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Friday, September 6, 2013

L`ETRANGER, THE STRANGER, THE OUTSIDER ----- THE OBSERVER WHO WATCHES FROM THE EDGES OF SOCIETY -THE ARTIST, THE LEADER ...........................................................................................................VAN GOGH SENDS HIS EAR TO THE WOMAN HE LOVES FROM A DISTANCE






           Some years back, I was studying "L`Etranger" by Camus,
which is: `The stranger`, "The Outsider"...

      The man standing  outside the restaurant windows in the large  city - Paris, Toronto, New York, London - he might be
highly intelligence, but he does not partake of the affluence
of society; he`s not included in the good times or good food; he`s not invited to  cocktail parties,couples groups in fine restaurants.  He is totally excluded for one reason most of all: he is an observer.
         The only consolation L`Etranger has for all this rejection and ostracizing - he knows that most fine artists
live lives as solitaries. Oh yes, they may be in the
midst of a family, or they may not. But one thing is sure -
they are alone. They are alone now, and they have always been alone. Even when they are in a bar attempting to
talk to others, or at the funeral of a loved one,
the artist might be acutely observing the scene;
but he is detatched, an outsider - he is The Stranger.
           There are too many examples of this "healthy sickness" - too many examples to count: Van Gogh,
why didn`t he have sex with the prostitute? Why did he
send his ear to her? 
           Because he was too detached?   Likely so...
Detached, yes, alienated, apart from... observing...
He saw her closely; he saw her so completely
that he loved her in a way she had never been
loved... 
          She may not have known this... (What do
any of us know about the people around us?) 
But she likely sensed it - she may not have sensed
his love; she might have thought it was lust... but she
certainly sensed his attention.
         He was detached. He saw her every colour, uncertainty
and frown. He probably never took her hand, or
shared a coffee with her. But he loved her in a way
that no one ever had...
         
        Although, if you look at it from the woman`s
point of view. I am sure she would have rather had sex with the man instead of being observed so closely... even if he
looked at her with utter love, what good was that to her?
She might have thought...  She was busy.  She had
a child perhaps and cats to take care of.
         I`m sure she would have preferred to take the man`s
hand... but to endure his disconcerting stare?
         Who among us want to be observed so closely?
Most of us have our little guilts and paranoias...
who has the gift of repose?
          Sometimes the artist.  And sometimes not.
         
           Van Gogh likely would have preferred to take
her hand, also, or to pat her rump. But it was not to
be. He was too much the outsider, too much
the stranger...
        If he had been able to hold her hand, he would
not have had to send her his ear.
        Of the few women I can think of at the moment -
none of them would be more likely
to spend time with me, if I sent them
my ear.
        What do you think, my lady? If I sent you my ear,
would that patch up the differences between us?
Would that make everything all right.
         Or would I be taking another trip
up the hill into a locked unit?

          Close attention makes people uncomfortable.
They have their own lives to lead, and they do not
need some maniac perched like a jackdaw on the back
of the chair next to them... closely watching
the expressions on your face.

        But most true artists are exactly that: painters
and writers have been primarily that - observers.... 
Maniacs,madmen, excluded outlaws and pariahs
they are the watchers no groups are comfortable with...

      And so the artists are found looking in
through the glass  into the restaurant from the cold sidewalk...

Shivering in a wet raincoat with two dollars and forty cents
in your pocket... if you go to a cheap restaurant, you
can just about buy a coffee.

And when you go home, you can eat your oil paints
instead of bread.


                                                                      *





               I remember years ago I walked into a room where my old man was sitting. I said to him, talking about Camus.

       "This guy says that there`s nothing but time
which destroys all things.... absurdity...
and death."I said to him.

        My dad jumped up out of his chair and shouted:

        "WHY DOESN`T HE JUST KILL HIMSELF, THEN?"

         His face got red, and he was making
those strangling motions with his hands that meant
"He doesn`t have to bother!  I`ll kill him himself,
save the idiot the trouble!  Then he doesn`t
have to worry about philosophy.... he`ll be too
busy on the ground trying to find his teeth!"
            "All my life I`ve been running lumber camps!
120 men going to bed each night with very few distractions..
Do you think ANYBODY wanted to rise early in the dark at 5:00AM in the WINTER... do you think anybody wanted to get up? No, we would have preferred to sleep in and get drunk as soon as we woke up.... just to get a little  rest...just to take a deep breath....
        "Then  when we had a little time ... Do you think we`d want to talk about philosophy then??"
             "I guess not," I said.... I was quieter when I was twenty....
             "No!" my father continued, "The`d want a woman
or a steak... or maybe just to talk to their kids!

"THE ONLY PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION IS  SUICIDE."
   Camus

             "They might not want to spend their day off thinking
about that!"
            "No!  But too many of them  did end up killing themselves or defeating themselves... anyway.Maybe they
asked the one philosophical question; maybe they didn`t"
             My father sat in the chair next to me, said:
             "Listen to me: 

"THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB OF A LEADER IS TO CURB THE NATURAL SUICIDAL TENDENCIES OF HIS PEOPLE!"    

He went into another room and shut the door.






                                    *


            When I was a young man I thought my father
 didn`t know anything.... He didn`t know
about the street....thieves and knives, judo 
and utter alienation. The observing eye, watching
at the outskirts of society.
            Madness lies that  way, partner.

             That`s what I thought, that my old man
didn`t know much.Later I realized he was dealing with other sharks,than I was. Mine had knives.  His were smiling men whose teeth were well hidden.  Smooth invaders would take your house, then smile and wave goodbye when all your possessions were gone
             Each person`s life creates different necessities.
        
              THE IDEA IS TO STOP THE DISASTER
               BEFORE IT HAPPENS.

         
                                                                                                                                                      

                  

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