Sunday, December 20, 2015

Epiphanie in Lyon

- Armed soldiers patrolled the Central Station, which my (lovely) hotel was a stone's throw from. I caught the televised Bastille Day celebration along the Champs Elysees in Paris. I felt more comfortable being flirty if I so pleased, because the Europeans are generally relaxed about sexuality than the Australians. I made the mistake of flirting with an American who had just arrived in the country, who very quickly referenced his family and shunned my newly liberated ways. I brooded about this for a while, then got on with it. That's the best thing about travel - you just keep on having new experiences, and it's hard to get stuck in an emotional groove.

- Lyon is famous for its food culture, and the best thing I had all year was a fillet of duck with herbs. I have no idea what they did to it, but it melted in my mouth and turned the tinnitus in my ears into music. I think it was made 'rural style', though the menu was in French and that doesn't help with the remembering. Another memorable meal was a salmon baguette affiliated with Carrefour (the supermarket) - such a simple thing, but each ingredient sang.

- I discovered a new side to Jenny (my long-time traveller friend) over lunch near a stunning cathedral we had just visited. We were emblematic of a culture of global intersections: an Australian and a Taiwanese bonding over a French holiday. She had brought fruit and told me about how she had enlivened her daily routine by selling things at the local market every once in a while. Her enthusiasm rubbed off on me, as did my appreciation for art on her - we spent a day floating around a famous gallery, silently ohh-ing and ahh-ing over room after room of vibrant, sophisticated brushwork. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The practical value of art

At my birthday gathering I was asked the question: If the world were to end and you were part of the small number of survivors, what would you do? I said "I would write about it." Another friend said something to the effect that she would ask me to be more practical, because there were certain physical realities that we would not be able to escape, e.g. building houses, growing crops, etc.

My answer to this is that art is very valuable. It gives people a reason to keep labouring away at whatever it is they do. When the day's work is finished and we need a break, we turn to books or music or something along those lines to keep us inspired. Texts help us develop our ideals, which can be the reason we keep building things of immediate functionality. In fact, we wouldn't have the idea of 'immediate functionality' without an examination of human psychology.

What about the houses and other structures we build? They, too, are informed by ideas. We might decide to create curves where there would ordinarily be edges, to be aesthetically pleasing and/or original. We might decide on a colour scheme for our individual building which blends in with the surrounding buildings, or stands out. We could even alter the skyline of the city with our unique creation. It all start with an artistic concept, even if that concept is unobtrusive conformity.

Much has been made of the power of stories. A good narrative has the power to inspire people to take better care of themselves and each other, to reach out to the sick and the needy, or to aim higher in what they can achieve. A good narrative can make us happier and more fulfilled as we go about our daily lives.

I would even argue that inspiration is a very practical business. If I'm not inspired, why would I want to work in the first place? There has to be a point to life, otherwise it would be very bleak indeed. Someone, there, post-apocalypse, would be needed to keep morale high. I elect to be that person. :)


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Free flow

'Somewhere in between Turkish ice cream and my own self-doubt
I stand here waiting for a new vista of experience to jump up' -
I feel oddly in control as I recall that day
When the concrete pavement held my gaze 

These weeks I'm striving to get out
Of self-imposed despair
I go up and I go down
But there's always someone there

She brings structure and rhythm
Child-like enthusiasm
And I love to hold her gaze
Her eyes glint like the skies
As we air hug through the days