Monthly Archives: November 2006

alcohol and art

these last few days i’ve been listening to quite a few people talk about their experience with alcohol misuse, either through their own struggles or because of alcoholism among their loved ones.

what is it about alcohol abuse that frightens us so? when i was younger, it was the strange and dangerous-seeming world that drunks would enter, a dark and dizzying universe that held both almost unbearable intensity and stupefying numbness.

some alcoholics are peaceful and quiet when they get drunk. others are so tense that it’s hard to be around them when they’re not drinking. then there are people who break into terrifying violence or other, barely disguised forms of aggression, such as dangerous driving.

and then there are some that make it through this horrible tunnel of booze and come out the other end.

here are some artists Continue reading

zen tales: the strawberry story

skipping further along the path of storytelling, here is one of my favourite zen tales:

a man walking alone in the wild suddenly finds himself chased by a tiger. he starts to run but soon arrives at the edge of a cliff. with no way out, he jumps and, luckily, manages to grasp a vine. the abyss yawns under him, the tiger threatens him from above. two mice, one white, one black, appear from a crevice and start gnawing at the vine. as the vine grows thinner and thinner, the man notices a plump fresh strawberry. he plucks it. how delicious it tastes!

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

storytelling

so …. we keep on weaving our way here through the arts. from remembrance day to courage to storytelling … okay, let’s stay with storytelling for a while. i don’t know who said the words, “man is a storytelling animal” (hegel? derrida? tolkien? jung?)

stories – “narratives”, they call them in academia – are as healing, satisfying and spellbinding as mother’s milk and chicken soup. one of the things that therapists do is listen to people’s stories. or at least therapists of my stripe. a story is not “just” its content. it’s so much more. it’s about Continue reading

courage, draft dodgers and storytelling

continuing on the remembrance day topic, this morning i caught the tail end of michael enright at CBC radio conversing with a historian and a soldier about the meaning of courage. one question was whether it was cowardly for vietnam draft dodgers to come to canada. there was a view that it was more courageous to go to military prison for a year than to escape to canada.

what is courage? Continue reading

remembrance day songs

marc robert north, one of my painter friends, just suggested this idea for remembrance day (november 11 here in canada):

1. — > what was your favourite or most fondly remembered remembrance day song and/or poem when you grew up ?

2. — > and if possible, why?

he says that his was buffy sainte-marie’s rendition of universal soldier.

having grown up Continue reading

“oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”

well, people, now you know where i get my inspiration from: idle 14th century poets and 1st grade readers!

because today i want to tell you about one of my heroes – dr. seuss: a fabulous poet, a man with passionate convictions, and a great painter. yes, he wrote children’s books. but his imagination and insight reach far, far beyond first graders (not that i mean to slight any first graders – there’s a thing or two they can teach us adults, or “obsolete children” as dr. seuss once called grown-ups).

have you ever read the lorax? even this retelling of it on wikipedia, without the poetry and without the evocative illustrations, brings tears to my eyes. it is the story of an old, lonely man who once waltzed into a small town, beautiful with trees, rivers, birds and fish, and who destroyed all of that by not listening to the voice that speaks for the environment. only, a tiny, tiny seed of hope remains …

dr. seuss, like many great artists, plays with paradox and layers and layers of meaning. and on the topic of meaning, he himself is paradoxical, too. while it is abundantly obvious that at least some of his pieces, like the lorax or yertle the turtle (and of course his political cartoons), carry strong messages about society, he has also been quoted as saying, “preachers in pulpits talked about what a great message is in [dr. seuss’s books]. no matter what you do, somebody always imputes meaning into your books.”

so rather than analyzing more of his work, i’ll just present some of it here to you, for you to make your own sense or nonsense of it. (and that in itself is a political statement of sorts, isn’t it? isn’t that what democracy is all about, letting people make up their own minds?)

there are troubles of more than one kind. some come from ahead and some come from behind. but i’ve bought a big bat. i’m all ready you see. now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

you have brains in your head. you have feet in your shoes. you can steer yourself in any direction you choose. .

and you know what you know. you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

think left and think right and think low and think high. oh, the things you can think up if only you try!

if you never did you should. these things are fun and fun is good

unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. it’s not.

my alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. it’s the letter i use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz. you’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond ‘z’ and start poking around!

shorth is better than length.

and the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free- as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver