I woke up thirsty, on an island in the sea



This island scene by flickr user evhh looks to be pulled right out of the Romantic playbook: rugged wild naturalistic landscape, and a few lonely heroic adventurers traversing the great expanse. The use of microscale emphasizes man's vulnerability to the elements: Do these sailors feel free and in control, or do they feel caught between sea and sky as if cupped between two hands? Will they be crushed, or spared?

Who are these sailors--modern day Robinson Crusoes with volleyball best friends? Reality show dbags back for their umpteenth season, who can still make good reality show drama even as their hairlines start to recede? Polynesian Manfreds fleeing the ancient spirits they've summoned?

No, the people in the picture aren't the point. Let us keep strictly to appreciation of the landscape, according to the rules set down in William Gilpin's Observations, Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty, Made in the Year 1772, on several parts of England; particularly the Mountains, and Lakes of Cumberland, and Westmoreland (1786). Specifically his "doctrine of grouping larger cattle":
"Two will hardly combine . . . But with three, you are almost sure of a good group . . . Four introduce a new difficulty in grouping . . . The only way in which they will group well, is to unite three . . . and remove the fourth" ('Explanations of the Prints', Vol II, pp. xii-xiii).

Two boats is an uncomfortable number indeed.

2 comments:

  1. the brothers, the living brick, and the twees... in unison?

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