"Like the study of science and art, accounts of historical events can be intrinsically fascinating. But they have a wider significance. I believe that people are better able to chart their life course and make life decisions when they know how others have dealt with pressures and dilemmas---historically, contemporaneously, and in works of art. And only equipped with such understanding can we participate knowledgeably in contemporary discussions (and decisions) about the culpability of various individuals and countries in the Second World War. Only with such understanding can we ponder the responsibilty of human beings everywhere to counter current efforts at genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"...we humans are the kinds of animals who learn chiefly by observing others---what they value, what they spurn, how they conduct themselves from day to day, and especially, what they do when they believe that no one is looking."
----Howard Gardner, from The Disciplined Mind, published in 1999

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Persistence of Memory; or, The Treachery of Images, Redux

Today is the final day of the school year for our boys. Next year, one will be in his final two years of high school; the other, still in elementary.

Sometimes I find it interesting and useful to think about the fluidity of time, of memory. I've had occasion to see many science-fiction type stories played out in various media, and I am often drawn to thought about that common story arc, that of the parallel universe/time travel: often, one character, upon discovering that alternate realities of the reality previously thought to be the one true reality truly do exist, travel through the ubiquitous time-space continuum to a different, alternate reality.
The traveler does so for many various reasons: to avert some tragedy; to gain information; to start over; to become deus ex machina; really, to be or to do anything. Truly any number of reasons are given; that's part and parcel of the pleasure of the playing of ideas, from fingerpainting to string theory, that question begins it all: how would you like to play?
There is some strange comfort to thinking about being able to have access to such a thing. If time is like a river, moving along into the ultimate sea; or if time is like, say, moving along in a spiral as if tracing the continous coil of a Slinky-type toy with one's finger, wouldn't it be good to be able to move back upstream to leave a little sign, a little touchstone, for the ride; or to be able to convey a wish to stop thinking about the circles of motion (round and round) and begin thinking and feeling about the direction of motion (up and up)? To say, look, this is the picture.
Frida is one of my favorite painters. She speaks to me, as she does to many others, with a unique language of icons. It is accepted in art history that she did not wish to be known as a Surrealist; some say it started with her abhorrence for Andre Breton. She was not averse to labels, when appropriate; she just didn't care for the word in reference to her.
An eloquent lady in many languages, that Frida.
shown above, right:
Memory, or the Heart, Frida Kahlo


The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Dear One, Why did you add the sentence about surrealism and labelling? Your thought movement is not clear (to me) in terms of your writing purpose. Since time is fluid , I sometimes feel my journal notes are those messages from upstream.

neroli said...

I think the thought was started because of the title of the post, which might ostensibly bring thoughts of the painting of the same title, which brings thoughts of surrealism. Because of the influence of ex voto icons in Frida's visual language, (rather than Breton's sewing machine, umbrella, and operating table) perhaps I was clarifying to myself her use of iconic visual language, and why I've chosen to let her painting in the post say what I myself can't put a finger upon...but I'll keep practicing; for this, you have my thanks!