He goes and sits down on big cube. The big cube is pulled from under him. He falls. The big cube is pulled up and disappears in flies.
He remains lying on his side, his face toward auditorium, staring before him.
The carafe descends from flies and comes to rest a few feet from his body. He does not move. Whistle from above. He does not move. The carafe descends further, dangles and plays about his face. He does not move. The carafe is pulled up and disappears in flies. The bough returns to horizontal, the palms open, the shadow returns. Whistle from above. He does not move. The tree is pulled up and disappears in flies. He looks at his hands.
– Act WIthout Words I, Samuel Beckett
I am sitting on my living room floor, having been instructed by my doctor to take the pills he has prescribed, go home, and REST.
Following that I ran errands, but fantasised about arriving home, slipping into bed and letting the drugs do their work.
I got as far as the inside of my door. But why shack up in bed when throw pillows can turn one’s entire living room into a space for ample reclining. I may need a lacy dressing gown and start insisting on taking visitors.
My sister’s cat has recently passed away following a diagnosis of cancer. Having loved and lost animal friends of my own, I know all too well the devastating process of grieving a companion. Yes, we know that loss is inevitable, pets are not long-lived, but they live completely and their effect on our lives is perhaps in concentrated form because it is so brief. She has shacked herself up in her sadness, and I am in a geography and time zone that does not lend itself easily to comforting those I love in times of need.
I have trawled the internet for artists whose works, I hope, will speak to her and whisper that she is loved. Big emotions such as grief can feel all-consuming, waves and rip-tides that turn, throttle, and thrash you. Struggling is fruitless, immolation inevitable.
And on the scale larger than personal tragedy, I see this too. I think of the many victories and celebrations that seemed to promise us a new world, yet each time, it seems that once the last streamer has sailed through the air, the band has played the final song, the revellers have retired to bed, the realisation sinks in that nothing has changed.
Disapointment, bitterness, hopelessness, apathy
I think the Death of Hope is the greatest tragedy.
Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, was originally published under the title Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager (Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp). Through his experiences and observations in concentration camps, he came to see the greatest cause of existential stress is a lack of meaning.
Hope and meaning are what motivates the individuals described in Frankl’s book. Whilst imprisoned, his peers think about their loved ones in other camps. It is that hope of being reunited that sustains them and gives meaning to their starvation, sickness, humiliation, and pain. Those who find moments of charity to fellow inmates do not permit their present circumstances to drag them into despair.
Lately, I have been discovering incredible works by artists exploring fantastic worlds, not naive Disney-like escapes, but richly textured and emotionally nuanced works
I am excited to see works by artists such as Kyle Thompson because I truly believe that there is, generally, a desire for fantasy, surrealism, pantomime, melodrama at this time in our culture. NOT because we wish to escape the world, but because we know that that which is presented to us as fact, is fiction (or at best “truthiness”) and that magical realism can help us to explore the disturbing truths about what is happening around us and and rediscover our Selves in this shifting perceptual landscape. We embraced modernism and know we know that we are NOT all the same. We embraced realism and discovered that there is no such thing. Now the extreme highs and lows that we experience find their expression through dreamscapes, whimsy, and symbolism. And so our art turns and circles again.
When those who are hope-less find the desire to dream again, they can find the ambition to act.
Let’s dream together…