January is the silent month of the year. Having celebrated Christmas and Sylvester for 6 weeks or more people have had enough …
The other thing – rest
… the opposite would be rest. But on my part I don’t know how to rest.
I do know, however, that rest is important. In any endeavour of importance you have to rest every now and then, or better: rest as regularly as you excert your energy. I saw a documentary on the Afro-American writer and civil rights champion James Baldwin (1924-1987) a couple of years ago. He said something like this: you will not last long in this game unless you are able to step out of it every now and then.
But how do you do it? I think it is a mistake to believe that to rest is simply to cease working. Rest takes more than absence of activity. Like you need a bed when you are to sleep, you need something to rest in when you are to rest. If you don’t understand this, it’s because you always had it (or never).
But in what? I think the short answer is: home. In order to rest properly, you need a home.
“Heimat” is a strong word in German. The director Edgar Reiz (1940-) made a series of about 35 films carrying this title. In a public speech I heard three years ago Reiz said that he gets many invitations to speak about the theme. Home is topical.
The “Heimat” film series (each part subtitled “A Chronicle of…”) starts with a dismissed soldier walking westwards between the Rhine and the Mosel at the end of 1918. We see him reach his home village and his parents’ house. After 10 x 1.5 film hours (and another world war) we enter part 2, in which a new home is introduced: a student’s collective (with a kind of „mother“) and a music school in Munich in the 1970ies. In the third and final part we are set in the reunited Germany in the 1990ies. Over the years we also see people making their individual homes with a family. (Plus a holiday to the south in a VW beetle, the excursion accentuating having a home to return to.)
We can learn from “Heimat” that there is home on several levels: your family, your village, your city or your country. Can your friends on Facebook be your home? I guess the short answer is no.
So let us go to a non-virtual home on intermediate level and ask for a good landscape. Would you rest well in this one, painted by Caspar David Friedrich? Would you also rest well on your sofa if the painting (or a reproduction) was hanging on the wall? Yes, I believe this image would provide some rest even if it hung in your studio (office) and you were working hard. But isn’t there also a tension in the image? Maybe, but would it spoil your rest? Acknowledging the ever underlying tension of life could even be consoling.
This colourful landscape, however, I would prefer for waking up. It does not appear banal, but I would have liked to put it to an “endurance test”. After a year, would it still be interesting? Would it still move and inspire?
With van Gogh there is always tension, isn’t it? But again, this does not necessarily spoil your rest.
Artwork of the fortnight
Below find the artwork of the fortnight. Or should it rather be considered a documentary?
To portray the artist as at work when sleeping, may perhaps appear ironic (or even complacent), but of course, there is also a sensible point to it. Even when sleeping, your subconscious is at work.
Have a good January and may your subconscious mind give you good ideas in the New Year!