L’INDIFFERENCE D’OISEAUX / THE INDIFFERENCE OF BIRDS III

l'indifférence d'oiseaux

This is a third meditation on the art of a friend. (Click to enlarge.)
The couple is our first and primary focus. This is the human experience without external reference. He is in abject despair. She (or he—the figure seems a bit androgynous) comforts him. Which is the stronger figure? Despair. Despair is the fuller figure—starkly self-contained, unreachable. Hope is, as the artist tells us, “bubble-headed”, and not even fully formed. Hope, for all her genuine and affirmable caring, is ultimately empty. What can she say? It will be alright. Will it? And if things turn for the better, won’t they necessarily turn for the worse once again? All she can really provide are empty platitudes in the face of Unamuno’s “tragic sense of life”, namely that it has no sure purpose and must necessarily come to an ignoble end. “The god that shits” (Ernest Becker) loosens its bowls and takes its last.
I am reminded of Zhuangzi’s assessment of the human condition: “When someone dies people say, ‘He still lives in our hearts.’ But in truth his body decayed and his mind went with it. This is our greatest sorrow. Isn’t human experience completely bewildering” (2:11)? Hope, in the end, is but wishful thinking.
We are remarkable for our admirable resilience. It’s amazing, really. This speaks to the power, the élan, of life itself. Hope dawns eternal, we say, even while knowing in our heart of hearts that it sets just as frequently and will eventually set forever. Every human hope is at root a false hope. Could there be a hope that is also a non-hope, one free of expectations and prescribed outcomes? Zhuangzi suggests there can.

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