Archive for November, 2011

Great op-ed in the N&O

Posted in 21st century life, Politics/Philosophy on November 30, 2011 by horseandbuggypress
I arrived at the college and sat in the parking lot listening to the end of a news story on the radio. I watched a couple of students making their way to the nearest corner of our smoke-free campus, cigarettes in mouths, waiting to fire up. I have been there. I have known the sinking relief of a cloud of nicotine in the lungs. I feel for the addicted.

And then my thoughts turned to the concerns expressed recently by one of my students after a class discussion of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” The bright young woman had approached me after class with a genuine concern. She told me she did not like to think of the sorts of things we had been discussing because she was afraid she might go crazy.

It was a beautiful moment. She was comfortable in her mental chains and was honest enough to say so.

I asked her to imagine that I had a pet leopard at home. I asked her to imagine my feeding it every day, not some cheap leopard chow, but fresh raw meat. I had her picture the leopard lounging on its custom-made bed as it was bathed in sunlight through the window.

“A good life,” she said.

“Perhaps. But there is a catch.”

“What is the catch?”

“I never let the leopard run. What do you think of that?”

“That’s a bit sad.”

“I agree. Leopards are meant to run. I can’t imagine living my life as a leopard and never knowing what it’s like to run free across large open spaces.”

We were in agreement, but she wanted to know what the leopard business had to do with Plato.

“We are meant to think,” I explained. “I can’t imagine living my life as a human and not exercising my gift of critical thought to the fullest. I can’t imagine there being ideas that I was not allowed to explore. I cannot imagine looking at the world around me only in order to confirm what I already believe. I cannot imagine not being thrilled to see old beliefs slip away in light of greater understanding.”

She was not convinced. “But what if I lose my mind?”

“If you lose your mind, I promise you will find another.”

She offered a fractured smile and wished me a good evening.

My thoughts turned back to the smokers, who stood just off campus, much more relaxed because their fixes were under way.

And then I thought about my frustration with social media and the sad quality of our public discourse. The world is changing rapidly, and I love that we now have the power to be our own media, but so many of us use our digital connectedness to seek out like thinkers. I know I do.

What I don’t do is abandon discussions. I believe in dialogue. I believe that we are all subject to the trap of confirmation bias and that the best tool to escape our own bubbles of false reality is a willingness to share our ideas in bright light, not just with those who will confirm them, but more importantly with those who are able to look at them from a distance, able to see the ridiculous elements to which we are blind.

However, dialogue works only when the parties involved are willing to stick around. Critical thought takes more exertion than the feeding of dogma. And all too often I see people of different opinions not just fleeing into the irrational or simply exiting the conversation, but actually laughing at the idea of someone’s willingness to take a few minutes to offer substantive rebuttal to false claims.

For many, conversation serves little function once disagreement has been established, and they flee, like those smokers, looking for the nearest fix of confirmation.

Some of our greatest addictions are not to chemicals or foods, but to pet ideas. No one quits smoking without coming to terms with the temporary pain and discomfort of withdrawal. Similarly, no one can truly engage in honest dialogue as long as the goal is simply to arrive – through any measures necessary, logical or not – back in the comfort of one’s pet beliefs.

If we are unwilling to live in the free and open landscapes of our thoughts, we can hope for no better existence than that imaginary pet leopard who will never know the joy of running.

Win Neagle is an author and teaches at Wake Technical Community College.

Burlap. Portraits of Piedmont Farmers by Raymond Goodman.

Posted in 21st century life, Art, Event, Friends on November 10, 2011 by horseandbuggypress

UPDATE: Foyer gallery hours have returned. Every Friday 11:30am – 1:45 pm. Suggested pairing with lunch at Daisycakes next door.

I’m stoked about the most recent exhibit (#32) I’ve curated in the foyer gallery — and in fact this one continues onto the walls of Piedmont, the farm to fork restaurant right next door.

Portraits of Piedmont Farmers by Raymond Goodman.
Nov 17 – Jan 28     **CLOSING RECEPTION: Third Friday, Jan. 20; 6-9pm**

A R T I S T ‘S    S T A T E M E N T . . .

Capturing the faces of the clean food movement in our region, these portraits were all taken on farmland, with a veil of burlap between the farmers and the land they work. While these individuals have come to farming from a range of backgrounds and with varying intentions, these farmers have ultimately arrived at a nexus of geographical and philosophical common ground. Day after day, season after season, they set about their duties motivated by a love of labor and by the integrity of their mission.

Regardless of age, a youthful optimism persists in spite of the adversarial climate of today’s corporate food system. After decades of industrial agriculture and its assault on small, independent farmers, the agricultural tradition had been left hanging by a thread. Farmers are few; shareholders are many, and much knowledge has been forgotten. But the remnants of that knowledge, kept alive by a devoted few, are being stewarded by these farmers with new methodologies and a nod to the long agricultural tradition and history they are carrying on.

The beauty of this small-scale, intelligent farming resurgence rests in the collective, co-operative approach to solving age-old problems. There is an overarching desire to share knowledge and resources, while chipping away at monoculture and environmental disregard. These small-scale farms are winning day by day as evidenced by the growth and popularity of farmers markets, farm to fork restaurants, plow to pint breweries, local this, and organic that. “This isn’t a return to anything,” says one farmer while checking his email and taking a quick phone call in the field. Dropping an heirloom tomato into a bucket hanging from his belt loop he continues: “There’s nothing more modern than the food we eat.”

The frames, designed by William H. Dodge and fabricated by Marc E. Smith, are made of locally sourced Ambrosia maple.

This exhibit is continued onto the walls of Piedmont, the farm to fork restaurant next door. Please consider having a meal there to view the rest of the images in the two venue show.

Raymond Goodman is a photographer who lives in Raleigh (for now), and tends bees when he isn’t taking care of his daughter Heidi Rose with his wife Crystal.

Raymond’s website

Work will be available for purchase as framed pieces, unframed 16 x 24 or 24 x 36 prints, or smaller card-size prints.

Additional hours open to the public…
Third Friday, December 16; 6-9pm
Third Friday, January 20; 6–9pm
the exhibit will be open occasionally on Saturdays, if you see the samwich board sign out front that means come on in.
By appt. at 919 949-4847

I used to work with this guy below. I’m looking forward to catching up with him. I hear his greens are the bomb.

Books & Broadsides Exhibit at Ackland Museum Shop

Posted in Art, Craft: not country-cute, but Craft, Event, Horse & Buggy Press project, Publishing, Type High: Letterpress, Typography on November 10, 2011 by horseandbuggypress

The Ackland Museum Store, located at the corner of Franklin Street and Columbia around the corner from the museum proper, has recently installed a great exhibit entitled “Books & Broasides (First Edition).”

Featuring the work of over a dozen book artists and craftspersons from across the Triangle it is an exuberant, diverse show and I’m proud to be a part of it.

The exhibit will be up through December 18 and the store is open every day. Great staff, great curating, and a well designed space. Definitely worth a trip. The show is much more than just fine press books as there are pop up books, collages, sculptures, and more.

Below is a link to a short video highlighting a few of the works in the show. (you may remember John’s pop up books from an exhibit in our foyer gallery a couple years ago).