More Words + One Image

August 16, 2020

Today I need to change the subject, or subjects, of the world that presses on us in these strange times. I am putting aside news of the pandemic and of politics. For a moment I need to look away from the wrongs, the injustices, the unkindnesses, the cruelties, and the violence directed towards others. Kindness, beauty, gratitude, and joy are on my radar today. And love, of course; however it shows up. 

As part of today’s practice, this morning I picked up a book that I had set aside for a bit, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay whom I came across on an episode of On Being. If you aren’t familiar with him or his writing, I encourage you to look him up; he and his writing are remarkable. The Book of Delights was begun as a daily essay about something that struck the author as delightful. He writes as though he is speaking casually with the reader over coffee or on a long walk. He might be meandering around a mundane idea or topic when a profound truth or bit of wisdom quietly slips in unannounced, as if conjured through some alchemy of the writer’s words. 

This morning I turned to Chapter 14 “ ‘ Joy is Such a Human Madness’ ”  which Gay begins with a reference to the essay “Joy” by Zadie Smith. It would only be in quoting the entire essay that I might convey the full beauty and power of the writing, but I want to pull out a small favorite bit here. Towards the end of the essay he writes:

“Among the most beautiful things I have ever heard anyone say came from my student Bethany talking about her pedagogical aspirations or ethos, how she wanted to be as a teacher, and what she wanted her classrooms to be: ‘What if we joined our wildernesses together?’ Sit with that for a minute. That the body, the life might carry a wilderness, an unexplored territory, and that yours and mine might somewhere, somehow meet. Might, even, join.

And what if the wilderness…is our sorrow…. It astonishes me sometimes – no, often – how every person I get to know – everyone, regardless of everything, by which I mean everything  lives with some profound personal sorrow. Brother addicted. Mother murdered. Dad died in surgery. Rejected by their family. Cancer came back. Evicted. Fetus not okay. Everyone, regardless, always, of everything. Not to mention the existential sorrow we might all be afflicted with, which is that we, and what we love, will soon be annihilated.  Which sounds more dramatic than it might. Let me just say dead. Is this, sorrow… the great wilderness? Is sorrow the true wild? And if it is – and if we join them – your wild to mine – what’s that? For joining, too, is a kind of annihilation. What if we joined our sorrows, I’m saying. I’m saying: What if that is joy?” 

Again, I have to say that one should read Ross Gay’s essay in its entirety for full effect, for that punch-to-the-gut feeling that his words offer up. For me, this essay illuminates my understanding of the bittersweet of life and touches on thoughts of no light without the dark – thoughts that cover the distance from metaphor to the reality of the physical world. 

No light without the dark. In drawing and painting, light and dark are critical; value/relative value (think grayscale) is everything! In making recent drawings I am constantly reminded of this. Color is important but the value, the light or darkness of that color, is what makes the most difference to the drawing. It is not unusual for the most subtle value shift to make a drawing sing. I am sharing here a recent soft pastel drawing for a consideration of light and dark and the relative values of color.

IMG_1442

3 Responses to “More Words + One Image”

  1. afmp100l Says:

    Very nice quote and the work is spectacular! I am working on positive. Trying to be kind by keeping the negative on my computer.

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    From: Sarah Masters
    Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2020 3:07 PM
    To: AFMP100@HOTMAIL.COM
    Subject: [New post] More Words + One Image

    sarahkmasters posted: “Today I need to change the subject, or subjects, of the world that presses on us in these strange times. I am putting aside news of the pandemic and of politics. For a moment I need to look away from the wrongs, the injustices, the unkindnesses, the cruel”
    Respond to this post by replying above this line

    New post on Sarah Masters
    [http://s0.wp.com/i/emails/blavatar.png]

    [http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/3e9f6779cec3a90db8083669fe168b42?s=50&d=identicon&r=G]
    More Words + One Image
    by sarahkmasters

    Today I need to change the subject, or subjects, of the world that presses on us in these strange times. I am putting aside news of the pandemic and of politics. For a moment I need to look away from the wrongs, the injustices, the unkindnesses, the cruelties, and the violence directed towards others. Kindness, beauty, gratitude, and joy are on my radar today. And love, of course; however it shows up.

    As part of today’s practice, this morning I picked up a book that I had set aside for a bit, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay whom I came across on an episode of On Being. If you aren’t familiar with him or his writing, I encourage to look him up; he and his writing are remarkable. The Book of Delights was begun as a daily essay about something that struck the author as delightful. He writes as though he is speaking casually with the reader over coffee or on a long walk. He might be meandering around a mundane idea or topic when a profound truth or bit of wisdom quietly slips in unannounced, as if conjured through some alchemy of the writer’s words.

    This morning I turned to Chapter 14 “ ‘ Joy is Such a Human Madness’ ” which Gay begins with a reference to the essay “Joy” by Zadie Smith. It would only be

  2. Marlene Paul Says:

    Sarah, I loved this. I haven’t actually read Ross’s book, but I’ve given it as a gift several times since discovering it a year ago—including last week to my new board president, for his 50th birthday. I’ll need to eventually read it, and listen to On Being.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: