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Letter to Darius Rejali and Krista Tippett

I listened to your discussion with Krista Tippett today with great interest. I haven't had time yet to hear the whole inerview. It is 9 AM Sunday morning. To get to the point.
In 1990 I organized an exhibition here in Atlanta of art by artist friends who I knrw to be the children of alcoholic parents - like myself. Looking at the works on the gallery wall I quickly saw what we all had in common, or, rather, the colors, symbols and general themes and compositions. Two years later we had a second show, this time including anyone who felt they had suffered childhood abuse of any kind. The numner jumped from twenty or so participants in the Children of Alcoholism show to seventy-five.
I spent the next year collecting the "icons of abuse", which eventually included those from not only the history of art but from literature, science and music.
Torture, of course, looms large among the several hundred entries as a metaphor of child abuse, along with War, Contortion, and more abstract concepts like Cones, Wedges and the Electris Light Bulb. To check the backgrounds of inventors such as Edison I read a lot of biographies. Edison is famous for claiming that without the physical abuse he got from his parents he wouldn't have ever invented the tnings he did.
If you are interested in this topic or find it related to your own investigations I would be glad to send you a CD facsimile of the book called "The Iconography of Abuse".
There is also an article I wrote for the MIT's Leonardo-Journal of Art, Sciens and Technology , Vol 28 Nr 1 1995, on this subject .
A performance at the original exhibition, Children of Alcoholism, os at
Here is a related poem by my late wife


Metaphors are dangerous

they take over

and start to lead

their own lives.

You sink, but the Titanic

keeps creating panic.

She will never get to the shore,

the ghost ship the metaphor.

I am a footless urn

filled with oil. blood or wine.

How artistic I am!

How fine!

I turn, I pour

the liquid my metaphor.

The metaphor is a danger

It walks - the lost staranger

into your bed and path,

cleanses itself in your bath,

starts a war

to defend a metaphor.

A wife turning into a whore

What for?

She is merely a metaphor.

You can buy it in any store.

Not him, not you or she!

But the metaphor is me.

Wrapped in smoke

Head under hood

it is not a joke

Barely understood

Stripes, bars, cross, hammer

or dragon -

it sails with any old flag on.

Ronnog Seaberg

3-27 1998

Steve Seaberg
"Steve, we believe in/food, sex and joy./We are hard to employ." from Egg Poems by Ronnog Seaberg 1995