It’s so beautiful…LET’S SMASH IT!
Increasingly, this is what I hear when I see humans in these days of saturation broadcast of the cruel and the despicable. Unfortunately, the more we are exposed to, the more it seems to inspire people.
“Wow, this hatred and shouting ‘bitch’, ‘remoaners’ and aggression to strangers is really catching on. It’s the ‘whassssuuuppp’ of its generation, let’s join in’”
The quote of beauty and destruction comes from the modern classic, The Reflecting Skin. The film explores many ideas of love, death, guilt, suspicion and imagination. It is a film where things lurk to the surface. It was the viciously contrasting reaction to the beautiful things that has haunted me with the greatest intensity for 25 years.
I hang galleries and stare at beautiful things a lot at the moment. My bleak, end times temperament and midlife disillusion with humans is counterbalanced by looking at Georgia O Keeffe’s flowers and skulls or Stanley Spencer’s kind images of a magical Cookham.
The time I spent reading newspapers is now spent reading books or staring out of windows at meadows and fragments of towns, better to avoid the repellent agitating of the fleeting, but potent press.
The front pages say they want a revolution, but they don’t really. If they did, they’d demand that the non-domiciled who reap benefits from the taxes we pay while paying nothing into the system themselves could no longer feast on those they belittle from the warmth of their turret.
Our targeting system for blaming those who stop us from having what we believe should be ours remains shoddy at best. It still helps if the target looks different to us. We know many men in suits. Some seem kind. How could the traditionally tailored be an enemy to our hopes and happiness?
I am off to Margate.
A home to blatant sharp divisions.
When I was there in the summer, I looked at the beauty that Turner found in the sea and the sky there, and then chaperoned my family away from the hobbling mum and her teenage daughters, all screaming loud, laughing, pissed up abuse as they drank from bottles not bought in the hipster quarter of the town, where domestic debris is upcycled to make collectable ornaments.
When I first visited Margate, out of season and shadow skied, I returned to the train almost immediately. What wasn’t closed was drenched in misery. It was walking through the faded colour footage of one of those archive news clips that are used to tell you how miserable the seventies were before they cut to a clip of The Sweet on Top of the Pops.
It reminded me of a comedians’ day trip to Clacton. We went to play prize bingo to win a stupid soft toy, then realised that other people were playing in the hope of winning the box of tinned food. We snuck out, our cards barely dabbed.
In one of those intermittent bouts of middle class guilt that needles me in between organic yoghurts, I think about the £5 spent on playing vintage pinball machines with my son at Dreamland. What would the dispossessed of Margate spent that £5 on. Then I remember, give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, teach a man to run a successful vintage pinball concession at Dreamland, and he can eat for a life.
Will leaving the EU or building a wall between Mexico and the USA end this increasing disparity in the distribution of education and wealth?
My volcanic cynicism has solidified into granite.
I have an uneducated inkling that those who have reaped most riches from the disparity in wealth distribution will suffer least in this mob politics that is considered to have grown out of this state.
It will be just as it was after the last crash. A brief bout of hand wringing until it starts wearing down the jewelled fingers and velvet gloves, and then back to an increasing divide.
And that is why I am going to look at Turner’s landscapes at the Turner Contemporary again.
I’ll get lost in the art for a while, then I’ll turn the music up in my head so I don’t hear the world falling down. (another paraphrase, this time from Jubilee).
When I stopped writing this, I read Lara Feigel’s review of two books, The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts and This is the Place To Be by Lara Pawson. Both are examinations of sexuality and violence. The books are both highly recommended and the reader is warned they will disturb.
Feigell’s final paragraph jabbed at my own worries.
“There is a danger in reading Lara Pawson that we will take refuge in inaction; that exposure to complications on this scale results in a kind of existential sense of the impossibility of agency. It is no coincidence that one of her favourite writers is Samuel Beckett.”