Scroll through this selection of preliminary studies & photos of the canvas as it was worked on & completed. Pretty astonishing, & all done in about five weeks.
Category Archives: Education
The writer and teacher of creative writing James Hynes wrote a novel called The Lecturer’s Tale, a sardonic look at the life and absurdities of university teaching at the proletarian level. As a lecturer myself (at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa), I’ve been hesitant to cast my hat into the debate over the state of adjuncts – I appreciate the position I have, enjoy my department (the Institute of Peace) and feel valued there. This position also works with my schedule and the rest of my life. I teach in the evenings, online and in the summer and it allows me to keep a university affiliation that I otherwise would not have – this is important for publishing, conferences and other academic activities. They also pay me well as lecturing goes. For some the lecturership makes sense.
But the outcry is getting louder that something needs to be done about the two-tier system within academia. Seventy percent of college teaching faculty are now lecturers, which seems to signal a decline in the desire of universities to have research-producing faculty. Some lecturers soldier on and produce research seemingly against all odds.
A particularly poignant article in the New York Times depicted a lecturer who died destitute after a promising beginning to her career – she landed Visiting Assistant Professor positions, which are all too often carrots that dangle with nothing beyond them. Some are asking how the tenured and tenure-track faculty can sit by and watch the situation go on. Others say don’t blame tenured and TT faculty for the plight of adjuncts, blame admin. Fair enough. But the two-tier nature of the university system seems to ignore the fact t
hat most lecturers have the same degrees as the tenured professorate, and if they aren’t, or cannot develop into, senior members of the academic community, it is precisely because they have become the epitome of the “overworked and underpaid” cliche. As one lecturer put it: “how can I inspire my students if I’m not making it myself?”
I originally wrote this piece for my new website – Letters: The Life of the Mind – check it out!
Yes it’s a very pretentious title, but a student of mine has been asking me to write a blog on this topic, so I enlisted my friends – undisputed intellectuals – to help me come up with a list of steps, so here they are:
1. Read: Richard Nixon, when asked how to succeed, said “Read, read, read.” I wouldn’t suggest taking all of his advice but this is a good one.
2. Read seminal texts: Reading alone won’t help if what you’re reading is 50 Shades of Grey. Many reading lists are available including mine and depending on your goals they can add structure to what could be an overwhelming task.
3. In the movie The Squid and the Whale, Jeff Daniels’s character calls his wife’s boyfriend a “philistine.” His son asks what that is, and Daniels responds, pretentiously, “You know, someone who doesn’t read good books and watch great films.” Use other media to force feed knowledge into your brain: classics comics, audio books (you can’t read and drive), blinkist, documentaries, Alain de Botton’s School of Life and of course art films are all fun ways to build your knowledge base.
4. Recognize that you will never master this – it’s an ongoing process and your education is a work in progress.
5. Focus on six areas to be a general intellectual: Philosophy is first, then literature, and then in no particular order, history, art and art history, science (a cliff notes level understanding at least), and current events.
6. Mid-Pacific history teacher, former archaeologist and Low Brow Salon member Serge Avery had this to say:
students today could use a primer in how to be a thinker/critic/intellectual. My contribution is that I try (as do you) to model that in the classroom and push the students to push past their comfort zones and wade into the heavy stuff. The moment we history teachers go for the sound byte for the sake of speaking the millennial language -we’ve shortchanged them. [Prestigious American prep school Phillips] Exeter is not moving to tweeting about history-they still have Harkness discussions https://www.exeter.edu/exeter-difference/how-you’ll-learn.I like the idea of writing some sort of “thinking manifesto” for students in the 21st century-something you give to students upon entering your class or school.
Chris Lydon discussed this very topic with a Stanford proffesor who basically has a radio show salon for intellectuals called Entitled Opinions.Listen to this episode http://radioopensource.org/rene-girard/Then check out Entitled Opinions https://entitledopinions.stanford.edu/Or listen on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJB4nD4NqxE
E Ola ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi Sovereignty Symposium with Hawaiʻi County Councilmember Jennifer Ruggles, Dr. Keanu Sai and Dr. ʻUmi Perkins
Dr. Keanu Sai spoke in my course Protest under Occupation (PACE 450) in the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
This post is a guest blog from Kamehameha student Omari Kenyatta, who I think could become a new voice on the music (and perhaps music criticism) scene.
During the 80s, in the time of extravagant musical experimentation swarming the studios of Sunset Boulevard, my father worked as a producer and audio engineer for RCA Records. He worked down the hall from Diane Warren, conjuring a similar arsenal of R&B-infused hip-hop, reggae and pop records.
Today, my dad’s work is far less flashy and sensational, but he insists that his new career is far more fulfilling.
Reducing his full collection of studio furnishings to a single Squier Strat and a copy of Cubase Pro housed on a hard drive proved to be a major challenge during my dad’s move from L.A. to Oʻahu. But as far as I can remember, he always made time to sit himself down and hold a late-night jam session for one.
Naturally, as I grew older, I would learn a few tidbits of general music knowledge in passing if we weren’t talking about it together. He would always tell me that all good music has some soul about it. Being that my dad is predominately African-American and raised in a Black environment, I always assumed it meant that he preferred R&B and soul music because it sounded better. One night, when I was around 12 or 13, he made it clear that he thought of “soul music” as a concept, not a genre. He explained that making music that is original and inspired transcends all genres, and most importantly, all racial identities.
A prominent difference you’ll notice right away between my father and I is that he, unlike me, is not a rock music kind of guy. I found my first personal tastes in the primal shouts and wails of Bad Brains and Black Flag and the punching fuzz guitars of Metallica and Marilyn Manson. Meanwhile, you’ll find my dad deep in the groove of a Parliament record or nodding his head contently to his Bob Marley: Legend cassette. But being that both of us seek and study talent, musicality, and inexplicable soul anywhere it would happen to exist, you’ll also find my dad’s back collection of Green Day CDs, and the giant Maggot Brain poster hanging just above my desk.
Observing this phenomenon in my own home granted me with a unique perspective to offer when older, self-proclaimed music aficionados of yesteryear began to accuse my generation of producing an ever-growing string of cheap music, completely devoid of any thought, talent or soul. Usually these critics stand behind the generalized assumption that “pop is dead”, or, assuming that it still somewhat alive, that “today’s pop music sucks”. For me and my dad, it was simple to point out that if you were to look beyond the surface of pop music that is so obviously written to sell, you’ll find that there are big-time acts out right now who write and play with the same quality and musicianship as those who have come before.
My dad and I first came to this sort of agreement listening to a live recording of the John Mayer Trio in an attempt to stay awake through a bout of heinous H-1 evening traffic. “Gravity” booms through the compact, but surprisingly powerful subwoofer in the cab of our F-150.
Drummer Steve Jordan rocks the song slowly into full swing with a deceptively simple 4/4 backbeat. We both marvel at Jordan’s masterful inclusion of a ghost triplet on the one that seemed to warm up the entire atmosphere of the track. And then, John picks out all of six notes in a subtle blues riff, and the rest of the band fills in the rhythm groove in the back. Each note flows into the next and speaks to an intangible feeling of ecstatic melancholia that is yet to be explored by the song’s lyricism. My dad observes that the entire song is built on small, modest nuances that anyone could play in an hour, but it is the control and phrasing of these nuances that propels the song forward into soulful territory.
Is working against me
He lets individual syllables ring out and register in the mind of the listener, and sets up a powerful extended metaphor, no more than eight words at a time. His guitar chimes in its higher register in the silence between line breaks. Pino Palladino’s bass accentuates the root chord of the progression and brings the chord circle home just in time for a new musing from the narrator of the song.
Absent a chorus, a bridge-of-sorts builds tension in each new verse:
Twice as much
Ain’t twice as good
And can’t sustain
Like one half could
It’s wanting more
Itʻs gonna send me to
Leading up to a point of both maximum and tension and minimal relief during the vibrant, flighty guitar solo.
Then another verse, holding back just a bit.
And then an explosive coda that dimly brightens an otherwise completely blue auditory landscape, with just five simple words:
Home where the light is
Home where the light is
Home where the light is
Home where the light is
Repeating itself, gradually losing intensity, until everything returns to the silence from which it came.
Five minutes, five chords, one simple idea, infinitely open to personal interpretation-otherwise known as a basic formula for a fast-selling pop song. How can a few simple music theory tricks and guitar licks evolve the idea so drastically?
This can be found almost anywhere a listener dare venture, from Young the Giant to Lukas Graham. While guys like these may be far from the levels of success and viral fame enjoyed by mumble rappers and autotuned preteens, any listener with an open ear that can hear these miniscule differences can find something good within their own personal preference, including modern pop music.
Of course, at the end of the day, appreciation for any form of art is entirely personal. What separates good art from bad art is individual at its core. And what do I know? Iʻm just a kid. But if you choose to categorize an entire group, genre, or subdivision based on a few outliers that misrepresent their alignments, one could also choose to generalize a group based on their principles of good art and creativity.
Just like finding a few bad acts can easily result from actively seeking them out, finding these hidden gems can be just as easy.
Omari I.O. Kenyatta is a third-year student at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama High School, living Nānakuli, Hawaiʻi. He is the frontman and founder of alternative music project King Cave, and is currently developing a stage adaptation for Radiohead’s OK COMPUTER.