Wednesday, May 27, 2015

William Etty: Artist and Callipygian Enthusiast



William Etty (1787-1849) is probably the most controversial artists of whom you have probably never heard.  A high-minded bachelor whose private life has defied all attempts to unearth smut, Etty was acclaimed in his day but eventually sidelined because of his defiance of moralizing, often hypocritical, critics. He was a shy man and remained a bachelor all his life, which at the time was practically a statement. There is no way to confirm Etty's sexual orientation since he's long dead and lived in a time when no one really identified as gay. However, the paintings may speak for themselves. He was a successful Royal Academy artist, but his work fell out of favor after his death. But while he was an active painter he was both admired and condemned for his detailed renderings of the naked human body, often focusing on the buttocks.
Critics felt he focused too much on the female buttocks, but if you Google Image search for his work, you find a surprisingly large number of male nudes, many with a focus on the male buttocks as well. Seems none of his contemporaries were interested in commenting on that, but it's obvious that Etty's was a butt man, no matter his orientation.
Whereas his contemporaries, like J.M.W. Turner changed how people saw art, Etty wanted to change what people saw. Etty broke the rules of decorum by painting humanly realistic nudes rather than idealized gods and goddesses. Most of the criticism questioned the appropriateness of Etty’s female nudes, while the male nudes quite often found praise as “heroic.” Tragically, the critics got personal in their comments, essentially charging Etty with deliberately trying to corrupt the viewing public. 
“He is a laborious draughtsman, and a beautiful colourist,” one critic began innocently enough, “but he [Etty] has not taste or chastity of mind enough to venture on the naked truth […] we fear that Mr. E will never turn from his wicked ways, and make himself fit for decent company.” “[T]he spectator can see in [Etty’s female nudes] nothing beyond the portrait of some poor girl who was necessitated to sacrifice the feelings of her sex for bread,” another critic accused. “Nudity is all that the artist has to show us, and when unassociated with anything like incident or sentiment, the spectacle is offensive.” Etty defended himself as an innocent lover of nature’s greatest creation—the human form. Even after evoking the Biblical phrase that “to the pure of heart all things are pure,” Etty’s explanations fell on deaf ears.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Doors opening, closing on us


Doors opening, closing on us
By Marge Piercy

Maybe there is more of the magical
in the idea of a door than in the door
itself. It’s always a matter of going
through into something else. But

while some doors lead to cathedrals
arching up overhead like stormy skies
and some to sumptuous auditoriums
and some to caves of nuclear monsters

most just yield a bathroom or a closet.
Still, the image of a door is liminal,
passing from one place into another
one state to the other, boundaries

and promises and threats. Inside
to outside, light into dark, dark into
light, cold into warm, known into
strange, safe into terror, wind

into stillness, silence into noise
or music. We slice our life into
segments by rituals, each a door
to a presumed new phase. We see

ourselves progressing from room
to room perhaps dragging our toys
along until the last door opens
and we pass at last into was.
About This Poem
“The poem actually started when I was thinking about the use of gates in the Yom Kippur service. I was thinking that doors are more concrete somehow as an image of going from one state or another, one era, one phase of one’s life to another—because you can’t see beyond a door when it’s shut. There can always be a surprise on the other side.”
—Marge Piercy
Marge Piercy is the author of Made in Detroit (Knopf, 2015). She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her husband, Ira Wood.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Fire Is Lit


For the past five years, I have not really been happy.  I love teaching, but their were aspects of my job that I was really not happy with.  I was constantly frustrated with the students and their lack of ambition, and I think some of that had worn off on me.  I'd looked for other jobs, but if I am going to be truthful with myself, it was only a half-hearted effort.  I was comfortable with my job, even if I was unhappy.  Losing my job has lit a fire in me to search for better employment, employment that will be fulfilling, and employment that I can be proud of.  I am going to continue looking into teaching positions, but I am also turning to the museum sector and other areas where my degrees will be useful.  Maybe it is time for a new path.  Many of the museum jobs require a degree in history, and I have also had some training in public history.  Museums often look for someone who can be an educational resource, so they often look for someone who has educational experience.  It's a small glimmer of hope, but you can't get a job if you don't apply, so I am applying to as many places as I can.  If anyone has any suggestions or can offer any assistance in this endeavor, I'd be greatly appreciative.
If you've ever lost your job suddenly and without any type of prior warning, you probably know the emotional roller coaster that I have been going through the past few days: shock, anger, hopelessness, disappointment, but also hope for better things to come.  (By the way, I'm almost certain that I was let go so that they could make room for the new football coach. If that is the case, I am better off not being at a school that puts athletics so far above academics.) My post yesterday was about that hope, and I'm clinging to that for dear life.  I refuse to let depression overtake me again, and I will be more proactive in my life circumstances.  I'm going to make this a positive experience, even though my heart hurts right now with the feelings of betrayal from a school I'd poured my heart and soul into making a better place.
As Gloria Gaynor famously sang:
Do you think I'd crumble
Did you think I'd lay down and die?
No, not I, I will survive
Long as I know how to love
I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live
And all my love to give and I'll survive
I will survive
It may be taking all my strength not to fall apart, but I will survive.  I want to thank all of you for your love, support, and words of encouragement during this period of tribulation.
It’s easy to get bogged down in my own self pity and forget that today is Memorial Day and what it actually means but this day signifies so much that is important to the freedoms we have in this country and the freedoms we strive to expand upon.  Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces. The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, started after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead.  
On this Memorial Day, I want us not only to remember the men and women who have died, but to especially remember those gay, lesbian, and bisexual veterans who died serving in silence in the times before the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  They served and died for a country that denied them their own freedoms, many in hope that one day their sacrifice would lead to greater freedoms in America.  Most of those gay, lesbian, and bisexual service men and women would be shocked to know that not only can gay people serve openly in the military but that they can be married to someone of the same sex and receive spousal benefits, or that the majority of states allow same-sex marriage and that we seem to be on the verge of it becoming legal nationwide. We cannot let their sacrifices be in vain, and we must continue the fight for a better and more free America.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

God's Doors

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. - Acts 16:6-10
The world is not always a kind place. It is filled with bitterness, hatred, and betrayal. Life is just not fair at times. At times like the last few days, it seems like there’s no way out of the situation I'm in. I pray and pray (day and night) asking God to open up the windows of opportunity for me, but what can I do when all the doors seems to be closed. I looked to God and the Bible for an answer. I found e beautiful passage above.
In the sixteenth chapter of Acts, Paul was on what many refer to as his second missionary journey. He and his companion Silas had traveled to Derbe and Lystra, where they were joined by Timothy. They then departed through Phrygia and Galatia. Luke says that while they were passing through this area they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word. When they came to Mysia, they wanted to turn to the northeast and take the gospel into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them to go there either. While in the Mysian city of Troas, in a vision at night, Paul received the Macedonian Call.
“So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:8-10).
Determining that they had been called by God, they went to preach to the Macedonians. Paul was very successful on this journey. Several important and noteworthy churches were established; including churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus.
There are times when we pray and ask God for things. “God bless me with a job; give me that promotion at work; help me to pay my bills and etc”. We ask God for a lot of things. Most often, I ask God to guide me on the path that he has chosen for me. However, we never ask God to open doors He wants to be open and shut doors He wants to be closed.
Today, I’m looking for a job, which I've been doing for the past seven years. My last teaching job was never, in my mind, meant to be permanent. Other jobs I've applied for, I have been turned down for time and time again. With this latest setback, the loss my very flimsy safety net, I realized that God has something better in store for me. My plans are not always His plans.
Sometimes the things we pray for aren’t the things God has in store for us. Oftentimes, we pray for little things when God wants to bless us with bigger things. Sometimes we pray for God to bless us with the wrong things. I had to encourage myself and tell myself: when one door closes, another one opens, just as many of you and many others have told me in the past few days.
You may be going through a situation right now feeling as though nothing is working out for your good. You might want to give up and throw the towel in. I know in the past two days, I have certainly felt that way at times. I am hopeful one minute, hopeless the next. My emotions have been a roller coaster. I want to encourage you today, as I have done my best to encourage myself, so not to give up.
When God closes one door He opens up another. It could be that God wants me to have or be somewhere else in life. Or that God simply has another route for me to go down. Sometimes we have to hear no in order to get to where God wants us to be. Sometimes door closes not because God is against us, but simply because it’s used as a tool to guide us where God wants us to be.
When you feel as though you want to lose hope; don’t! You want to give up; don’t do it. Know that God is with you. This has done more for me these past few days than you could imagine. God is guiding and ordering our footsteps. He has a specific path just for us to travel down but sometimes as children wondering we lose track and go down the wrong path. I'm not for sure that this job I lost was not the wrong track for the past five years, but it has gained me the experience I needed in education. Because of this, God put road blocks in the wrong paths to get us going down the right path.
I am encouraged and know that God has the key to open every door; change every situation and open new windows of opportunities. Sometimes, road blocks are there to lead us to the path Jesus would have us go.  It may feel like your naked in a hallway of closed doors, but eventually, we will all come to an open one.
I am encouraged and know that God does everything for a reason; not for our downfall, but for our good and to His glory. The road blocks we face is simply God guiding us. Be encouraged in Jesus name knowing that when one door closes, another one opens. I want to leave you with the words to a song we will be singing in church tomorrow (I know this because I will be the song leader tomorrow, a job I do when our regular song leader is not there):
Farther Along
Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.
Refrain:
Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.
Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.
Refrain
Tempted and tried, how often we question
Why we must suffer year after year,
Being accused by those of our loved ones,
E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.
Refrain

Friday, May 22, 2015

Flabbergasted

There will be no Moment of Zen tomorrow.  I am not sure I will be posting for several days.  As I was leaving school today, I was called in to the principal's office and told that I no longer had a job.  I have no idea what I will do, except look for a new job.  There was no warning, no reprimands on my record, no hint of me not returning for next year.  I was simply told there had been complaints made, though no one can tell me what they were.  It is a mystery to me, and a mystery to all those who I've spoken with about the issue.

I can't stop crying, and I'm just in shock.

Hallelujah



I gave my final exam yesterday.  The kids are gone.  There is a little more paperwork to do today, and I have to attend graduation tonight.  Other than that, school is out for the summer.  I am so happy, and for the next few weeks, I'm going to spend as much time with my boyfriend as possible since he will be out of town most of the summer.  I am going to miss him so much.
By the way, my headache finally subsided.  Hopefully, it will continue to get better.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Short Post



This will be a short post.  Last night I had one of the worst headaches I've had in months.  Medicine and sleep didn't phase it all day yesterday.  I'm hoping it will be better today.
The good news is that I am giving my last exam today.  If they all pass the class, I will have no more students until August 12.  I still have a teacher workday tomorrow, but that's just taking care of some administrative loose ends.  I am so glad that this year is over.  I've had some of the worst students I've ever dealt with this year, and luckily, most of them are graduating tomorrow night.