Tag Archives: French

Pure Folly

Piffle – Word of the Day

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The Folly was an 18th century English/French idea where a piece of architecture was built simply to decorate a garden or a field. While in Ireland some were used as a way of providing employment, in England they were mostly an indulgence of the wealthy. Many were replicas of the seven constructed wonders, famous castles, and other architecture. Some served a purpose, like a pavilion, but many were in fact, just decorative. There are, in my mind, plenty of modern equivalents.

 

Pure Folly

There you stand,
once as grand as Troy.
Now your weathered alabaster
and marble refinements are greyed,
pock marked, amd worn.
Your rondels as if ravens had plucked their eyes,
the adorning orb no longer shines
yet the sun has not set on you.
You look tired
ravaged by nature from whence you came.
Even so, you stand defiant
lasting testimony to decadence past,
a vision of something grand,
or, perhaps, a flight of fantasy.
As I ascend your steps to the heavens,
I hear the crowd roar and the clash of shields,
the Trojans quake,
O Helen.
Such folly in a folly.

©Paul Cannon

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

31 Comments

Filed under history, Mythology, poetry

A Vague Thought

Vague

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‘Great Wave Off Kanagawa’, ‘La Vague d’Hokusai’ or ‘The Wave’ – by Katushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) an artist and printmaker of the Edo or classical period. Hokusai was a prolific artist, and his paintings were popular in his lifetime, and in Europe and have become world famous since. It has been said that Monet was deeply influenced by Hokusai. He originated Hokusai Manga (manga = random drawings, so no connection with the modern usage of manga), a body of reference for other artists (some fifteen volumes).

In this painting, the waves have claws and are menacing, the humans in tiny boats are, by comparison, vulnerable and at the mercy of nature. Mt. Fuji in the background also dominates, the only natural thing not threatened by the water.

The connection to vague is of course the French translation = a wave of panic swept over me. So, in French the title implies what the painting is showing, the wave about to sweep over the fishermen.

Hokusai was concerned for the decline of society and was also seeing the end of the classical period. The painting shows judgement, the wave about to sweep over the fishermen and the community was a judgement on the people. I would retitle it – Nature Strikes Back.

The perspective of Hokusai is striking, because he is commnicating that the way Japanese society was behaving – it could not, should not continue.

But that is more real for us today because we have intervened in nature, with chemicals, polution, clearing, salinity, depletion of species, nature can strike back as a result of the changes it faces. Researchers have long been saying that weather patterns are changing, rainfall has changed, the earth’s atmosphere is warming. The positive is that there are many who are working hard to get our attention and change that.

In a more personal sense the painting speaks of consequences, if we don’t care for ourselves, if we don’t check our excesses, if we don’t care for others, then there are consequences that will affect us. Without reflective time, without some quiet within the daily, without healthy diet and exercise, without love and loving, without the capacity to listen and to share, to be creative, we are at risk of life sweeping over us with claws waiting to consume us. Mindfulness is not a mystery, it simply learning to to put our ego drive away and focus on the real self and its potential and relations. to use a cliche – stop and smell the roses.

But unlike the fishermen in the painting we are not at the mercy of such things, we can (we must) stop and take time, and we can work together on the crises that seem to surround us. And not in the least to begin to challenge the work ethic which will consume us first if we don’t.

Nature rises up
the claws of consequence
time to paint

Paul,

pvcann.com

33 Comments

Filed under art, history, life, mindfulness, nature