With knowing that change is on the horizon, a sense of peace passes over a person. Knowing that with any hope I will be out of here eventually has led me to be very at-ease and generally happy for these past few days. I've been thinking a good deal about life and how sublimely, frighteningly LARGE it is. Almost to the existential moment where I wonder if things like writing could ever do any good-- life is too short and too big for something like that. Why try to capture any of it? In the end that's foolish thinking, I know, but in moments of awe they are inescapable.
This weekend I made a little trip for myself. I had to go to this furnishings show in Santa Monica for my job on Friday. It was actually very interesting-- huge-- a massive hub of vendors marketing their products to businesses. My employers bought a candle line and bath & body stuff to add to their store. I was interested to see how all that works, and to just browse all of the goodies there. My favorite vendor was a recycled-paper one that made cool wallets, post-its, and journals. Anyway, once I was done with all that I went to see my friend Aly at LMU, which was quite nearby, and I became seized with the desire to go to the Santa Monica Pier. I have never been on it before, except possibly when I was little. The one time I went to 3rd street with intent the pier was closed, so I walked on the beach instead. Anyway, we took my friend's dog with us and had a nice time watching the sun go down. I also got to see dolphins for the first time in a long time-- a whole little group of them-- a school? a pod?-- popped up very near the pier as if they were saying helloooo to me.
Anyway, the next day my friend went back to school and I got up and made a beeline for downtown LA. For a long time I've been wanting to go to LA's possibly most famous art museum, LACMA, and I decided to finally just go. I got there early and hung out around the Tar Pits, right next door (one of my favorite spots when I was little). I wrote in my new Alice-themed journal. Wallowed in the sun. Once they finally opened I was overwhelmed by the selection- 7 or 8 huge buildings stuffed full of beautiful things, from modern art to ancient. I was there for 5 hours and I didn't even get to see everything. I did get to see Magritte's famous "Not A Pipe" which I had the opportunity to explain to a security person at the museum. They were just getting off work and walking by, and saw me intently studying. "It says 'this is not a pipe'," the guard said, "whatever that means. 'Cause it obviously IS a pipe." Me [with roguish grin]: "Ah, but it's not. It's a painting of a pipe, isn't it?" Guard: "OHHHHHHH. THANK YOU. I get it now." Completely sans sarcasm.
Anyway. I got to see many Warhols (and his contemporaries and followers). The famous can of soup was present as was one of his most interesting works, Black and White Tragedy (or something like that). I like his repeated-print work (I don't know exactly what they're called) on big canvasses. Unlike his other things which are more like amusing STATEMENTS about art, pictures like B&WT reveal an interesting perspective. It's the same picture repeated again and again, but each stamping highlights a different aspect. I can look at that for a long time. Anyway. The modern art was interesting and funny (to me) as usual. Again, I get statements, and I'm sure my reaction is part of that, but really. A blow-up balloon centipede taped to a step-stool. Hahaha.
Anyhoo. I got to see Magritte, Chagall, Warhol, Picasso, and a million million others. I was especially fascinated by a special exhibition they were doing about India's once art-capital, the British-occupied Lucknow. The art was Indian but with European influence, immaculately detailed, story-oriented and TINY. I LOVE detail and India is mysterious and fascinating to me, so I enjoyed that very much. I also found the Japanese art (namely their collection of scrolls created by Buddhist Monks spanning many many years) very beautiful and educational. I liked the stories that matched them, especially if information on the scroll's artist was available. I especially took to one (pictureless) which read something like "if the student speaks, they get hit with the master's staff. if the student does not speak, they get hit with the master's staff!" the top part of the scroll had a huge ink spot that drove the point home, kind of like the "BAM! POW!" bubbles in comic books. The implication was that the master teacher would not only correct what was incorrect, but also push his students to do and learn more even when they were doing the right. I thought that was great. I also liked this famous story that one of the scrolls etched-- a cold buddhist monk burns wooden statues of Buddha one day to keep warm. When his superiors find out, they're not happy, and they ask him why he burned the Buddha's. He says so he could collect Buddha's holy ashes, and they basically respond with wtf, man, this is a wooden statue you're talking about. To which the monk responds, why are you so upset about it, then? I think respect of one's (and other's) religious symbols is valuable, however in the end we must remember that symbols are all that they are.
Anywayanyway, my favorite section of the day was German expressionism. They had most of the work of an artist named George Grosz which I found very powerful. I also formed a weird attachment to the very ugly Picasso painting "Weeping Woman With Handerchief." Something about her reminded me of me.
I capped the day off by a drive down Sunset and up to the Griffith Park Observatory, which I had never been to. I got there at about sunset, and I was floored by its beauty, and by the view of LA at dusk. The building itself is a work of art; once the road curves and the observatory comes into view it's almost breath-taking. I looked through the telescope and bought postcards and said hello to James Dean, I reviewed a little bit about the solar system in the planetarium (something I'll have to do more of for my Pluto script), and then just sat for about an hour, looking over LA. It was nice. I'm still not sure how I feel about doing these things by myself-- I suppose for the most part I like it because I can do everything at my own pace. And I can simply think. And simply thinking atop one of the highest vantage points in urban California (perhaps where James Dean once thought about things, even) is a glorious experience.