Friday, May 7, 2010

sprinting and surprises

For a day that began with a mile-long sprint in impractical shoes to catch the last bus of the morning---and continuing, therefore, sweaty and stinky all day---yesterday sure turned out to be a winner in the end. It was one of those days that reaffirms life as the joyous thing it truly is, underneath all the struggle.

After school I had an appointment at the Hammer to interview for this incredible collaborative project between an artisan and a psychologist. The lucky ones selected will go to the Hammer for eight weeks in succession and participate in group/Jungian therapy whilst creating needlepoint canvases of some of the Hammer's most illustrious works of art. These needlepoints will then be displayed alongside the original art pieces. This project was conceived of and paid for by an anonymous donor who wants people to have the opportunity to participate more fully in the museum experience, to be a part of the art, to breathe new life into it. The woman who interviewed me was merry, with that spark of life we long to see in everyone we meet, and knew what a Quaker was! I have a good feeling about this.

She gave me a guest pass for the museum (and--hurray!--an actual, literal gold star to wear for having cycled there) so I wandered through and found, side by side, Jung's ACTUAL RED BOOK and a very sensuous video installation called Minotaur.

I've been hearing about the red book for years. Jung was fascinated by mandalas and saw them as secret codes, or patterns, of our subconscious and the workings of the universe. So, in all of his spare time, he conceived an entire cosmology and worked it out in mandalas, wrote poetic sermons and discourses unveiling this cosmology, and turned it all into an illuminated manuscript of rich beauty. Naturally he did all of his own calligraphy, and the several hundred deeply colored and detailed illustrations. I never knew Jung was an artist. His art has a simplicity to it---reminiscent, almost, of the work of Antoine de Saint Exupery---but the lines, the colors call out as the best art does.

Most wondrous of all, there was Jung's own scribbled journal in the display case opposite, in his own hurried pencil. One entry read (I am paraphrasing the heck out of this):

O my soul! I have lost you for so long. I have wandered strange paths and made terrible mistakes, and now here I am. It has all been as it should because now I am here, and have found you.

Now I swear, I could find this EXACT entry---verbatim---in German, even!---in one of my old journals. To have a histrionic journal entry in common with Jung is very, very, heartening.

So then, reeling and in love, I stumbled into the Minotaur viewing room. It is dark, with beanbags. An old woman (the filmmaker) pages through a book of the sculptures of Rodin and stops at the Minotaur. The sculpture becomes two dancers, who then explore the emotional landscape of the work with their bodies. Which is an artistic way of saying, there you are sitting on the beanbag in a museum watching two naked people doing--you know--IT.

The power dynamic between the dancer playing the minotaur and the dancer playing his young victim alters subtly throughout, and in the end, in one long gaze, she shows her triumph, then her scorn, then her sadness at his ultimate lack of relevance. I know that feeling. That feeling ended my marriage.

I was so glad to have sat through it, because there were parts that had me squirming. It is really awkward to be sitting in a dark room watching people doing IT and then another patron of the arts wanders in, looks at the screen, looks at you watching the screen, and then scuttles the heck out of there.

Uh oh. I am creeping dangerously close to verbal vomit territory and there is so much left to tell! Laura can I have an exemption?

After this I had to cool myself down with a cucumber-and-rose ice cream cone at the Persian ice cream store. And then it was off to the Poufy Beige Sublet to finally conclude that saga. And that turned out to be...wonderful. We laughed, we went through a box of things I had accidentally left there (one of which was....drumroll please....a book by Jung!), and I was presented with my mail. 3 letters from the IRS. Sweet god almighty. But guess what? The first letter said, "we have found an irregularity...." the second letter said "here is why we have adjusted your figures..." and the third was a CHECK. For MORE than I had asked. They adjusted me to get MORE MONEY. (Pause for a little triumphant dance of pure joy and thanksgiving).

Then I had 20 minutes to bike from Brentwood to Culver City. Which, fueled by monetary and Jungian ecstasy, I DID! Then my friend took me to the most beautiful concert, a Carpet Concert of Persian and Uzbek music and dance and storytelling, in which all the patrons removed their shoes and sat on a carpet. And these patrons were all wearing handmade clothes, they stood up in the middle of the program to do yoga stretches, they broke out into ecstatic bouts of bellydancing in the aisles, I mean I wanted to go around with my notebook and start a mailing list of Potential Friends. And there were children there! Well behaved children in handmade clothing! Children so achingly beautiful in their handmade clothes that I was actually considering having another child just so that I could do a better job dressing them this time....

After the concert my friend and I put on bollywood music and belly danced for 3 hours. Then we collapsed in a happy heap and had Jungian dreams. It was a wonderful day. Here is what the program of the carpet concert said:

"Irrespective of the means of the household, many areas of the Middle East still maintain traditional furnishings consisting of carpets covering the entire floor and large pillows leaning against the walls. At mealtimes a large cloth is spread on the carpeted floor, and families come together to share their meals picnic-style. At night, the same area becomes a bedroom, with simple blankets spread is prepared, children play, all manner of activities take place in the same multipurpose space while all are sitting on the carpeted floor."

Sound familiar?

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog as fast as I can before the little artists come in the classroom. It's like having to drink a strawberry milkshake from In n Out really fast before someone catches you. Oh, no. Now we both want a strawberry milkshake. Sorry.