Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Rejecting the Rose-Tinted Spectacles

by Isabel Stark

The Persistence of Memory
About 11 months ago, for some time I experienced monotony to my life: a rhythmic passing of time and the same dependable thoughts and feelings all served me well in my (then) current situation. This continuity, which I cherished and loved, did lead me into a rather hazy and confused perspective on life. Within this short period of philosophical evaluation of my life I became alienated from my surrounding world to an unhealthy proportion…

Glass Tears by Man Ray (Wikiart)
Part1- Rose- Tinted Spectacles: The faithful and loyal rose-tinted spectacles! Oh, how naïve I was. The everyday life that we all are subjected to was enough to fulfill my curiosity and existence. I enjoyed studying wonderful poetry and the small social life I possessed was the centre of my existence, for some, the relatively minor topic of not becoming a prefect seemed earth-shattering- I now realised it will not at all make any difference to my life except wearing a slightly better tie. School was something I never wanted to leave, nothing could compare. Theory of Knowledge is not a subject I would have taken out of choice, nor one in which I am particularly opinionated or vocal; however, the scepticism and questioning applied to life within those Tuesday lessons has left me not looking through the rose-tinted spectacles I once thought I wore and suited.

Part 2- Daylight: After, well I should say during, a spate of glandular fever mixed with the lethal existential crisis (that had already begun to develop no thanks to T.O.K) I slipped into contemplation of my life; everything became dissatisfying. Alas, the tears I cried were not Man Ray’s famous glass ones or Belle's diamond tears over La Bête in Jean Cocteau’s surrealist film.  

Dare I say it, I realised I had become bored with current conservative ideologies that engulfed me. No one really cared about Jean Cocteau’s or Man Ray’s genius. People, I realised, had been politely nodding their heads with no idea of Surrealism, Dadaism and its importance. The prospect of an anthropology degree was being met with confusion. The worthless value a surprising number of people hold, of any form of arts-related education infuriated me. Instead of finding solace in a creative outlet such as writing, I felt as if all my efforts to express myself were in vain being brutally suppressed by that of the bourgeoisie. Life being so broad was being wasted; the most precious gift to give, the gift of time, was being wasted on an environment I felt unworthy…I was in my very own Persistence of Memory.  The cosmos around me was melting just like Dali’s expression of the Theory of Relativity. 

I was seeing life in its harshest light, no filter of glasses to tint my world a rosy colour; this was pure, unadulterated, bright, damaging sunlight. Of course to change my perspective I couldn’t put the rose tinted spectacles back on, I had already worn them and it was clear they would never suit me in the same way again. I pondered other ways to gain an alternative and less bleak outlook. I felt compelled to partake in something radical and shocking I just wanted to be seen as a maverick for my surrounding society. So I signed a petition to Save the Arctic. It was a tame rebellion against the establishment but albeit important. The realistic yet surreal nightmares I meanwhile experienced greatly disturbed me but left me learning for that paradoxical life. I was alone, suspended in infinite space and darkness except to be contained by an elaborate bird cage. This turned out to be the wonderful and fragile Paul Hamlyn Hall Bar at the Royal Opera House. Looking through the crisp panes of glass up at the stars, serenity passed over me until the brightest flash of light shot through the black surroundings. The glass shattered. The delicate panes crumbled into fragmented spikes, each tumbling thorough the air.

I woke up.

Part 3- Hallucinating: To cheer myself up I watched La Belle et La Bête a classic Jean Cocteau film, its surrealism appealed to my state of mind and I immediately uncovered one of many books we have on modern art and began to look in greater detail at the Dadaist and Surrealist movement. The exploration of the unconscious and dreams juxtaposed with reality seemed like an ideal way to view the very real yet complex and bizarre world we live in. It made perfect imperfect sense. The only lighting within La Bête's castle comes from the candles held by the candelabra made of humans arms, which means that everything else is in totally darkness and not visible, the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the hovering stairs- this lack of boundaries really allows us to feel as if we are not only inside the castle but also trapped inside a lost and limitless mind which is paradoxical in itself. This was very similar to my own feelings, trapped within a certain pattern of life but totally lost within myself. 

A dear friend, aware of my situation gave me a physical pair of ‘Rainbow’ glasses; they use the diffraction of light to show rainbows. It gave me the sense of being within my own surrealist world. The world around me was physically there and, naturally, was realistic but the distortion of colours and shapes allowed for a dream-like quality which blended both reality and dreams together as if in a permanent surrealist world. 

This quirky outlook has meant I found it nigh-on impossible to remove the glasses. Surrealism, art and modern science by Gavin Parkinson explores the relationship between the surrealist art movement looking at key figures like Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, René Crevel and André Breton with the new conceptual science of the early twentieth century that was quantum mechanics and the works of Louis de Broglie, Albert Einstein, Max Planck and Erwin Schrödinger. This book brought in key links with Gaston Bachelard, a French philosopher, to explore the home and The Poetics of Space. It gave a wonderful perspective, and I found it comforting that a subject so logical and precise such as physics was looking through the world in a liberated way; it really allowed me to merge my love for art and current mental state with ‘the real world’ that is science and help me figure out how to live with a balance.  I also gained a true appreciation and love for the subject of physics.

I was able to remove my rosy filter of the world during my existential crisis and viewed the world in its harshest of lights, the feeling of being completely useless; however, I finally managed to settle on a compromise. Yes - I still, the majority of time, see plain, white light; however, I do let several small filters glaze over my eyes, just to give some enjoyment to my life. The small filters I now allow are a range of colours and give me therefore different viewpoints. I now try and make sure that I do not ever just see and feel as if I’m wearing a generic pair of worthless, plastic rose-tinted spectacles.

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