Musings and Mullings
where is the power began as a musing over power in the world, past and present, and within the individual. I came across the following sketchbook notes and thought that, as the exhibition is drawing to a close on Saturday, this would be a good time to go public with my early musings and mulling over of the topic of power.
— Late night musing over power in the world and in the self —
What if the obvious associations are foils for the real power that moves, motivates and produces growth or action within the individual? What is the power dynamic? Is it all about holding sway? Can there be power in a powerless situation? Can the inanimate have power over humans – object over subject?
What is the value of this pursuit? Is there power in the question? What if these four words—where-is-the-power —in this form could be considered without punctuation or hierarchy of case? Is that possible? If not, why? Isn’t language a tool, a product of human intention? Or has language claimed power? Many of my inquiries on the subject of power have led me to a particular melancholia concerning our tendency to use our tools/what we create as aides in life, against ourselves. We seem to invest such “aides” with power and potential for growth, to the extent that they have the power. Language for example seems utilitarian until we realize how it has molded our existence.
The notion of power in the world, the misperceptions and philosophical pursuits
There are the obvious relationships between power and knowledge — having something over others — and of course physical power.
But what about personal power — power within one’s self?
The power of memory — Remembrance of Things Past
“life needs redeeming by analysis and reflection.” Proust
Does memory define us? Do we then lose definition when memory fades?
This could go on and on because these notes on power and related subjects have been accumulating for the past three years. But I will close this post with notes on realizations I had while reading Virginia Woolf.
I am rereading A Room of One’s Own, an essay based on two papers Virginia Woolf read to Arts Society at Newnham and the ODTAA at Girton in October 1928 – and the source of my inquiry into the phrase “where is the power.” On her topic and presentation, Woolf writes in her diary in 1929, “…I am afraid it will not be taken seriously…. It is a trifle, I shall say; so it is, but I wrote it with ardour and conviction…”
A trifle pursued with ardour and conviction might be how I would describe my investigation, endeavor to date. It is why I have hoped that it would be used and presented by others (to relieve the pressure and give it potential beyond me). As usual, I feel unqualified as a spokes person for such a loaded topic with so many facets in fields I have only viewed from the outside. This is the artist as amateur. The self-imposed, exhilarating and, with an ounce of wisdom or at least humility, intimidating/even terrifying burden of making art. Amateur in French means “lover of” and that certainly describes my various pursuits in the name of art. The fear is whether the love will be returned and if so, will I be worthy?
Woolf opens her essay playing out the multiple readings of a single phrase, “women and fiction.” What is the most beneficial reading or just what are all the possibilities? She landed on considering the subject in the way she found most interesting. She realized however that the fatal drawback to her chosen pursuit was that she “should never be able to fulfill what is, I understand, the first duty of a lecturer — to hand you after an hour’s discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks…” All she could do was to offer “… an opinion upon one minor point…”
“One can only give one’s audiences the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker.”