Sunday, 19 June 2022

Early morning musing

It’s 3am and I’m awake as usual but this morning I have no inspiration to work on paramontage, just an awareness of the fact of the act, I think about getting recognition and about the images I left for printing. I watched a segment on the news last night about an art exhibition in Surry Hills where people queued for hours to get cheap paintings and drawings not knowing before buying who did the works, hoping for a bargain, and I am mesmerised by the fact of success, it seems there is an insatiable appetite for gain in the field of visual art but nevertheless it is deprecated in a culture that privileges the body.

Sport, drugs, music – we spend vast amounts of money on escaping reality instead of on trying to find more rational ways of alleviating the pain of existence, and it’s amazing that we manage to pay our mortgages, our phone bills, pay for power, water, waste collection. We do whatever it takes to get away from what occupies our most productive hours, to compensate for the vicissitudes of work, the politics, the disagreements, the rankling rivalries as we try to get to the top so that we can have our will done instead of someone else’s.

Mentally I chew the end of a pencil as I take stock. Now that it’s been seven weeks since I started this journey I am the owner of dozens of prints but few have seen them. More than most things – I almost said “More than anything” but considered this expression too extreme – I want feedback. On Friday I took one largeish paramontage to a meeting and showed it to the participants who read it carefully, each person giving time to it so that they could read to the end of the sonnet, and then I sent the file (reduced for email) to be shared as well. What a privilege to get others to look, to take stock, to let the words sink in, to allow the effect of the whole to capture their imagination for a short while. 

Sharing is like this. Life produces so much pain, we’re always looking for more, our appetites are limitless as is our creative ability if only we let it express itself. But we try to shut it off or else we direct it into activities that fail to embody our desires in a true sense. This need to suppress this essential urge, an irrational need for acclaim and recognition of the particular, unique nature of our suffering, it’s like the thing that drives us is what we spend most of our time denying access to material form.

I’m still having trouble reading, when I think about sitting down to concentrate on a story – it might be a biography, a novel, a book of history – I feel revulsion. It’s interesting, this failure to apply myself to someone else’s narrative, as though surrendering were too risky in a spiritual sense, as though I need to ration my approval for fear of short-changing my own priorities, perhaps it’s this that stops people from taking art seriously. 

Perhaps I’m not competitive enough. Maybe the competition is the thing that keeps people sane. Perhaps I need to compete on a playing field with only one or two participants, not in a place populated heavily. Perhaps I’m a coward.

Whatever prevents me from diluting my energies in reading is typical of me, though I’m probably unconscious of what or who I really am. I am linked by irrational ties to people and things around me, that lie in my orbit like moons to my sun. Light from me illuminates the interplay of exchange as we revolve slowly in social space. I shine so that others may see what lies in their paths in the black immensity of creation the author of which remains blank in It’s face, the great “It” like a question hanging over us, keeping the path free for our relentless forward movement as we try to live together and stay alive. We need each other but we fear the consequences of community, so we make rules that everyone can agree on, but then a new generation comes along with their own words, their own priorities, their own heroes. Their martyrs, their stories, their particular history. So to try to find common ground we all sit down on the national couch to barrack for our team, knowing that the longer the game goes on the more likely it becomes that we will lose. Or else we all win. But the game continues even when we get up and switch the machine off. There is no full-time score. There is no arrest. No suspect unveiled. No crime solved. Life goes on forever and ever until the sun dies, and hopefully we’ll find another planet to live in before that happens, we’ll ferry the totality of humanity across the vastness of space to another place in time. 

Perhaps we should work out a way to live together before we embark. A world- constitution, a governing body for everyone. A global Parliament. Some guidelines are in order before we colonise an Earth-like planet orbiting Andromeda (or whichever sun has captured it), some agreed rules to govern life. Maybe this is the purpose of sport, to accustom us to playing by the book. 

It has to have some useful purpose. I think sport is good for children, it allows them to express those ungainly emotions, to give vent to feelings that need an outlet but that can be corrosive without a proper channel. Playing and losing, or paying and winning, are constructive activities that train the growing mind to understand what is permitted and what is not, what is positive and what is destructive. I was good at sailing when I was young but good at not much else, I was wicket-keeper playing cricket and I ran and played rugby union, soccer and tennis. I even bought petanque balls after one trip to Noumea where my father had a friend, a family I stayed with on a couple of occasions when I was at secondary school. Petanque is a fairly calm sport, anyone can play even senior citizens, it involves throwing a “pig” (like in lawn bowls) and trying to get your metal balls close to it. Unlike in lawn bowls, where the balls are rolled along the ground, in petanque they’re thrown through the air, but because they’re heavy objects they don’t bounce.

God’s arm is not visible in the movement of planets and suns, in the movement of moons and comets, in the arc of galaxies revolving slowly in the void. But someone set off the explosion, someone set the rules that govern the universe. Whose fingers press the keys of the intergalactic calculator? 

Are they fingers like mine?

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