Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Art of Provocation

As I've been thinking about this wife thing, I've been reading this book, which features what may be my favorite piece of cover art of all time. It's creative and provocative, without being offensive...it walks that fine line with precision. That, I've decided, is my new goal in life.

(Warning note: This may be the only post in the universe comparing the Gilmore Girls to Jesus, but sometimes you gotta think waaaay outside the box to figure out how life works...) Last night, I was at a talk where the speaker offered an interesting perspective on Jesus' odd teaching style (and how he seems to be thinking, "Hey, why don't I follow up every clear passage with something utterly confusing, and then say a couple things that will completely piss you off!") She suggested that Jesus' goal wasn't to hand out a divine rulebook and then take off, wishing us all good luck. Rather, she said, maybe he wanted to provoke us, to draw us into an ongoing conversation where we wrestle (rant, argue, disagree) with these things until they make sense to us in a real, personal way.

This got me thinking about what draws me to certain books, music, tv shows, blogs...even friends. As I contemplate the ending of The Gilmore Girls - and the distinct possibility that my favorite show ever won't end in any of the traditional perfect ways - I realize that what lights up my life (to quote Debby Boone) is provocation. The good kind, that is - with analogies drawn between things I wouldn't have thought of, or creative solutions rather than just an endless line of problems. The Gilmore Girls provoked me, and I'm not sure what's gonna fill that gap.

Provocation is an art. I don't want tacky or lewd; I don't want to be horrified. I want to think, and laugh, and wonder, and (yes) wrestle a bit with what an author or show or friend suggests. And I want to be all of those things, because I think it makes life so much more interesting if I can add an unexpected perspective to a conversation in a way that draws people in, rather than sending them running for the hills determined to lose my number.

So there you have it. It's the second week of May, and I'm just figuring out my New Year's resolution: Learn the art of provocation. If I win the t-shirt Swishy is giving away on her website, I'll be that much closer...

Today's question: What is the last thing that bugged you but also changed how you look at life?

16 comments:

Krazee Eyez Killa said...

Yo, just wanted to stop by and let you know that I dig your blog.

Holla,

Krazee Eyez Killa

Trish Ryan said...

Well, I guess that blog name qualifies as provocative...

It also makes me wonder what sort of google nightmare I've set myself up for with this post title. Yikes.

Stacy said...

If I was a bestselling author, I'd offer to provide a blurb for your book cover declaring it the most provocative book of the 2008.

Interesting thoughts on Jesus. I do wonder about his teachings sometimes, and that's an interesting perspective.

L Sass said...

I think that learning the art of provocation is a wonderful New Year's (or New Spring!) resolution.

I'm trying to think about the last think that provoked me in a good way. I haven't come up with anything yet, but it's definitely a great question.

And the speaker is so right-on about Jesus, that is a really interesting way of looking at it. I like the idea that Christianity is an eternal discussion rather than a fixed set of rules.

Beth said...

I think that is a very interesting theory on Jesus as well.

And it kind of makes me sad that the Gilmore Girls is going to end the way that I think it will. Shows usually end with an actual happily ever after ending. But instead, I think the Gilmore Girls will end with the beginning of Rory's grown-up years, full of possibilites, but no definitve ending.

Still thinking on your question. I have no idea...

Princess Extraordinaire said...

The last thing that bugged me was this home renovation I am going through , however, it has brought to me that I am not in control of anything so I may as well surrender and kep the peace both in and outside of my head.

Lisa said...

This may be way out on a tangent, but what I thought of immediately when I read your question was discussion surrounding a recent blog post about school shootings. There was a lot of discussion about how to communicate with our own children and then there was a post that said people who are concerned with and responsible for raising their children are a shrinking piece of the equation. The thought nagged at me and made me realize that the kinds of kids who are likely to be disenfranchised, troubled, depressed, introverted, bullied, etc. are the kids we tend to want to keep our own away from. I was further disturbed when I made the mental leap at thinking by trying to protect our own, maybe we're unconsciously exacerbating the isolation of the troubled kids...the ones more at risk. So, in our "it takes a village" mentality, we're really talking about only our own. Don't we have some social responsibility overall? Believe me, I'm provoked with no answers. Willingly reaching out to a troubled stranger is sort of like adopting the dog that's slated to be put down because abuse has made him aggressive...that's the last thing that bugged me and has made me rethink how I look at one aspect of life.

John Elder Robison said...

Well, I was talking with Kim Stagliano today.

I had been thinking that this 1-in-160 incidence of autism was mostly due to mental health workers greater vigilance.

But she got me to thinking. Forty years ago, we did not have or need:
- Rooms to confine kids in schools
- Lunch areas for kids with peanut allergies
- Families with three or even five autistic children
- Such a huge incidence of asthma.

I don't know what to make of that, but she's right. Despite the advances in medicine, some of our kids are sicker. Why?

John Elder Robison said...

Just so you know, my last post, which has nothing to do with any of your other comments, was in response to your question about things that recently happened to me that changed the way I see life.

Jess Riley said...

That is an AWESOME cover.

In answer to your question, I feel like I learn something every day that bugs me (or scares me, more likely) and alters how I look at life.

Wine helps.

LEstes65 said...

"What is the last thing that bugged you but also changed how you look at life?"

Do you have to ask? Do you need his full name and social security number?

The Writers' Group said...

Ooooh, what a provocative question. What first comes to mind is a betrayal by a friend that forced me to reconsider how & when to forgive.

Amy

appletini said...

I loved lisa's comment. It is something that we definitely all need to think about.

The last thing that really provoked deep thought about life was a movie that I saw... it made me think about how the choices that you make in life are sooo important, and that one wrong choice can send your life spiraling in a whole different direction.

Samara Leigh said...

Great resolution for a writer. Thanks for the heads up on The Gilmore Girls. I love the show. Rory and Lorelai's banter is the best in the business. I stopped watching the show because of scheduling issues - back before my trusty DVR - and I just sort of forgot about the show.

I wanted to get the past episodes on DVD, but now I'll make sure to catch those final episodes, too.

Steph said...

Well, when my ex started dating someone else "seriously" after breaking up with me a mere three weeks before, it pricked my heart a bit. I knew that he wasn't the right one for me, so it was an easy breakup, but seeing someone else move on so quickly always stings a little. Oddly enough, seeing him in this new relationship made me reexamine a breakup I had gone through a little over a year ago. I had been the one who had moved on to a new relationship quickly and I finally realized how badly I must have hurt the person I had recently broken up with. I'd spent so much of the last year being so angry at my exboyfriend when I never really knew how he must have felt.
Its always nice to get new perspective on things.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

You're really putting out the hard questions, Trish! I keep thinking I'll come back and answer them, but I'm comin' up with nothing.

Must try harder...