Friday, November 03, 2006

Thoughts on art and beauty

Mon:  3.03 miles in 29:12
Tue:  4.12 miles in 42:07
Wed:  3.09 miles in 30:18
Thu:  4.23 miles in 40:14
Fri: 3.01 miles in 28:39

If you want to see my workouts in excruciating detail, go to and search under tlongacre. You'll see little maps and everything!

Went out to the field this week, so Tuesday and Wednesday I ran in a town called Belo (or Mbelo) and Thursday I was in Fundong. The Belo runs were both quite hilly, but it was fun to be in a new place -- and a gorgeous one at that. Green, green mountains, waterfalls pouring down, cliffs -- very beautiful.

There is a tremendous amount of natural beauty here. It is almost overwhelming. When I mention this to the people I live with, they do not seem to notice. It's just "the way it is." And there is very little man-made beauty. I wonder if there is a relationship. There is African art, but most of it is either for adornment (women's clothes, for instance) or for ritualistic purposes (masks, costumes, etc.) Most of the ritualistic art is related to power -- gaining, preserving it, manipulating it. But either for reasons of poverty or different values (I don't know which) there is not a strong aesthetic sense here. Or perhaps it is just very different than mine. People certainly do not leave walls blank -- they cover them with calendars or magazine pictures or unbelievably tacky (my judgment) religious art. Every house or office I have been in has had several out of date calendars on the walls. So, maybe it's just a question of doing the best you can given the circumstances.

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