NPR aired a story this week about a new book out this week called The Electric Pencil. It’s a collection of 283 drawings by a man who lived, from age 17 onward, in a state hospital in Missouri. Edward Deeds, the artist, was committed to the institution after a turbulent childhood, and the researchers now believe he may have been autistic. Whatever his circumstance or diagnosis, he managed to create tremendous BEAUTY in an environment we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was not beautiful. (Not that America’s new version of mental health centers are any better–prison! Ahem.)
The interview with the man who helped publish the drawings is worth listening to, and I actually found the comment section on the piece to be a great discussion as well. What does it say about us when we appreciate, or even enjoy, art that’s been created by someone who suffered so much? Is that wrong? Or does it offer some redemption by honoring their story? NPR must have smarter commenters than the average site because it’s a relatively civil discourse that I enjoyed reading.
Hopefully you can find it at the library soon! Or it would definitely be a fascinating addition to a coffee table collection.
(P.S. These images are from Amazon and NPR.)
How convenient to have the world’s dominant language (I’m not counting number of speakers, I’m counting its everywhere-ness) be your first language. Seriously, it is a cruel joke to learn English. It is so impossible, it’s comical.
This is the stuff a teacher and his learning-to-teach-and-pondering-ELL wife sit around and marvel at on the couch at 9 p.m.
(Best read aloud with a mojito in hand, unless you’re ripe with pregnancy. Also fun to picture Donald Trump trying to read this list aloud. Except I know he isn’t a laughing matter so never mind.)
1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
2. The farm was used to produce produce.
3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10. I did not object to the object.
11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13. They were too close to the door to close it.
14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
I wish I could give credit here. No idea where it came from. A punny angel?
As my due date looms a little closer, I’ve been feeling/voicing some self-pity when it comes to the less-than-ideal birthing quarters I’m about to face in the public hospital here in Hong Kong. To be clear: I am choosing a public hospital because it’s clean, with top notch care, and it’s safe…and free, which I believe is a right and not a privilege, and one idea of many I wish America would just get behind already. It does mean I am electing to give up some serious comforts I had with my first birth in the US, such as unlimited visiting hours for my husband, or a private bathroom (sob).
But no matter how you look at it, this photo of a newborn baby, being bathed outside in a frigid and filthy Greek refugee camp, has shut me right up. I will need to stop complaining about how much congee I’m about to get served.
IDOMENI, GREECE – MARCH 6: Refugees wash a new born baby as they stay in tents that they set up in the Idomeni town in Greece, near the Macedonian border on March 6, 2016. (Photo by Iker Pastor/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)