Esteemed thinker: Theodor Seuss Geisel

Dr. SuessAlthough we may think we know someone well, there are often more sides to an individual than meets the eye. As years pass, those experiences that molded a person can often be unnoticed because we are content with what we perceive. But just what if we took time to journey deeper, to go beyond the familiar, then is it not quite possible that we will be enlightened? A most unique author who is renowned to both children and adults represents this idea; for what we know about him is not nearly all the talent he offers.

So without further hesitation, I bring you the esteemed thinker: Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991 ) Born in Springfield, Massachusetts he is best known as Dr. Suess, the author and illustrator of children’s books. The acquisition of his pen name was derived under very different circumstances. As a student at Dartmouth College, he became the editor of the school’s humor magazine, Jack-O-Lantern. However, Geisel and his friends were in violation of Prohibition law when they were caught drinking and as a result he was removed from the working on the magazine. Yet this did not deter him for he came up with the pseudonym “Seuss” and continued to contribute to it. Dr. Suess 2

Dr. Seuss is the author-illustrator of more than 50 children’s books. But many are not aware that he drew over 400 political cartoons during WWII. These cartoons tackled such subjects as racism and discrimination, the dangers of isolationism, fascism, and other political issues, and the vital work of the war effort at home.

I now introduce you to the political cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel.

dr seuss wartime10

Esteemed thinker: Clas Oldenburg

pizza restaurant
We have memories that are both positive and negative and they come and go throughout our day often without any warning. The method they use to interrupt our thoughts is often initiated by a random trigger; all fitting very neatly under the umbrella of our senses. A song may bring back romance or regrets while an aroma recreates a holiday.

Pizza is a food that that carries and omits memories; ordering through an open window where the smells waft into the street and greasy wax paper barely big enough to hold the triangular slice. The best way to eat a piece was to fold it lengthwise with the full advantage of biting off the end. Ultimately you had to stretch your arm out in front of you before reeling in a thin string of mozzarella cheese.

However, what was once the norm of pizza has now become almost extinct since its culinary metamorphosis. Its evolution through the years has been transformed into what I call “boutique pizza.” Not only has the size of the average pie been dramatically reduced, but the crust is not longer made with the soft dough that bubbled up on the edges like a dune on the beach. Presently it is more like a fancy cracker. The toppings range from artichoke hearts, to pineapple, to chicken and rosemary. Mozzarella is no longer the cheese of choice but rather feta and goat drizzled with olive oil. Served on small tapas dishes the order comes with knives and forks.

Alas, the evolution of the pizza has made quite a change; and though the “boutique pizza” is delicious, there was once something special about watching the pizza baker twirl the dough above his head while you waited… and just maybe this would be the time it would go splat!!

Museum Ludwig - Pressekonferenz - Claes Oldenburg Today’s post brings to you the esteemed thinker: Clas Oldenburg (Stolkholm, 1929), a Swedish born artist who moved to the United States and eventually became a citizen of his adopted counntry. Educated at Yale, Oldenburg later attended the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, opened a studio and did freelance illustrating for magazines. Using commercial and ordinary objects as subject matter, he brought to the art world a new meaning of expression. He became known for public art and instilations of grand scales, utilizing materials that deemed his work “soft sculpture”. In the 1960s he participated in what was called the Pop Movement, also related to “happenings” a kind of performance art work.

I now bring you his 1964 lithograph titled Flying Pizza from New York Ten a work of art that clearly, from the title and subject, reminds many of us of the “good-old-days” of the plain cheese pizza!

Pizza Oldenburg

Esteemed thinker: Nikola Tesla

futureIt is astounding to think that only a hundred and fifteen years ago, which is not a very long ago in the realm of time, the world was in the throes of a new millennium. This was the Edwardian era, the very beginning of the 20th century, and the future seemed as unrealistic as one could imagine. Airplanes, radios, and wireless transmission were at its infancy. And if only the predictions had come true, what a different world it would be. Andrew Carnegie hoped warfare would “become the most dishonorable” profession and Secretary of the Navy John D. Long held the common belief that war would be abolished.”

Forward to the 21st century, where we began with such inventions as segways, ipods, braile gloves and hybrid cars. Sadly we cannot celebrate the predictions of Carnegie and Long for they did not hold up to the test of time. Which leads us to today’s esteemed thinker: Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) a world renowned scientist who made some of his own predictions seventy or so years before the millennium.

nikola tesla Nikola Tesla, born in Smiljan, Lika, which was then part of the Austo-Hungarian Empire, the region of modern day Croatia. In 1873 he began his studies in mathematics and physics at the University in Prague, however became fascinated with electricity. In 1881 he started his career in electrical engineering in Budapst and privately built a reduction motor, a radical idea that was not received well in Europe. As a result he moved to the United States and worked with Thomas Edison. For the next 59 years he established himself as a great inventor, which included constructing his theory of alternating current, in direct conflict with Edison’s theory of direct current. In 1882, Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field, a fundamental principle in physics and the basis of nearly all devices that use alternating current. Alternating current became standard power in the 20th Century, an accomplishment that ultimately changed the world.

I now bring to you a snippet from an article in the 1935 issue of Liberty magazine. Here is one of many predictions made by the inventor, Nikola Tesla, a man who probably did not predict his own beneficial contribution to everyday life.

“… At present we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age. The solution of our problems does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine. Innumerable activities still performed by human hands today will be performed by automatons. At this very moment scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a ” thinking machine.” I anticipated this development. I actually constructed “robots.”

Today the robot is an accepted fact, but the principle has not been pushed far enough. In the twenty-first century the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization. There is no reason at all why most of this should not come to pass in less than a century, freeing mankind to pursue its higher aspirations…”

Walker Evans and choices

Cereal aisle One has only to take a stroll down the aisle of the grocery store to see that the choices offered are more than one stomach could ever tolerate. Perhaps that is why we are often reminded that if you are trying to watch your weight you should not go to the store hungry. The cereal shelves are a fine example of choice overload, flakes of every size and concoction, from sugar coating to corn and rye, it seems as though we have been given quite a palette of breakfast delights.

But lest we really take time to pause just perhaps all this abundance is actually what could be referred to as “false generosity”. Are all these enticing products for our nutritional benefit or have they been formulated for our ever-greedy taste buds and another’s financial appetite? And although the food industry and manufactures have given us such ample reason to eat, their generosity may actually be something very different than what meets the eye.

Today’s blog reintroduces the esteemed thinker: Walker Evans (1903-1975), an artistic icon who became one of the most influential American photographers. In 1926 he traveled to Paris where he developed an interest in literature. However, upon his return to the United States a year later, he resorted to a different medium, photography, as his artistic outlet. Rejecting the prevailing aestheticized view of artistic photography, he instead chose a straightforward and direct style where he concentrated on photographing quotidian American life during the second quarter of the 20th century. He is universally regarded as the premier photographic artist among the Farm Security Administration staff during the late 1930s.

I now bring you one of his photographs, Grocery Store Window, Macon, Georgia (1935) a flashback in time to a date in history when choices of what to eat were often not a luxury but rather a function of necessity.

walker evans grocery store

Esteemed thinker: Paulo Freire

teacher and classThe world of business is thought to be ever so complex however it appears to revolve around two events, the passing of time and the passing of money. Both involve good planning and good luck; for without them both working hand-in-hand, one could stymie the other. For those readers that like examples, let us take the film industry. Production on a new movie does not occur without first deciding upon time involved in production and the finances to put the idea into action. However, how often do we hear that the making of the movie is “behind schedule” and “cost productions” are over budget.

Such an occurrence is not rare but rather common practice. The identical business scenario results ever- so- often in the construction industry. Plans are created however, for whatever reason, perhaps a building permit or poor weather, construction is placed “on hold’ and as the company sorts things out, one-thing-leads to another, costs increase, and extra time is needed for the project to be completed. One can delve into a multitude of examples yet the more we look the more we not that the business world appears not to really have a hold on keeping to a schedule, even when they plan so many planning meetings that one has to wonder how they have so much time to plan.

Yet, there is one set of workers that complete their job everyday on time, regardless of money or the lack of time….teachers. Go into any classroom and one will find a diversity of clients (students) under the management of one and regardless of the weather or the lack of materials, when the bell rings and their day begins, in spite of distractions, interruptions, or disgruntled kids, work goes on according to plans.

So, perhaps the next time a business cannot seem to get the job completed according to schedule, rather than pouring more money into it…why not call in the experts of time management… the teacher.

Paulo_Freire Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Paulo Freire (b. Recife, Brazil 1921-1997) Brazilian philosopher and teacher who developed educational theories that helped transform the field of education to better literacy to the poor. His studies centered around the relationship between teaching and learning where he endorsed that the teacher should help students in developing freedom of thought that would enable them to use their knowledge to take constructive action. In 1962 the first experiments in Freire’s method of education saw extreme success when 300 farmworkers were taught to read and write in just 45 days.

Freire was a child during the Great Depression where his experiences from this time later framed his life’s work; making changes in the development of education and literacy. His book ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy.

I now bring you a snippet from the great Paulo Freire’s work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Take time from your busy day and afterwards, if you could read this…thank a teacher.

“A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character. This relationship involves a narrating Subject (the teacher) and patient listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness…Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking’ concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other…”

First image early 1890s.

Pablo Picasso and permenance

television setThe rate in which the world around us changes accelerates with time. And as we become increasing more automated these changes reflect our surroundings … a system in flux. A sense of permanence no longer dominates the landscape and the urgency for acquiring new things governs our desires.

Man and womankind have always gravitated to acquire things that are branded “the latest model”, however products that were once designed to last a lifetime are no longer are in vogue. Less and less are things repaired but instead designed to be replaced.

In the twentieth century when a television ceased to function the owner would call the “TV repair man”, a fellow who would come by your home with a set of tools as particular as a surgeon’s. In comparison to today, rarely does one own a television long enough for it to malfunction; for like fashions that change from season to season, there is always a newer and better model to buy. Right when you have saved up enough money to purchase what is deemed the best, the latest and updated model makes its entrance flaunting its upgrades.

So … the next time you pass by a store try to refrain from feeling too out-dated for the only thing permanent is the desire for change.

Pablo_Picasso,_1908-1909,.Today’s blog brings back the esteemed thinker: Pablo Picasso (1881-1975) the renowned artist who was always to on the precipice of modern thinking. He was a painter who brought innovation to the art world, and no matter how old his work may be it is never out of vogue.

Between 1907 and 1914 Picasso and artist friend, George Braque created Cubism; a style of visual arts that become one of the most influential of the 20th century. The subject of the painting was not visible in the discernible sense; in this style of painting and figures were often overlapping planes and facets.

For those who wish to resurrect their artistic senses, feast your eyes on a most famous work of art by Mr. Picasso titled Oil Mill (1909). And remember, if you are able to afford one of his pieces of art rest assure, although it may be over 100 years old, you will be the envy of your neighbors.

Picasso_Oil Mill_1909_ms

First image: 1939, FCC Commissioners inspect latest in television. Washington, D.C.

Esteemed thinker: Pablo Picasso

newspaperEvery evening when the news is about to be reported on the television, the program begins with a jingle of music, just a few notes… notes which really translate to mean “here comes gloom”. These pre-program notes, though simply intended as a prompt, have sorrowfully become a conditioned stimulus that produces the conditioned response…dread… Admittedly, it is a good example of “classical conditioning” for it seems that just the word “news” punctuates a negative connotation, so much so that we even have adopted the saying, “No news is Good news!”

However, news has always been of interest regardless of the method of delivery. What has become dramatically universal is the current cross-over between entertainment, gossip, and authentic news. Although some television programs call themselves “news shows” one soon has only to discover this may just be part of the name… where information is formatted in a one-sided set of opinions that are biased or lacking in full disclosure… (all under the guise of ‘the news’).

Yellow journalism, a term coined in 1898, was based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration to sell newspapers. However, one has to think, are we still stuck in the days of jaundice, for apparently one needs a dose of quinine to get through some t.v. programs touted as “News”.

PABLO-PICASSO- Today’s blog introduces one of the most renowned artists of all time, the esteemed thinker: Pablo Picasso (b. Spain 1881-1975). Picasso dominated the 20th century Western Art, spreading his influence beyond art into many aspects of culture and life.

In 1914 he and other artists produced collages with made of complex materials imitating the effects of painting in dense arrangements of cut and pasted papers. During that time newspapers were printed on cheap, wood-pulp paper stock that rapidly darkened and became brittle when exposed to air and sunlight. Picasso used newsprint fragments cut from them in many of his papiers collés and paintings and, occasionally, as supports for drawings.
Associated with pioneering Cubism, alongside Georges Braque, he made major contributions to Symbolism and Surrealism. Painter, sculpture, printmaker, his legacy lives on.

Not wishing to belabor the idea of news, one has to ponder if just perhaps Picasso too found “news” intriguing with his collage titled Guitar (Spring 1913). Made from cut-and-pasted newspaper, wallpaper, paper, ink, chalk, charcoal, and pencil on colored paper enjoy his entertaining and thought provoking work.

Picasso_collage Guitar

First image: Hine, Lewis Wickes, photographer, Published: 1910 May.