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Sunday, June 21, 2015

At Cairn: Culture Care

Fujimura Institute 
Culture Care Day
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Cairn University
Chatlos Chapel
200 Manor Ave.
Langhorne, PA 19047

"Join friends of the International Arts Movement and the Fujimura Institute for an evening of lectures and performances exploring Culture Care.

"IAM founder Mako Fujimura (author, Culture Care) will host an afternoon discussion with Dr. Esther Meek (philosopher and Fujimura Institute Fellow) and Dr. Peter Candler (author and Fujimura Institute Fellow) and Marly Youmans (poet/author). The evening benefit concert will feature Danielson and The Nine-Fruit Tree, MAE, Andrew Nemr with Max ZT, Ruth Naomi Floyd, Marly Youmans, Ron Witzke, and white lotus."
My event schedule for the day, subject to lots of change as we approach the day. This is probably not the final word:
Poetry and fiction reading at 11:00
Interview, conducted by Makoto Fujimura, after lunch
4:15-5:00 p.m. I'll be joining the panel on culture care. Chatlos Chapel.
6:30-9:30 p.m. I'll kick off the benefit concert with a tiny poetry reading. Chatlos Chapel.

Strong-minded words from Makoto Fujimura:

Younger artists often ask me whether their art is "good enough," and whether they are called to be an artist. My answer is: "if you are not sure, you are not called." That may seem harsh, but the reality of the arts requires that we follow our calling no matter what others think, or even what we believe ourselves. When art is simply what we must do to stay true to ourselves, it is a calling.

It is not surprising that Emily and Vincent--and their art--were marginalized, for both intuited that such an exiled existence was the only way to remain consistent with their humanity given the cultural pressures of their time. Yet  more than a century later these two exiled souls still speak eloquently to what our hearts long for. Her poems give us words to express our own resistance to utility. His paintings offer parables of beauty that sow seeds of authentic being into our wounded, dehumanized souls. Their works are antidotes to utilitarian drive for commercial and ideological gain, remedies for the poison in the river of culture. They offer our dying culture unfading bouquets, gifts of enduring beauty that we do not want to refuse (p. 63, Culture Care.)

...who you are and what you are built to do...

from Michael Lind, at The Smart Set:
"Artless: Why do intelligent people no longer care about art?"

The fine arts don’t matter any more to most educated people. This is not a statement of opinion; it is a statement of fact...

What happened? How is it that, in only a generation or two, educated Americans went from at least pretending to know and care about the fine arts to paying no attention at all?

Our culture...


  1. If your answer to the students is a response to their second question, then that seems fair but would need much more discussion; if your same answer pertains to their first question, well, it seems hurtful and inadequate, but I probably fail to understand your comment and the context.

    1. Those are Mako's words, and I have to say that there is nobody who helps young people in the arts more than he does. That's probably why he has been asked to do so very many commencement addresses. Rah for his International Arts Movement! But they are strong words, yes.

    2. I understand. FYI, my feedback to student writers is similarly direct, clear, honest, strong, and -- yes, sometimes -- painful but thorough. No one grows stronger by being comfortable; we must all be challenged.

    3. Yes, it's right to give them the truth with clarity and kindness--well, the truth is a kindness, in the end.

    4. "if you are not sure, you are not called." In my experience, if the calling is authentic, the call will become stronger over time--and clearer. But when I was in my late teens and twenties I felt sometimes elated and sure, but more often worried and confused, partly because I had 2 strong gifts--or calls, if you will--and it took a long time to sort that out. You have to learn to listen to yourself--and to keep working while you listen and wait.

    5. Yes, becoming stronger--I think that is so, perhaps particularly in this age when people seem to take a long time to come to maturity.

      I expect that all young people drawn to the arts have a vacillation in feelings, and that continuing on the path is in part a question of remembering the light of what is "the elated and sure" in the midst of darker feelings. The quality of persistence, or of being unwilling, unable to let go, is so important at all stages of an artist's life.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.