The Brooklyn Book Festival in NYC, at Brooklyn Borough Hall and the plaza outdoors was a wonderful fall treat. Completely free, it’s the biggest event of its kind in the city and attracts authors from around the world.
I caught the outdoor discusion of Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who flew in from France for the event, with Paul D. Miller, AKA DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, who has just completed an art study of Antartica. The back-and-forth was a battle of optimistic existentialism spiced up with personal stories about what art is, and what art means in our time.
It came out that Yann, the photographer best known for his “Earth From Above” photography – my favorite picture book for the last decade – sees himself as a witness, not an artist. He’s just released his new study, “New York from Above”, as a new way to look at our cities as places to walk and be, not drive around in with vehicles. As a witness, he’s one of the powerful forces mother earth has for advocating for new ways to live simply and give up old technolgies for newer renewable ones, for the benefit of her global family – and the film “Home” was shown in the evening as a free event after the book fair.
Yann told of being expelled from schoool, and then doing a photographic thesis on a lion family, where the lions became his teachers. The lions did a great job.
Paul D. Miller presents himself as an artist, not just a witness, and an interventionalist. He laced ideas about our modern political struggles throughout his discussion with Yann. From an urban background, Miller has now traveled to Antarctica for inspiration, where he’s created new music. His fictional “Manifesto for a People’s Republic of Antartica” transcends urban and wild untamed nature with the idea that the earth belongs to all of us. I picked up a copy of his new publication, “The Book of Ice” after the dicussion, and am enjoying his thought experiment.
No matter how dire and depressing the topics of global change and effects of pollution and overcrowding became, somehow this outdoor discussion ended on love. “Love is all you need” came out, as a call to understand conditions from above, like Yann, or on the streets, from Paul, with empathy. The two authors traded thoughts on how the stone age didn’t end for a lack of stone, and now our age is changing too. We stopped making axes of stone. We’ll stop using coal and oil. Not because we’ve already run out of carbon sources of energy, but because they have become passe.
In the face of the tremendous creative potential of people, old technology doesn’t stand a chance. People are inventing new ways to channel energy, personal, creative, and natural energy. And in the end, the creative energy of people like Yann and Paul seem to me to be the sweetest form of renewable energy we have today.
Did you see the Brooklyn Book Festival, and any of the new works stand out to you? Please leave a comment to share views. I’ll look forward to hearing from you here.
Related links: you may also be interested in Short Stories “Death and the Dream” available at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-and-the-dream-jennifer-j-brown/1104803325 and book retailers world wide, as print and ebook editions.