In some cases vertical lines (e.g., walls) may appear to the patient to be leaning over like the tower of Pisa.
Caro is once again inside an eyewear shop, hoping to find the perfect frame for the glasses she needs to wear to see far, and properly, as she is severely astigmatic. She fancies a round frame as she believes it suits her face best, and adds a little pizazz to her otherwise matronly appearance. Round frames are very hard to find, she has recently realised after an extensive internet search; they must be thoroughly out of fashion – at least for now.
The shop she finds herself in, however, has a glass and beechwood display case filled with round frames. Tortoiseshell, colourful resin, gold, silver, pale horn.
The sales assistant walks towards her.
“I can’t believe this!” Caro gasps; one hand at her throat and the other trying to open the glass case.
Caro tries on several frames, squinting to see her reflection in the small square mirror. The one she finally chooses costs R7 000.00, about three times the amount she wants to spend. Pondering this dilemma, she sees a display of padded bras on a shelf she hasn’t noticed before. They are perky black ones, with tassels attached to their centres. A crashing noise distracts her – turning around she sees her dog, a ridgeback named Sofia, at the door of the shop with a white-throated pigeon dangling from her mouth.
The assistant – as well-dressed as she is mannered – ignores the fracas and tells Caro that they have a 12-month credit plan, should she decide to buy the frame of her dreams.
The first proof of the existence of ridged dogs was a written reference near Cape town in 1719. The reference was to the indigenous dogs of the Khoikhoi (“people-people”, or “real people”), used by their owners and the European settlers to protect villages, cattle and sheep. By and large, these Khoikhoi dog crosses eventually produced bravery, ridges and a hatred for lions (although they do seem to get on well with domesticated cats).
Caro loves her new glasses and can’t wait to show her friend, S. She walks into a room and finds S lying down next to her mother on a hospital bed. Caro double-knots the Shoprite bag she is holding (with a dead pigeon inside) and puts it in the corner of the room, then walks over.
“She’s gone,” S says. Her eyes and nose are red are swollen.
Caro lifts S’s mother’s hand. Her skin is soft as cornflour, still warm. Her eyes are not completely closed, and the brown irises visible through a narrow slit seem to glint a small, and probably insignificant, message.
Later, a bus takes Caro home. The same one she used to take in primary school, often anxious about not having the right amount of change to give the habitually grumpy driver.
She feels that same anxiety now, as she fumbles for her purse to find three five-cent coins.
The story of a certain New Zealand sheep, Shrek, resonates with me. Successfully hiding in caves for six consecutive years, he was finally caught and shorn in 2004. His fleece yielded enough wool to make 20 suits. His story is sadly poignant, yet ultimately uplifting – assuming that his owner was concerned about his welfare, as much as needing Shrek to earn his keep.
I love the idea of an introverted sheep. Maybe all sheep are introvert by nature?
Greta Garbo, who is often misquoted as saying, “I want to be alone,” actually said, “I want to be left alone.” There is a difference.
Introversion has been on my mind lately – it seems to be a popular topic at he moment, as more and more introverts unite (separately) to fight for their place in the sun. I’m especially curious to find out how this condition impacts on my process of working – am I, like Margaret Atwood so succinctly says about writing, “… like an uncooked egg deciding to to come out of its shell [with the] risk of spreading out too far, turning into a formless puddle.”?
“All this talking, this rather liquid confessing, was something I didn’t think I could ever bring myself to do. It seemed foolhardy to me, like an uncooked egg deciding to to come out of its shell: there would be a risk of spreading out too far, turning into a formless puddle.”
Autobiographical work – which, I think, all great art is – leaves the artist vulnerable. Shorn, in fact. (Although whether my inhibitions and fears can produce anything as useful as 20 suits remains to be seen.) The line between shyness and introversion is a thin one: an introverted person is not necessarily shy, and vice versa. Shyness, which can be a crippling condition caused by caring too much about others’ opinions, is the reason some people hide from society. Introverts, on the other hand, simply often prefer their own company.
Do I sometimes hesitate to go to scary places because I fear the opinion of others, or to protect myself from having to engage in endless discussion about meaning (which I might prefer to keep private)? Is this question (to myself) even making sense? Does meaning matter? Does meaning have to be spelled out, verbalised?
I recently discovered pinterest ( Willemien de Villiers on Pinterest.) – an online collection of virtual pinboards where anybody can create their own visual collection of every topic under the sun – there are some WEIRD boards out there! – to share with like-minded individuals (who miraculously find you once your boards are up). I can spend up to two hours a day following links I find on this site, disappearing into a delightful labyrinth of inspirational imagery and information, mostly art- and nature-related. It is introvert heaven.
Oh, the joy of sharing visual inspiration without having to say or write a word.
Here are a few visual inspirations (and new-to-me artists) I found via pinterest –
Julie Cockburn: Daydreamer 2, 2011, collaged found photograph.
Some People Knit | Masking tape, wood, concrete and metal | 210 cm x 160 cm x 140 cm, by Finnish artist Pia Männikkö.
Red thread Journal Dress, by Ruth Rae
Happy creating – inside or outside the cave!