Sunday, April 24, 2005

Games with No Rules, or This Week's Sermon

I am a fan of letting little kids pick out their own clothes each day. With the exception of some special occasions (usually involving grandparents), where a Batman T and ballet tutu wouldn’t be acceptable, I’ve let them go for it. I watch Orion now, scanning his shirts and shorts, working things out. He has his own logic. I can only guess at it, having barely a toe in the bright, magic waters of his world. By the time he can explain his choice, that world will have begun to recede.

I am keenly aware that he is just at the edge what Wordsworth called 'heaven.'

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing boy.
William Wordsworth

Still, for me, no one ever described the effect of growing consciousness on the mind of a child better than William Blake in Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

Blake was so, so right and naturally mad, some would say, as a hatter (which if I’m not mistaken, refers to the fume-induced highs of hatters, furniture makers, pre-computer graphic artists and contemporary sculptors.)

I have been through this before, this stage of transition, with Phillip, Alison and Aubrey. I swam in different waters each time, but now I remember things were much the same as this. This time, I'm taking a closer look before it has gone.

Orion is on the cusp. I watch him. He plays with the joyful abandon that is only possible in games with no rules.

But, he is just becoming aware of rules, and history. He is gaining Experience.

Today, Captain Picard can kiss Marge Simpson, jump onto his dragon’s back and fly to Terrytown and meet Jay Jay and Mr. Incredible to watch Clone Wars.

Orion can look at things (and people) with no history attached, with no rules. He has the ability to view lots of things (and people) in a pristine near -vacuum void of prejudice, history, significance, consequence, concern or value.
Orion has an open mind.
Fucking wow…

Okay, so children (and a select number of adults) can’t function in this state. (That’s what they need parents for.)

Rules are okay. The universe is run that way. And experiences and knowledge are the basis of our lives. They are what make us families, allowing us to love people who would otherwise annoy us to murderous degrees.

But still, WOW.
I try it on, such as I can. It doesn't fit and it feels funny but sometimes when I play with Orion I can let go and see things fresh. When I work in the studio I try to let go and see things fresh.

I’m getting better at it, I think. It’s sort of like whistling. I keep trying and trying until I get a little sound. Then I know what it feels like so the next time is easier. Eventually, I might be able to whistle a little tune. of joyful abandon It could happen.

Just like whistling, it's impossible to tell someone else how to do this but if you've done it, you know it.

Orion is becoming aware of the ‘ordinary light of day.’ Pretty soon Sponge Bob and Darth Vader won’t be friends anymore and he’ll know that apples come from trees and bologna comes from…oh, hell.

Then it's off to different worlds, like Reading. That's a good one.
And, yes, he is becoming aware of rules. The letters of the alphabet are arranged in a certain way, red means STOP and in the house, you ask for a cup of juice but in the studio, you drink right from the carton in the fridge. Yeah, he busted me.

It’s the way of it. That’s okay. Still I hope never to lose the awareness of that limiteless ocean of free thought. Maybe one day I'll dive in again. Hopefully, not in 'the home' my older children enjoy taunting me about, but there is that possibility. Still, I'll be older, and if I'm smart, more able to afford the good shit.

Suddenly I’m in the mood to curl up with some William Blake, a glass of milk and some cheap vanilla wafers, which to me are inexplicably more tasty than ‘Nilla’ at least whilst reading mad poets.
But then, I’m snapped back to daylight by the rude buzzing of the clothes dryer.
Sigh. I’ll just chug some juice from the carton and keep moving.

Free your minds, little dogies….free your minds.



Carl V. Anderson said...

Great Sermon! I really enjoyed it! I read it last night and had to read it again a couple of times today before commenting.

The magic of childhood is pretty amazing and the dark cloud over all that bliss is that we don't realize how amazing it is until we are older and it is gone...

The question posed, however, is: Is it really gone? I don't kid myself, that unbridled innocent ignorant passion cannot be reclaimed, but what about the magic?

I liked your comment about reading. To me reading is one of the most wonderful things about growing up. A child's imagination is limitless but reading provides the fuel to further the boundaries of that imagination, which can then be translated into art, music, writing or any other outlet for our imaginations.

There are many good books, but I find it so magical when you run across a book that just comes alive to you. Neverwhere and Stardust were such books for me. And Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, and...the list goes on, I'll stop! :) "Magical" books become a part of you that doesn't go away. I love that part of life, as a child and as an adult.

Art and music are the same way. Its no secret how magical I find your thrills me in a very child-like way...makes my imagination soar. Sarah Brightman and, more recently Celtic Women, do the same thing for me musically.

Sorry this has gotten so long, I could really go on and on about this. That post got the mental wheels turning...thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Just an aside on a minor point: The histories I've read have said that hatters went mad from mercury poisoning, having rubbed the heavy metal into beaver-fur hats for years.
Great sermon!

Carl V. Anderson said...

Tea anyone?

lisa said...

Thanks, anonymous! That would explain why hatters stayed mad and sculptors have occasions of sanity.

pipay said...

Hi, thanks for visiting mine. I found out about your blog from neil gaiman's journal. i absolutely adore the sculpture you made for him. it's a story waiting to be written. I also think you make great stuff and I wanted my friends to know you too so i linked you.
BTW. I missed my childhood because of your post. I think it's sad that adults don't remember much from that time. We might be better if we did.