Archive for February, 2010

One Note

February 28th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Music

I spent most of the day sorting through the papers, publications, and files that have piled up this winter, perhaps in wishful thinking that spring and spring cleaning are on the way. It’s tax time and financial aid day, and I filled out the FAFSA and PROFILE forms online to put in our financial aid requests for another year.

As I went through a stack, I found a program from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert that Lilli and I attended over her Winter break. On Thursday Jan. 14, we went to hear Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” The program included Alban Berg’s “Violin Concerto,” with soloist Kyoko Takezawa.

I had not ear the Berg piece and looked forward to it. Now six weeks later I still remember Miss Takezawa moving, almost contorting her body, throughout the entire piece. There is little if any break for the soloist during the XX minutes of this remarkable piece.

What I remember most–and what Lilli and I both remembered vividly after leaving Symphony Hall, was the last note. One note. I saw Miss Takezawa run the bow down the high string for what seemed to be minutes, without wavering the tone at all, and I wondered in my amazement and awe if she would bow back. She did, without a break.

One high pure exquisite note.

A memory jogged by finding a saved program and making the sorting worth the effort.

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Ill Definition

February 27th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Personal, Psychology

The way we define things and how we name them determine how we view the world and, as a result, how we act and treat one another. Modern neuroscience shows that human perceive not the thing itself but a copy, an illusion created by the human brain, a copy that is as created by mental beliefs and attitudes as much as it is generated by energies in the physical world. Things are not as they appear, and how things appear can change over time.

A story I heard today on the radio show “This American Life” illustrates how powerful definitions are and what it can take to change them. “204: 81 Words,” covers the history of how the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided in 1973 that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. It’s about both the power of a family story and a social label, artfully and informatively told by National Public Radio reporter Alix Spiegel.

The story’s professional theme shows how the 81 words in American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that defined homosexuality as a disease were replace by 204 that say it is not. For years, psychiatrists treated it as a disease to be cured, and psychoanalysts probed patients to see where the causes lay in family history.

I assume that “This American Life” host Ira Glass and his crew decided to rebroadcast the show, originally aired in 2002, because the forthcoming fifth edition of the APA’s manual, DSM-5, to be published in 2013, is now available for public comment. Comments are due April 20, 2010.

The story’s family theme focuses on the power of family stories. The reporter, Spiegel, is the granddaughter of a man who played an important role in revising the DSM description of homosexuality. Her family’s family story was more or less single-handedly responsible for the change. The granddaughter, in telling the history, found that the true story was much more complex and her grandfather’s role much less central, though still important.

I am not sure how Spiegel and her family changed through her telling of the story and the consequent shattering of the myth of her grandfather. I’d like to, for family stories provide a powerful organizing device for a family and the perception of its members. A change in the narrative generally changes the characters in the future, but his is not in Spiegel’s scope.

My personal interest centers on how things become named–more properly how people use language to designate aspects of human experience with words that have meanings upon which people act. “80 Words” recalled how appalled I am at the number of psychological experiences have been labeled diseases that should be treated by drugs.

About two years ago, I got into a cab on the way home from Midway airport and had a conversation with an extremely articulate and bright cab driver about philosophy, politics, and, of all things, drugs. When I mentioned that the drug seller’s on the streets of the city were not necessarily the biggest causes of the country’s drug problems, and my driver took that bait.

“Oh yeah, the real pusherboys work for the big drug companies,” he said.

“Makes the guys on the street seem like rank amateurs,” I replied in agreement.

Turned out we had both read an article in The Chicago Reader that week (2/14/08) called, “How Shy Became Sick.” That article and the book it profiles, Christopher Lane’s Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, provides a critical bit of history on the development of the psychological profession in recent years. It convinced me that if I had been in high school in the mid 90s rather than the mid 70s, I would have been on meds.

I would have been a very different person, and not for the better, though it occurs to me that I was on meds not sanctioned by the psychological profession. But that’s a different story.

“204: 81 Words” is well worth the hour it takes to play.

U R N Our Sight

February 26th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Chicago

On the wall in the Men’s room at the DAO restaurant in Chicago. Who said state agencies like the Illinois Dept. of Transportation don’t have a sense of humor?

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Financial Conferences

February 24th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Business

Which financial conference would you attend? One is advertised with a program that looks like the stereotypical dull financial speakers and another makes its executives seem like stars. Read about a tale of two conferences in the Canright Communications Content Comments blog.

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