Tuesday, 31 July 2012

In the name of Beauty.

I do a lot of my learning on the hoof.  Inspirations have a habit of falling into my head at unexpected times, a lot like the lobster claws and odd shells that appear in the garden dropped off by seagulls even though we live seven miles from the sea. It is a rather ramshackle way of gathering information but there are some wonderful detours along the way.

Mr Mark Cousins.

Let me give you an example starring my newest socks, a beautiful film and  Walt Whitman. I went to the cinema to see the premiere of  What is this film called Love made by Mark Cousins. The result of a few spare days in Mexico City,  a couple of quid and a laminated image of Sergei Eisenstein. WITFCL is a glorious wide open invitation to wander through the mind of the director, finding common ground as you go.  Everything is imbued with importance, from children playing to a fly on a ledge. Heroes and heroines, poems and imagery, are celebrated with a full on enthusiasm that made my heart happy.  Best of all, the film was a lesson in sticking to your creative guns, a note to self to believe in your own ideas.

A discussion after the film led me to look into Walt Whitman, shamefully all I knew about his poetry came from my teenage exposure to the Kids From Fame. This was not likely to be the best example of his work so I decided to get hold of a copy of Leaves of Grass. The introduction to the book was by E.M. Forster. You can read it here and I would recommend that you do. I haven't read any of Whitman's poetry yet but I've read the introduction six times and found an uncanny echo of what I had learned watching Mark Cousin's film. This is what Forster says:

" The average man needs to be just a little braver. He loses so much happiness through what might be termed "minor cowardices". Why are we so afraid of doing the "wrong thing," of wearing the "wrong clothes," of knowing the "wrong people," of pronouncing the names of artists or musicians wrongly? What in the name of Beauty does it matter? Why don't we trust ourselves more and the conventions less?"

and the scrappy bits.

One thing I am never afraid of is wearing the wrong socks and I knitted these beauties in a fit of Fair Isle enthusiasm that I hold Mary Jane Mucklestone's book entirely responsible for. They are made from the scraps leftover from other sock endeavours and I had been struggling to find a name for them when E.M.Forster came to my rescue. During one of my many re-readings, I found this. Happiness, Forster suggests will not be with us all of the time, it would be unrealistic to hope that it could. "But" he says " we may hope for intensity of beauty; that is absolutely certain." there will be "what one may call the irreducible minimum, the inalienable dowry of humanity: Beauty in scraps."  I looked at my socks, looked back at the page and thought that's exactly what I have. Beauty in scraps.

In other news, I've been spinning.


Ellen Mason said...

Half way through this post my mind wandered - I had to read the end twice. I was thinking you are the poet here, and how incredibly fond I am of you.

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Thank you so much for the link - that essay is a joy - and what Ellen said, plus some sock love :D

Lynn said...

Late in seeing this but had to say what a beautiful post and your socks- I'm speachless...

Laura said...

Your socks have a happy, much loved beauty!