Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is Human Life a Bursting Bubble?

When I was a child in the late 1940's there were few toys to play with and simple pleasures appealed.  One of my favourite pastimes was to buy a clay pipe for a penny or two, swish up a bowl of soapy water.  Dipping in the pipe, I would then blow through it, creating huge glorious bubbles full of rainbow colours.  Shake them loose and they would fly away and fall to the carpet where they would bounce a little.  This amusement kept me happy for ages.  It still keeps children happy for ages.


I was always a thoughtful sort of creature, a rather lonely, only child.  Lonely partly by preference, partly because we moved so much in those days that lasting friendships were hard to form.  My father was a long term serviceman in the RAF which meant a new posting every two and a half years and I had many a sad parting with a friend I'd grown to love.  Yet, I don't recall ever feeling bored.  Every small pleasure was enhanced and gave food for thought.  And watching the slow swirling of the bubble colours, moving gently from shades of green and blue to pinks and purples was an almost mystical experience at the time.  The colours entranced for a while but suddenly little black dots would begin to appear and inexorably grew and grew until the magic colours were swallowed into the black spaces and then...the bubble would burst with a big wet 'plop'.  This intrigued me as a child, this inevitable dissolution of beauty and colour into blackness then nothingness.

Sometimes I look at our modern world and see it as the bubble.  Around us we can see the beautiful, detailed, solid structures and architecture of the past, still standing despite wars and natural disasters.  Monuments that were lovingly carved, painted and ornate remain a tribute to the ideal of Beauty and the Divine in us all.  We see the artwork, clothing, jewellery of the ancients, the cave paintings made by unknown artists and realise that this longing to be creative and surrounded with what is lovely is innate in the human psyche.  People once saw and longed for visions of beauty and hope.  Even the poorest, hungriest, most miserable creature was allowed to enter a church or cathedral and raise eyes to what was sublime and uplifting.  It took them from life's darkness to higher and lovelier, kinder thoughts and feelings, even for a few moments before being plunged once more into the battle to survive.

Humanity has always lived with fear, uncertainty, natural disasters and death.  However, life is infinitely easier in many countries now, life expectancy greater in the capitalist portions of the world and the raw struggle to survive apparently conquered for many.  Life is easier but at the same time death less welcome.  And belief in the Divine almost a dirty word in a materialistic world.   Along with loss of faith in anything that appears intangible and unproven, beautiful images or the ability to create beauty seems spent in us now.  Modern humanity is fascinated with ugliness, disability, horror, murder, rape and cruelty in all art forms.  We enjoy watching films, reading books and looking at images that invoke darkness and despair rather than uplift as such images were once meant to do.  Taboos have been lifted till little remains to shock us any more. We've almost reached the bottom of the pit of Acheron.

Now it's all about clinging to the impossible ideal of physical beauty of the body and youth.  Without faith of any kind in the Divine (whatever form that may take for each one of us) Death is the ultimate terror to our fragile yet enormous human egos. It is like the black holes appearing in the bubbles, growing blacker and blacker by the minute, an ever-encroaching sense of finality and doom.  Modern art does little to raise our minds and hearts to higher thoughts or what might lie beyond this passing, fleeting mortal existence which comes and goes for as brief a moment of beauty as the bubbles from clay pipes.

4 comments:

Anthony Dean said...

Enjoyed this blog a great deal - I will be a regular reader from now on! Good luck with all the publishing.

Best wishes

Tony :0)

Rebecca Lochlann said...

I have to agree, sadly. I've felt this way for a long time.

And I had a similar childhood. Always alone, but never really lonely or bored. Always creative in my mind.

I wonder where we'll all end up: it's the theme of my series.

Evocative post, Lorri

Rebecca Lochlann said...

Oh and yes, I love your header of books! Reminds me of a little dusty shop I wandered into when I was in Scotland. I found a stack of very old books by Robert Louis Stevenson. Snatched them up and have cherished them ever since. (I'm distantly related.)

Lorri said...

Thanks Tony and Rebecca. I'm thrilled to know about your relationship with R L Stevenson Rebecca. I'm distantly related to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
I call the cat in my new novel Stevie after the Stevenson family who helped to build several lighthouses round the Scotish coasts.

Favourite Quotes

  • My home is my retreat and resting place from the wars: I try to keep this corner as a haven against the tempest outside, as I do another corner of my soul. Michelle de Montaigne
  • Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony: Mahatma Gandhi
  • Friends are people you can be quiet with. Anon.