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Jun. 4th, 2006


I've become so very lazy, or is it distracted by... what exactly? I have a hard time remembering what it is I'm actually wasting my time on these days. It isn't even DVDs. Crappy books, random internet activities, and it's truly amazing how much time you can waste on youtube. A new summer livejournal layout which I'm still not so sure I actually like, but what exactly did I do yesterday except shop for groceries and go jogging? Sad. I'm having an incredibly hard time to concentrate on writing anything at all. I really do hope I'll become a little more focused again once I'm 100% healthy.

This dates back from Madrid, mostly written there, somewhat edited for (attempted) coherency.

Looking at art; learning to. (Learning to look at life, too?)


My first morning there, tired, not feeling too well, but also feeling somehow obligated to be a good tourist & go out & sight-see, I set off for the Archaeological Museum because there, I reasoned with myself, I'd have familiar things, wouldn't need to tax my brain or imagination too much and not need to muster any emotional responses to all kinds of Wonderful New Things, which I definitely didn't feel I was up to.

Instead of familiarity, alienation and an acute consciousness of the passage of time and the resulting changes. Looking at the red and black figured pottery it was barely possible to recapture the memories of how at one time I loved these things so much that I could and did spend hours and hours looking at them. These heroes and gods, warriors, horses and dogs, rather repetitive and seen entirely too often, how could they have meant so much to me? Even over-tired and stupid as I felt, medieval sculpture and artifacts suddenly incited greater interest.

Went home, decided to eat something, read a bit, get my bearings back. (And can I say that I really hate first days in a new city? It's probably a sign of me being horribly inflexible or some such fault, but I always feel kind of lost and horribly inadequate, insecure and generally out of place.)

Which sort of worked, and in the late afternoon I decided I felt balanced enough to try the Reina Sophia museum. And you know, these moments in your life when something suddenly changes, like a switch is flicked, a curtain drawn away, or any other stupid metaphor to this effect? I've repeatedly talked about how I (used to) have major difficulties to relate to/like most modern art, and how that vaguely bothered me on some level; most likely because my approach was too strictly analytical. And suddenly it worked. A strangely unfocused, relaxed state of mind and suddenly Miró made me smile, and abstract forms of sculpture against white walls please, and it all makes perfect sense and connects on some level that is more instinctive than rational. And I realised that sometimes it's more important, more productive, to just let things flow, gaze, let connect and not distract yourself by taking notes, literally or mentally, so that you can write a lj-entry later about how and why you liked this picture by that painter; experience not catalogue. Maybe, even if you can't recapture that moment of (enlightenment, inspiration, looking beyond yourself), even if it becomes unreal and is forgotten as time passes, the fact that you experienced it leaves a trace within you.

I was happy it had happened at all, and almost surprised to discover that it wasn't only a one time thing.

Looking back, my enjoyment in art had been emotional before it became intellectual, and at least in parts certainly remained emotional even then, but I've always had the tendency to draw too narrow limits, to be too ready to discard something as uninteresting to me. I ought to find a better balance, let myself be more open. Lose a little of the rationality.

Perhaps it was un_crayon_rouge's influence, perhaps it was something E.M. Forster wrote in Howard's End about culture not being an end, perhaps a little of both...

What I found worked for me (although I won't pretend that this will make sense to anyone else) is not to look at the picture as an object, the paint & canvas and whatever subject you see there, but at something beyond, less strictly material; to unfocus a little and try to look at the artists' vision of the world and their attempt to capture it, the force, the need that made them represent life in such way, and look at it not through the prisma of my vision of life. And suddenly it's almost too easy, there's beauty everywhere, in every style, whether it's a Renaissance portrait or a Nolde landscape. It's not a state of mind I can maintain for a very long time, and it's certainly harder the more modern and abstract the work of art in question (but even there it's 'something I might like eventually' now rather than 'eh. doesn't interest me'), but it's there... (or at least was, I haven't put it to the test since), and it felt damn good, overwhelming, a rush of beauty from everywhere, moving from picture to picture, constantly falling in love with a face, a swirl of blue, the colour of the sky or a table-cloth in some still-life.


And this made me think. If a (comparatively; in the greater scheme of things) little thing like being able to appreciate art in a fundamentally different way can be changed, what else can, how could I change, who could I be, if only I found a way, if I dared, if I wasn't so afraid of what I might change into? Can I apply this to life, human relationships?


Why can I only ever connect to people, to life, through some medium -- art, books, movies? Not always, that is a slight exaggeration, but it certainly is easier; museums to me are a safe place of sorts, when life is overwhelming and confusing. Is it that art does condense/distill life into more meaningful, profound moments, it ist that it indeed makes things clearer, more ordered? Or am I just incapable of normal human interaction, broken in some fundamental way? I can talk/write about any of that (art, books, movies) for hours, why is something as simple as a touch so impossible? Normal human contact so unattainable? Is what I have enough or pathetically little? Why do I always want things I can't make myself have?

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
stiffleaves
Jun. 4th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
This was a beautiful entry. I really enjoyed reading that, especially the part about connecting to art.

I also think it's true that art does both distill the more meaningful moments of life and makes things clearer by showing us where they are in what we'd call normal, ordinary, everyday life. That's, I guess, one of the main reasons people make art, to try and make sense of the world. So... my immediate thought when you defined art that way but said you can't connect with life in any real way but through art, was - maybe that means you should produce more art yourself?
solitary_summer
Jun. 5th, 2006 01:15 pm (UTC)
Danke! I'm constantly amazed that people will actually *read* my convoluted ramblings... :)

Oh, ::sigh::, wunder Punkt. Perhaps/probably I should, or try to, but I'm still so unsure if I've anything to 'say' at all. Even my photographs are so very... quiet, sterile almost.
un_crayon_rouge
Jun. 5th, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC)
experience not catalogue. Maybe, even if you can't recapture that moment of (enlightenment, inspiration, looking beyond yourself), even if it becomes unreal and is forgotten as time passes, the fact that you experienced it leaves a trace within you.

Couldn't have said it better. And

the need that made them represent life in such way

this too. In the end, that's the only category (that's not the right word, but you know I can't talk) that matters to me. The final question always is: does this feel as if the artist *needed* to do it exactly this way? There has to be this undefinable urgency. If it is there, then I can respect it, even if I don't like it. If it feels to intellectual, as if the artist was trying to *say* something, I get suspicious...

Gah. My comments suck lately. I think it's because I had just gotten used to talk to you instead of writing.
solitary_summer
Jun. 7th, 2006 07:19 am (UTC)
No, your comments don't suck, but yes, it's a little strange for me too; OTOH writing in German feels even more weird, I'm just not used to it any more... ::headdesk, hard:: Stupid me.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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