Posts Tagged ‘Erich Fromm’

That millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.

― Erich Fromm, The Sane Society

Wow. Just wow.

There are a lot of different connotations for the word crazy.

It’s used to describe pathological insanity.

Or used to describe situations that are wild and excessive, beyond the norm. That party was crazy!

Or it can describe enthusiasm. I’m crazy about pie. And I am crazy about pie, by the way.

Or it can describe foolishness. I was crazy to think there would be pie.

Or annoyance. Your talking about pie all the time is driving me crazy!

There are probably more. But almost any use of it could be applied to the phone call that was released yesterday. I am not going to get into details, which are all over the news if you’re not yet aware, except to say this is not pie crazy.

It is crazy crazy. Dangerously crazy. Criminally crazy.

The terrible thing is that it’s been this way for the last four years and way too many people have twisted themselves into pretzels and diminished their own integrity in trying to explain, justify, and rationalize their continued backing of this man* and his administration. But the craziness of the revelations of this weekend provide a strong and fitting exclamation point to mark the end of this presidency.

Those who continue to back and believe this man* and the multitude of conspiracies associated with him at this point might want to pause and examine their own state of mind and their personal motivations.

Perhaps ask themselves, “Do I want my name forever associated with this kind of crazy?” They might want to take note of the words at the top from Erich Fromm

History will note their decision.

Unfortunately, this is not yet the absolute end and exclamation point to this presidency***. There are still fifteen days of escalating craziness ahead as this man* tries to hold onto the power and protection of the office. If you don’t think this is a dangerous moment, note that yesterday’s crazy antics overshadowed the release of a letter signed by the 10 living former Secretaries of Defense stating that the elections have been decided and that the military should not under any circumstance be involved in any effort to overturn the results. Not something you see under more normal and saner circumstances.

Yeah, crazy days still ahead.

Here’s some good crazy– no, it’s not pie— to cleanse your palate. A little Patsy Cline with her legendary rendition of the Willie Nelson classic, Crazy.

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“Bold Run”- Now at the West End Gallery


“Most people are convinced that as long as they are not overtly forced to do something by an outside power, their decisions are theirs, and that if they want something, it is they who want it. But this is one of the great illusions we have about ourselves. A great number of our decisions are not really our own but are suggested to us from the outside; we have succeeded in persuading ourselves that it is we who have made the decision, whereas we have actually conformed with expectations of others, driven by the fear of isolation and by more direct threats to our life, freedom, and comfort.”

― Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom


Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no

Kris Kristofferson, Me and Bobby McGee:


What is real freedom?

I can’t say for sure. Wish I could.

Lately, I have been thinking about the 1941 book from Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom. In it, Fromm writes about that we actually have a fear of freedom.  Real freedom requires personal responsibility for our decisions and actions and creates an almost unbearable anxiety in man. Real freedom means living without a safety net, where we decide who and what we are, what we want from life, where we are held accountable for each decision we make.

Put that way, freedom sounds much more perilous.

As a result, we have fostered a desire to be told what we should be and what we should do. Fromm makes the point that we want someone to make the decisions that guide our lives while maintaining the illusion that we have freely made them.

“Modern man lives under the illusion that he knows ‘what he wants,’ while he actually wants what he is supposed to want. In order to accept this it is necessary to realize that to know what one really wants is not comparatively easy, as most people think, but one of the most difficult problems any human being has to solve. It is a task we frantically try to avoid by accepting ready-made goals as though they were our own.”

A life of real freedom is scary and difficult so it is always tempting to just fit in, to accept a bit of comfort and security in exchange for losing a large degree of that freedom. Doing this make us susceptible to falling prey to those with less than honorable intentions.

“Escape from Freedom attempts to show, modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.”

The concept of this book seems to be playing out in real time lately.

I don’t know that we, myself included, understand the concept of real freedom. I have tried to shape and live a free life but have I succeeded?

I don’t know.

I will continue to look for an answer but in the meantime, here’s this week’s Sunday Morning Music. It’s I Want to Be Free, an old Leiber and Stoller hit first sung by Elvis Presley in the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock. While Elvis does a fine job with the song, I much prefer this version from Robert Gordon who had a nice run as a rockabilly artist with several memorable albums in the 1980s. Here, I think he fills in the blanks that Elvis left in his version.

Give a listen and have a good day. And take a minute to think about what you think real freedom is.



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The activity at this very moment must be the only thing that matters, to which one is fully given. If one is concentrated, it matters little what one is doing. The important, as well as the unimportant things, assume a new dimension of reality, because they have one’s full attention.

Erich Fromm


I am easily distracted. Oh, I don’t think it’s anything like ADHD or anything really to do with a deficit of attention. There are just so many things close at hand waiting to grab my focus.

For instance, the instant access to information and a myriad of media such as music and film that the internet provides has destroyed my patience. I can spend an inordinate amount of time just trying to decide what I want to hear or see.  And if I have a question now, I demand an answer immediately because I know there is one just waiting somewhere online. No waiting, no spending time going through my books to find the answer.


So every thought, any inkling of a question, has the possibility of becoming a distraction which, in turn, changes the focus of the moment. And for me, the focus of the moment should always be about finding meaning in that present moment in my work. And that meaning comes with finding the extraordinary in the ordinary with my painting. That is done by cutting away details that distract the mind and the eye, creating a setting where the viewer ( or myself, because I am forever the primary viewer) can find focus in the moment, to clearly see what I am presenting or trying to say in the piece.

The painting above, Beyond Distraction, captures this feeling for me. The bottom 3/4 of the picture is filled with color and details in the form of rolling hills, road forks, trees and houses. But the focus of the painting is on the single Red Tree that placidly basks in the light of the sun, unaffected by all that is going on below it.

It lives in the moment and is concentrating on that moment.

Hopefully, the viewer’s eye follows the central path up through the painting, looking past the distractions to see that moment. My eye does but, hey, this was made for my eye.

Judge for yourself.


Beyond Distraction is a 30″ by 20″ canvas that is part of my show, Self Determination, which opens next Friday, July 14, at the West End Gallery in Corning.

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GC Myers- Rooted  smOnly when man succeeds in developing his reason and love further than he has done so far, only when he can build a world based on human solidarity and justice, only when he can feel rooted in the experience of universal brotherliness, will he have transformed his world into a truly human home.

–Erich Fromm, Sane Society, 1955


This painting  hangs in my current show at the West End Gallery.  It is a 30″ by 10″ canvas that I call Rooted.

I often see the Red Chairs hanging in a tree as a symbol of human solidarity, of being part of a continuum that started long before its own origins, descended from a common beginning born in the very elements of this earth.

It’s this common beginning that we often forget in our journey through life. We find that we are separating and dividing ourselves, isolating ourselves further from the common root that bore us all.   In this isolation we fail to see our own humanity in others, seeing only our differences and not our common bonds.

And it is these common bonds that will no doubt determine our future on this earth.

Is the ideal of human solidarity a possibility or a pipe-dream?  I do not know.  It certainly seems improbable, given where we are at this point in time.  But I do know that if we dismiss it as a possibility then we don’t have much of a future ahead of us.  Our strength is carried in our roots, our oneness.

And that’s how I am seeing this painting…


GC Myers-  Private Glow 2016REMINDER;



Join me for what I hope will be a lively conversation along with a free drawing for the painting, “Private Glow”, shown here on the left, as well as a few other surprises!

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Gather the Light Well, I’ve delivered the work for my show that opens this coming Friday, July 24th, at the West End Gallery in Corning.  

It’s always a bit strange those first few days after the studio is emptied of a great deal of work.   The pieces had maintained a presence here for months, filling the space with a sort of life force,  then suddenly, they’re gone.  It always takes a few days for me to recover my equilibrium, to refocus, after I face the empty studio.  I try to find a new destination, try to think of when and where the next step will be taken.

It’s as though, in preparing for a show, I am racing down a road towards a fixed point that looms on the horizon.  As I near the deadline, the focus makes the road  seem narrower and narrower.  That fixed point is all that I can see.  Then, upon delivery, it’s like I have burst through that point of destination and a whole new horizon suddenly opens before me in all directions.  There’s a period of gathering one’s bearings, taking in all the possibilities of this new landscape I’m faced with.

And that’s where I find myself this morning.  Horizons in every direction.  The feeling of potential is wonderful but behind it there is always a nagging fear of making the wrong move, choosing the wrong direction.  It’s a fear of freedom, the same type described by Erich Fromm in his book, Escape From Freedom, from the early 1940’s.  He basically (it’s much more in depth than I’m going to paraphrase) said that while everyone craves total freedom, few are prepared for the self-responsibility that comes with it.  Most feel the need for guidance of some sort.

A point on their horizon. A destination.

So, here I am today.

The painting at the top, Gather the Light, is part of the West End show.  It’s a piece that I very much like for many reasons.  I think there’s a certain dynamism to the color and light that gives it real oomph.  While there is this dynamic feel, it doesn’t betray the quietude and introspective nature of the piece.  I like that tension between these two aspects of the painting.  It creates a layer of interest that is really felt and not seen.

Hopefully, other will feel this as well…

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