Thursday, 8 December 2016

Thursday 8th December - The Awakening

Are we all doing okay?  We are still in the early stages of Angelvent and so I thought I'd just check that we are all holding a glass of mulled wine and at least one mince pie before I continue.  By the way, at this time of year, that constitutes a perfectly acceptable breakfast.  Mince pies contain fruit which must count as one of your five-a-day.  Marvellous.  Onwards!

The Awakening (1898) Thomas Cooper Gotch
Well, there's a lovely surprise to find in your bedroom.  I must admit that I have never woken up to find a trio of angels warbling in the corner, but then my bedroom is in no way as tidy as this.  That is an impressively tidy room.  I did wonder if she was a nun as she has a cross on the wall (just seen) and she is wearing the white robe, but her bedspread seems a little fancy for a nun. Are nuns allowed fancy bedspreads? And that much hair?  Anyway, whoever our awakened lass is she seems to be quite happy about the whole thing, unlike this one...

The Awakening Conscience (1853) William Holman Hunt
Yes, yes, I know she looks quite happy in the painting but we all know she didn't start out like that.  In the original scene she looked horrified as she heard the knock at the door by Jesus as she bounced on the knee of her illicit gentleman acquaintance.  Gotch's girl already has Jesus in her room and so being 'awakened' (awoken?) by a heavenly visit isn't a worry.

The Awakening (1891) Solomon J Solomon
What exactly Solomon's awakening figure is up to I'm not sure, but I love the curling feathers.  Although there is some gold in his hair I don't think that's a halo, the naughty so-and-so.  Is it Love being awakened/awoken?  What exactly has woken him up in his semi-nude reclining state? Filthy baggage.  Maybe it is Icarus being awakened by his love of the sun and falling from great heights.  That would be enough to wake you up, I grant you...
The Awakening (1916) John Charlton
Isn't it interesting how we use consciousness and awakening to explain religious feeling when many people, especially nowadays would say it is exactly the opposite.  To be clear I am fairly religious but have absolutely no problem with what anyone else believes if it makes them happy and they do no harm to others.  If there is a God (and I think there is) then I don't think He or She would be awfully impressed by us hurting each other as that is a bit pointless.  I think you get more favour from everyone if you are a nice person who does lovely things and has a bit of cake in the afternoon to stop you being grumpy.  Anyway, the Victorians, by the looks of it, obviously believe you could 'awaken' to the religious truths (for want of a better word) of everyday life.  Much like a Magic Eye picture, you would suddenly see Jesus or Angels.  Actually I have that Magic Eye book...
Really rather good...
Now, I don't mean to be a stickler but surely that is counterindicated by the word 'belief'.  I personally think these pictures of awakenings are a sign that the Victorians were not so cosy with their religion and that faith was not enough anymore.  What they needed was fact, to be able to see angels or Jesus and be proved right.  See, look, there is a bunch of nicely arranged angels in the corner of the room!  Listen, Jesus is at the door, I best put my skirt back on!  The tricky thing about belief is that you can't prove it, that's the thing.  Also, maybe belief isn't there to prove yourself right at the expense of other people.  I'm not sure that trio of angels would approve of that either.

In conclusion, go and have that slice of cake and I'll see you back here tomorrow...

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Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx