So where did you get your values

and views of life, RD?

I realize, with aging, from parents, of course. Not just mannerisms and behavior.

From personal life experience, too–epitomized by clichés such as “Once burned, twice shy”.

But many of the values were learned, osmotically, from three principal sources: music, books, and movies.

Music would be the longest, oldest source. Old pop songs that got in me really early beginning in the ’50s: “Sincerely”, “I Walk the Line”, “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and myriad others. When I would play my old 45s in the ’50s and ’60s, I would quite often be responding to words and ideas behind favorite songs. This process cored right down to language and words, but then, too, there were, more abstractly, the myriad myths, dreams, imaginings, and the beginnings of fundamental ideas and recurring themes. Music is something I also ended up writing and performing live for others for over 30 years.

Books came later, more in my university and teaching years. Although there were some ‘popular’ titles, most of that reading was of classics and pretty much just literature, anchored by Shakespeare and poetry. At first English, then Canadian, then American and world lit. I will also mention that teaching made it easier to get many ideas percolating and articulated. Even moreso in the school textbook writing I did from 1978 to 2010. I eventually became an author, writer, blogger, and poet.

Film influences began at an early elementary age beginning with movies on home black-and-white tv in the ’50s, developing more from going to the movies in 1966 to 2005 (mainly). I taught film in senior-high English and did presentations on using film in classes, culminating in a three-year job at Alberta Film Classification actually classifying movies for the province. I bought VHSs heavily from the 90s into the 2000s, then reacquired most of these titles and added many more after DVDs came out. Like music and books, movies typically present themes, ideas, and values, and these are often the most interesting and influential aspects of film.

I will just add that character and projected personas are usually the focus of whatever musical, book, or movie work. That and the choices various characters make, imitating real-life people and their choices. Consequently, I have learned much by listening, reading, and viewing. Those three have been easily as influential as my parents and personal life experiences. Often the insights from one art intertwine/d with works from the other two arts. There was much mixing and formulating of ideas and values arising from this cross-fertilization.

Looking back on these three arts, I see them now as granaries or silos of accumulated information, perspectives, insights, ideas, themes, values, and collected wisdom. The reputed value of a lifelong arts education (including university and the creation of art works) was never lost on me. And that includes all aspects of communication  including listening, reading, and viewing, speaking, writing, and representing.

In retrospect, I am a cultural dinosaur (with a lot of history, philosophy, and psychology  with some science thrown in). A cultured relic from a now-neverland-dead zone, occupied now mainly by people my age and older. The Arts truly made me what I am. I happily, fully availed myself of the best of what has been. historically and Culturally speaking, I am a creature of lofty ideals, a certified dreamer and possibilitarian. It is through the arts that I am, have been, and can still be best known, identified, understood, and appreciated.


(ps/My first name is Richard and I consider my life rich well beyond the very limited, normal/conventional association of filthy lucre. And it hasn’t been easy; there’s been a lot of hard work and even harder decisions and choices along the way.)

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