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Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Time Event
11:38p
[ASP] "Coriolanus Conversations: The Politics of Compromise" [2009-03-30]
March 30, 2009, 7pm

Coriolanus Conversations: The Politics of Compromise
Moderated by Director Robert Walsh

Panelists:
Ron Goldman, Cast Member & Psychologist
Diana Henderson, Shakespeare Scholar, MIT
Robert S. Ross, Professor of Political Science, Boston College

With scenes and discussion about the play and its relevance to our times, in our lives, today.
The word compromise was in Shakespeare's vocabulary, but barely, and not, it would seem, very welcome.  In Richard II, King Richard is assailed for having "basely yielded upon compromise" lands and other assets "which his ancestors achieved with blows."  Compromise seems here associated with the slimy parts of politics---talking, not fighting---though that word, in the plural and hence in our modern sense, does not appear in Shakespeare.

In any case, it is odd but interesting to invoke these terms in connection with Coriolanus.  Coriolanus himself is, on the whole absolute---a word that appears four times in the play, twice used by him, sarcastically, of the common people, twice applied to him, as a term of approbation.  He, much more than anyone, has the strongest, clearest set of values.

Absolutism, however, in 1607 or so when Shakespeare presumably wrote this play, was under scrutiny.  King James I was flirting, at least, with the idea of absolute monarchy---the God-given right of a king to rule as he saw best.  He was facing increased resistance from members of his court and especially from the elected members of Parliament, vox populi, the voice of the people.  There seems a strong possibility that Shakespeare chose to dramatize this story from its source in Plutarch precisely because he could see in it the birth of politics in our sense.  He could see the transition, at the very beginning of the Roman republic, from a time when the power of the state was vested in whatever man could claim it by absolute strength of arms, to a time when power was geld to derive from the people, temporarily assigned by them to some strong person to use in their interest.

It is certainly the case that at the core of this play is a call from the people to compromise, and an equally literal call toward the absolute.  How the struggle turns out in the pay you know, if you have seen it.  What's remarkable is how relevant the conflict still seems, 2500 years further on.

-David Evett [Scholar-in-residence]


***

While waiting for this to start, I was listening to conversations happening with audience members near me.  One woman was attempting to translate the Russian on one of the images projected on the wall, and said she thought it approximated to "everything for the struggle."


I gave up on making full sentences complete with contextualization out of my notes.

Read more...Collapse )
11:40p
[SCOR] "Persevering Up Heartbreak Hill" [2009-04-30]
"Persevering Up Heartbreak Hill: A Panel to Address Racism and White Privilege in the Communities and Congregations of Somerville and Beyond"

The title irritated me because Heartbreak Hill is not exactly Somerville.  (I never claimed to not be pedantic.)

There was a good number of turnout, though I was a bit bummed that I didn't recognize anyone besides folks from FCS UCC (which was hosting the event), since the notice had gone out to at least two of my other churches.

I was hoping for more discussion of "actionable" strategies for fighting racism.  The panelists opened by sharing their own stories of racism -- largely with a framing of how they came to an awareness of and an active engagement with racism -- which, yes, stories are important (Laura Ruth and others framed it as "telling their truths"), but...

Early on, one of the panelists said that she wasn't going to talk at great length explaining white privilege and everything since clearly we already know that stuff or else we wouldn't be here.  I don't actually think that everyone present has done "Racism and White Privilege 101" or anything (honestly, I'm still working my way through Racism and White Privilege 101), and certainly plenty of people were present (like, for example, me) who had been to little if any of the preceding portions of the Sacred Conversations on Race series.

It was also weird to hear Anthony Holloway frequently talking about experiences of racism as if they were these rare distinct experiences he's had, when so much of what I've been reading in educating myself about racism talks about how systemically pervasive racism is and how focusing on specific obvious actions we can all agree are bad is almost counterproductive.

It was scheduled to start at 7:00 but started late because Anthony Holloway was at an Alderman's meeting.  It ultimately started after 7:20.  In announcing the fact that we would be starting late, Laura Ruth said something like, "It's such a white thing, to start exactly on time," and I was kind of annoyed because srsly, starting on time is not an evil white heteropatriarchal tool of oppression; it just makes life better.
Panelists:
Edith Guffey, Associate General Minister of the national United Church of Christ
Anthony Holloway, Somerville Chief of Police Chief
Elena Latona, Director of Organizational Learning and Research at Third Sector New England and former Executive Director of Centro Presente
Peggy McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women and co-founder and co-director of the national SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity)
Read more...Collapse )

***

As the reception was drawing to a close, I was hanging around to say goodbye to Laura Ruth, and she was talking with Peggy, and Peggy said that she was at Harvard Law School (or maybe she said the Kennedy School, I forget) and basically told the students that they shouldn't focus on the academics, should just get the degree and run.  I commented that I'm such an academic, that I actually think the academics can be really useful and good.

Gary and I stayed while Laura Ruth closed up, and as we were heading out we were talking about something Gary and I had been reading while we'd been waiting, and in response to me, Laura Ruth said (good-naturedly) something about me being literal and linear.
I said, "Yes, I'm literal, I'm linear, I'm pedantic, I'm a fucking white academic, and I like it that way."
She said I'm good that way.
11:42p
[Theatre@First] The Winter's Tale [2009-05-01]
Friday, Cate and Allie and I went to Theatre @ First's production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.  We got dinner at Blue Shirt Cafe and people were making noises about dessert, so we went to Harvard Square to get cupcakes at Sweet [website -- warning: sound], but I wasn't particularly moved, so then we went to Hrerell's and I got an "Elvis' Favorite," which unfortunately I wasn't that taken with (though I did get a coupon for $1 off my next ice cream purchase there).

Over dinner, I mentioned that Ian had said it's Shakespeare's best play.  Allie (the only one of us who has actually read the play) looked at me disbelievingly.  I shrugged, since the only thing I knew about the play was that it contained the stage direction "Exeunt, pursued by a bear."  Watching the play, once the BATSHIT CRAZY hit I understood why she had reacted as she did.

It's a well-done production (see bard_in_boston review, for example), but, yeah.  Read more...Collapse )

***

This was the first time I'd been in Unity Church (inroite?).

In the room the play was in, on the wall was:

...it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
-Luke 12:32

I looked it up when I got home and yeah, not quite as universal salvation-y when you fill in the ellipsis.  Oh well.

In browsing some of the literature outside the sanctuary, I learned that Unity is an actual denomination, though it sounded a lot like Unitarian Universalism (though definitively monotheistic, and they seemed to use some Christian liturgy and do Communion and stuff).

***

We talked about various theatre goings-on, so for reference:

Spring Awakening
Through May 9
The Boston Center for the Arts (539 Tremont St., Boston)
Through May 24
The Colonial Theatre (106 Boylston St., Boston)

Looking at the Zeitgeist Stage page, apparently Zeitgeist is doing the play that was the inspiration for the musical that's playing at the Colonial (which Jessie saw and hated).

'Tis Pity She's a Whore @ the Loeb Experimental Theater
Show Times:
May 1-3 at 7:30 pm
May 7-9 at 7:30 pm

NYC's Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park is doing Twelfth Night this summer (June 10 - July 12), but Google is not turning up anything for Boston's Shakespeare in the Park for this summer.

Pirates! (Or, Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder'd)
by Gilbert and Sullivan
Directed by Gordon Greenberg
BU Theatre - Mainstage
5/15/2009 – 6/14/2009
11:44p
[MFA] The Mermaid (2008) [2009-05-02]
Armenian Film Festival
Film
The Mermaid (Rusalka) preceded by Ligne de Vie
8 — 9:40 pm
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Remis Auditorium

The Mermaid (Rusalka) by Anna Melikyan (Russia, 2008, 100 min). In this charming film, young Alisa takes a vow of silence to protest her mother's refusal to enroll her in ballet class. When her silence is mistaken for an intellectual disability, she is sent to a special-needs school in a rural town. With the help of another student, Alisa discovers she has the power to make wishes come true. When she turns 18 and moves to Moscow, she wonders if her extraordinary gift might also be a curse. Similar in style and tone to Amelie, Mermaid features digital deception to enhance fantastical elements. The original Russian title refers to the water spirit of Slavic myth, also referenced in Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. In Russian with English subtitles.

Preceded by Ligne de Vie by Serge Avedikian (France, 2003, 12 min.).
An animated film about the Holocaust.
Read more...Collapse )

***

The film started about 15 minutes after it was scheduled to, so the guy I was sitting next to (whom I would put in his 50s) was chatting me up.  Afterward he asked, "Do you know somewhere to get a coffee?" and I said, "I really don't know this area," and he said, "I have my car..." and I thought, "Seriously?  I'm young enough to be your daughter -- and by a fair amount, too."  I just honestly said that I really didn't know where would be open (it was about 10:15) because everything in Boston closes so early.  Earlier, he had asked if I would be back to see more of the films tomorrow (this film was part of the 3-day Armenian Film Festival) and I'd said no I had church commitments all day; this information clearly didn't stick 'cause later he was saying, "I think I will be sitting in this same seat for the 3:00 film tomorrow," and acting as if he would see me tomorrow, and I just made noncommittal noises.

When we were leaving the building, a woman (about his age) recognized him and started chatting and asked if I was his daughter and he said yes and that's the point at which I actually got skeeved out.  (I have a long history of being hit on by random guys and my tolerance is really high.)  But as we were approaching Museum Road I said I really should get home and head toward the T, and he was just like, "Okay, I will see you tomorrow," which I was grateful for, since I was totally expecting him to offer to drive me home.

The busker at Park Street played "Walkin' in Memphis" and a song I didn't know (though the clutch of Sudbury high schoolers waiting on the platform with me did) and "Brown-Eyed Girl," which was nice -- though his voice was fairly quiet, so the songs didn't have quite the energy I would have liked ideally (yes, I'm spoiled -- I was introduced to "Walkin' in Memphis" via Smith a cappella).
11:46p
"sacred work"
Yesterday afternoon, Carolyn emailed me to say she has shingles and so couldn't go to church on Sunday and asked me to lift up various prayers for her.  One of these was for a woman she shared a taxi with Thursday morning, and I thought about how far we expand the circle of whom we are praying for when we as a community lift up all those who are on our hearts.  I'd recently seen on friendfriends someone complaining about the way Joys & Concerns worked at her church, commenting that, "we really don't need to know your neighbor's hamster died."  Admittedly, I made a similar complaint the one time I went to ASC, but I think that ultimately I come down on the side of people lifting up those joys and concerns that are on their hearts (I know I don't lift up every single thing I'm praying about, and I think that's legitimate, but I'm hesitant around explicitly or even implicitly censoring people -- though obviously people take cues from the community, which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

At CHPC this morning, MaryR. said that she came to church today with a heavy heart, that her brother-in-law who had recently had a double lung transplant and has been fighting really hard (and who has five children) isn't going to make it.  She literally broke down in tears partway through, which almost never happens when folks are lifting up their Prayer Concerns.  I was watching her crying quietly and dabbing her eyes with a tissue after she'd finished, and I felt like someone should go hug her, but I'm always hesitant not wanting to make people uncomfortable if maybe they'd rather not have someone with them, but a couple other people lifted up prayers and no one moved to sit with her and so I went up and put one arm around her and sat next to her.  She put one arm around me, so I decided that was sufficient indication that she actively appreciated it and wasn't just politely putting up with my efforts.

After service was over, Paul and Hilary were the first people to come over, and Paul said to me that was a good thing I did, and I thanked him.

I got an email tonight:
Subject: support today

Hi Elizabeth,
Thank you so much for your support today in church. It was so kind of you as I grieved the impending loss of my brother-in-law.  I had just heard the news as I arrived at church so had not had a chance to deal with it. I really appreciated your being there.
Blessings to you and warm regards,
Mary
11:48p
"the bird flu's connected to the swine flu - the swine flu's connected to the agribusiness..."
This past week has been busy (see collection of writeups -- most of which aren't even all that overdue, though I'm definitely not getting today's churches written up tonight).

Friday night, Allie someone mentioned that she's taking Intellectual Property (Mondays, Wednesdays, 6:30-9:30 pm -- has a distance option) at Harvard's Summer School.  I think I may need to register for that.  I have a pre-existing Wednesday commitment, but (1) I'd only be auditing, (2) it has a distance option.  (World Religions also has a distance option.)

Saturday I slept in and then I did laundry and dishes and swept the dining room and picked up some groceries and went to a film at the MFA.

Ian managed to make me cranky on about three different levels in a single two-paragraph email, but so it goes.

gym: Wed.-Fri.Collapse )

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