Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Mina and I Promenade' - courtesy of Chagall

It is Mina's opinion that I am of late lost (according to her estimations that is to say the last 68 years) in the labyrinth of my subfusc mind. Says I need to get out. Attentive readers (of which I am certain there is at least one) will note this is my second use of the otherwise obscure term subfusc in as many posts. Well, to repeat oneself in the prime of life is a humiliation; in one's senescence it can be revenge.

But I digress. Out. I pressed her on her definition, getting in return a disquisition on the possibilities, among which was the dreaded spectre of volunteering. When I reminded her that in the event of having to volunteer advice I have at my disposal exactly two responses - Get over it, or the more benignly muttered, This too shall pass - she admitted the error of her ways. "Go for a walk, Hyde," were, I recall, her exact words, as she returned to her manuscript.

Go for a walk, Hyde. Even I, a dunderhead of profound literality, cannot fail to see the nearly poetic irony. You'll note that I'm "Hade" when she is feeling (or I am behaving) more magnanimously, and "Hyde" when she is (or I am) shall we say... in a pique. But for me "go for a walk" and "hide" are typically redundant, unless one is of the promenade disposition, as shown in L. S. Lowry's On the Promenade below.

You can guess which of the irritable fellows is I.

Laurence Steven Lowry. There's a fellow. Died in 1976 at the age of 88. Called Laurie by the sickly and probably insufferable mother who had originally been hoping for a daughter such as the "three splendid ones" her sister had. Arguably a mildly overrated artist (there's an entire museum devoted to him in the city of Salford in Greater Manchester, England), but most certainly an underrated humorist. When asked about his interest in art he replied, "Started when I was fifteen. Don't know why. Aunt said I was no good for anything else, so they may as well send me to art school." He described his father as a man who "realized he had a life to live and did his best to get through it."

My favorite anecdote about him, however, is that he kept a suitcase by the front door so that when uninvited guests dropped by he could claim to be on his way to the train station.

Appears to be of the stoic and schizoid generation to which I have attached myself.

But out, Mina advised. The door. And in need, perhaps, of a bit of cobweb-sweeping of the mind herself, she took my arm and we took our leave. Our own proMinade.

I repeat: fruition's a bore. The sere, flat, unyielding smugness of a hot summer's day is my idea of the doldrums, though Mina urged that we go in the early evening and approach the shore, where criticisms of sere have less credibility. It was there I took this photograph and wrote the following (it is your task to find the damn bird).

My mind is a noisy crow,
but for once
it has been stilled.

"Why, you are a poet," noted Mina (mincingly, I thought). First time she's given me the nod in that department.

Though she likes what I do with a rhyme, Mina does. And what Coleridge does even better in his own Rime, describing the very real Doldrums in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, a geographical region afflicted with the Intertropical Convergence Zone which produces a low-pressure area.

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Talk about take the wind out one's sails. That's for possibly weeks at a time.

Don't have that to complain of. Summer 'round these parts is often confined to a couple of weekends.

Well, Mina was correct in thinking I would be restored to bearable, if not good, humor. Sees me as a tad cantankerous, evidently. I reminded her of my deepest-seated humanistic affiliations as she brought me my early evening whiskey. Like his protégé Sheila Fell said about Lowry:

"He was a great humanist. To be a humanist, one has first to love human beings, and to be a great humanist, one has to be slightly detached from them."

At which point Mina poured the remaining whiskey on my pate.


Andrew said...

I must say you use some interesting lingo, but I can hang with it.

Lately I have become very interested in Chagall, but I'm not sure which one to buy. I like his use of color, but I can't afford the really nice lithographs. I'm considering one from here:

Any thoughts? Any whiskey?

cbb said...

Andrew, welcome, and thanks for stopping by despite your euphemism about the lingo. Feel free to challenge any usages.

In terms of Chagall lithographs, if you can't afford the "really nice" ones I'd say you're looking at the wrong website, "anniversary" discounts notwithstanding. Were you accurately counting decimal places? Math isn't my own strong suit but if you're planning on sums such as those I'd get some EXPERT opinions instead of mine.

Barring that, I recommend buying a print first of any piece that grabs your attention and seeing how it wears on you. The art you have in your life can have transformative symbolic power, and it's prudent to be mindful of what you're about to be even subconsciously influenced by.

Especially before you shell out that kind of moolah.

Regarding the whiskey, I strongly urge that it FOLLOW a purchase, not precede one.


Coffee Messiah said...

I enjoyed the Chagall and it's weaving in your story.

cbb said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Coffee. Good to have a reader.

Or possibly now two.

d. chedwick said...

I love the suitcase idea.

cbb said...

Ched, it's always good to have emergency back-up plans in the event of unexpected visitors, isn't it?