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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

last train to nowhere

I used to paint you know,
until my hands began to wobble out of use,
I'd paint reality in all its charm and dreariness
and make up poems in my head the while I worked.
The poems were about infinity. Reality
is psychedelic, don't you know. Infinity
is purity of white that fades to white -
or black that merges with the same invariable hue.
You pass reality each day. When on your way to work
or home again, it's there in all its starkest subtlety,
waiting for the likes of you to sketch it up -
or make an image of it best you can.
The trouble is, it's inconsistent. Lets you down.
You pass the same shops, supermarkets, factories.
Day in, day out, it's there and stares you down -
but still it doesn't guarantee to get you where you're going.

Let's say we board a train. We don't know where it's off to.
We'll find out. It moves off on a dead straight track.
It has direction given it - North East - but not a destination.
It may stop in some great cathedral's nave
or in a painting by van Eyck.
It may pull in at a long poem by MacDiarmid
or pull up in a symphony by Grieg. Even, it may stop
inside a line graph drawn to show
how many bloggers saw my blog today
with axes that control its shape and size.
It may not stop at all, but just continue
along its lonely track, keep coming back
to where we boarded it but can't get off
because the place has changed: it's not the one we knew.
And still the train moves on its one straight line -
which will not always be the bearing that was set.
The painting I am working on becomes a poem,
your poem may turn out to be a bagatelle.

Infinity's a line, a track, an arrow through the heart
of what we're pleased to call reality.
Ignoring all the usual niceties
of axes x and y and maybe z,
in cutting through them all it's playing bungy jumps
and free falls from the sky with stuff
like death and afterlife and all that jazz.
I used to find I couldn't paint infinity - and that was why
I stuck to portraits of the real
but now reality seems not to make much sense.
We do the daftest things on its behalf.
Perhaps I'll paint again - my wobbly hands
might well be just the job to represent the infinite
in terms of fractal beauties x y z.

16 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Yup. Let me know if your wobbly hands are up to the task. If they are I may join in, on the many hands (wobbly or not) lightening the load.

Mary said...

Dave, I do hope you will paint again! You CAN do it. Diane had Parkinson's disease and painted. You would never know from looking at her paintings. Sometimes there are miracles in our lives, and sometimes a person can achieve what they think they cannot...until they try..again. I will be looking for a poem, as the summer goes on, that lets me know you picked up that brush again!

Daydreamertoo said...

I think you ought to paint, wobbly hands or not. It would still be your creation.
I loved the well told story in this. Personally I often wonder now what our true reality is. There is so much more that we don't know about life than what we do know and, if we used more than the one third of our brains we'd obviously learn a whole lot more. This piece really makes you think.
A really good read!

kaykuala said...

Hey, I like this Dave! It inspires me Painting can be therapeutic, go on an inspiring journey of painting again. It would be with greater vigor (and show them here later) Great write!

Hank

Brian Miller said...

i used to paint as well...

Reality
is psychedelic, don't you know. Infinity
is purity of white that fades to white ...love that...i was much better at reality than abstract as i painted...love your extension on this through out as well..

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

An intense full-hearted and earthed ( looking at the stars ) meditation.

cloudia charters said...

your complexity flows coherently!


Aloha from Waikiki,
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

Dulcina said...

Beautiful and evocative words, Dave, one of your best works in my humble opinion.
Painting with meaningful colours or painting with colourful - or black - words.
We get lost and confused when thinking about infinity because "here" we have human time and our mind cannot conceive the idea of an endless time, but time has nothing to do with infinity, since the latter is the absence of the former, no time at all.
Infinity is purity of white that fades to white, yes, no change, always the same because white is the result of all colours and so it cannot be anything else. Black is no colour, death.
An artistic journey by the train of life to an unknown place, the destiny - or fate - surprising us.
We cannot get off the train, it would be a suicide.
It may not stop at all, but just continue along its lonely track, keep coming back to where we boarded it but can't get off because the place has changed: it's not the one we knew., so good!
Infinity is an empty canvas, that's why you cannot paint it!
Infinity, reality... Maybe what we call "reality" is a mirage because our final and real destiny is infinity.
You have painted an interesting journey. Thanks for sharing.
:)

Dave King said...

The Elephant's Child
Sure thing. Two wobbly hands = one steady one as I am discovering.

Mary
Yes, you're right. I know you are. I look at the mouth and foot painters with total admiration. I have been sketching and am just beginning some experiments with oil pastels which my wife gave me for my birthday - lasr year. I guess time is the other issue. I don't want to eat into the time I spend writing. Can't have everything, I know. Very many thanks for your supportive words.

manicddaily said...

Yes. Understood. k.

Dave King said...

Daydreamertoo
Yes, I do agree. Thanks for the support. As to reality, I think we are probably on the same wavelength. I have come - I think! - to the belief that there is no objective reality - at least, no knowable one. If you take something as simple as a sound, it doesn't exist outside the brain. All that there is are wave forms of compressed air separated by bands of the regular stuff. Sound is the brain's invention.

Hank
Yes painting can be therapeutic - so can poetry, though, or any of the arts. Thanks for.

Brian
Thanks Brian. I still think we (artist) do best when we stick to the concrete rather than the abstract. Maybe we don't have to do so 100%, but getting the balance right can be the devil.

Tommaso
Thanks. I like this. I'd settle for it any day!

Cloudia
Wow! Now that really IS something to tell my mum! Love it. Thanks a lot.

Dulcina
Infinity is an empty canvas, - I like this, like it very much. Thanks so much for it and for your very oerceptive and detailed analysis. I certainly think that what we call reality may be a mirage. I must confess That I hadn't thought of getting off the train as suicide: my thought was that the place from which we started is no longer where we got on, but i guess you could argue that the two interpretations come to the same thing.

Thanks again for the time and effort you have put in to this. much appreciated.

Dave King said...

manicddaily
Thanks for this.

Ygraine said...

Yes, yes, yes you should paint again.
If your painting skills equal your talent with words (and I have no doubt of that), then we can look forward to the birth of a masterpiece!

A Cuban In London said...

This is a beautiful and yet, very haunting piece. It's the kind of poem that I know will lurk in my head for weeks now.

"It has direction given it - North East - but not a destination.
It may stop in some great cathedral's nave
or in a painting by van Eyck." This is just surreal. And it gets even better:

"Even, it may stop
inside a line graph drawn to show
how many bloggers saw my blog today
with axes that control its shape and size." Yup, I do check that graph, too.

"The painting I am working on becomes a poem,
your poem may turn out to be a bagatelle". The interrelation of art and literature. I've always disagree with the phrase "art and literature" as if the latter were not part of the former.

Many thanks. That was just beautiful.

Greetings from London.

Mary said...

I am glad you are starting to use pastels again. I understand the 'time' issue. I used to do some painting too and enjoy it, but now all of my creative time goes into writing...and I'm better at that than painting, but really DID enjoy painting as well. (But from what I have seen of your work, I think you have more painting talent than me!)

Dave King said...

Ygraine
Yes you are right in your basic argument - masterpiece would be overstating it, though!

A Cuban in London
I can't tell you how appreciative I am of this comment. I'm particularly thrilled by the fact that you enjoyed the surrealism. My thanks to you.

Mary
I shall have to resolve it somehow. Thank you for your interest. It means a great deal.