Rodin’s Thinker wasn’t navel-gazing in some idyllic Eden. He was originally stationed at The Gates of Hell and pondering death on a vast scale. Nothing focusses the mind like facing our own mortality. And there’s good reason for enduring this discomfort. As Plato said, philosophy is the practice of studying death in order to fashion richer, fuller lives.
In the 1988 environmental classic, Dream of the Earth, Thomas Berry warned that Western civilization was on the verge of collapse. To protect our planetary home, he said, we would have to reinvent the human, reorganizing all of our professions so they support the web of life.
Art has the power to move us from reactivity and despair to a place of calmness and resilience. That’s why we need it more than ever now. A few weeks ago Denver photographer Lauri Rose Dunn started creating a series of mandalas—one for every day of the coronavirus epidemic.
“Every week, New Yorkers transform their homes into pop-up concert halls. Accomplished performers gather for small, but avid audiences whose pay-for-play attendance supports any number of worthy not-for-profit causes. This is music at its local and most intimate best—beautiful sound with a powerful purpose.”
What makes a person amass so many unusual objects and how does a real collection begin? It may start as a whim or a passion that, over time, begins to build. Orhan Pamuk, author of The Museum of Innocence, says, “Getting attached to objects is a common thing..In our attachments we almost behave like dogs who keep their bones in a corner.”
There is much sweeping of the outdoor dust in Cairo, leaving patterns from the long-stranded brooms on the narrow streets and sidewalks. Outside the city, at the Saqqara, I once watched a young man sweeping the sand before the tomb of the vizier Mereruka with this same long broom.