Monday, December 29, 2008

The terror in the night


That's got to be one of the most complex feelings that a human being can have. Do you doubt me? Perhaps you think fear is only fear and that's just that. Either you're afraid, or you're not.

Yeah? What of horror films? Scary books? Haunted houses? Halloween?

People love to be afraid. It's one of our favorite feelings. We watch terrifying movies about death, murder, and monsters (oh my!). What are the first five books that come to mind when I say the word "classics"?

Personally, I think of 'A Tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens, 'Frankenstine' by Mary Shelly, 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen, 'Grapes of Wrath' by John Steinbeck, and 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker.

Two of those "classics" are horror stories about monsters and evil and villagers with torches and pitchforks.

Maybe people enjoy fear because of the adrenaline rush. Or maybe it's just the nastier side of our curious nature. You don't get to see blood and gore every day. Why do you think people slow down when there's an accident on the side of the road? They want to see something horrifying. Why they want that may even be a mystery unto themselves.

But oh how they want to see it.

Back to the adrenaline theory. Fear feels good, after the fact. Some people simply delight in dread. They watch a scary movie or read a terrifying thriller to get their blood pumping, to excite them, to feel alive.

Fear is just fascinating. One of my favorite paintings is "Gothic Nightmares". I once read an article that mentioned that painting. It talked about how well the painting demonstrated night terrors, those dreams where you feel like you're awake and there's something horrible in the room with you, but you can't even move. You're petrified and immobilized.

But it's famous. We don't shun it because it scares us. In fact we embrace it. Perhaps it makes us feel brave. Really, there isn't any courage without fear. Who needs to be brave if they are not afraid to begin with? Bravery is all about confronting fear.

That's it. We terrify ourselves because it teaches us about ourselves. We frighten ourselves to prove our own courage. If I could never fear, I could never know if I am a hero, or nothing more than a coward.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The FlipShow Kiss (a sketchy video I made for art)

Thank you Michael Silvers for your fantastic music!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

David wasn't REALLY naked when he killed Goliath. (or WAS he?)

Ah, human nudity.

What else can rival such popularity? It's everywhere. In simple, tasteless work (porn), in the realm of fine art, and back through the ages. Even portrayals of well-known biblical figures such as David and Adam and eve are flaunting their original outfits without shame.

"Dear Lord WHY!?", you ask.

I mean, sure. Porn. That makes sense. Man has desired to look upon naked women since before he even began scratching heroic images of himself killing prehistoric beasts on cave walls. That's a no-brainer.

But art?

It's about beauty. The grace and power and subtleties and vulnerabilities of the human body, the versatility and unique thoughts and desires that lend their aids to romanticizing the human image.

It's about what matters most. Not clothes. Not material possessions. When it all ends, and everyone and everything is gone, what will still matter to you? People. The people we love, the ones we hate. Those who destroy and also create. There was nothing else before we had each other, before we made our memories. Nothing else important, anyway. It's relationships with other people that matter most.

Obviously we can't paint or sculpt relationships and raw feelings. It's all in the body language. The body. The human body.

What do you suppose Michelangelo was doing when he sculpted the naked young David? It certainly wasn't porn. It wasn't to show off how ridiculously muscular he was (although a decent body helps, and no one wants to look at a horrifically deformed bod anyway). I think maybe it was showing his courage.

A friend of mine once observed that perhaps Michelangelo's intent was to show how great David's God was, and also David's faith in his God. He was naked and helpless, weak, and hadn't even armor to protect him, but his faith was enough to help him kill a giant.

I think it's feeling. What do you use to best express your feelings? Before you write it down, before you shout it out, your body language says it loud and clear. The expression on your face, your stance, where you stand, your posture, your ticks and nervous habits. There it is, all worn there on your... er... lack of a sleeve.

Don't you feel it, the confidence that David exudes? Regardless of his weak stature, he stands at ease. His face is calm. He is not afraid. There is something powerful in him. His God, perhaps? Maybe just an unusual courage?

Michelangelo didn't need to say anything. He didn't need to write out his intent so that we could read it and know what he meant. It's plain and simple for all to see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I dreamed a dream in times gone by...

Dreams have always been a larger part of my life than they really ought to be. At least that's how it seems. Perhaps everyone's fantasy life is as active as mine. But I doubt it.

When I was a little girl, no one liked me. I wasn't the made-fun of underdog with one best friend who would stand behind me no matter what. No one would have rooted for me if they made a movie about my elementary years. I was stupid. Not intellectually (I was actually a very bright student) but socially.

Because of my painfully obvious lack of real friends or play mates, I made my own. I would create worlds inside my head and have fantastic adventures with a boy I thought up. He started off resembling a boy I had a bit of a crush on in my class. Each time there was a new crush, the boy I'd made inside my head would change a little. Essentially he grew up with me.

He started out blonde and blue eyed, just like that boy in the first grade. In the sixth grade he got brown hair and a name. I shan't tell you the name since it was sort of like the name of my middle school crush (and I'd have to kill you the moment you knew). But he also got very tall, because I had more than just one crush that first year of middle school.

Eventually he ended up tall, dark and handsome, like most grown girls' fantasies. But I doubt every girl's dream man grew from her imaginary friend. Then again, maybe I'm wrong and that's how it always works. He's intelligent, attractive and strong , but not overly buff (I'm sorry gentlemen, but wrestlers and body builders are some of the ugliest creatures to have walked this earth, in my opinion).

We still have fantastic adventures. Of course now there are other friends in my imaginary world, gal pals, suitors I've denied (it's okay, I've dreamed them up the perfect soul mates), and even an imaginary family full of siblings and ridiculous uncles and grand parents and great grand parents that never manage to age.

But there are friends outside of the realm of the imagined now. I have real friends. We don't have adventures nearly so great as the ones inside my head, but they're worth much more, the little, mild adventures that we do have, because they are real. I worry that I should have out-grown my fantasy world.

I suppose this dream addiction has more merit than I've let on. I am a fantastic writer. I think up strange and original stories and my characters are well developed, like the people in my dreams. How can I forsake my dreaming when such beautiful worlds as the ones in my head have yet to be put to paper?

And I haven't even told you about the dreams I dream at night.