Sacred & Profane – Art, Beauty & stuff that doesn't suck

"Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your poetry" -Oscar Wilde

Are you anybody’s favorite person? March 9, 2009

Filed under: Art,Film,Musings — davidjdecker @ 7:56 am
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I came across this very simple 4 minute short film this weekend that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. It stars two of my favorite people, John C. Reilly and Miranda July, who also wrote the script. Watch it, and then we’ll discuss…

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“Are you anybody’s favorite person?” “Are you the favorite person of anybody?” Don’t look too deep into the responses from the three people taking the survey. The point I think of the film is to elicit a reaction prompting us to turn the questions inward. These are some of the questions I’ve been trying to process:

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–        What does it mean if I’m not?
–        What does it mean if I am?
–        Do I even want that responsibility?
–        Does it really even matter?

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I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I don’t have to explore these questions from a position of insecurity. Even during the darkest stretches of my past when I’ve felt alone and desperate and tried to isolate everyone, I have never been unloved. I assure you that says far more about people in my life than it does me. Few people can say that, and I hope I don’t take it for granted.

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This is the conclusion my questioning has produced…For me the more relevant question is:

–        “Who is my favorite person and is the sentiment reciprocated?”
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My favorite person is my beautiful wife, Bekah “Buttons”, and I am hers and that is enough for me.

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I am not one for forcing out life applications from art, but I’d encourage all of you to think through who your favorite person is or just someone whose place in your life has meant a lot to you, and let them know. Maybe even respond to this post with a story of that person and send them the link.

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This is far cheesier than I ever get but I can’t think of a better reason to make an exception.

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In Search of the 9 year old Astronaut January 19, 2009

child-astronaut1I had a birthday recently and it sucked terribly. It wasn’t the standard festivities that surrounded it because they were, well… festive. But it hit me that at 29, there’s no way I can manipulate the numbers that would allow me to pass myself off as being in my mid 20’s and, worse yet, in a year I will categorically no longer be a “20 something”. If that sounded like the most trivial, pathetic thing you’ve ever heard then you’re right, because it is. I assure you that I cringed as I wrote it. However it isn’t quite as superficial as it may initially come across. Hear me out…..
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I’ve realized that my birthday anxieties aren’t at all fueled by getting older but rather by the realization of becoming increasingly estranged and farther removed from who I was when I was younger. The world used to seem so much bigger, an endless empty canvas waiting to be brought to life with all the abandon and defiance of a Jackson Pollock painting. Yet the sedated and calculated 29 year old I seem to have slowly morphed into feels little connection with the 19 year old who feared nothing but boredom and even less connection with the 9 year old who was convinced he’d one day be an astronaut…or the guy who drives the fire trucks.

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my-dinner-with-andre-posterI can, however, relate unfortunately well to Wallace Shawn – supporting actor and screen writer of Louis Malle’s stimulating 1981 film My Dinner with Andre, who reflects in the film’s opening sequence:

“I’ve lived in this city all my life. I grew up on the Upper East Side. And when I was ten years old, I was rich, I was an aristocrat. Riding around in taxis, surrounded by comfort, and all I thought about was art and music. Now, I’m 36, and all I think about is money.”

Later on in the film, Shawn’s dinner companion, Andre Gregory, while explaining why he left New York and his prestigious position as a theatre director, referred to what he called “the dangerous tranquility of comfort” and how it can subtly lure us away from dreams that always require risk and liberation. Picasso once said

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

And so I find myself at 29, tranquil and comfortable but blind to beauty and with a dulled sense of wonder. I’ve become the suburbanite cliché’ I always promised myself I never would.

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Art, whether as a participant or patron, has been the only constant in my life. It has helped guide me through my attempts to understand God and love and fear and sadness and forgiveness and hope and disappointment and freedom and myself. Yet somewhere along the line I stopped engaging art as I once did and being vulnerable to its comfort. Reality’s vocabulary, I’ve found, is too inadequate and colorless to tell the stories of human experience- my human experiences. Is it any surprise that I’m uninspired? All that to say, my hope for this blog is that through looking closer and deeper into the products of creative expression I can rediscover as an adult the sense of beauty and possibility that once sustained me like oxygen as a nine year old astronaut…

And maybe even inspire the same in any who may stumble across it.