Thursday, November 20, 2008
talk of many things
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
-Lewis Carroll (excerpt from The Walrus and the Carpenter from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
What is it about nonsense and riddles that warm us and make us think and perplex us? What is it about childishness and the abstract that retain such a playfulness while often being so serious and intense and profound? When and why do we lose these often as we grow older?
Did you know that Picasso collected children's drawings? He had a large collection of drawings by children. From what I have read, he had claimed that he never drew as simply and intuitively as a child. He had always been able to reproduce things beautifully. His early work, if you take a look see (such as above Study of a Torso, After a Plaster Cast,
1893/1894, Musée Picasso, Paris)... is something that I think even most critiques of abstraction would enjoy... mainly because they are not particularly abstract. It was like he lived his life visually backwards. he spent his entire life trying to draw and paint and create like a child (above self portrait from 1972!).
I am completely fascinated by this. I have some very early memories.. mere snapshots of a place or thing that I recall vividly. I had moments of clarity that somehow burned themselves into my brain somewhere in my early years. I was younger than 4 when some of these take place... which is crazy.I remember moving from Ohio.. specifically singing on the radio to my parent in the other vehicle.. i think Twinkle Twinkle I think. I remember my family's first home in Michigan and sitting in our kitchen with the accordion doors while my mother taught clarinet lessons. I remember taking a nap in the room upstairs and waking up a little disoriented. I remember my mother coming home from the doctor's office which told her she wouldn't have any more children... and a little later on I remember Rachel being born... my sister who is about 3 1/2 years younger than me (I was more interested in the small pink crocheted basket of chocolate mints than I was in my new sibling). How do I recall these things? They are like dreams. i don't even know if I trust them.. but they are my first concrete memories of childhood.
I have decided to read through the gospels again.. just because I have had a hard time fleshing out the person of Jesus in my mind lately. I am really tired of thinking of him as some hypothetical being... a good character that reoccurs in themes of art and literature and has a good story.. and that I should 'love' somehow. I needed something a little bit more meaty than that so I have been stumbling through Matthew for the last couple weeks. I came upon the part where Jesus' disciples tell the children to go away and Jesus rebukes them and lets them know that the kingdom of heaven belongs to "such as these"... um whoa. In Matthew it is only two little verses. No big deal... but it gets rehashed in the other gospels too. Every single time Jesus is like "Guys.. no... send them over. I'll pray for them. You yourselves need to become like these children to enter the kingdom of heaven." I can just see some of his disciples saying to one another "He says the weirdest things... I am so confused now.. what does that even mean?" Yeah. I think about this a good amount when it comes to all of the things that children do. I have heard a bazillion interpretations on this. Child-like faith- so on.... you know. One of the craziest things I have been re-noticing during this gospel reading deal is how often Jesus tells people to live life backwards....on so many levels...
I am beginning to greatly anticipate the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. From what I have seen, in this story the character lives his life chronologically backwards. I can't wait because I have a feeling I have a lot to gain from these types of stories.
I am a true believer in the idea that "all truth is God's truth". No matter where you find truth, if it is truth it belongs to God. I love children's stories and the fantasticly small fantastic stories of inanimate objects and small animals... spiders and lost shoes and bread crumbs. I sometimes think i must be crazy that these are places where i find stunning truth and where i see the face of God. I find Him in make-believe, in puddles, in not caring if someone hears me whistling down the street. And in very small stories... stories not unlike the ones that Jesus told. I cannot express to you what that does for my sense of sanity. *phew* Maybe I am not as crazy as I was begining to think I was.
But living life backwards? Oh dear... that is whole other level.... a whole other level that I am afraid of exploring... that i don't know if I will know what to do if I get there... or even how to get there if I want to! A whole new level of beleiving in the fantastic... beleiving in love and truth... and God. A place of giving to the por, and believing simply, living fully and refusig to lay my head anywhere. What does the backward life that Jesus speaks of mean for me? He tells the young ruler to sell everything and come and follow him and the young man walks away sad because he has much wealth... oh dear. How will my American born and raised self cope with the culture of Jesus? Where the meek inherit the earth? I don't know... but my brain is begining to wrestle with the dissonance that Jesus causes in my life.... and we will see.