Monday, September 03, 2007

HEART OF GLASS



Walking home one night, I chanced upon this handwritten poster - and it broke my heart.

And it may strike some people as shocking that a human tragedy of similar dimensions would more often than not leave me emotionally unmoved. Not that I'd wish that on anyone, it just wouldn't affect me. Yet, a little girl's lost toy mouse and the poster she wrote really hit me hard and makes me feel sad. Does that make any sense at all?

22 comments:

SYpHA_69 said...

Well, I've always found it touching how attached that children get to stuffed animals, how they seem to give life to what are otherwise inanimate objects. And I think that the scene in "The Velveteen Rabbit" in which the rabbit itself is thrown away could be one of the most heartbreaking scenes in literature.

Sarah Trotsky said...

yes William, it makes perfect sense. There is nothing in the world dearer to a little girl than her stuffed animal.

they are our mirrors, our confidants.

when you hold something in your arms, when you cry into it and laugh into it, night after night, you imprint a little bit of your self into your toy, it becomes more than just an object, it becomes you.

I still have Mr. Bear, sometimes i hide him when a gentleman is spending the night, but he's always around.

yes, it's a different Mr Bear these days, but I use the same principle that Giger does with his cats...

It's just... too hard to start over again from scratch.

too painful.

flora_mundi said...

i agree completely with sarah's comments...

i also think that there is something about the loss of a loved object, an object that has meaning for you but to no one else, that we can relate to.

a tragedy on a mass scale is more difficult to empathise with, because it falls outside our experience. it is in the seemingly minute, the details, where you realise that you have something in common with others.

Sarah Trotsky said...

I see what you're saying as to a tragedy on a mass scale falling outside of our experience,

and yet, at the end of last November, I lost a loved one in possibly the most heart-wrenching way possible, and as a result, I have actually LOST empathy for my fellow man...

I realized this thusly:
a fellow in my acquaintance, who had those many months back asked me why I had "gone of the gird" and then gotten my honest, sincere answer and was far from sympathetic lost one of his friends a few weeks back, and I try as I might, i could not bring myself to sympathies with him...

and I think that makes me possible a very evil person...

(somehow I'm OK with that)

William Bennett said...

thanks for all the great emails and comments about this one - I have to also add to the mix my friend Akiko Hada's loss which became a big news story in Germany several years ago (www.bunnies.de/bunnies/bz1eng.htm) - I hope Magda's mouse has an equally happy return home

Jeff said...

My initial reaction to the flyer is not one of sadness, due to The kitschy / whimisical cartoon feel of it. The little girl had help making it (Maybe not. Maybe she did it herself. Possible....) If it had a more funky homemade look to it, as in a child's actual drawing style, that would have been more heart -tugging / effective for me. This is only me looking at an image on a monitor screen, not encountering it in a real life situation like you did, William. The fact that my mind is actually playing with the idea of how the situation ought to be more poignant, leaves me feeling bleak, useless and tossed away.

I couldn't find that Akiko Hada link but I found these:

http://www.bunnies.de/akiko/tshirt.htm

http://www.mediascape.info/ms_zagreb/DATEN/public_html/1997/hada.html

sah said...

It reminds me of this thing: http://mike.whybark.com/archives/001951.html

Andrew said...

When the loss involves a child it feels absolute.

Expressions of loss from children are also affecting because we assume children don’t have ulterior motives.

Richo said...

Re: Jeff's comment, I don't think it makes a lot of difference whether the girl had any help or not with the poster (or even if one of her parents was solely responsible for the poster in the first instance). The fact is that her stuffed mouse toy is lost, she's clearly missing it and, well, somebody cares enough to try and do something about it. Being completely cynical about even the smallest or most innocent things these days is all too easy a crutch to keep falling on...

Sarah Trotsky said...

thank you Richo,

if we think too much and get caught up on the tiniest details, we lose the point entirely.

Fred G. Sanford said...

kids and sadness.
Always linked together in my mind.
It seems sometimes that young kids feel things more deeply.
We all have that in us don't we?

I found that news item from sunday's paper to be really sad.
I mean, we have it bad sometimes but...
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/world/middleeast/02westbank.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Jeff said...

I should have just shrugged and thought "I wonder why I'm not having a very sad reaction to this picture" and moved on to something else. Instead I felt compelled to analyze my unsimilar reaction and post it up.
I see now that my emotional disconnect was because I was looking too hard at details and not letting the basic essence through. I didn't feel I was having a cynical reaction necessarily, but now I wonder, maybe I was? I like to think that in a real life situation I would actively participate in trying to recover a child's lost item or try to make them feel better in any situation where they're anxious. In fact I have done those things dammit.

Richo said...

Perhaps my wagging a finger at Jeff's supposed cynicism was unfounded, but I'd still contend it's extremely simple to shrug one's shoulders, be dismissive or generally negative and remain unmoved by much these days. And I say this as somebody who's only too often been accused of being cynical. Of course, on the vast and sprawling scale of human suffering, a child's lost toy may not amount to a great deal, but if we lose sight of even the tiniest particles which form it in the first instance, we really don't have a fucking chance.

David Cotner said...

It means that you're actually a nice guy despite all the myriad miconceptions and in fact I should have absolutely no problem sending my little daughter to learn classical guitar from you, with the caveat that she first be taught Mason Williams' "Classical Gas."

Richo said...

Heh! I am, indeed, a generally "nice" guy, it's true. I just don't believe in wasting this virtue on certain people or all the crap we have to wade through in life, though...

pelao said...

"nobody knows"

Chandler N. said...

I too was reminded of "The Velveteen Rabbit", in which the Skin Horse explains the process of becoming real. These things, in a sense, are real to children (paltry though their 'lives' may be in the long run).

N said...

My heart naturally winces whenever I see a "LOST CAT" poster, especially if it has a photograph or of the cat. I don't think about it, that's just my reaction. Especially when I read the cats name or how the owner describes the cat - "Answers to Gumby, likes playing with balls of yarn"

Jack Sargeant said...

I think Jeremy Deller did an exhibition of lost animal posters, and I just found this book: Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World (Paperback) by Ian Philipps at Amazon.

What is so poignant about these posters is that they are created as an outpouring of 'pure' emotion, they are not mediated through art history or whatever, they are not often created by 'trained' artists, or people trying to 'market' something, they are not trying to manipulative or create anything that moves a viewer. While I don't like the term 'innocence' it seems like the best phrase to describe these posters.

cemenTIMental said...

It's no Hopkin Green Frog.

Hoops McCann said...

Well, all I can say is that I immediately felt real sadness when I looked at the picture and read the post.
No amount of analysis or cynicism on my part after the event will change that.

Sometimes it's the "small" things that get you. Though really are they that small?

Tom said...

Its funny how insignificant things can affect us like that. Society today has us so apathtic to others emotions that inanimate objects have the task of reminding us to feel. And even livngs things too. I have a female cat that i've taken care of since she was five months old. Since I've hade her, I grow more and more empathetic to the constant worry parents go through with there children. And at the same time realize that people i'm close to worry about me in the same context. I hope the girl found her mouse.