i find sculptures fascinating. not so much because of the end product, but because of the process. how someone can look at a hunk of rock and see venus de milo somewhere under all those layers, i find it absolutely incredible. how they slowly, patiently chip away at the unnecessary pieces. and what a violent image it is, too, no? hammering away, chunks of rock and sand and dust strewn about at the feet of the sculptor. and the artist's tools, are they not also found in the hands of vandals? used to demolish houses? used to crack through ice or smash in walls? slice, prick, perforate, penetrate, puncture, stab. these are not pretty verbs, but all of them apply to hammers and chisels and saws and drills. mallets, axes, and water erosion machinery.
it's a violent, violent process it seems.
and yet the end product is stunning, simply spectacular. how do they do it?
and how many of us look at something as magnificent as the west wind (above, by thomas r. gould) and see the hunk of plain marble that it used to be? or admiring a totem pole see the log it was carved from? or better yet, that single tree chosen somewhere deep within a whole forest?
i fear not many of us do.
for a long long time i felt my own life was being chipped away at. pieces of me broken off, parts i can never get back. and just thinking about it hurt. lately i've been seeing it from a different angle. i can't help looking at the rough, course, distorted image of who i am now and imagining the beautiful sculpture that is being revealed. i only hope i'll be finished before my time on this lovely earth is up.
i'll leave you with part of the opening monologue from shadowlands by william nicholson:
"we're like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. the blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. the suffering in the world is not the failure of god's love for us; it is that love in action. for believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial is no more than the shadowlands. real life has not begun yet."