My Fascination With Other Cultures – World Peace Playing Itself Out On My Bedroom Wall

27 04 2010

As we grow up, we realize that some of the things we aspired to become as children won’t ever be possible for some reason or another. I am no different. I will never be a veterinarian because I’m terribly squeamish. I will never be a French teacher because, to be a French teacher you have to study copious amounts of French grammar, which I find no more interesting or enjoyable than sitting around studying English grammar. To put it another way, I’m thankful for many things – “spell check” is one of them. I have also determined that I will never become a diplomat, namely Secretary of State, as I wanted to be when I was young. Madeleine Albright is someone whom I have admired since she became Secretary of State. I was very young during the 1992 election but watching the campaign (the first one I really remember) got me thinking about “running for” First Lady as Hillary Clinton had. I didn’t realize that Hillary Clinton’s behavior during that election had a whole lot more to do with her as a person than it did with how one becomes First Lady. Ah, youthful naiveté. Once I realized that the only qualification for First Lady was marrying some guy who was elected president and when I saw how a First Lady was treated, I quickly decided that was not for me. The Secretary of State didn’t seem to get kicked around as much and it was a position which could affect real change in the world. Making the world a better appealed to me greatly. It still does and I’ve always taken quite an interest in politics, world events, social anthropology, and foreign policy but I’ll never have the qualifications or connections needed to be appointed Secretary of State. I mean, I have a B.A. in Theater and Media Arts – that’s not exactly dripping with diplomatic potential. There is also the fact that I’m not one to hold my tongue. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be a better choice than, say…

John Bolton - Two-Toned Walrus

him, but I don’t think I’d be at the top of anyone’s shortlist for the position.

 

Despite all of that, my interest in other cultures (and their politics) persists unabated. I suppose, all things considered, that I shouldn’t be surprised that my little paintings are taking on a multicultural feel. I blame it on Ovation TV running the entire art history miniseries This Is Civilization last week. (Yes, I am that much of an arts geek, thank you very much!) The first was a mhendi design

– not this one, but a mhendi design – a staple of my doodle repertoire – which I’ve already sketched out. But then islamic geometric patterns,

and Israeli hamsas,

and african designs (this one’s from Mali)

all looked quite inspiring. I’ve decided to do more looking into designs from different cultures and there is so much out there for me to enjoy and glean ideas from. The final project – all the little canvases together like a patchwork quilt on some sort of mounting which has yet to be designed – will be an interesting blend of modern and traditional styles… provided, of course, that I don’t ruin it or give up.





The Unbreakable Bond Between Bullshit and Politics

27 04 2010

Here in the US, it has become popular to deride the government as a haven of overpaid, out of touch, ignoramuses who are, rather than doing the good, honest work for the interests of those who elected them, spend their days in DC taking whatever piece of… cattle excrement… which is currently popular with their buddies on the same side of the political aisle, polishing it up ’till it’s all bright and shiny, and attempting to pass it off to the voting public as something far better than the pile of crap it really is. This is the sentiment driving the teaparty-ers, and, for that matter, the left-wing activists as well. Actually, if we’re honest, haven’t we all felt that way about the government at least a little bit in the recent past? Many politicians promise to “clean up Washington” and many have been elected on that platform. So many of us would love to see a bullshit-free political sphere.

But is that actually possible? I think not. In fact, I’m willing to go so far as to say that we need a little bullshit in our politics for it to function properly – sort of like DC’s very own yin yang theory.
I mean, how would anything get done without a little bullshit – “No, really, I’d loved to support this bill, except it was written by someone who’s not from my party, so that makes it entirely unacceptable and generally evil.” As much as we hate DC politicking now, it would be exponentially worse without all of the meaningless platitudes, forced smiles, paper-thin bipartisan partnerships and all of the other bullshit they do to make it look like they really are trying to work together. Nobody would be even close to electable. Take away all the “charisma” – a synonym for being able to bullshit the masses with ease – and politicians, by and large, are very much like overgrown, spoiled children – like that girl, Veruca, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

only older, greyer, and wealthier.
If, through some miracle, anyone was elected to any public office without the aid of bullshit, they’d have a hard time getting the public to buy into any legislation because they wouldn’t be able to hide the fact that nothing in life is free like they can now. We would plainly see all the good and bad and where the lobbyists had worked their magic and so on. Who would be able to stomach it? All of this is nothing more than the usual business. It’s gone on as long as this country has – deal-making isn’t a 21st century thing after all – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a messy business indeed. I won’t even go into foreign policy sans bullshit. Diplomacy wouldn’t exist. Yes, without a little bullshit here and there, this country, and perhaps the world, would cease to exist as we know it. I therefore conclude that bullshit is an essential part of our political system.