BeeEye by Cat Ashworth

went to see BeeEye at the imagine festival at rit on may 4th, 2013. it’s a wonderful video installation by my friend, artist and filmmaker cat ashworth. talking about the disappearance of honeybees, one of the beekeepers called it a “human collapse disorder” rather than a colony collapse disorder. he explained how humans have much to learn from the honeybee, which is primarily community oriented. “bees don’t have egos” he continued. he went on to discuss darwin’s theory of evolution and how it was misrepresented. survival of the fittest has become a dogma, he said, altho that’s an incorrect understanding of what darwin meant. it is the ability to adapt to and coexist with one’s environment which ensures survival, what we should call survival of the kindest, the most symbiotic. excellent videography and terrific musical score by eastman school of music professor and composer carlos sanchez-gutierrez.

BeeEye by Cat Ashworth – artist’s statement:

“The honeybee reminds us of the interconnectedness of all life. The intricate cellular structure that the honeybee makes in the hive reminds us that all things in life have a pattern. I want the audience to enter the hexagon cell and immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the honeybee.

I became interested in the honeybee in 2006, when Colony Collapse Disorder was killing off hives all over the world. First I became a beekeeper then I started filming bees and other beekeepers. I started off making a traditional documentary, but as I was editing the material, I discovered I liked just watching the abstract flight patterns the bees made. I decided to take the project in a different direction, and create an artwork that is more abstract.

Honeybees speak in a language different from humans. Much of the practice of beekeeping relies on the power of observation. I tried to keep talking at a minimum in this project, so that the audience can begin to glimpse into a life form that is very different from humans. Although humans and honeybees have had a relationship for thousands of years, the honeybee remains wild, and many of her secrets remain hidden.”

BeeEye by Cat Ashworth
BeeEye by Cat Ashworth

bidder 70 and earth day

april 22, 2013: just saw “bidder 70” a doc about environmental activist tim dechristopher’s bid to save 22,000 acres of land in utah from oil and gas extraction. he was imprisoned for disrupting an auction, even tho the auction was later determined to be illegal. he was released today, on earth day, after completing his 21 month prison sentence. bidder 70 was screened all over the country. tim is doing a Q&A right now on skype. people can ask him questions thru twitter. v cool to be a part of this historic event. tim’s interview on democracy now here.

Teilhard de Chardin’s ‘Planetary Mind’ and Our Spiritual Evolution

yesterday, on april 21st 2013, i went to see “divine milieu: the last confession of teilhard de chardin” at the space theatre in rochester. pierre teilhard de chardin (1881 – 1955) was a french philosopher and jesuit priest, a paleontologist and geologist, who spent most of his life trying to integrate religious experience with natural science, specifically christian theology with theories of evolution. he became enthralled with the possibilities for humankind, which he saw as heading for an exciting convergence of systems, a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which the universe is evolving, an “omega point” which will lead to a new state of peace and planetary unity. he saw this unity as being based upon the spirit of the earth: “the age of nations is past. the task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the earth.” in effect, he is talking about the same inter-connectedness that vandana shiva discusses in terms of food activism and the inextricability of the human-to-human and human-to-earth bond.

in his book “the phenomenon of man” teilhard talks about a collective identity which develops as trade and the transmission of ideas increases. knowledge accumulates and is transmitted in increasing levels of depth and complexity. this leads to a further augmentation of consciousness and the emergence of a thinking layer that envelops the earth. he calls the new membrane the “noosphere” (from the greek “nous,” meaning mind). the noosphere is the collective consciousness of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which all are immersed. teilhard was reprimanded, censored and condemned by the church for his ideas.

it was sad that one of the panelists who discussed the play gave the example of the multi-media manhunt for the boston bombing suspect as being representative of teilhard’s collective human network. quite the opposite. we are v far still from achieving true mind and spirit human interconnectedness. i agree with teilhard that “we have reached a crossroads in human evolution where the only road which leads forward is towards a common passion… to continue to place our hopes in a social order achieved by external violence would simply amount to our giving up all hope of carrying the spirit of the earth to its limits.”

teilhad was played by l. john cieslinski who also wrote the play. thank u to my friend Sarita for this excellent treat!

here is a wonderful podcast discussing teilhard’s work from many different perspectives.

kwame nkrumah on neocolonialism

i can deal with american obamatrons who buy msm propaganda and quote the NYT as if it were the voice of a prophet, but i really cannot abide pakistanis who see their world (and indeed themselves) based on the latest white house press release. it all fits the definition of neocolonialism to a tee:

kwame nkrumah on neocolonialism in 1965:

(1) it continues to actively control the affairs of newly independent states. (2) it is manifested through economic and monetary measures. (3) while neocolonialism may be a form of continuing control by a state’s formal colonial masters, these states may also become subjected to imperial control by new actors (the US, international financial and monetary organizations, etc). (4) conflicts are in the form of “limited wars” and neocolonial territories are often the places where these “limited wars” are waged. (5) as the ruling elite pay constant deference to their neocolonial masters, the needs of the population are often ignored, leaving issues of education, development, and poverty unresolved.


the penelopiad in toronto

2/9/2013: saw margaret atwood’s “the penelopiad,” a nightwood theatre production performed at buddies in bad times theatre, in toronto. it’s a feminist take on homer’s odyssey, in which penelope’s story becomes front and center, haunted by the shocking hanging of the 12 maids on odysseus’s return (an event that gets hardly any mention in the overall analysis of the narrative). written, directed, acted and designed by women, it’s a provocative interrogation of human “his-story.”

margaret atwood's "the penelopiad"
margaret atwood’s “the penelopiad”

last day in london

was interviewed by andrea gordon at TV apex studios in essex yesterday about my film work and activism. it was a lot of fun. in the evening we saw “the silence of the sea”, a powerful three character play about the awfulness of occupation and the doomed relationship between occupied and occupier (v true for nazi-occupied france but can people make the connection to current occupations in which they themselves are complicit?).

today “julius caesar” at the donmar (love the idea of an all female cast) and harold pinter’s “old times” with kristin scott thomas and rufus sewell. thank u to dr russell peck and his beautiful wife ruth for inviting me to be a part of this theater course. it was a once in a lifetime experience. this is professor peck’s last trip to london as a leader of this class. he’s been doing it for 23 yrs. we gave him a much deserved standing ovation (along with some chocolate cake). long live thought-provoking theater!

ruth peck, mara ahmed and russell peck
ruth peck, mara ahmed and russell peck

twelfth night and richard III

twelfth night and richard III at the apollo theatre yesterday – a transfer from shakespeare’s globe, “original practices” and all male cast, mark rylance and stephen fry, complete fidelity to the original text. simply magnificent.

Stephen Fry in Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry in Twelfth Night

sleeping beauty at sadler’s wells theatre

saw this wonderful ballet yesterday, along with two other plays. loved what matthew bourne did with sleeping beauty. he gave agency to aurora, who is an energetic and passionate young woman in love with a working class lad, leo the gamekeeper, before she ever falls asleep. half the fairies are male dancers, including the lilac fairy, and they exude more power and athleticism than leo, the prince character. it’s not the evil fairy who exacts revenge on aurora but her charismatic son, who looks like a cross between the flamboyant freddie mercury and a young antonio banderas. he also falls in love with aurora so there is this rivalry between him and leo. oh yeah, and the lilac fairy is a vampire. smashing.

feydeau’s sauce for the goose at the orange tree theatre

had lunch at the british library yesterday. the cheese cake with berry compote was delicious but not so much the quikes cheddar, tomatoes and rocket sandwich. dinner was out of this world at this small lebanese joint. i had chicken shawarma, hummus, shredded lettuce, pickled peppers with some hot sauce, wrapped in a toasted pita. yum! the play we saw was hilarious. it was feydeau’s “sauce for the goose” (le dindon) at the orange tree theater. it’s the only in-the-round theater in london. the acting was brilliant, the timing of the comedy perfect and the staging ingenious. was interested in the play’s sexual politics. altho lucienne (the female protagonist) is committed to sexual equality (if my husband cheats, so will i), it’s interesting how she’s kept chaste to the v end. she’s only trying to pretend to cheat in order to win her husband back. a clear distinction is made between a “tart” and a respectable married woman. so funny how social norms take such a long time to die.

feydeau's sauce for the goose
feydeau’s sauce for the goose

mughal india: art, culture and empire at the british library

went to see “mughal india: art, culture and empire” at the british library today. it’s an excellent exhibit of art, some objects, and a lot of books – on astronomy, medicine, mathematics, literary classics like the poetry of hafiz and saadi, pages from the shahnama and akbarnama, stunning copies of the quran, a recipe book from shah jahan’s household (how to make the best samosas and pulao) beautiful calligraphy by emperor bahadur shah and much more. i was delighted to learn that akbar’s library (some 24,000 beautifully bound books) was equal in worth to his entire stash of weaponry. loved a letter written by ghalib and enjoyed the sometimes frosty, always hypocritical, correspondence between king william III and emperor aurangzeb. didn’t like the last part of the exhibit where india’s history is relegated to the orientalist interpretations of the east india company. the most harrowing, heartbreaking exhibit is the only known photograph of the last emperor of india, bahadur shah zafar. granted the mughals were conquerors themselves and not always the most human rights oriented rulers, but bahadur shah’s personal saga is profoundly tragic.

more here.

bahadur shah zafar, the last mughal emperor of india
bahadur shah zafar, the last mughal emperor of india

strindberg today, shakepeare tomorrow

saw strindberg’s “dance of death” today at trafalgar studios. small theater. i was sitting in the front row, almost inside the set, an unwitting part of the conjugal storm exploding on stage. modernized to accommodate a strong, equally devious woman, this prelude to “who’s afraid of virginia woolf” is a vicious battle of equals. brilliantly acted by kevin mcnally, indira varma and daniel lapaine. tomorrow morning off to stratford-upon-avon for the whole day, to see “merry wives of windsor” and “the orphan of zhao.”

strindberg's dance of death
strindberg’s dance of death

by the 4th day in london…

attended sunday mass at westminster abbey this morning. have seen the mind-blowing, multi-media “experience” that’s “the master and margarita” (based on the book by bulgakov), “the magistrate” (a victorian farce with john lithgow), “a chorus of disapproval” directed by the legendary trevor nunn and my first panto today, at the royal theatre (jack and the beanstalk). whoa.

westminster abbey
westminster abbey

Renaissance to Goya: prints and drawings made in Spain

went to see this exhibit at the british museum today. was amused by a print, by one of goya’s contemporaries. the time is early 1800s, during the french occupation of spain. the print shows a “spanish patriot” defecating (literally) on napoleon’s plans for the “regeneration” of spain. he’s using a portrait of napoleon’s brother joseph, as toilet paper. lol. sounds like occupation in the name of “democratization and human rights.” plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! more about the exhibit here.


watched michael haneke’s “amour”: unflinching, unsparing, intelligent, deeply moving. it’s about marriage and debilitating old age – the dissolution of love and life and its reduction to unadorned pitiful survival. there was complete silence in the theater after the film ended. no one moved. too much to absorb, too much to feel. stunning performances by jean-louis trintignant and emmanuelle riva (the beautiful star of “hiroshima mon amour,” more than 50 yrs ago).