Elena and Flavia both made cats out of play-doh today, and almost immediately they were destroyed by the four year old hurricane Ivo. He’s a pleasure, that kid. But why is destruction always so attractive to kids? I was the same, I think. Empathy takes time to learn.
One time when it snowed in April on a weekend I had a load of out of work actors staying in my flat. We made a snowwoman with a snowdog in Battersea Park. It took us hours because we had beer and made a day of it. We were surrounded by people making snowmen. At the end of the day, as the light was fading and most people had gone home, three kids came into the field. 16 years old perhaps. Over the course of half an hour they jumped into every single snowman, laughing. I remember thinking of the families that had made them. I even tried (and didn’t manage) to teach them empathy. They left ours because we were by it, although I have no doubt they jumped it as soon as we left. These snow beings had been made with care over hours by so many people. The field looked beautiful and strange in the fading light, populated momentarily by still silent white giants. They levelled it in less time than it takes to make one snowman. And I thought how familiar that is. How human. To unthinkingly destroy something because it exists.
If we haven’t made something ourselves we find it easy to smash it. Snowmen, belief systems, artworks. It’s easier to destroy than to build. It’s faster as well. And it satisfies some primal urge. Ivo is 4 and he didn’t think twice about smushing some play-doh someone else had made, even though he’d have shouted if we’d smashed his. It got me thinking of that upsetting video from a few years ago when grown men in Mosul with the brains of 4 year olds and sledgehammers that are marginally smarter than they are smashed up a load of ancient artefacts in order to show the world how ridiculously narrow minded their viewpoint is. A young critic will frequently write a hatchet job. The less we have experienced, the more we are inclined to just smush. It’s an odd feature of the human condition and maybe one which we should be aware of within ourselves.
I’ve had a lazy day today. Playing with the cat, reading and relaxing in the morning. Then hanging out with Flavia and Ivo in the evening. Now back at home, drunkenly teaching reading Tarot for our current sofa guest before winding to sleep beneath the cat. Happy Sunday everyone. I’m so tired I haven’t got it in me to write another word.