The 24th and Stubbs and Horse

“What would you say to her right now?”

“It doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t. You say one thing one day, something else the next. It’s all just words, language. It’s all just confusion, emotion making sounds that change it and that and turn it all into a confusing mess. Saying things out loud, it’s just not enough. It turns it into something else, something you don’t recognise, out here. I hate you, I love you but I hate you, I love you but you’re no good. It’s all so … glib, so untrue. Other people’s words do it better, random ones. Lines from cheesy songs. The way I see it is you form an emotion, you negotiate the words, you say them, then you hear them being said, they change what you think, which changes how you feel, and feedback loops form and you have no idea what to say, what is said; when they join in the whole thing becomes a fucking nightmare. Taking words from elsewhere is easier, cuts out a lot, a dialect based on montage, more tactile, comfortably abstract.”

“Art.”

“Yeah, I suppose. A communication that takes in a lot more than social language games. A shared reflection. We can hold up the thing and feel something together without language, without conclusion. That horse. The Stubbs at the National. Every time I’ll look at that and it will convey something about us, about her, in words all I can say is, ‘It reminds me of blah blah blah’ but the horse will do something to my innards, it will go right in. And in that communication with me no part of it will be conducive in a descriptive sense. No amount of labouring will be needed. I don’t need to think or say anything about its scared, doleful eyes; the weight of its poised body; the grip of its legs on the empty canvas; that denied landscape spread like a wall to trap Whistlejacket, pinning him in his fear in front of us, gawping at his size and strength with subtle pity instead of fear. Because he should be able to run yes? Or his rearing up to this massive size should instill enough fear to protect him, but it doesn’t, we carry on gawping. Anyway none of that matters, he just needs to be the sum total of the force instilled within the intention to convey some thing, any thing. And that’s enough for me to stand there and feel something and not have to say anything.”

“Stubbs.”

“The whole fucking National Gallery to be honest, just breaks my heart. Just makes me want. Art can make you want to kill yourself without really knowing why.”