Martha Rogers at the Lapin Agile

By Walker, Charles A. | Journal of Theory Construction and Testing, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Martha Rogers at the Lapin Agile


Walker, Charles A., Journal of Theory Construction and Testing


Lapin Agile is a legendary cabaret located in the Montmartre district of Paris just steps from Sacre Couer Basilica and the scandalous Moulin Rouge. Founded in the mid-1 9* century, Lapin Agile, which translates Nimble Rabbit, became a favorite hangout for struggling artists and writers, eccentric thinkers, and bohemian students from Paris' Latín Quarter. In 1905, Pablo Picasso commemorated his fondness for Lapin Agile in a canvas that made the cabaret world famous.

Picasso at the Lapin Agik is a play written by American comedian, Steve Martin (1993). The play depicts a "what if" meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein at the Lapin Agile on October 8, 1904. Both men are on the verge of executing controversial, history-making ideas; Einstein will publish his special theory of relativity in 1905, and Picasso will paint the beasdy, but beautiful Les Demoiseües d'Avignon in 1907. They find themselves intermingling with a lively collection of bizarre characters.

In 1904 Picasso was already an established artist, but Einstein was still slavishly working at a patent office. Amid a series of absurdist high-jinks and clever jokes, the men debate the value of genius and talent, inspiration and commercialism. Once Einstein and Picasso arrive at a moment of profound insight, "The Visitor" crashes their party. The Visitor is a person from the future, who though never named looks, swaggers, and talks suspiciously like the rock-and-roll superstar, Elvis Presley. Representing the notion that genius is not always an outcome of academic or philosophical discourse, the Visitor adds another dimension to Picasso and Einstein's debate.

The play's ironic wit and playfulness prompt audiences to ponder how colossal leaps of imagination in art and science coax creative invention. With this theme in mind, the play moved me to imagine premier nurse educator and theorist, Martha Rogers, transported to the Lapin Agile circa 1904, a decade before her birth. But which role would suit her best - artist, scientist, or pop star?

Artist

Martha Rogers recognized nursing as both art and science. Linking knowledge to art, she claimed, "art in nursing is the imaginative and creative use of knowledge" (Rogers, 1988, p. 100). Butcher (1994, 1999) refers to the artistry of Rogerian practice and notes Rogers' reliance on metaphor as a way of expressing theoretical ideas. For instance, Rogers used a kaleidoscope and symphony to describe the inherent beauty of wave patterning, which she defined as a distinguishing quality of irreducible human-environment energy fields. Like a consummate musician, painter or sculptor, Rogers captured complex scientific principles, created theoretical postulates, and conveyed them in a manner that's both accessible and inspirational.

Scientist

Determined to transform nursing from a prescientific practice discipline into a respected science with its own knowledge base, Rogers edited a journal called Nursing Science as early as 1 963. Confident that creative use of science would improve the human condition, Rogers vigorously asserted that she did not invent a nursing theory. Instead, her Science of Unitary Human Beings (1970, 1990) was an abstract system which would inspire many derivative theories for the betterment of human life and health. She was a revolutionary nurse educator (1961) who shared her vision for nursing science with a generation of doctoral students at NYU. One of those former doctoral students is a contributing author in this issue of JTCT As Roger's protégé, Dr. Martha R. Alligood has produced a body of research which is a tribute to her mentor. For example, Alligood (1991) tested Roger's theory of accelerating change by examining relationships among creativity, actualization, and empathy in adults. Sharing Roger's passion for advancing nursing science through scholarship that extends and tests nursing theory, Alligood has meticulously mentored others, including her co-author, Dr. …

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