One of the first and most generous bloggers to help start this still teetering and uneven site-in-progress – one month old today — is an artist who, I think, works in stained glass. He’s shy about mentioning his work, so I haven’t tried pinning him down on the question.
But he’s not the only ‘visual artist’ in our small group of pioneers. Because of this, and because we’re all in some way engaged in making something that didn’t exist before we picked up a paintbrush, pen, chisel, art glass segment, . . . or started tapping at computer keys, I feel as if I couldn’t have done better if I’d invited every blogger commenting here – instead of simply waiting to see who came along.
Considering this last week, a poem came to mind – and this week, to my astonishment, I saw its author, Louis MacNeice, mentioned on The Guardian’s books blog for the first time for the two years I’ve been reading there. There was a brief and well-informed discussion about him among people schooled in the formal analysis of literature. It was about a suggestion that one slot in which he belongs is with poets who have written about trains.
I would call MacNeice sui generis, and would rather bite down on a ten-inch nail than stuff him into any box. That, as you’ll see if you read Fanfare, is almost certainly how he felt himself. Though some lines wobble on the brink of cloying, the poem is a subtle, deeply considered and waltzing-on-air celebration of every form of creativity. He goes to special pains to erase hierarchy and snobbish distinctions – as alarming (posting as ETAYLOR) did a few days ago in a chat with deadgod on the same newspaper’s site:
[T]here is art which is better or more interestingly made than other art, art which deals with more profound matters than other art, there’s art which chimes with your personal tastes and so on.
My partner’s dad was an instrument engineer. He made machines which made practical machines and tools. There’s no art in terms of aesthetics or insight into human life but there’s incredible art in his engineering and concision of thought in making these things. It seems a bit mean not to call what he does art even if he’d be the first to admit that there’s nothing that relates it to the aims of painting, writing or composing ( to name but three ).
Contact with people doing the kind of work that alarming and other envisioners do has been close to the greatest satisfaction from venturing into the blogosphere, for me. I’m thinking, now, of a blog post describing the making of an unquestionably pink, porcine equivalent of the Great Wall of China, and of a stained glass panel by Mrs cynicalsteve, a gifted jeweller and stained glass artist also known as Michele Bailey. That has something to do with painting being the road I didn’t take, at about sixteen – an excruciating decision.
I suspect that a still controversial theory of some neuroscientists explains my reaction. It has to do with cells called ‘mirror neurons’ – whose behaviour suggests that vicarious pleasure and pain are feelings with an actual physical counterpart in our brains:
. . . “Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct simulation. By feeling, not by thinking.”
The discovery is [. . .] shifting the understanding of culture, empathy. . .
[. . .] Mirror neurons reveal how children learn, why people respond to certain types of sports, dance, music and art, [. . .]
To the small fire that never leaves the sky./ To the great fire that boils the daily pot . . . I leave you to MacNeice’s words, and am putting him in a new section I’m calling Geniuses – in the sense of ‘tutelary spirits’.