Thursday, February 10, 2011

arrangement, contradiction, Valentine


Posted by Picasa Shoes in a shop window in the process of being dressed, one pair unwrapped, but still stuffed with tissue paper, one pair wrapped, make up this composition, which is completed by part of a mauve chair. There is no intention in the substance of  the picture, unless you allow for mine, in taking and cropping the photograph.

Marcus Aurelius again:. "Accustom yourself to give careful attention to what others are saying and try your best to enter into the mind of the speaker."
James Thurber, humorist and contributor to the New Yorker magazine, describing himself::" He never listens when anyone else is talking, preferring to keep his mind a blank until they get through so he can talk."
When I read Thurber as a young man I inclined towards being impressed by those words, whatever their intended, irony and humour, and confess to having shared their implied arrogance.  At least I thought them clever and  sometimes availed myself of them as an excuse for doing likewise. I still find them funny. But now,  my preference is for the advice of the great Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, which turns out, in my experience, to be altogether me more entertaining.

Valentine cards used to be truly romantic messages delivered anonymously to a lover. There was mystery and excitement in not knowing for certain from whom they came. Now  they  and everything that goes with them are entirely a commercial enterprise. They encourage couples to spend money on one another, and seem more likely to promote discord and disappointment than love within established relationships.  No Valentine! You don't love me any more! "These thoughts are prompted by The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is ,  on their loved ones. There is a lyre bird, I note, imprinted on the chocolate squares.

4 comments:

marja-leena said...

Interesting photo, but my feet hurt just thinking about putting them into those shoes! Like the quotes and thoughts on listening. Aye, aye on the commercialization of Valentine's (and everything, it seems)!

Barrett Bonden said...

I'm working from memory here but I think that Thurber self-description, which used to appear on the back of Penguin books, was cropped a sentence too short: "Sometimes people just walk away." Thurber had a talent for the dying fall and this fall dies to perfection. Of course I could be thinking of something else entirely. Another dying fall, but not half as good.

Lucas said...

The act of window dressing caught at a very nice moment! I like the composotion.

Plutarch said...

M-L I bought some tulips for Heidi but had to explain that they were nothing to do with St Valentine's Day.

BB I have a copy of The Thurber Carnival in Penguin. The extract begins on the front cover and continues on the back cover. The bit about keeping his mind blank is followed by the deliberate non-sequiter, "His favourite book is the The Great Gatsby". Earlier on in the piece he writes: "Quick to arouse, he is very hard to quiet and people often just go away." Thank you for mentioning it. Every word of the book and drawing in it is delight.

Lucas I am not sure that cropping and counter cropping really counts as composition, but it does perhaps qualify for you fortunate literal, "composotion".