Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What the Water Gave Me

Emotional pain is often the inspiration for great works of art, but physical pain doesn't act the same way on the mind. Physical pain does not inspire, it grinds. It pares the soul down to the barest essentials of survival, so that there is only a bright spark of self in a sea of agony. Pain is not in any way beautiful. It is shit and piss and vomit; it is mean and common, and most of all it is boring.

Frida Kahlo's art is not about pain, not directly. She painted the fear of pain, the love of death, political upset, tension between modern life and historical roots, the distress of being a woman. But she painted all this while in pain, and her work is subtly disturbing because of it. The amazing thing about her is that instead of allowing her pain to deaden what she felt and how she expressed herself, she somehow transmuted dust into gold.


Elizabeth McClung said...

I came here, read the post, was disturbed the image, couldn't quite figure out why, went away, came back again, read again, still couldn't figure out why - decided, well, I actually HAVE to have all the answers to comment, and yeah, pain is boring (over minutes, over hours, over days, over months) yet I find, oddly attention getting in the seconds and microseconds (as in: "AHH!" or "That's new!" before it repeats and become part of the same old.

I spend my nights thinking about how to express it in writing, and I keep changing the narrator, getting further away, getting closer in. ARG!

Elizabeth McClung said...

okay, classic contraction error - I meant that I DON'T have to have all the answers - so now, days later, I comment - or rather don't comment but do so openly.

Tayi said...

I envy your ability to comment even if you're not sure of what you want to say. I have trouble with this.

But I know what you mean about pain being both infinitely boring and yet completely arresting at the same time. It steals the attention even when its the same thing over and over again. I fear sometimes that this makes me into a boring person, the kind of person whose attention is caught by something that is infinitely boring, but Kahlo's example gives me hope that its possible to be caught by pain and still be an interesting person.