Thursday, October 14, 2010

So That's What's in a Name

Before I get into today's post proper (which will be short...I am le tired) I figured that since a few people are actually reading my more-or-less-informed drivel, I should briefly explain the name and subtitle of the blog. Basically, when I created it I intended it to be an outlet for completely satirical and ironic thoughts I have constantly but can't always voice because of circucmstances, etc. In that spirit, I wanted to poke fun at the stereotype of blogs, and the bloggers who create them. I'm actually a somewhat private person, and while blogging may be cheap therapy that works for some people who pour out their heartache and rage and malcontent directly in a public forum, that's not for me. I'm not saying there isn't a place for people who express genuine emotions in their writing, which happens to be online. I guess I just happen to be a fan of discretion. That and the lilting rhyme of the title made me laugh for a really long time. So just to make it clear: while things in my life are far from perfect, I'm an extremely fortunate and thankful person. However, I like to entertain myself, and since the title (and the hilarity of "torturedgenius85") amuses me, I think I'll keep it for now. But if anyone has a suggestion for a title more fitting and proper to the subject matter contained within, I'm all ears.

Now, just a brief continued reflection on the idea of "techne" from last post. I have two items to bring to bear on the discussion. First, an article about a Stanford physician and educator named Dr. Abraham Verghese, entitled "Physician Revives a Dying Art: The Physical". Shockingly germane to our topic, the article profiles Dr. Verghese as a doctor and a man who believes in the medical and spiritual wisdom of actually physically examining patients. It seems absurdly commonsensical to do so, and yet the article cites the gaining prevalence of technological diagnostics without the physical contact of doctor and patient. The trend of medical instruction recently, it suggests, has been entirely on the "techne", to the detriment of the art. Yes, medicine is a science (which is why we put so much trust in its authority) but Dr. Verghese reminds us it is also an art. The most interesting fact about this man, to me, is that he has written a novel and studied at the extremely prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, fairly soundly acknowledged to be the best Creative Writing MFA program in the country. This man is attempting to bring "art" (i.e. meaning, human connection and the creation of understanding such contact breeds) to a field that is becoming increasing removed, automated, abstract.

Lastly for today, I just watched the documentary "Note by Note: the Making of Steinway L1037". The film chronicles the production of one Steinway concert grand piano through every stage of its creation, a process that takes a full year to complete. Relevant to our discussion, however, is that the focus of the film is not so much on the piano itself, but on the master craftsmen and women who use their "techne" to create some of the most beautiful instruments in the world. What I was struck by was their happiness and the joy they take in their work. They are technicians, surely; you have to be to do the incredibly demanding and skilled work they do. Yet their work has meaning to them. Even though they perform many of the same tasks day in and day out, they are connected powerfully to their work. You can see on their faces while they work that it is an expression of their being. Of course, all their beautiful work produces something beautiful, but it also produces something extremely expensive. So, as long as we in this country and the global community continue to value more things made cheaply that cost less to produce so that they cost less to buy, there is no incentive to fuse "techne" and "art". And the more disassociated the two become, the less meaning there is overall. On a final problematizing note, I personally love cheap things. I'm as much a part of the problem as anyone. I can justify it for now because I'm underemployed, but I know the change needs to happen. How to bring it about?

Okay so it wasn't that short after all :). As always, comments welcome.

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