Showing posts with label beauty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beauty. Show all posts

31.10.20

All Hallows' Eve in Greenwood Cemetery and Sunset Park, Brooklyn (Special 2020 Halloween Post)

In this post, I regale you with pictures and musing from an All Hallows' Eve visit to Greenwood Cemetery and Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It was a beautiful Autumn Day and we are all cognizant of the need to physical-distance ourselves — so what better way to do that than to be outdoors in a massive cemetery?

A front lawn on a sidestreet in Sunset Park 
hosts a fortune-telling witch.

Fortune-teller Witch (Exterior Halloween Lawn Decoration)

Exploring Greenwood Cemetery on All Hallows’ Eve, I scored a handful of great photographs. Located in South Brooklyn, the cemetery is one of the oldest graveyards in the city and is a site of a Revolutionary War battle. 
@historicgreenwood is also a National Historic Landmark. My friends John and Jennifer joined me; we also went to Sunset Park, my old neighborhood. Scarfed down a torta stuffed with spicy pork at @tacoselbronco, scored a free beer from a passerby, and watched the D train come out of the tunnel on Fourth Avenue — it was a serendipitous day.

Headless gravestone sculpture of a woman in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

 
A weathered devotional statue of the Virgin Mary placed next to a gravestone in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn.A close-up detail of the face of a marble statue of the Virgin Mary in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

7.3.13

A Judgment of Beauty At West Fourth Street Station (And a Rant about Education in These United States)

     Sometimes as a teacher of college students I am ridiculed by my own students. Today I got excited about describing an aesthetic judgment of beauty I witnessed in the cavity of the West Fourth Street Station as the D train sidled into the station - I will explain what that moment was in a moment - and Olivia, a student in the front row, just flat out laughed - you know, in that one-off laugh that does not indicate joy, but rather a mean, derisive laugh (a rough form of "huh") meant to show that she could not relate to what I was saying, so her only response was not to question me why, nor to give me a chance to elaborate, but to laugh in such a way as to communicate to me and the rest of the class, "what is this man talking about?"

     Maybe there was derisive laughter from this student because beauty and the subterranean chaos of the New York City subway system did not equate in her mind with a notion of beauty, or, it seems to me, the notion of beauty, a capacity to appreciate it - albeit in the slum of the West Fourth Street Station. I felt sad and isolated in front of the class. Not because they missed my point, but I felt isolated in that way a kid feels when they have said something wrong in front of a group of adults. As if I had said the wrong thing to a group of fellow human beings - and I do not think I am over-thinking this moment. I think educators, people like me who spend lots of time in classrooms, have witnessed two critical deformations in intellectual seriousness. First, we are educated to be producers, not thinkers. What this means is that a sharing response to what is beautiful is not what we do in classrooms. Notionally, we should be doing other more important endeavors (what this other stuff is exactly I have not fully ascertained but I get the impression it is dull and prosaic). Second, in the name of entertainment, the public sphere has been dumbed down to such a point that beauty is losing its shareability. I actually had the president of the school where I work tell me and a large group of faculty members that first and foremost the students should be entertained in the classroom. Tell a joke, he said. One time during a midterm exam a student got up from her seat and gave me her test. I asked her why she had not finished it and she told me, "if you had made this class more fun I would know this stuff." I never saw her again. She dropped the class.