What an odd question. Trapped in the here and now? How could we be trapped if modern society provides us with so much of what we want in life?
And yet … the question is not without interest. Being provided for is nice, but prisoners receive provisions too … at least prisoners trapped in golden cages. We could well be trapped and happily so if there is no need to explore the perimeters of our confinement.
Ah … how to do that? If you have a hankering for exploration, check out these two videos by Simon Schama.
The first is his treatment of Mr. David, the heroic propogandist of the French revolution and then Napoleon. I was stunned by one aspect of the presentation. How easily David gave over his identity to a cause — regardless of its morality. He could not resist the urge to amplify messages that he did not try to understand. And then in the moment of truth when his role came into focus, he slunk into the shadows claiming that he was no more than a mere artist. Repulsive, I would say. But repulsive or not, certainly trapped by the need to be swept up in something larger than himself.
Then watch Schama’s treatment of Mark Rothko. Rothko did not pretend to understand what was transpiring around him. But he insisted on the honesty of his feeling for color in shaping human imagination. He stepped back from the trap of gorging on the moment (something Picasso would never have dreamed of) in favor of a glimpse of eternity. He wanted to create an experience that offers us an escape from the here and now.
So which artistic pose is heroic after all? I leave you to judge.
FOLLOW - Adventures often start off with an escape from the here and now. Either things fall apart or what was lovely suddenly tortures. Either way, there is no choice but to leave home. “Wild” is a story based on the former and the heroine is a woman who decides to just walk away from her lonely life. Dwight Garner cried while reading it.