“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
I was reminded of this Oscar Wilde quote when I recently read in a national newspaper (and therefore took it with a huge dose of salt) that Muslim leaders have apparently issued a Fatwa against any astronauts foolish enough to travel to or live on Mars, as it would be a very dangerous thing to do, probably resulting in death, and suicide is apparently frowned on in the religion. While I am extremely tolerant of religious beliefs, it did strike me as odd that committing suicide is very bad for your afterlife, but being murdered isn’t. It would certainly be very bad for one’s current life. This occurred because of ‘Mars One’ and their amazing project aiming to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars using crowd funding! Crews of four will depart every two years, starting in 2024.
The thing is I grew up with a fascination for Mars, fuelled in part by Schiaparelli and Lowell’s theory about canals (he actually called them channels) on Mars, H.G Well’s ‘War of the Worlds’, Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’, many other science fiction stories and Patrick Moore’s BBC programme The Sky at Night. I dreamed one day Mankind would travel to the Red Planet and discover its secrets. I’m not the only one; many writers, scientists and millions of others share the same dream of one day Man conquering Mars, other planets and eventually the stars.
So, if it actually does exist, I’m not sure I agree with this Fatwa. It would be better aimed at those who would want to sabotage any planned mission to the planets. If anyone did die in the attempt to get to Mars, to me and to the many millions, they would be true heroes. To quote another creative soul, Vincent Van Gogh: “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”
But is it Art?
Those who read my last ‘Coda’ will know I am not a fan of some types of ‘modern art’. There always seems to be a story around that shows the funny side of some of the more bizarre exhibits. For example, there is an art gallery in Italy that had a section of a contemporary art exhibition thrown in the bin by the cleaner because she thought it was actual rubbish. It’s not surprising as the ‘art work’ was pieces of broken biscuits thrown on the floor. What is surprising is that the piece was valued at £8,000.
I’ve heard that this once happened to a Damien Hirst piece which comprised of empty bottles, cigarette boxes, full ashtrays and paint tins and had to be rescued from a dustbin the day after it was put together. And, I hope this is true, I also heard that someone once made up Tracey Emin’s conceptual ‘My Bed’ after one of the museum’s patrons saw the piece and thought it had been vandalised. I love this kind of thing – it even makes it seem worthwhile for the artists to have created the art in the first place!
Most ridiculous and offensive piece of ‘journalism’ during the winter floods
Trust the Daily Mail to publish this completely un-newsworthy and disrespectful ‘story’ that showed Lauren Goodger, apparently ‘famous’ for appearing in The Only Way Is Essex on the TV, stepping over a puddle. The headline was “Watch your step! Lauren Goodger narrowly avoids walking into a puddle during day out in Essex.” That was the full extent of the story, with the hapless ‘celebrity’ photographed from all angles carrying a latte and avoiding a little water a few centimetres deep. God knows what the people of Somerset, lives ruined by floods, thought about this exclusive!
“I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.” – Walt Whitman
We all have favourite songs. Recently a friend of ours asked us to host her wedding reception and as a little surprise for her during the day I organised a very mini ‘flash mob’ to sing a song I knew was a personal favourite of hers. It helped that I also knew the song. The song in question was written by Jimmy Webb and has been performed by many people, most notably Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson, who named their super-group after the song. Their version became a number one hit and won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song. The song is called ‘The Highwayman’ and was originally recorded on Webb’s solo album El Mirage in 1977, with an arrangement by George Martin. It has since has been performed by many fine people including Glenn Campbell and Mark Knopfler, the above mentioned superstars and of course the ‘flash mob’.
It’s a fascinating song written by Webb, an American, while staying in a London hotel suite. Apparently he woke up from a dream about being an English highwayman, complete with black cape and pistols, being chased within an inch of his life by Grenadiers on horseback. He arose, went to the piano and wrote the piece which evolved into a song about reincarnation.
“I was a highwayman/ along the coach roads I did ride/ with sword and pistol by my side/ and many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade/ and many a soldier left his life blood on my blade/ they finally hung me in the spring of ‘25/ but I am still alive.” It struck me afterwards that it would be a great song for a funeral! But no harm was done, it went down well with the guests and all was well.
Lambs amongst wolves/ the meaning of the word ingénue
(This was printed in the first three issues, but here is a very watered down version once again for those new to the magazine) We wanted a name for the magazine that stood out from the crowd and which conveyed our raison d’être, our ethos. Modernly the word ingénue tends to have a feminine slant in its usage, referring usually to a young creative girl or woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome, very new to an artistic genre. The term comes from the French adjective ingénu meaning ingenuous or innocent.
The term also implies a lack of sophistication and a simple naivety. It actually originates from a satirical novella by Voltaire called L’Ingénu published in the eighteenth century.
As our magazine exists to promote emerging and re-emerging creative talent of any genre, and most creative beings (much like ourselves at this time) who are venturing forth on their career trajectories collide like sheep amongst wolves with such un-aesthetic things as economics, critics and the psychotic media, we thought the word quite appropriate for a title. Ingénu is the masculine form and ingénue the feminine form of the word and so we have coined the name ingénu/e.
Coffee, cake and civilisation
Distributing the last issue of the magazine in Brighton we stopped off for coffee and cake in a delightful little independent café in the North Laines called Little Bird. What to choose? Chocolate fudge; banana, pineapple and chocolate; coffee and walnut; rhubarb and ginger or courgette and lime? Amazing tastes and such large portions. And there were people there sat having coffee reading books! Books I tell you! Not Kindles! There is hope for mankind yet!
A short dissertation on creativity and our take on this ethereal activity. You may notice in this issue of ingénu/e magazine we have a rather expanded ‘Food, Fashion and Everything Else…’ section. You may ask why is this included in an arts magazine? Well, the dictionary defines creativity as “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.” It doesn’t say what. Our view is that anything created is potentially art, be it a painting, a song, a performance, a company, a bridge, a meal or a flower arrangement. Where would we be without the artisans of the world? Of course a meal can be dreadful, a bridge could collapse and an arrangement of flowers could look awful. But then a play, a piece of music, a painting or some art could be equally disastrous. And sometimes is. So forgive us if you are a purist, but the concept of creativity in the rarefied world of ingénu/e refers to any form of creativity whatsoever, and in our view anything created aesthetically is art.