New year’s celebrations are not really my thing. First and foremost, I have no choice but to abstain from them. Mr Dog is afraid of fireworks. We pull down the curtains and try to pretend it’s not really happening at all. Nothing Bad and Scary Is Happening. It’s the acting performance of the year. He’s had fun, met people, walked, eaten, and — just a few minutes ago — gone out for an evening pee (which made him a bit uneasy, as there are already fireworks). Hopefully he will now sleep. I have to be ordinary, normal and boring. That is, I type random things on the computer. Nothing is happening. It’s worked fine during the past few new years’ eves.
But, this aside, I’m not personally fond of it either. I’m not sure why. Every new year’s, since the year 2000, I keep thinking of something my beloved grandmother said to me once. ‘When it’s year 2000’, she said, ‘there’ll be huge celebrations, the grandest new year’s celebrations ever. But by then we won’t be here anymore. We’ll be gone.’ (This was the content, of course I can’t remember the words as they actually fell.) She meant herself and grandfather. That’s one hell of a thing to say. Of course, she was right. They were not there. And all I could think of, on that night, was her words.
As for new year’s resolutions, I don’t do them. I hope to live less rigidly — as far as my state of mind goes, but also in practical terms — and more inspiredly. I hope my eye examination in january shows that I can have an operation and that it is successful. I hope I will be writing. More. And reading more.
Art with a face. (Waldemarsudde in the last remains of sunlight on this new year’s afternoon.)
From one thing to another, a thought — or a question — came to my mind when I read the newspaper today. (The newspaper was a few days old… but I read it today. Well…) There was an article about stuffed animals, that is, toy animals. Supposedly, stuffed animals — perhaps the same applies to dolls — help children develop empathy. I wondered, upon reading this, how it would affect this learning process (or perhaps I should say developmental process… it’s about learning in a loose sense) to have faceless animals and dolls, the way that some waldorf folks prefer them faceless. Since — I know this has been researched and discussed a lot, and… just google, I won’t bother now — seeing faces, facial expressions and the interpretations thereof are such important features of the empathic faculty, would not faceless toys… be a hinderance rather than an asset, when it comes to empathy? I mean, it’s said — by Steiner admirers and hardly nobody else (as far as I know) — that faceless toys are beneficial for the child’s development of imagination. But are they really? And how does this relate to empathy and the development of empathy? Mind you, I know that stuffed animals have static faces, and you have to use your imagination to see shifts and emotions in their facial expressions, even when they have faces! But — would it not have any impact if the animal had no face at all? If it’s just blank. There are no eyes, no nose, no mouth. This facelessness so completely deindividualizes the (stuffed, plush) being.
Is it just imagination — and the role of imagination in the child’s development — we’re talking about here? What does this facelessness mean? What’s it about? What does it imply? What about faceless people? It can’t just be about imagination; there must be another explanation. Because why else do the dolls still have legs and arms and hair? They could be amorphous lumps of matter, just as well. (Imagine the imagination you’d have to develop to play with such items!) Is it because… legs, arms, hair have little to do with individuality? This in stark contrast to mouths and eyes which convey content… which convey thought and which are the outer representations of a mind that works and thinks. Mouths and eyes release intellectuality in the world (perhaps the faceless beings can type, and thus commicate the contents of their minds?). And the metaphor of the eye as the mirror of the soul and all that.
What about faceless children — children who are just blank spaces for the teachers to fill with content? What about being a spiritless nothing — a deindividualized person? You know, writing this, I realize what (possibly) makes me spooked out by faceless toys is that I felt like a faceless being myself. The thing is, though: there was something inside — somebody who could experience all this, this deprivation of individuality… or the expectation that you should relinquish individuality and personality. In favour of some greater good, your future spiritual enlightenment, the social context (being a daft ‘nothing’ in a flock of equally daft sheep) or whatever else.
(Actually, I can’t personally remember any faceless toys. The waldorf dolls I remember had rudimentary facial characteristics: tiny eyes, tiny mouths. But I’ve seen the faceless ones as an adult. They creep me out just slightly. Here’s an example: faceless gnome and doll cross breed. This design of small dolls is very popular in waldorf. But this one is apparently a gnome, too. What a bargain! — Can we please discuss what this facelessness is about? How we interpret it? Whether it’s bad or good? Is there something to my thoughts in the passages above?)
Now for some more photos.
Ice! Frost! It’s the first properly cold day today.