Tag Archives: climate change

King Lear

Asbestos Arks

Asbestos Arks

KING LEAR

The day after seeing King Lear at Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Thomas Theatre, I hurried to the library and checked out three different books about the play.  Of course I’ve seen King Lear at least four or five times, but in the intimate setting of the smallest theatre on OSF’s campus I saw and heard things that I hadn’t truly understood or previously perceived.

One thing that hit home was how very dark and un-redeeming this tragedy is for virtually every character in it.  Next thing was how rift with incredible quotes from the Bard this play is.  If “Ripeness is All” (Act  5, Scene 2) we are really treated to a very dirty, gritty, smelly production this time around!

The set is dark with lots of wrought iron gates, hardware and technology features.  Center stage a “dumbwaiter from hell” serves as a map case for the bequeathed kingdom, a conveyance for darklings in the dark, a sand and fire pit and a hovel hole for hairy homelessness.  A massive staircase stretches upward into the ethereal regions of majesty and ego. It is the golden light leading to an afterlife (whom many will hope for, but few here have earned)  built straight up into the rafters.  Shadows lurk up there too and there’s plenty of noise – timpani drums and indecent, reverberating curses from fathers, and viperous verbal bites from serpent-toothed offspring and pelican daughters.  Set changes and management of props  are cleverly handled by officers in uniform who start out as roadies and techies to handle TVs and other devices, and evolve over the course of the play to security guards, Police, a full riot gear Swat Team and finally a terrifying military force.

I always try to read the Director’s notes in the Playbill before the action starts, and also I like to close my eyes when the house goes dark, and open them to a new world.  I was instantly struck by a direct reference by Director Bill Rauch to Climate Change – “Eternally relevant, this play has a renewed urgency in our current era of frightening weather extremes.  We have left intact some of the often-cut political machinations.” In this story, “sin is plated with gold” (Act 4, Scene 6) and “even dogs are obeyed in office”!

What is most important to me about theatre, and why I write reviews, is to see what we can learn about our own times and experiences from art and drama of the past . . . . Bill Rauch continues in his notes to say “ One of my all-time favorite lines is in King Lear – The Storm Rages”.  Director Rauch touches on the plight of the homeless in his note “How does the former king describe a mentally challenged homeless person groveling in the mud as “Thou art the thing itself? ”.  This production of King Lear doesn’t pull any punches.  It exposes all our folly and foolishness; no age group, class, caste, sex or group is spared, and the visceral events remind us of how close we all live on the edge by the grace of benevolent climes and with the support and love from community, good friends and families.

“Elf all my hairs!”  (Edgar, Act 2, Scene 3); I love that line!  As if all that befalls us is caused by some impish malice!  Sometimes it happens that “Age is unnecessary”. . .  (Act 2, Scene 1) and we become useless. “The young arise when the old do fall!” There is a tempest in Lear’s mind and his anger is riled when his youngest and favorite daughter does not follow suit with over-glorious (and false) praise and glorified, flowery flatteries that her two older sisters have bestowed on their father, Lear.  Lear has apportioned one third of his kingdom to each of his daughters, but ends up cursing and banishing his favorite, Cordelia, when she answered him with facts and reminders of her devotion to him, rather than making grand yet meaningless statements like her sisters.

This sets into action the tragic story of how things in families can go from so-so to bad to worst.  Halfway through I began to wonder, where is Lear’s wife? (clues in Act 3, Scene 4).  Without a mother present, the family dynamics seem to have gone completely a-rye!  The question is raised   “Is man no more than this – unaccomodated man is an animal!”.  What incestuous nonsense has transpired or just how demented are all these people?  The two older sisters prove to be quite self-serving and disloyal as the play evolves, but one must wonder, beyond the obvious jealousy of the favoritism previously showered on Cordelia by her father, that there is a huge unbalance in the mix.  I suppose inheriting the wealth and power Lear has passed on to his heirs,(pre-mortem and with plenty of hooks)  is motivation enough.  But all around, there is distrust, anger and envy.  Envy and ego make a deadly combination, and as has been said about the Seven Deadly Sins, envy is the one without redeeming gratifications of the carnal senses.

The story of King Lear is reminiscent of the Saturn and his offspring.  His “power does curtsy to his wrath”.  Is it creeping senility or Alzheimer’s that adds wind and fire to this storm?  Like Saturn, Lear is so intent on his rage that he ends up destroying the things and people dearest to him.  Saturn ate his children and Lear’s appetite for self-aggrandizement and praise unleashes all his rage and unhinges his sensibilities.  The loyal fool and angelic Kent try to pull Lear back from the brink, but his anger has blinded him even as the Earl of Gloucester is cruelly blinded.

When trust is gone, and dragons’ wrath is given rein to storm, forgetting all prior sweetness and love, lives are lost. “As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods, times plague when madmen lead the blind”.  Yet in Lear’s story, as ours, we can only look to our own misdeeds and “darker purpose” to place the blame.  Human folly is Infinite Jest.

Some say when we’re born we cry because we miss God. In this play Shakespeare states “When we are born we cry to be borne to this stage of fools”.  Quote the Fool, “Prithee, nuncle, be contented: ‘tis a naughty (wicked) night to swim in.  Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher’s heart – a small spark, all the rest on’s body cold.  Look, here comes a walking fire.”

Catie Faryl    www.catiefaryl.net     March 5, 201

 

Global Weirding, Global Warning

Art Statement

In 2006 I had this “epiphany”: People needed to stop arguing about whether Climate Change was real.

Instead of arguing about “Global Warming,” we could suspend our disbelief or zealous defense of the cause and simply call these weather and climate phenomena a more descriptive and encompassing name: GLOBAL WEIRDING!

GLOBAL WEIRDING cannot be refuted! You don’t need to believe anything, just observe what is right in front of your eyes. SEEING IS BELIEVING and the acceleration of disasters is the clearest message we have that Nature is not up for business as usual. The stakes have changed and reading our new situation is imperative.

The real challenge is to move in ways that are effective in restoring balance. Granted, it is difficult to convince people to change their habits or mitigate carbon releases into the atmosphere if they see no connection and, in effect, feel no personal power to impact or control their fate. Preaching to the choir, I showed this work to the Scientific Summit on Climate Change held at Southern Oregon University in 2007.

It was interesting to attend that conference and use the artwork for a colorful conversation starter during breaks and conversations with the scientific community. A key point of the conference was what could be done about the “gag order” that had been imposed by the Bush Administration, which had threatened to pull all grant funding from scientific studies who viewed climate change as real. Another was the problem of mainstream media, where the issue was rarely mentioned.

It’s interesting to write a current statement about my artwork. What I painted in 2006 was a forward look at what was about to happen. Truth makes a believer out of everyone, given enough time, and I feel proud to have done a small service in telescoping what I saw then in order to be just a tiny drop added to a raging torrent of publicity and activity directed at solving the problems of Global Weirding.

Catie Faryl
January 2012
Note: Beneath the image gallery is a reproduction of my original comments to this exhibition.

Hype, Holocaust, Hoax or Happening

Chasing Ice and Climate Change

On November 9th this wistful yet powerful documentary will open in theatres across the country. I had the good fortune to see it when it premiered at the Varsity Theatre in downtown Ashland last month.  James Balog took great pains to record the progression of ice melt at 25+ locations using cameras that took thousands of frames of icebergs every year from 2007 until 2011.  A scientist himself, who was initially skeptical about Climate Change and whom had doubts that the actions of humans could accelerate the phenomena so rapidly, he became curious enough to assemble a team and the financial backing to document and record what was really happening to glaciers in the Arctic, Greenland, and other locations.

 
The footage and photos are stunning and the film simply presents the evidence gathered.  If you miss the screenings at local theatres, you’ll eventually be able to watch “Chasing Ice” on television.  As an employer and substantial backer of Balog’s work, National Geographic has purchased the television rights and will be airing it soon.

 
Those of us who have studied and followed the Climate Change issue are encouraged that our Congressmen and Senators will be see Chasing Ice in the near future.  In fact the film’s website at www.chasingice.com provides a feature where you can tweet info to important leaders including President Obama, Leonardo Di Caprio, Oprah Winfrey and naysayer Senator James Inhofe.  Sadly the issue has been sorely missing from ads and debates leading up to the U.S. Presidential election.  I personally have difficulty understanding why the questions around “energy independence and jobs” aren’t being harnessed to the answers of cleaning up the environment, reducing carbon and creating more alternative power, on a grand jobs program scale!

 
Chasing Ice should be a real wake-up call to non-believers.  As a beautifully filmed visual illustration of what is happening in the life-supporting regions where polar and glacier ice reflect light back to outer space and maintain the most important cycles on the planet, the images are introduced without judgment or dialogue to convince.  It is obvious to all when Balog shows the retreat of an iceberg over a short period of time equal to the height of the Empire State Building.  Since our minds are not programmed to understand a human-caused geological change event of such massive proportions and devastating results, we are given insight into the melt zone, calving (when icebergs split off from the main mass), moulins (vertical shafts in the ice) and terrifying live action of icebergs the size of cities collapsing instantaneously into the ocean.

 
Balog has created a memory of these landscapes, which may never return.  He shows us how conclusive and irrefutable evidence is gathered.  Seeing is believing. Ice samples gathered through taking deep ice cores and analyzing the air bubbles for their carbon dioxide levels reveals the historic data, ancient records, of glacier building and melting. Findings give evidence of a 1.5 degree Farenheit increase since 1850s and a definite deterioration in air quality (as suitable for life on Earth.)

 
The accumulation of “cryoconite” which is carbon, grit and dirt blown from other areas of the world to the Arctic and other glaciers is a significant cause of more rapid ice melt, since the dark, striating colors attract more sunlight thereby speeding the melt off.  It was startling to see the patches in the ground ice and snow being literally eaten away by the nasty black sludge that has etched pools and hollows filled with what looks like the leavings of a camp fire after it’s put out with a pail of water.  As melting continues the moulins become raging torrents of water thundering out to the oceans in underground passages.  Seeing this on film is like looking into the abyss where torrents of freed and violent water cascade towards our human population centers.  One extreme and recent exploration to locate the outlet of a huge moulin is dramatically told  in “Melt Zone”, June, 2010’s National Geographic.

 
In Balog’s poetic narrative he likens his photographs of glaciers to portraits of people where both their grandeur and fragility are exposed.  He equates the vision of a collapsing glacier to an old man falling into the sea and has recaptured for us the tragic story that’s in the ice. The evocative shapes of the icebergs in confused blue puddles and the accompanying song “Before My Time” is poignant and inspiring. Balog’s lyrical closing echoes across the water and hopefully haunts us into more action – “Sometimes you get out over the horizon and you never come back.”

 
For more information please visit www.chasingice.comwww.extremeicesurvey.com (E.I.S) or read The Big Thaw articles in National Geographic magazine April and October 2011 for additional information.

 
If you would like to get involved in a regional effort please visit http://kaconjour.com/ClimateChange/RVOrganization/Organization.html

 
For information on the State of Oregon’s efforts please visit the Climate Change Portal or contact Bill Drumheller at (503) 378-4035 or (800) 221-8035