Saturday, 23 June 2012

Experiment Two

This is Experiment Two. Gemma is doing it aswell. We are honing our skills for being 'Explorers of the World'. It is all based on a book she bought, and then which I bought, the story of which is narrated in another post. 

Experiment Two is all about the objects that surround you everyday, the things you handle, the things you use, the things you see. In the book it is called 'Exploration #26 - Becoming Leonard Cohen' because he does this regularly as a form of meditation. He says, 'I have always loved things, just things in the world. I love trying to find the shape of things'. 

In the experiment you are meant sit down with a pen and paper, in your usual spot, and draw the things which surround you. Gemma said I should do this at home, not work, as it would be a more true reflection of me. She is going to do her experiment at home too.

I am at a distinct disadvantage with this experiment. You see, Gemma is an artist. And, she works in a Museum. Gemma loves objects and she surrounds herself with them. I love Gemma's objects. However, in my own life, I spend my time throwing stuff away, or at least recycling it. For me to feel at peace, objects and visual 'noise' has to go away. There is only one picture in my bedroom, Our Lady of Częstochowa, given to me by my parents on their return from a holiday in Poland. Other than that, I like clear spaces and clear walls.....

That's not quite true. My room is dominated by something...books. I love books. I hoard them. There are hundreds, arranged, not in alphabetical order, but in order to which authors I think will get on with which other authors. Words surround me in my daily life. I treasure them, they bounce round my brain. I get passages from novels, poems, Bible readings, psalms, prayers, radio broadcasts, advert slogans, limericks, and snippets of overheard conversations stuck in my head like other people have tunes and songs. Unlike my other siblings, I rarely listen to music. If I do, I often prefer music with no lyrics, or lyrics in another language. This is not because I do not love it, but because I get distracted. This is particularly the case if I am driving. I lose track of my direction or plan. The other day I was walking up a chalk hill in pouring rain. A group of us had been visiting the White Horse at Faringdon. I was sent to collect the car, whilst the rest of the party made their way down to a meeting point. The rain was very heavy, and I was walking with my head bowed. Beautiful rivulets began to form, mixing with the white chalk of the landscape to make milky streams to run down the hill. I got caught up in an old Simon and Garfunkel tune, 'and as I watched the drops of rain weave their weary paths and die, I knew that I was like the rain, there before the grace of you go I. I walked almost a mile off course thinking about those words. Oopps.

Anyhow, when I sat down to do this experiment I found it hard. Everything that was around me, those things which most inspire me, were not visually attractive. I had to choose carefully from the objects around my bed. Our Lady of Częstochowa made it in, with the Palm Sunday cross sticking through the back; the vitamin pills, which I take everyday, that advertise 'Health' and 'Balance' made it in too; an open bottle of red wine (old) and a glass; a notebook, open and covered in  scrawl - my diary; my rosary; and, the small pile of books that live next to my bed. That pile of books is always changing, but on the day I drew this it contained: The Sea, The Sea - Iris Murdoch, The Penguin Book of Irish Verse; Wildwood - Roger Deakin; One for Sorrow - Chloe Rhodes; Morning and Evening Prayer; Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro; The End of the Affair - Graham Greene; Imitation of Christ - Thomas A Kempis.


I read the novels cover to cover. The others I dip in and out of, love somedays, ignore the next.  This experiment highlighted something I already knew, but which it is worth knowing again and again. I explore the world through words, words and language shapes of the world around me. When I was done drawing some of the objects around me, I still felt I had not finished, so a drew a few interconnecting words - the way it can sometimes be in my head. If I go to a museum, I want to read the blurb. If I listen to a song, I want to read the lyrics on the flysheet of the CD. I watch the TV with subtitles even when I do not need to. Words make shapes for me, landscapes, atmospheres, worlds. I explored this once before, in this post.


Only two exceptions to this habit stand out: when I am cooking I never read the recipe, and, when I am in Church I never read the Order of Service  / Newsletter / Hymnbook. In both these cases I prefer my taste buds and and sense of touch to do the exploring.


And, that is what I learnt from Experiment Two.

3 comments:

David Gracioni said...

Enjoyed your post, though I was confused about what was the experiment you were trying to accomplish. Yes, I agree words are powerful and shape ideas that take us on journeys. I always have to read the lyrics to a worship song so I fully understand and then sometimes I am able to enter into God's presence while listening, especially with a Catholic monk named John Michael Talbot. Very contemplative. Actually, I think I most often look up the lyrics to even secular songs to see what they are trying to convey. As you can see, music is what really works for me more than books. But books are great too! :)

Kimberly said...

Oh...how I would enjoy meeting you some day! I love and understand the arrangement of your books! :) My great second joy after picking books from the library is to spread them out and decide what order to read them based on how I think they go together...

Kimberly said...

Oh! How I would enjoy meeting you some day! And, I love and completely understand the arrangement of your books...my second great joy after choosing books at the library is to spread them out and decide what order to read them based on how I think they go together... Thanks for this!