recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : companionship   21

Kitsune - Wikipedia
"Kitsune (狐, キツネ, IPA: [kitsɯne] (About this sound listen)) is the Japanese word for the fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and humans lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make sacrifices to them as to a deity.

Conversely foxes were often seen as "witch animals", especially during the superstitious Edo period (1603–1867), and were goblins who could not be trusted (similar to some badgers and cats).[1]"
foxes  japan  sestracat  myth  myths  mythology  shinto  trickster  folklore  cats  badgers  shapeshifting  companionship  multispecies  morethanhuman  inari  kami  spirits 
august 2018 by robertogreco
On Being Broken, and the Kindness of Others – The Tattooed Professor
"We’re not sending graduates “out into the real world”–they’ve been there for their entire lives, and most of them know at least implicitly how the deck is stacked against people regardless of how hard they’re bootstrapping. We have given our students a wide array of tools, and tried to prepare them to use those tools well for themselves and for their communities. We teach in the hopes of a better, more compassionate, and more just world. But then we tell a graduation-day story that assumes our graduates will go out into a broken world riven by hate, fear, and inequality but also that it’s their fault if that world beats them down. I don’t think we do this on purpose, but the myth is no less insidious for being unintentional. Consider this: as the college student population increases, so to has the incidence and significance of mental health concerns for our students. Substance abuse among college students exhibits several worrisome trends. The scale and scope of the sexual assault epidemic on our campuses is horrifying. The uncertainty of the post-2008 job market and the increasingly contingent and precarious nature of work in our neoliberal world present a post-graduation outlook that is bleaker for this generation than it was for any of their predecessors (to say nothing of the victim-blaming from those very forebears).

These are interrelated and telling concerns; they describe a significant portion of our students’ reality. Yet we’re telling them that effort and pluckiness will suffice to change the world, just like that effort and pluckiness got them to graduation. But it wasn’t just effort and pluckiness. For many of our students, the path to graduation was strewn with detours, interruptions, even crises like the ones detailed above–perhaps the way forward for them will be littered with similar obstacles. We celebrate the triumph over adversity, as well we should, but I wish we would give ourselves permission to recognize that adversity as something more than the thing we get over and never speak of again. If we don’t sit with the rough edges of our journey, we forget how we made it. Our students make it through like we did: sometimes through individual effort, but more often from the support, compassion, and vital companionship and affirmation of those around us. I don’t think we pay nearly enough attention to that fact. Nobody does it all by themselves, but I worry that we’re telling our students they have to do exactly that, rather than giving them permission to fail, to fall short, to admit they need help. Because those lessons are hard ones to learn, all the more so if there aren’t examples or encouragement for us to follow. Believe me, I know."



"I was afraid of other people, and afraid of what I’d learn from them. I believed asking for help was an admission of defeat. I’m in a career field that places a high value upon the appearance of professionalism; I’m expected to have it together, to know what I’m doing. To admit that wasn’t the case was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can see now that I wouldn’t have done it were it not for the people around me who helped me feel safe and supported when I was at my most raw and wounded. I didn’t want to talk about my past, what I’d done, or what had been done to me, but those around me helped me realize that if I didn’t, I would continue to carry it with me. Doctors, nurses, counselors, clergy, spouse, parents, siblings, co-workers, others in recovery, random strangers, Vin Scully, my pets–it was their voice, their connection, and their freely-given kindness that sustained me.

It was not the smoothest or easiest road from there to here; don’t cue the happy closing music yet. I still struggle. I still need lots of help. I still act like a jerk to the people who are helping. But I have learned this truth: there are times when life will break me. The problem isn’t being broken, it’s in not letting others help put me back together. When I graduated, I went out into the world, and the world beat me up while I sat and watched. I thought fighting back was a solo project, so I failed. Only when I gave others the chance to help me, and accepted that support and affirmation honestly and without begrudging it, did I stop getting beaten up.

That’s my advice, then, to you graduates. You will go forth and hopefully forge many successes for you and your loved ones. But you will also fall short. There will be failures. There will be wounds inflicted by yourself and by others. You will find yourself in places you did not plan to be. You may even find yourself broken. And when that happens, remember that you are neither the first nor the last to end up there. Others have, too, and they can help. It is no defeat to ask for others to help you, and to depend upon that assistance. It’s a victory over fear and anger, that’s what it is. As a society, we tell ourselves that the individual reigns supreme. But it does serious damage when we take that ethos too seriously. Not every problem can be solved by an individual. Not every success is the product of an individual. There is no shame in recognizing those facts as they operate in our lives."
via:audreywatters  kevingannon  2017  resilience  pluckiness  grit  education  realworld  highered  highereducation  adversity  mentalhealth  well-being  uncertainty  expectations  kindness  compassion  companionship  substanceabuse  academia  colleges  universities  brokenness  professionalism  help  helplessness  success  individualism  support  assistance 
may 2017 by robertogreco
My life with Oliver Sacks: ‘He was the most unusual person I had ever known’ | Books | The Guardian
"Not long after I moved to New York, Michael Jackson died. O had no idea who Michael Jackson was. “What is Michael Jackson?” he asked me the day after the news – not who but what – which seemed both a very odd and a very apt way of putting it, given how much the brilliant singer had transmuted from a human into an alien being. O often said he had no knowledge of popular culture after 1955, and this was not an exaggeration. He did not know popular music, rarely watched anything on TV but the news, did not enjoy contemporary fiction, and had zero interest in celebrities or fame (including his own). He didn’t possess a computer, had never used email or texted; he wrote with a fountain pen. This wasn’t pretentiousness; he wasn’t proud of it; indeed, this feeling of “not being with it” contributed to his extreme shyness. But there was no denying that his tastes, his habits, his ways – all were irreversibly, fixedly, not of our tim"



"I learned that not only had he never been in a relationship, he had also never come out publicly as a gay man. But in a way, he’d had no reason to do so – he hadn’t had sex in three-and-a-half decades, he told me. At first, I did not believe him; such a monk-like existence – devoted solely to work, reading, writing, thinking – seemed at once awe-inspiring and inconceivable. He was without a doubt the most unusual person I had ever known, and before long I found myself not just falling in love with O; it was something more, something I had never experienced before. I adored him."



"She wandered into an upper room, and we followed. There, she showed us two custom-made instruments, a celeste and what looked like a harpsichord. Both had been modified somehow through instructions from a programme on her Mac. I could tell that O was completely lost as she explained how this worked. Yet it was then, right then, that I realised how much she and O were alike – fellow geniuses, incredibly, intuitively brilliant – while being at the same time such an unlikely pair of friends."



"“Hey doc, you ever done belladonna?” she asked. “Now there’s a drug!”

“Well, as a matter of fact, yes, I have,” and he proceeded to tell her about his hallucinations on belladonna. They traded stories. Eventually she began to figure out that this wasn’t his first book.

“Are you – are you Oliver Sacks? The Oliver Sacks?” Oliver looked both pleased and stricken.

“Well, it is very good to meet you, sir.” She sounded like a southern barmaid in a 50s western. But it wasn’t an act. “I’ve been reading you since way back. Oliver Sacks – imagine that!”

Oliver, I should note, had absolutely no idea who she was, nor would he understand if I had pulled him aside and told him.

Fashion? Vogue magazine? No idea…

The two of them hit it off. She was fast-talking, bawdy, opinionated, a broad – the opposite of Oliver except for having in common that mysterious quality: charm.

Somewhere along the way, she explained the black eye: a few days earlier, she had walked out of a business meeting at which she’d learned that she had been “robbed” of a third of everything she’d ever earned, and in a daze walked smack into a scaffolding pipe at eye level on the sidewalk. She didn’t seem too bothered by it: shit happens.

I looked up and saw that the room was empty by now but for Kevin and us.
“Well, gentlemen, I’m going downtown. Share a cab?”
“Uh, we have a car,” I said.
“Even better. Much more civilised. I’m downtown.”
How could one refuse? “Let’s go, shall we?” I said. Lauren Hutton offered Oliver an arm and we walked slowly to the parking garage. I pushed things out of the way in the back seat; she tossed in her handbag, and dove in. She immediately popped her head between our seats – the three of us were practically ear-to-ear.

Her incredible face blocked my rearview mirror. When O took out his wallet to give me a credit card for the parking, she spotted the copy of the periodic table he carries in lieu of a driver’s licence. This prompted a series of questions about the periodic table, the elements, the composition of the very air we were breathing. A dozen questions led to a dozen more, like a student soaking up knowledge. We talked about travels – Iceland, Africa – and Plato, Socrates, the pygmies, William Burroughs, poets… She was clearly intensely curious, life-loving, adventurous. In passing, she said something about having been a model – “The only reason I did it was so I could make enough dough to travel” – but otherwise didn’t say anything about that part of her life. Traffic was thick, so it took quite a while to get downtown.

Eventually, we reached her address, or close enough.

“Well, gentlemen, it has been a true pleasure. I cannot thank you enough. This is where I exit. Goodbye – for now.” And she was gone, as suddenly as she’d arrived. Oliver took a breath as we headed west and home. “I don’t know who that was, but she seems like a very remarkable person.”"
billhayes  2017  olivracks  laurenhutton  björk  iceland  companionship 
april 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger and Susan Sontag / To Tell A Story (1983) - YouTube
"John Berger and Susan Sontag exchange ideas on the 'lost art' of storytelling, 1983."

[via: "Art for him was never something apart from the business of being alive. He was grounded. He struck me as a man who was both supremely astute and perceptive, and a sentimentalist. He could be a wonderfully engaging companion. A 1983 television debate with Susan Sontag – both wrestling with what a story could be – remains electrifying, mostly because they were both struggling with thoughts and ideas rather than trading certainties."
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/02/adrian-searle-on-john-berger-art-for-him-was-never-apart-from-being-alive ]
johnberger  susansontag  1983  storytelling  oral  oraltradition  howwethink  thinking  companionship  listening  conversation  certainty  uncertainty  conformity  reality  absurdity  meaning  fantasy 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Adrian Searle on John Berger: 'Art for him was never apart from being alive' | Books | The Guardian
"I cannot overestimate John Berger’s importance to me. It wasn’t so much his critical opinions or insights I valued, so much as the man himself, whose vitality and receptiveness to the things about him had a force I have rarely encountered.

It was his freedom as a writer I admired most. He had both backbone and playfulness, approaching things at tangents but always illuminating his subjects in unexpected and often disconcerting ways. In his groundbreaking 1972 television series, Ways of Seeing, Berger described the purposes of art, and artists’ intentions, in ways that felt flexible, undogmatic and grounded both in experience and in delight. He helped us look for ourselves, which is the best a critic can do.

Berger provoked intense loyalties and animosities. There were those who saw his defence of vernacular art as waging war against modernism, a man fighting a rearguard action against all kinds of artistic progress. This was oversimplistic, as his writing shows. I got to know Berger largely through our mutual friendship with the late Spanish artist Juan Muñoz. In the mid 1990s Muñoz and Berger collaborated on a radio play, which won a big prize in Germany and in 2005 was turned into a stage production at the Casa Encendida in Madrid. Berger, acting the part of a radio chatshow host, fielded imaginary calls and talked about illusion and presence and Goya’s dog, while an elderly Turkish foley artist, seated on the edge of the stage, provided sound effects. Already almost 80, Berger performed under sweltering stage lights in the Madrid summer heat and never lost his cool. Although there were several other actors in the work, it was almost a solo performance. John carried it; he had presence.

I asked Berger if he had ever wanted to be an actor and he admitted that he had been approached by an agent who encouraged him to go on the stage after seeing him perform in the annual Chelsea School of Art student revue. His stage presence and manner reminded me, disconcertingly, of Frankie Howerd. He was a natural and one of the reasons Ways of Seeing was so good was that he never came over as the patrician smart-arse superior critic. He made you feel he was thinking on his feet, right there in front of you. John would screw up his face and affect an expression somewhere between bewilderment and anguish, before launching into an argument that seemed to arrive fully formed. He was enormously compelling. He made me aware that writing itself was performative.

He reminisced about his time sharing a Paris apartment with the young David Sylvester, who never let go of an early falling out. It had something to do with Berger’s complaints about Sylvester leaving his “voluminous underpants” draped over a chair in a shared room in the early 1950s. Sylvester, I always thought, was jealous of Berger’s abilities as a writer of fiction as well as of art, though his career-long public animosity was also about Berger’s left-wing politics and his championing of socially engaged art.

It strikes me that art for Berger was the beginning of a journey of his own, a way of igniting responses and provoking thoughts. He approached art with a kind of innocent curiosity. He had enthusiasms I couldn’t share (from Soviet artist Ernst Neizvestny to British painter Maggi Hambling) but was open to work as diverse as Rachel Whiteread’s House and Muñoz’s enigmatic figurations. There are things I wish he had written on, but never did. If he was wrong about Picasso (whom he called a “vertical invader”, slicing through tradition) or just plain weird about Francis Bacon (whose paintings he once compared to Walt Disney animations – though Berger later revised his opinion) it didn’t matter. His ideas remained useful, because they always felt part of a bigger, ongoing conversation. It is healthy for a critic to beware of fixed opinions.

Whatever he did, Berger was a teller of stories, and alert to the complexities of all kinds of art-making and writing. Dip into him anywhere – an essay on Courbet, on drawing hands, or Roman Egypt funerary portraiture – whatever it is, his subject is vivid on the page. His writing is filled with insights. That he trained as a painter gave him a sympathy and understanding of the act of making and its difficulties – rare among critics now.

Intensely observant, Berger had the ability to focus the smallest quotidian detail – a penknife in a boy’s pocket, or a pear grown inside a bottle in a farmer’s orchard, bringing in the cows or sharpening a pencil – in order to tell us something about life and human relations, in an unending chain of acts and expressions. Everything he wrote has humour in it as well as sorrow. His writing never forgets the vagaries of the everyday. He revelled in all this.

Art for him was never something apart from the business of being alive. He was grounded. He struck me as a man who was both supremely astute and perceptive, and a sentimentalist. He could be a wonderfully engaging companion. A 1983 television debate with Susan Sontag – both wrestling with what a story could be – remains electrifying, mostly because they were both struggling with thoughts and ideas rather than trading certainties. Always worth reading, even when one disagrees with him, Berger went his own way, which was the only way to go."
johnberger  adriansearle  2017  art  everyday  publishing  life  living  susansontag  thinking  howwethink  storytelling  conversation  politics  lowbrow  highbrow  presence  performance  waysofseeing  delight  experience  vitality  companionship 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Why Look at Animals? by John Berger | Book review | Books | The Guardian
"Part of Penguin's Great Ideas series, this slim book brings together seven of John Berger's essays from 1971-2001, a poem, a drawing and a new story. Apart from the final piece - a moving memoir on the death of Austrian intellectual Ernst Fischer - the theme is the marginalisation of animals. The title essay (1977) explores the ancient relationship between animals and humankind: an "unspeaking companionship". But today the caged creatures in zoos have become "the living monument to their own disappearance" from culture. In all these pieces, what concerns Berger is the loss of a meaningful connection to nature, a connection that can now only be rediscovered through the experience of beauty: "the aesthetic moment offers hope." Berger's writing is wonderfully physical, with a powerful sense of how things look, smell, feel. At his best he shows how everyday experiences - a swallow straying into a room, the performances of primates in a zoo, a peasant carving - hold the aesthetic key to unlock the true order of things."
pdsmith  johnberger  2009  animals  looking  seeing  noticing  multispecies  culture  companionship  humans  marginalization  ernstfischer  humankind  zoos  nature  beauty  aesthetics  hope  everyday 
january 2017 by robertogreco
When my dog died, I didn’t understand why it felt like a human had died. Then I read the research. - Vox
"The reason it felt like a human died is because, in so many ways, dogs are like us. They spend much of their life caring for us, and letting us care for them. Their life arc is our life arc, from suburb to city, from hardship to bliss. I didn’t know how to say goodbye. But in the moment, there was only one thing I actually wanted to say to Rainbow, my white dog: Thank you."
pets  dogs  multispecies  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  animals  2016  alvinvhang  history  evolution  psychology  companions  companionship 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Mow the Lawn - NYTimes.com
"She’s off to college in California, whence I suspect she will never return. As places to stay go, California is up there. Whenever I’m there I wonder why I leave. Unencumbered by too much past, it offers the sunlit tug of the future.

So, dear reader, you find me at a juncture. You put four children through high school, and you find yourself reflecting less on the collapsing Sykes-Picot order and the post-carbon economy than on the happiness whose pursuit America at its founding declared an inalienable right.

The founders were not wrong. It is a self-evident truth that people, whether in creating a new nation or simply beginning a new relationship, seek happiness. That they often go about it in the wrong way does not detract from the sincerity of their quest. Sure as there are acorns beneath the oak tree, people keep rekindling their hopes.

In this commencement season, there is inevitably much reflection on the nature of those hopes and how to fulfill them. These tend toward the mawkish. Life is a succession of tasks rather than a cascade of inspiration, an experience that is more repetitive than revelatory, at least on a day-to-day basis. The thing is to perform the task well and find reward even in the mundane.

I have no idea if Malcolm Gladwell is onto something with the “10,000-hour rule” — the notion that this is the time required for the acquisition of perfected expertise in a particular field — but I am sure grind is underappreciated in our feel-good culture. Don’t sweat the details, but do sweat.

I’ve grown suspicious of the inspirational. It’s overrated. I suspect duty — that half-forgotten word — may be more related to happiness than we think. Want to be happy? Mow the lawn. Collect the dead leaves. Paint the room. Do the dishes. Get a job. Labor until fatigue is in your very bones. Persist day after day. Be stoical. Never whine. Think less about the why of what you do than getting it done. Get the column written. Start pondering the next.

A few years ago, when my son Blaise graduated, I was asked to give the commencement speech at the American School in London. Among other things, I said:

“Everyone has something that makes them tick. The thing is it’s often well hidden. Your psyche builds layers of protection around your most vulnerable traits, which may be very closely linked to your precious essence. Distractions are also external: money, fame, peer pressure, parental expectation. So it may be more difficult than you think to recognize the spark that is your personal sliver of the divine. But do so. Nothing in the end will give you greater satisfaction — not wealth, not passion, not faith, not even love — for if, as Rilke wrote, all companionship is but “the strengthening of two neighboring solitudes,” you have to solve the conundrum of your solitude.

“No success, however glittering, that denies yourself will make you happy in the long run. So listen to the voice from your soul, quiet but insistent, and honor it. Find what you thrill to: if not the perfect sentence, the beautiful cure, the brilliant formula, the lovely chord, the exquisite sauce, the artful reconciliation. Strive not for everything money can buy but for everything money can’t buy.”

It’s not precisely that I would retract any of that today — well, maybe a little — it’s just that I’d put the emphasis elsewhere. I am less interested in the inspirational hero than I am in the myriad doers of everyday good who would shun the description heroic; less interested in the exhortation to “live your dream” than in the obligation to make a living wage.

When you think of Sisyphus — the Greek mythological figure whose devious attempt to defy the gods was punished with his condemnation to pushing a boulder up a hill and repeating the task through all eternity when it rolled down again — think above all that he has a task and it is his own. Rather than a source of despair, that may be the beginning of happiness.

In Camus’ book, “The Plague,” the doctor at the center of the novel, Bernard Rieux, battles pestilence day after day. It is a Sisyphean task. At one point he says, “I have to tell you this: This whole thing is not about heroism. It’s about decency. It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.”

Asked what decency is, he responds: “In general, I can’t say, but in my case I know that it consists of doing my job.” Later, he adds, “I don’t think I have any taste for heroism and sainthood. What interests me is to be a man.”

In the everyday task at hand, for woman or man, happiness lurks."
albertcamus  theplague  everyday  work  labor  heroism  sainthood  rogercohen  2015  california  happiness  slow  small  sisyphus  money  fame  peerpressure  companionship  solitude  repetition  decency  camus  ordinariness  ordinary 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Denali on Vimeo
"There's no easy way to say goodbye to a friend, especially when they've supported you through your darkest times.

Made possible by Patagonia
Generous support from: First Descents, Ruffwear and Snow Peak

In order of appearance: Ben Moon & Denali
Producer: Ben Moon // Moonhouse
Directed / edited / written: Ben Knight // Felt Soul Media
DP: Skip Armstrong // Wazee Motion Pictures
Second Camera: Page Stephenson
Co-Writer: Katie Klingsporn
Wet Camera: Justin Harris
Sound Recordist: Jim Hurst
Music Supervisor: Ben Knight and Chris Parker
Sound Mix: Justin Harris
Narrated by: Ben Knight

Music by: Chihei Hatakeyama, Images of a Broken Light — chihei.org
Music by: Odesza, It's Only [feat. Zyra] In Return, odesza.com, courtesy of Counter Records 2014

Still Photographs by: Ben Moon, Lisa Hensel, Carli Davidson, Miranda Moon, Vivian Moon, Jean Redle Dawn Kish, Lisa Skaff, Pete Rudge, Kristen & Ian Yurdin, and John Sterling"
animals  pets  dogs  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  2015  benmoon  companionship  death  multispecies 
june 2015 by robertogreco
What is it About Animals? |
"We know that animals play important roles in our social, cultural and political lives, as loved ones, friends and companions, workers, ‘livestock’, ‘products’ and ‘commodities’. For instance, in Australia, 63 percent of households include a companion animal, many people living with companion animals consider them to be “family members” (estimates vary between 75-90 percent), and the pet animal industry contributes approximately AUD$4.74 billion annually to the economy (Australian Companion Animal Council, nd).

The bond between many humans and their animal companions is often very strong, invoking emotions of attachment and pleasure. Human–companion animal relationships may allow people to experience themselves and their lives in significantly different ways; ways that are very positive. Humans who describe themselves as ‘animal lovers’ usually see their pets as valued family members, whether (or not) these animals are substitute children, friends, protectors, and/or sources of companionship and affection. Also, plenty of people feel affection or even love towards animals they do not keep as companions or pets, such as native birds that visit them or injured wildlife that they help to care for until they are ready to be released into their habitat.

In this study we want to know how you experience animals you consider important; how you describe and feel about these relationships. We are keen to dig beneath the stereotypes to examine the perceptions of, and meanings attributed to, the relationships ‘animal lovers’ have with their companion animals or any other animals they feel affection towards. That is why we inviting participants to use a range of mediums or formats (e.g. photos, stories, videos, poems, paintings, drawings) to represent their human-animal relationships. Feel free to be creative and have fun."
via:anne  animals  multispecies  pets  niktaylor  heatherfraser  affection  wildlife  companionship  relationship  livestock  friendship  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
2, 6: Neighborhoods, the Anti-Algorithm
"So what does this have to do with my neighborhood?

G.K. Chesterton, in a collection of essays titled Heretics, wrote:
"The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce variety and uncompromising divergences of men…In a large community, we can choose our companions. In a small community, our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized society groups come into existence founded upon sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery."

That was 1905. Long before the internet would give us the largest community of all. Yet, the oft-cited "filter bubble" of the internet is Chesterton's community of choice. The easy community. The one that just happens because we want what we want. And in a less troubled world, that wouldn't be much to fuss about. But in our world, the "filter bubble" is dangerous. It makes fear, hatred, and oppression all the more abundant, both online and off. Before the internet, we called "filter bubbles" segregation. We call them "filter bubbles" now because its easier to see them as a manifestation of technology than the effect of our choices. Because if we saw them for what they truly are, we'd have to call them segregation again. We thought we left that behind. But, no, we haven't. Segregation, of every kind, is the entropy against which we all struggle, the product of bodies living in time, wired down to our cells to survive at all costs, responding to their loudest signal, fear. Chesterton understood that the principal challenge we humans are given to work out in this life is each other, and that nowhere better than next door is that challenge met.

But in Facebook's world, next-door has no greater offer of intimacy than across town, or state, or country. In the large community, as Chesterton said, we can choose our companions. That's the appeal of the network. Community on my terms. Forget that we know it's not good for us. Or that it's dangerous. Forget that it's a shinier, faster form of segregation. Forget that it's invisible and layered, making it easier to explain away. None of this is Facebook's fault. If it wasn't them, then it would be AOL, or Friendster, or MySpace, or any of the many networks that came before it. We can't blame them — any of them — for segregation, however technological its 21st century incarnation may be. But we can blame them for selling it. The economic benefit of segregation is nothing new; it makes selling things easier. But segregation is Facebook's secret sauce. It's an economic imperative. Like just about every "platform" of the internet today, it is ruthlessly driven to box each one of us in. To confine us to an echo-chamber. Not for our own benefit, but for theirs. Because it makes it easier for them to control us. And no, not to usher in some dramatic, Illuminati-style new world order. It's hardly that interesting! It's to sell tiny display ads and make heaps of money. That's it. Controlling us is simply an act of inventory management.

Of course, it's easy to look past all of this. To point at the good that thrives on the network — and of that, there is plenty. The lonely who are no longer lonely because of it. The oppressed who grow more powerful when bound together. But to celebrate the network's role in that only heightens my awareness that it is something we could have — should have — without it. It's too easy, also, to celebrate the engines of our ingenuity. See this? Look what we have made! But that we are as enamored with the algorithm as we so clearly are is an indicator that our hearts are way out of sync with our minds. We have engineered such sophisticated tools for connecting, ordering, and studying ourselves; it's an astounding achievement. It's one we might even celebrate if it were truly an open project for the common good. But it isn't. Not even close. So why do we pretend that it is? The network is not ours. It's the other way around. We are the network's. To sell. That is, unless we get off the network. Or at least spend a whole lot less time there.

My neighbors have convinced me that community is not only of the network. Saying such a thing sounds trite. But it's another thing entirely to live it. Here's an example: Last year, the doctor and his wife down the street decided to organize weekly neighborhood dinners. Each Sunday evening, someone hosts dinner for the neighborhood. When I first heard the idea, I was aghast. Weekly! As in, every week? No, I thought, monthly, maybe. But we went to a few, then we hosted one of our own — which wasn't nearly as much work as we thought it would be — and we've regularly gone to most of the others since. It's not obligatory. It's not like if you go to one, you must go to them all. Or even that if you go to one, you must host one. Few people have gone to every dinner, but many of us have gone to most of them. And many of us have hosted one.

Spending this time together — committing to it — is how the work gets done, not the Facebook group. It's through being together, in each other's homes, in real life. Don't get me wrong, it's no utopia. People get on each other's nerves. Not everyone will become best friends. We're talking about people here. But that's the point. The network can't sell that. It can sell our attention, but the less of our lives we live on the network, the less our attention feels like us. That's the control we still have. Eventually, hopefully, leveraging that control could change the economics of the network. Consider the neighborhood the anti-algorithm."
2015  chrisbutler  facebook  socialnetworks  gkchesterson  difference  filterbubbles  algorithms  neighborhoods  discovery  community  communities  understanding  empathy  small  attention  feeds  segregation  diversity  technology  separation  togetherness  companionship  sympathy 
february 2015 by robertogreco
How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri - NYTimes.com
"For most of us, Siri is merely a momentary diversion. But for some, it’s more. My son’s practice conversation with Siri is translating into more facility with actual humans. Yesterday I had the longest conversation with him that I’ve ever had. Admittedly, it was about different species of turtles and whether I preferred the red-eared slider to the diamond-backed terrapin. This might not have been my choice of topic, but it was back and forth, and it followed a logical trajectory. I can promise you that for most of my beautiful son’s 13 years of existence, that has not been the case.

The developers of intelligent assistants recognize their uses to those with speech and communication problems — and some are thinking of new ways the assistants can help. According to the folks at SRI International, the research and development company where Siri began before Apple bought the technology, the next generation of virtual assistants will not just retrieve information — they will also be able to carry on more complex conversations about a person’s area of interest. “Your son will be able to proactively get information about whatever he’s interested in without asking for it, because the assistant will anticipate what he likes,” said William Mark, vice president for information and computing sciences at SRI.

The assistant will also be able to reach children where they live. Ron Suskind, whose new book, “Life, Animated,” chronicles how his autistic son came out of his shell through engagement with Disney characters, is talking to SRI about having assistants for those with autism that can be programmed to speak in the voice of the character that reaches them — for his son, perhaps Aladdin; for mine, either Kermit or Lady Gaga, either of which he is infinitely more receptive to than, say, his mother. (Mr. Suskind came up with the perfect name, too: not virtual assistants, but “sidekicks.”)

Mr. Mark said he envisions assistants whose help is also visual. “For example, the assistant would be able to track eye movements and help the autistic learn to look you in the eye when talking,” he said.

“See, that’s the wonderful thing about technology being able to help with some of these behaviors,” he added. “Getting results requires a lot of repetition. Humans are not patient. Machines are very, very patient.”

I asked Mr. Mark if he knew whether any of the people who worked on Siri’s language development at Apple were on the spectrum. “Well, of course, I don’t know for certain,” he said, thoughtfully. “But, when you think about it, you’ve just described half of Silicon Valley.”

Of all the worries the parent of an autistic child has, the uppermost is: Will he find love? Or even companionship? Somewhere along the line, I am learning that what gives my guy happiness is not necessarily the same as what gives me happiness. Right now, at his age, a time when humans can be a little overwhelming even for the average teenager, Siri makes Gus happy. She is his sidekick. Last night, as he was going to bed, there was this matter-of-fact exchange:

Gus: “Siri, will you marry me?”

Siri: “I’m not the marrying kind.”

Gus: “I mean, not now. I’m a kid. I mean when I’m grown up.”

Siri: “My end user agreement does not include marriage.”

Gus: “Oh, O.K.”

Gus didn’t sound too disappointed. This was useful information to have, and for me too, since it was the first time I knew that he actually thought about marriage. He turned over to go to sleep:

Gus: “Goodnight, Siri. Will you sleep well tonight?”

Siri: “I don’t need much sleep, but it’s nice of you to ask.”

Very nice."
ios  siri  apple  autism  companionship  sidekicks  audio  technology  voice  2014  judithnewman 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Lying to Ruth
"Our life together was gone, and carrying on without her was exactly that, without her. I was reminded of our friend Liz's insight after she lost her husband to melanoma. She told me she had plenty of people to do things with, but nobody to do nothing with."

[Quote comes from: http://nymag.com/news/features/cancer-peter-bach-2014-5/ ]
idleness  love  companionship  busyness  2014  nothing  slow  small  peterbach 
may 2014 by robertogreco
In this pet cemetery, the phantoms are all still waiting to please | MinnPost
"Inspecting these epitaphs, you begin to see that people’s relationships with their pets are much different from those with their human relatives. The inscriptions on these headstones seem somehow more personal, more loving, more nakedly yearning and emotional than what you typically see on human headstones. There often are thoughtful and moving elegies on human headstones, but there often is restraint.

Walking through the rows of graves at Memorial Pet Cemetery, you come across outpourings of tender devotion that you never would see expressed so freely with humans: “Faithful.” “Darling.” “Precious.” “Thank you for making us happy.” For a guide dog named Smokey: “Thank you for devoting your life to my welfare and safety.” Something about the relationship with a pet frees people to discuss their love and affection in a more unmediated, expressive way.

Many lingering questions
For all this expressiveness and great love, there also is uncertainty.

There are a lot of “?”s listed as the year of birth, as well as some educated guesses where the specifics weren’t known (“Fall 1959” ventures one). You start to understand how these animals came into their owners’ lives. An impressive many have specific dates of birth, which makes you think either the animals were well-bred, with records and certifications available, or perhaps they were part of the litter of another pet, and the owners marked the specific calendar day. But many of these pets don’t have dates of birth. If Laddie or Buddy or Freckles showed up on your doorstep, you could take them to the vet and make a guess as to their birth date, but it’s otherwise unknown.

The sadder corollary to this is that many graves don’t list dates of death. I come across a grave for Richard and Gaia, born 1955 and 1956 respectively. “Two gallant poodles,” exults the headstone. A photo of the pair is attached, but has faded and cracked into illegibility over the decades. Richard and Gaia’s parents are noted as a colonel and his wife, and immediately, I picture a post-war scene of a military man in full regalia, back from the war, driving a roadster around the suburban streets of Roseville or Richfield or Bloomington, his gallant poodles with their heads out the window, tongues wagging.

But the scene gets sadder when Gaia is considered. Richard died in 1969 at the age of 14 – not bad for a poodle – but we don’t know when Gaia died. Gaia’s date of death is left blank. What happened to Gaia? Is she buried here? Did she outlive the colonel? Did the colonel and his wife bury her elsewhere, or did they forget Gaia entirely? Did they not want to pay for the second engraving? It’s hard to know.

Gaia is not the only pet without a date of death carved into the headstone. There are other phantoms. In my rain-soaked, chill-racked brain, I begin to consider the possibility that, hmm, maybe these pets are still alive, 40 and 50 years old. Maybe they’re a little worse for wear, but still doddering across the den to their food bowls as their masters look on and smile. But I know that’s just denial of the sad fact that pets’ lives are, in human terms, short. If you have a pet as a child, it’s almost guaranteed that the pet will die many, many years before you. Maybe it’s that fleetingness that drives people’s unvarnished affection for these companions in death."
pets  relationships  2014  via:anne  death  epitaphs  companionship  andysturdevant 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Laurie Anderson's Farewell to Lou Reed | Music News | Rolling Stone
"Like many couples, we each constructed ways to be – strategies, and sometimes compromises, that would enable us to be part of a pair. Sometimes we lost a bit more than we were able to give, or gave up way too much, or felt abandoned. Sometimes we got really angry. But even when I was mad, I was never bored. We learned to forgive each other. And somehow, for 21 years, we tangled our minds and hearts together."



"Last spring, at the last minute, he received a liver transplant, which seemed to work perfectly, and he almost instantly regained his health and energy. Then that, too, began to fail, and there was no way out. But when the doctor said, "That's it. We have no more options," the only part of that Lou heard was "options" – he didn't give up until the last half-hour of his life, when he suddenly accepted it – all at once and completely. We were at home – I'd gotten him out of the hospital a few days before – and even though he was extremely weak, he insisted on going out into the bright morning light.

As meditators, we had prepared for this – how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou's as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.

At the moment, I have only the greatest happiness and I am so proud of the way he lived and died, of his incredible power and grace.

I'm sure he will come to me in my dreams and will seem to be alive again. And I am suddenly standing here by myself stunned and grateful. How strange, exciting and miraculous that we can change each other so much, love each other so much through our words and music and our real lives."
laurieanderson  loureed  partnership  companionship  marriage  life  wisdom  love  forgiveness  emotions  friendship  2013  sadness  living  happiness  grace  death  obituaries 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Three Quarters of Life » “Misao and Fukumaru” by Miyoko Ihara
"“Under the sun, everyday is a good day. Another good day, Fukumaru”, Misao. Eight years ago, Misao found a odd-eyed kitten in the shed. She named the cat “Fukumaru” in hope that “God of fuku” (good fortune) comes and everything will be smoothed like a “maru” (circle)”.

“We’ll never be apart!”, says Misao to Fukumaru. Both of them live in a tiny world, with dignity, with mutual love. Still today, under the blue sky, Misao and Fukumaro work in the fields and in these natural surroundings, where they shine like the stars.”

12 years ago, Japanese photographer, Miyoko Ihara started to take photographs of her grandmother, Misao. Born in 1981 in Chiba (Japan), Miyoko Ihara has studied under Kenji Higuchi, after graduating from the Press Photography Course at the Nippon Photography Institute in 2002. Miyoko is also a member of The Photographic Society of Japan."

[via http://www.designculturelab.org/2012/12/30/under-the-sun-everyday-is-a-good-day-another-good-day-fukumaru/ ]
whatmatters  life  nature  dignity  love  mutuallove  via:anne  animals  companionship 
december 2012 by robertogreco
My life after LulzSec: 'I feel more fulfilled without the internet' | Technology | The Observer
"Things are calmer, slower and at times, I'll admit, more dull. I do very much miss the instant companionship of online life, the innocent chatroom palaver, and the ease with which circles with similar interests can be found. Of course, there are no search terms in real life – one actually has to search. However, there is something oddly endearing about being disconnected from the digital horde.

It is not so much the sudden simplicity of daily life – as you can imagine, trivial tasks have been made much more difficult – but the feeling of being able to close my eyes without being bombarded with flashing shapes or constant buzzing sounds, which had occurred frequently since my early teens and could only be attributed to perpetual computer marathons. Sleep is now tranquil and uninterrupted and books seem far more interesting. The paranoia has certainly vanished. I can only describe this sensation as the long-awaited renewal of a previously diminished attention span."
via:anne  onlinelife  online  boredom  disconnectedness  adolescence  time  companionship  behavior  attention  slow  web  internet  offline  2012  jakedavis  anonymous  Lulzsec 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Able Parris - Moments: Ten Year Anniversary
"Below are some thoughts (in no particular order) on relationships and life in general:

Health is a luxury.
Enjoying life doesn’t require money.
You don’t have to own the house to dance naked in it.
Marry your best friend.
Treat every day special.
Be patient and listen.
Get rid of your television.
Make time for yourself, each of you.
Make time for your own friendships.
Take risks together.
Question everything.
It’s not easy to disagree with crowds, but you must think for yourself.
Photograph (or draw) everything.
Travel as much as possible.
Claim the mundane.
Listen more than you speak.
Music."
money  ownership  friendship  travel  companionship  risktaking  mundane  patience  listening  wisdom  life  time  health  relationships  2012  ableparris  marriage 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Gardens and Zoos – Blog – BERG
"So, much simpler systems that people or pets can find places in our lives as companions. Legible motives, limited behaviours and agency can illicit response, empathy and engagement from us.

We think this is rich territory for design as the things around us start to acquire means of context-awareness, computation and connectivity.

As we move from making inert tools – that we are unequivocally the users of – to companions, with behaviours that animate them – we wonder whether we should go straight from this…

Ultimately we’re interested in the potential for new forms of companion species that extend us. A favourite project for us is Natalie Jeremijenko’s “Feral Robotic Dogs” – a fantastic example of legibility, seamful-ness and BASAAP…

We need to engage with the complexity and make it open up to us.

To make evident, seamful surfaces through which we can engage with puppy-smart things."
williamsburroughs  chrisheathcote  nataliejeremijenko  companionship  simplicity  context-awareness  artificialintelligence  ai  behavior  empathy  2012  interactiondesign  interaction  internetofthings  basaap  robots  future  berglondon  berg  mattjones  design  spimes  iot 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Polaroid’s SX-70: The Art and Science of the Nearly Impossible
"We could not have known and have only just learned–perhaps mostly from children from two to five–that a new kind of relationship between people in groups is brought into being by SX-70 when the members of a group are photographing and being photographed and sharing the photographs: it turns out that buried within all of us–God knows beneath how many pregenital and Freudian and Calvinistic strata–there is latent interest in each other; there is tenderness, curiosity, excitement, affection, companionability and humor; it turns out that in this cold world where man grows distant from man, and even lovers can reach each other only briefly, that we have a yen for and a primordial competence for a quiet good-humored delight in each other: we have a prehistoric tribal competence for a non-physical, non-emotional, non-sexual satisfaction in being partners in the lonely exploration of a once empty planet."
design  technology  art  history  science  polaroid  harrymccracken  edwinland  steevejobs  apple  photography  gadgets  entrepreneurship  tinkering  invention  sx-70  relationships  people  anseladams  normanlocks  andywarhol  OneStep  kodak  consumerelectronics  electronics  instantphotography  cameras  granthamilton  2011  children  companionship 
july 2011 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read