Meditate or masturbate? That is the question...
In a way, this post is a bit related to our discussion with Katya on the Guardian post about if art should be for its own sake alone - http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/20/art-museums-churches
When i left this morning to go & meditate with Monet, i knew i owed her an answer & somehow parts of what i saw are related to our conversation, so here we go (i'm sure i'll get lost along the way, but still...). I'm not going to connect all of the dots between De Botton, Katya & myself, but it's all related.I think at times museums are trying too hard to please, to be 'easy', 'fun' (a typical American category!!!) - it turns out that the Art Institute of Chicago has a whole 'experience team' on board that comes up with Meditate with Monet & alike. I also believe that the arts, especially the visual arts, are perfect as they are (even when they're not perfect & not visually pleasing, there's something appealing for everyone out there) & they actually could appear very 'easy' for the immediate consumption of people who don't have a classical, serious arts training. I think art education departments in their quest to make things 'fun' should also give more credit to human intelligence (please note that it's ME saying this & you know what i think about the average person...but i firmly believe that to FEEL art, to feel something that moves you, you just have to feel, not to KNOW, not to know precisely....and you have to be there, with your eyes open & just listen to yourself & your mind & your heart will open & questions will start pouring in....and i should stop because i'm getting carried away (of course!)
Back to Katya's critique: i agree that it's naive to argue that 'art should help us to get through life' & make us better human beings, although, deep down, i believe in it. But i believe in it happening spontaneously, rather than in a forced, fake way (like today).
Actually, today was even worse.
Ok, so the only reason i decided to join the mat-toting enthusiastic American ladies at 9am at the museum was because i thought it was oooooh sooooo Aaaaamerican & i knew my mom would like it.
What i didn't know was that I was going to dislike it much more than i could ever imagine & come up with some weird comparisons (that i like - & please let me know yours).
The crime scene: Gallery 243, mostly Monet's haystacks & water lilies (the best thing for me was his Norwegian snowscape, i kept thinking what was it like for him to spend some months over there....)
We are given a 25 min. talk on the paintings. Nothing interesting. I keep turning over my shoulder trying to catch a glimpse of Toulouse-Lautrec's next door, which i love (especially his very commercial ad for the sardines in a can!!!)
Then we all sit down on our mats & .....then the most absurd & evident thing happens - we have to close our eyes!!!!
How come i didn't realize it beforehand?
Surrounded by all this beauty (although these particular paintings have never been my favorites), why close your eyes to meditate???? Can't you go deep inside yourself while keeping your eyes wide open, wouldn't it actually be better?
And the comparison hits me right away: closing your eyes in front of all the beautiful & real things that could move you truly & resorting to 'blind' meditation instead is like....(here we go) - having a woman that you love waiting for you to come over & deciding to stay home alone & masturbate instead (still don't know why i thought of this, but i still stand by this comparison).
So i think that the problem here is that 1. museums don't trust us feeling things 'unaided' & 2. they desperately want to be seen as cool & hip, which to me is a big sin (while masturbation isn't).
Thinking about it more, I wanted to pull some images together....it's my own auto-erotic, solitary pleasure.