The Taser's Edge

The Artist and The Contemplative

The Sartorialist is the fashion blog of Scott Schuman, possibly the most-read fashion blog in the whole shootin’ match.  Recently somebody at Intel thought it would be a good idea to do a brief documentary about him, and here is that product:

As I watched, I thought about a couple things:

1.) Schuman’s art requires leisure, 4-5 hours a day walking and attempting to be present to New York, Milan, London, or (most recently) Seoul, looking for 1-2 pictures.  And here’s the jump, if you’ll make it with me: contemplative prayer and good art both require a similar kind of leisure, a similar kind of attention, and a similar cultivation of awareness over time.  (Think Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, just ‘wasting’ her time.)  Maybe it’s obvious that leisure is required for contemplative prayer, but I never thought about just how important it was until Beatrice Bruteau opened her Radical Optimism with a full chapter devoted to leisure.  [Side note: she also says that study requires a similar level of leisure, which would also connect to the best study being the most creative study.]

2) Schuman’s daily process is a long search, but it is nonetheless fully expectant, and it has the right expectations, which the artist has learned over time.  Contemplation too is shaped by a similar expectancy, one which changes and matures over time and through experience.  Just as Schuman doesn’t expect or look for a brilliant photo on every street he walks, so the contemplative doesn’t expect life-changing insight 10 times a week, but this does not at all mean that there is not joyous and hopeful expectation on the part of both artist and contemplative.

Personally, I see a connection between the cultivation of a healthy life, an aware life, and a creative life.  Doing a year-long chaplaincy residency beat the crap out of me, but the twin practices which seemed to be most helpful for my holistic wellness are mindfulness/contemplation (not to claim the two are synonymous) and creative outlet.

Google Readings

Wanted to answer a couple friends who wanted to know what I Google Read.  Aside from news feeds (Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, L.A. Times, BBC News, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor) and friends’ feeds, and not in any order, fifteen blogs which I probably read the most often…

  1. AdFreaks–Blog of AdWeek, with great social commentary on advertising
  2. The Allmusic Blog–’s blog tells me about music I’ve never heard of with nearly every post.
  3. Boing Boing–What my dream site would be, if I could pull together a dream team of interesting people interested in interesting stuff.
  4. Comixed–Current funny site I return to most often
  5. dotCommonweal–Liberal Catholic politics, religion, and culture
  6. Drawn!–Art, animation, etc., and from Canada!
  7. Episcopal Cafe–Liberal Episcopal\Anglican blog
  8. Faith and Theology–solo theologian/professor (with some guest posts) in Australia
  9. First Things: On the Square–(very) conservative Catholic politics, theology, and culture (with some serious neo-con-ness)
  10. Insight Scoop–ditto on the conservative Catholic-ness, the blog of Ignatius Press
  11. Movie Morlocks–Turner Classic Movies blog
  12. PostSecret–You’ve heard of this already
  13. The Sartorialist–Fashion blog
  14. /Film–Movie news
  15. Theophiliacs–Young group of moderate Anglican bloggers

I’m a fickle reader, so it really varies what I return to from week to week.  These are the current ones.