I met the presiding bishop of the ELCA last weekend in Phoenix. A bright, intelligent leader possessing wit, charm and a great sense of humor. As a featured speaker on Day One, as the preacher of the closing sermon on Day Two, in responding to questions, or in small group and individual conversations during the intervening hours of those days, I heard consistency, factual knowledge of complex world affairs and a deep commitment to the humanity, which is the body of our Church. Also, she plays a mean flute. What a blessing and a delight to have met you, Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton.
The group of warthogs was up along the top of the ridge, trotting along tails pointed up, as usual. As we watched, they unexpectedly stopped and looked down on us, in our Land Cruiser. Almost immediately, they turned and angled their path toward us. They slowed to an unhurried pace and appeared to be casually grazing, but they kept a constant route directly at us.
We had been photographing a Tawny Eagle defending it's recently slain Kirk's Dik Dik prey from scavengers, but it was losing that battle to a gathering of hyenas, jackals, vultures and even a Marabou Stork who was, you guessed it, "just standing around" for a share. We took our last shots as the eagle flew of with the largest portion it could save and the others crashed into each other vying for the remnants of the tiny antelope torso. Then we shifted our attention. Why were these warthogs so focussed on heading directly at us?
As the warthogs came at us, we zoomed our lenses in to capture better images of their bodies and faces. We could see why they had come by their name, but the lead animal had a strange, engaging look about her. Our guides advised she was female. It was she who was the apparent leader of the group and it was she who was fixated on the path toward us. Steadily closer they came, right up to us and she, the leader, right into the shadow cast by our our vehicle. Her long face almost filled my entire viewfinder.
As I waited for her to get back into better light, I took a long look at her face. Her snout was down, but her eyes seemed to twinkle and almost wink occasionally, glancing upward. Was it the sunlight or was it my imagination? "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Photographer," she seemed to be saying with an almost coy glance. What else could I do? Almost blushing, I obliged her.
As humans, we are special because of our brains, not necessarily our brawn. We think, speak and share as individuals, just like other species relate to one another. We differ from other species on our planet because we share, learn and grow in community with other humans, exponentially.
Our links began with primitive man and oral history and stories retold verbally. The stories were soon depicted as petroglyphs in the the cave drawings or carvings in rock walls made by prehistoric people. Hundreds of thousands of years later these evolved into hieroglyphics, a kind of picture graphic script or set of uniform conventionalized symbols, that were recognizable pictures of the things represented, found in the decorative artwork of the temples, palaces and tombs of the ancient Egyptians.
Telling stories and passing it on to future generations went through many iterations, during the course of the evolution of man. Let us zoom through the monks and their handwritten scrolls, the breakthrough by Gutenberg, with bound texts, the acceleration of printing and modern communication methodology to our present time, with computers, the internet, mobile devices and the explosion of pictures and “lol language” which, though extremely abbreviated and fleeting, fill our eager and racing minds with information today.
That was fast, but was it satisfying? I believe in the basic pieces called stories and pictures, which speak for themselves…or together…as GLYPHS. I hope you will enjoy, be satisfied by and share my GLYPHSBLOG.
P.S. The glyph on this wall face in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona depicts two native horsemen chasing and killing a deer for food. Those hunters went to great lengths to capture the food and to proudly tell of their accomplishment. They probably had the artistic help of a fellow tribesman, who specialized in this early form of human events recording, during the ancient times of southwest of North America.
.....a man by the name of Frank Sinatra, or simply Sinatra as he became known early in his career, almost ( if not always) credited songwriters and their collaborating lyricists before he began to perform their work? He did this with an obvious tone of admiration and really wanted to confer origin, honor and respect on them. At the same time his underlying message was that HE was honored to be performing their work on that occasion. His comments were always brief, but always about the contributions of others, which enabled him to express his own art and interpretive emotion.
.....Sinatra consistently performed an additional stage ritual? If they existed, Sinatra was sure to preface his performance of a song with an introduction written by the songwriter. The introduction, or intro, as it is called in popular music, establishes melodic, harmonic and rhythmic continuity with the main body of the song. When Sinatra did that lyrical intro, he immediately captured the mood and the context for his performance. With his unique combination of tone, style, phrasing and focused emotion, even in speaking, the audience received a preview and a heightened anticipation for the music and lyrics that were to follow. He had a talent to place the audience in the palm of his hand, from the very beginning. As the last bars of music and voice resonated to their conclusion, the audience was universally fulfilled with the magical WOW that was a live performance by Sinatra .
.....Sinatra chose the name of the independent record company he formed, after he left Capitol Records? We can be sure that Sinatra analyzed many possible corporate names in the course of arriving at this critical branding decision. He knew he must come up with something unique and memorable. He certainly planned to continue the superb quality of his past performances, but at the same time he needed the new name to speak to a continuous and growing body of his work, and he had to project that image for the other artists he expected to join the new label. Sinatra chose REPRISE, the feminine past participle of the French 'reprendre,' which means 'taken up again.' A second definition is, 'repetition or further performance of something.' In one word he spoke of honoring to take up again or repeat the best of his past, while he also pledged to take up further, even greater and more ambitious performances for himself and the diversity of artists who would join his new record label.
Personally, I never stop wondering about or turning my thoughts to Frank Sinatra., but that will have to be another story. We just celebrated the 100th anniversary of his birth on December 12, 2015. I am convinced that Sinatra's legacy will continue endlessly, as a huge milestone within our musical heritage. Anyone beside me ready for Sinatra 101 in 2016? Chime in.
Hello...I'm really back after an almost five year absence. In retrospect, my website and its integral blog was nothing special back in 2011. Consistency did not exist in my sparse postings and other interests diverted my attention. I apologize for not fully understanding my personal responsibility to maintain my site and for disappointing you as my potential readers and followers. Time has changed me in a good way and has greatly enhanced what I have to offer you. Yes, I am still a photographer, but now I have a phenomenal desire to write about and to share my experiences. There is now total commitment within me. It consists of discipline, energy and an open personal promise to systematically post to my website and to this new GLYPHSBLOG. My goal is to provide pace with diversity of content, which I hope you will enjoy. Check me out periodically, because the lights are definitely on in this place.
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“Life is funny.” Now that short sentence and concept has been stated, repeated and written a great many times. I guess life can be funny and we try to make it that way to get through the challenges and the drama of living, but is it really funny? I don’t think so.
I wish it were funnier more often. We all make efforts to spin “life” in that direction, but it is difficult. Just when we are enjoying ourselves, we metaphorically look over our shoulder and wonder. “This is just too much fun! Something will happen soon to louse up this temporary euphoria. I better get serious. I know that life is filled with all sorts of profound questions which I must seek to answer. I can’t just enjoy life. It is my job to contribute to humanity. I must efficiently utilize this thing I have been given. What do I do with this gift of time called my life?”
Life has always seemed to me to be been pretty serious. Life today is more than basic survival against the alternative, which is non-life, or death. Life is more complex than a choice to fight or flee from a current danger. Life is more than a simple reaction to fear of some thing or to an uncontrollable sequence of events. It is also said, “Life is what happens to you after you make a plan.” That statement is a compelling admission about our unpredictable state of affairs, within the confines of our existence, called “life.” It is unsettling, yet also ironic and a bit funny.
The dictionary definitions of “life,” might help us grasp it a little better, but that would be informative, not necessarily funny. The biggest word in life is not “fun,” it is a much shorter word even than that happy three-letter word. The biggest word in life is only a two-letter word called “if.” Wait, if (no pun intended) I really took it to the limit, there is an even smaller word (or pronoun) call “I” (yes, that is a capital “i”) within life that really ties me to this whole conundrum called life.
I am the smallest common denominator, beyond “if” in life. That means “I” am permanently tied to the “if” in life. I cannot escape that word, which is kind of like an unanswered question. If the word “if” is posed, but it does not resolve itself (which it doesn’t) in any sort of straightforward manner, "if" and the wrap-around word of “life” both become enigmas. This means that I(i) am stuck somewhere in the middle. What is left for me to do? Life may be funny, and sometimes not so funny. I guess I’ll just have to muddle through it!
An artist, who may be called a writer, a painter, a composer, or a sculptor, conveys ideas, emotions and personal feelings. These are created to be shared. It is self-expression in the purest sense. Admittedly, it is nice to be accepted, to know the approval and the respect of peers, an audience -at-large and to earn a decent living along the way. Art is a process and a journey which, to the artist, must be undertaken. Along the way some beginnings will be rewarded by an arrival or completion, in the eye of the artist. The artist has reached a point where the internal voice says," I am ready for my audience, but now, am I still me?" An artist is always questioning and it never ends.