Friday, May 19, 2006

Back from New York

Thoughts from Kansas took a brief trip back to New Jersey/New York for Mother's Day.
I got to see a great exhibit of Paul Klee's paintings at the Neue Gallery, had some good food, saw my parents, and even got to meet up with some bloggers.

Grrlscientist showed me the parrots she studies and we had a nice talk about blogging, academia, and biology.

From the museum, we headed off to the Pioneer Pub, a cavernous space on Bowery Street where the authors of Crashing the Gate, the owners of DailyKos and MyDD, were speaking at a Drinking Liberally, shortly after Kos finished filming a Ned Lamont commercial.

I got my copy of the book signed, and chatted about Kansas politics a little bit with Jerome. He mentioned that a Lawrence stop on the tour may be in the works, so we can all look forward to that.

The day began with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a tour through their collection of musical instruments, a jaunt over to Arms and Armor, then off to corners of the museum I don't get to often enough, like the extensive holdings of Near Eastern art, especially from Cyprus. From there, I did a quick turn through the Asian art, especially the Indian section.

The day ended at a Vietnamese restaurant with a friend of mine from kindergarten.

It was a busy day, but not a day of nearly as much contrast as it may sound like. It was a study in connections, the ways that people get together, stay together, and get things done. Cyprus is an island, and its art was an amalgam of Egyptian, Greek, and Middle Eastern themes. And a survey of Indian art shows the various traders who passed through, Greek and Roman influences, Chinese themes and religious elements, and Islamic art from the eastern expansion of the Caliphate. Both cultures grew and improved by reaching out to people with common interests and concerns, and great things bloomed from those contacts.

Meeting Grrlscientist was an example of a more modern version of the same process. While I've been known to talk to ornithologists on occasion, and while we have some acquaintances in common, the decentralized and distributed community of science bloggers brought us into the same community in a way that would otherwise have been impossible otherwise. I could call her up out of the blue and converse as if we knew each other for a long time. Partly that's an effect of shared experiences, but largely it reflects the way that connections between people are less tied to geography than to common interests.

Then the event with kos and Jerome replicated the experience. I was able to have a nice conversation with two famous people who I never met before because we have developed a common language of netroots politics. And the theme of their book is the same. The progressive movement needs to develop a common language and a common set of tactics in order to win. New technology and new ideas are bringing ideas together faster than they once did, but the process is no different than that which allowed Cyprus and India to develop novel artistic styles on the basis of diverse communities.

We live in a world of connections, links that cross space to bring people together in unexpected ways