Archive for January 30th, 2022

The Circle Game

Rota Fortunae -Wheel of Fortune

Rota Fortunae— The Wheel of Fortune

You must read, you must persevere, you must sit up nights, you must inquire, and exert the utmost power of your mind. If one way does not lead to the desired meaning, take another; if obstacles arise, then still another; until, if your strength holds out, you will find that clear which at first looked dark.

― Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron

The excerpt above is from The Decameron from Giovanni Boccaccio. It was written in 1353 in the immediate aftermath of the Black Death that swept across and devastated Europe.

It tells of 10 citizens of Florence — 7 women and 3 men– who flee the plagued city for two weeks, settling in a country villa. Each of the ten people are required to tell one story per day though they refrain from doing so chore days or on the holy days. Thus, there are ten days of stories from ten people which brings the total of tales in The Decameron, whose title translates as ten days, to 100.

The stories deal with three primary themes: Fortune, Love and Ingenuity. The Wheel of Fortune plays  a large part in the storytelling. No, not the one with Pat and Vanna! We are talking about the wheel, Rota Fortunae, turned by Lady Fortune, on which kings and beggars both rise and fall.

It portrays the world as a turning wheel that sees each of us– and all of us– sometimes rising to or actually atop the wheel and sometimes sliding from the top toward the bottom of that same wheel. At that time, as the plague raged, they believed themselves to be at the bottom of the wheel.

It’s a fine metaphor for most times and most individual lives. We all have times when we feel that we are rising or falling with moments when we sense that we might be at the very top of our own wheel. And collectively, for all of us as a whole, the metaphor might be even more apt.

We all experience the ups and downs on the Rota Fortunae and, for the most part, we simply do our best to hang on because falling off means our time on the wheel is at an end.

And even so, it keeps spinning.

That’s my intro to this week’s Sunday Morning Music selection. It’s The Circle Game from Joni Mitchell. I thought I would play something from either Joni or Neil Young this week to highlight their decision to pull their catalogs of music from Spotify in protest of that streaming service’s commitment to carrying the Joe Rogan podcast, which has a large following and has been the source of a tremendous amount of misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy nonsense.

As an artist, I understand and agree with their decisions. Even though I believe that all viewpoints have a right to exist and be expressed, even those that are controversial and/or dangerous, that doesn’t mean that I have to share my work in that same space.

For example, if I showed my work at a gallery  and it began to display prominently work whose subject I found morally repulsive and counter to my own viewpoints and beliefs. Let’s say it was work that was filled with racist or misogynistic imagery that was spilled over with hatred and cruelty. I would certainly pull my work from that gallery if they chose to continue showing that work. I would not my name attached in any way to that work, even in the slightest tangential manner.

That is my right as well as my duty to my own moral compass and conscience.

So kudos to Neil Young and Joni Mitchell for exercising their rights. It must be noted that both are from Canada. It seems to me that sometimes those people who have been drawn to this country, the immigrants of all sorts, see things here a bit clearer than those of us who have been here forever. As a result, they often take the exercise of their rights ( and protecting the rights of others) more seriously.

Here is The Circle Game that deals with a wheel of fortune in a way, the wheel here being the carousel of life we all get on and off in an endless ride. Enjoy your ride.

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