a gentle sound
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Through the strangest of circumstances I played a Reading Rainbow on "The Paper Crane" Thursday (excellent show- beyond words with a great origami tie in- the show was one celebrating "transformation") and then my mind returned me over and over to the thought of a dear friend who came originally from Japan, all I know of her remarkable life in music and art, and how she both plays koto and changed the quality of my life. Thought of how I must honor her somehow (and invite Mrs. Okamura out to meet my class and help me make drums with them this year as she has done in the past) and then moving along in real space went out to a long dinner, coming in from it to hear a late night comedy program by Carlin, a later rant by a comic basically on a juvenile's transformed rift about the ridiculous things we do in the name of our religiosity, hand on a Bible to swear, hats off in a building, sacred hats on in a temple, and Carlin briefly bumped into Japanese interment camps, connected that to "American expression of freedom" and how in America one thinks one "owns" unless suddenly one no longer owns even their own life, and we think we arrange our life free....just as I was unwrapping that thought via a Carlin BS routine, I was physically unwrapping from Amazon a purchase I made in a recent round of my anxiety buying. Allen say, "Home of the Brave."
I buy for two main reasons, I'm anxious and this is an expression of an inability to control it, but that at the least puts books in my classroom one. Or I'm up against something that is too much somehow like our state crumbling education to absolutely the nation's worst, and buy in irrational response. Oh, that's just one reason isn't it really with two faces... Not worth going into.....let's say my finger stuck on "one click setting" as I came across this book for title alone knowing Say takes you on journeys and lessons to learn in visual magical transformation you become able to turn and see yourself, looking to add a few things to my book box marked "Asian Experience." I have always a fondness for Say. (Here as Chinese New Year causes me to thank Asian Americans for their contribution to the construction of my awareness.)
So it was ordered but when it arrived it still surprised me. Startled and connected a few dots.
For one thing it isn't a book for this class of 1st graders I am teaching now, not yet. (Most are boys that seriously will one day be ready. Right now wrestling each other to the ground and head butting seems the ticket.) They'll be ready to think about this quiet topic "in the future" and my girls....well, yes, but I hated to tell them about the Civil War and this in the same month. Somehow President's Day leads you to Lincoln, leads you to why he just looms over leadership. So anyway they had to deal with that this month, one saying so loudly, "Why would people want to own anyone?"
It might be hard to extend this into understanding that the things we say mean nothing unless we learn to look with a very critical eye at how we actually act on that we say we are. Yes,
Our actions speak to the young.
Well, that was all a digression, I suppose, but, it came to my moment as I read this book. Say wrote a book and drew a book, I assume to his meanings as an interpreter of the Japanese American experience in interment camps. As a vehicle in that transformation of bringing this to meaning. He says that he viewed this exhibit of images from that as his work was displayed at the Japanese American National Museum in LA and this bloomed from the recognition of the human as it's witness.
I've experienced the same journeys of understanding in LA, at the Holocaust Museum with children, even in n a Folk Art Museum there, in the Van Gogh Show or most profoundly taking my group through the Getty explaining the art to my daughter Sylvia's class in 5th grade when Mrs. La Rue graciously allowed me to open my heart and speak to my art understandings with children as a parent guide. A place to see something through the clear mind of the child willing to ask us the hard questions of Why?
So Say opens to the reader of this book the ghost of this experience, pulled from the mist of our past. Can we look there to those anonymous faces and see a self, try on the tags, shoes, souls to understand our own and our actions there?
My mother once said something to me about the time Say is so symbolically raising before us, and so silently bringing out of the receding darkness some bit of truth as our national light. She said she had "no real idea this happened as it did at the time" being a blind American taken with belief in "the power" said that it was as it was. We were watching a documentary narrated by a woman caught living her childhood in these camps, retracing her family that lost everything, and rebuilt their life....mother said "But, then, I did not know how to look."
I doubt unless we begin to value one another, teaching this sight, I suspect if we let time bury us, our speaking to the people we are/were, our struggles as we see right now as possibility to understandings, and look at our why, I'm sure that we won't feel (as that Carlin routine made me feel last night)-uncomfortable enough to do anything meaningful about it. Unless we see as we say we see, the individual pain, can we act blindly in the face of truths?
And Say does this,takes us out of our reader equilibrium, but out there to say we are willing to understand something bigger. A country that claims property rights and freedom has to examine and be willing to examine and speak about in a timely fashion when it abrogates it's foundational creeds. What was that all about, when tested we falter? And the book allows us to imagine living the role of the invisible. My children in poverty know that role all too well. Are they too, invisible hordes. Lost?
Are we the home of the brave?
Say's book is a haunting, I suppose the dream of a braver reader.
It ventures into the American territory. Of the struggle with her prejudices, her fears, her treatment of the child, her places of her innocence lost.
It is a visual reminder that art takes us to places we often feel challenged and lost, wandering in our deserts. In this book the children are watching, reappearing, an audience seeing us. They are tagged and staring at us now looking out from their frame where we hung them. They are ghosts of those who lost their innocence to tags placed on their humanity, they are kin to our children tagged, labeled, sacrificed to our ignorance and loss of focus to fears, violence, greed. Our place to grow and learn, to willingly enter into discomfort.
Yes, certainly, I think the book belongs to classrooms and teacher that venture into the development of deeper thinkers, development of sensibilities that are not unwilling to see the complexity, the simplicity of shortsightedness, of looking at how we have responded culturally in our darkest hours.
I look now, right now, in such serious times, upon all of this as opportunity to develop National character, to strain to see what here Say shows us, through this journey (walked by his art) we go into the very nature of what the brave must do, we must.... to cite a favorite show... "boldly go no one has gone before."
And this book will eventually go to my friend, as she must face the ghosts of her family and friends in light of the hope she still has, that we will live to that which we hold as our charter. A book to invest in to take children to the places of demonstrating we are not too small to consider our "home." It has been a great experiment, one well worth saving by being able to turn and look at what we have done so we might go forward thinking of what we might do now.