Skip to main content

The Earth



* Gustave Courbet, The Stonebreakers (1849)

(Courbet’s paintings seem eternally be covered by a layer of dusts- such effect is highlighted when the subject matter is some labour that engenders dusts- breaking stones. Long being assumed a Realist but unarguably weathering from the Romantic School, Courbet ingeniously shrouded the unideal in a vaguely idealized veneer- while one man refuses to face the viewers and the other has his hat rim closely down to the nose tip- neither of them is granted the permission of unfolding his facial expression. The hide-and-seek relation between the objects and the viewers forms a rather mystified sensation to the latters. At any moment the stonebreakers motion can seem stealthy, while something hideous seems to emerge anytime out of those piles of stones, like smoke.)


Due to a minor, inconsequential injury I am temporarily-handicapped and confined to a wheelchair, facing a window that opens up a view of every best moment of the altering seasons. These days reading is superfluous, especially when one’s mind is so bent upon an unlikely speedy recovery, and a final liberation of limbs, of the whole body. Thankfully, in such involuntary moment I still earn my unfettered heart, which records in notes everything that passes through its witness. It is until this moment do I realize how a pair of miraculously keener eyes acts as compensation for my invalid situation. Every motion and object, living or not, fails to filter out of my notice. My eyes then begin to draw in a panoramic scenery despite how flatly the window is obliged to paint the outdoor picture. It is often within the most beautiful pictures, the ones that I most appreciate, that a raven can be seen splitting across the sky, mocking apparently in some indecipherable language, and advancing behind are crowds and lumps of thickening clouds.

The picture I snapped that day was not further from the usual ones I saw on the other days- a barren open field occupying almost the majority of one’s vision, gloomy trees embellishing the thin line of horizon, pale sky fusing with menacing red topping it off. A pair of young lovers invaded the peacefulness and with their reckless lovemaking an imperturbed mundanity was at length penetrated. You could always tell when the surrounding was baffled, or at least, aware, of such intrusion- the sparse grass gave a slight jerk, trees darkened their leaves as if armours were well-donned, but the sky remained immobile, and it was during then the first time I heard the caw of a raven, although its whereabouts was still invisible to me. Neither was the bird’s fleeting form visible to the couple, for their fondling and huddling proceeded on notwithstanding.

It is always possible that the blandest wind should resort to mindless violence when the patience for its humdrum nature becomes intolerable. I could smell in the air that something was going to happen; something ominous was imminent. The gentle cooing of the lovers soon amplified itself into heated arguments, and when words were proved ineffable for unleashing their belligerence, physical force set in. I would spare the details of what atrocious scene I then witnessed and wrapped up the incident by concluding that the girl disappeared with the boy, apparently a victor but with a defeated look on, stole away and eternally out of my eyeshot.

What was so grotesque of such incident was the close resemblance with one I witnessed, or, more or less encountered, a long time ago. I had long divined such memory was put behind or laid dormant under some inviolable field. My forgetfulness was not deliberate, for whenever I mentioned the past incident to anybody who should be relevant, those reckless ones would always reassure me that such and such things never took place before. The sound and colour of the memory soon wore off; its shadowy present no longer haunted me, and its existence, no longer an issue to be doubted or questioned.

The remembrance was rekindled years later, now in my most restrained situation. I again resulted in executing what I did years before- when the man forced his sweetheart down unto the ground and tried to dig a hole with her already droopy head, my voice of alarm and astonishment went along with his motion. Deeper and deeper the man persisted shoving down the lifeless corpse, while my voice also persevered. Together we effectively laid hidden under the earth the objects we once possessed, and resolved not to think twice about it, and that went effectively too.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Honore Daumier

“If you shut up truth and bury it under ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”- Émile Zola
Exited Honoré Victorin Daumier, 10 February 1879, in an impoverishment that many of his contemporaries, especially his foes, would have thought was his long overdue retribution- the painter was blind, heavily in debt, and later relegated to a pauper’s grave. His friends, upon visiting his resting place, would, I imagine, see it a chance to admonish their children: “Now that’s a lesson for you cheeky devils whose tongues rattle off things that should better stay unspoken.” But Daumier devoted his life in revealing those “unspoken things.” His lithography ink proved sharper than most writers’ pens. He vented his rage and stigmatised others’ infamy in his satirical and, oftentimes, side-splitting cartoons. The tone was relentlessly acerbic but only because Daumier was exposing truths that, in the time…

Review: Late Spring (1949)

As a storyteller, Yasujiro Ozu insists on an implausibly objective stance that refrains from direct commentary or criticism; his camera customarily assumes the role of a detached observer, to whom the characters in the film, staring or talking straight to the camera, occasionally address, with an intimacy akin to that between a host and his guest, a closeness that is underpinned by a mutual recognition of the psychological distance that separates the two. The audience, whose perspective, in this case, conflates the camera’s (the director’s), an invisible character’s in the film (to whom the other characters address) and their own, is thus situated amidst this spatial complexity which, as a rule, every work of art necessarily creates.
In Late Spring (1948), the camera serves in part as an underlying comment to the story, which is noted by its economy of details. A prolonged shot of a departing train, on which the father and daughter travel to the city for a one-day excursion, prefigures…

Review: Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)

Every adversity in life is a test of one's fortitude, the occasion of which, as proved invariably in the past, man is capable of defying destiny, of reversing the inexorable course to which life is doomed to tend. Too often we sympathise with the travails of the dogged, indefatigable fighter, whose hard-on victory we shed tears of relief and admiration, and whose stories and examples we evoke when in need of a boost of morale or motivation, that our notion of heroism has come to be hallowed with a glow of divinity peculiar to those who triumph in their fights. Those who fail – the martyrs who labour for nothing, who die without fulfilling what they die for – they are regarded with no less sympathy, but to recount their stories we averse, refusing to be reminded of what ultimately makes us humans – our inherent and infinite capacity to fail.
To face up to one’s failures, especially with the forlorn hope that such failures can ever be remedied, requires a special kind of courage. Wil…