Mar 19, 2012

Shades: A Horror Vacui

Have you ever lain on a sandy beach staring up at the beautiful cloudless blue sky, feeling the sun light warm on your face - and thought about what it would be like if suddenly gravity vanished? How the earth's rotation would fling you into the heavens so fast that your eyeballs would sink into the back of your head, and as you sped into the universe your body would be suddenly surrounded by a never ending 'blueness'.

You know, the wonderful thing is, that if you   lay there on the beach and let the blueness of the sky surround you (like standing in front of a Field Painting) and concentrate hard enough it really does happen. And when it really does happen you don't exactly achieve nirvana. In fact all you get is a horrible spinning inertia driven queasiness as the sandy beach spins around you like a .... like a revolving sandy beach.

I guess, in a way, it's the epiphany of what it would be like to not have gravity.

You remember epiphanies? When a sudden realisation of a particular truth comes whistling out of the air and whacks you in the back of the  skull like a pea  sized comet? And afterwards you are left with a zinging clear brained  head and a realization that the universe is not quite the same as it was two seconds ago. 

To be honest, as I've grown older I don't have ephiphanies any more - I have, what I call, gradiphanies. 

Gradiphanies are kind of like slothful epiphanies that sneak up when you least expect it - like when you are flossing your grandmother's dentures, or measuring the length of your big toes to make sure they are the same size on either foot (they aren't). Or just hanging out outside the lolly shop waiting to be arrested.

Quite often these gradiphanies are epiphanies that you have had before - and have forgotten.

I have a particular one quite regularly - and I had it while I was jogging on the beach yesterday. (see pic at end of post).

Yesterday, as I came closer to the northern headland and it filled my vision, I had the particular peculiar feeling that, despite the sound of the waves and the feel of the wet wind on my shoulders that everything surrounding me wasn't quite real.

Well, to be perfectly specific, that it was myself who wasn't quite real. And that if I wasn't there, then it would make no difference to anything at all. I know it's cliched, that's it's a kind  of tree-falling-in-the-forest-not-making-a-noise moment, but in fifty years time the rocks and the cliffs and the dunes and the ocean would still be there - but it was myself who would be gone. Really truly gone.

But that wasn't yesterday's gradiphany. Yesterday's gradiphany was that, in truth, that it was my presence that made the landscape real, that, in fact, when I was no longer there, when I was no longer observing it, all the light falling from the sky would vanish, the sounds of the breaking waves and the rustling sand dune vegetation would stop, and, finally, the wind would drop away to leave an awful and still one dimensional horror vacui.

Strange isn't it?

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a huge piece of rock lying at the base of one of those cliffs, watching  each generation of beach goers growing old and feeble and becoming nothing but dust.

Still, it's better to have lived and died, than never have lived at all.

At least I think it is.

And to be perfectly honest, we don't get a choice really, do we?

Oh, this is the beach I jog at. :)

And if I can blame someone for this post I would like to blame my outrageously talented (both writer and visual artist) friend Linda Hensley who recently was kind enough to give enough to give me the Genuine Blogger Award for modesty, intelligence, good looks, charm and all round good old fashioned 'niceness' - not to mention brilliance and a penchant for telling lies about myself.

But seriously, thank you Linda :) 

You can find Linda's blog exceptionale here. If you haven't seen her work or read her words then, when you pop in for a visit, you are in for a stupendous treat.


  1. What depth, drama, & warmth! I love the colours & the scene!

  2. Wouahou!!! Je veux aller m'effondrer vers cette plage... Une vue vertigineuse! je comprends le malaise... Des comme ceux-ci je veux bien en faire souvent!!...
    Toutefois ce que vous décrivez (tu décris, je ne sais plus comment je dois parler!... Tu préfères que je te vouvoie ou vous préférez que je te tutoie ?!!) ressemble étrangement à cette sensation de malaise qu'on peut avoir en faisant une crise hypoglycémie... ou un manque de tension... le sol entier se dérobe...

    J'adore l'illustration avec les ombres chinoises et l'intérêt qu'ont les animaux...
    Mon grand-père lorsque j'étais enfant me faisait ce genre de spectacle avant de m'endormir...
    Gros bisous

  3. hi , I will be back later, i have to earn something to buy bread so sorry for now, must go working....:( Too much reading for me right now....

    BTW nice beach, I would like to be there just now !!!
    See you later and thanks for stopping by, Andrew!!!!!

  4. Wow, you are being very deep today Andrew, oh wait, this was from yesterday... Hmmmm, and how did I miss it, are you a day behind or a day ahead? I always get that mixed up, and so if you are a day ahead then that makes me two days behind? Yes, it must be too early and my brain is mush ;) Just kidding, anyway, I love the illustration and the post and the picture of the beach, which makes me truly wish that I were there watching you jog, because I don't jog myself.......
    Congrats on the award, Linda is great and I love her blog :) she puts up stories like you do that make me smile and giggle :)

  5. Okay, I'm going to say it....but WHERE is the light coming from for the shadows on the wall up top. The light on the boy is coming from the wall side, and the shadows are on the wall side, and that's why I had a weird sortof disjointed feeling looking at the picture (see, I actually analyzed why I was feeling that way). But I guess that's nothing compared to the unsettled feeling of the bottom one where the shadow is still there, but the boy is not, which I guess ties into your post.

    And to answer your question, no, I don't ever have feelings like that, at least not anymore, though I distinctly remember feeling things like that when I was a child.

    But incredibly gorgeous beach. I wish I had a beach like that to jog on. Instead, I only have trails through the woods along the river, which are plenty beautiful enough, except that after a whole winter-that-never-was-winter of no rain, it's raining buckets, so no jogging today.

  6. What a powerful post. Reading your eloquent words then coming across the second illustration, without the boy, was quite profound and unnerving! As I read your post I visualized the generations of beachgoers, joggers, picnikers and lovers that would invade the sandy shores. What a cool Fast motion video that would be! Thanks for bringing me back to reality, although I do enjoy an escape now and again, but jogging is not my thing :o) I took up jogging when I was 23 years old. I jogged 3 miles every day, then I turned 24 and I was 1362 miles from home! Took a train home and never jogged again.

  7. Gradiphonies! THAT's what I'm having!

    This post is lovely. I am so homesick for the beach. I've never had a home on the beach, per se, but I haven't been to the beach in forever.

    The back of your head is stunning.

    I love that shadow doggie, too!

  8. Oh my. Your second image gave me chills. And then I felt very sad. Very evocative and thought provoking this week, Mr. Finnie. When I was younger, being the egocentric narcissist that I am, I used to think that I was the only real person and everyone else was made up for my entertainment. Imagine my shock and disillusionment.... sigh.

    That is a beautiful beach! Quite peaceful. Our beaches here are lined with condos and businesses. Too many people to bump into, so that's why I don't jog.

    Congratulations on the award! Well deserved, definitely.

  9. The only thing that matters about living and dying is the fact that you care for someone and someone cares for you and will miss you and vice versa. If someone does not care for you or about you when you are alive and won't miss you when you die, there really is no reason to live and you might as well just die sooner because you will just be a mere cadaver and pretty soon just bones and dust. But id someone loves you and cares for you then you become a living memory, a person who lived, not just a human being who existed.

    Ah I like the second image. I always wanted to be invisible. How telling. Do you know that someday, redheads will become extinct?

  10. Andrew, I like very much the two works among, I find touching the shadow witout the child

    well I'm really gelous from the beautifull landscape where you can go... such beauty, you can good inspire yourself...

    see you

  11. Love epiphanies - always amazed when they happen (and thanks for sharing how to spell it...) although it does always seem to be at inconvenient times! Great illo - had forgotten all about shadow puppets...

  12. Wow, Andrew, another fascinating illustration (who doesn't fondly remember making hand shadow puppets as a child?)and so much to ponder. I was especially touched by your thoughts when you wondered what it'd be like to be a rock at the cliff's edge watching the generations pass by. I suppose that living among such lovely surroundings is quite conducive to such introspection!!

  13. you are cute but you arent listening to me.
    what did i tell you about your hair?
    im joking of course... bad joke i know :(

    so where are you?
    are you feeling sad too?

  14. Another great illustration,what a surprise when the boy wasn't there and his shadow was still there!Love it.And the beach is wonderful:)

  15. Monsieur Finnie, you deserve the award Linda has bestowed upon you..I am always transported to another place when I visit here. Thank you for that! Sometimes, I'm a grump..yes, today was one of those days..I even told my family - stay clear of grumpy mum. So, to find myself here, reading of your gradiphanies made me smile. Your illustration(s) - perfection! Especially the disappearance of the child/being. Wonderful concept, Andrew! You lucky duck, that beach is gorgeous. I find it awesome to reflect about life and place on this earth whenever I'm at the beach..and to hear you do this as well..well, how great is that? We are sincere appreciators of the earth, it's gifts and life itself. Have a lovely rest of the week/weekend dear Andrew!

  16. I like how the little dogs still see the boy, it illustrates perfectly what we all will be in the end... a memory.
    At least people tend to remember the good things when we die so hopefully most of us will be a beautiful memory XD
    I would start jogging again if I had that kind of landscape near home.
    Have a nice weekend!

  17. Why yes, I have lain on my back wondering what would happen if gravity stopped working and I fell into the sky and whether or not the landscape would cease to exist if I weren't there to create it in my mind. I wonder if I should be scared that we think alike? :D I love the wallpaper and tablecloth patterns. They're like Rorschak tests for epiphanies -- which I haven't had very often, but wow, the feeling when I do! Love everything about this post, which just goes to show why you deserve awards. I'm having a little beach envy, but if you squint a little and tilt your head just a bit it looks just like Lake Erie!

  18. Hey there, Back of the Head. Nice to see you finally sharing the spotlight with Front of the Head (I can't help but wonder if he's wearing his big nose and googly eyes right there). Well, good to know you're both sharing the same curious brain...wondering about gravity, experiencing queasiness and the world spinning around you. (which sounds a lot like morning sickness if you ask me).

    But anyway, I cannot agree more. Our presence makes a huge difference. Even if we only stand and observe.

    Well, aren't we a wise one? (^+^)

  19. Bloody fine artwork, Mr Finnie!
    but then, one does expect a warped sense of humour from someone who was nurtured at the 'Bra.

    best to you, keep up the great work.
    ... and hope your foot is OK (very ambiguous ref to a post in another thread somewhere.. ) ;-P
    Chris Swinbanks


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