Djcnor’s Weblog

The Intersection of Arts, Politics, and Life

Posted on: April 7, 2009

When I began this blog, I had already tried blogging before but never managed to consistently write regularly and often. I had read that in order to build readership a blog had to have a focus, but I decided just to write each day about whatever interested me and see if a theme developed.

For a long time now, I have been a fan of the movement toward interdisciplinary activities of all kinds. Only rather recently have academics been divided into subjects and sub-subjects. Science, chemistry under science, biochemistry under chemistry, molecular biochemistry under biochemistry, and so on seemingly to infinity with each tiny segment developing its own jargon, its own points of reference, its own celebrities.

I know there’s more information out there than any one person can ever manage to stuff into one brain, more than any one person can become well acquainted with, but why force the choices among a preset branching path? Especially when the most world-shaking ideas often come from crossing paths on different branches.

One example, and a fascinating one to read about, was the deciphering of the Maya written language. The story of how it happened is entertainingly chronicled in Breaking the Maya Code by Michael Coe. The problem was that studiers of the Maya culture tended to specialize in one particular area. There were dirt archaeologists excavating and interpreting the material culture left behind, linguist studying the language current spoken by Mayan ethnic groups, art historians studying Mayan art, and so on and so on. No one held enough pieces of the puzzle, until the kid.

The kid was the child of two people involved in different aspects of the Maya story. The family spent a lot of summers at digs. There wasn’t a whole lot for a kid to do at the digs, aside from plague the assortment of adults studying various other aspects of the story. The result? The kid was the one who collected and connected all the different pieces and began to put them together to make sense of the Mayan hieroglyphics. He did it so well that at 18 he won one of those  MacArthur Genius Awards.

My point is the world is not split into neatly catagorized discipline. In truth, every single one of us invents his or her own discipline, and if you look hard enough but not in a particularly organized manner, you might eventually be able to come up with a good description of it.

Readers of this blog will soon figure out that I am interested in politics. But it is not the practice of politics that interests me. I’m only interested in practical politics. I look at every political issue in terms of the effects of particular policies on individual lives. And I look at those lives holistically, refusing to narrow it down to any particular area of those lives.

I’m also interested in arts, particularly fine craft arts, well practised, no shortcuts, and particularly textiles. Textiles because of structure, and because textiles are so intricately woven into our lives, woven into them in such a way as to minimize human discomfort, and doing that at the expense of the textiles themselves. Of all arts, textiles are made to give way and be worn down, to show the history of  human interaction with them.  One fine example is the shroud of Turin.

There’s another excellent book on the history of textile arts. It’s Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. It’s about women,  cloth, and society in ancient times, and every word of it interested me.

I could write much more, but mostly what I want to say is that I believe I’ve found the focus of this blog, as much as it has one. I want it to sit at the intersection of arts, politics, and life.


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Djcnor’s Weblog

  • @KathrynGoldman Saw your blog post on famous people in fiction. Have character who is supposed to be dead, turns out not to be. OK? 1 year ago
  • I'm back! I haven't posted in a long time, but since Joanie Freeman and I won Charlottesville SOUP, I feel the need to return. 6 years ago
  • Haven't been here on my new iPad. Page looks totally different. Where is the option to reply? And where are the RT's? 7 years ago
  • @The_Puck Same to you. You denial is damaging to yourself and all you care about, assuming there must be some of those. 7 years ago
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