Monthly Archives: March 2010

love every day

is it valentine’s day yet?  what?  i missed it?  drat!  yup, that was one of the things that fell between the cracks during my trip to europe.  what also fell between the cracks was telling you about an ebook that chelle kindly invited me to participate in.  as a gift to her readers on valentine’s day, she put together love everyday e-book.  a nifty idea, the book looks at marriage and romantic relationships through the lends of the little things we do each and every day: waking up and hitting the snooze button, drinking that morning cup of coffee, sitting through traffic, going to work, doing housework, grocery shopping, logging onto the internet.  some writers use these lenses as metaphors (“how do you fuel your relationship?”), others talk directly about the topic; for example i write about how the internet and marriage interact with each other.  you can download the book here.

two entries particularly caught my eye.  one was “what are you waiting for?” by pat flynn.  i like the urgency of the tone:

what are you waiting for?

a sign? something to happen that tells you it’s the right time?

signs aren’t always things that happen. more often than not, signs come from the things that don’t happen.

what are you waiting for?

are you waiting for permission? someone to tell you that it’s okay?

permission from someone else is never as important as the permission that you have to give yourself first.

complacency is probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks in a marriage.  i like how pat challenges this attitude.

i was also impressed by lori lowe’s contribution, pour on love: how to love your spouse generously.  an excerpt:

gaining a little more happiness is like gaining a little more money; you always want more. but giving and receiving love generates fulfillment. there are myriad ways to show love, but we know love when we see it, hear it, read it, and feel it. love is in the details, the thoughtfulness, the caring.

when you act in a loving”even sacrificial”manner, you experience the paradox of giving. this is the secret your grandparents knew about: it is in giving that we receive. the joy and love you give returns to you. yes, it is risky to invest yourself fully …

how can you pour on love?

voraciously study your spouse. put as much energy into that research as in your career and hobbies. try to understand and participate in their interests as they change over time”recreational, musical, romantic, sexual and culinary interests. ask about your partner’s hopes, preferences, desires, dislikes, and fears. encourage their dreams. communicate your needs and desires as well. be the one who knows them best, and help them to know your heart.  …

do it without keeping score. do it without stopping. do it with love.

here are the other contributors to the book:

last minute ideas for earth hour

we’re scrambling madly last minute to come up with something fun to do for earth hour. are you, too? if that’s the case, here are a few links

green daily – my favourite

  • huddle in the basement with a shotgun and a case of canned ravioli and pretend it’s the apocalypse.

flickr – i like this one

  • my wine group will be hosting a games night. wine, food and games in candlelight

from ask about ireland:

  • have an arts & crafts hour using glow-in-the-dark paints and markers

and finally, one of smokey jackson‘s ideas:

  • sit, quietly, in the dark. take the dark in. experience it, absorb it.

and what are you doing?

this won’t take long

got a few minutes? humour me.

what are one or two things you’ve been thinking about and delaying taking action on for – maybe you don’t even remember how long?

  1. _______________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________

what would be the first step in dealing with it? something really simple you can do right now, something that won’t take more than 10 minutes tops to accomplish?

  1. _______________________________________________

go to it.

i’ll wait.

tick tock tick tock tick tock ……..

ok. good for you! how do you feel now? nice feeling of just a little bit of success?

great! pat yourself on the back! celebrate!

this little exercise took no longer than 15 minutes. but think about all the times the thoughts about it have been rattling around in your head. hours, i bet. so this is quite some accomplishment.

celebrate! no, no, don’t go on twitter. don’t surf the web. get up and go for a little walk, or make yourself a nice cup of coffee, or whatever puts a little smile on your face. just step away from the computer.

see you next blog post.

urgent evoke: new solutions?

inspired by TED talk gaming can make a better world, i joined urgent evoke, a game that is “a crash course in saving the world.” the idea is to learn about, act on and imagine solutions for the things that cry out for answers in our world today – from energy needs to poverty to hunger, from peace to social justice to health and education. let’s see whether i manage to stay the 10 weeks of the game …

now as i do this, a number of interesting things crop up. in my solution-focused ways, let me phrase them as questions:

  • what happens when we are challenged to look for a solution, rather than getting more and more information about the problems?
  • is it easier to be motivated to do something good – for ourselves, for those close to us, for the world in general – when we do it in community?
  • what does motivate you to look for a solution for something that is a big problem but not one that directly threatens you this very moment?
  • is it easier to get off your you-know-whats if you have someone else set a goal for you?
  • when there is something that we want to improve on, it often goes like this: 1) problem! yikes! 2) i’ll pretend it’s not there. 3) okay, i’ll do something about it. tomorrow. 4) argh! i need a solution! now! 5) here’s the next best solution, let’s take it, quick! 6) phew. 7) uhhhh …. 8] the problem isn’t really resolved! yikes! 9) i’ll pretend it’s not there. (and the loop starts afresh). ok. so now what would happen if we used urgent evoke’s model: learn, act, imagine?


my father

today i didn’t work on a blog post but on the way overdue wikipedia entry for my father, the painter juergen von huendeberg.  for now it’s a draft – what do you think?  here it is, and here is one of his pieces of art – a collage.


Juergen von Huendeberg (aka Hans-Otto Maximilian von Huendeberg, HOMJ von Huendeberg, or simply “Iwan”), was born April 10, 1922 in Dresden, Germany into a family of [[Baltic Germans]].  Since early childhood, he lived in [[Munich]], Germany, where he studied architecture and philosophy at the [[Munich University]], two years at the [[Academy of Fine Arts Munich]] (1945-1947) and some time under Werner Gilles.

His very early paintings were along the lines of [[Magic Realism]], a form of [[New Objectivity]], an art movement that arose in Germany in the early 1920s as an outgrowth of, and in opposition to, [[expressionism]].  Soon, however, von Huendeberg’s work became almost exclusively abstract.  The qualifier of the “almost” is significant; there was no technique or form of expression that von Huendeberg ever excluded.

In [[1949]], he became connected with ZEN 49, a group of German artists who strove to create new forms of expression for abstract art.  The word [[Zen]] was to reflect their rejection of materiality and a focus on  meditation; 49 refers to the year they were founded, four years after [[World War II]].   Von Huendeberg was friends with and exhibited with some of their members, for example [[Rupprecht Geiger]] and Brigitte Meier-Denninghoff in the Studio for New Art (Studio fuer Neue Kunst) in Wuppertal.  Von Huendeberg never became an outright member of the group, a sign even back then of his almost renegade refusal to be anyone but himself, to be a member of any group but humanity.  Significantly, he also never became a German citizen, proud to his death of the fact that he never had any citizenship (his parents, after being displaced after [[World War I]],  held the [[Nansen passport]].  This connection to peaceful internationalism was always important to him).

Art critic [[Franz Roh]], one of whose books features a painting by von Huendeberg on the front cover, once spoke of visual art immediately after World War II as containing “the demonic, praised by [[Goethe]] as most deep [which] hints at our existential loneliness vis-a-vis the universe – or in the face of a truly inner and productive way of life.”  Von Huendeberg’s art, which often features dark, almost ominous colours pierced by small patches of deep, shining light, was sometimes interpreted as depressing; Roh’s description as “demonic”, which hints, as well, to von Huendeberg’s mystic qualities, may be more apt.

Von Huendeberg made much use of the colour gold.  Art critic [[John Anthony Thwaites]] pointed to von Huendeberg’s Russian-Baltic background and the golden background used in Russian icons.  Art historian Ivo Kranzfelder describes how in his oil paintings, von Huendeberg created a feeling of space by juxtaposing broad planes of colour in almost perspectival arrangements.  This depth was underscored by experimenting with adding structure through the use of materials such as sackcloth and sand, thickly textured paint and even incorporating paint tube caps into the painting.  Collages were a natural extension of these techniques.  Just as his paintings often have a sculpted feeling, his collages always evoke the pictorial.  A collage consisting of chains and jewels decorating Jesus on the cross points back to the iconic.

Deeply mystic in his art, von Huendeberg was, however, staunchly rational about religion, a fierce agnostic firmly rooted in the tradition of humanism and the Enlightenment.  This combination of mysticism and commitment to the rational, paired with his unbridled irreverence, a constant drive to explore new ideas, a steadfast refusal to be categorized, as well as playful irony in close companionship with serious craftsmanship, confused and irritated more than one critic.

Von Huendeberg enjoyed success for quite some years.  1956 he received a cultural scholarship from the German Industry Association, 1957 he was invited to the Premio Lissone, 1962 he won the Seerosen-Preis (Lotus Prize).  His paintings were shown in Canada, the US and New Zealand.

From the mid 60s on, von Huendeberg lost interest in exhibitions and the visual arts scene and his public life as an artist concentrated on experimental theatre, film and music.  Nevertheless, he still worked as a painter, for example when experimenting with etchings with fellow artist Otto Mirtl.  The fumes from performing this in an unventilated chamber, combined with his liberal use of alcohol, almost killed him, leaving him in a liver coma for three weeks, which he miraculously survived.  Shortly before his hospitalization, he starred in a slide/theatre play as [[Oblomov]], a Russian nobleman full of fabulous ideas but lacking the ability to make any decisions whatsoever.  This play, adapted by one of his many proteges, the then young and unknown [[Franz Xaver Kroetz]], mirrored much of who von Huendeberg was – a brilliant artist who at  times was incapable of leaving the house for years on end, haunted by depression and addiction.  For years, von Huendeberg also worked closely with avantgarde theatre artists Alexeij Sagerer and Cornelie Mueller and had friendships with film personalities such as [[Rainer Werner Fassbinder]] and [[Klaus Kinski]].

In art circles, Juergen von Huendeberg is usually discussed in connection with the avantgarde of the 50s and 60s.  But as art historian Ivo Kranzfelder states, it would be a great mistake to see him only as a historical phenomenon.  While his charcoal drawings and oil paintings from this time are important, his erotic drawings and watercolours, experimentations with markers and spray paint and hundreds of acrylic gouaches where he doggedly pursued the exploration of spherical shapes and even his landscape sketches and portraits show a never ending variety and growth in his artistic expression.  Shortly before his death, he only seemingly returned to his roots, painting in oil once again generous geometric shapes, mostly in earth tones, always illuminating his paintings with his trademark brilliant light effects.  However, this return was an evolution, on a higher level of Goethe’s spiral of growth that von Huendeberg liked to cite frequently.

Von Huendeberg died on August 21, 1996 of pancreatic cancer, meeting his death with the same conscious, curious and nonchalant eyes that saw and depicted all of his life.  He was married to Elisabeth, nee Hennighaussen, a music librarian.  They had three children, Nikolaus (1953-1954), Isabella (born 1955) and Clarissa (born 1961).


Ivo Kranzfelder ( Juergen von Huendeberg.  Ein zu wenig bekannter Muenchner Maler (Juergen von Huendeberg.  A Munich Painter, Too Little Known.)  Weltkunst ( No. 13, November 2004

Werner Gilles

ZEN 49

Premio Lissone

Cornelie Mueller

Alexeij Sagerer

the power of denial

i had a conversation with a client the other day about his brother who is presenting him with quite a bit of bafflement. “he (let’s call him noah) is such a nice guy; wise, funny, understanding, compassionate, self aware. and then – there is this part of himself that he seems to be completely unaware of. whenever his brother-in-law gary shows up, he turns into this macho, obnoxious, beer-guzzling football fanatic. even gary is embarrassed. and he just can’t see it.”

my client can’t ignore or avoid the behaviour, either, because he spends a lot of time at noah’s place. “i don’t get it! noah is such a great guy otherwise. but as soon as gary shows up, i can’t stand him, i don’t want to be around him. what’s worse, he loves to make plans when gary is around and drags us all into it. we’re at our wits’ end. we can’t talk to him about it because he insists that nothing is wrong and points out how we trust him otherwise and rely on his sensitivity. which is true. i don’t know what to do.”

i don’t know what the outcome will be; there are many possible scenarios. maybe noah will wake up one day and realize what’s going on. maybe people will start retreating from him. maybe his family will tell him often enough how uncomfortable they are with his behaviour that he will change it or take it elsewhere.

what interests me here is the incredible power of denial that can put a chink into even the most self-aware, conscious person. and i wonder – do i have a blind spot like that, too? how would i be able to tell? as we can see here, such blind spots can exert considerable negative power over people – and i mean that in the plural; noah is by far not the only person who is affected. swiss psychoanalyst adolf guggenbuehl-craig says that one of the best ways of minimizing such situations is to constantly make oneself vulnerable to those dear and near. scary! but what’s the alternative?

i’ll make sure to show this post to my friends and family. if there is a blind spot that they would like me to see but haven’t found a way to do it, maybe this will open a door.