Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Blogging and Murals, My (Visible) Eye In/On the World . . .

As I struggle, some days, to know whether it's worth continuing to write in this space, I go back to some of the reasons I'm doing so. There has been so much emphasis, especially here in our social media neighbourhood, on the visibility of women as we grow older, from as early as 40 onward.
Honestly, I'm a bit weary of that whole plaintive wish for more visibility focused on our physical, dressed selves at that coyly "certain" age. But a broader version of visibility, now that I'm interested in. I'm keen for other demographics to understand how engaged women my age are still, how much we still have to contribute in our various ways.

When I began this blog, over ten years ago, I did so to recover (or even discover) a writing voice that I felt had been either submerged or too forcefully inflected by academe, through the process of writing my doctoral dissertation (which I took on when I was closer to 50 than to 40 . . . ).  More than just my writing voice, though, I also wanted to honour those other parts of my life that academe seemed invested in silencing. Even feminism, within the academy, was careful about domesticity, about emotion, approaching it often with deliberate rigour. I value that rigour so very much, value that training, but sometimes I also want respite from analysis, sometimes I just want to observe. Or perhaps, I might argue, sometimes I hope there is analysis made manifest through observation.

Whatever.

What I mostly hoped to do, I say retrospectively, is to become and/or to remain visible, in as much fullness as I could be comfortable with. Part of that visibility, sure, had to do with my physical self, with what I was wearing, but more of it had, and, increasingly, has had to do with what I'm seeing, thinking, doing, feeling, wanting.

When I've been thinking of letting go of the blog, lately, it's often because what I share here can feel superficial, or alternatively, too normal to be interesting. I feel too visible, too exposed, in the slightness of my observations, I suppose. They're too quotidian, too close to home, too particular, too inconsequential.

But if I go back to that Kim Stafford quotation that so often guides me (you'll see it over in the right-side column), that "Coherence is born of random abundance" -- I can decide, one more day, at least, to show you the world as I see it, as I experience it, as I move in it. And for the moment, that seems worth the effort. I provide the random abundance; you, perhaps, might perceive some coherence. One can hope . . .

These particular photographs waited weeks and weeks for me to decide that, however. I took them back in July, before this year's Mural Festival. They answer the question of how quickly these commissioned murals get covered with graffiti -- although they were painted over a year ago, you can see they've been treated pretty respectfully, despite bordering an area where empty/abandoned warehouses often accommodate drug deals, drug use, squatting. . . .

This wonderfully vibrant wall was painted by Paige Bowman whom you could follow on Instagram as @birdfingersss. So many stories here, am I right?

The photo below is of a piece called "Exhausting Machine" by the artists Christian Rebecci and Pablo Tegni, collectively known as NeverCrew (follow their Instagram account here).
Read more about this piece and find more images of it (including a very cool aerial image which shows the warehouses fronted by the piece) in this article at StreetArtNews.
Even better, go to the Swiss artists' website. Reading their "About" page will broaden your understanding of "street art," if you don't already know what a solid foundation of skills, heritage, philosophy, and social engagement underlie what many still associate with spray cans and guerrilla art (which, to be clear, I'm not ready to denigrate either).  You might also want to check out the photos of their Exhausting Machine #2s, painted in Denmark later in 2016, which extends the environmental commentary of this piece (and suggests the international breadth of this social-artistic conversation conducted through an artform more accessible to the public than that found on gallery walls).

So I've made myself visible, today, as a woman who observes, who thinks a bit, who makes some remarks about phenomena that intrigue her but about which she has little credible knowledge. It's an oddly unbalanced post, I know, but I think I'll let that be visible as well.  And I must warn you, I have so many more mural photographs in my files (if I weren't such a magpie in my interests, such an inveterate jill-of-all-pursuits, I could start a blog featuring a mural a day, or at least a week, couldn't I?) . . . But that's all for now. Comments? Always welcome, as you know by now. . .



33 comments:

  1. Well, I certainly hope you continue with the blog. Otherwise my morning ritual would be up the spout, to say nothing of missing all the news and views. I second the weariness about wanting to be seen all the time (what am I - 15?) but look upon it like this: we delight in the uncovering of ancient slivers of text that tell us of life long ago, especially the trivial. I would rather read Latin graffiti than Cicero's orations. So blogs can be seen as just another layer of human endeavour and an insight for the future. Given that we are all going to go the same way - particles in the universe which will go out in 13 billion years - why not? We literally have nothing to lose and all to gain.

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    1. Thanks Annie, and you get to one of my hopes for the blog, just that it rounds out a record of, particularly, women's lives.

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  2. "Sometimes I just want to observe"...and I am so glad when you do and report what you see and what you think and feel about it.
    It builds a connection when connections between people seem to be ever fraying at the edges because of constant bombardment of external spewing from certain politicians, from hurt and angry people, from Mother Nature. For me, it is a time to, more than ever,band together in noticing the good, observing the charming, applauding artistic expression and sharing our observation with others. That sharing reminds many there is so much beauty in a day and in our world if we speak it aloud and we listen. There is beauty in struggle, too. Sharing that is often empowering to others, serving as a reminder that we are part of a larger, less myopic experience. From where I sit, that is very comforting. Thanks for sharing yours.
    Do not think I am alone in finding how others arrange, live and enjoy their lives completely fascinating. Your life is rich with a deep well of experience, abundant curiosity and a seeming desire to create order and beauty amidst the chaos.
    There is nothing but joy, for me, in hearing stories about your grandchildren (listening to you coaxing Fergus (??) how to stir his porridge on Instagram was a particular sweet moment for me),
    telling us where you are, what you are knitting and planning your next trip has value to me and many, Frances.
    You have created a comfortable community here where those who participate,or those who read and go away thinking about your post, are enriched by sharing the weird and wonderful experience of being human.
    I love your point-of-view, even if I do not experience things exactly the way you do--in fact, I like it so much because you are often quite different to me. Isn't that what makes the world go round-observing and learning and being exposed to another's point-of-view?
    My vote, although I am not a registered Canadian voter!-is that you continue to observe and share it with us.
    P.S. as to women being less visable and blah, blah, blah, I reject, ignore and say F-off to any suggestion that that applies to me.

    A.in London

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    1. Connections! Yes, I do feel very good about the connections forged here, and pleased to hear that those seem strong enough to persist even if I choose my topics idiosyncratically. Thank you!

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  3. The first thing that I do each morning is to check for new blogs. I feel a sense of connection with others. I'm less interested in clothing or lifestyle than I once was but it is indeed the observation of the world around us that I savour.Through reading your blog and the comments that it inspires, I feel that I have come to know
    a different community...with some common experiences and with some which are unique.

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    1. Connections, observations, finding the commonalities among our differences, so pleased to know I might be achieving this in some small ways. . . thanks!

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  4. It's all about the connections for me. Voices of women my age who care about the same things I do. I relish the idea that there are women who are smart, interested in so many, many things, and who also love a great cashmere sweater. So write about big or small things... but don't steer away from the purely personal from time to time. We want to know what you're thinking and seeing but also what you're feeling. I appreciate bloggers like you, today especially, Frances, as I sit here in Ottawa and try to distract myself as I wait for news of my brother back in Fredericton.

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    1. That's important to me as well, to demonstrate that we can be interested in politics and/or art and/or literature and/or travel -- and still love a great sweater. Thanks for the encouragement and I wish you strength and comfort whatever the news from Fredericton.

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  5. I think you are building a Community in a new and modern way. I think it is too soon or maybe the timing has come yet to see just what this Community can do. Years ago there were neighborhood coffee klatches where women talked. I did not experience that but my mother did and I have been searching for something similiar. Even though I don't speak up much, I do enjoy and feel the sense of Community. The topics revolve, evolve and move lurchingly (a word?) as do people in our everyday lives. I believe these connections, especially the longer distance ones, are building important Communities whose life, purpose are yet to be defined, tested, and validated. I thank you for your effort in building those Communities - especially women bloggers!

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    1. What an intriguing idea, Unknown (consider adding a first name, or just a pseudonym, at the end of your text, just so we might build a continuing sense of you as commenter -- you can still remain Unknown or Anonymous to Blogger). This idea of the online communities as a force or phenomenon in some way akin to those coffee klatches (I enjoyed something like those when my four were little, although always with babies, toddlers, preschoolers underfoot).

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  6. I echo the sentiments expressed above. I am often disconcerted to find myself saying something to someone in "real" life (that is, face to face) that involves referring to or quoting something I have read here - disconcerted, but quite pleased and grateful to be exposed not only to your thoughts and expressions, but to those of your followers. In short, please blog on.

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    1. I know what you mean -- to sceptics who haven't dipped a toe in the waters of our blogging community, it can seem odd that we quote someone we haven't really met, often quoting them as if they were friends. Which we are in some very legitimate ways, even though we're not "really" ;-) Thanks for this, Marsha.

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  7. I hope you'll continue to blog but at your pace and time. A couple of years ago, I too went through a "Do I really want to continue this" period. But I only blog when I have time and when I have something I want to share. So, I would blog only once a month for a while. It's now back to weekly, and I'd probably blog slightly more often if I had internet at home. But blogging still works for me: I still get "fed" by the blogs I read and my own posts are a form of therapy for me. Please don't ever feel obligated to blog. It should always be good for you.

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    1. I've been going through it for some time, now -- after all, it demands a shocking amount of time, and that's a limited commodity. I also need to check it against other priorities that emerge at this time. So far, as long as readers are willing to indulge my shifting interests, I'm still happy enough to be here, it seems. . .

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  8. The normalcy and random abundance are the things that make what you do so extraordinarily attractive (I think) and I can only imagine the work that goes into it all, and the sense of exposure, yes. But the conversations! It is astounding, really, to think of it...all of the readers, around the world, stopping our daily activities for a bit, on our laptops or phones, with our coffee or tea or what have you, in our pjs or work clothes or running gear, reading and nodding and smiling or laughing or crying...remembering, resolving...thinking, thinking...

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    1. I'm glad to read that first sentence, Georgia, as I think of you as a very discerning reader. From my perspective, it can be hard to tell if the normalcy, the abundant randomness, might be too much, too idiosyncratic to be worthwhile. So I'm going to trust you and carry that picture of all the connected readers -- quite a motivation, really.

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  9. I echo all the above comments. It seems that we are all connected in some way. I feel that the conversations that are started because of your postings are the icing on the cake. I personally look forward to all your post, regardless of subject matter. I have come to care about your family and all the things that are important to you.
    Please just keep writing....
    Ali

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    1. Thanks so much, Ali (You must be packing now, right?)

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  10. You have built a community here and I vote for you to continue blogging. My day would not be the same or as interesting without your keen observations and all the rest that you share. Whether it is street art, OOTD, your travel experiences or your charming grandkids - it's all good. The connections that we make here are better than therapy. So, yes, continue writing about things big or small. Thank you for your gift.

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    1. Thanks for the thumbs-up, slf. I'm feeling a bit embarrassed because I truly, truly wasn't fishing for compliments, but I'm getting positive encouragment in spades!

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  11. I have to break my silence this week and support all the comments above.
    I would miss you here very much,as well as all the ladies who comment-it is such a rare,precious and cosy place that you've created,Frances,place where we like to be,to read,think,talk....agree,disagree,learn......waiting for another post.
    But,it is ,at the same time,yours to do as you wish. Write as you like,as you feel-you don't have to follow former structure or content or timetable (or other people...).....change it if you are not pleased
    I do hope that you will continue blogging-I don't find anything superficial here,even if you were thinking sometimes so,you add a value and a personal touch to every of your posts. But,it's your call and I will respect any decision
    (you could maybe write only a headline from time to time and than we could continue talking about it here :-))
    Dottoressa

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    1. I agree that maybe it's just that you want to break free to do this in a less structured way, but perhaps you feel the need for a complete break in order to do this. Whatever you decide, it is always fascinating to read this blog.

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    2. Thanks to both of you. I'm still thinking about what's going on with the resistance I sometimes feel, a sense of not wanting to waste my writing time if I have to tailor too much to what readers are here for. For now, it seems I'm reading that I have considerable leeway. The trick will be to check in with myself regularly, to be honest to my writing self. . . .

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  12. Don't feel you have to constantly entertain us but I hope these sincere comments have persuaded you that we need you . There's a great deal of suspicion of 'foreigners ' in the world . It was worse when I was a child , then we travelled , met these foreigners & realised they were the same as us . The vast majority just wanted to make a living & care for their families . They laughed & cried at the same things . People like you , educated , intelligent , caring bloggers are still spreading that message - joining us together . Don't underestimate it .You have wisdom & we need wisdom now more than ever .
    Wendy in York

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    1. Jumping in here, Wendy. I would not have met you, or any of the above, without this thoughtful blog.
      Ali

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    2. Thanks very much, Wendy. I hadn't really thought much about that aspect of "connections," and I appreciate you thinking that what I write here might have some small effect in that direction.

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  13. Echo to all above. Stay, stay, stay!

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  14. Social networks are important and they change drastically over time. Exploring new interests and networks is key. Being visible or invisible changes daily, even hourly for me. That's okay because I have always defined myself and my needs pretty closely. That said, I find great happiness being close to the quiet and beauty of nature or the sea.

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  15. I enjoy your blog, Frances. This is a brief post, as I am checking if I can comment given I am not in WordPress. Brenda

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  16. I have not commented in an age because I am out and about doing things that I learned about here...on your blog! You, Frances, are the smart, engaged, vigorous retired woman that I seek to be...and, quite frankly, envy. No, I don't think you are seeking envy from your readers. Please don't misconstrue that comment. :)
    Your curiosity, openness, travels, family relations, etc. define/create a full, rich life. Thank you for sharing here and for opening doors, windows, minds, and thoughts.
    Charlene H.

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  17. I always enjoy your blog, wherever your thoughts and life lead you. Let it continue to be, but on your schedule. It seems many will miss you. I do understand that there are struggles and questions, and one wonders if it is worth the effort, and yet you always manage to pull it together with some new insight, with both insight and humanity.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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