RSS

‘Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.’ Alan Watts.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

Have you ever had a go at one of those inkblot tests?  You know—when you stare at an inkblot and then have to describe what you see within in it . . .  a bat . . . or two people kissing . . . or monsters devouring the earth?  After this week I really hope I am never in a position where I have to do one of these tests for any medical or psychological reason because I am pretty sure I would fail dismally . . . 

One of my homework assignments for my ‘Imagining’ course this week was working with ink-blots.  ‘Oh what fun’—you might think.  ‘Simple’—you might think.  Splash a bit of ink on your page, blow it around a bit and then use your imagination to create some fantastic image.  Sigh.

Well, I now have pages and pages of ink blots (as well as ink spray up the kitchen walls, across the sink and even on the floor—a can of compressed air rather than a straw for the ‘blowing’ seemed such a good idea at the time) but, alas, not much else to show you.   My fellow classmates produced some of the most elaborate, astounding, fanciful (and one or two slightly disturbing) images I have ever seen.  Me?  Mostly all I saw was inkblots.

This using-your-imagination lark makes my head ache . . .

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

‘How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?’ Dr Seuss.

Well, it’s Friday.  Again.  And while I am always pleased to see Friday come around (be it Friday the 13th or no) I am not always quite so sure how it got here.  This week was a case in point—I am quite certain the last time I looked up it was actually only Tuesday . . .

We have just completed our first week of Term 4 here at the college.  I did manage to have a few days break away from the office between last term and this.  It wasn’t a long break because although we had no classes running there was still plenty of work to be done but I booked three days leave and with the following weekend and a public holiday thrown in I had a lovely six day respite from students, databases and ringing phones.  The girls and I went for long walks, dug holes in the garden, read books and watched old movies.  Bliss.  Alas, that time passed all too quickly (as it usually does) and I now find myself back in the office and knee deep in paper again.

It is an oft-observed phenomenon that time seemed to pass so much more slowly when we were younger.  Each day we had to spend indoors in the classroom seemed interminable as the hours dragged on (and on and on . . . ), the school terms between holidays were excruciatingly drawn out and long-awaited birthdays never seemed to come around often enough.

But then, on the plus side, summer holidays when you finally got to them, stretched out in an endless stream of long hot days spent outside lazing under a shady tree, or boating, or swimming, or at the beach eating ice-lolls and watermelon and (in my case) getting horrific sunburn, occasional heatstroke and sand stuck in places it was never meant to reach . . .

My how things have changed.  Nowadays, for me at least, it seems that Christmas and Easter may as well be the same festivity for the space we get between them, holidays are still fun but are over in the blink of an eye—and, well, don’t even get me started on how often those birthdays come around!

If you actually stop and think about it, time is a really weird thing and I am not the only one who has pondered as to why the passage of time seems to pass so differently at various stages of our lives.

One theory is that each unit of time that you live through is only a small portion of your total experience, so for a one year old child, one year is, literally, a lifetime. To a ten year old, a year is one tenth of their total experience, and so their ‘clock’ has only just begun to move.  For those who are 70, 80 or 90, one year is nearer to 1% of their total life experience and so the shorter time that is left races ahead and the past stretches out far behind.

Perhaps it has more to do with anticipation and retrospection but, anyway, take it from me—reading up on the psychological, philosophical and physical theories about time can just about do your head in!

So I have decided that I like the Occam’s razor principle the best (the simplest explanation is usually the correct one) and in that vein I reckon Albert Einstein nailed it when he said,The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once.’

Now that’s a theory I can get my head around . . .

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

‘Colours are the smiles of nature.’ Leigh Hunt.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

If that statement is true this tree is as happy as they come . . .

The rainbow eucalyptus or Mindanao gum is one of those trees that you don’t really believe exists until you see it for yourself.  The  bark is the tree’s most distinctive feature. Patches of bark are shed annually showing a bright green inner bark. This then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue, and gray.

A very smiley tree . . .

 
6 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

‘Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, Above us only sky . . . ‘ John Lennon.

John Lennon was right.  It is easy to imagine—once someone has already put the idea into your head . . .

I started a new course at Sketchbook Skool three weeks ago—‘Imagining‘.  A couple of days into it and I was already struggling.  What I long feared to be the case was actually proving to be true—I have no imagination.  Put something in front of me and I can draw it.  Give me a topic to research and I can write about it.  Put a picture in my head and I can see it.  But ask me to come up with something all of my own . . . that’s a whole other story . . .

I have always admired people with vivid imaginations.  People who can visualise something in their mind and reproduce it in the real world.  William Blake said, “What is now proved was once only imagined” and he was right.  All the books, music, movies, art, buildings, science, technology and medical advances we have today—all dreamt up first in someone’s imagination.  At only 16 years old Albert Einstein imagined himself riding alongside beam of light to “see” what the effects would be.  It’s just as well no-one was relying on me to come up with that notion . . .

Imagine a life without imagination though.  That’s not so easy, even for me.  What would it be like I wonder, to live without any trace of visual imagination?  To be unable to see daydreams. To be unable to conjure up the faces of your friends or family, or visualize scenes and characters in books you are reading?  I recently discovered that there are certain people for whom this is the norm.  These people have what is known as Aphantasia. They cannot—are physically unable—to summon up mental images—at all  It’s as if their mind’s eye is completely blind.  Mmmmm.  Perhaps I need to rethink my own self-diagnosis.

As you may have guessed I have never been an airy-fairy, day-dreaming, head-in-the-clouds kind of girl but perhaps that is because I have never really given myself the time or space (or permission) to be so.  Maybe I have spent too much time dealing with what is and not enough time thinking about the what could be.  I rarely just ‘play’ with my pencils and paints just for the fun of it (it seems a little bit wasteful when there was no end product in sight) and I don’t recall the last time I ever tried to write anything creative like a poem or a short story (possibly not since I was in school—way back in the dark ages.)  Perhaps imagination is like a muscle and if it doesn’t get exercised (like a number of my other bits I could name right now, but won’t) it gets flabby and discouraged and refuses to cooperate.  Sigh.

Okay then.  I have talked about it and thought about it and it doesn’t seem like there is going to be any kind of quick fix (and even I can’t convince myself I suffer from aphantasia—believe me, I’ve tried!) so I guess it is something I am just going to have to work at.  So I am going to go back into my SBS classroom now and hunker down and do some of the homework I have been studiously avoiding for the last couple of weeks.  (Draw a feeling?  How the hell do I draw a feeling? . . . )  

I have to start believing that somewhere deep (deep, deep) inside me there must be some little kernel of imagination that I can tap into and begin to draw out little by little.

Wish me luck . . .

 
6 Comments

Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

‘OK, this is a secret, but I think that nursery rhymes are the most relaxing and fun songs.’ Karisma Kapoor.

Last Sunday Maudie came to me and dropped her little black Sheep onto my lap.  It’s not what you’re thinking.  She has not suddenly chosen Sheep to be a replacement for her beloved (and rapidly disintegrating) Ball.  Nor did she even want to play.  It’s just that, on occasion, Maudie will appear at my side carrying one of her many (many) toys and nudge me with it until I take it from her. Once I have done so (and thanked her profusely) she will smile happily and wander away.  I am not sure why she does this. Perhaps she just thinks I look like I need a toy to play with  . . .

Anyway, on this particular occasion I decided to indulge her and play with her toy. Or at least make a quick sketch of it, which is kind of like playing.  As I sketched, I sang the old nursery rhyme ‘Baa baa black sheep . . . ‘ to Maudie (she likes me to sing to her—honest) and that set me to wondering . . . is there anyone around who doesn’t know that nursery rhyme?  I mean, it feels like it’s been around for.ev.ah.  (Well, not quite.  I looked it up.  It was first published in 1744 in what is believed to be the earliest surviving collection of nursery rhymes—’Tommy Thumbs Pretty Song Book’.  Perhaps forever’ was overstating it somewhat.  Suffice to say it’s been around a loooong time.)

I remember hearing a while back that there was talk of banning this nursery rhyme in some kindergartens because of it’s ‘racist’ overtones.  Well, I am not even going to go there (good grief) but when I researched where the rhyme originated it seems that it was actually written as a bit of a diatribe on the harsh tax on wool in feudal England—one-third would be taken for the king and nobility, and one-third for the church, which consequently left very little for the farmers . . . or the little shepherd boy ‘who lives down the lane’.

On further reading I discovered that other nursery rhymes (like many fairy tales) also had pretty gruesome origins. Take the lovely ‘Mary Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells And pretty maids all in a row’.  Sounds like a lovely little ditty about a girl and her garden doesn’t it?  Nope.  Many believe the original Mary to be the Catholic Queen ‘Bloody Mary’ and her garden was actually a graveyard which she filled with unlucky Protestants.  The ‘silver bells and cockle shells’ were instruments of torture and the ‘. . . pretty maids (or maidens) all in a row . . .’ were guillotines!  Lovely.

And there’s ‘Ring around the Rosy, a pocketful of posies. . .’  What harm could there possibly be in that?  Well, only that you might actually be singing about the symptoms of the bubonic plague which included a rosy red rash in the shape of a ring on the skin. People often filled their pockets with sweet smelling herbs (posies) due to the belief that the disease could be spread by bad smells.  ‘Ashes, ashes, we all fall down . . . ‘  Eeerk.

After reading a few more of these origin stories I have decided I am not going to do at any more research on this subject.  Karisma Kapoor’s ‘relaxing and fun songs’ now seem a tad disturbing to say the least.  I won’t be able to sing nursery rhymes to Maudie ever again without wondering what the hell I am really singing about.  Never mind.  I’ll go back to my old standard instead.

There couldn’t possibly be any troubling undertones in ‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine . . . ‘  Could there???

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

‘Life is simple. Just add water.’ Anon.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

Ahhhh.  If only that were true . . .

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

‘We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.’ Stephen King.

I have just had a trailer pop up on my computer screen for a remake of the movie based on the Stephen King novel ‘It’.  Now I love Stephen King’s books (although the man is obviously seriously strange) and I read this book many years ago.  I remember it as being very long (over 1000 pages), descriptive, convoluted, and, as you would expect, incredibly creepy.  I also remember that the villain of the book liked to show up dressed as a clown . . .

Stephen King obviously knows his business.  Clowns are weird—that’s a given.  I don’t remember ever being actually full-on freaked out by a clown (not even in the book—sorry Stephen) but I do understand why some people might be.  I mean, they really are a bit ‘off’ aren’t they?  Familiar maybe—but not quite right.  And it’s not just me that thinks so—a quick conversation in the college this morning today confirmed it.  A lot of people think clowns are down-right disturbing.  And it starts early.  Various studies over the years have found that many children really don’t like clowns either.  One study went as far as to say they were ‘universally disliked’.  (Whoever came up with ‘Ronald MacDonald’ possibly never read this study.)

I assume people aren’t born having a clown-phobia (or are they?) so you would think that some sort of traumatic event in childhood concerning a clown would have to occur to bring on such dislike or a fear of them, but that can’t always be the case, can it?  (Everyone in our college who doesn’t like clowns was traumatised by one as a child??  I doubt it.)  I certainly don’t recall any such clown-trauma happening to me, but I still don’t like them.  I wonder why that is?  Maybe it’s as simple as just not being able to ‘read’ them like we can other people.  Clowns’ facial expressions are fixed (and exaggerated) so it’s near impossible to gauge their true feelings.

(And, on a personal note, I worry about people who smile too much.  Honestly, can you ever really trust anyone who smiles all the time?  (Tom Cruise are you listening?)) 

The history of clowns is long and fascinating, but here is a quick snapshot.  Court ‘jesters’ may not have worn the floppy shoes and a red noses of today but they were often the only ones around who could laugh at and ridicule the monarch and his court without fear of losing their heads (literally).  Over the years these jesters evolved into harlequins.  The harlequins were more theatrical—morally bankrupt pranksters who travelled extensively and wore strange costumes and masks.  Many also became mimes as this meant they had no need to learn the languages of the countries they visited.  (Silent, masked and freakishly dressed—nothing to worry about here folks . . . )

It was during the 19th century that the colourful, friendly, white-faced clowns we recognise today started to gain popularity.  These clowns performed mainly for children and were meant to make us laugh.  And for the most part they did.  Until, somewhere along the line someone said, “You know, clowns kind of freak me out” and lo-and-behold movies like ‘Funland’, ‘Poltergeist’ and ‘Killer Clowns from Outer Space’ (and of course the original ‘It’) were born.  If ever you had the tiniest reservation about how you felt about clowns any of these movies would have been enough to send you into full blown coulrophobia.

So, now I have you all thinking about killer clowns—how many of you are going to watch the new ‘It’ movie?

Me?  No way.  Not at the cinema anyway.  I am much braver reading horror books than I am watching horror movies.  I will probably wait until it (ha . . . ‘It’ . . .  see what I did there?) comes on the telly.  Even then it will probably be on very late at night and I’ll actually have to record it so I can watch it in the full light of the next day . . . along with a big glass (or three) of wine, the ‘pause’ button of the remote at the ready, and my own little killer dogs close by to protect me . . .

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: