A Mindful and Reasonable Wish


“Aristotle’s Prayer” from Aristotle’s Prayer

By on 11-08-2005 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell

The wonderment and monumental beauty of the earth can serve as a map for understanding the expansive nature of the human experience. Few of us “live” there, however. One terrible gift of maturity is no longer seeing my reflection in the popular culture where I actually do “live”. The chasm between these two places has compelled me to engage bigger ideas in order to stretch my capacity for understanding and hopefully not just finding but creating a reflection of my liking.

The song lyric below is the thesis statement for this show, “Aristotle’s Prayer”. It’s hope. It’s a prayer. It’s an alter call and yet has no religiosities. The big idea is this: the world CAN be known and our ability to reason remains our best hope for surviving. This is as expressed by Aristotle some 2300 years ago and is an idea still struggling.

The world CAN be known and our ability to reason
remains our best hope for surviving.

Both our individual and cultural psychology continues to project or fabricate images of their own making from their raw materials. Our religions each profess to be the one true religion. Our media plays everyone against everything for the promotion of empty profit. Our governments largely fail the individual and all institutions become whatever our psychology allows. Unfortunately for us, this institutional psychology can create and maintain the most heinous of malignant nightmares with relative ease. However, all profit is not empty, all government is not corrupt, and not all institutions enslave and torture. The really good news is that regardless of each of our own projections, our true nature is understandable.

In 1905, Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity was first to introduce us to the concept of spacetime. Before Einstein, space and time were two different things. He not only imagined, but mapped a system so integrated that the parts could no longer be considered separate. That’s how we might be able to visualize Aristotle’s idea of integrating passion, desire and heart with aspiration, discipline and perfection. The heart and mind become a “whole” new thing and following Einstein’s lead I suggest a new word for it….. HEARTMIND.

“Heart and mind and soul are free and all desire is good by our decree. By nature all creation must agree.”
Lyric from the song “Aristotle’s Prayer”

Maybe it’s time to abandon judgmental designations and their restrictive phrases which label people as right-brained, left-brained, artistic, intellectual or spiritual. Surely, most successful people integrate all that they have and all that they understand and perceive in navigating their life’s course.

“…a pilot, in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent,
human being that lived in the earth.” – Mark Twain

In Life on the Mississippi, author Mark Twain used the term unfettered in describing the life of a steamboat pilot. Twain saw the “rank and dignity” of this profession as an ultimate choice of self-determination fueled by aspiration, guided by reason and agreed on by all concerned. Clearly this job description is a young man’s fantasy without regard for the encumbrances of relationships. However, just copy and paste this feeling of living without fear into a more mature understanding of the individual in context of others and we may get a grasp of Aristotle’s mindful and reasonable wish for humanity.

“The pattern of the possible is preferred above the rule.”
Lyric from the song “Aristotle’s Prayer”

A truly mature life lived without fear will not be “stuck” in destructive patterns. To arrive fearlessly, however, the rest of us, whenever possible and each at our own pace, will endeavor to break our patterns which no longer serve us. We now know that patterned entrenchment is not good for human beings. We think we’ve just now figured this out with modern psychology, but Aristotle understood this in 340 B.C.

Truly, “all the wonderment and beauty lay before us and the truth they speak I pray we will believe!”

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Daring to See It


“A Chance for Beauty” from Aristotle’s Prayer

By on 11-08-2005 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell

When the integration of the disparate aspects of each of our own histories is complete….. something wonderful happens. Before that time, however, we chase, run in circles and regardless of the goodness of our actions, seldom do we feel “complete”.

We chase, run in circles and regardless of the goodness of our actions, seldom do we feel “complete”.

We trip, stumble and run after beauty, as we each define it, trying to capture and hold it tightly… all the while claiming it “mine”. Beauty is illusive in this game and like a wild stallion is most magnificent when not named, penned, owned or branded. I don’t know what your job is, but mine is to fully understand and finally gaze from within the beauty that is me. In this ever so illusive place all my parts become one, whole and at once BEAUTIFUL.

Aristotle said, “All men by nature desire knowledge…” The relationship between knowledge, self-discovery and beauty are all intertwined in this very personal lyric.

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Galileo Betrayed by Inquisition


“How Do I Go On from Here?” from Aristotle’s Prayer

By on 11-08-2005 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell

There are different genres of betrayal, to use a musical term. By definition, betrayals are compromises of our trust either by greed or passion. However, there are worse betrayals.

The source of these betrayals is always detectable in psychology, but how do we divine the source and prevent it from happening again? More important, how do we recognize any responsibility we may have in it?

There are those secret-life betrayals which cause offense outside of all acknowledged agreements or honored traditions. A Herculean effort must be mounted just to go forward after this kind of disconsolate discovery. These are the private betrayals, but the public betrayals can be more injurious yet.

There is also the betrayal served to us at the secret discretion of the institution, the corporation or… wherever large groups of individuals with, what Austin therapist Amy Person calls “lost voices”, gather. All manner of atrocities have been perpetrated on humanity in the name of “US”, at the price of “ME”. This is the slow-burn betrayal which can unknowingly obstruct our productive and passionate contributions to this world for an entire lifetime.

All these different shades of betrayal are common and experienced by nearly everyone.

On the other hand, we are seldom aware when our APTITUDE or our POSSIBILITIES have been hijacked!

Slavery, certainly, is the blackest of all betrayals as it extinguishes our corporal, natural, inherited, learned and earned humanity. Common slavery is easily identified. However, how do we know when our very “personal intellect” itself has been misappropriated or conscripted into service? This idea of “personal intellect” lives at the core of Galileo’s wonderful gift, which unfortunately existed during an unenlightened time in a place where the keepers of “lost voices” held court.

Galileo Galilei knows betrayal. Under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church Inquisition Court, Galileo, one of the greatest minds ever produced by humanity, was sentenced to life in prison for THINKING. Actually, he was way past just thinking. His thoughts were not idle musings. They were scientifically PROVEN, yet a small-minded institution stripped him of his intellectual voice and every other expression of freedom.

In the show, Aristotle’s Prayer, Galileo’s grief is presented in the song, “How Do I Go On from Here?”, and was written from this intellectual giant’s very public perspective of his own betrayal. It immediately follows the song of his trial, “The Boys in Red”. It’s not a dead, historical betrayal with no meaning or feeling. It is a betrayal which we each may share with Galileo, but have yet to feel the knife.

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Joseph Stalin Orchestrates Ukranian Genocide


“I’m Gonna Get My Needs” from Aristotle’s Prayer

By on 11-08-2005 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary PowellJoseph_Stalin_photo

Americans have hardly heard of the “famine genocide” perpetrated on Ukranian farmers (kulaks) in 1932-33 by Joseph Stalin. With not enough bullets to bring about his solution of collectivism, he chose to confiscate the farmer’s lives by stealing their livestock, seeds, tools and finally by blockading the whole of the Ukraine. Forced collectivism combined with a paranoid leader in Joseph Stalin parented this 20th century crime on humanity called “Holodomor”. Uncle Joe, as President Roosevelt referred to him, was responsible for some 10 million deaths in this genocide of starvation, also called the “Artificial Famine”, and some 40 million total deaths across Russia not including the dead from WWII.

This man and his minions have to be the expressed antithesis of Aristotle’s teachings. Certainly Aristotle’s ethics could embrace our modern knowledge of psychology and the integration of the study of psychology into our cognitive content so that a Joseph Stalin will never happen again!

“At the famine’s height, 25,000 people per day were dying. As the winter wore on, Ukraine became a panorama of horror.” – James Perloff for the New American.

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Gary Powell Performs “Aristotle’s Prayer”

By on 11-08-2005 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell
Gary Powell Friends

Although not complete as a full evening’s theatrical piece, it was my first performance of Aristotle’s Prayer on November 12, 2005. These “In the Studio with Gary Powell” performances have been attracting not only special performers, but a special clientele as well. The breadth of knowledge and experience in the room was particularly noteworthy this Saturday night. In keeping with the professional format of this weblog, I won’t go into details on our guests but to say that the most influencial people and friends in my life were in attendance. I was most honored with their presence and support.

There are only an handful of evenings that one will remember the rest of their life. This was certainly one of those for me.

The lyrics and content of this performance ask a lot from the audience, so I printed the lyrics for everyone to follow if interested. It will be interesting to learn how these very bright people engaged this music. I had four guest readers recite historical information to help set up each song. Ralph Person read about Galileo’s trial before the song, “The Boys in Red” and “How Do I Go On from Here?”. Alice Gerhart read the words of Galileo during “The Boys in Red”. Tom Granger read about the philosophy of Adam Smith before, “Which Side of the Penny is Yours”, and Don Smith from Bryan, Texas, read about the calamitous year of 1929 before the song, “I’m Gonna Get My Needs”, about the demands of Joseph Stalin on the Ukranian farmers. Austin performers, Craig Toungate and Susan Lincoln, joined me to sing the opening tribute to Rosa Parks, “The Spirit of Rosa”.

Moving to the recording studio for Act II, Craig Toungate recreated four songs that he has performed for my productions for Walt Disney Records. I also sang a couple of my songs in the studio that I’ve written for children. The audience, which was more like a homecoming, had to go from Joseph Stalin’s massacres to “Be a Hyena” with only Italian creme cake in between. I think only your friends would be willing to make this jump with you.

My most humble thank you to all my supporters and loved ones in attendance. I promise this whole piece will be complete soon and I hope you’ll come back. If you have questions or comments about the lyrics or content, please feel free to leave them right here on this weblog. This was a night that I, along with Amy, will remember forever. Thank you for helping me launch a new idea, a new performance and a new self.

Pictured from left to right: Janet and Earl Hale (Dallas), Missy and Dick McCarroll (Austin), Cindy and Jay Carter (Dallas), Amy Person and Gary Powell

Thanks to friend and colleague, Larry Seyer, for engineering the session.

An Epiphany of Grace


“A Boy Has Been Born” from Aristotle’s Prayer

By on 11-08-2005 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell

A

There is evidence in Aristotle’s writing that he didn’t have much use for “habit”. Finding the best use for our individual nature hardly has any place for habit. We are habituated and institutionalized across almost every thought and behaviour. Aristotle insists our highest good, our virtuous activity, is not something that comes to us by chance. The “pattern of the possible is preferred above the rule” is a lyric in this show which echoes Aristotle’s precept about the personal responsibility of creating our own lives and living well.

This song, “A Boy Has Been Born”, was written one year before my epiphanal conversation with Ralph Person about Aristotelian philosophy and its direct effect on our lives. The charge to myself was to create a lyric that would elucidate the birth of the Christ from a personal and very interpretive perspective without regard to the burden of understanding. This is the song of an individual, who on the eve of disintegration from the long battle, experiences grace which had been long forgotten. This is no song of mysticism. It’s the plain and simple truth from experience which holds both the gift and the burden from having lived an examined life.

The poster illustration was created especially for this lyric
by Austin artist, Nadyne Wood.

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