Do people read me?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Images of existence.

On Wensday evening i had to present at the art salon, which is when all the students in independent studies through the art department present their projects so far and receive feedback which is also intended to create conversation between artists. One of the projects really intrigued me. It was an abstract photography project done by a senior who was majoring in composition and a minor in studio art. Basically he created images and developed them by the different sound frequencies created by a speaker. Each image was completely different from the next, and drastically different if it was created with a different sound frequency. The images were different but beautiful. You were viewing sound waves and energy through patterns and shapes. I was thinking, if you can create images by sound frequencies, can that be done for other strong forces in our universe that are not originally experienced by the eye? Such as, if you follow the belief that everything in our universe is interconnected in some way as different energy forces than even thoughts are connected to the physical world and everything will influence and react to each other to some degree. Because everything is so interconnected, i think of thoughts as a form of energy in our universe, just like if your around someone who is really angry or super happy, even without them telling you you can "feel" it. So if you can feel this energy, especially strong thoughts and emotions then why can't something else pick that up as well like sound frequency was able to be captured on a photograph? wouldn't that be fascinating if you could capture beliefs as actual images! We always use symbols to represent certain beliefs and historical evidence of these beliefs, but what if the images were created by the energy forces creating those beliefs.  
It would give a whole new meaning to 'looking' around you for what you believe in. sam's post on how water will freeze differently depending on how its spoken to is not exactly the same thing i'm talking about here but it supports my idea of how everything in the world is connected and will somehow effect each other. even energy and emotions to the physical world. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can you use Augustine to interpret the Psalms?

Read book 2 of Augustine's On Christian Teaching and write about how the ideas in this section could be used by you to interpret the Psalms. Are these ideas helpful for interpreting scripture?

Augustine in book 2 brings up a lot of points and ideas having to do with interpretation of christianity. The one I'm going to focus on is his opinion on the change in meaning from translations. He states that if we are to translate into latin for example, we should learn the languages that latin derives from to achieve the highest understanding  of the text. He also states that latin is difficult to translate into because meanings are difficult to translate from certain phrases versus single words meanings. Applying Augustine's ideas of translation to the Psalms is an idea that should definitely be considered, though is very extensive to the general public who are reading and attempting to understand these Psalms. If everyone was required to fully understand the languages that make up the language of their religious scripture then you would end up having less people making the attempt to do so. Though, if you could get people to really master the derived languages the translations would be more true to the original text. It also makes me wonder wether the element of change/ evolving being a crucial element to religion is more for practical reasons such as translations will never hold completely true to the original documents after a certain point, so you just have to be okay with change because it will happen inevitably. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

religious references in pop culture.

So after our class on monday I thought a lot about how religion is communicated with music. Then I started thinking about pop culture and how they reference to any sort of religions and how the viewer interprets it. Is there a strong impact for the viewers interpretation of that religion? I believe there probably is, and i was curious to what extent does our pop culture influence the change in religions evolving? Its totally natural for religion to evolve as societies and the world around it evolves, but would this be considered like a steroid to the growth of a society's development? Heres a music video that i thought of when I was considering this idea. I encourage you to watch it once all the way through and not think to hard about it, just be entertained. Then think about how it makes you feel... whether you believe that the video is accurate or not of your knowledge of the religion it references to how does it make you feel about it? Does the images associated with the spiritual references conflict for you at first than you become comfortable with? Can you step back from yourself and see how your views or even just images you didn't think could be associated with this religion are not put together and your okay with it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is God the fighter?

Read Psalm 18 along with its footnotes. Comment on the image of God that is presented in this Psalm. Is it problematic that elements of this God have been borrowed from other religious traditions? Is the image of God as a fighter and aid in battle scary? 

The concept of a fighter is a really interesting subject to bring up with how it is intertwined with religion, specifically and example of this is in Psalm 18. It could be as simple as religion is one of the oldest sources for storytelling, and within stories there is often the element of a heroic figure which is often proven he is a hero by being a "fighter". If you can follow me that far with this idea then what I'm getting as is maybe God is interpreted as a "fighter" because in a storytelling structure that makes him therefore proven a hero. A Hero of his people and the world you might say. Another interpretation i had for this concept was the historical element of people have respected and admired glorious fighters in battles which makes this figure easier to understand and appreciate if they can put it to a context like that. So in my opinion i don't find the fighter image scary at all in the Psalm because i think its meant to represent something beyond the physical environment of a battle, but a fighter in life and a respected figure for one to admire. Psalms for me are often a message about God that is from the people, and the language and images they put God into are more metaphorical images, not meant to be taken as a literal image to imagine God within. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

People watching... could you be watching their faith?

Okay so think might be a little far out there but i'll give it a go and you can let me know what you think of this thought. I've always enjoyed people watching... not in a creepy way... i hope.  I'm just curious about how people express themselves visually and the variety of people their are in the world. I guess I just really find people in general fascinating. So i was thinking... religion and or spirituality is such a crucial part of most peoples psyche even if they themselves don't realize it. So... how much can you tell about their spirituality by their physical physic or clothing? Theres obviously the really noticeable things like wearing a cross or a yarmulke, but what about the really subtle things that even they don't realize is attached to their beliefs?  I spent some time in paris over spring break and when i was there taking pictures of the sights i decided to my own little project where i could take portraits of all the interesting people i saw in Paris. "The Faces of Paris" i call it. Even though they say that as a whole, Paris or most of europe is not that religious, you can definitely see some individuality of spiritual expression within their visual presence. So heres a few of those pictures and see if you can image or figure out what sort of believes, connections, associations, or symbols they support visually that can be interpreted into spirituality. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Early Psalm 2

We have now discussed Psalm 2 and its reflection of the early Israelite monarchy. The "king" is probably literally a reference to the "king" of Israel and his enthronement. Read now the version of Psalm 2 present in the earliest book printed in America, the Bay Psalm Book. Read this version and imagine what this poem could mean in an early American context. What are the changes that have occurred to allow for this new meaning? 

The switch between the two versions of Psalm 2 have some definite language differences, after all they are translations from very different times in history, but the meaning seems to leave the same emotions with you once you finish reading it out loud. 
One major difference is obviously the old English versus how English is spoken now. Its amazing to me how translators figure out exactly what each word or line translates to after all the filters and influences of societies and cultures alter the language and meanings over the years. Also, rhythmically the two versions are different. The older Psalm II seems to rhythm, which could drastically change how the listener receives the information. Thats another interesting thing i pondered after realizing this difference... how much does rhythm effect the interpretation of the language and meaning? I would assume its a great deal because just like music in a film, it drastically changes the feeling you get even though its the exact same information being said or viewed with or without the music. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

symbols of the ear...

After our multiple discussions on the "system of symbols" i started thinking about all the different expressions of symbols and if all symbols had to be visual to fall under this definition.... is the idea of a symbol have to be primarily visual? or can it be the symbol for the ear? obviously lots of groups think so because music and chants are a large part of what makes up some religions. But then i wonder wether music/chants are symbols for the ear, or are they considered rituals for that religion? I can definitely see how they could be considered either one. So, the best way so far for me to understand it myself or decipher the difference is also looking at what is interpreting the outside influence. If its your body thats interpreting then a symbol could be something kinesthetic like dance or any kind of movement... or pain for that matter. egh. like sacrificing something from your body and the physical effect even if it is not visual to the outside world it is symbolic to the body being influenced by it. So chants and or music used in a religious setting I believe is symbolic to the ear, and a ritual are more the outsiders perspective viewing the one interpreting it, or possibly rituals are to strengthen the community aspect of a religion and that is a symbol to the group as a whole.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blog week 2

"A system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." 

"Long a mysterious part of the Wisconsin landscape, the effigy mounds are now regarded by some as monumental representations of the same underlying belief systems encoded on woodland pottery and other artwork... "

The effigy mounds in Wisconsin do fit into the description of "a system of symbols" using the definition above. As i described in my last post, you can't separate the intentions behind most art from spirituality and/or religion. Even with the passage i took from the section on effigy mounds, they even describe the mounds as representations of the meaning behind the artwork in the woodlands. That to me says that this is a symbolic representation of our belief systems. formulating concepts and general order could be for the mounds where they are located, and how they also can represent certain areas on the landscape that are important for them, such as water, good land, ect. marking out areas with symbolic territorial markings like that represents an attempt to create order. Any kind of creation and attempt for order will help define ones existence.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


When i was at Interlochen i took a few creative writing classes my senior year. one of the projects we did were creating Ghazals. Ghazals are a type of poetry in couplets that don't necessarily have physical relation with the imagine created, but more emotional that much harder to explain with words. My understanding of Ghazals are they compare emotions of the images, not the images themselves. I thought i'd share one of the Ghazals i wrote in that class with you. its not as abstract as some of them, but i still like it. see if the emotion you feel after reading it can be associated with spirituality... I don't know, might be kind of fun. :) 

What if we tired everything we owned to our backs?
Let the rain cleanse us from our plastic selves. 

We are slaves to our own layers.
I own 20 raincoats.

Mellon farmers have the hearts of a warrior.
Mellon man lies drunk in a ditch. 

I want to drive through a row of velvet covered Elvis paintings.
Dream birds are just double martinis.

Get off the road, and into the world that heals you.
The lunch-meat never tasted so fresh. 

Palaeolithic art and religion handout

After reading the article on Palaeolithic art and religion, the topic of art and how it is intertwined with religion has lingered in my mind... "Nevertheless, the quest for ur-religion is inevitably intertwined with the origins of art" (9). My question with this statement is- where do you draw the line with associating art with any form of spirituality, formal religious group or not? Art to me is a communication tool for the individual or a group of people's self expression. There is no such thing as art that is not intended to be shared in some form. Understanding that art is rooted as a self expression communication tool, how can you really separate it from spirituality ever? For instance, they give the example in the article about Stonehenge being a strong example of symbolic religious affiliated art. Whoever created must have had some form of religion or spirituality present. You don't create a fairy circle like structure of boulders just because your bored. The structure signified something, they were sharing an idea, possibly as solid to them as the boulders they were using. So the structure represents at least a presence of an idea to be shared, and that communication of human expression was successful because people still travel all around the world to see this magnificent structure.  How does this successful use of communication relate back to spirituality? well, my very simplified definition for spirituality is the sharing or acknowledging within yourself of ideas you have about the world around you, and your gut feeling for how to answer these questions that aren't rooted from a physical thing, but rooted emotionally, and shared through the physical. like art.