Tables and transcendentalism


I just caught myself in the middle of the following inner dialogue, after reading a short article by Marian Keyes, where she describes taking a sudden turn in which she developed an obsession with using chalk paint to upgrade household items. The inner dialogue went like this “That was a nice story. I liked all the blue tables. God I had a great time reading about the blue furniture.” And I really did!!! Now call me a philistine if you will (and I’m sure you will), but I’ve always considered imagery in literature a bit of a waste of time. Skim skim skim, I thinks to myself, get to the juicy bits -you know, with the STORY, and the PEOPLE, and the TALKING. The good stuff. But here I am, lost in a world of turquoise blue tables, which I find soothing, delicious, and dare I say it, therapeutic, to visualise. Kind of like a salt bath, but for my brain. It was really lovely!! And then I realised that it isn’t that I don’t like imagery in books, I just have very odd tastes. It’s like when I look at a still life, or a painting of a meadow of allegedly lovely flowers. YAWN. BOOORING. NEXT. Cold, they leave me, cold, I tell you. I would even go so far as to say that I find them objectionable. However, there are one or two notable exceptions -I have just recalled being moved to tears in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, by his Almond Blossom painting. So moved in fact, that I couldn’t bring myself to buy the poster of it that I wanted, in case I ruined it by over exposure to a substandard copy, and soiled the sanctity of the moment, with our post-post-modern obsession with preserving every fleeting moment. (Photographs, to my mind, are the ultimate denial of the transience of life -but this is a viewpoint that is neither popular nor profitable in the Instagram Era). The Van Gogh painting -you know the one I’m talking about -all delicate white petals and silver-greyish branches on a blue sky background -may finally prove to me that images can have emotional power. This may seem odd to the more educated and cultured of you, but this is a concept I have struggled with for quite some time. Whether there is any value much in looking at a painting, or are we all just codding ourselves, paying extortionate amounts of money to discuss “the artist’s use of loight”. Or white paint, as it is more commonly known. In the past, I have satisfied myself on this matter with explanations that get complicated and centre around transcendentalism, but prior to Mr. Van Gogh and this moment of beauty in the midst of his Terrible and Awful depression, I had never quite found myself having an out of body moment and contemplating the heights to which human experience can rise. However, upon further reflection, and back in my dark room with white walls (and two lesser celebrated posters from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam), maybe I just really like turquoise.

12 hours later; 2pm

Yes I lost the plot a bit in the middle of the night, and I apologise. I’m on my day off, and find myself in a small restaurant very near the apartment, where they serve up very bad quality meat at very high prices, by rude staff who never give me what I ask for. In fact, the only person who has been nice to me here is the guy that came in one day to fix the coffee machine. However, I have become strangely addicted to the place, and I keep coming back! I walked past countless viable alternatives today, and still chose here, to spend an hour and a half gnawing my way through what they call steak. Alarmingly, there is a woman beside me commenting that her food -exactly what I am eating -is “trop bon” -too good. I suppose what is more alarming is that I can’t seem to stop returning. Their coffee is nice, and their Wifi is second to none. Maybe that’s the attraction. That or it’s an inexplicable feat of masochism. I really hope it’s the Wifi.