Born Talented!

BORNTALENTED

We are all born talented.

I am not even going to qualify the above statement: I don’t care how talented, or whether there’s some hierarchy; creativity is part of human nature, some might say our most defining trait. We are not born skilled, this is why education is needed.

I am having these thoughts as I watch my students take their last exams. With one eye on the blue Mediterranean — 27°C today and the beach just a stroll away! and the other on their concentrating faces, if I could distill an essence, it would be this: Stay Original!

Art education helps in this, when it instills the things it’s supposed to:

  • Refusal to accept the first solution as the best solution. This is the quintessence of a creative life. To approach the same problem from another angle, and another, and another. Not just the opposite of Learning by Rote – it’s very annihilation! Amen.
  • Organisation of projects and of self, understanding that creating is a process, and planning it out– what a life skill! I know many adults who will never grasp this. Courage in self-presentation and therefore accountability: if you are going to show your work and/or speak about it, you need to be able to justify your process. The rewards of accepting good or bad criticism are invaluable to a person’s emotional intelligence and growth.
  • Eschew the Copy-Paste Mentality. It’s almost embarassing to repeat this, because it really should be covered by the other two points, but we live in a world where access online is practically a human right, and we need to understand the responsibilities that follow. The internet is a tool; we are the craftsman. We cannot blame it, disclaim it, or abuse it. Everyone goes online for help, verification, inspiration. We are still responsible for how we present to the world!

Graduates! Though they may try to stifle you, mislead you by example, swamp you with questionable facts and methods: Stay true, stay original, stay creative!

What an intense month it’s been (obviously not in my blogging activity, as you may have noticed)! I know I should be blogging about summer, and the beach, but soon enough. I’ll get to it!

Mother’s Day

MOTHERSDAY

With a distance of a number of decades, here’s my tribute! One is something I made in kindergarten. The other, considerably more recent…

 

Spring in Cyprus

MARCHSALUTATIONS

March is, proverbially, never absent from Lent. Easter Sunday is a movable feast, and Lent’s start and finish vary accordingly, but March is always in there, somewhere, on that you can depend. The smell of bitter-orange blossoms outside Nicosia’s medieval churches, as evening falls, is one of childhood’s oldest memories, and one I associate with Fridays, when the Akathist hymn is sung. Also known as the Salutations to Mary, they are the most feminine of ancient rites, melodious and exuberant, crammed with ancient poetry, a relic of Orphism and the classics.

The Salutations are sung on Friday, the Goddess’s day. In an older and hypothetically less macho time, Friday seems to have held a special place, which is why it is named after Frija, Freya or Frigga, the Norse Venus, in northern climes. In Romance languages the day is named after Venus: Dies Veneris, Venerdi, Vendredi. The noun veneration and the verb to venerate also come from this concept, which reinforces the idea that Friday was the original Holy Day!

SPRING

Compare and contrast:

Hail, O Star revealing the Sun. 
Hail, O branch of the unwithering Vine. Hail, O Land yielding the untainted Fruit. 
Hail, O Field bearing abundant compassion. Hail, O Table laden with an abundance of mercies.
Hail, for you make the meadow produce contentment.
Hail, acceptable Incense of intercession. Hail, Oblation for all the world.

– attr. Romanos the Melodist: Salutations
to the Theotokos, 
6th c.

Γαῖα θεά, μῆτερ μακάρων θνητῶν τ᾽ ἀνθρώπων, παντρόφε, πανδώτειρα, τελεσφόρε, παντολέτειρα, αὐξιθαλής, φερέκαρπε, καλαῖς ὥραισι βρύουσα, ἕδρανον ἀθανάτου κόσμου, πολυποίκιλε κούρη, ἣ λοχίαις ὠδῖσι κύεις καρπὸν πολυειδῆ, ἀιδία, πολύσεπτε, βαθύστερν᾽, ὀλβιόμοιρε, ἡδυπνόοις χαίρουσα χλόαις πολυανθέσι δαῖμον, ὀμβροχαρής, περὶ ἣν κόσμος πολυδαίδαλος ἄστρων εἱλεῖται φύσει ἀενάωι καὶ ῥεύμασι δεινοῖς.

All-Fertile, All-Destroying Gaia,
Mother of All, Who brings forth the bounteous fruits and flowers,
All variety, Maiden who anchors the eternal world in our own,
Immortal, Blessed, crowned with every grace,
Deep bosomed Earth, sweet plains and fields fragrant grasses in the nurturing rains,
Around you fly the beauteous stars, eternal and divine

– Orphic Hymn to Gaia, 6th c. BCE
(T
ranslated by Virginia Stewart)

I am she
that is the natural mother of all things,
mistress and governess of all the elements,
the initial progeny of worlds,
chief of powers divine,
Queen of heaven,
the principal of the Gods celestial,
the light of the goddesses:
at my will the planets of the air, the wholesome winds of the Seas,
and the silences of hell be disposed;
my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners,
in variable customs and in many names

– Lucius Apuleius: Metamophoses
or The Golden Ass, 2nd c.