortium among Oxford, Stanford, and Yale universities, was formed in September 2000 to provide the highest quality, college level online courses and educational offerings. Our students are from all over the world and have diverse backgrounds, representing over 30 countries and all age groups. By October 2002, AllLearn offered over 50 online courses, 20 academic directories, and 40 learning guides. Classes repeat year round and range from 90-minute faculty forums to 10-week courses – and a lot more in between.

Courses have been developed by faculty from Oxford, Stanford, and Yale universities. Online forums feature faculty members from the three institutions as well as faculty members from affiliate institutions. Day-to-day course activities are led by Online Instructors, experienced subject-matter experts, who facilitate online discussions and the overall course experience.
{end snip}


Empire State College

Part of the SUNY network – it has very interesting online course offerings especially ones in myth concepts
http://www.esc.edu/esconline/online2.nsf/eschome?openform
from their blurb: {snip}
With Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning (CDL), you can earn your entire degree online. We recognize that you have many obligations competing for your time – your job, family and community. You need flexibility and an educational plan that works with your schedule and responsibilities. At Empire State College, online learning integrates flexibility with vital interaction with faculty and peers, so that you are never alone. Empire State College’s pioneering online learning program blends the professional global environment of an online classroom with attention to the personal goals of each learner.
{end snip}

Courses I am interested in:
Empire State College
Dance Across World Cultures

and
AllLearn Alliance
eClavdia: Women in Ancient Rome

Pompeii!
Jul. 20 – Aug. 9, 2005
Course Length: 3 Weeks
Tuition: $139.00
Materials: $18.95

Emancipation and Proclamations

The exhibit American Originals traveled to Delaware Art museum, and for four days only the original Emancipation Proclamation was exhibited. To be exactly precise, 2 out of the 5 pages displayed were the original pages. – the other four were facsimiles.
Like many of the other documents displayed, this proclamation showed the effects of time. The true meaning of “archival quality” was given tangible context – inks were fading, paper was changing in color and character.

The exhibit strived to surmount the challenge of exhibiting essentially a bunch of dry, old, hard to read pieces of paper. Each exhibit was given context, to both historical events and the author – with contemporary (to the document) photographs or illustrations when possible. As a compact traveling exhibition, it was good. However, there was too little to engage a non-verbal visitor, or short ones for that matter. All of the exhibits were at the minimum level for ADAAG access, which is too high for the average elementary school student or younger. The exhibit began with a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, and continued through US History, including the document that signed, sealed, and delivered the Louisiana Purchase (in the original) through contemporary times, including a draft of a speech for Nixon to decline to resign – which of course was not the version used. I got the sense that many of the visitors that came were motivated, as I was, by the information in the PR for the exhibit, that the Emancipation Proclamation is going to be retired from continuous exhibit when it returns to the National Archive. It was possible that would be the last opportunity in my lifetime to see it in the original.

The penmanship of Clara Barton was impeccable, whereas Ethan Allen of the Green Mountain Boys wrote irregularly, whith the shape and size of letters suffering from blottiness. I am sure the particular conditions are some of the explanation for the difference. Ms Barton undoubted had access to refined writing tools and ink, and possible more advanced pens than the rudimentary quill, even though she was writing at the end of the war to report on the conditions of Andersenville prison encampment. Mr. Allen’s letter was written immediately upon his release from incarceration by the British, in the frontier areas of northen New York, and in terms of access to paper, ink, and other writing amentities was quite probably very limited. Ergo, speaking from calligraphic experience – if your ink is not good, and your pen is problematic, avoiding a blotty bit of writing is very difficult. So let us not be too harsh in judging Mr. Allen categorically.

That said, the true import of the exhibit was not so much the documents themselves although it was a bit exciting to see the actual piece of paper that was the first to ratify the US Constitution in 1787 – that of my home state Delaware (this borrowed from the Del. State Archives). This was suffering the most from deterioration, undoubted as it has not had the TLC from the professionals on the National Archives staff. …”For and in behalf of ourselves and our constituents, fully, freely, and entirely approve of, assent to, ratify, and confirm, the said Constitution” is one of the most unequivocal statements in support of a venture ever given.

This is quite in opposition to the evolution of the Emancipation Proclamation, whose premise even Lincoln himself debated constantly from the inception of the War between the States. The sense of place in which the Proclamation evolved is quite interesting. It seems that Lincoln was in the habit of leaving the White House and going the the War Departmeht telegraph office. Lincoln visited there at least three times a day to keep up on the dispatches arriving about the civil war battles. And he was in the habit of just staying there, among the ordinary telegraph operators and the ubiquitous clicking rhythms, to sit and think. I am ignorant at this time about what, if anything, Lincoln himself wrote about his motivations for gravitating to this space, rather than many others. Undoubtedly it was an escape – from all those seeking him at his official quarters, and from Mrs. Lincoln. However, in thinking about environments ideally conducive to creative thought – the telegraph office has many of the characteristics. Lacking an I-Pod, or a victrola, the telegraph keys played a music of their own which can assist maintaining deep thought for long periods of time. It was also a space in which Lincoln could be comfortable yet completely unattached, not too much different than myself at Borders or any of my truly favorite coffee shops. A quiet place to be in the moment, but not of the moment.

It was in this environment that Lincoln composed over a period of time, first the preliminary and then the final document of the Emancipation Proclamation. He would bring his paper, think and write. When he had to return, he would leave the draft in a safe in the War Department.

Illustration
http://www.picturehistory.com/find/p/13141/mcms.html
( I would post the picture – but they have to give me a special quotation for the licensing )

The exhibition had both portions of the draft and the final Emancipation proclamation. It required a great deal of stamina, patience, and excellent eyeglasses to make comparisons between the two. Dr. Bolton would probably have liked this exhibit, because, for a lot of the more contemporary documents displayed, the writer’s drafts were exhibited. We are very familiar with the final result, such as the Inaugural speech of JFK. What we haven’t seen are the intial thoughts collecting on the page, with the XXXX-ing out and rewriting.

One ponders as deeply as Lincoln about emancipation and proclamations. What is true emancipation? A guarantee of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” not abridged by any dinstinction of race, religion or gender is one sense. However, upon possession of a guarantee of the liberty of one’s person – is that the only criteria for true emancipation? What about the bondage we inherit emotionally and culturally from our families and communities? What about the limitations we impose upon ourselves? If one is theoretically free – how does one truly feel free?

I have been thinking about this a lot – as my dreams are continually reminding myself of my fears. I had anticipated difficulty in living back in my usual context upon my return from Pulsification. I had never thought it would be so difficult, so nearly unbearable as it has proven to be.

{more on this – later when I have another minute}

Ponderings


“When you have seen the radiance of eternity . . . when you follow your bliss, and by bliss I mean that deep sense of being in it and doing what the push is out of your own existence . . . doors will open where you would not have thought there were going to be doors.”—Joseph Campbell