Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vindication -or- The Intelligence of the Intuitive

Pretty Lady would very much appreciate it if some of her readers who are expert in notions of Science and Philosophy and Linear Logic would reread this controversial post of hers, and compare it with this article which appeared today in Salon.

To refresh your memory, this is what Pretty Lady said:

In fact, it is Pretty Lady's inchoate theory that 1) deep down, we are all racist, for the very good reason that survival of the species demands that we be wary of funny-looking strangers; and 2) racism suppressed does far more damage than racism openly and cheerfully expressed. When a person is busy defending herself against charges of bigotry, however justified, this allows little energy left over for actually getting to know people, in an open, honest, organic way.
And the Scientific Report:
Admittedly, one of the greatest obstacles to a frank discussion of bias is the repugnance of prejudice. As ugly traits go, racist and bigot are right up there with pedophile and cannibal. But somehow we need to get over our puritanical revulsion with aspects of our biology that we find morally unacceptable. Being politically correct and denying the presence of unconscious bias has been shown to have its own downside. In a clever fMRI study, psychologist Jennifer Richeson has demonstrated that trying not to have inappropriate racial thoughts can actually tax brain activity and result in lesser performance on psychological tests that require maximal attention and concentration.
Pretty Lady says, hmph. Toldja so.

(With many grateful thanks to Chris, who gave her the heads up, since she is too busy today to read Salon from beginning to end.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Armchair Halloween

Dear Brucie has inspired Pretty Lady to issue a little Challenge of her own, although what with all the shipping boxes cluttering her hallway, she has no desire whatsoever to offer prizes, at least anything which requires dealing with the postal service. So your prizes will consist simply of the Joy of Sharing.

Pretty Lady's challenge: What was your favorite Halloween costume, ever?

Pretty Lady herself is divided between the time she went to the Castro as Humphrey Bogart, and the time she collected a bag full of mildly obnoxious tricks and went to a party as Puck. She is a firm believer in the Persona aspect of costume-creation--to her, a simple Concept is grossly inadequate. You will never catch Pretty Lady dressed as a Kleenex box, or a bunch of grapes. Her Puck character strolled past persons dressed as bunches of grapes, and strategically exploded firecrackers next to their silly little balloons.

One notes that Demeanor is at least as significant an element of this costume as the fact that Pretty Lady scoured the local Goodwill for as decent a suit as she could manage; indeed, the wingtips were remarkably comfortable, and serviceable for years afterward.

When creating a true Persona, it is advisable to plumb one's own soul and bone structure for elements which resonate with the desired target. In this circumstance Pretty Lady chose to emphasize both her equine jawline and a certain world-weary melancholy, inherent within her temperament. These served equally well a couple of years later, when her hair had grown out, she'd settled those perplexing gender-identity issues, and a passerby was overheard to mutter, "really does look like Scully."

But enough of that. Pretty Lady is dying to hear your stories; photos would not come amiss, either. This Halloween she is going to see Legally Blonde on Broadway, and most likely will skip the parties afterward.

Monday, October 29, 2007

It Does Not Matter That He Loves You

To the lady who wrote this letter, and to every other lady out there whose husband/significant other/lover regularly sleeps with other women, makes passes at your sister, declares that he Cannot Be Monogamous, will not address his drinking problem, his anger problem, his money problem, his misanthropy, or his habit of saying creatively and unwontedly cruel things to you in a casual tone of voice:

It does not matter that he loves you. Pretty Lady is certain that he does, in fact, love you, to the best of his limited ability. It does not matter. Do you hear? It does not matter.

Pretty Lady is certain that you love this man. She is certain that you are kind, and patient, and understanding, and forgiving. She is certain that you are doing the best that you can. She is certain that you are committed, and Not Being Selfish, and that you are thinking of the children, and that you were happy once upon a time. She is certain that you would do whatever it takes to help your partner heal.

She asks you to consider this: that when your partner makes a pass at your sister, does not come home, wastes your hard-earned money on a random binge, totals the car, tells you that he's not sure that he's attracted to you, screams at you for stupid reasons, neglects to do a small thing that would cost him nothing and make you happy--he's fine with that.

It does not matter that he loves you. He is fine, I say, with hurting you. Seeing your tears is an eminently endurable exercise for him. It hurts you more than it hurts him. You are committed to his healing; he is committed to your pain. He regards your misery as a necessary, if regrettable, price to pay for living. It does not matter that he loves you.

Possibly he cares that he is hurting you; he does not care enough. He has no motivation to change. It does not matter that he loves you.

Do you understand what I am saying?

There is a place where love is not misery; where you do not have to hold your breath and flinch away from the next words coming. Where you do not have to wonder--where is he? What is he doing now? When will he betray me next? How strong do I have to be?

There is a place where you can breathe, where you do not close your eyes against the awful morning, where love is all laughter and trust and silly snuggles. There is a time when the other shoe never drops. There is a world where you can look around you in joy, without watching your back.

There is a place you will be safe.

That place is not with him. It will never be with him. It does not matter that he loves you.

Please Listen and Pass Along

This lecture on corruption by Lawrence Lessig is well worth the time spent to listen to it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Passion at the Opera

Well! Pretty Lady is mildly bemused to report that, contrary to lifelong precedent, she has today created somewhat of a Public Scene. She screamed, to tell the truth, at a Total Stranger. Moreover, she was not cut off in traffic; she was not given an Unjust Citation; she was not subject to physical violence of any kind, nor were any of her loved ones. No, the person who aroused the sudden Flaming Ire, such that Pretty Lady did not know she possessed, was a mere, diminutive opera director.

It is not that Pretty Lady is such an extreme fan of opera, as an art form. Just yesterday she was explaining to her Gentleman Friend that she is more inclined to change the station during Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, than not. Opera in general strikes her as unduly pompous, schmaltzy and Over The Top.

This does not mean that she has no respect for opera singers, however. The discipline and training required to achieve proficiency in the genre absolutely commands it. A lady or gentleman capable of rendering an aria with grace, clarity and projection is not an individual who one day decided to open his or her mouth and bray; this person, at a bare minimum, has dedicated a decade or two to study and practice, and the concomitant sacrifices thereof. Such a person is, by definition, a Professional.

And Professionals, to Pretty Lady's mind, deserve to be treated professionally.

It does not matter, then, if a hypothetical opera company is operating on a shoestring. It does not matter if the auditorium is furnished with folding chairs and the occasional dumpster-picked sofa. It is immaterial if the entirety of the stage design consists of three lame Powerpoint slides and seven floodlights. As Pretty Lady knows, it is possible to do a great deal of Art on no budget at all; one merely has to be Ingenious and Resourceful.

Thus it is thoroughly, criminally inexcusable for an opera director to produce a pivotal scene wherein the hero sings his dungeon aria--not in chiaroscuro, not in Dramatic Shadow, not in Dim Spotlight--but in utter pitch darkness. In pitch darkness sings the hero, invisible, while seven floodlights brightly illuminate a swath of bare floor in front of him. In illegible, invisible, inscrutable pitch darkness perform three of the main characters, for twenty-five minutes, until the villain comes along, with the self-serving ingenuity to illuminate his own face with a flashlight.

This, friends, is not simply a Risky Choice. This is not a Creative Blunder. This is not explainable by Youthful Ignorance. This is the sort of pigheadedly stupid directorial decision that only arises out of lifelong wilful jack-assery.

For no human being who has ever seen a play in a theatre, let alone an opera at the Met, let alone a high-school musical, would think it apt to render his performers invisible while expending all available wattage upon forty square feet of naked masonite. No human being who possesses the faculty of sight, that is.

Pretty Lady is well aware that some unfortunate humans do not possess this faculty; she does not fault them for it. However, when a person sets himself responsible for a group, and leads that group into a vulnerable position, it is that person's obligation to acknowledge his or her weaknesses, and accomodate those weaknesses in some way, by requesting assistance.

This opera director, Pretty Lady knows for certain, is surrounded by professionals. He has a his command an entire orchestra, two conductors, and a chorus of excellent opera singers, all working for cheap or free. He is in continuous contact with one theatre director and a couple of techies.

The only way that he could possibly have perpetrated such an egregious blunder, then, is if he has made a habit of categorically rejecting all input from all professionals on a subject he knows nothing about. Period.

This is why Pretty Lady felt no compunction about buttonholing this alleged director after the performance and reaming him a new one. She did not Hold Back; she displayed none of her signature Tact and Diplomacy. She dwelt at length upon lack of professionalism, wilful ignorance, and the egoistic asininity of such. She dismissed outright any attempt at plea by poverty. She concluded with a strong statement to the effect that this fool of a director had grossly insulted his own excellent performers, and bid him a curt good-day.

For, dear friends, today the issue is Opera; yesterday and tomorrow the issue is War and Conflagration. A person, she maintains, who has the careers, lives, safety and well-being of others at his disposal is not justified in maintaining a state of pigheaded Denial about his own shortcomings at their expense. A performer is dependent upon a director to light his laboring figure as effectively as possible, within available means; a soldier, a student, a child is equally dependent upon the wise allocation of resources by his own Dear Leader. Dear Leaders everywhere would do well to recall this.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Egregious Mr. Finch

Darling Charlie! Pretty Lady is so grateful! Here she had been meaning and meaning to write a pretty little screed one day, all about thrilling, difficult topics like Spite and Ego, and just never getting around to it. And Charlie-poo goes and provides the perfect Timely Example! Oh, Pretty Lady could just kiss him.

What’s "fun" about the art blogs is how conformist, reactionary, redundant and self-referential they are, the Sam Brownbacks of the art world. Tyler Green sucks up to every curator on the planet, and I wish him well on his world tour of speaking engagements at obscure museums, cashing his money orders at the bus station.

Have you ever been to blogger Ed Winkleman’s gallery on 27th Street? I hear there is a valuable prize awaiting the first recorded visitor: you get to meet Dinky Winky in the flesh or at least register for a random drawing to win email privileges. Militant Art Bitch is the Elizabeth Dole of the fogosphere, a kind of bastard outta Carolina, and ArtFagCity trolls YouTube a little slower than your random teen at the mall. Art critic Regina Hackett has a cute self-portrait on her site, "Sleepless in Seattle." They all refer and link to each other, in a heated circle-jerk, since their primary audience is themselves.

Oh, Charlie-poo, you cutie-pie. You just couldn't have done any better! Ten points!
1) extraordinary in some bad way; glaring; flagrant: an egregious mistake; an egregious liar.
gross, outrageous, notorious.

1) a malicious, usually petty, desire to harm, annoy, frustrate, or humiliate another person; bitter ill will; malice.
2) a particular instance of such an attitude or action; grudge.
3) Obsolete something that causes vexation; annoyance.

Poor little Charlie-poo. Pretty Lady's heart just bleeds for him.

For could it not be more obvious, darlings, that Charlie is throwing a tantrum at having been left out of the sandbox? The little tyke is so jealous! So jealous that he has thrown prudence to the winds, and has allowed the essential petty egotism of his character to flail flagrantly in the wind. In his haste and his fury, frothing at the mouth, Charlie-poo has not even bothered to put together a set of cohesive, factual paragraphs, but has lost control of the English language in an orgy of inept name-calling.

Note, darlings, the absence of convincing rhetoric within the Chas-man's periods; the manner in which he utterly fails to provide supporting evidence for his assertions. Verily, it is evident that Finchy-pie is upset about something. Privately, Pretty Lady suspects that Charlie got his knickers in a twist by a comment or fifty made by Edna, once upon a time. This is perfectly understandable. But why is the poor ranting fellow going after everybody else as well?

Well, it seems to Pretty Lady that Charlie feels his territory is threatened. And rightly so. Many of us, including, sadly, Pretty Lady, don't bother to read what Charlie has to say anymore, when we have the perceptive, eclectic, ruminative, insightful words of dear Edward, and Tyler, and Deborah, and Chris and all to peruse.

The fact is, darlings, that Charlie himself has made it perfectly obvious why Art Readers everywhere have decamped and gone on to more erudite climes. Nobody wants to play with a spoiled four-year old, and that is what Charlie's own words have forcefully proclaimed him to be.

And this sordid little incident fully illustrates the truth Pretty Lady has been biting her lips upon, lo these many months; that persons who continuously make unprovoked pejorative comments about others are revealing far more about their own characters, than the characters of the persons they profess to critique. In laymen's terms, this is called 'projection.' Pretty Lady is astonished at the manner that certain persons seem unable to grasp the lack of wisdom in their actions; at times, she is even tempted to consider that the perpetrators of such behavior are Not Very Bright. If they were, surely they would learn to shut the hell up.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Fetishization of Language

Our friend the redoubtable critic, J.T.D. Neil, has drawn our attention to a serious problem of old-fuddy-duddy-ism in the Art World, of which Pretty Lady was previously unaware:

...some find it difficult to understand why painting remains the pinnacle of art world fetish item that it is, and this look into the way that Freud works with his models offers the uninitiated an very rare glimpse of the kinds of time and effort that many painters (though, of course, not all) require to produce their work. ...Of course this is not meant as a defense of the fetish; it is only meant to point out how painters paint, and why there is much wrapped up in that activity that few viewers or collectors of art ever understand.
Gracious. One wonders how Mr. Neil justifies his own indefensible practice of fetishizing the written word, in his work as a critic. Certainly in these contemporary times, the practice of communication through language is archaic and passé; it is only an irrational, reactionary cultural gestalt that keeps people buying newspapers, books, magazines, and reading the occasional blog or Internet news item. A critic truly worth his salt would find a more modern method of conveying his ideas--perhaps through interpretive movement, or food.

A Tip for Serious Art Dealers

Psssst! Yoo-hoo! Mister and Ms. Serious Art Dealer! Pretty Lady has some Exclusive Advice for your very own sophisticated, wise, avant-garde ear. She has a Tip for the Knowing. That Tip is: Art Bloggers. Art Bloggers are Where It's At, Up and Coming, and Sustainable for the Long Haul. Art Bloggers are a Sound Investment.

Now, Pretty Lady is not giving you this advice from mere narcissistic Self Interest, no sirree. This is a deeply considered, experiential opinion, backed by both Theory and Practice.

You see, Pretty Lady has once been a Dealer herself; she knows all about what it is like to work with promising Young Geniuses. She has, personally, represented talented young people who forgot to bring half of their show to the gallery on the day before the opening, and forgot to give her a price list, and when Pretty Lady found an interested buyer, insisted on a price five times as high as what was remotely realistic. She has worked with tantrum-throwers, liars, self-aggrandizing narcissists, and vulgar thieves. She has worked with Charming Extroverts who lacked a shred of talent or self-discipline.

And Pretty Lady is here to tell you that you do not want to work with these people. Not if you want to spend your golden years in a state of health, sanity and financial solvency. What you want, my dear beloved visionary impresario, is to build yourself a stable of brilliant, deep, dynamic, creative, visionary and reliable artists.

You may protest. You may say, to yourself and to Posterity, "Reliability is so pedestrian! So boring! So je ne sais rien! Reliability obviates the Fire, the Youth, the Risk and the Glamour of association with the capricious World of Art! Do not talk to me of Reliable. Are you trying to make me into a mere Shopkeeper?"

Not at all. For it is Pretty Lady's fiery, dynamic, visionary opinion that Reliability and Creativity are not polar opposites, but rather twins who were separated at birth, or at least in myth. And fortunately for you, the medium of Art Blogging gives you, my entrepreneurial friend, a simple and substantive Litmus Test for discovering artists who possess both depth and staying power.

Think of it! An Artist who Blogs is, of necessity, literate, competent and responsible. This person is capable of organizing his or her thoughts in a more or less cohesive manner, and implementing them upon an interactive New Medium. He or she Shows Up in public upon a regular basis; he or she is Available for Conversation, in a creative and charismatic manner which is bound to impress your patrons.

And, as Pretty Lady is empirically discovering, Art Bloggers ship their work on time, and send Pretty Lady emails and tracking information to let her know when the package will arrive. They do their own publicity. They offer to help with hanging, and bring their own tools. They Communicate. They have not yet thrown one single irrational, narcissistic tantrum among them.

Art Bloggers Rock.

And, as you can see from this handy template, they are phenomenally gifted, in a wide range of styles and media. So you, dear Dealer, do not have to sacrifice Personal Vision for the sake of Stability; you may go right to the source and select an Art Blogger who fits your own Artist Family!

But you had better get in there quickly, or all the other dealers will snap up these paragons before you, and you will lose your glamorous space in Chelsea, and have to move to Newark, which will never gentrify, not in your lifetime.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Toot, toot

Somebody got a massage from Pretty Lady last week, and this is what she has to say about it:

she totally rocked my socks. i shit you not that i really can feel the energy work aspect of what she does - at least it really seems that way. regardless, she is great at massage and somehow manages to be so therapeutic without being painful, and anything that's a little painful is brief and followed up by something relaxing so it's all good.
Pretty Lady told you so. ;-)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Folk heroine

A new breed of vigilante is brewing in the hinterland:

Who among us has not longed for a hammer in this age of incompetent "customer service representatives," of nimrods reading from a script at some 800-number location, of crumbs-in-their-beards plumbing installation people who tell you they'll grace you with their presence between 12 and 3, only never to show? And you'll call and call and finally some outsourced representative slings a dart at a calendar and tells you another guy will come back between 10 and 2 next Thursday? And when this guy comes, pants halfway down his behind, he'll tell you he brought the wrong part?

And there is nothing, nothing you can do.

Until there! On the horizon! It's Hammer Woman, avenger of oppressed cable subscribers everywhere! (Cue galloping "Lone Ranger" theme.)

"I scared the tar out of some people, at least," she says. "It had never occurred to me to take a hammer to a phone company before, but I was just so upset. ... After I hit the keyboard, I turned to this blonde who had been there the previous Friday, the one who told me to wait for the manager, and I said, 'NOW do I have your attention?' "

Pretty Lady, uncharacteristically, can think of nothing to add.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fun with Foyers

One of the reasons that Pretty Lady is so very fond of her Gentleman Friend is that he combines, within his character, equal elements of both Fun and Pragmatism. He is neither an Idle Dreamer nor a Humorless Workaholic, but rather a 'Let's Do It!' sort of fellow. Thus, when he states, 'It would be easy to install a track light in your studio,' he goes to the electrical supply shop that afternoon, and has Pretty Lady's studio gorgeously illuminated by sundown. Instead of saying, a year later, like so many others, 'It would be easy to install a track light in your studio...'.

So it is that Pretty Lady and her G.F. are already well on the way to transforming their formerly dismal and cluttered Stairwell Storage Area into an Indoor Art Garden, complete with waterfall.

Most of the plants that Pretty Lady potted yesterday are of the 'medium, filtered light' to 'low light' variety; it remains to be seen whether the skylight is sufficient, or whether artificial supplementation will be required. Having a G.F. to whom electrical wiring is No Big Deal gives Pretty Lady such a cozy, secure feeling!

How lovely it is, also, to have downstairs neighbors who do not object to having their foyer overtaken by art and bicycles. In fact, the Japanese lady spent all day Sunday helping Pretty Lady clean the hallway, and enthusiastically agreed to store several paintings on her walls. The column in the right hand corner is on generous loan from the wondrous artist Danonymous, a.k.a. Daniel Scheffer; if Pretty Lady gets her way, someday it will have a light source inside of it.

But the Crowning Glory is to be the Actual Running Fountain, installed in the area where Pretty Lady's portfolio is awaiting transport to air-controlled storage; the G.F. ordered the pump last night. Then, a trip upstate to collect with concrete...and then--dare we say it--orchids?

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again

Hello darlings, Pretty Lady is terribly sorry to be neglecting you. But it is time for her Autumn Fast, and she is wont to be a Bit Testy at times. Though this year is better than last, since she and her Gentleman Friend have been engaging in all sorts of Nesting behaviors, such as trolling antique stores, and the electrical aisle at Home Depot, which always puts her in a cheery mood.

Also, this priceless tidbit has given her quite the belly laugh:

[Hitchens] had just told us in strong terms about the failures of religion and its detrimental effect on our culture, and now he was explaining to us how the solution in the Middle East was to simply kill everyone who disagreed with you. He didn't relate the two parts of his talk, which was unfortunate.

...while I agree with his goal of working towards a rational, secular world, a triumph of enlightenment values, I disagree entirely with his proposed strategy, which seems to involve putting a bullet through every god-haunted brain.
What has Pretty Lady been telling you dears, about the Evolution of Moral Reasoning?

For this adorable little tandem of diatribes makes it crystal clear that a person's literal beliefs, or lack thereof, have nothing to do with the mode of reasoning, or similar lack thereof, used to arrive at them.

In the case of the redoubtable Mr. Hitchens, we have our Classic Case Study of the Stage One Moral Mind, better known as the Malignant Narcissist Pitching a Tantrum. Whether he screams 'Reason!' or 'Satan!' or 'Me me me me me!' as the fundamental tenet of his alleged belief system, matters not a whit. It is, simply, All About Him. This type of person is incapable of perceiving the separate existence or fundamental value of beings outside his own tiny, contracted, underdeveloped ego-mind.

Thankfully, a sizeable majority of human beings outgrow this stage once they move past the Terrible Twos. However, if a person remains mired in this psychospiritual mindset through adulthood, little short of Divine Revelation--with attendant lightening bolts--will alter his or her perceptions. Fortunately, this sort of thing happens with epidemic frequency. Which Should Tell You.

(It should be farther noted that mere intellectual capacity has no bearing whatsoever upon a person's level of moral development. Obviously our friend Mr. Hitchens is possessed of sufficient native wit to have acquired a book contract and numerous speaking engagements, and even goes potty all by himself.)

Our dear befuddled PZ, on the other hand, exemplifies the Stage Three Moral Mind, otherwise known as the Mostly Harmless Skeptic. He has, willy-nilly, absorbed the moral Rule Book of the Stage Two set, and is now confidently Striding Forth in his opinions, far enough to question the notion that the Rule Book was Divinely Inspired. However, he does not go so far as to pitch the rules out the window; thus the notion of systemic genocide makes the dear man a wee bit uncomfortable. When such individuals as PZ are in charge, things may go Horribly Wrong, but not usually because of wilfully Malicious Intent. These boys do their honest best with the tools at their disposal, and Pretty Lady honors them for it.

(For Pretty Lady's views on Stage Four Moral Reasoning, please see the rest of her archives.)

What Pretty Lady hopes is crystal clear, however, is that the notion that one may control one's environmental circumstances, including the behavior of others, solely through the machinations of one's ego-self is the TRULY irrational position. Reason is a splendid thing; would that more of us, including scientists, would apply it.

Live and In Person

If any of you darlings would like to meet Pretty lady in person, you may drop by The Blogger Show at Agni Gallery on the lower East Side, next month. The reception is on Saturday, November 3, 6-9 PM, if you enjoy that sort of thing, which Pretty Lady doesn't, particularly. So if you would like to meet Pretty Lady all sweaty and giving orders and fussing about placement, come by the gallery on Thursday or Friday between 11:30 and 5 for a chat, while she is hanging the show. Pretty please. You can help!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Website Complete

Pretty Lady's author has finished revamping her website. After much pulling out of hair, she dispensed with the cascading style sheets and flow formatting, and opted for Extreme Simplicity.

If there is a web designer out there who happens to think her website looks like 'a mom and pop shop,' he is welcome to re-code it for free, upload it to a sample site and submit to her criticism of his design capabilities. If he is not willing to do this, he may please keep his opinions to himself. Thank you.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Well, is hitting it out of the park today. What a lovely deconstruction of the Cardinal Flaw in modern environmentalist thinking:

A new politics requires a new mood, one appropriate for the world we hope to create. It should be a mood of gratitude, joy, and pride, not sadness, fear, and regret. A politics of overcoming will trigger feelings of joy rather than sadness, control rather than fatalism, and gratitude rather than resentment. If we are grateful to be alive, then we must also be grateful that our ancestors overcame. It is thanks to them and the world that made them possible that we live....

If popular psychological wisdom has it that you have to love yourself before you can love another, my story suggests that you have to love life before you can care about anything. The wager is that, to some small but irreducible extent, one must be enamored with existence and occasionally even enchanted in the face of it in order to be capable of donating some of one's scarce mortal resources to the service of others."
It makes Pretty Lady shudder, the number of progressive, conscientious environmentalists she meets who seem to feel hatred and shame at the very fact that They Exist. Their lives are a constant state of handwringing at 'reducing their footprint,' and Unending Guilt at daring to wish to selfishly procreate.

Pretty Lady would like to tell these people, sternly, to stop it at once. Joy and gratitude are contagious and highly motivating; Guilt and Shame are the opposite. If you wish to Save the Planet, the best, and possibly the only, method is to Love the Planet, starting with your very own self. After all, you are part of it.

In Praise of Common Sense

Heaven forfend that anybody should accuse Pretty Lady of being neurotic, controlling, hypersensitive, or a hypochondriac. But gracious. She could have told you this:

Children shouldn't use cellphones. No one should drink diet sodas sweetened with aspartame. And think twice before getting X-rayed with a CAT scan except in a bona fide life-threatening emergency.
In addition, most commercial cleaning products are enormously and unnecessarily toxic; Pretty Lady could have told you that, from the age of six, when she used to get a dizzy, nauseated, sick headache, sore lungs, and inflamed nasal passages every time she cleaned the bathroom. One may get one's bathroom perfectly clean with castile soap, baking soda and lavender oil, and it smells infinitely better than Comet.

Pretty Lady does not, truly, understand why or how modern humans have become so divorced from their basic, animal common sense. Surely that creepy, numbing, plasticky flavor in a diet soda would Tip One Off that aspartame is Not Fit for Human Consumption; it is like drinking liquified nerve gas. Why is it that we sit around, in the manner of domesticated cattle, guzzling this swill until a government employee tells us, thirty or forty years after the first anorectic teenager dies horribly of aspartame poisoning, 'Oh, BTW, that stuff's toxic.'

And why, when we are so all-fired worried about cancer, do we endure the chronic signals of our animal intuition as regards smaller discomforts, such as headaches, backaches, stomachaches, bloating, sniffling, sneezing, intestinal complications, accelerated heartbeat, insomnia and shortness of breath? Friends, these symptoms mean something. They are one's body sending the signal, "That's Bad Stuff out there. We are eating and drinking and breathing Bad Stuff. I've Got It Covered, for now, but couldja ease up for a bit? This ain't easy."

Extravagant Socialization

For all of you darlings who are wildly curious as to how Pretty Lady spends her evenings in the glamourous city, Chris has kindly written a most detailed description of artistic debauchery:

Then an amazing thing happened. The piece became interactive. We all began to talk -- something nearly impossible at most noisy Chelsea openings -- and discuss the exposed details. One person noticed that the rusty ironwork poking through the brick was the support for the fire escape outside the window. We all speculated on why the brick was black on the side facing us (tar for waterproofing was our best guess). We talked about the history of New York City and the neighborhoods we'd seen change. Joe and his friend Vince spoke in shocked tones about how different Central Park North was even in the few years Joe had lived there; I myself was surprised because the area was one of the triumvirate of fabled Bad Neighborhoods of my youth -- Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and the South Bronx. Another visitor told me how even the South Bronx is being gentrified, which is a little like hearing that Disney's opened a new park in Antarctica. And speaking of Disney, we lamented the loss of Times Square to Disneyfication. Then, emboldened by her consumption of one lukewarm can of Budweiser, Stephanie did a balance beam routine on the exposed joist, but didn't do any flips despite our encouragement.
Pssst: there's a photo of Pretty Lady and her Gentleman Friend at the bottom.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Please Read This Blog

Pretty Lady is agog! This lovely lady has certainly captured her attention. She has a feeling that many mysteries are about to be revealed.

Friday, October 05, 2007

How to Know a False Prophet

Pretty Lady feels so blessed. So many of her dear friends are so concerned for her immortal soul! Every time she enters into a rousing discussion of faith, metaphysics, miracles and the Holy Spirit, some kind person is certain to warn her about False Prophets. And how correct they are to do so! False Prophets abound; one can, in fact, find them upon every street corner.

The essence of the quarrel Pretty Lady has with her friends, however, is to the mode one uses to recognize these pretenders to the Holy Word. Pretty Lady, as her intimates have cause to know, can be Irritatingly Abstract. She has a dangerous tendency to jettison simple litmus tests, such as Bible=Word Of God; Anything Else=Suspect, in favor of methods which, no doubt, appear to her friends to be Murky and Labyrinthine. So, in the hopes of putting some minds to rest (or possibly into a state of High Alert), she will outline her particular and experiential standards for determining whether an apparent miracle-worker is all she cracks herself up to be.

1) A False Prophet will appeal to the Ego.

Pretty Lady in no way means to demean the profession of street-corner psychic when she presents the following, purely hypothetical, case study. Street-corner psychics have their livings to earn like everybody else does, and like other professionals, their skills are obtained by a combination of Talent, Study and Drive. The practice of street-corner divination is not, in and of itself, more inherently destructive than the practice of law. It is all in how the talent is applied.

However, Pretty Lady picks this particular hypothetical case study in order to underscore the fact that mere pyrotechnics of divination, transpersonal perspicacity, and metaphysical understanding in no way indicate that a person's motives are genuinely transcendent.

For Pretty Lady has met many a street-corner psychic whose powers of clairvoyance are undoubtedly genuine. These persons spout off reams of Actual Facts, for which they could have no direct physical source of knowledge, with the ease and rapidity of a person falling off a log. They put their fingers squarely upon each specific psychological button necessary to bring their client into a state of thrall, and nearly to the verge of tears.

Then they matter-of-factly declared that they can solve everything, for the bargain-basement price of $200 plus tax.

Before encountering this gigantic Red Flag, however, there are usually subtler signs that a person is using a flamboyant psychic talent for motives baser than that of Universal Peace. Flattery need not be insincere to be manipulative; it need merely be divisive. A person who declares, 'Wow! You're really wonderful!' may be perfectly fine. A person who declares, 'Wow! You're So Superior to those other people over there! You deserve your due!' bears watching.

2) A False Prophet will prey upon your fears.

In Pretty Lady's experience, a cardinal mark of the Holy Spirit is the simple message, verbal or otherwise: Have No Fear. Telling one's flock, 'There are tons of things to be afraid of out there, but I will save you!' is not at all the same thing.

So when this purely hypothetical street psychic explains that there is a Mark upon you, a dark one, of someone else's jealousy, envy, dislike or competitive sabotage, and that there is an Urgent Need for you to Defend Yourself against this darkness, be very, very wary.

(Pretty Lady notes that, in the abstract, an appeal to the Ego is, in effect, an appeal to fear. For the Ego is the manifestation of the divided Self, at war with everything around it. Fear is the Ego's source of sustenance. You cannot have one without the other.)

3) A False Prophet will have a Hidden Agenda.

Or not so hidden; see above. Pretty Lady has heard tell of psychics who charged upwards of $900 for removal of the Dark Mark. Anyone who has an obvious vested interest in extorting money, status, recognition or sexual favors out of buttering you up and cosseting your fears is likely to be wholly Wallowing in Ego.

4) A False Prophet will tell lies.

Friends, it is time we came to understand the difference between a Lie, a Parable, and a Metaphor. A Lie is a deliberate falsehood, encompassing the misrepresentation of action, object, characteristic or motive, told in order to conceal an agenda. The true motive for this behavior is always to protect and aggrandize the Ego, at the ongoing expense of others.

A Parable, on the other hand, is a story told in order to make a larger point, having nothing to do with a particular Ego, per se. It may not be literally true in all its particulars, but the particulars are subservient to the overarching Message of the communication.

Similarly, a Metaphor is a metaphor. Basic English education is in a sad state of decline, when so many fail to understand this point.

5) A False Prophet will engage in Self-Martyrdom.

It is time to put a stop to this ridiculous notion that Ego-aggrandizement is wholly signified by worldly elevation of self. It may be just as thoroughly indicated by worldly debasement of self. A person who slashes her own wrists, metaphorically speaking, on your behalf and then declares, 'See? I bleed!' is engaging in a manipulative tactic every bit as destructive as those who stampede over other people's farmland, pillaging as they go.

True prophets have, frequently, been publically, dramatically and unjustly brutalized. But they tend not to whine about it, and they tend not to blackmail you with it. They also tend not to do it to themselves on purpose.

By these standards, evidently, it is a wonder that there are any True Prophets at all. In Pretty Lady's view, however, the wonder and the paradox of it is that the Holy Spirit may speak through any of us at any time, not being pinioned, by definition, to Ego. So how may one recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit?

So simple, darlings. The Holy Spirit is calm, disinterested, and loving.

(Disinterested: having no personal stake in the situation; impartial. Pretty Lady is royally fed up with hearing this term misused.)

It has been Pretty Lady's experience that the voice of the Holy Spirit can be astonishingly simple and literal; so literal that we often miss it. A dear and holy friend of Pretty Lady's once prayed to Jesus Christ for some guidance regarding her place of employment; she was becoming weary and bored, and uncertain of why she should continue there. She asked, very specifically, "Tell me why I'm here."

At work that day, a co-worker walked up to Pretty Lady's friend and declared, apropos of nothing, "I'm the reason you're here. I'm a mess, I've got a lot to work on, and you're really helping me."

Four hours later, Pretty Lady's friend realized--well, duh.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Chris Rywalt is bored! The horror! Darlings, this is what happens in today's modern Cubicle Culture. This is the root of all Flame Wars. Quick, something Interesting and Stimulating, and potentially Controversial!

Well, Pretty Lady will desperately hurl herself into the breach, by committing the inexcusible faux pas of quoting herself. She takes as her text the letter she wrote today to dear Richard Dawkins, who has embroiled himself in a bit of controversy of late.

(It has been Pretty Lady's historical habit to treat social retardation, in general, with a certain amount of Denial, Forbearance, and Compensation. But the dear man was becoming so agitated, and was inciting so many other persons to similar clueless nonsense, that Pretty Lady at last decided to intervene.)

Ritchie! Ritchie honey! Yoo hoo!

I very much hate to break it to you, darling, but you are embarrassing yourself. You have failed, dear, to pick up on the all-important Social Subtext of the theological situation.

For of course, darling, you grew up in the Anglican church. And to anyone with a smidge of social sensibility, it is perfectly obvious that Anglicans are hypocrites.

Yes, darling, it's true. Nobody really believes all that 'God created the world in seven days' and 'God will send you to hell if you're bad' business. Otherwise the Bishop wouldn't be so free with the Jack Daniels in the evenings. However, it does not follow that these stories are fantasies with no purpose.

You see, Ritchie, all these literal stories are what we tell seven-year-olds to make them behave. As they grow into strapping young (or not so young) scientists, the habit of discipline stays with them, while the cute stories are gradually shed, the way wood frameworks are no longer necessary once the concrete has set.

What this lovely reverend is attempting to tell you, gently, dear Richard (and friends! of course! Pleased to meet you all!) is that seven-year-old stories are not the sum total of theology, but rather a necessary developmental framework. For discipline, sweethearts, in whatever context, is necessary for the human mind to expand its apparent limits and envelop the cosmos.

And by 'discipline' I do not mean mere spankings. I mean the habit of training the ego-will to attend to things larger than itself--to the scientific method, if you will, or literature, or ethics, or to the peace which passes all understanding and lies at the root of consciousness itself.

Darlings, it's so splendid!
Pretty Lady wished, of course, to elaborate upon the splendidity of transcending the ego-will, but she has work to do, and felt that she had expressed herself sufficiently for an introductory letter. So she will leave it to Chris, and to other emergency de-borifiers, to discuss.