Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Quote for the Week

Towards the end of last week I finished reading the Penguin Classics version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories. I made this note, from “Alice” on the Stage, in which Carroll is discussing the actress portraying Alice in a stage version of the story:

‘But what I admired most, as realising most nearly my ideal heroine, was her perfect assumption of the high spirits, and readiness to enjoy everything, of a child out for a holiday. I doubt if any grown actress, however experienced, could have worn this air so perfectly; we look before and after, and sigh for what is not; a child never does this: and it is only a child that can utter from her heart the words poor Margaret Fuller Ossoli so longed to make her own, “I am all happy now!”

I found it a rather poignant sentiment: that we, as adults, look and judge in ‘negative’, defining things by what they are not and by what they exclude; because we have a higher level of knowledge and higher standards than children we are more aware of the concept of ‘imperfection’, resulting in a striving for ‘what is not’ which prevents us from simply enjoying ‘what is’. Perhaps if we learnt to look and judge in ‘positive’ we could start enjoying things for what they are, rather than criticising them for what they are not; perhaps what we all need is a little more child-like wonder in our lives...

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Mary Anne said...

Thank you Alex.

When I was little I would spend hours upon hours drawing and doodling. I could not wait to show everyone what I had created. I would show my mom, sister, brother, neighbor, the neighbor’s kids, anyone that was willing to look at my latest masterpiece.

As I got older I became very aware of what “ is not” in my artwork and afraid to get criticism for such. It is the same with my every day life.

I am more apt to put my rough sketches and unfinished ideas out there now compared to most. The fear of criticism and others finding what “is not” is still there, but my passion for art and life over rides this fear. I love what I do and do what I love.

I think about all of the precious masterpieces that have never been seen for fear of criticism or rejection. The same with the way some people live.

NATKA said...

Hey Alex,
I recently realized couple of things. Thinking of imperfection comes from comparison. And that often makes us feel sad and low. I agree with Mary Anne, that there it also is pretty destructive. Recently I run an experiment, of thinking about things which ARE in my life, eliminating comparison of what 'I am supposed to be'. I run it for a week and realized that I enjoyed my life much more and was also much effectively happier. I guess that realization of what is around me, also makes me appreciate who I am and want to be. And in that contest thoughtless running after somebody else's life is not even a possibility. All the best. Natalia

Alex Barrett said...

Thanks for sharing your comments.

Interestingly, I've been doing some research today for something I'm working on, and I ended up reading about a little bit about Epicurus. For Epicurus, people have both 'necessary' desires (e.g. sustenance, security, friendship) and 'unnecessary' desires (e.g. wealth, status, power). The 'necessary' desires cause us pain if they're not fulfilled, but, according to Epicurus, the 'unnecessary' desires often cause us pain even when they are fulfilled (as we always want more). Therefore, we should satisfy the 'necessary' desires - which is apparently easy to do - and strip away the 'unnecessary' ones by living a simple life and enjoying what we have. (At least I think that's the gist of it). I know that's a little bit off topic, but it seemed somehow relevant to what Natalia wrote about.