Glass, Gandhi, OWS, and Social Artistry

We finished week 7 of the #change11 MOOC, this week with Nancy White who spoke about the concept of a Social Artist, someone who teaches and supports learners by using creative and sympathetic means to patiently encourage them to establish and follow their own goals while being connected with a larger and increasingly complex and chaotic world. Jenny Mackness and I talked a bit about to what extent technology is also a component of social artistry, and I don’t think Nancy’s wonderful discussion (the first is listed here, though I cannot find a link to the one at the end of the week) could have occurred without technology. Thinking about how John Mak expanded on some initial work Jenny presented, how could a social artistry develop without some connected or networked world (or am I perhaps mixing the active social artist with one that is developing and nourishing the role?)?

Let me change direction for a moment and consider this in 2 events of this past Friday.

Friday night I had the honor of being able to attend this season’s Metropolitan Opera premiere of Satyagraha, the Philip Glass opera about the life of Gandhi (or part of it at least, including elements in his earlier life in South Africa where he developed his worldview). With Glass’s style of repeating a few chords in ways that are soothing and hypnotic and energizing all at one, along with this dynamic production that used visuals and technology to tell the simple story in a way that brings it to life to a contemporary audience in a fresh way, I had a profound sense of how important Gandhi is as an historical figure and as an icon for standing up for one’s beliefs, supporting the freedom of action and self-government of an oppressed people. I saw this opera the last time it was at the MetOpera in 2008, and it affected me even stronger this time around. Perhaps I knew more about Glass’ intentions, his music, and the complicated production that tells a story without allowing us to refer to the libretto.