Tagged: Alexandra Honigsberg

See the haunted opera “Lilith: Mother of Dreams” tonight!

There was a once-in-a-century storm that delayed the original premiere date. But Lilith will not be denied.

Join poet-violist (and ComicMix contributor) Alexandra Honigsberg, international artist composer-clarinetist Demetrius Spaneas, soprano Christina Rohm, and pianist-conductor James Siranovich at the premiere of Lilith: Mother of Dreams, a chamber opera of the iconic demon goddess. It’s debuting tonight at a historic haunted opera house, Flushing Town Hall.

The Lilith Project is conceived as a modern American suitcase opera, a chamber monodrama: intense, human, universal, compact in form and forces, accessible.

Before there was Eve, there was Lilith: Adam’s first lover, once human, made from the same dust, sensuality’s queen, bride of the Angel of Death, mother of opposing cosmic forces – strong, willful, unstoppable. She rules the storms of the skies and the heart – night owl, holy woman of power. From ancient tales of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, to Greece’s Lamiae and Daughters of Hecate, to Native American lore and Victorian Gothic Horror, Lilith looms large in the minds of men and women when the lights go out and they enter dream time. Some call her demon, vampire, child killer – others mother, lover, elder, friend. But whatever the appellations, she persists in the realms of our imaginations, from holy books and high literature to popular feminist concert series, TV shows, and Japanese anime. Child of Light? Daughter of Darkness? Both? Neither? You decide.

Composer Spaneas is a long-time professional, curator of Cornelia St. Café’s Serial Underground award-winning new music series’ 25th year, and Fullbright Specialist of the State Department’s musical diplomats. Librettist Honigsberg is a veteran violist, award-winning songwriter, long-time published poet, and this year’s winner of the Mayor’s Poetry Prize. Both Rohm and Siranovich have established opera careers all over the US and cities abroad.  Long-time colleagues in many configurations over the years, Lilith marks this creative team’s debut.

There will be a talk by the artists before the performance and then time for questions and answers, afterwards, and a reception to which all are invited. Come as you are, but gala premiere attire, period dress, and other unique finery is encouraged!

The production is fiscally sponsored by Composers Collaborative, Inc. $10 suggested donation/FTH members free, all welcome.

See the haunted opera “Lilith: Mother of Dreams” this Sunday

Join poet-violist (and ComicMix contributor) Alexandra Honigsberg, international artist composer-clarinetist Demetrius Spaneas, soprano Christina Rohm, and pianist-conductor James Siranovich at the premiere of Lilith: Mother of Dreams, a chamber opera of the iconic demon goddess. It’s debuting on Halloween Weekend (this Sunday at 7 p.m.) at a historic haunted opera house, Flushing Town Hall.

The Lilith Project is conceived as a modern American suitcase opera, a chamber monodrama: intense, human, universal, compact in form and forces, accessible.

Before there was Eve, there was Lilith: Adam’s first lover, once human, made from the same dust, sensuality’s queen, bride of the Angel of Death, mother of opposing cosmic forces – strong, willful, unstoppable. She rules the storms of the skies and the heart – night owl, holy woman of power. From ancient tales of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, to Greece’s Lamiae and Daughters of Hecate, to Native American lore and Victorian Gothic Horror, Lilith looms large in the minds of men and women when the lights go out and they enter dream time. Some call her demon, vampire, child killer – others mother, lover, elder, friend. But whatever the appellations, she persists in the realms of our imaginations, from holy books and high literature to popular feminist concert series, TV shows, and Japanese anime. Child of Light? Daughter of Darkness? Both? Neither? You decide.

Composer Spaneas is a long-time professional, curator of Cornelia St. Café’s Serial Underground award-winning new music series’ 25th year, and Fullbright Specialist of the State Department’s musical diplomats. Librettist Honigsberg is a veteran violist, award-winning songwriter, long-time published poet, and this year’s winner of the Mayor’s Poetry Prize. Both Rohm and Siranovich have established opera careers all over the US and cities abroad.  Long-time colleagues in many configurations over the years, Lilith marks this creative team’s debut.

There will be a talk by the artists before the performance and then time for questions and answers, afterwards, and a reception to which all are invited. Come as you are, but gala premiere attire, period dress, and other unique finery is encouraged!

The production is fiscally sponsored by Composers Collaborative, Inc. $10 suggested donation/FTH members free, all welcome.

AniMiniCon SoHo 2011 this weekend, August 12-14

Having drawn capacity crowds for its debut last summer, AniMiniCon SoHo 2011 returns this weekend featuring a great lineup of guests and events, plus the return of the SoHo Host Club, a group of young gentlemen fans of anime and manga, who interact with the crowd and ensure that every guest has a great time!

Guests include voiceover artist and host of Anime News Network TV Mario Bueno, Lizbeth R. Jimenez (creator of Sacred: The Manga) who is scheduled to do a live demonstration of manga illustration techniques; Brian Mah, animator, designer, and visual artist, who will do a live workshop on animation cel inking, plus portfolio reviews for a limited number of pre-registered students; and costume photographer Stephen Tang.

This year’s events include:

  • Friday Night Cosplay Party with snacks, prizes, and more
  • Anime Screenings furnished courtesy of Eleven Arts, Inc., including the films Chocolate Underground and Ice. (Note: Both these films have English subtitles.)
  • Saturday Night Musical Concert featuring Alexandra Honigsberg
  • Sunday’s Gothic, Lolita, Steampunk, Victorian, and Cosplay Tea featuring high-quality snacks, high-end teas, and other activities
  • An expanded dealers room

The SoHo Gallery for Digital Art has high-resolution computer-controlled screens, creating the first gallery devoted to the of display digital art, both photographic and computer-created, as well as any traditional work of art that can be scanned in at a high resolution. For AniMiniCon SoHo 2011, the screens will show anime and manga art, as well as photorealistic scenes that transform the gallery into a virtual “time and space” machine.

TICKETS: Purchase 3-day pass online = $30.00 at www.animiniconsoho.com
At the door: 3-day pass = $35.00; one-day pass = $15.00 per day

TIMES: Friday, 5pm – 10pm; Saturday, noon – 10pm; Sunday 1pm – 6pm

AniMiniCon SoHo July 30-August 1

AniMiniCon SoHo July 30-August 1

AniMiniCon SoHo is a three day-event taking place July 30-Aug 1
for local New York City area fans of anime, manga and Japanese culture. It’s
happening at a unique downtown space, the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art
in Manhattan (138 Sullivan Street, New York, NY  www.sohodigart.com) The Gallery has 16 hi-resolution 40″
computer monitors on the walls, which will show off not only anime and
manga artworks, but also photgraphic scenes from Japan that will make
you feel like you’re in a “Virtual Tokyo.”

On Friday night, (July 30) the events open
with a cosplay reception (refreshments will be served!) that will also mark the debut of the SOHO Host
Club
. This group of young gentleman fans of anime and manga will be
circulating throughout the event and presiding over several program
items throughout the weekend. They will be serving tea and snacks at the Victorian, Gothic and Lolita Tea Party on Sunday afternoon (August 1)
where premium tea will be provided by Harney and Sons. You don’t need to
dress up, but if you can, please come in your best Victorian,
Steampunk, Gothic, Lolita or Japanese traditional outfits! If you have
any Asian Ball Jointed Dolls (such as Dollfies) bring them along to show
off.

On Saturday night (July 31) there is a
live musical performance of songs from anime series such as Bleach, Full Metal Alchemist and Blood Plus. As ComicMix’s
own Alexandra Honigsberg plays, corresponding scenes from the anime
will be projected onto a large digital screen, so the live music becomes
the soundtrack to the show! You’ll also be encouraged to sing and dance
along. 

AniMiniCon SoHo will also feature anime screenings
(courtesy of Funimation) as well as panel discussions with animation and
manga artists including Misako Rocks. There will also be a Dealer’s
Room, as well as organized discussions and anime/manga themed games and
demonstrations.

For more details and updates, visit
www.animinicon.com or join their Facebook group. Admission is $30 for the three-day pass (available in advance at
the website) or $12 per day at the door.  If you are interested in
participating in any of the program items (especially if you can
demonstrate Japanese traditional arts, such as kimono or origami) e-mail
animiniconsoho@gmail.com.

Review: ‘Logicomix’, the Sorrows of Young Bertie, and the Great Quest

Review: ‘Logicomix’, the Sorrows of Young Bertie, and the Great Quest

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou
Bloomsbury, September 2009, $22.95

Despite the modern framing at the end of this book arguing about whether or not this was a tragedy or a happy ending by bringing computers into the whole thing to support the side of happy, which puts a pimple onto something that is quite near-perfection otherwise, I will say that this is, in the imperfect vernacular, freakin’ awesome.

Being an Aristotelian and Thomist (Thomas Aquinas, 13th C.), mainly an Ethicist and Metaphysician, though I am acquainted with modern philosophies, they are not my favourite dance floor. I am neither adept at nor a fan of analytical philosophy – where they turn premises and sentences into symbols like mathematical equations. So I am absolutely gobsmacked that three Greek guys and one Italian-French chick got a hold of Bertrand Russell (19th-20th C. Logician, Mathematician), and not only made this titled noble Welshman from Cambridge comprehensible, but a sympathetic human character.

How did these wacky geniuses – Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, and Annie DiDonna – manage this great feat in all their fabulous geekitude? Very simply. They went straight to the heart of what makes Philosophy philosophical. It is the human quest. Every Philosopher is on it and always has been for nearly 3000 years.

Philosophers are, as a general lot, idealists. They are insane enough to dare to view the best and then to try to find a way to get there, through the Labyrinth, past the Minotaur, and give us mere mortals a map by which to follow along (maps being symbols of reality). The story is framed by our authors as they try to write this book and get it published and, just like their philosophical hero, they got turned down in their initial efforts, but persevered ‘til you have what is now before you.

The artwork is sweet, gentle, old-fashioned, nostalgic, very well-suited to this story starting in Victorian times and running through both World Wars, in Britain and across Germany, Austria, and Belgium. It’s approachable and easy on the eyes, but never talks down to the reader or the material – this is not Russell for Dummies. This is Russell for honest seekers who really want to understand him and his related colleagues but just aren’t wired for 360+ pages of symbols to indisputably prove that 1+1 = 2.

(more…)

Review: Action Philosophers

Review: Action Philosophers

In a popular and academic marketplace where everyone wants and needs to learn better, smarter, faster, we have series upon series of
things that have titles that are playfully self-deprecating in the hopes of our being brave enough to channel our inner superhero and dive in and learn something that might have seemed a bit daunting, such as Philosophy for Dummies and The Idiot’s Guide to Philosophy. We have Sparks Charts and Cliff Notes. And we have the HarperCollins College Outline of Philosophy, Ethics, and other subjects. All worthy aids for the harried and hopeful. But something’s missing. It has been proven in multiple studies that we learn in multi-valent ways, using all the senses, so that the more senses that are engaged in learning and the more playful it is, the better we learn and the better we retain things, no matter what our age or inclination.

Now, I’m a Philosophy Geek and I absolutely love this stuff, but I know it’s not for everyone, can be a hard read and a hard sell, and yet it is still foundationally useful – most headhunters and HR people say that they see a background in Philosophy as a plus for new applicants, as it helps them to be better analytical thinkers, better writers, better communicators, better problem solvers (both the NY Times and Wall Street Journal ran articles on this in the past year). Many of our beloved superheroes are very philosophical (look at Watchmen!). I heartily agree, there, and it’s why the term “classical education,” starting since Plato’s time (4th C. BCE), is still looked upon as something good and useful and the model upon which most modern education is built. After all, can 2500 years be totally wrong? But how to engage more of the senses and assimilate this vast quantity of knowledge in a manageable amount of time and even have fun doing it?

Their three volumes cover everything from the most obscure pre-Socratics to 20th C. America. The series, like Philosophy, itself (save for the 20th-21st Cs.) has a dearth of women – two to be exact: Ayn Rand and Mary Wollstonecraft. And only one native-born American, Joseph Campbell (Rand was an émigré and Jung only came here later in life to teach). The rest are Classical, Continental, and Eastern Philosophers of all the major schools of thought and they read totally like a who’s who. It’s not clear to me, from volume to volume, how the various names were picked and why they were grouped together in these omnibus editions, though within each volume they are chronologically presented. Van Lente’s great talent is to be able to distill down, quite accurately and admirably (I had few quibbles with him, mostly on his takes on the various Christian philosophies, in minor details), the main points of some very complex and mind-bending worldviews, from metaphysics to political science, all with quite the sense of humor, albeit sometimes gallows or black humor. And some of the things aren’t even funny ‘til you look at Dunlavey’s illustrations, which remind me of a cross between Hanna-Barbera and Beavis and Butthead, if they’d been done in line drawings, and then you just laugh at the conjunctions.

(more…)

The Un-Ethics of Watchmen Part II: The Under-übermensches

For part 1 of this article, go here.

If Alan Moore, in his alternate universe that is not so far from our own, invokes Nietzsche’s übermensch, the hyper-evolved, extra-moral being, each one of our main masks, individually, embodies some stage to that goal as we explore our Nite Owl’s-eye view of things as Moore presents them.

A central tenet of Aristotle’s outlook is that animals and we have souls, but we have rational souls and that’s what makes us human. Humans are beings of action, agents who act upon other things, instead of objects who are acted upon (see First Cause and The 4 Causes in Metaphysics). The result of all that – humanity and agency – yields responsibility through choice. So it’s an argument that starts with source and ends with aim (telos) – happiness, eudaimonia (as no sane being chooses unhappiness, but makes unfortunate choices due to ignorance and error – back to reason). And we gain happiness through the instrumental use of goods toward the ultimate good, which is true happiness (vs. illusory or merely apparent good). Ari posits that when the passions drive the bus, instead of reason, we are moved and that language reflects and helps to create our reality. Look at how we speak about things we experience: “It moved me.” That means we cared, we felt, we gave a damn. And the word “passion” means “to suffer,” and anyone who’s ever been in love knows that it’s both joy and suffering. So how do Moore’s characters move, instead of being moved as pawns in someone else’s game, not being masters of their own game?

Blake’s “understanding of the human condition… he understands perfectly… and he doesn’t care…” is seeing the world through dirt-colored glasses. There is no optimistic rose in Moore’s world – only blood-red, black, white, yellow, crap-brown amidst the chiaroscuro. Blake is never treated as a human, and so never behaves like one and exists by objectifying everyone, creating a never-ending supply of objects that he moves and who move him. He’s operating out of Id (impulse, desire), too far gone to notice and, like Rambo, rise up against his objectification, and so there is no opportunity for redemption. His heart is turned to stone and would fall into Hell on the Egyptian scales of balance vs. the feather. But he’s already been living there all his life, so he has no thought of that, either. Fearless. Contempt and grandiosity are all smoke screens for despair, ego death. Murder is a form of suicide, as part of our psyche can’t help but recognize our own humanity in the humanity of others, even if that part of our empathy (see Hume) and that of those around us is dead or severely damaged goods.

So Blake is totally incapable of making any ethical decisions because he obviously does not know right from wrong (the legal definition of insanity). He only knows how to destroy, feel crazed pain even as he emotionally anesthetizes himself – goes for the thrill to bury the ill. Sleight of hand. Distraction. Noise. The only even remotely good thing he ever created, and that was purely by biology buried under all the sludge of his struggle for power (one of the übermensch impulses), was Laurie. The fact that he never actively harmed her is the one good thing he’d ever done, however passive, before being tossed out that window.

(more…)

NPR’s Studio 360: ‘Watchmen’ in pop culture

NPR’s Studio 360: ‘Watchmen’ in pop culture

This week on NPR’s Studio 360, you’ll be hearing a roundtable discussion between Farscape comic writer Keith R.A. DeCandido, Star Trek author David Mack, comic book historian Alan Kistler, ethicist Alexandra Honigsberg, editor Jeness Crawford, ComicMix contributor Kim Kindya, and yours truly, discussing Watchmen and its impact on pop culture. It’s wide ranging and a lot of fun. Take a listen:

 

The Un-Ethics of Watchmen, Part 1: A Bird’s-Eye View

Editor’s note: With the imminent release of Watchmen, we thought we’d try and get a different perspective. So we asked Alexandra Honigsberg, a professional ethicist and genre author, to read the book for the first time and delve into the ethos of the world created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

If super-hero comics are the literature of ethics, then Watchmen is the literature of un-ethics. It is the template for what not to do and makes Batman look like a Boy Scout, even at his darkest Dark Knight. They make Dirty Harry look clean. There’s a new saying on the street that Bitch is the New Black, it Gets Things Done. Well, these guys and gals are certainly the biatch. But is there any way to redeem their actions so that the ends justify the means? Or, more importantly, that even the most inhumane or inhuman retains some sense of what it means to be human?

The study of ethics is the exploration of the good life and how to live it. Now by the “good life” I don’t mean the bling life. I mean a life that is honourable, virtuous and, on a profound level not shaken by the winds of change, happy. Happiness (or pleasure or joy or The Good). That’s the end, the ultimate goal, or what Aristotle calls “that at which all rational beings aim.” Ari makes a fine distinction between the acts of a man (animal, non-rational) and the acts of a human (rational) or what some of us might term the mensch (gender neutral). One of the biggest invectives that Laurie hurls at Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman is that, after working for so long in the lab and being so all-powerful (the man not only to end all wars, but end all worlds), he ceases to be human. Moore emphasizes this with quotes from Nietzsche, who claims that when we become evolved enough we will not need rules, we will have become extra-moral – the superman (not the Nazis’ bastardization thereof) who has no need of ethics as we now know them. But are we still human? Extreme means change the agent and therefore change the end (e.g., The Comedian’s total amorality). Can we still give a damn if we’re all god-like? Or in the midst of so much horror that no human could reasonably be expected to survive unscarred (think of the Holocaust), are we still human? What’s human? What’s life? What’s good and who decides? Who gives authority to whom and why?

 

(more…)