The Task(s) at Hand

Where to begin….

I’d like to think that little problem is the source of my current inability to articulate the myriad thoughts rushing ’round this brain o’ mine, but, really, the opposite is true.  I know where to begin.  It’s the continuing and, especially, the completing that have me pulling out my hair from the roots (figuratively speaking, of course) over the past while.

I am constantly drawing inspiration from so very many places around me.  People are blowing me away with how amazing they are, of late.  Truly.

While it remains, in some quarters, hard to look at people as a whole and find much that can be called positive to say about them (looking at you all you folks who persist in making ‘Mayor’ McCheese into a media phenomenon- to the extent that he remains convinced that this ‘celebrity’ means he will be re-elected, come October), I am glimpsing significant examples of people who have heard the voices we’ve been talking about ’round here for the past little bit and are translating that exposure into momentum towards better things.

All kinds of better things.

I reblogged Anne-Marie’s fantastic post this morning (and not only because she described me so glowingly in her own, lyrical fashion) as, once again, she clearly and cleverly articulated so many of the issues that are being played out all over the world.

I reblogged my post about the separatist PQ minority government and the craziness that they were proposing- a mandate that was all about exclusion and divisiveness- because that government was spectacularly defeated by rational voices/voters in la belle province who know that we need to be working together and creating discussion (NOT debate) in order to continue our slow crawl out of the mire of economic woes that are the legacy of government(s) that persist in looking out for their backers/pundits/lobbies- to the exclusion and detriment of the rest of us- in order to keep hold of their power.

Then there’s that thing where you’re thinking about a thing a lot and as a result that thing seems to be showing up everywhere.  I happened upon this article last week and linked it to a draft post that I tentatively titled The Humanity of the Humanities as a sort of follow-up to the post about The Humanity of Humanism that I wrote a couple of weeks back.

And then a friend of mine- while praising Cosmos, that wonder of a show hosted by that wonder of an educator, Neil deGrasse Tyson- asked in all seriousness ‘who will be the Tyson of the Humanities’?  Her point?  That all this discussion of the power and beauty of the sciences- and the brilliant fact that educational programming has been granted airtime in a prime time slot (following some very popular shows) on a major network (okay, it’s Fox, but still…)- is a thing of wonder to behold.

But…

The humanities are past due for a similar treatment- moderated by a comparable superstar who can appeal to both the academic and lay viewers out there in Televisionland.  Stephen Fry, as I mentioned in that post about humanism, is an excellent candidate- and he is contributing incredible examinations of facets of humanities educations.  James Burke, as I mentioned ages ago, set us an interesting template for programming that combined the scientific and humanistic wisdom of the ages- to some degree.

We need a SUPERSTAR.  One who can hold our diminished attention spans in the palm of his or her hand while recounting all the amazing things we have thought, created, and recreated over the millennia.  Must have lots of charisma, a sense of humour and the ability to see the bigger picture (i.e. not hold fast to any particular way of viewing the world).  Suggestions for candidates are welcome.

The fact that the question was asked- in a public forum- demonstrates that there is cause for optimism that the humanities just might be getting some props.  After far too much disrespect (mainly doled out by those who haven’t the faintest understanding of what a humanities/liberal arts education entails), some people seem to be acknowledging that too much targeted focus in one specific area/ability/interest isn’t necessarily a good thing.

For community.  For understanding.  For positive progressiveness.

Singular focus- particularly when it benefits an unsustainable economic bottom line- is counter-productive.  And counter-intuitive for most of us.

We need the humanities.

Somewhere, in passing (I couldn’t find the link, despite a fair bit of searching.  I’ve been catching up on my reading and looked at any number of essays/blogs/articles in the past few days and I honestly just can’t remember where I saw this bit of wisdom), I read a quote from a blog post by Elizabeth Bear, a writer of speculative fiction.  In discussing the fact that she often creates characters who have a disability of some kind, she stated that we need characters in whom we can see some element of ourselves.  Because ‘story is the way we parse the world’.

I love that.

Language and story.  Exploration of culture(s).  History and philosophy.  Religion and theology.  Ideas and their realized expression as art, as literature, as architecture, as poetry, as music.

I have a whole lot of of items to tick off my oh-so-very long To-Do List.  Thank you cards to finish and mail (can’t remember the last time I sent a letter in the actual mail), administrative stuff and the ongoing sorting through of ephemera and memories as we settle Dad’s affairs, keeping on top of the learning curve in this great new job of mine, checking in with friends and family in order to chill out and have some fun now and again…

It’s a busy time.  It’s an exciting time.

Spring is (FINALLY) in the air.  And with the clearing away of the last of Winter’s detritus the new season promises the continuation of positive movement that I’ve been seeing all over the place (WordPress universe, InterWorld in general and the virtual reality that is Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

ELO.  Electric Light Orchestra.  One of the other posts I started and then left in the drafts file for way too long was about The Traveling Wilburys- that SuperGroup of SuperGroups and the fantastic combination of seemingly disparate voices it contained.  That post may still see the light of day- they were too wonderful not to talk about.

For now though, one of them will suffice.  Jeff Lynne wrote Mr. Blue Sky while locked in self-imposed exile in order to produce a follow-up to the epic A New World Record.  After weeks of lousy, dark weather, the sun came out, bringing inspiration and the beginnings of Out of the Blue– one of the band’s most commercially successful albums.

Sun is shinin’ in the sky
There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped rainin’ ev’rybody’s in a play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day hey,hey

Runnin’ down the avenue
See how the sun shines brightly in the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mister blue sky is living here today hey, hey

Mister blue sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration, mister blue sky’s up there waitin’
And today is the day we’ve waited for

Hey there mister blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Ev’rybody smiles at you

Some light (Electric and otherwise), some optimism and some hope for more blue skies ahead.  Not a bad start to the week.

PS- I wasn’t toying with you- the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ series will continue.  It’s a situation of thought-overload with that there topic.  Too much to say, too little time right now.  But he’ll be back- looking for a little sympathy…

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9 comments on “The Task(s) at Hand

  1. Such a positive post, Cole. It set me off linking to this and that about two or three hours ago and this is me just getting round to commenting! I haven’t seen the Cosmos series although someone else on WP mentioned it as addictive and required viewing so that’s on my must watch list. You might want to check out Brian Cox. Don’t know if you know him but he’s a Brit – ex pop star turned physicist and presenter of TV series Wonders of Life/Universe/Solar System. Now trying to figure out an equivalent for the humanities.
    Your ‘job description’
    ‘We need a SUPERSTAR. One who can hold our diminished attention spans in the palm of his or her hand while recounting all the amazing things we have thought, created, and recreated over the millennia. Must have lots of charisma, a sense of humour and the ability to see the bigger picture (i.e. not hold fast to any particular way of viewing the world). Suggestions for candidates are welcome.’
    It would be pretty wonderful to have someone like Stephen Fry doing the lead with other entertaining experts as guest appearances in conversation with him.
    ELO I haven’t heard in years. Takes me back to one of my big brothers blasting them and Genesis out while the other gave me Rod Stewart, David Bowie and others to think on. Musical taste formation through siblings. 😉 LInks everywhere on everything. Your connections post! 🙂 x

    • colemining says:

      I think Stephen Fry would be great- but… to attract a more ‘American’ audience we might well need someone a little more accent-less.

      I haven’t seen Brian Cox’s stuff- although I have heard about him. Will have to have a look. Love all this sort of stuff.

      My sibs and I have a def cross-pollination of musical taste going on- always have, and it continues into our ‘old age’. Love being exposed to things that are outside of my regular comfort zone- they’re good at that.

      We’re all interconnected in so many ways- it’s almost ridiculous. I just love piecing together the examples as they cross my path. All stems from wanting to be a detective when I was a child, I think.

      Might be headed Glasgow-way come September. Just giving you fair warning… Thanks, as always, for the inspiration and for reading! xo

  2. […] Not long ago I threatened to talk about these guys. […]

  3. […] was drawn to the whole Sam Smith/Tom Petty exchange of royalties sitch. You know I love Tom. And Jeff Lynne, who was his writing partner on the solo album that included ‘I Won’t Back […]

  4. […] still so familiar and so wonderful. Evil Woman and Mr. Blue Sky (I wrote about that little ditty here) – keen offerings, although I was a little surprised that they didn’t do Don’t […]

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