Tag Archives: magic

The Art of Subtle Communication

Something different today, primarily because I promised a dear friend of mine, Stacy J. Garrett, to support her project, “The Door.” Stacy has an amazing talent to draw her audience into the magic she sees through her camera lens. The Door is a project that shows us the hidden world, the one we forget as we grow older; even though we may need it even more.

Door

Stacy has created a game as part of her fundraiser. A scavenger hunt, if you will, where words are tucked away on various blogs which, once found, may lead you to the password that unlocks a secret door on her website. You can also find the location of the other clues for this week’s contest there.

As for my part, the clue is fairly obvious within this bit of prose, but here’s another hint; the whole piece can help you figure out what mischief she’s up to this week.

Recent fanfare on social media has led me to ponder a bit on the art of communication. More specifically, how we communicate when we think that saying things plainly will not be, well, fully communicated. When plain speech does not penetrate the white noise, we resort to methods that can be effective, or total disasters. This, of course, was part of the fanfare. As it happens, I suffer from a rather dry sense of humor. I find it soothing, and it works a bit like a code. Not everyone “gets it,” so they leave you alone. This is sad, however, because being able to get your point across without executing a direct hit, so to speak, can have a more lasting effect. Let’s start with a couple definitions.

Sarcasm: the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny. (remember the funny part)

Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Ah, there it is, in order to expose and criticize people’s, um, well, you get the picture. I call this form of communication an art for a very good reason. In most of human history, speaking to power required subterfuge; it required things like the plays of Voltaire, the traveling minstrels of the middle ages, the stereo-typical parts that any audience would recognize, saying things no one dared to say “in plain text.”

One excellent example of the development of this art form was the Commedia dell’arte, or the full name translated from the Italian: Comedy of the craft of improvisation. The characters of the commedia were fixed characters, roles every audience would know and recognize. However, the actors would improvise freely within that character. Some of the players became so famous in their ability to move within the role, that they became the representation of that role.

One of the favorites, if you will, was a joker of sorts. A fellow that seemed to always be derailing the plans of his master, falling in love with his master’s maid, and making a general mess of things. But, while everyone was laughing at his antics, he delivered solid satire on the people, places, and foibles of the world he lived in.

This is the art, the ability to draw people out so that, while they are laughing, something of import slips into the thinking side of the brain. The art of delivering food for thought to an audience laughing, perhaps, because they do not want to accept that the actor is truly serious, whatever his, or her, expression or attitude.

For a taste of some masters at the art try a few of these:

A Modest Proposal, Jonathon Swift
The Lottery, Susan Jackson
Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis
Candide, Voltaire
Tartuffe, Moliere

Go visit Stacy – you’ll be glad you did.

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Cuddles at Midnight

The fate of an author. Finding that place between tooting your own horn and blatant self-aggrandizement. In this case I get to use the platform to introduce folks to a wonderful publication. One I am quite honored to be a part of.

My creative non-fiction essay, Cuddles at Midnight, was published in the Eastern Iowa Review. I’ve read the entire issue and found a thought-provoking, fun, and evocative group of authors.  It is a publication that looks for “good spaces” in whatever the circumstances may be, something that is right up my alley.

Please check it out, including a sampling of the works included.

http://www.portyonderpress.com/issue-1—2015.html

EIJ

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Reflections ~ Snow is Magic

Front SmallA strange statement from a person who lived in Calgary, Alberta for five years.  There, snow was magic for the first, oh, two hours and mostly on a weekend.  Most of the time it was inconvenient, annoying, even dangerous.  I remember one “first of the season” storm when I was still riding the bus.  I walked in my front door around 1:30 in the morning.  Nope, not all that magical. But, sometimes, Snow is Magic.

The holidays can be a bit odd around my home.  My husband’s dementia requires that I maintain routine as much as possible to reduce confusion and disruption.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas.  I love finding interesting and needful things for the people in my circle.  I even have a pile of Christmas cards somewhere in this office that should find their way to the postal service in the next few days.  But that is all “somewhere else.”  Here inside our home things are very quiet.  That is, until it snowed.

houses smallWe now live in the Pacific Northwest.  It doesn’t snow all that much here.  In fact, we can go a whole winter without seeing so much as a flake.  I haven’t missed it, as you can imagine, until it snowed.

Friday morning, as it became light enough to see outside, I realized that we had received enough snow for it to stick.  Everywhere.  And suddenly the magic of the season invaded my heart, my mind, my home.  I’m ready to put up our twinkling little tree and work through a menu that I know my husband will eat even though Rock Cornish Hens and some of the other sauce-covered dishes would go untouched.  I always get him something for Christmas, some small thing that does not disrupt his sense of what is his.  He doesn’t do all that well with new anything.  However Einstein is his superhero so Einstein calendars are always a hit (even if time is something that is beyond his grasp).  Sometimes we find there is a way to touch the past, as we did during that brief, bright moment last year.

Our street exhibits a number of light shows.  One of the nights I had to drive him around the block so he could “come home” he remarked on all the commotion.  I mentioned that it was Christmas and some people liked to celebrate by decorating their homes.  Teaching the unteachable, learning not to blame or frustrate, finding peace in little things.  That is what the season is about, right? Finding peace?

So, you see, holidays usually march their quiet way through our lives, noticed but not necessarily absorbed in every aspect.  But, then it snowed.  And the magic filled our home.

I have a tradition this time of year, to spend time thinking on the ways that I can make the world a slightly better place, in some small way.  You might want to check out some previous posts.  One quotes one of the most enduring statements of “things desired,” the Desiderata, one talks about ways we can help others by spreading a bit of magic into their lives.

Tree Small Have a Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule and solstice, (belated) Hanukah, Boxing Day and New Year.  Wherever and whatever you celebrate remember to look for the magic.  And pass it around.  Yes, Snow is Magic.

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