Catching the nuances of life…
“The person who deserves most pity is a lonesome one on a rainy day who doesn’t know how to read.”
~ Benjamin Franklin (1705–1790)
And I have been that ‘lonesome one’ for a good portion of my life~
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always dislike Literature… To some of my peers, it’s like one of the easiest classes to get by, cos it’s all about stories, poetry, drama and plays (everything’s fiction, no “serious” stuff, ya?)… It’s like, since there’s no standard answers for open-ended questions, so you can’t really give a “wrong” answer, right? Everything’s up to the interpretation of the reader, right? (Oh! The beauty of ambiguity in arts~)… But to me, that’s the issue…
You see, this brain of mine has always been wired for subjects that’s more defined, tangible and practical. Most of the textbooks I had were all about that, EXCEPT Literature books. It’s like the “achilles’ heel” in my academic pursuit, the weakest link and nemesis I could never overcome… I could score in Chinese, Science, History, Geography, Art, Home Economics, and even Mathematics (used to flunk it all the time till I met this tutor who changed my life) but NEVER for Literature. What a bummer~
My English sucked big time, so I never really know what’s going on in Literature class. I never understood poetry and prose, didn’t see any reason why I have to read and memorise short stories (other than the purpose of passing Lit exams) and I find it really hard to “imagine” myself in the shoes of any characters in a Shakespearean play to understand why they do what they do, let alone figure out whatever symbolism or meaning they were trying to portray (I was “forced” to act as “Lady Macbeth” in one of the classes and it felt really awkward!!)… Since 1995, the white flag has been raised, and I figured Literature and I are probably never gonna be friends with each other…
Ironically, for someone so weak in Literature, I became a scriptwriter and spent most of my adult life writing for a living, but in a different language… (perks of being bilingual, heh~)
However, deep down I know somewhere, somehow, this ‘weakness’ is causing me something… And that ‘something’ soon became more apparent as I gradually progress into other artistic pursuits like designing, photography and filmmaking, where I often find it challenging to catch and appreciate all that subtle nuances and symbolisms encrypted in award-winning art films and conceptual artwork…
In other words, I’m a lousy audience when it comes to arts~
As much as I claim to enjoy museums, art galleries, art shows, theatre and arthouse films… To be honest, half the time I won’t be able to understand the things on display if I don’t read the artist statement or synopsis beforehand. I can’t help but feel disappointed with myself whenever I realise I have again, fail to catch anything that’s embedded within the masterpiece… It’s as though my world only existed in black and white or RGB… 50 shades of grey and the bulk of Pantone colours never seem to enter my “screen”. It’s either all or none, nothing in between.
Maybe that’s where the problem is… Arts is not like science or applied science… Arts is about ideas and expressions, not logic and solutions… Boundaries are blurred. Variables are relative and often hard to quantify…
“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”
~ Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)
So after more than a decade of giving up Literature, I realise the lack of exposure to arts in the earlier part of my life has been hampering my understanding of it… So I tried to make up for loss time by getting tons of books of various genres (from “Lord of the Rings” to Malcolm Gladwell’s) and tried reading some of them… But sadly, even at the point when I’m penning this, I still have NOT finish any of the books I’ve bought (and most of them are STILL in the original plastic wrap)…
I know… It’s extremely slow and probably sound like a half-hearted attempt to most people… But hey, it’s still my baby step towards a closer connection with the mysterious arts… At least, I tried~
So last night, when I caught myself being able to absorb and understand the story of a 3-hour long foreign film that won unanimous votes from the official jury of Palme d’Or and a standing ovation during its premiere screening at Festival de Cannes, it suddenly dawn on me that…
For the FIRST time in my life, I was able to catch the full story of an art film without reading its reviews or synopsis beforehand!!! WOW~~~
Not only was I able to grasp the story, I’ve also begin to notice the various use of symbolisms portrayed throughout the film (i.e. the use of certain characters and actions to reflect societal norms, the juxtaposition of conflicting elements to reflect tension and differences, the emphasis on certain objects or colours to reflect emotional changes, the use of contrasting scenes to reflect a parallel universe) and I realise I actually interpreted them all correctly after comparing them scene-by-scene with online reviews about the film!!
OMG, that feeling of “getting-it-all” is simply amazing~ (^o^)v
How?! How did that ‘superpower-of-interpreting-arts’ jump into my head out of the sudden? How did it happened??? How is that even possible?!!
Maybe… Maturity comes with age?
Maybe… It’s the crash course on Storytelling (which felt very much like Literature class) that’s finally opening my eyes to see what used to be hidden in my blind spots…?
Maybe… It’s the peaks and valleys in my personal journey that’s fine-tuning my radar to appreciate and look out for the finer things in life…?
“To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.”
~ Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962)
Whatever the case, I’m glad that the world isn’t as distinct as black and white, or as straightforward as 1+2=3 (like the way I used to see it)… Gosh, imagine living a life of that’s defined by standard formula and answers… How boring is that gonna be?!
In any case, bravo to me. Yay~ *wink*
Soundtrack of the Story:
“Feel It Now” ~ Alex Johnson, Chris Allen, Steve Satterthwaite (Stock Music)
[ Music ]