Saturday, August 30, 2014

Capturing Romance

The Birthday (1915)
Marc Chagall

As an artist I have been ruminating on how to go about capturing a moment of romance. In Chagall's The Birthday (pictured above) we see an ever-present aspect of it depicted in art: 

Fantasy, as it is depicted in Chagall's painting, is that distinctive faculty we have for imagining things - the product of which one recognizes in a painting, musical composition, or some other sensory-stimulating work of the imagination that involves our dwelling either consciously or subconsciously on the moment. 

In Chagall's painting, two lovers are caught in the moment of a surprise kiss. She, moving flowers, perhaps that he delivered, into a vase; he, whipping around to steal a kiss. She is surprised, but her eyes are wide open, brining in the moment in a very personal way. Both are swept off their feet as furniture and objets de art fall upward, in the general direction of the sentiment displayed: 

a heart that has been touched soars...

Throughout history, fantasy has taken on different meanings, with themes as different as the ages that cultivated them. In ancient civilizations, fantasy was that superfantastical realm of dragons and spirits in the east ...

c. 3800 BCE (China) Pig-dragon Pendant Hongshan Culture; Neolithic

...and demons in the west. 

The Falling Angel (1923-47)
Marc Chagall
(This piece combines Biblical and Torah lore with the modern world and with Chagall's personal symbolism in a juxtaposition of images that attempt to summarize the many experiences the artist had over the course of his work on the painting)

During the Middle Ages, the prevailing fashion for fantasy was for grotesque distortions of human and animal forms. These figures filled the margins of illustrated manuscripts, while their carved equivalents adorned the façades of churches and public buildings. 

Sermonizing artists provoked their public with terrifying visions of purgatory. The most imaginative artist in this field was Hieronymus Bosch. 

The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1450-1516)
Hieronymus Bosch
The Prado

Fantastical images can be expressed utilizing the twisting, flowing, dream-like movements found in Chagall's whimsical paintings or in the hollowed-out eggshell bodies, demons with tree-like limbs, and man-eating birds with long, spiky beaks (Bosch) - or with entirely different imagery. 

Guiseppe Arcimboldo
The Louvre

Fortunately, fantasy has not always been linked with terror. Renaissance artist Guiseppe Arcimboldo brought us novelty pictures in which the human head was composed out of an assemblage of fruit, flowers, or vegetables.

Our love of fantasy expresses our fascination with fables and fairies, folklore and myths. Our creation of these artworks or musical scores represents our desire to immerse ourselves in the production of these moments. 

To first experience an aspect of it in our own mind and then, afterwards, to produce that image, allows us to whisk others away with visually stunning fantasies we draw upon from our own personal flights of fancy. At the same time, these images are idealistic and romantic. 

Love combines the physical combining of separate forces in their moment of ecstasy. Chagall's The Birthday is based on the artist's exploration of dreams and the human psyche that in turn produces an artifact from this experience. 

Expressing love in art comes from the desire to creatively produce that which is free from the restraints of reason. In pursuing this aim, painters adopt a variety of personal styles. Some produce images that resemble hallucinations or dreams in which figures or objects are depicted in a startlingly realistic manner, juxtaposed in a way that defies rational analysis; others produce semi-abstract works by deliberating suppressing themselves in their automatic drawings. 

Joan Miró is a leading example of this approach. 

Ballet Romantic (1974)
Joan Miró

However one imagines a romantic artwork, the artwork itself must surprise the painter as well as the viewer; if not, it will fail to resemble the workings of the subconscious mind at play.

I have not yet created this piece, but the expression of this highly sought after human sentiment is indeed weaving its way through my subconscious as I diligently work through creating the next 15 or so paintings for this upcoming exhibition. 

Creating this many pieces of art (in such a short period of time) requires one to draw heavily upon the subconscious in search for these sentiments ... where they are found is between the artist and his or her canvas ... where they end up depends upon to whom these productions speak most. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Raising Funny Kids 44: Ma Mignonne

Ma mignonne

A une Damoyselle malade

Ma mignonne,
Je vous donne
Le bon jour;
Le séjour
C'est prison.
Puis ouvrez
Votre porte
Et qu'on sorte
Car Clément
le vous mande.
Va, friande
Da ta bouche,
Que se couche
En danger
Pour manger
Si tu dures
Trop malade,
Couleur fade
Tu prendras,
Et perdras
Dieu te doint
Santé bonne,
Ma mignonne.

Marot's seemingly simple poem is charming as it is disarming. What is made simple is invariably that which only a master of a given craft can present for our amusement. 

Marot's poem in English (this literal translation by D. Hofstadter, whose magnum opus Le Ton beau de Marot is indispensable if one seeks to delve deeper into this poem), lacks the beautiful rhyming couplets (AA, BB, CC), the carefully scrutinized and chosen wording, and the musical nature which the French original offers. 

For those who do not speak or who cannot faithfully read in French, the eloquence of this poem cannot be fully appreciated - though it can be internalized. If one speaks French, this poem is delight to the senses. 

Originally penned in October 1527 for a future queen, Jeanne d'Albret de Navarre, it is one of my favorite poems, intimately speaking to my experience of being a mother. 

Queen Jeanne d'Albret de Navarre
François Clouet

To a Sick Damsel

My sweet,
I bid you
A good day;
The stay
Is prison.
Then open
Your door,
And go out
For Clément
Tells you to.
Go, indulger
Of thy mouth,
Lying abed
In danger,
Off to eat
Fruit preserves;
If thou stay'st
Too sick,
Pale shade
Thou wilt acquire,
And wilt lose
Thy plump form.
God grant thee
Good health,
My sweet.

Marot's poem is refreshingly whimsical, notably respectful, and appropriately personal for court artist to bequeath a young child of noble birth. 

Transporting ourselves to a village in France, dans le sein du beau Quercy, near the old Pont Valentré whose stony towers and stately arches stand astride itself, cradling a little town once called "Divona" by a tribe once called "Cadourques", we recognize the precarious aftereffects when a child of noble birth fell ill. 

We can also transport ourselves to a space where softness of manner and eloquence of tongue is the transitional divide between our humanity and the nobility of spirit. For those who are moved by the arts of the prophets, who seek beauty as a companion, who soar on wings that carry the mind to the threshold of its imagination, who delight in charm and gaiety and who speak a similar language, this is one of those poems that serve us, a nice accompaniment to life - and parenthood.

This poem is a delight to recite aloud. When one wishes to express a sincere fondness for youthful innocence, few poems reach the pinnacle of Marot's verses. When read faithfully, the inflection carries with it a sweet-sounding, mellifluous tone, but to be read masterfully, it must be read from one's personal connection with or subjective memories of childhood in conjunction with one's intimate relation to childhood as a caring, nurturing adult. 

In raising funny kids, one must first raise happy children. Happiness is found on an individual level and nearly always includes an element of beauty for inspiration. The beauty found in Marot's poem is one such nicety that can be shared in the intimacy known by a very simple word: home.

Ma Mignonne, the title I prefer, is a beloved poem that can be passed down for generations, just as it has been for over half a millennium.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Secret to Reading This Blog

Life is all about communication. When we keep a secret, we not only have to monitor what we write, but also what we might say with our photos, quotes, in-between-the-lines, and colloquial expressions. We become vigilant of our own being - separate from it rather than part of it. An Avatar of our true identity and, thus, an art form - a snapshot taken from a given angle depending upon the lens. The director and orchestrator of the shot. The private funding behind the public entity. We are then separate from the spontaneous, streaming umph that marks true aliveness.

The posts herein are burdened with having to keep secrets. The exile, etched into the keyboard keys. The private equity investor on holiday, with few details - unlike most execs. The injunction mirrors the internalized feelings of entertainers and performers who rarely divulge their secrets - if ever.

And let's not forget the artistic poet, taking creative liberties - as is the case herein.

The little girl with the big imagination, labeled eccentric before she could spell the word. A confidant and, thus, an individual relaxed in the art of secret holding - in fact, quite relaxed. The encryptor, enjoying the creation of unspoken rules and patterns. The artist, mapping out said rules and patterns onto canvas - the key for which is nicely hidden in a neurological vault.

We are careful not to speak of secrets, even the mere mention of a secret sends imaginations flaring, minds wandering, and hopes twirling through a web of irrational desires, landing wherever they are trained to land - forever peeking out over the horizon.

If we jump from the ledge, Which direction, exactly, is up?

Secrets are kept from Readers. I know someone who blogs about one subject, but who never discusses the reasons for it or explores their feelings on the matter. It is simply the case with many bloggers. Hidden clues and messages, nuances and innuendos peppering post after post, in patterns few can map out.


When life can be seen plainly but is not talked about openly, people pick up the unstated rule:

Keep Secrets

This makes it impossible for Readers to ask relevant questions on anything other than the shared subject matter, the words and phrases - which rarely match the design. Though written language comes after spoken language, which is programmed early in life, the use of communication to solve problems is a lost art. Most every communication, like these blog posts, is encrypted with sensitivities, with taboos, with secret or hidden agendas, and with fervor - passionate, privately endorsed privilege, to which few - if any - are granted access.

But why do we communicate like this when the goal of communication is clear understanding? What does secret communication lead to?

look around

It leads to a whole slew of forbidden subjects. In families where "certain subjects" are never discussed, everyone accepts that some information simply must be hidden. This increases undue shyness, awkwardness, and acting out behavior. 

This type of communication is rampant in society. We expect it. We do it. We are accustomed to it. When we encounter something different, we repel - we wonder, "What's wrong with this person?" We wonder, "Why are there so many "Ws" in this paragraph?" 

In the early Latin alphabet, there was no letter "u" or "w," but there was a "V." As writing forms progressed through the middle ages, the introduction of lower case forms gave rise to the form "u," originally a variant of the letter "V." The intermingling of forms continued up until at least the early 17th century, as evidenced by the following text in 1620:

In this text, the word "uso" does not make use of the alternative form but retains the original Latin form "vso." 

Sometime during the middle ages, the sound [w], found in Old English and other early Germanic langauges, began being represented by the digraph "W" (two "Vs" side by side) and eventually gave rise to the single character "W." 

As promised, or at least hinted, in the title of this blog post, I shall offer a secret to reading this blog, perhaps the introduction on secret holding was also fruitful in decoding posts - or in the realization that there is more than meets the reading brain than one had previously interpreted. Either way, here it goes:

As with the "W-tangent" above, this blog will often "go off on a tangent" of providing educational or otherwise informative information as a gift to Readers. This information, tangible in nature, is an added benefit of returning to this blog on a regular basis. Given that the author - namely, me - enjoys and takes numerous creative liberties with this blog, rendering it - at times - incomprehensible or, at the very least, confusing, said author - i.e., "me" - feels it the least she could do given her tendency to do this, which according to said author - okay, you know who I'm talking about - is not about to change anytime soon.

Typically, secrets promote ignorance. "I never saw it coming," is something sometimes heard once a secret is revealed. "I had an idea, but I never thought..." such a thing would happen, right? Exactly.

As with the recent circumstances surrounding the passing of Robin Williams, the world community must be looking at one another, wondering ... "What are you hiding?" the following thought - I hope - is "...and how can I help?"

It is important to look for signs of secrecy with people. There is always a break in the flow of communication. Behavior or expressions are choppy. Lies are not natural, they are counter to natural human communication, which is as expressive as it is revealing. When individuals feel that they must keep secrets or guard information, their personality changes - and often times, they show a different aspect of themselves to different audiences - rarely do these two world mix.

Secrets do not allow a subject to reach home, to touch the light of consciousness where new information can be received for later processing. Secrets block the flow of energie, perpetuating repetitive and compulsive behavior patterns.

I wrote this post in an attempt to open up the dialogue of keeping secrets, something that the world community is now examining. The loss of a beloved, talented entertainer with whom many people around the world resonated has hit home. It is not the loss of just an actor. It is the loss of all the people we care about. It is the persistent question, "Could I have done something to help?" that gets people. We have all experienced loss in our lives and often times it leaves us at a loss in how to deal with it - and how to help others cope. We struggle with what to say - and how to say it. Do we get clever? Do we go for an emotional response? Do we divulge our own struggles as a way to communicate? How do we repair the perception of connectivity in a world when separation is staring us right in the face?

Being told - from childhood forward - that we are supposed to "act" a certain way in public, "speak" a certain way in public, "write" our essays a certain way, "do" math problems a certain way, "paint" in a certain medium or style, affects who we are - causing some to join the Hipster movement.

Unless you want this to happen to you - or to your children - beware of what you say, think, teach, tweet, and pass along to others. Most people cannot decipher your encryption codes - nor do they have time to even think about deciphering your encryption codes.

It is plain, ordinary language that appeals most to individuals. With the uttering of every sentence, there must be an equal recognition, review, and agreement to continue onward. Without this very precise give-and-take exchange, there is no connection - and separation follows.

Blogging and writing, in general, are solitary activities. You have to speak to someone. Rarely do writers craft words like an artist crafts shapes on a canvas - though, admittedly, some - including myself - do. The point is that it can be difficult to communicate to a general audience in a public forum as you never know who is reading, which secrets they bring to the table, what sensitivities they posses, and how life has shaped their worldview. Given the online community is global, language, culture, politics, and social status often confuse communications into misunderstandings.

Children learn by imitation. An atmosphere of clear communication promotes clear communication. When the home atmosphere is pleasant, peaceful, clear, and open to new information and experiences, so, too, are the individuals in that home. As our home community extends into the living rooms, the computers, and the phones of the world community, what we send out, like what we express in our own homes, affects the lives of others.

Be kind to one another. Know that comedy, in its truest form - humor - is not about laughing at others ... it is about laughing with others ... sharing the fun of life, celebrating the happy moments, the moments that make us laugh, and the moments that connect us. Connection does not have to occur at the exclusion of other groups. The experience is what connects us. The subject matter. Everyone should be welcome. It is not about age, gender, social status, or cultural heritage, it is about whether or not we find value in a particular subject, wish to know more about it, and enjoy sharing that information with others.

The future of world communication is the abolition of secrets in favor of open communication. Most people share in this understanding, so it is only a matter of recognition and practice that will allow it to flourish. When it does, I hope that no one ever feels so alone again that they choose to end their life. No matter what happens, no matter how old or wrinkly we get, or how many times our boat fails to show up, there is always something worthy of investigation just over the horizon - and by horizon I mean tomorrow, next month, or five minutes from now (as we never know who might be calling or texting or what zany idea might cross through our mind).

Rules are meant to be questioned. If there are unspoken rules in your life that tell you secret holding is important, examine them - ask yourself why you're holding the secret, what the pros and cons are of holding that secret, and what you would do if someone "found out."

If the answer to that question is "So what!" you're on the right track. Besides, most people are more concerned with their own lives than they are with your secrets. A secret only trends for a short period of time. Living with lies can affect someone's entire life - and the lives of those around them.

So, if you're wondering how to read this blog... just know, that everything herein was written with good intentions, a hint of good humor, an interest in sharing, and a playful demeanor ... there are no hidden secrets other than the ones I'm not telling you about.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams

Robin William was a wonderful, kind and generous man.
Patch Adams

1951 - 2014
American actor, stand-up comedian,
film producer, screen writer...
Loved by millions

"He never acted as if he was powerful or famous. 
Instead, he was always tender and welcoming."
Patch Adams

Reader Response

(While on vacation) I received news that Robin Williams had died, and that he had taken his own life. Within a couple of days, I received a number of heartfelt letters from friends and readers telling me that they missed me on Facebook and that they wondered what thoughts or insights I might have to share on the subject and if I would be writing an article on Robin Williams anytime soon. They also asked if I was doing okay. 

While the subject of hiding pain behind comedy has come up countless times in my investigations into humor, I was touched by the concern my Readers expressed towards me. Perhaps Robin Williams' death will remind people to check on one another, to make sure that the people for whom they care are "doing okay" - sometimes just asking someone how their doing can keep them feeling connected. 

"Reality is just a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs."
Robin Williams

Rather than look to drugs or alcohol for my own intense need for input (and output), I look to creative outlets that soothe the frustrations life can sometimes bring. 

Even if I don't like what I write or create, the desire to try again, to do better, fuels my inspiration to continue. To make more. To get better. To have one more laugh or epiphany that fills me with joy and wonder. To have one more "moment" that quiets all the others and allows me to feel present, to be myself when the world might otherwise want me to serve as an amalgam for their own thoughts. 

While drugs and alcohol can aid in reaching these experiences, they do not ultimately leave one feeling inspired. On the contrary, drugs and alcohol leave one feeling empty. 

Making light of life's challenges can give most of us a long enough break to sit back and find new meaning, but that does not mean that comedy can cure heartache. Only we can cure heartache - comedy just reminds us that we can choose to laugh when we might otherwise want to cry.

"Carpe per diam - seize the check."
Robin Williams

Robin Williams - the comedian

Robin Williams, an incredibly prolific individual whose ability to consciously engage in the work of personal growth and of inner transformation through comedy, left this world as he lived in it - on his own accord.

Robin Williams in Flubber

What made Robin Williams so intense?

Overexcitability Questionnaire
  1. Do you ever feel really high, ecstatic, and incredibly happy? Describe your feelings. 
  2. What has been your experience of the most intense pleasure? 
  3. What are your special kinds of daydreams and fantasies? 
  4. What kinds of things get your mind going? 
  5. When do you feel the most energy, and what do you do with it? 
  6. How do you act when you get excited? 
  7. What kind of physical activity (or inactivity) gives you the most satisfaction? 
  8. Is taste something very special to you? Describe it in a way that it is special. 
  9. Do you ever catch yourself seeing, hearing, or imagining things that aren't really there? Give examples. 
  10. When do you feel the greatest urge to do something? 
  11. If you come across a difficult idea or concept, how does it become clear to you? Describe what goes on in your head in this case.
  12. Describe what you do when you are just fooling around.
Living With Intensity, Daniels & Piechowski, Ph.D.s

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

"You're only given a little spark of madness. 
You mustn't lose it."
Robin Williams


The overexcitability questions above come from the book Living With Intensity, the adapted list was created from the 21-item OEQ by Ackerman & Miller, 1997. 

The book describes and explores the multi-faceted sensitivities and intensities of gifted children and adults. It offers insights in understanding and nurturing the complex combination of intellectual advancement and overexcitabilities... with insights into how to avoid tragic misperceptions and misdiagnoses. 

Living on the edge. That is how precarious it often feels when we come to the top of the mountain, or what seems like the top, and are startled to find ourselves looking over the edge. The view is panoramic, breath-taking. But what about the trip down? Ordinarily, a sequence of moments shifts the boundaries of our private universe gradually from the concerns of young adulthood to something larger, startling, mysterious.

Sheehy (1995) "the mortality crisis, (Living with Intensity, p. 176)

"You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren't paying attention to."
Robin Williams

Triumph to Tragedy

The tragedy associated with the circumstances of Robin Williams' death has heightened our understanding of the dangers associated with living with intensity or what some call creative genius (turned against itself). 

What is Creative Genius

It is the applied integration of expanded sensitivities, otherwise known as artful living. Creative Genius is the outward sign of some area of intensity. 

Robin Williams unleashed his creative genius into his comedy. His true genius was in making others laugh. While Robin Williams was in possession of many talents, it was making people laugh for which he will mostly be remembered. 

"People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Maya Angelou 

"Death is nature's way of saying, "Your table's ready.""
Robin Williams

How could someone so talented do such a thing? 

This is the primary question my Readers have been asking me. While my blog often strays from the topic of humor, it is humor that underlines all my articles - even the serious ones. It is me saying, "Hey, isn't it funny how serious we can be?" 

Comedy covers serious topics as well as surprising insights. We are accustomed to having Robin Williams surprise us with his zany sense of humor, but the seriousness by which he left the world will leave many people asking "Why?" for years to come. 

For people who live with intensity - often described as creative genius - there is an enormous range of human capacity, an intricate web of understanding that occurs due to the intensity that is the hallmark of the individual's predisposition. 

Irrespective of where that intensity is directed, there is an extra umph behind everything they do.

"What's right is what's left when everything is wrong."
Robin Williams

Living with Intensity

An individual living with intensity approaches everything they do with their heart fully in it. This does not mean that they will give away their secrets. On the contrary. In the case of Robin Williams, he directed his intensity into his comedy, into entertaining others, and as it so happened, into his personal vision of the world. 

Some people call this the "dark side" because when you try to penetrate this veil, when you try to reach the person, they are somewhere else. This "somewhere else" is not always a happy place. 

This personal or dark side, as it is known, offers the heart a repose. Rather than comedy being his only escape, inactivity and retreat were the spaces into which Robin sometimes fled. When he was tired, done, or otherwise needed a break, this space served as his solace. 

It is inside this space that the analytical mind can turn against itself. That non-emotional, disengaged, quietly critiquing serious side we all know "too well" reigns in this sphere. 

The negative responses one encounters in life but normally "blocks out" are intensified. Tragically, for some, these voices can take over. 

While it is natural to question the world and our role in it (turning us all into philosophers), it is not natural to end our lives as a result of this questioning. 

The natural order of life is to keep going.

"...when you have a great audience, you can just keeping going and finding new things."
Robin Williams

Common Philosophical Questions
that people ask

  1. What is my purpose in life? 
  2. Why are we here?
  3. Is there a God? 
  4. What if there is no God? 
  5. Is this all there is? 
  6. Is there something more after this life? 
  7. Do we have free will? 
  8. Why did the Chicken cross the Road?

"The only weapon we have is comedy."
Robin Williams

Living with intensity is like being on a constant Road Trip. You are forever crossing one road or another. Only when you exhaust yourself to the point of near non-existence, do you step back, retreat, and focus on your own needs. 

The difficulty with living in the public eye or of being an individual to whom others look for support, guidance, or entertainment, is that you are human - you're actually human. And like everyone who returns from a Road Trip, you need and absolutely must have time to relax and recharge.

We all need time to process the thoughts, hopes, and doubts that cross our mind. When we are constantly 'on the go' or when we have constant demands hanging over us, the desire to retreat increases and we naturally look for escapes.

If you are intellectually driven, you look to your work, your research, your insights and epiphanies for solace. You thrive on the insights your analytical brain offers and upon the respect you receive for your efforts. These experiences increase your self-respect and become emotional sustenance to continue onwards. We all need something to fill the coffers back up when they run low. 

If you are creatively driven, you look toward your craft for solace. Your craft is your lifeline. It keeps you connected. You have an avenue through which to communicate, to tell the world, "I exist." 

Only it is not the world we're trying to convince - it's ourselves. 

Despite popular belief, 
we all need proof that we exist

"a weird combination of isolation and connection and disconnection; discomfort and awkwardness."
Robin Williams (on connection)

Robin Williams and Socrates

Robin Williams juggled multiple intensities: intellectual intensity, emotional intensity, and creative intensity. His comedy was a metaphor for the evolution of his intensity. To reclaim his balance, he withdrew himself from the depth his intensity carved into his life. 

If one is not careful, an intense person can carve a gorge so deeply that they begin to believe that they cannot escape. This is the pitfall of intensity and/or creative genius. 

Socrates, an intensely focused Greek, mesmerized by the notion of finding truth and wisdom, carved out his own grave - and what did the Athenian citizens do to him? They buried him in it. 

Like Ancient Athenian citizens, the world of Hollywood can can be overly harsh in their judgment. Men are judged by their charisma, women on their beauty. If either fail to deliver, the Twitter feeds go wild. Talk about pressure. No wonder so many intensely creative individuals find solace in drugs or alcohol. Where does one retreat when all eyes are on them? 

Into a world of their own making.

Socrates went around asking people big questions - questions others did not want to ask themselves nor have someone else ask of them because they did not know - or did not want to know - the answer.

As it turns out, having an answer - even if it is wrong - is better for most people than asking deep questions and being open to the answers that surface. 

Heartfelt questions can lead to our questioning whether or not life is worth it. If the answer is no, trouble follows. 

There is a reason why people continue ask the question: 

Half-Empty or Half-Full?

For individuals who live with intensity, life usually feels like it is one way or the other. There is very little middle-ground.

"Reality... what a concept."
Robin Williams

Why do we love comedy? 

We love comedy because it fills life's in-between moments with laughter. It's simple. When we step back from the intensity of our daily lives, from the demands of family, the pressures of work, the relentless internal dialogue critiquing every thought and moment, we need a release. We need to laugh. We need to know that we're not in this thing alone. That others feel the way we do. That there is meaning. That there is a purpose - or no purpose, in which case, we need to find meaning in that. 

Comedy takes confusion, doubt, and tragedy and twists it up like a balloon animal. The sound it makes can often times send shrills down our spines, but in the end, we look at the finished product and smile. We see the bigger picture. We see the magic. We see the art. 

Exploring Humor

Exploring humor has allowed me to discover the humorous side of life. From Scooby Doo to Pacman to Research Papers, all the things we do and think about in life, when viewed through a humorous microscope, become absurd, which is funny.

The seriousness we attach to tragedy and the importance we place on every thought and emotion we experience can leave one laughing.

As human beings, we want the range of emotions to match the range of experiences we have in life - and comedy provides that. 

Comedy (Sometimes) Heals

When the intensity in our own lives lightens up, so do we. This is when humor and the people who make us laugh are such a welcomed presence in our lives. 

This is something most comedians understand on a deeply personal level, but understanding the power of humor and feeling it are not the same thing. 

"My battles with addiction definitely shaped how I am now. They really made me deeply appreciate human contact. And the value of friend and family, how precious that is."
Robin Williams

The intensity that leads some to wild, zany expressions is what also leads them to scary places, to places where demons have their way with the mind, a place into which no one can pass.

Comedians, like everyone else, sometimes find themselves asking the question, 

"Why am I doing this?" 

This is a natural question to ask. The answer to the question is as different as each individual asking it. 

Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Are you having a beer?" Descartes says, "I think not," and ceases to exist.

René Descartes (1596 - 1650) wrote in his Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conduction the Reason and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, 

The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellences, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations.

"Mrs. Doubtfire: 'He was quite fond of the drink. It was the drink that killed him.'
Miranda: 'How awful. Was he an alcoholic?'
Mrs. Doubtfire: 'No, he was hit by a Guinness truck.'

The BIG Questions

Descartes understood the inherent perils of examining one's thoughts. He admitted that

The single design to strip one's self of all past beliefs is one that ought not to be taken by every one. 

Robin Williams (and Matt Damon) in Good Will Hunting

"My battles with addiction definitely shaped how I am now. They really made me deeply appreciate human contact. And the value of friend and family, how precious that is."
Robin Williams

The Genius of Robin Williams

Robin Williams must have recognized his own genius. All he needed to do was sit back and observe the power he had over the happiness of others. 

In a world of intensity, love and compassion are the two of the greatest forces upon which the soul can find respite. For an intense person, love and compassion are true lifelines. 

Without a deep connection to these forces, the soul ceases to exist. Love is replaced with despair. Compassion is replaced with rejection. The result is either a temporary retreat to heal oneself (often times sought after in drugs, in alcohol, or in other intimate pleasures) or, in extreme cases, suicide. 

The withdrawal feels as intense as the mania. 

Depression is the hallway to a nervous breakdown. Whether or not someone can be saved, or whether or not someone can save another suffering is a question many have asked. 

There is no magic cure or simple answer. There is no amount money or fame that can heal a heavy heart. In fact, money and fame can complicate life. 

"People think they know you. They expect you to be literally like you are on TV or in the movies, bouncing off the walls. A woman in an airport once said to me, "Be zany!" People always want zany, goofy sh-t from me. It takes a lot of energy to do that. If you do that all the time, you'll burn out."
Robin Williams

"I went to rehab in wine country, just to keep my options open"
Robin Williams

All entertainers and public figures are subject to scrutiny. For highly intense individuals, this scrutiny (including, in particular, self-scrutiny) can have disastrous effects on self-esteem, and upon an individual's sense of self-worth. 

The pain associated with rejection can lead a person back to that personal space, back to that dark place where one naturally questions the value of it all. 

"When I'm awake, I don't want to go to sleep. I don't want the hassle of turning the light off, putting my head down and then all the thoughts. I don't want all those thoughts."
Robin Williams

"Robin Williams was so funny that it is difficult to imagine him sad," one of my Readers wrote in a letter to me. 

Like many comedians, Robin Williams had the ability to give others what he himself did not always feel inside. 

But for most of the world, it appeared as if Robin was truly "into" what he was doing. When people roared, his intensity flew off the charts ... and he took us with him!

"...they are always talking about 'well, is it meaningful?' Well, sure it's meaningful if you come out and you had a great laugh."
Robin Williams


Robin Williams took comedy to a new level - he took it everywhere. He took it to our hopes, to our dreams, and to our fears. He humored us with our own shortcomings and with his own. He showed the world how to laugh when one might otherwise want to cry. He lightened the mood in the room when it got too heavy. He was someone to whom others could turn when they needed to feel good. With all eyes upon him, he served the world a platter of joy. He made us laugh and we loved him for it. 

Everyone's situation in life is different. We all have different experiences, different needs, and different opinions on everything, including which direction the toilet paper roll should flow. Our view of the world is largely dependent upon where we are standing in relation to it. 

In the end, the world is what we decide it to be. We can see the world as funny. We can see the world as tragic ... or, like most, we can see it somewhere in between. We can choose to see it for how (we think) it is - or is not. We can see a purple world - even if we're colorblind. We can see a kind world. We can see a harsh world. We can see a world with purpose - or none at all. 

"Comedy is acting out optimism."
Robin Williams

Robin Williams has reminded the world that our lives are not just about us. While we are not responsible for the happiness of others, our words and actions do affect them.  

Feeling blue???

If you are languishing, feeling empty, or otherwise questioning whether life is worth living... talk to someone.

This doesn't mean that others will have the answers you seek, but talking to others gives you a moment to pause and to think through the emotions that flood everyone's system from time to time. 

We don't have to be held hostage by our emotions. We may not be able to stop every negative thought that flows through our brains, but we can devise strategies to cope with them. We can also create healthy outlets upon which we might rest until the storm passes. 

As I have written many times over, laughter is best when shared. 

True comedy is not laughing at the shortcomings of others - that just makes people feel self-conscious. True comedy is making others feel good about themselves. 

Robin Williams made millions of people laugh and feel good on the inside. He showed us how to be silly, reminded us that it is okay to loosen up, and that laughter truly is the best medicine. His life, like his humor, moved millions to laughter and to tears. His genius will not be forgotten. 

"No matter what people tell you, 
words and ideas can change the world."
Robin Williams