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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Read | Kurt Vonnegut on Making Your Soul Grow

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From Letters of Note

In 2006 a New York City high school English teacher set her class the assignment of writing to their favorite author to persuade them to come and visit the school. Five pupils wrote to Kurt Vonnegut. He was the only author to reply and what he says he says with wonderful simplicity.

 

November 5, 2006

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana. 

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, butrhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

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Watch | Diane Arbus In Her Own Words

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A 30 minute documentary about the acclaimed photographer Diane Arbus. Made in 1972 a year after Diane committed suicide it is predominately made up of Diane’s own words. Her daughter Doon obtained a recording of a course her mother gave. The quality was poor so she got a friend of Diane’s to read the transcript to the visuals of her photographs. Its a short but incredibly insightful explanation of the approach, motivations and influences that made Diane Arbus’ work so unique.

 

Watch | The Light Bulb Conspiracy

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The Light Bulb Conspiracy investigates the history of Planned Obsolescence — the deliberate shortening of product life span to guarantee consumer demand — by charting its beginnings in the 1920s with a cartel set up expressly to limit the life span of light bulbs, right up to present-day products involving cutting edge electronics such as the iPod. The film travels to France, Germany, Spain and the US to find witnesses of a business practice which has become the basis of the modern economy, and brings back graphic pictures from Ghana where discarded electronics are piling up in huge cemeteries for electronic waste, causing intense environmental destruction and health problems.

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