As a spiritual seeker, I welcome these qualities of gratitude, reverence, rectification, and transmutation that arise from the prayer/meditation of Ho’oponopono cleansing: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” I’m working with this technique, which has come recently into mass consciousness. It reminds me of the Lord’s Prayer, another tool of reverence, gratitude, rectification, and transmutation. Or the Om Tryambakam, which has a similar sensibility. Or the Amidah in the Shabbat liturgy. Good stuff.
Factual error in the New Yorker: I write this post not just for myself, but for all women whose ideas were misattributed to a man, and who were told to leave it be and not to rock the boat.
My husband Sabin Howard is making a national memorial, the National World War I Memorial.
He began with drawings. He drafted several iterations of a relief that would tell the story of the Great War.
One morning over breakfast, he was talking about the design and showing it to me.
“My goodness,” I said. “You’ve got Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey there.”
Sabin said, “Explain that?”
So I did. As a novelist, I’ve worked with Campbell’s ideas for years. For the purposes of storytelling, the beats of the hero’s journey are useful and important. I’ve been so entranced by Campbell’s work that I’ve talked about getting a PhD in it.
And so, with my explanation over coffee and scrambled eggs, began a critical and oft-repeated piece of the story around the WWI Memorial. The Hero’s Journey connection has been publicly broadcast, by Sabin and by others associated with the Memorial, including PR people.
This is my contribution to this worthy endeavor and I’m proud of it.
Sabin is an honorable man. He consistently credits me with telling him about Joseph Campbell. He says, “My wife told me about the Hero’s Journey…” in every public venue where he’s spoken–including at a meeting of the Commission on Fine Arts in Washington DC.
In the worlds of literature and academia, claiming credit for someone else’s work is called plagiarism. Sabin is well aware of that. He is extraordinarily brilliant, but I was the one who came up with the Hero’s Journey.
The idea is to give credit where credit is due. As a matter of integrity–don’t take credit for other people’s work. Sabin doesn’t. He’s honorable.
Then came a big opportunity: The New Yorker magazine decided to do a Talk of the Town piece on Sabin and his sculpture at the New York Academy of Art.
The publicist for the NYAA was happy and excited. She had done a great job! This piece would add luster to the NYAA, to Sabin, who was showing the WWI Memorial Maquette at the NYAA, and to the Memorial itself. This was a coup!
Sabin was happy. Despite the extraordinary–unparalleled–quality of his work, he has struggled for acceptance here in the New York art world.
“A prophet is not recognized in his home town,” I tell him.
The Talk of the Town piece went live online yesterday.
It contained a factual error:
“I realized, Oh, my God, this is like Joseph Campbell’s ‘the hero’s journey,’ ” Howard said. “It’s a very simple story that everybody in every single culture has experienced.”
Sabin was out when I texted him about the error. He stepped away from a meeting to contact the publicist at the NYAA and ask for the article to be corrected for factual accuracy.
Here’s where the story gets interesting.
The NYAA publicist was less than enthusiastic about the update. She forwarded the request to the writer at The New Yorker.
Then she emailed back, “Anna…consulted with the fact-checking department on the request, and they feel since the piece doesn’t go into “how” the realization was made, it should stay as is.”
This is disingenuous. Sabin was directly misquoted and asked for his words to be represented correctly. He always says, “My wife said, “This is Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.”
The New Yorker‘s misquote creates a factual error in the piece.
Sabin and I continued to push for accuracy. Sabin felt it was an injustice that his words were manipulated and that he was misquoted.
The NYAA publicist responded with increasing unpleasantness. She even told Sabin, “The story wasn’t pitched to The New Yorker as a piece about you and Traci.”
I emailed her,
Adding the words, “My wife remarked…” certainly does not make it a story about me and Sabin. Three words could not do that in a piece of this length. It does, however, become factually correct. It gives the piece an integrity that it currently lacks. Whether or not the magazine is attempting to be vindictive, they are acting in a way that has become a sore point with the parties involved. The magazine has been informed of a misquote and has chosen, this far, not to correct the piece.
The publicist was so appalled that I would continue to stand up for myself and my ideas that she got the head of the New York Academy of Art to email Sabin to tell me to back down.
Is that how the NYAA chooses to behave: by attempting to bully women who are standing up for their contributions? By attempting to get an authority to squelch the quest for accuracy and integrity? Women applying to the New York Academy of Art: BEWARE!
Regarding The New Yorker, here are my questions:
Is this how fake news starts: with journalists twisting subjects’ words any way that pleases them, and being unwilling to correct their piece when told about the error?
If The New Yorker makes a mistake and doesn’t correct that error because of specious and disingenuous reasoning, how is this publication any different from the fake news outlets they descry?
It’s disappointing that a venue that lauds its own integrity isn’t showing its integrity.
And there’s one more wrinkle in this sordid story. That is, there’s a concern about vindictiveness. The NYAA publicist and the head of the NYAA wanted us to stand down for fear that we would alienate people who had “been on our side.”
The NYAA publicist wrote us,
No press will be inclined to write on Sabin again, because it appears that he goes and attacks press who cover him. In addition, “fake news” is very inflammatory language to use and the New Yorker takes accusations like that extremely seriously – they have to, because of their political journalism. Claiming that the New Yorker is publishing fake news will attract a lot of unpleasant attention to you.
It’s a craven concern, but a real one. In today’s world, with its emphasis on expedience, the press might just step away from a subject who insists that his words be accurately represented.
Sabin said to me, “The New York Academy of Art will never work with me again because of this.” In order to uphold his personal integrity, he himself has to make a personal sacrifice that directly affects his career.
And so…I write this blog post for myself, for all women whose ideas have been misattributed to a man and were told to leave it be and not to rock the boat, and–come to think about it–for all the wives who are the unsung heroes supporting their husband.
2018 was a helluva year. This is my personal, highly idiosyncratic take on the Best of 2018. I hope you enjoy the list and I hope it inspires you.
Best Movie: A Star Is Born. I cried like a baby at the end. Love always contains loss, love and loss nest inside each other like Russian matryoshka dolls. And how great was the music?
Best Book I read: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, PhD. This was a tough choice, I read a lot of great books. I’ll mention Jordan Peterson‘s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos; The Coddling of the American Mind; John Medina’s Brain Rules; and Scott Adams‘ Win Bigly. Oh, and I’ve been working my way through Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. In the end, I chose the book that resonated most deeply for the way of the human heart. Dr. Gottman’s work is amazing, and he rocks!
Best Song: Shallow, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. I mean, right?!?!
Best TV Show: The Big Bang Theory. I’m binge-watching. I keep plunking down the $ on Amazon Prime for each season. It just makes me happy to snuggle up with my husband at night and watch a few episodes–giggling at my own inner nerd as much as at Sheldon, Leonard, and the gang. “Math, science, history, unraveling the mystery…”
Best Place to Visit: The Dolomites. A world heritage site. Awe-inspiring grandeur. And after a day of hiking up and down the mountains, you get to eat Italian food! How great is that?
Best Restaurant in Manhattan: The Fairway Cafe. The service is spotty, the noise rattles the windows, and the food is tasty. Go for the yummy eats, not the ambiance. It’s New York for New Yorkers.
Best Yoga Studio in NYC: Yogaworks UWS. Thoughtful teachers, a caring community. Alas, it closed at the end of November. I miss it.
Cutest Grandson: Mine. ❤️
I enjoy the holidays of many religions. Today July 3 was Guru Purnima, the day of celebrating divine teachers. The word “Guru” breaks down into “Gu” darkness and “Ru” dispel, eliminate. So this day is a day to honor the teachers who bring divine light to dispel ignorance.
Many teachers throughout the years have blessed me with their wisdom and light. To all of them I say: Thank you. To my teachers both in and out of the diverse schools I’ve attended: Thank you. My life is richer and brighter because of all those beings who have graciously shared their light with me.
Thank you also to the wonderful Komilla Sutton who has guided me in mantras and jyotish. I recommend her heartily.
Hieronymus Bosch: Touched By The Devil pleased me enormously. I love Bosch’s work, and there were several moments during this documentary when the camera lingered adoringly over his paintings.
The film tells the story of gathering Bosch’s paintings for a 500th anniversary show in Den Bosch. A group of museum guys—archivists, restorers, historians—track down the works, and then have to wheel-and-deal with assorted other museum types in order to borrow the paintings. The Venetian museum director said, “These paintings cannot leave the Galleria L’Academia unless they are restored.” That was a thinly veiled shake-down—the Dutch team had to pay for the restoration. Leave it to the Italians.
The Prado bureaucrats were hilarious. A lot of delicate negotiation happened off-screen, but was implied. I chortled a few times.
A painting and a drawing were newly attributed to Hieronymus, and one painting was de-attributed. There was a scene when the team was asking, “Who will call Ghent to tell them?” Meaning, what poor sap would have the misfortune of telling the museum in Ghent that their Hieronymus Bosch wasn’t painted by Hieronymus Bosch? The team leader, they decided.
Meantime, a painting in a Kansas City museum was newly confirmed as a Bosch. That was fun. It makes me imagine finding a dusty, cracked old painting in the attic…and having it attributed to a great master. I could write a novel about that. Maybe I will.
It is, ultimately, Bosch’s imagery that is the star of this film. I was delighted to realize that not all the fantastic figures hail from the astral plane. Many do, of course; you can see the same demons there, if you alter your consciousness so as to perceive the astral plane. However, several figures are actually from the Devic Kingdom. I exclaimed out loud, right there in the Film Forum theater, when I realized that. How cool! The Devic Kingdom represented in a painting from 500 years ago!
The Garden of Earthly Delights ranks among my top 10 favorite paintings, it’s just ravishingly beautiful, a feast for the senses. I get lost in it.
If you like Bosch or love art, then go see Hieronymus Bosch: Touched By The Devil. It won’t disappoint.
Marriage and Family are Real: Marriage and Family are Love
(reprise of a Facebook Post I wrote)
This is our family. We’ve gone to see the Tree at the Met for nearly 2 decades.
It’s love. Family is love, and it is everything. Family is real.
Family radiates from a marriage. Marriage is love, and it is everything. Marriage is real. Imperfect, unglamorous, full of laughter and tears: real.
Sabin and I have been married for 13 years, together for almost 18. We’ve stood beside each other, holding hands and enjoying holiday uplift, for nearly 2 decades.
Marriages are built on such things: trips to the Met and to Italy and to the pediatrician and to the kitchen to cook breakfast; shared jokes and shared Figurative Sculpture books and shared victories and shared burdens and, yes, shared challenges. Every life encounters conflict and obstacle, ache and loss. These are real, too. And they are so much easier to bear with your family, your mate, holding your hand–as Sabin and I have held hands for nearly two decades.
We’ve held hands through lean times and good times, through sickness and health, through the birth of our daughter, when I died twice and was narrowly revived by a doctor who had “never seen so much blood in her life.” We held hands and held each other in a spacious room in Venice while the rain pattered on the canal during our 10th anniversary.
Even though this year, 2017, has been so hard, forcing a lengthy and devastating separation, I affirm our marriage. Marriage is 1000 tiny threads that bind people together, and those threads are shared experiences. I affirm our threads. I affirm our marriage. Sabin Howard, I love you.