Did you see the blue of the sea
And the sky, with a rainbow.
Daisies in green fields
Little streams with silver fish.
Smell sweet red roses,
Yellow daffodils dancing.
Were you afraid in the dark
Of noises, stone cold voices
When your belly swelled up
Gnaw gnaw aching all night
Could pain keep up with your tiny heart
Your mamma’s kisses making it better
Always loving you.
Sunday morning reading wouldn’t be complete without a visit to my inbox to see what Maria Popova has brought together this week from her vast research and collection of philosophical delights in Brainpickings (htpps://www.brainpickings.org). Today she writes about Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875–December 29, 1926) and his book ‘Letters to a Young Poet’. In a 1903 letter to his protégé, the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus, Rilke writes:
‘I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer’.
‘Your doubt may become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become critical. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perplexed and embarrassed perhaps, or perhaps rebellious. But don’t give in, insist on arguments and act this way, watchful and consistent, every single time, and the day will arrive when from a destroyer it will become one of your best workers — perhaps the cleverest of all that are building at your life’.
Depending on my own philosophical mood I can take or leave these musings but sometimes Maria’s selections seem to resonate with me and are appropriate at that given moment. This of course will always depend on my particular receptiveness rather than on any exciting serendipity. Even so, it is when we need that bit of motivation or empathy most we go searching for it or open ourselves up to it.
The above passages from Rilke’s letters seem appropriate today and importantly they seem to make sense for any day. The idea of living along into the answer appeals to me, today that is.
LAST month I stopped an art project in its tracks. Calling it an ‘art project’ now sounds a little… lacking, as it was 7 years in the making. The project in question emerged out o…
Source: Painting’s Primacy
Finding Hope in the Rosslare Sand – Monday 20th February, 2017.
Is hope a vague concept, too vague to measure and even if it could be measured what is the point of measuring it. While the word hope automatically suggests positivism, lightness and the future, I sometimes wonder is it, in fact, a pointless and useless state of mind that in actual fact is responsible for more disappointment and upset if a measurement could be made.
Do we confuse hope with some other basic human trait, such as the drive to survive, the need to search out new pastures, new caves, new sources of food, physical or spiritual. In these inbuilt human needs we are programmed to keep hunting. In our search for the next day’s food, the next night’s sleep we are constantly on the lookout, for dangers and for opportunities. When did hope come into the frame?
Did ancient humans hope to find a bigger, better animal through the next valley, in the next forest. Did they hope the weather would be kind or the fruit plentiful? If they were successful in the hunt on a given day did they hope the next day would be just as good or better? Perhaps they just accepted it for what it was, a nice day or a good day’s hunting, and nothing more. Did they just take the opportunities presented to them as they moved along, foraging, hunting and surviving to make way for us.
I wonder if hope could be an advanced psychological function coming out of the evolution of the brain over the millennia. Is it a philosophical theory ruminated over through the centuries by great thinkers and teachers and presented to us as the spiritual? We know it is surely a tool of the capitalist and consumer economic system? When people are made to see what they do not have, what they might buy with increased work output and income, then of course they will over time begin to desire more, and surely desire and hope are hopelessly intertwined. I desire this item in the future, I hope I shall get it.
If I am a negative person, I will have little hope of achievement. I will be a pessimist and forever lack hope of a better future. I will always expect bad things to happen to me and so it will appear to myself and others. If however, I am a positive person, I will possess elevated levels of hope and optimism and will see hope even in failure and disaster. I will be blessed with an open mind with advanced levels of intelligence perhaps and will refuse to consider the hopeless. I will see setbacks as a normal part of life instead of seeing myself as the victim of some master plan to keep me down and without hope.
High achievers must be full of high hopes. What else would keep them pushing for success in the inevitable face of setbacks and disappointment. These individuals might too have higher levels of serotonin and cortisol in their bodies bringing increased bodily efficiency and perhaps mental well-being.
Those without hope cannot advance too far, since they cannot see the point or the value of taking the risk in the first place. There is danger to be avoided. It is so difficult to accept the pain of failure and they could no possibly contemplate failing a second time. Lest you are losing all hope in this post here, it is important to understand that the hopeless can indeed be taught to hope. Setting goals, tiny baby steps at first is a good key to opening the door of hope. Gradual small achievements can be celebrated, shared but they should never be boasted about. Greater goals may be set and the new found confidence from those little steps achieved can be harnessed to harvest even larger goals. And so it goes on. If we happen to be starting out from a hope-filled, hopeful position, we surely have a responsibility to share our high hopes fortune with those who mostly, through no fault of their own, found themselves on a more winding path with many diversions and more confusing signposts than ours. After all, the final destination for each one of us is unquestionably the same, hopefully.
Happenings in Studio.
‘What I would like to write is a book about nothing, a book without exterior attachments, which would be held together by the innerforce of its style, as the earth without support is held in the air–a book that would have almost no subject or at least in which the subject would be almost invisible’. – Gustave Flaubert. (1852 to Louise Colet – Correspondance.
Gustave Flaubert believed that an artist should not judge. He resisted reaching conclusions about the world but allowed himself the freedom to question it. One of the greatest artists (writers) of all time, Flaubert was adamant that impersonality was vital in his writing and maintained that ‘writing does not comment on itself. It presents and withdraws, like a good footman’. He wrote about writing and painting as similar ways of seeing but advocated seeing beyond the obvious.
In my painting process, in those long hours alone in the studio, mixing, grinding, spilling and pouring, I am preparing for the moment which inevitably arrives. I can no longer hold back. The paint is let loose. In this whole performance I am nothing but the body with an arm holding a brush, a hand pouring the cup of paint. My relevance there is lost, I am insignificant. The form and colour, the new shape overshadows everything I have thought up along the way. For me these new forms have an inner force that holds them together by their style. They move in on the canvas and that is all there is to it. I am that ‘good foot-woman’ and I am happy to withdraw. From that point on I have no business nor desire to attach exterior meaning, importance or value to the work.
There will be an art exhibition in a London Gallery in March called ‘Threads’. The exhibition is a specially curated show for Women’s History Month. Works of art from fifty artists from around the world will be brought together in ‘an international exploration of the threads that transcend the divisions of country, culture, language and religion to connect us all through our gender, humanity, experiences, friendship and relationships’ (Theartistspool.co.uk). It is a great theme and a percentage of sales will be donated to the Women’s Trust in London.
The idea of invisible threads connecting people across continents, cultures and difference through a common humanity appears at first to be pretty basic, even naïve. T his is a bottom line, the first and most important consideration about our existence on this planet and it is a nice analogy. Everything else, culture, religion, language, identity and ideology follows from this line of thread. It took many thousands of years of development to separate humans into the categories and the countries which we now inhabit.
From a scientific point of view it could be said that the human body is by and large the same moving, breathing, living mass of cells, tissues and bones regardless of where it happens to live. Naturally physical bodies adapt to different environments, but ‘bodies are bodies’ and variations are not that endless. I am imagining here – what if those threads that connect us were all rolled up and pulled together so that we could bring everyone back to one starting point. On that metaphorical journey through time and history perhaps we could learn much about how knots of conflict develop or how threads got severed at specific points along the way. What an intriguing vision I have of billions of threads criss-crossing the globe, over and over being knitted into one gigantic ball of wool which we call planet earth! Maybe that’s all we are, one giant big ball of wool spinning around in the cosmos, who knows?
Those complicated knots tie us up and sometimes seem impossible to unravel. Threads of histories and relationships snap through trauma or are deliberately cut. Yet, if we all held that simple thought of ‘a basic thread connecting everyone’ in our minds, maybe untying those knots and knitting things back together wouldn’t be so difficult. Perhaps understanding how we feel connected to places and people across time and place would be darned easier.
Needless to say there are expert explanations to all of the above and great academic and scientific analysis to be had on all of my woolly musings. However, for the moment I feel lots of invisible threads attached to me, some dangerously thinning over time, yet others are strong and fast and enduring and they will keep me rolling along. These latter threads are those without which I would unravel, and be lost.