I’m a cyberflaneur. I’ve just discovered the word on one of my aherm… cyberflaneries. Sadly, we are a species under threat.
Anyway, as I laid awake a few nights ago, the hours ticking by, until I saw the first lights shining through the curtains, heard the first bird song, and realised that I was greeting the day ahead weary and longing for rest, I decided to document one of these cyberflaneries. Easier said than done, since recording these somehow takes away from their semi-aimless nature, so I am doing it from memory instead. A memory that is a little blurry.
I started off on the blog of a Californian potter and artist, Whitney Smith. She is going through a paper cutting phase and since I love paper art, this suits me just fine. If you are into that sort of things, she shared links to Elsa Mora and Peter Callesen that are worth perusing. Peter Callesen’s works is so full of energy, it’s hard to believe it’s made of such an unassuming medium as white paper.
Whitney struggles with perfectionism. I do too.
Her link to the talk by Jill Bolte Taylor was interesting. JBT is a scientist who documented her own stroke and somehow transcended it into a work of poetry and enlightement. Something in the talk bothered me though. As descriptions became repetitive, I started to wonder what the point of it actually was. The conclusion – that if we all used the right side of our brain more, we would reach peace both inner and global – seemed weak. And a quick search also confirmed my suspiscion that this right brain-left brain myth has been debunked a good few years ago.
She uses scientific terms to coat what is effectively a vague and unconstructed path to happiness and peace (I haven’t read her book, perhaps she has more constructive advice there. Or perhaps such paths can all only be vague, undefinable and highly individual, but that wouldn’t make for a lucrative industry). Nothing wrong with showing us her own journey and the amazing feelings of connectiveness and positivity she gained from such a dreadful event; so many of us crave something more meaningfull in our daily lives. But please don’t posit it as scientific facts.
Yet during her talk, I felt inspired at first as I let suspension of disbelief carry me through. This led me to search the term, since I couldn’t remember who had coined it: Coleridge it turns out. I also found out about Tolkien’s secondary belief, a concept I think I prefer.
Bizarrely, as I googled JBT, one of the first automatic entries after TED is ‘married’, along with ‘Oprah and ‘criticism’. Puzzling. What has her marital status got to do with anything? I was intrigued enough to click and as I scrolled through the links, I spotted Idealawg. After reading their take on JBT’s talk, I perused the site and found myself back to perfectionism. I had heard the story of the two groups before, but as I am re-starting on my own crafting and artistic journey, it took a sense of urgency. Make, create, do, enjoy, it told me. I always knew that the perfectionist in me didn’t come from my creative side, but from a frightened place, where I was afraid to let my guard down, afraid to be anything other than praise worthy, afraid to create and be vulnerable. Exposed. Unlike Whitney, who is an artist and a creator, I didn’t do anything about it for years. The frustrations of these lost years would be unbearable if I wasn’t too busy making up for them now!
One of the links debunking the creative right brain also mentioned Betty Edwards’ book: ‘Drawing on the right side of the brain’. It seemed perfect timing (yes yes I know the title and the above, but the method can be sound, even if the rationale for it isn’t!). I long to be able to draw and not just for Little Miss, although that’s part of the story. So I will be immersing myself – drawing upside down and all. Everything to drown out that pesky little voice that says ‘you can never be good enough’. I found a video of it and since I want to remember where it is, I’m going to post the link here too (video).
I then read through the titles that captured my attention on the BBC news, Guardian and Independent websites (I know, I’m reading the news! Let’s face it, that’s likely contributing to my sleepless nights…). That’s where my memory completely fails me so I will give you a couple of links from last night instead. Reading an article in the Guardian (no I can’t remember which one, it was a few links down from the first I clicked…), I discovered the Smurfette Principle (‘ a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined’). I already knew about the Bechdel Test for female presence in fictional media, but this was new to me. Not new to the world, of course, since it was coined in 1991, though not much has changed since then. I love the sound of the “The Paperbag Princess” (she rescues the prince from a dragon, but he’s so ungrateful that she decides not to marry him, after all), though sadly it is not available at my local library (in the end, I bought it, and a few more copies for friends!).
And finally the BBC and its Mona Lisa article , which made me see the woman behind the painting (assuming they have now confirmed it!): flesh and blood, 5 children and one stepchild, married young to an older husband who wrote in his will of his love for her. Ok so the woman defined by her relations to others, but nevertheless, a young woman staring back.
Here is to another sleepless night!