Guest Post for the ULS, the Underground Library Society, by Sue Clancy

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Here is a wonderful guest post by Sue Clancy for the ULS, the Underground Library Society. Please visit her site: sue clancy visual stories: fine art, artist books .

 

The Art of Life

by Sue Clancy

In a world where books were illegal the two books I would memorize, attempt to smuggle out under cover of darkness and then would recite/read from until people rolled their eyes (or killed me) are: “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” and “The Art of Color And Design” by Maitland Graves.

“Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” is the collected and illustrated stories of Dr. Bob Hoke a psychiatrist who practiced what is now known as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) – basically he had the idea, developed in his Emotional Repair Program, that people have the resources and the emotional strength to resolve their own problems and create emotional growth. People do not need to wait for a savior or to wait until they feel better – there are constructive, practical, actions one can take regardless of circumstances or feelings.

When I met Dr. Bob Hoke he had constructed a series of “teaching stories” as he called them that would help people think about their ways of thinking, think about their self-talk vocabulary and the rhythms of the mundane life that they were creating – and he wanted an illustrator to illustrate them for his use during his lectures. Many years later I told him I wanted to collect them into a book. He agreed – on the condition that I make it an ebook and or a very thin small printed book – he didn’t want people to be intimidated by lots of text. So, the book is about half graphic novel style illustrations.

Dr. Bob Hoke wanted cartoon illustrations because he wanted people to laugh while they learned as he believed laughter aided learning.  At that time, I was a professional cartoonist so I took on the project.  And his concepts so revolutionized my own thinking that his concepts became foundational for my own life. Including my way of approaching fine art.

Before I met Dr. Bob Hoke I had taken art classes at my local high school.  Art was taught by Jackie Faulkner who assumed that everyone taking her art class was planning to be either a professional artist or to have art as a hobby so seriously that their art activities would be listed in their obituary.  She taught us from “The Art Of Color And Design” by Maitland Graves. The book had been originally copyrighted in 1941.

The root concept in the book is that the principles of art-making/design are the basic vocabulary of art. The principles are knowable and can be learned and practiced. The principles are not mystical or magical. An art guru is not needed.  Artist’s do not need to wait for “the muse” to strike or to wait until “feeling inspired”. There are concrete steps toward learning and practicing the principles of art that can be done by anyone regardless of circumstance or momentary feelings.   

Maitland Graves writes in his introduction “In the following pages it will be demonstrated that all art, Modern, Primitive, Classical or Oriental is built on a few simple, fundamental principles of structure. This common basis is the key to understanding. It also provides a standard of comparison that makes possible a keener perception and a more intelligent appraisal of design.”

What follows in the book are pictures that illustrate the principle concepts, guided questions and exercises – suggestions of practical, technical, things to do that will help an artist at any skill level help themselves in their own artistic growth.

Later, in college, when I met Dr. Bob Hoke and learned the concept of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I realized that Maitland Graves was – essentially – teaching Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for artists as applied to the visual arts. And the two books became bound together in my mind as essential tools for living the creative life well.

Dr. Bob Hoke says at the end of the First Aid Kit “This Emotional First Aid Program is something to “do”! It is a practical guide for creating an ongoing practice of thinking about your own thinking and creating your own regular Therapeutic Conversations with yourself! The good news about this “First Aid Kit”: When you consistently practice you will notice changes in your self and in your relationships. Start your practices in small doses and keep up your courage when you fail at first. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first! Just keep practicing.”

As it is with life so it is with art. Which is why I would memorize, smuggle and risk annoying people (or death) for the sake of these two books.

Resources:

Information about “Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” can be accessed here:

https://store.bookbaby.com//bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit
“The Art of Color and Design” by Maitland Graves, copyright 1941, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc

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Thank you once again to Sue Clancy for this post!

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A Call For Guest Posts for the ULS, The Underground Library Society

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Hello to everyone! I recently had an excellent guest post from Josh Gross, a wonderful blogger.  I am sending out a request to anyone who would like to join the ULS, the Underground Library Society, and who would like to write a guest post about it. This is an organization begun in my First Year Writing class last semester at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. When asked, my students said that they would like to have this organization continue, and I am very pleased by their sentiment. So, I hope to keep it alive in the blogging world.

If you decide to write a guest post, all that is needed is for you to choose a book you would become if we lived in a world in which books were illegal. Then, you would write a post about that book and why you would pick it to memorize. I am not saying you would actually have to memorize the book, but it is what you would do if we lived in a world of total censorship.

The ULS is a small attempt to battle censorship and book banning.

So, would any of you like to do a guest post? Please let me know.

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Guest Underground Society Post by Josh Gross

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I want to give thanks to Josh Gross for contributing this excellent post to my blog. Please be sure to check out his blog: Jaguar and Allies .

Underground Library Society Post

 

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Introduction

 

In May of this year, Dr. Charles French extended an invitation to join his Underground Library Society (ULS). The ULS began as a project for Dr. French’s English 2 class, in which students were required to create a poster and blog about a book they would memorize. In this way, they might be able to save it from censorship.

 

Dr. French’s invitation asked readers to do the same thing: make a poster and blog about a book they would memorize. I selected the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence – better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

 

While I have not constructed a poster, what follows is an essay about why I would memorize this book.

 

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence

 

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(A portrait of T. E. Lawrence, as seen in Lowell Thomas’ With Lawrence in Arabia. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

In these pages in not the history of the Arab movement, but just of what happened to me in it…It treats of daily life, mean happenings, little people. Here are no lessons for the world, no events to shake peoples. It is filled with trivial things, partly that no one mistake it for history (it is the bones from which some day a man may make history), and partly for the pleasure it gave me to recall the fellowship of the revolt (Lawrence, 2011, p. 9).

 

I first picked up the Seven Pillars of Wisdom on a whim. I had just finished reading The Outsiders by Colin Wilson, which quoted Lawrence repeatedly. Lawrence’s words struck a chord with me, so I ordered a copy of his book. I had no idea what I was getting into.

 

The Seven Pillars is the memoir of the fabled “Lawrence of Arabia,” whom Michael Korda (2010) describes as, “a scholar, an archaeologist, a writer of genius, a gifted translator…a soldier of startling originality and brilliance; an instinctive leader of men; and, above all, a hero” (p. xvi).

 

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​(T. E. Lawrence, second from right in the middle row, accompanying Emir Faisal Hussein of Mecca at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

Lawrence’s memoir chronicles his experiences in the Arab Revolt of 1916, in which the Arabic peoples rose up against the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. Little did they know, they had entrusted their fates to a far more devious power than the Turks: the British Empire.

 

The Arab Revolt was both encouraged and supported by the British. At this time, Europe was locked in the bloody stalemate of World War I – with the British and Ottomans fighting on opposite sides. The British therefore helped to instigate a rebellion of the Arabs against the Ottomans, promising to grant their ‘friends’ freedom and a sovereign state.

 

But in a real-life conspiracy, the British and French met behind closed doors; deciding to carve up the Middle East amongst themselves however they saw fit. There would be no freedom for the Arabs.

 

From the beginning, Lawrence was a firm believer in the Arab Revolt. He initially supported it indirectly as a desk-based intelligence officer in Cairo. But when the revolt began to flounder, he entered the field as a liaison between the Arabic and British armies. His time in the field makes up the bulk of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

 

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(Much of Lawrence’s sympathy for the Arabs stemmed from his Oxford days, when he worked as an archaeologist at Carchemish. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

What first struck me about the Seven Pillars, and the primary reason I would memorize it, is the sheer beauty of its prose. Lawrence wrote with more skill, passion, and care than any author I have yet found. He described the scenery of Arabia so perfectly that the hues of the desert come to life; he writes about the characters so intimately that they seem like old friends; but, most of all, he describes his own thoughts and emotions in such detail that it is impossible not to be affected by them.

 

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(Wadi Rum, shown here, was one of Lawrence’s favorite places in Arabia. Wadi Rum by Dan. CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

It is in these moments of self-disclosure that the Seven Pillars truly shines. To be fair, I disagree with many of Lawrence’s sentiments. However, that does not detract from the quality of his writing. It is also during Lawrence’s ‘deeper’ passages that the central theme of the Seven Pillars becomes apparent: that of a man torn in two.

 

Lawrence was a proud Englishman, and felt that his first duty was to his homeland. Despite this, he also believed in a free Arabia. As the Seven Pillars progresses, the incompatible drives between serving his British masters and helping his Arabic friends gradually rip him apart.

 

This is the primary reason I would choose to memorize the Seven Pillars of Wisdom: it shows what happens when one chooses to obey authority over doing what they know to be right.

 

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(​Lawrence died on the morning of May 19, 1935, following a tragic motorcycle accident. TE Lawrence Effigy Wareham Church by Julian Hutchings. CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Lawrence never recovered from the war, and neither did the world. How different would the modern age be if the Arabs had been allowed to govern themselves, instead of being turned into the colonial play-things of the British, French, and later the Americans? We will never know.

 

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom is more than a literary masterpiece. It is the story of broken promises, of failed dreams, and of a world that almost was. As Lawrence (2011) wrote:

 

I meant to make a new nation, to restore to the world a lost influence, to

give twenty millions of Semites an inspired dream-palace of their national

thoughts. So high an aim called out the inherent nobility of their minds, and made

them play a generous part in events: but when we won, it was charged against me

that British petrol royalties in Mesopotamia were become dubious, and French

colonial policy mined in the levant (p. 10).

 

I hope to preserve Lawrence’s words forever, so that the world never forgets the price of deception.

 

References

 

Korda, M. (2010). Hero: The life and legend of Lawrence of Arabia. New York, NY:

HarperCollins Publishers.

 

Lawrence, T. E. (2011). The seven pillars of wisdom: A triumph: The complete 1922 text.

Blacksburg, VA: Wilder Publications, Inc.

 

Once again, thank you to Josh Gross!

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Quotations By J.R.R. Tolkien

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“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

                                                 The Fellowship Of The Ring

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

                                                 The Fellowship Of The Ring

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

                                                 The Two Towers

 

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

                                                 The Hobbit

“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.”

                                                The Return Of The King

Quotations on Freedom of the Press

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“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose”

                                                                 George Orwell

 

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“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

                                                                Thomas Jefferson

 

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“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”

                                                                Benjamin Franklin

 

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“Let us never forget that those who oppress freedom by attacking the freedom of the press are neither patriots nor lovers of democracy.”

                                                                Charles F. French

 

Quotations by Rod Serling

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“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes -all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard, into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance. Then we become the grave diggers.”

 

“It has forever been thus: So long as men write what they think, then all of the other freedoms – all of them – may remain intact. And it is then that writing becomes a weapon of truth, an article of faith, an act of courage.”

 

“The writer’s role is to menace the public’s conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus on the issues of his time.”

 

 

Quotations on Censorship

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“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

                                                                     Ray Bradbury

 

 

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“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”

                                                                   Henry Louis Gates Jr.

 

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“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”

                                                              John F. Kennedy