Tag Archives: reality

Christmas Thoughts

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It feels like ages since I wrote – I’m aware my themes are sometimes similar and I’ve been lacking fresh ideas in the last few months; you’ve probably given up on me!

The John Lewis advert I think is delightful – it is simple in its message on one level but on another reminds us of the power of the imagination: the boy projects onto his toy penguin a real emotion, thus making the toy penguin live as a real penguin. What the unreal/real penguin desires is companionship – a very real need.  However fantastical the advert is, its deeper meaning is universal. And, when the penguin gets this companionship, his other friend – the boy – is as happy as he is.  Happiness gives happiness.

John Lewis

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Real lives being recognised

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There was a common thread to this year’s Oscars – many of the speeches paid tribute to the REAL characters they played.  This is one of the reasons I tune into these Award Ceremonies because the drama they represent is the real life of other people.

Jared Leto accepting his Best Supporting Actor Oscar

Jared Leto accepting his Best Supporting Actor Oscar

Leto, whose performance was a revelation in Dallas Buyer’s Club, said: ‘And this is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to Aids and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you.’

The sadness of Leto’s character is that his character is most moved in the film when other people show him some humanity – and when those once against you become your closest supporters and recognise that you are not so different from them:

Leto in role

Twelve Years A Slave paid tribute to those on whom the story was based.  McQueen reiterated his words from the BAFTA’s (see previous post)

Triumph for McQueen as he accepts his Oscar for Best Film but also that he stands equal with many races

Triumph for McQueen as he accepts his Oscar for Best Film but also that he stands equal with many races

and Lupita Nyong’o reminded the audience that her character was as real as she is: ‘It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s, and so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey, for her guidance.’

Happiness but not without pain

Happiness but not without pain

There is no other forum other than that of film and theatre which shows us so well the injustices of life.  Yes these awards are also the glamorous side of acting that many of us won’t relate to but at their heart they showcase not only talent, but humankind, in its greatness but also its great injustice of the past, and in many cases, still today.

 

A Way of Seeing

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I often wonder if people who don’t enjoy culture or do not feel drawn to any kind of artistic endeavour, are missing out on a way of seeing the world.  The poet Coleridge said of imagination – that it is the unconscious, primordial power of the soul and that knowledge is wedded to feeling.  So this would indicate that for knowledge to be accurate, it must have a relationship to feeling, to emotion – even to the irrational.  He also said that imagination allows us to see reality as a whole.  Parts are seen as a whole through the creative imagination; art is not a skill – it is the imaginative work of the soul.  Art is a certain kind of seeing – the inner eye’s fusion of the external and internal.

Coleridge

Freud went so far as to say that the discontent of the world is due to the lack of connection between the inner and the outer.

So what of the person making the art – singing the song, playing the instrument, writing the music/song, painting the picture, dancing the dance, writing the poem or book, or acting the character?  Coleridge said that a poet can be known by how he/she makes the reader express their emotions. The artist does not know what they’re expressing until it is expressed – hence it is unconscious.  Mentality cannot be strictly identified with consciousnes itself – e.g a musician is not completely aware/conscious of what or how well they’re playing.  They have a mentality of it but are not 100% conscious of it.

So having said all this, we are pointed to the concept that imagination clarifies and makes aspects of life clearer; in the act of elaboration, ironically we see more clearly.

I leave you with two quotes; one from a composer of great music – Sergei Rachmaninov – who says that his need to create music is linked with his reaction to it after it is created.  Both are efforts to create something good and beautiful through which the rest of life can be carried –

‘I always feel that my own music and my reactions to all music, remained spiritually the same, unendingly obedient in trying to create beauty.’

Life is lived forwards but understood backwards and we often need tools – such as the arts and imagination – to understand it.  In the book ‘The Other Side of You’ by Salley Vickers, one of the characters says ‘how little of another person’s reality is visible to us.  We see their form, their features, their shifts of expression, but all that constitutes their sense of self remains unseen.  And yet this invisible self is what to the individual constitutes their real identity.’

Vickers

Imagination is like a window which allows us to see others more clearly, as we use imagination to interpret the arts which are about people.  Film and Theatre Director Rufus Norris says in relation to his film ‘Broken’ – acting is the business of humanity.  The arts are more informative than we give them credit for and far more than simply fantastical.

Broken

‘Dance First. Think Later.’

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The quote is from a favourite writer of mine – of ‘Waiting For Godot’ and many other plays (see below).

dog quote

This is all very well – and a good idea most of the time, I think, but we are rarely able to.  Numerous examples show where people have danced – in other words done what they’ve wanted…and there are consequences for themselves and others.

Perhaps not so long ago I would have said yes to this philosophy with no hesitation as I do think it’s important to grab the moment and enjoy it for what it is – without thought.  I think I’d still say this but I’d add ‘as long as you don’t hurt yourself or other living beings (animal or human).’

Hollywood

What’s the link with Hollywood I hear you ask?  Well, Hollywood is the place where I suppose people do, and can, dance, and achieve great things – if they have the money and contacts.  I recently spent some time at Universal Studios LA and I was blown away by the dreams that have become real.

It is a place of dancing and thinking simultaneously and film makers would not have achieved anything if they had thought and then danced.

Dancing therefore is a metaphor for living life to the full and Universal is a place that takes you to where imagination takes over from reality.  In a world of 3D – which Universal uses to the full in its news rides and shows, we watch a fixed image which we think comes out at us and part of our world.  As we know, this is not the case – but we believe it to be the case.

Terminator

In the Terminator show, above, the Terminator is not really touching us but we believe it to be so.  Even when we are told ‘it is not real’ – we still jump when it happens!

Universal shows us – in a fun way – the benefits of dancing and not thinking.  The dimensions of the mind would not be stretched to their full capacity if we did only the latter.  And, dancing is often the more objective approach to life; thinking too much can be unhealthy as judgements can creep in.

Universal

Walking into Universal is walking into an impossible yet possible world.  It is not so far from the way real life works.

The Significance of ‘The Snowman’

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I love the Christmas animation, The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs.  I think it is a family event for some families; the kind of event which encourages people to sit together and watch at home, especially if there are children around on Christmas Day.

As a child, I loved it because of its magic.  Wow!…this snowman came to life and flew with the boy who built it.  Maybe this could happen to me if I build one.

flying snowman

As an adult, I love it because it holds memories of how easy it was to be transfixed by make-believe as a child – the memory is sad because life has taken over since and reality, which I find increasingly hard,  is not something we can run away from.  And if we do have the chance to run away for a brief moment, we are reminded that happy moments don’t last forever.  As with the snowman, he melts.

melts

But I do love it also because it does present that moment we have either within imagination or within real life, to escape – and learn from it – or even be changed forever by it.  The boy invites the snowman into his life to share some part of his human life:

Xmas lights

The snowman finds a motorbike – a novelty of the human world –

bike

and uses it to share some of ‘snowman world’ with the boy, when on their flight they drop in on a snowman party –

party

I guess again, I am making the point for good entertainment having a point to real life – since much of the time it is about real life.  The Snowman is about the need to imagine.  In the real world, imagining opens us to other worlds and other poeple.  In the case of this story, both snowman and human are able to live in each others’ worlds for a little.  There is always a risk when we open our minds – but most of the time it is because good moments are had, and good moments don’t always last – but the memory does and the morals learnt are not forgotten.  The risk is that we will be sad to lose something we love, but we will be likely better off for the experience.

cuddle snowman