I have written here before about the way to look at paintings in a gallery or in an art book. You simply need to imagine in turn that each painting was hung on your bedroom wall for many years during the period when you were an impressionable child or youth. Obviously, you would have looked at it several times, lived with it (sometimes ignoring it, at other times staring at it mindlessly or with full attention); maybe you interpreted it in different ways over the years, found a meaning for you, and so forth.
You can reach the same ‘experience’ with a new painting in a few minutes by willing the ‘bedroom wall’ state upon yourself by imagination or by osmosis or by concentrated effort or by channelled empathy with another self – and the painting, I assure you, will become as special and as diverse as that painting on the bedroom wall of your past.
With music, especially classical music (new and old), the optimum way of listening, I maintain, is to imagine the vision of (or become in empathy with) a hand-puppet or marionette or mannequin (or all of these in different shapes and colours and ‘personalities’) moving ‘in tune’ with what you hear. You simply need to try this once and you will discover that the music becomes as special as that painting on your ‘bedroom wall’. A figurative dance of soul with art.
The way to read is far more difficult. Are words objects, feelings, semantic fields, sounds, shapes, or are they syntactical constructs of all of those things, a synergy of magical touches upon the tender-spots along your mind’s unique spectrum, or simply do they represent a phenomenon that cannot be explained by any easy theory of how these words you read were formed and how they should be absorbed in that very process of reading?
Perhaps by only-connecting the ‘bedroom wall’ with the music-puppets, the art of reading becomes a music-accompanied silhouette or shadow show that will haunt you better than your best dreams do.
Death is a shadow that stays unmoving on the ‘bedroom wall’ like a fixed stain. But the moving shapes and shadows have never ceased moving for me. And never will.
See #DFLewisThingie on Twitter for other old unpublished works in recent years.