October 25, 2011

Art & Exploration


An excerpt from Michael Chabon's excellent Manhood for Amateurs:

"What is the impact of the closing down of the Wilderness on the development of children's imaginations? This is what I worry about the most. I grew up with a freedom, a liberty that now seems breathtaking and almost impossible. Recently, my younger daughter, after the usual struggle and exhilaration, learned to ride her bicycle. Her joy at her achievement was rapidly followed by a creeping sense of puzzlement and disappointment as it became clear to both of us that there was nowhere for her to ride it—nowhere that I was willing to let her go. Should I send my children out to play?

There is a small grocery store around the corner, not over two hundred yards from our front door. Can I let her ride there alone to experience the singular pleasure of buying herself an ice cream on a hot summer day and eating it on the sidewalk, alone with her thoughts? Soon after she learned to ride, we went out together after dinner, she on her bike, with me following along at a safe distance behind. What struck me at once on that lovely summer evening, as we wandered the streets of our lovely residential neighborhood at that after-dinner hour that had once represented the peak moment, the magic hour of my own childhood, was that we didn't encounter a single other child.

Even if I do send them out, will there be anyone to play with?

Art is form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map. If children are not permitted–not taught–to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?”

(Thanks Larry for lending me the book)

posted at 11:17 PM by raul

Filed under: noted

TAGS: art (15) exploration (2) kids (19)


10/28/11 12:56 PM

Raul, I hardly ever see children outside playing like they/we did in the 50's. I use to swim across a tough tidal river on my own, the thought that no adult was there to save me spurring me on to be stronger and more alert. My daughter had a horse from the age of 9 which she rode all over the countryside unassisted. Important memories for her.

My younger parent friends worry way, way too much.

(by the by, Frieze Art magazine this month is mostly about the subject of photography )

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