The Mind's I


On Wednesday, I learned about the bombing of Iraq when I was at work. I don't know how I feel about it. They have been bombing Iraq for the past three evenings. I have become indifferent, Constant Reader. I don't want to hear about the issue anymore, and I am disgusted that I have this mindset. I turn it off, now. I hear the news reports, but they go in one ear and out the other. I recognize that it's happening... but I don't want to acknowledge it. To acknowledge it would require me to take a side in the issue and I dislike both sides.

Apathy, welcome home. <sigh>

I suppose all I can do is wave my "let's try for peace" sign around but give no practical solutions to the problem. My brain refuses to confront the issue long enough to come up with a solution.


Bronwyn , the amazing proprietress of the 32 flavors webring has plopped a beautiful egg in my mailbox this early morning. She has invited me to join this heavy-participation webring and I am outrageously honored. The other flavors are wonderful journals, many of them I read regularly. To be in their company is a real honor. It's aweing to think of The Mind's I to be great reading. I hope that you are enjoying my thoughts and words, Constant Reader. 32 flavors presents another vehicle for me to express myself and I am eager to do so. Anything that encourages me to write is a Good Thing(tm). I hope that my increased writing will lead me to be a better write and better able to express myself.

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December 18, 1998
Sticks and Stones

Watercolor Iko The digital camera that I'm currently using leaves much to be desired when it comes to being accurate with color. So, I find myself having to tuck and tweak the images until they come out "acceptable" to me (plus, it is nice to be able to cut out an unslightly double chin). Well, I've started using the built-in artsy filters that Photoshop has and some of them turn out pretty good! I know that The Mandelbrot Set has a project called the Hall of Mirrors where the members put up a new photograph/image/artwork on their site. I think I will contribute to it. My only concern is that the page is black and my images assume a white background. I'll think about the logistics for a while...

Someone on ScribeTribe posted the full text of a poem that was read aloud at the end of the movie Smoke Signals. It got me thinking about the writer of the movie, Sherman Alexie. He was featured on CBS News Sunday Morning on December 6th and I found him fascinating. Sherman Alexie is a poet, filmmaker, and novelist, and a member of the Spokane Tribe. He uses humor to try to bring people into understanding the human condition among Native Americans in this country.

"Nobody is ambivalent about Indians. They either love 'em or hate 'em. It's either 'those casino-grubbing, tax-selling, cigarette-smoking, fireworks-blasting, welfare-living, treaty-signing jerks,' or 'I love your hair'!"

He thinks that humor is the way to get one's message across to people who don't necessarily want to listen. He says, "People listen to anything if you're funny." It got me thinking that it's true. Comedy helps us face the serious issues that people sometime don't want to listen to. Granted, the presentation of it is less than tasteful sometimes, but it does make people listen and I have to give a nod to that kind of attention that he is bringing to the condition of the lives of native americans in this country. Supposedly, Smoke Signals presents the stereotypes that exist for both caucasians and native americans.. showing them both humorously and sadly.

He is a successful author that no longer lives in the reservation. It's sad what he says about his life on the reservation. "My whole life has been a flight away from poverty. Even from a young age I thought, I don't want this to ever happen to me. I want to get away from this. So, it's always been a fear. It's still a fear... I guess I'm so used to seeing Indians hurting that I really look to the people rather than their condition. I guess I don't get so much depressed as trying to figure out ways for that not to happen to other people." I've never really been on a reservation, atleast long enough to really observe the human condition on them. When I visited the American desert west, I was too enthralled with the beautiful environment to really see the people.

Everytime I hear about things like this, I want to reach out and help in some manner, but I don't know how. I like helping social problems, being a vocal advocate for glbt issues, but how can we as Americans help the native people in this country? We have given land (bad land, IMHO) for them to live on, but the land lacks the resources and they lack the tools to really produce enough to make a living on their land. We can give them other land that the government owns that they have been giving away to businesses, give them funding to put up school and incentives for native american-owned businesses... but I'm not 100% sure how effective this will be. We have tools like that in place in the inner city, but year after year I hear about how such plans don't go far enough, or just downright fail. Sherman Alexie, it seems, had the power to change his condition.. but he would never send his son to the reservation because the educational system is so bad. It reminds me of the stories of the people living in Appalachia... the lack of running water and the basic necessities that I, a upper-middle-class suburban computer geek, take terribly for granted. How can we as Americans help each other to lift these people out of poverty? I know a better education would help... but I think that with education, they might leave the reservation for outside opportunities. This will help people, but not those that decide to stay.. or have no choice but to stay. How can we improve the reservation, and thus the people living there? I don't have the answers, Constant Reader, but it makes me think and be glad of my current status in life.

President Clinton asked Sherman Alexie what is the most important thing for Americans to know about American Indians.

"I think the primary thing that people need to know about Indians is that our identity is much less cultural now and much more political, that we really do exist as political entities in sovereign political nations. And that's the most important thing for people to understand is that we are separate politically and economically and should be."

I'm not sure what he is suggesting there. A sovereign nation for native americans? I disagree with such separatism. The US is often called the Melting Pot and I think that is the way that we should treat ourselves... as a mixture were, hopefully, we can respect each other's differences and learn and grow because of those differences. I don't know Sherman Alexie's political values, but I enjoy reading his words. He is a poet and I found his poetry beautiful and moving. One of his books is titled The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. That title seems vaguely familiar but I think it's an awesome title. Very cool! He quotes from it in the Sunday Morning story:

"Survival equals anger times imagination. Imagination is the only weapon on the reservation. Imagination is the politics of dreams. Imagine a spring with water that mends broken bones. Imagine a drum which wraps itself around your heart. Imagine a story that puts wood in the fireplace."

The imagery that he conjures up in his writing I find beautiful and I totally respect that. He was declared the "Heavyweight Poetry Champion of the World" at the 17th annual Poetry Circus in Taos, New Mexico. He had 30 seconds to compose a poem from the word "chaos".

"All I dreamed about was leaving the reservation, about being somebody else, about being anything else. I dreamed of a full refrigerator. I dreamed of a full cupboard. I dreamed of a car with gas in its tank. I dreamed - and everything was chaos."

Now it is my turn to exert my own creative juices. I have two new projects that I am going to start. One is words and image-centric and the other one is just images. The former project, well, I'm not sure how successful this project will be, or if anyone would find it interesting. Today when I came home from the bus, there was a very interesting woman sitting next to me. Well, she might not have been genuinely interesting, but my mind was churning and I found her interesting with my own imagination. Since my digital camera makes no noise when it takes a photograph, I decided to elusively snap a few of her. She's my first entry in my "Commuting" series. I considered calling it my "travel" series, but I realized that I might visit interesting places on vacation and I might want to consider that my "travel" series. So, welcome to my commuting series.

The second project is one that I'm starting from months of observation. My bus in the morning drops me off at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 42nd street. On that corner is a GAP store (according to a show that I saw a few months ago, it used to be the last place in the city where you can go into the store and put quarters into machines and get foodwares. Anyone know the proper name of a place like that?). When I started thinking about my website design, I noticed the large ads in the window of the GAP. The current ad campaign at the time featured large posters with circular symbols. These symbols fascinated me, since I thought they looked interesting and abstract. I started doodling the symbols on paper and I decided to come up with my own original symbols for my navigation system. I've noticed those ads ever since and they change them every few weeks. Today marks the first time that I will take photographs of the posters to record when they change. I observe the windows changing for the Conway on the other side of the street, but they aren't as fascinating as the ad campaigns at the GAP. GAP Images is born.

I'm trying to become more observant. It's an ability that I admire in others and I want to foster it in myself. I like taking pause and observing people and the world around me. That's why I loved being a botanist. I loved observing the beauty of the natural world that is expressed in plants. I could sit and stare at a plant for a long time, studying the girth of the stalk, the length of the petioles, the gentle curve of a leaf. There is a perfect beauty. I want to soak it up, and the only way you can really do that is to become more observant of the world out there.

© Copyright 1998, Eileene Coscolluela