The visit to the art gallery of NSW last week was a perfect introduction to what we entered into today. It makes so much more sense talking about Virginia Woolf’s “Stream of Consciousness” and T.S. Eliot’s fragmented narratives (“These fragments I have shored against my ruins”- The Waste Land) after having seen and discussed Picasso and Kirchner and Rodin and Van Gogh and De Maistre and…..
In all the arts, after the First World War, there was such a huge explosion of new ways of trying to access “the truth”. All the old ways had failed. People -writers, artists, musicians in particular- were hungry for a way of understanding the inner mysteries of what it is to be human. How could human beings be so colossally stupid! There must be some kind of answer awaiting us in the depths of our psyche. In this context it makes so much sense when we hear Virginia Woolf in “The Mark on the Wall” saying: “I want to sink deeper and deeper, away from the surface, with its hard separate facts.” This is exactly what she proceeds to do in this wonderful essay (“The Mark on the Wall”) and what she also does repeatedly in such small prose poems as “Monday or Tuesday” where she describes the magical process of reading and writing in the following amazing metaphor: “From ivory depths words rising shed their blackness, blossom and penetrate.”
So what kinds of Blog Questions will help you to deepen your understanding of what Virginia Woolf and other Modernists are attempting to do?????
Let’s try one of the following exercises:
1/ Try to write a short paragraph that captures the flow of your own mind. Don’t worry about punctuation too much, just let it flow out. Then tidy it up a bit and see whether it works for you and maybe for a friend…. then publish it right here for all the world to see. It might end up being a glimpse of truth that we don’t usually have time for!!
2/ In a similar vein try taking a single sentence from Virginia Woolf’s writing and build your own paragraph on what she has said. Try to stay close to the way she constructs her sentences, close to the kinds of words she choses, close to the atmosphere she manages to create.
3/ Take any one of the modernist paintings we looked at last week (or any other modernist painting that has caught your attention) and try to turn the painting into words. Publish the painting in your Blog and show how the construction of words matches the shape, flow, and possible meaning of the painting.
4/ Create a mini-digital kit on any aspect of Modernism that really interests you. It might be one of the authors, it might be one of the strands of modernism: cubism, expressionism, dadaism, surrealism……..
5/ Write the first paragraph of your own terrifying fantasy story of how you woke up one morning and found yourself turned into a…… (make your paragraph as Kafkaesque as you possibly can.)