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sat hat

thin red lines

Posted on 2010.08.27 at 22:57

the millennium, 2000 ad.
I was living in Cheltenham and hanging out at the Axiom Art Centre.
This place was brilliant; vegan restaurant, bar, nightclub, art gallery, studios, theatre space.
A haven for single parent mums, aging hippies, creative and alternative types, stoners, beatniks and the underground movement in general.
Sadly the government sent agents in to shut it down (allegedly, ahem) because of what it represented to them;
a socialist threat to their right~wing control regime, as it was meeting place where ideas, knowledge and spirituality were promoted.

One of the artists working there had a lot of troubles.
Mind troubles, like many creative people encounter as they inhabit a world aside from the one considered ‘normal’ by the tv brainwashed mainstream.
This guy came out of the local rest~home and took up residence in the studios upstairs.
The building was beautiful, an old mill~house, it had a peaceful atmosphere.

“This series” he explained to me “I have had to paint the same picture thirty times. It is two tones of blue, and between them is a thin line of red. I had to paint the picture so many times because I couldn’t find the right tone of red.”
Abstract expressionism.
Knowing a little of Toms past I intuited immediately how this picture was about his state of mind, the violent slash that separates one soft world of the sky and one slightly darker soft world of water.
In symbolism these representing knowledge and emotion.
Or so it meant to me, he was very shy about it and didn’t offer his own explanation apart from a gentle prozac~twitching shrug.
It was a clever painting and it got me thinking about a few things.

Six years later I was living in Newport, an hour and a half drive away from Cheltenham, and still hanging out with fringe artists.
My friend Tim had been having a lot of troubles, and I caught up with him in the street a few months after he had been released from the local rest~home.
We talked of conspiracy theories for a while, his research and activism in this area is one thing that had driven his own perspective far from the consensus held by most people, a cause for his feelings of alienation because most people are not yet ready to believe what is going on in this country.

“I have been painting again!” Tim tells me excitedly, his eyes glazed from the prozac he has been taking.
“I had to paint the same picture ten times. It is two tones of blue, and between them is a thin line of red. I had to paint the picture so many times because I couldn’t find the right tone of red.”

It was not just the words, but the way that he was saying the words.
Exactly the same intonation as I had heard six years previously.
For a moment I wondered if it was me, if I was stuck in some loop cycle where I had to relive the same information over and again.
I gulped as I realized the consequences of the information I was digesting.

“Oh” I said “that sounds interesting.”
My mind was racing with revelations of this.
I decided it would be impolitic to explain to my friend how I had heard his story on another occasion in the past.
My mind flooded with imagery from episodes of the Prisoner TV series.
We chatted for a few minutes longer before we both had to rush off on our missions.

The other place I have heard an example of this is when speaking with an air stewardess.
I told her how frightened I was of turbulence, considering that strong winds buffeting a sliver of tin~can as it roars through the sky gives me the shivers.

“Oh, it’s not turbulence you should worry about, it’s the take~off and landings.” She joked in a comforting voice.
I asked her three times about this and every time she replied the same stock phrase in the same tone of voice; “Oh, its not turbulence you should worry about, it’s the take~off and landings.”

Exactly the same, with her eyes glazed and inward looking, followed by a chuckle and a change of subject.
Look out for this.
In your own speech also; how many times do you open your mouth and the words that come out are merely stock phrases, easy to use as reply because you don’t actually have to use your mind; robot autopilot speaking for you so your mind can sleep numbly.
So much the better to program you with...

English is such a poetic language, the range of expression is wonderful, don’t you think?

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