“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” (Carl Rogers)

Friday, 23 January 2015

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part Two)

This little trick from positive psychology does indeed seem to work, perhaps because we humans are eminently suggestible - that would be borne out by the godly guilt from kiddie sunday school still lurking about in my brain up to just a couple of years ago! Anyway, I am enjoying this focus on the positive and it seems to encourage other adventures into the positive, too.

I went to London ostensibly as part of my doctoral study, the AGM of the Council for the Defence of British University but stole the opportunity of a day out at the National Gallery. And I loved doing this solo - no obligations, no hurry, just taking my own sweet time.
Nelson's Column from the steps of the National Gallery
At any rate, I was kind of in the company of others - and not only the relaxed and happy people around Trafalgar Square and the Gallery - I downloaded some MP3 files - legally! - from the national gallery site before I went (the Be Inspired Tour: 'From shimmering seas to glorious sunflowers, the Be Inspired Tour will lead you to some of the best-loved paintings in the National Gallery, as well as many lesser-known and often overlooked masterpieces.'). You can ask for a map that goes with the commentary at the Audio Guide desks.

I enjoyed looking at pictures with commentary, nice to have an informed perspective to silently argue or agree with. The first surprise was that I just love this one by Salvator Rosa - the inscription says "Be quiet unless your speech be better than silence". Love the cap and gown, too - could well be a new look if I can lay my hands on such togs...

Want some? Salvator Rosa, Philosophy, 1645
Whenever I visit the National Gallery, which is laid out according to art periods in time, I always have the sense that, after the fairly austere religious paintings and family portraits of rich people, the atmosphere suddenly lifts as you walk into the impressionist room - the light, the colour, the heightened emotion which is echoed by the buzzing sense of excitement and wonder from visitors. I particularly enjoyed the matchless commentary from Humphrey Ocean describing Van Gogh's chair as vibrating in front of you. 

My looking was suddenly transformed by the commentary when I stood before Theo van Rysselberghe's 'Coastal Scene' - but now memory fails and I gave my guide away on the Tube - I'm sure it was John Constable, ‘Weymouth Bay', but the Internet tells me not. So, fuck it. Anyway, the commentary became not-commentary but a soundscape, a poem (by sound artist Neville Edwards and performance poet Aoife Mannix) inspired by the painting, it really let me enter the world of the painting in a way that I didn't expect.   

On my way back to King's Cross, I took this delightful picture of "Major General Sir Henry Havelock K.C.B. and his brave companions in arms during the campaign in India 1857":

Shitting on the British Empire
Afterwards, watching people walk by from inside pizza express, the window seat is the only eating solo seat, a lass with her bloke throws her head back and laughs for the joy of being alive, she swallows all of the pain of existence in that glorious moment of pure being. I don't remember the last time I felt that but know that I will feel it again. And if I don't, somebody else will and that is comforting and makes me smile.

Smaller/Bigger reasons to be cheerful...

Thinking about May while making her 'arrangements'. 

I just wanted a blender as mine gave up the ghost, and what I got was a blender cum soup-maker cum egg-boiler cum grinder. It's fabulous, baby! Soup: just chop the ingredients, put them in and 20 minutes later, soup is made; boiled eggs, put them in - a small amount of water - wait five minutes, done! 

Hearing that Carl Rogers' contribution might be summarised as shifting the question from "why" to "what now?" - it sounds simple but is somehow profound. 

Writing an actual letter to the unique Cleethorpes Promenade - paper, pen, envelope, stamp - quietly satisfying. 

In between times, taking the Classical Music MOOC

1 comment:

  1. Art is always inspiring and it sounds like an enriching day. Love the pigeon picture.


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