Wrote Madeleine

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The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think.
— Virginia Woolf

25.11.2018 - ...and she's bought six books already?!? (on art)

I finished my first book today. I’ve been wanting to read Call Me By Your Name for a while now. Although I had already seen parts of the movie (because my willpower is most often lacking), I was resigned to read the book first before seeing the movie in full. I remember this goal every time I see the novel out and about or the movie on a feed. I saw it yesterday on a shelf. A copy finally came home with me.

I’ve been thinking about art a good bit since arriving to Ireland. How it connects us, together and through time. How at this moment, being thousands of miles from my previous reality, I can still connect with a part of my past, a piece of art I thought about before knowing I’d be in Ireland, and how I can reconnect with it again in my future, well after my year here. Books have a beautiful power of transcending time by confining it. Same with music. A song that only lasts three minutes in its play can last years in its impact. It’s a powerful notion, to lend a piece that power. It happens with people as well, but the delight of books and music and other art forms is their ability to last. As people come and go in our lives, the art we consume doesn’t have to on any accord other than our own.

While in Cork, I visited the Crawford Art Gallery, where they are showcasing pieces that fall into the theme Heroes And Villians. I’ve attached a photo of the piece that I couldn’t stop looking at by Alicia Boyle, painted in 1938, a handful of years before Animal Farm’s publication. The piece is called, Machines of Learning.

Machines of Learning

It has a cartoonist quality that reminds me of a music box I was in love with as a child, so much so that I absconded with it from my grandparent’s house. The prince on his horse, similar to the policeman at the front of the building in the painting, would circle the castle as a song played to the princess up in her tower. The simplicity it possesses is fascinating. Seeing people being ground up in meat grinders to become pigs ushered into a cinema tunnel that never ends. It can speak to the churning out of people from school to work, to the addictive nature of media, and the development of blind followings. What also got me was the man reading in the foreground missing the entire show of it because his view is obstructed by a hay bale. There is much to say about this piece, as there are many art pieces, because that is art’s purpose: to instill and create. Create conversation, create doubt, create consciousness. I love to think about my own thoughts behind a piece and then all the thoughts others procure or possess, how they can follow similar paths or diverge completely - that always gets me with a sense of bewilderment.

I think, in a time that feels relatively difficult to grasp, both personally and internationally, it’s good to find solace in art. Yes, do I need to be looking for housing? For jobs? Yes. Do I also feel it is a responsibility to myself to read, listen to music, look at the graffiti art on the alley walls? Yes. There exists a balance that should not go disregarded. It is one that is easy to caste aside, though. It often gets skirted for what seems to be more pertinent throws of life. And sometimes it is not the time to properly digest the art you’re consuming. If your head is thinking of the bills you need to pay tomorrow, the book you’re reading with your eyes will not stay in your cells longer than a butterfly on a leaf. And that’s okay. We must give ourselves more grace when we cannot dedicate the time we’d wish, and must respect our time and the time of the things with which we fill our time.

And so I’ve bought books, I’ve been to exhibits, I’ve enjoyed the art dancing on the alley walls. I’ve seen old arrowheads become the object of eyes, seen the cap adjustment of a boy by his mother become an art piece in its display of care. I love that art can be anywhere in anything at any time. I love that it can transcend place and time and context, can offer something new and old in tandem. I love making art, love seeing others make art, love seeing it consumed. It’s easy to find a home in art, familiar or different, when sometimes other parts of home are far away or no longer there. I’m thankful for the people who make art, who propel it to forefronts and always remind us it’s there. I’m thankful for creators who break expectation, who break convention, who know their voices deserve to be heard. I’m thankful for the listeners and their willingness. I’m thankful for them.

Which brings me back to Call Me By Your Name. If you’ve yet to read the book, I recommend it. One of the themes is how memories transcend time, as art does. We internalize things that have meaning to us and bring them up again when their emotions, their remembrance, is needed. I’m glad it was the first book I finished since being in Ireland. It’s a good foot to begin with, making me savor time and its moments with more intention.

In the essence of season, I am thankful for a lot. I am thankful for the parts of life that breed thankfulness, gratefulness, appreciation, love. I feel I am often too ensconced to witness it as it happens, so when I do, I am thankful.

Until next time, quite enthusiastically,

Madeleine.

Madeleine Corley