Rank #1: Bonding with Art and Artists W/Luc Travers
Nathaniel Branden, a psychologist and pioneer in the study of self-esteem, said that artists and creators have an above average acceptance of the condition of aloneness. We can learn a lot from artists at any time of life, including our current situation. So how did great artists deal with isolation? What can we learn from them? How can we be better in contemplating art and our own lives?
Luc Travers is an art historian and art guide who has returned to the show to explore art with us. We looked at six paintings and he describes what he believes are two huge values of studying not only the painting of great artists, but their lives as well.
Luc will be putting on a multi-week course on the topic of Bonding with Great Artists. This video will be a tiny taste of all that he has to offer. I highly recommend you check it out: http://www.touchingtheart.com/bonding-with-great-artists.html?fbclid=IwAR0UkDpz4BglGgvfzwbA1Xp4WplDPK3QA1VE5fTpHkhjbDlUJQdTi-1UdyM
Apr 16 2020
Rank #2: The Poetry of Walls: Donald Trump and Robert Forst
Robert Frost and Donald Trump would have been great friends. They have so much in common: They were both born in big American cities, both have wide appeal in rural America and both speak with poetic fervor about walls. “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me… I will build a great, great wall on our southern border…mark my words,” said President Trump. Indeed, Robert Frost, too, has marked some words about walls in his poem, Mending Wall, which tells the story of two neighbors fixing the gaps in the walls which separate their property.
Trump and Frost are truly kindred spirits, for both also have a love of proverbs. Many of Frost’s’ phrases have made it into the American vernacular, and Trump is more than happy to use the phrases passed down to him. In his love poem about walls, Frost coined the saying: “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors;” recently Trump eloquently quoted his father’s saying: “a nation without borders is not a nation.” Indeed, Mr. Trump and Mr. Frost must be soulmates.
Unlike Frost, the President will not merely speak of building a wall; he’ll do it. “Mark my words,” he states. Don’t discount words too fast, however. There’s power in words as there’s power in building walls. In Frost’s’ realm, he waxes poetical on the beauty of walls: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, and spills the upper boulders in the sun; and makes gaps even two can pass abreast.”
Who doesn’t love a wall? That makes boulders spill like milk in the sun, and that pushes the earth beneath like two barefooted lovers walking on damp grass. The very existence of a wall stresses our togetherness. Take a moment to picture two people walking in an open field. One wanders over here by the thrush and another over there by a boulder; this separation is not possible when they approach a wall. They must find the gap and then “two can pass abreast.”
Despite criticisms of President Trump, his intentions are pure. “We are going to stabilize on both sides of the border and we also understand that a strong and healthy economy in Mexico is very good for the United States,” he said upon his Presidential announcement to build a wall. “Today, America get’s back control of its borders.” Indeed!
Frost would nod gravely in agreement. “The work of hunters is another thing,” he would add. Referring to the heartache of mending his wall season after season, due to jackals and beasts of all sorts, he says “I have come after them and made repair where they would have the rabbit out of hiding to please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, no one has seen them made or heard them made, but at spring mending time we find them there.” As Trump emphasizes many times, the days of cartels “wreaking havoc in our country is over. We are going to get them out and we are going to get them out fast.” How poetic, indeed!
Again Robby Frost would nod sagely and add to his buddy’s assessment. Walls also bring neighbors together. Trump’s wall, after all, will need repairing from time to time. And so our two nations must come together every spring mending time to repair it. When these gaps are found, perhaps the nation to our south will act as Frost does: “I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; and on a day we meet to walk the line and set the wall between us as we go.” Trump, in fact, may not be willing to go so far as his friend Frost here. For, to Frost, this mending of the walls is a “kind of a game” played by neighbors. Oh isn’t that fun? Indeed:
“To each the boulders that have fallen to each. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls we have to use a spell to make them balance: ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’ We wear our fingers rough with handling them. Oh, just
Jan 18 2019
Business Book Summaries
The Leaders Bookshelf w/ Frank Gustafson
2000 Books for Ambitious Entrepreneurs - Author Interviews and Book Summaries
Classic Poetry Aloud
The History of Literature
Read to Lead Podcast
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Audio Poem of the Day
The New Yorker: Poetry
1001 Heroes, Legends, Histories & Mysteries Podcast
1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales
The Tai Lopez Show
The Robin Sharma Mastery Sessions
The New Yorker: The Writer's Voice - New Fiction from The New Yorker
Rank #3: Quarantine Nation! A Conversation with Rucka Rucka Ali
You know him as the youtube sensation taking over the minds of young people like a ... Well I won't talk like that right now. He's Rucka Rucka Ali.
We discussed how we are dealing with lock downs as well as how Objectivism helps us laymen interpret and act based on the current state of affairs.
Later in the discussion we get into a variety of topics including what we are reading now (you'll never guess!) the role of literature at a time like this, the creative process, and developing an independent life.
This was an absolute pleasurable conversation for me and I hope you enjoy it as well.
Mar 18 2020
Rank #4: The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe
A prosperous prince isolates himself in his castle along with 1,000 revellers, while a plague devastates the country-side.
This is the essence of this very short story by Poe.
When, today, we have the King of Thailand ordering arrests for people who go outside, while he holds up in a harem with 20 women, this story seems more real than fantasy.
Yet, I will be arguing there is a much deeper psychological story being told right under our eyes. It is one of fear and terror of course. Unfortunately, it will hit much closer to home than Thailand.
Enjoy this discussion and reading of a masterpiece by Edgar Allan Poe.
Apr 04 2020
Most Popular Podcasts
Rank #5: On Dealing With Fear: Motorcycles, The Iliad and Plagues
On this episode I spend some time discussing my observations from talking to people during this crisis and I share my personal lessons from riding a motorcycle.
Literature can provide us with models for living and for dying. This may seem like an un-important thing, but it is absolutely critical. Death frames life. Without death we would have no reason to live. Poems that show us decaying and death can provide for us insights and ways to contemplate our own mortality and how to behave at times of higher risk.
Old Man Travelling: Animal Tranquilty and Decay, A Sketch
by William Wordsworth
The Death of Simoeisios (excerpt from The Iliad)
Iliad, Book 4, lines 473-489 (trans. Seth Schein)
Mar 24 2020
Rank #6: Artful Convo: Wicca, Sci-Fi and more w/Diane Morrison
You can find DIane's work at Dianemorrisonfiction.com
We had a great conversation that began with a scan of her room and the Witch's broom she has! Ever wonder what a Wiccan Priestess does? We chatted about Wicca, Pagan and Greek Mythology, Jordan Peterson, Literature and modern writing.
Enjoy this wide ranging conversation with Sci-Fi author and musician Diane Morrison.
Jan 25 2019
Rank #7: The Artist of the Beautiful by Nathaniel Hawthorne
This is the reading for part 4 of the four part series on Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Birth of Sci Fi.
I have decided to record the commentary separately. For now, enjoy the reading of the Artist of the Beautiful.
Here is one question to ask yourself before entering the world of Hawthorne's artist. Does the artist solve a problem that Hawthorne established was the flaw of the scientist in his former stories, Dr. Heidegger's Experiment, The Birthmark, Rappaccini's Daughter?
Most importantly, what does Hawthorne's answer to this ambitious individual who wishes to discover and master the creative essence of the universe mean for us today?
Feb 01 2019
Rank #8: The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe was a proponent of a "single unified effect" in his fiction work. Some emotion that all of the parts of the story lead up to and create.
In The Cask of Amontillado we can experience the fear of unknown death by the character Fortunato. Or we can experience the fear of our own potential for violence in the narrator Montressor. Which one do you experience?
Mar 14 2020
Rank #9: Making Art Personal with Luc Travers
Luc Travers and I just had a fantastic discussion about various artworks and how to look at a paintings.
It often feels as though art is a special category of human activity that only a unique few can enjoy. What Luc teaches is how to "enhance those special moments in your life through the lens of art."
This approach to great artwork elevates even the everyday, seemingly mundane occurrences. It also, of course, elevates even the high points, the conflicts, the struggles, the achievements, or, in other words, LIFE.
On this episode we actually evaluate several pieces of artwork live. You will get to see me struggle to make sense of paintings, and I even get to introduce Luc to a new painting!
This was such a fun episode and I know you will enjoy it.
Mar 25 2020
Rank #10: Enjoying Sculptures with Dianne Durante
Traveling is a big value for people today. It's one of the great benefits of being alive today. It is so easy and affordable to see the whole world. Often, we can travel places and see only the usual suspects. In this discussion I explore Dianne Durante's latest book "Getting More Enjoyment from Sculpture You love," and we discuss Dianne's work as being part of "travelogues."
Travelogues don't have to be boring lectures. They can be exhilarating and exciting new ways of seeing the world. Don't just go to NYC and see the same monuments you are "supposed to see." Try, instead, an art tour. Best of all, you can do this at your own pace and in your own way.
On this show Dianne and I discuss several sculptures, so you can see how simple her method is and how it helps anyone from any background enjoy art more deeply.
We also discuss a little bit of poetry and some ways to work with your children in seeing new art.
Special thank you to Quent Cordair Fine Art for the image of one of the sculptures they represent.
*To see all the art we discuss as well as links to many great resources please visit troubadourmag.com
Apr 06 2020
Rank #11: Jordan Peterson's 6th Rule, School Killers, The Pebble and the Clod
Had we a time machine to take to Eric Harris the book "12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos" by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, Eric would have merely become a more efficient killer.
Had Eric taken to heart the blase advice by Peterson to put his house in perfect order before criticizing the world, Eric would merely have become a more efficient murderer. He would have arranged the chairs more properly on his sinking Titanic.
In this podcast episode I dive deep into what connects Eric and Dylan to Islamic radicals, to Nazis, to Communists, and to any individual or group who has created a subjectivist irrational worldview and acted it out to it's fullest conclusion.
In previous podcasts on rules 1-5 I have mostly praised Dr. Jordan Peterson. In this podcast I had no choice but to destroy his ideology. He is dead wrong about these ideologically motivated killers. Peterson also commits the gravest of crimes (though I am hoping he has been merely duped by his Christianity). But, he has committed the crime of intellectual dishonesty.
There is no other conclusion that can be drawn when he compares the suffering of Eric and Dylan to that of the brutal murdering Carl Panzram.
Dylan and Eric were upper middle class, very loved and very lucky young men. Carl Panzram was raped and brutalized as a child in a correctional facility. To even pretend that these were the same, and that their "suffering" is what led them to seek vengeance is absurd and dishonest.
Something else motivated Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Eliot Rodgers and Adam Lanza and Cho Seung-Hui to attempt to annihilate the universe, by pointing guns at school students.
This is what we will explore in today's podcast on Rule #6: Set Your House in Perfect Order before You Criticize the World
Jun 08 2018
Rank #12: Romantic #5: The Tyger by William Blake & The Problem of EVIL
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Jun 10 2018
Rank #13: The Practical Value of Reading Literature W/ Deanna Heikkinen
Ask someone the following two questions. First, "Is reading literature a good thing?" Then, "Do you read literature?" And it is amazing that everyone will answer affirmative in the former and negative in the latter.
Do that with anything else in life and you will likely find a wide range of answers. "Is riding horseback a good thing?" Some will say yes and some will say no and some will be neutral. Then follow with the second question "Do you horseback ride,? And again you'll get a variety of answers. Try the question with 'working hard,' 'following your passion,' 'exercise,' 'eating healthy.'
There is a huge disconnect in our society. We all know that reading literature is a Good and yet very few of us actually read literature.
On today's episode I talked with Deanna Heikkinen from Pisan Academy to talk about the value of literature. Both Deanna and I share the missoin of attempting to bring literature to non-academics. At the Pisan Academy, they focus on creating curriiculum for homeschoolers.
May 28 2020
Rank #14: The Clod and the Pebble by William Blake
Poets are thinkers. We don't see them as thinkers. But great poets have a special way of thinking that can benefit us all.
In this poem we see that type of thinking at its clearest.
The poem is a simple poem about two types of love, but expressed in the way that only a poet can express it.
May 10 2020
Rank #15: Holy Thursday by William Blake
In this episode I have a movie recommendation too!
There are two Holy Thursdays, one in The Songs of Innocence and another in the Songs of Experience. The focus for this episode is the innocence.
As with other songs of innocence poems, there is a layer of darkness just beneath the surface. Ostensibly this is a poem about an annual procession of orphans in London called Ascension Day. The poem is told from the perspective of a casual observer of the ceremony.
We'll go line by line and see how Blake is using the form and meaning of his poem to vibrate your brain in such a way as to allow you to understand a deeper meaning behind this ceremony.
Feb 16 2020
Rank #16: A Cradle Song by William Blake
This is a very simple poem about a mother who sits by her infant's cradle while he sleeps and sings him a song. The deeper question to ask is, why is she crying?
Feb 09 2020
Rank #17: The Roots of Progress With Jason Crawford
I had the pleasure to sit down with Jason Crawford of The Roots of Progress to discuss human progress in the arts and sciences.
We discussed quite a bit, including:
The concept of progress
Progress in ancient Greece and Modern progress
How it can be lost
How art can fuel human progress
Explorers like Vasco Balboa and the myth of Eldorado
History of bronze, steel and other technologies
And so much more!
Enjoy this great conversation and let us know what you think. Is our ability to continue creating new inventions and making new discoveries coming to an end?
Feb 05 2020
Rank #18: The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe (PT 1)
Next to The Tell-Tale Heart, this short tale by Poe is one of his most famous today. It is the story of a man captured by the Spanish Inquisition and sent to a dark pit where he received the worst psychological tortures.
We tend to think of Poe as purely a horror writer, which he is. But in Part 2 of this show I will discuss more of Poe's contributions to science fiction, which are present even in this work.
Feb 03 2020
Rank #19: Response to Yaron Brook's review of The Irishman
This is an audio version of the video you can find at troubadourmag.com or on Facebook or Youtube:
In this video I discuss Yaron Brook's review of The Irishman by Martin Scorsese. While there are several point of agreement I have with Yaron's assessment, I believe he fundamentally misses the point of the movie. Moreover, I believe he wrongly applies Ayn Rand's conception of esthetics to Scorsese's movie.
Here I will defend The Irishman as great art, whether or not you subjectively like the movie. It is my understanding that Yaron hated the fim (totally understandable) but that he allowed this to cloud his judgment of assessing the film is improper.
I hope you will enjoy a dissectioon of several scenes as well as a discussion of the gangster genre, Martin Scorse's filmography, the art of acting (and what we can judge of it) and much much more.
This was a fun one to create and as I say in the video it comes from a place of love, as so much of Yaron's work has been an inspiration to me.
Dec 31 2019
Rank #20: SMP #30 Introduction to the Songs of Innocence by William Blake
William Blake was the most eccentric of the Romantics. He was equally important in visual arts as well as poetry. His books included beautiful engravings all hand made, and for this reason he was not well known until the 20th century.
A man opposed to oppression and repression of all times, in his work we see an imaginative mind building an entire world before our eyes.
This first poem, "The Piper" is from The Songs of Innocence and it serves as the introduction to this book.
Dec 08 2019