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A Little End of Summer Arts and Culture

Last night I had two scary dreams. One was that some burly stooges posing as workers for a home security company came to my childhood home to physically abduct me. I awoke startled.

The second dream had me back in university. My dorm room had been changed from a distant, satellite dorm at the edge of town to another room more central within the university village. All the books and items in the room looked vaguely familiar but not quite right. Next thing I knew, some creepy people came in, began to set up a portable operating table, and told me I was scheduled for an operation. When I asked an attendant “What operation?” she replied “I don’t know.”

Sensing serious danger, I asked to make a call and woke up, thinking I would have had to be like that guy in The Fugitive to escape something horrible.

Truly scary dreams. I hope they just mean slow down and take it easy for a while, which is what I intend to do today. Everyone else gets summer holidays and, although I’m not going anywhere physically different, I think I’ll just take in some arts and culture for a while, and post my discoveries here.

The most recent discovery is tweeted at the top of the page. I like this painting. Notice how the more important guy has better, more ostentatious clothing and bigger, more expressive eyes. What really struck me, however, was the larger globe in the picture. Fascinating how mythological creatures are intertwined with the scientific mapping (zoom in to see). We’ve lost that mythic connection to science, although some writers like James Hillman suggest that we’re just fooling ourselves. The mythic is still present and even science is a kind of mythic pattern.

I guess that’s in line with what I’ve been arguing all along here at Earthpages.org and Earthpages.ca. But as I said, it’s my holiday, of sorts, and I don’t feel like going into it any further right now!

Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora...

Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora Stock during Mozart’s visit to Dresden, April 1789 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other discovery, made last night, is something I’m listening to right now: Venice Classical Radio. I almost feel like I’m living in some little flat in Venice while listening to this excellent station. The selections are accessible but relatively uncommon. I’ve only heard one Mozart staple, which I enjoyed anyhow (pretty hard not to like Mozart).

 


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Excellent video about Neurotheology

I’ve panned Dr. Andrew Newberg in the past for making seemingly simplistic claims. But it’s very possible I was wrong to do so. Either that, or his thinking and scientific humility has developed dramatically. This video reveals an Andrew Newberg that I really didn’t know existed. As Yoda might have said, “Pleasantly surprised, I was…”

But seriously. This video is a must for anyone interested in the interface of spirituality, religious practices, and the brain. Follow the link in the above tweet and scroll down the page to watch.


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Continuing my summer cyber travels – This time, Vienna

The caption for this tweet might sound a bit cynical but that’s pretty much how I feel. I had a professor once who came from that neck of the woods. He insinuated that we had a dearth of “culture” in the West. Probably the worst professor I ever had, and things ended badly with him. But I won’t go into the details. That was a long time ago and I’m past it.

So yeah, my view of Vienna is probably tainted by my very bad experience with this person. And, in fairness, there is quite a bit of interesting material here. In the video you can see a grandiose palace where Napoleon stayed after invading the area, and lots of statues of Mozart and Johann Strauss (both of whom I adore). Also, several neoclassical statues stand out—even if they seem a bit incongruous in their foreign setting.

All the same, I think some folks overrate old stuff and cannot really appreciate the complexities of contemporary cultural forms. I could go on here, but I just want to share my summer cyber travels for now.


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Taking a cyber trip – Greece

It’s virtually summertime, and I need a little break from the same ol’, same ol’. Not being in a position right now to jump on a jet plane, I get almost as much satisfaction from watching travel videos. Yesterday I watched this one about Greece—particularly, the Greek islands. I enjoyed it. A little bit heavy on the whitewashed buildings, but I guess that’s par for the course.


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Lifting the stigma around disabled sex


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British Museum & Google develop online Lord Ganesha exhibition

Special to Earthpages.org

British Museum (BM) has developed an online exhibition “Celebrating Ganesha” with Google Cultural Institute (GCI).

Its tagline includes “Explore the imagery and symbolism associated with Ganesha and gain an insight into some of the most popular stories surrounding him.”

It shows a Ganesha sculpture (1200), Ganesha painting (1600), Ganesha on a swing painting (1800, Maharashtra), Ganesha in procession painting ((1780-1820, Tanjore style), Ganesha on his rat mount painting (1800)—all from BM, and a video on “The making and worship of Ganesha statues in Maharashtra.”

It explains about the background of “Why does Ganesha ride a rat?”, Ganesha’s elephant head and Ganesha’s broken tusk.

Rajan Zed, commending BM and GCI for this joint venture in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged world museums and multinational technology companies to undertake projects to explore the rich philosophical thought and wisdom offered by Hinduism and Hindu scriptures.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, appealed to major art museums of the world; including Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Los Angeles Getty Center, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern of London, Prado Museum of Madrid, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc.; to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

BM, headquartered in London and founded in 1753, is claimed to be the first national public museum in the world. It now comprises over 8 million objects spanning the history of the world’s cultures: from the stone tools of early man to twentieth century prints. Sir Richard Lambert is Trustees Chairman, while Dr. Hartwig Fischer is the Director as of spring 2016.

The GCI claims to bring “together millions of artifacts from multiple partners, with the stories that bring them to life, in a virtual museum.”


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Those post-binge-watching blues? They might be real

Monita Karmakar, University of Toledo and Jessica Sloan Kruger, University of Toledo

With the release of the fourth season of “House of Cards,” all 13 episodes are available for Netflix subscribers. Some fans might space each episode out over the course of the ensuing weeks. But many will binge-watch – completing the series in a thrilling, draining marathon of being glued to their laptops or TV screens.

And when it’s all over?

Many report feeling sad or anxious once a TV binge-watching session has concluded. In an essay for The New York Times, writer Matthew Schneier reported feeling “anxious, wistful, bereft” as his binge of Aziz Ansari’s popular comedy series “Master of None” neared its end.

A couple of years ago, one binge-watcher interviewed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune said she felt “depression” and “emptiness” after finishing her favorite shows.

On Twitter, others have expressed similar sentiments.

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Are these merely the experiences of a few people who have watched too much TV (and could probably use some fresh air)? Or could binge-watching actually affect your health and well-being?

There’s been limited empirical research on the consequences of binge-watching. So with the advantage of a large sample size, we conducted one of the first forays into studying binge-watching from a public health perspective.

A binge-watching bonanza

According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, watching television is one of the most common leisure time activities in the U.S.

On average, Americans spend about 2 hours and 49 minutes per day watching television, and it accounts for more than 50 percent of their daily leisure activities.

Yet the way Americans consume television is rapidly changing, and binge-watching has become a relatively recent phenomenon.

The rising popularity of on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have made it easier than ever to have uninterrupted access to full TV series, and Collins Dictionary even declared “binge-watch” the word of the year for 2015.

Marketing and social media campaigns have also encouraged binge-watching, with the popular streaming service Netflix calling it the “new normal.”

To date, most of the surveys and research surrounding binge-watching have been conducted by private research firms and companies.

A 2013 survey by Netflix showed that 73 percent of the respondents viewed binge-watching as a socially acceptable behavior. A similar survey by TiVo in 2015 showed that negative perceptions about binge-watching have decreased between 2013 and 2015. About 92 percent of the respondents to the TiVo survey reported that they had binge-watched at some point.

Are binge-watching and mental illness related?

Excessive TV watching has long been associated with health problems. Scientific studies have shown that prolonged television viewing increases the risk of obesity and related diseases such as diabetes.

It’s also been linked to mental health problems like depression. And a recent Texas A&M study revealed that binge-watching is tied to feelings of loneliness and depression. They also found that those who binge-watch lacked the self-regulation to stop, suggesting that binge-watching may be an addictive behavior.

For our study, we surveyed 406 North American adults, recruited from an online data collection platform. We wanted to know more about binge-watchers – particularly their viewing habits, mental health status, and how prevalent and socially acceptable binge-watching was among their friends.

The majority of our respondents defined binge-watching as two to five hours of consecutive video viewing in one day. About 35 percent of the respondents admitted that they binge-watch TV. Not surprisingly, those who self-identified as binge-watchers were more likely to report higher average screen time in the past seven days compared to those who did not identify as binge-watchers. Self-identified binge-watchers were also more likely to report higher addiction to TV (as measured by a validated scale).

The major highlight of our study, however, is that self-identified binge-watchers were more likely to report higher stress, anxiety and depression.

We were ultimately able to demonstrate a relationship between binge-watching, average screen time and mental health status.

However, these results should be interpreted with caution. Our research shows only a correlation and not causation. We don’t know if depression, stress and anxiety are caused by binge-watching, or if it is the other way around. In other words, people might binge-watch as a way to temporarily alleviate preexisting feelings of stress and anxiety.

We also discovered that media influence and social acceptance of binge-watching were found to be significant predictors of self-reported binge-watching.

About 85 percent of the respondents said that they had noticed advertisements or articles encouraging binge-watching, while 74 percent of the respondents reported that they have read articles on binge-watching. An estimated 62 percent of the respondents believed that most people binge-watch and 53 percent of the respondents indicated that most of their friends binge-watch.

Of course, more research is needed to understand the true effects of binge-watching on physical and mental health. In the interim, the next time you load up “House of Cards,” “Jessica Jones” or “Game of Thrones,” it might be a good idea to exercise some caution once the show concludes, and resist the urge to click “next episode.”

The Conversation

Monita Karmakar, PhD candidate in Health Education, University of Toledo and Jessica Sloan Kruger, PhD student in Health Education, University of Toledo

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.