Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Power of POV

I read Black Beauty again as an adult. A child's mom. A dog's mom. It was so disturbing as to be painful. I still cringe at the thought of a bit in the mouth. The power of this book comes partly from being told in first person, i.e. the narrator is Black Beauty and we share his experiences. Written by Anna Sewell in the last years of her life, it was not meant to be a children's book but to advocate for humane treatment of horses. She lived only five months after its publication, but long enough to see its success. The autobiography of Black Beauty triggered outrage and then change, an example of the power of a good book.

In my French class we have been studying a song by Francis Cabrel, "La Corrida." We are with the bull as he waits in his black chamber - literally in the dark as to what will come. Hearing only the raucous sounds of the crowd, he is plunged into the light, amid a fanfare of trumpets. He is confused, then realizes he must defend himself; there is nowhere to escape. A peaceful bull from the country, he never learned to fight. At the end he hears the laughter as he groans, see the people dance as he falls. It is not a joyful song, to be sure, but powerful. Powerful writing that can make you cry. The images are so devastating that we need no picture.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Art and Heart

Asian art has always been my thing. I studied it in college and have traveled to many of the sites. The L.A. County Museum of Art has a world-famous collection and it's always a joy to visit. This time I enjoyed a wonderful Shiva Nataraja, the Dancing Shiva.

An important Indian icon is the goddess figure, but you don't see many mother-and-child sculptures. This piece is from Rajasthan.

It was our second visit to a major retrospective of the light artist James Turrell, who experiments with light and perception.

This time we came to enter his "Perceptual Cell." You lay inside a sort-of MRI sphere where you are surrounded by light and sound. You can pick the "hard" experience or the "soft." I naturally took the "hard."

The technicians told me it is designed to put you in an alpha state. That's a phrase we think we know, but I looked it up and it means being grounded and calm, with your subconscious open to receive. Maybe I should have meditated first, but I was not prepared for the intensity of the experience. I was physically bombarded, the top of my head blown off.

The next day we drove back home to Northern California. Following the rains, the countryside is glorious, almost as green as Hawaii, so much still undeveloped and fresh. I was in a heightened state of awareness, taking it all in. In love with California, despite it all. Born in LA, I lived many years in Half Moon Bay. The Johnson House is a local icon, especially stunning now just after the rain.

And here is Our Town's wonderful old Methodist Church - with a rainbow!

There is a secret way to approach the Golden Gate Bridge. Here is one reason it is so worth it.

Three days after exiting the Perceptual Cell, I am still woozy. Maybe I needed to have my head blown apart to be able to experience my home state with a fresh and open heart.