Went to the movies the other night and saw August-Osage County which I just learned was nominated for several Oscars this year. Hmmm. Interesting performances, but I just couldn’t relate. Never interacted with a family so rife with dysfunction. Film starts off with senior male member of the clan, played by Sam Shepard, taking his own life. Mother, played by Meryl Streep, drops the f-bomb with great frequency. If I ever heard my mom utter that epithet I’d know the end to be near.
Sitting there attempting to get comfortable I thought a bit about Shepard. He’s good in everything and makes memorable the smallest bits of a role. There’s a personaI connection: I always think of his crooked teeth when I look in the mirror. Anyway, as you may know he’s also a playwright and something he said about the craft came to mind. “For me, playwriting is and always has been like making a chair. Your concerns are balance, form, timing, lights, space, music. If you don’t have these essentials you might as well be writing a theoretical essay, not a play.”
Well, for me, those concerns weren’t well addressed in that film, but as luck would have it, I got a new chair for Christmas and thus have been given to think about Shepard’s metaphor in relation to the gift and my way in the world. Visitors to this space will know that I’m a world class daydreamer and should thus expect that facilitation thereof to be important to these ruminations. Call me VP in charge of staring off into space.
The factors Shepard mentions are all important, but for me light and music stand out. In a chair you ask? They’re not important for mushroom theory of management* sorts, but reign supreme wherever creativity is important. And where is it not? I read an article in the Harvard Business Review a while back that described an incipient trend in which job candidates with an MFA were hired over those with an MBA. They’re better equipped to develop ‘over the horizon’ scenarios.
Light and music in a well wrought play might refer to the manner in which truth about a character, or the plot, or life is revealed. Think about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid maybe. Ya, remember when they’re in Bolivia and Strother Martin asks The Kid to demonstrate his marksmanship? The Redford character first misses the block of wood Martin’d tossed out, Newman winces, but the Kid then says “Can I move?” and with speed, agility, and grace destroys it.
I’m gonna quote myself to bring in a bit of science: “Recent article in the Boston Globe and WSJ describe new research into the emerging field of embodied cognition. Investigators do indeed believe that movement and gesticulation enhance cerebration. ‘People think with their bodies, not just their brains… arm movements can affect language comprehension… children are more likely to solve math problems if they are told to gesture with their hands….’”**
Ya gotta move and I can in this new seat like in none before. I lean forward to type and then back to look at the ceiling or out the window and feel like I’m getting a massage as I stretch. I think about Dad telling me not to lean back and rock in my chair, and then an article in the New Yorker about how those with Aspergers like to rock and then one in the same issue about how Bill Gates does too.
I quickly became so fond of my new perch that I traced its designer to Germany. Guy by the name of Wolfgang Deisig. “A chair should be like a comfortable jacket, you slip into it and it feels good” he says. Interestingly, for me anyway, Deisig has had a long relationship with the famed German Vitra firm. At the Vitra Design Museum near Basel Switzerland recently launched an exhibition about the life and work of architect Louis I Kahn prominent in which is work by his collaborator Anne Tyng about whom I’m deeply engaged in research.
Tyng was fond of psychiatrist Carl Jung who coined the term synchronicity and amazingly enough, that’s just what we have here. I’ve a long way to go, but look forward to a pirouette from time to time for inspiration and/or celebration. My chair and I will see this project through to the end together.
*Keep ‘em in the dark and feed ‘em shit
** See post of January 24, 2008
***Chair is the Ceres by Hon
****Speaking of synchronicity, Ceres is the Roman Goddess of Agriculture-Perfect for this site, no?