Sunday, March 6, 2011

shape of content

In graduate seminar we read "The Shape of Content" by Ben Shahn and I was struck by this passage (his socio-political insights are scattered thorough out the text).

... a traveler in thirteenth century France who met three men wheeling
wheelbarrows. He asked in what work they were engaged and he received from them the following three answers: the first said "I toil from sunup to sundown and all I receive dfor my pains is a few francs a day." The second said, "I am glad enough to wheel this wheelbarrow for I have been out of work for many months and I have a family to support." The third said, " I am building Chartres Cathedral."

I always feel that the committees and the tribunals and the civic groups and their auxiliares harbor no misgivings about the men who wheel their wheelbarrows for however many francs a day; the object of their suspicions seems, inevitably, to be the man who is building Chartres Cathedral.

Does anyone feel that they are building Chartres Cathedral? Isn't it interesting that from the outside there is nothing to distinguish inspired work from the daily grind?

1 comment:

  1. Gratia,

    In my paintings I feel like I am building part of the clearstory (sp) for Chartres Cathedral. Meaning, I am contributing a part to it. I love that my paintings make people feel uncomfortable ....they don't get...or think they are poorly painted...or confused...scared...etc etc. for me that itrigues me.....I also saw this passage in the book and picked it out...I related to all three...Keep pushing your wheelbarrel and i'll keep pushing mine! !!!!!!