art that makes a difference

i’m dedicating november to the arts. for example, all the fireside chats this month will be about art that made a difference in our lives.

so, readers, let’s hear it from you!

tell me about works of art that made a difference in your life.

is there a book that you want the whole world to read?
a movie that changed your life?
a piece of music that makes your heart swell every time you hear it?
a special play?
some other creative work that you can’t forget?

here are my answers:

book: the idiot, by dostoevsky
what brings me back to this book over and over again is the richness of human experience, as well as how dostoevsky treats the concept of mental illness.

movie: sacco and vanzetti
this movie solidified my political convictions.

music: glenn gould playing bach’s goldberg variations
not only is bach my favourite composer, but i never cease to be gripped by how deeply glenn gould not only shows his deep understanding of bach but also takes it further with his own creative input.

play: michi’s blood, by franz-xaver kroetz.
i’ve seen this play many times, mostly in the viennese version with nikolai nothof and cornelie mueller. it brilliantly portrays the utter lack of communication of a couple trapped in poverty and misery – and yet, when you look very closely, you can see a little love and tenderness. its almost zen-like approach showed me the value of producing a tight, lean piece of art.

(hm … i notice that with the exception of the goldberg variations, i’ve come to love these pieces before my 20th birthday. interesting.)

so, my friends, tell me about art made a difference in your life.

i’m also tagging a few of my blogger friends with this question – carol, cato, jan, jay and ray.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

28 thoughts on “art that makes a difference

  1. Nickie

    This is a great topic! I’d have to say that one of the books that changed my thinking, and is meaningful to me is The Anatomy of Hope by Jerome Groopman. It’s one of the few accessible books I’ve found that talks about the connection between hope and body processes, without putting a huge burden of guilt on the reader or person with the illness.

    As for music, classically, I love anuy of Chopin’s nocturnes. I’d have to look to figure out which one is my favorite. I may try to blog this at some point, because it’s a wonderful topic. For now, I need to get ready for class.

  2. Ray

    Book: (Non-Sci-Fi, Non-Techno-Thriller I assume?) Good Omens. (Otherwise Federation by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, I almost wrote my thesis on an idea in this book)

    Movie: Signs (believe it or not)

    Music: Not Even The Trees by Hootie & The Blowfish

    Play: Picasso at the Lapin Agile (intelligent and funny)

    Other Creative Work: I’m going to use my wildcard to throw another song out there, In Denial by Pet Shop Boys with Kylie Monogue.

  3. Mindi

    I think everyone needs to read the book “A Rock and a Hard Place” by Anthony Johnson. It changed my life.

    I can’t say that there’s a movie that’s changed my life, but I can’t stop loving Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Sure I could pick a movie steeped in social commentary, but sometimes, you just need to laugh.

    The song that moves me all the time because of it’s connection with a very fond memory I have of travelling with my father and brother in the States, and that’s “Land Down Under” by Men At Work.

    I can’t say I’ve seen a great many plays (I need to be cultured more, it seems) but I loved Cats. It was one of only a couple Broadway plays I saw, and I remember feeling like a grown up when I saw it.

  4. carol

    Art that made a difference? Art has made my life! What others have created has sparked me to create for myself, and expands my experience of my own life just by being there.
    Books – too many to mention. For some reason I mention Stanislaw Lem, but only because I think everyone should be aware of him, and not just because of Solaris. Although his heart doesn’t show much – for that quality lets go to Alice Munro, or to the Life of Pi to remember the incredible powers of the imagination to overcome the limitations of life on earth. But if we are there, how about those treacly but magical stories like A Little Princess, or the lovely work of George MacDonald.
    Movies: how about old documentaries, like Nanook of the North, or the incredible digitally shot drama Atanarjuat, or any of the challenging films that really take you somewhere more real than your own life. Needless to say, not so Hollywood. But then – Big Fish, and all the Wes Anderson movies: Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, and The Life Aquatic.
    Oh,and Angels in America, the dvd – amazingly involving.
    Music: ah, too much to say. Lately, I’ve been rediscovering Donovan (yes Donovan) and find he was and is marvelous after all. All Bob Dylan, past and present, and all the jazz greats, Coltrane.Indian music, Iranian music, Turkish dervish music, rhythms of South America, Bebel Gilberto (remixed or not), electronica, all musics have their place.
    Visual Art: right now I like Fred Tomaselli, and the work of Marcel Dzama and the Royal Art Lodge. Of course my favourite and most life-changing visual artist has to be James K-M. He lent me an abstract painting years ago and its magic changed my life.
    Plays: all of them, especially when I was young and had no idea about the depths of life, they weren’t seen, and novels didn’t have the immediacy. O’Neill, and Williams, and Albee – were people really like that, I wondered.
    Digital arts – connecting me to something entirely new, another way of seeing and being and communicating. Like this – right now!
    (I’d love to make links in this comment but can’t see how, so will leave that to you, if you want to google some of the names I’ve mentioned.)

  5. levy

    Its hard for me to simply state an “art” form that has changed my life. I grew up listening to jazz and R&B but learned of paintings and other forms while in college. I found poetry, my love of words, took me to places that mashed-up all the other forms. Then there is the spoken word.

    In one way, I’ve been thinking about this subject for awhile. Visit my site at to learn of what art I call the hip life.

    The truth of the matter is our lives are our most enduring art work.

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  7. Robert Persson

    1. Spirited Away, an animation for children by Hayao Miyazaki, because it’s seen me through some bad times.

    2. Hedgehog in the Fog by the Russian animator Yuri Norstein, because it too has seen me through some bad times , and also because it proves you can still produce things of true value even within a system that is rotten.

  8. Robert Persson

    Coming to think of it, I should probably add to my short list above something like DAF’s song Osten währt am längsten from the album Die Kleinen und die Bösen (1980). The lyrics translate as something like “The East is the best/The West is the best/The East will last longest/The West is at peace…” It taught me that art could take what is concrete and fixed, lift it gingerly off the ground and wobble it about in all its glorious pomposity. I didn’t understand this at the time though. I was just a very distressed teenager and I wanted to play it a lot.

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  12. Sharon Suzor

    Robert Persson who replied I am looking for my father I am 39 years of age born on 3 3 1967 and my name is Sharon. You probably not him but I am just hunting around at this stage. Regards Sharon.

  13. Robert Persson

    Sharon, I’m not your dad unfortunately, being only a few days older than you, but I sincerely hope you are successful in your quest. Robert.

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  15. Jeremy Hair

    Good question. The best book I ever read was A Physicists View of Nature by Amit Goswami.

    The book literally changed my life.

    Taosports for Business and Nietzche books are great as well.

  16. Jed

    I too have read many of Nietzche’s works. I am wondering about the differences in the books when they are transcribed to English from German and whether there are real differences.

    Larry Dossey is great as well.

  17. isabella mori

    hi jed, and thanks for stopping by!

    pretty much every piece of written work loses with translation, especially when there cannot be communication with the writer to clarify the many ambiguities that we don’t even notice when we read something in a familiar language.

    i have not made a comparison in nietzsche’s case but dave has. i’ve made other comparisons between translations and between original works and their translations and would say that sometimes translations are good, often mediocre, and sometimes absolutely awful (a lot of the latter comes from the fact that translators are often treated like dirt by publishers.)

    in nietzsche’s case, a good translation is particularly interesting because apart from the fact that he has a lot of interesting ideas, he is also a fabulous writer, a passionate virtuoso of the german language.

  18. Kevin Cronin

    Neitzsche is such a great writer, there is a bar in Buffalo named after him, and a lot of people that go there are very artsy. It is like a really old school place, where they have concerts and such, and they have a balcony where there are tons of chandeliers filled with cob webs. One of the coolest places downtown.

    Kevin Cronin’s last blog post..Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon

  19. Speeding Ticket

    I too have had the pleasure of reading Neitzsche in German (and English). Where the English translations seem to have many run on sentences, the German, though wordy, is normal and as isabella points out, there are phrases and word usage that just cant be translated without having to add additional explanation and thus somewhat tarnishing the original works in translation.

    Speeding Ticket’s last blog post..If you are pulled over?

  20. Blake Riley

    This is a very interesting topic indeed. Although don’t really have so much appreciation for all that art stuff. Well I would love to gain more appreciation but I time is not on my side.=)

  21. hiphop94

    It seems my comment is flagged as spamers..? bad, anyway…
    My way of art loving is different but same. I mean different the way I do things, Same coz- the things are same done before.
    I offend more at thing when they tend to be different. But here is the same case – a play franz-xaver kroetz that I gone through.
    And to the most lovely movie: sacco and vanzetti.
    Although a drama lover, I do enjoy a good documentary–and this is a good one. Most of us, I suspect, have heard the names Sacco and Vanzetti, but I bet that most don’t recall the details of the case. This film is a concise, 82-minute documentary that covers the background of the two men, the crime that took place, the evidence (or lack thereof) which convicted them, and the public outcry over the trial and execution. It’s nicely done, using both still photos and some clips from an earlier (and currently unavailable) film, as well as interviews with people close to the case. It’s well-paced; it tells the story, but doesn’t drag. Many of the stills are quite lovely and I really enjoyed the soundtrack. A fine example of documentary filmmaking–and a history lesson with relevance today.

    Weight loss guide review

    hiphop94’s last blog post..HIPHOP

  22. Jim

    I’d say Van Gogh had art that changed the world. A lot of today’s masterpieces were inspired by Van, and that brought culture and art to a lot of places in the world.

    Jim’s last blog post..Had to fix car

  23. Ray

    Nearly 3 years after first replying to this post it occurred to me that I responded initially in a things-I-like-and-want-to-share mode rather than a things-that-changed-my-life perspective.

    One important book I encountered during my teenage years was called Being Happy – I forget the author but the one message that really consciously stuck with me over the years was how to accept a compliment.

    One movie I rarely go a week without quoting is The American President. In particular the first part of the final speech regarding free speech and freedom in general posits not only an excellent political philosophy but also sets a great example of how to handle people with vastly different opinions.

    ‘The End Of The World’ by Pet Shop Boys helped me comes to terms with the prospect of becoming a father – specifically that natural human instinct and compassion would provide a lot of the things I feared I lacked at the time. In simpler terms what I took out of it was: when in doubt, do what your sympathy tells you and it should turn out alright. So whenever the kid does something that puts me in a practical or ethical dillema I pause and take a moment to sympathize with his perspective before moving forward. It doesn’t always change my response but I think it a worthwhile exercise either way.

    I’ll keep the same play I mentioned before.
    .-= Ray´s last blog ..Thank You Mommy: GPS =-.

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