A while back, I stumbled upon an unusual machine. It was something that was out of the ordinary. As I looked upon this machine, I began to notice that it was not like any other machine that I had ever seen before. In fact, it was one of the most unusual looking machines I had ever seen. It was shaped as if it were an oversized egg, with several silver panels on the outside with an antenna on the top of it. It resembled an escape pod for a space ship on the outside, but on the inside was something completely different. Inside of this egg were buttons with different names beside them, names that I remembered from school some of the names that I saw??¦ names like ???Early Italian Renaissance???, ???Early Chinese Civilization???, ???Early Japanese Civilization???, and ???Early 20th Century???. These names were the names of different periods in history. Above the panel was a sign that read ???Do NOT press any button. IF you do, beware of what could happen.??? Out of curiosity, I pressed my first button that said ???Early Chinese Civilization???. All of a sudden, the machine started to make noises and lights started flashing. In almost an instant, I was transported to another moment in time.
I feel as if I have been in a whirlwind. As I stepped out of this machine, I realized that I was no longer in the year 2011, but rather that I was back in the world of ancient China. I had entered into a time machine. This was something that I had never seen before. Could it be that someone had actually figured out a way for people to travel in time Could there really be a way to actually understand and learn about the art that was done so many years ago I remembered very suddenly that there was a piece of art that I had wanted to learn more about when I was in college, and immediately, I began my hunt to try to understand the simple, yet stunning image in my head of The Poet Li Bai Walking and Chanting a Poem, by Liang Kai, and I was determined that I would not stop until I learned something about this magnificent work of art.
I began my quest immediately. I looked around for any indication as to what year I was in, and much to my surprise, I found out that I had landed in the year 1200??¦ the year in which Liang Kai had created his work. I began to wonder if the time machine was even more complex and could pull from our memories the images that we still pondered. I figured though that this curiosity would just have to wait. I had to find someone who knew where I could find Liang Kai, and I had to find someone quickly.
I met an older gentleman sitting on a bench under a tree, and much to my amazement, he greeted me with a simple ???Ni hao???. I remembered that this was Chinese for ???Hello???. I politely responded, not exactly sure of their customs or how to correctly do so. I asked him, ???Liang Kai??? He must have known what I wanted to know because he pointed towards a small house sitting on a hill. I nodded politely, and off I went. I made a mental note that upon returning to 2011, I would need to learn Chinese (time will only tell if I do this or not).
The walk to Liang Kai was somewhat of a journey. I stood outside of the house, and I silently watched. I watched as Liang Kai made quick brushstrokes on a scroll. I was fascinated, and I gasped. Upon doing so, Liang Kai looked out the window and saw me. He motioned for me to come in the door. I entered his home, and I began to watch as he recited words I had never heard before. He told me, ???This is a picture of Li Bai. He is a poet, who I have encountered. He has many followers.??? I watched as he went back to his work. He asked me no questions about who I was or why I was there, he continued to speak to me from time to time. He told me stories about Li Bai taking his followers on a retreat to a garden on a spring night. They drank wine in the same way as Liu Ling had done before, only after telling his wife that he had given up alcohol. Liu Ling had drunk the wine by himself in the garden, and Li Bai had done the same things with his followers. I marveled at the calmness that Liang Kai had with me, he laughed as he told some of the stories. He stopped and asked me what was it that I wanted to know. I had so many questions that I didn??™t know what to say.
I finally asked him, ???Has anyone else ever painted Li Bai??? He laughed and said, ???Of course they have. We do this because we have seen it and we know what it was like. This is our way of remembering our history.???
I sat there for a little longer and watched as he worked on the facial characteristics of Li Bai. I wanted to tell him that he would one day be famous, but I figured that was not my place. So, with that thought in my mind, I bid him farewell and made my way back down the hill to the time machine. The old man was still sitting under that tree, like before. I bid him farewell and entered back into the time machine. I was off again, and I was headed straight for Japan. I had to know if it was possible that Japan had some of the same stories as China. I must find out.
Japan is not like China was at all. In fact, it is dreary feeling to me. Maybe it is because my adventure in China was in the spring. Here, it feels as if winter is approaching. I look around me, and I cannot seem to find anyone here who could help me to find anything that I could be looking for. I remember that Japan had many poems that were important. Immediately, my mind goes to Matoori Noringa??™s The Tale of the Genji. I remember seeing the painting of the chapter called ???Azumaya???. It seemed like modern day America, fathers who know that children are not theirs, but they accept the child anyway. Yes, The Tale of the Genji, the first novel ever written, and quite possibly the motivator behind the ever popular romance novels. I begin to walk down the streets looking for someone who can tell me about this piece of work. I bump into a member of Japanese aristocracy. I apologize, and she asks me who I am looking for.
I had no exact answer for this question, so I simple said ???Genji Monogatari???. She said that it was her work. I stood there in shock. I was standing face to face with someone who could answer all of my questions. We began to walk, and as we walked, she told me about her work. I was awestruck. She had everything that was needed to make a great piece of work: a hero, a troubling issue, and the fact that happiness could never fully be achieved. She did not belong here; she should be back in my time.
She finally stopped talking to me about her work, and once again I was asked if I had any questions. I wanted to think this one through a little bit more. I finally responded with, ???Does this line up with what you are allowed to do Is it okay for you to write about something that is not supposed to happen???
She shook her head, but she answered my question. She told me, ???This is not supposed to happen among those of us who experience the finer things in life. I should not have written about it, but I wrote about what I saw. I wrote about the sadness of our existence, and the fact that Prince Genji was able to have qualities about him that were good and pure.
All of a sudden, there was a commotion, and she quickly arose. She said that she must be going before she was late. I bid her farewell, and I sat there for a while. I thought about where to go to next on my adventure. I knew where I would go next. I would go to America, before World War II. That would be the perfect place, the place where America knew true sadness like Prince Genji knew. It would be the perfect place to go.
My next stop was America, 1936. I remembered this photograph by Dorothea Lange entitled Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California. This is where I needed to go. If anything, this mother knew sadness. I knew that I could not find the mother, but if anything, I knew that I could find the Lange. I found her very quickly, taking sad pictures; however, she was taking the picture that I remembered. The machine must be able to recall our memories.
I stood in the background and watched. Finally, I walked up to Lange, and I asked her if we could talk. She asked me who I was, and I introduced myself simply as a ???fan of her work???. She was confused by my statement, but she said okay. I asked if we could all speak, and they agreed. I found out that the mother was a widow, and that she was thirty-two (I had thought that she was inn her forties). She had ten children. They were seeking refuge, shelter, hope.
The children all turned toward their mother as she stared off into space. The tone here quickly changed. I was overtaken by guilt and anger. How could the wealthy not care about the poor Why did Lange not photograph all of the children That would start a movement of some sort. Lange said that she was simply trying to make a living, but there was more to it than just that. There had to be some sort of a connection between Lange and the poor communities. I just did not know what it possibly could be.
It reminded me of America so much: people out of work, with way to support their children, and trying to get a little bit of help. How could something that happened in 1936 possibly be the same sadness in Japan that was partying in China, but America in 2011 I did not understand it. I knew that I needed to leave, so with a heavy heart??¦ I walked away. The mother looked at me longing for help, and all I could do was turn my head. As I approached the time machine, I had to stop and think for just a moment. I was not sure if I could handle anything else; however, I figured that I must continue on my journey.
I feel as if I have been traveling for quite some time. I have explored every button on this machine, and I feel as if there is nothing more I can learn at this moment. I learned so much, and I saw how art was continually changing. Sometimes it would get better, other times it would be confusing. All the same though, it was an adventure.
I think that I will just reflect on it for a short period of time. I wonder if anyone in the past remembers me, or if anyone in the present would believe me. I look at the clock on the wall, and for some reason, the time has not changed very much. The time machine is nowhere to be found, and I am beginning to wonder if this was all just a dream. Could that be a possibility Could this whole thing have simply been a dream Maybe it was. Maybe I am losing my mind from staying up too late. Until another day, I suppose that we will put this adventure on the shelf until the next adventure that we have.
Benton, J.R., & DiYanni, R. (2008).? Arts and culture: an introduction to the humanities, combined volume? (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.