Monday, 4 May 2009

Triumph of Life

I'm just looking on the V&A website, at the hats exhibition, wondering if I need to go and see it in order to finish my article. I had originally stayed away, not only because I hate venturing further west than Marble Arch en velo, but because I didn't want to get wrapped up in the loveliness. I know I love hats, I love created things, beautifully mastered objects, and that isn't the point I was trying to convey in the feature. But when I interviewed him last week and I couldn't make the cultural reference, I felt like a fool. 'Yeah, but you don't actually need to see the exhibition, right', but it did feel like I was jumping a gap that I hadn't earned.

Anyway, the website is pretty comprehensive. I may have decided not to go. I will go one day, and that looks more likely now I know it's open till 10pm on Fridays. But it will most likely seduce me into wanting to be a milliner rather than a writer. I thought it was interesting when he said, but you don't want to speak to these people, you just want to be them, as though what I'm doing is just researching the options. I thought that was interesting. I liked it. Humans and reality and demonstration and plainness. This is what I am, this is what I do, do you fancy it too? But for now I am a writer, and I'm seeing how I can get on (or not...)

I'm scrolling through these thumbnail images, and instinctively picking out ones which grab me. A real visceral choice. It's forever beguiling - I give you 10 options and you want to find something to like there. I keep going back to this 1700 linen crochet cap, plain structure but intensely intricate. I like that. I also like the shocking pink feather one. I picked out 5 or so that I liked, I was interested by, I wish I had made. I naturally went for the positive, instead of picking something I don't like. The story I was reading last night talked about the 'erotics of dislike'. Something Barthes said, which was then related back to "The real meaning of our dislikes is that they define us by separating us from what is outside us; they separate the self from the world in a way that mere banal liking cannot."

It was said that something disliked was "a triumph of life" and definition. I just tried to pick out hats I disliked. I found myself landing upon heavy choices, objects which had a lack of grace, a heaviness, almost a joke. A lack of sophistication, in my opinion. A pointed red satin hat, a felt crumpled creation. A heaviness. It always got me where these opinions, my tiny thoughts, fitted into universal truths. Is the red satin hat heavy and unsophisticated? Or is it just so within my frame of reference?

She was talking yesterday about tutorials, listening to the head of the RCA as though some medieval oracle. You are paying to be here, with your life on hold (or heightened), and you must accept these truths gracefully. If I tell you the work you applied to be on this course with 2 years ago is better than a painting you did last week, then you believe it. You are paying to hear the truth. But what happens when your own truth is saying something different? I have learnt that your own truths are the only ones you believe, your visceral instincts. They can't be unpicked or analysed, they are your atman. I couldn't find an English word for that feeling.

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