David Campbell’s paintings from his series “The Idiot” will make you laugh. Come on, a dude in repose sucking a lollipop while bouncing a beach ball is knee-slappin’ funny!
And some of his titles are even more humorous when paired with his painting. Granted, it’s an odd humor at times. “Touching My Wife’s Hair While She Sleeps” is kind of creepy, yes, but I love that the artist doesn’t take himself too seriously.
They are rather strange and slightly awkward — and they’re utterly beautiful.
(h/t to Tamara Brantmeier)
Storyteller Kevin Kling: A Twitterscript
by Susan Leem, associate producer
Kevin Kling is “part funny guy, part poet and playwright, part wise man.” And, we here at On Being were delighted to have the playwright and storyteller in our studios to share his life lessons and experiences with us.
On February 9, we live-tweeted highlights of his interview with Krista Tippett and have aggregated them below for those who weren’t able to follow along. Follow us next time at @BeingTweets.
For those not familiar with Kevin Kling, he is a prolific writer, performer, and a nationally recognized artist. He may be best known for his storytelling and commentaries at National Public Radio. With humanity and wit, Kling describes life growing up in the Midwest with his congenital birth defect, and how he’s been changed after surviving a near-fatal motorcycle accident.
- Kevin Kling is in the room now (1pm CST - 2:30pm). Please join our live video stream and chat with us at http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:00 PM]
- “I was always blessed to be around good storytellers.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:11 PM]
- “I still think of spirit through the breath.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:12 PM]
- “Humor is a way to establish trust.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:14 PM]
- “For the rest of my life I will have a foot in another world.” ~Kevin Kling, on living after a motorcycle accident http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:19 PM]
- “Shakespeare could get pretty folksy.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:20 PM]
- “Compassion can have a shelf life.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:23 PM]
- “When you are born w/ loss, you grow from it. When you experience loss later in life, you grow toward it.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:29 PM]
- “There are blessings in my curses every day, even today.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:37 PM]
- “[A good cry] is like an inward sauna.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:39 PM]
- “With every discovery, a million more mysteries come up. It’s more important to find solace in a mystery.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:43 PM]
- “Sense of humor is not only regional, it’s weather-driven.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:46 PM]
- “We need to rewrite our stories so we can sleep at night” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:58 PM]
- “Nobody’s an artist on purpose.” ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 2:00 PM]
Turning the Gifts of Our Experiences Into Story and Laughter
by Krista Tippett, host
Full disclosure: until I moved to Minnesota, I didn’t get the Midwestern accent/humor thing thing that the movie Fargo so iconically captured. But I remember hearing Kevin Kling on NPR and staying with him despite myself, always being touched as well as amused at where his stories took me.
Having only heard him on the radio, I wasn’t aware of the disability he was born with — his left arm much shorter than his right, with no wrist and no thumb. Then, about ten years ago, he was in a catastrophic motorcycle crash. The Associated Press and the local newspapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul reported the accident. Eyewitnesses thought he had died. The accident had paralyzed his healthy right arm, the one which had always done the bulk of the work.
Reading his stories from and about his childhood — they are legion — it is clear that Kevin Kling was always a natural humorist. And life has also made him wise.
Our losses make us human, he’s learned. They give us our richness and our wisdom. But wisdom doesn’t come cheap; it costs us. This is one of the endless things he says that makes you think hard just before or after he makes you smile.
We get the whole package of Kevin Kling in this conversation: funny guy, poet, wise man. As deeply down to earth as he is — in life as on stage — he also has an innate love of literature and philosophy, weaving Shakespeare and Dante into his stories as easily as Goofus and Gallant.
He describes himself as touched by Dante’s underworld. It’s a reality he feels he landed in, and wrested himself back from, after his accident. He also plays with Dante’s language about the underworld as he considers his very being and presence in the world. Dis, he says, is “the place of shadow and reflection where you round off the rough edges of torment and desire. You go to this world of Dis. And it’s the prefix for ‘disability,’ which doesn’t mean ‘unability.’ It means able through the world of shadow and reflection. And so it’s just another way of doing things… it is literally having a foot in two worlds.” This is how Kevin Kling experiences the “dis” in the disability he was born with, as well as the one he acquired in midlife.
And being able-bodied, he helpfully points out, is always only a temporary condition.
Sit back, relax, and prepare to reflect and to laugh. It’s a rare, lovely gift of Kevin Kling to make us do both. He helps us remember what he knows so well — that our sense of self and our sense of humor are great gifts in facing whatever life throws at us. Once we turn our experiences into stories and laughter, they no longer control us. The challenge is in not merely resting with the stories that help us sleep at night, but claiming the stories we want to grow into.
Live Video: In the Room with Kevin Kling
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
WHEN: Feb 9th, 2012 (1pm CT/2pm ET)
If you listen to NPR, there’s a good chance you’ve been regaled by the unparalleled storytelling of Kevin Kling. His popular commentaries and hilarious autobiographical tales have graced the public radio airwaves and his plays have been staged across the United States.
Born with a congenital birth defect, Kling’s left hand has no wrist or thumb, and that same arm is 75 percent the size of his right arm. And then, about five years ago, a motorcycle accident took away the use of his right arm when the brachial plexus nerves were pulled out of their sockets.
In a face-to-face conversation from the studios of American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio, Krista Tippett will talk to this American humorist and writer about confronting and embracing these physical challenges and his own mortality, and the will to create rather than despair. Through his work and his personal story, we’ll focus on his work as an artist, the importance of humor and craft in his spiritual life, and how he finds meaning in the world around him.
You’re welcome to watch it here, or join us on our events page where you can chat with other folks watching it.
If you have, let us say, a theory about man, and if you can only prove it by talking about Plato and George Washington, your theory may be quite a frivolous thing. But if you can prove it by talking about the butler or the postman, then it is serious, because it is universal. So far from it being irreverent to use silly metaphors on serious questions, it is one’s duty to use silly metaphors on serious questions. It is the test of one’s seriousness. It is the test of a responsible religion or theory whether it can take examples of pots and pans and boots and butter-tubs. It is a test of a good philosophy whether you can defend it grotesquely. It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.
—G.K. Chesterton, from the chapter “Spiritualism” in his 1908 book All Things Considered
Image by Bill Rogers/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Heroes
by Susan Leem, associate producer
From comic frames, dialogue, interviews, artwork, and allusions, the authors have extrapolated the religious affiliation of some beloved characters of modern fiction. You might remember Superman as a midwestern Methodist, and can picture Wonder Woman as coming out of the Greco-Roman classical tradition. Does knowing that the Hulk’s storyline was intentionally crafted for him to be a lapsed Catholic make you read his character or remember his story any differently?
Atheists Don’t Have No Songs
by Shubha Bala, associate producer
Watch Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers sing a special song, since they say atheists don’t have any.