Balance and Opposites
The starting point of this drawing is inside the circle in the center. Here it depicts a tree with two individuals underneath the branches. The one on the left is standing looking off into the distance, and the one on the right is sitting with their head hanging between their knees. The person to the left of the tree represents optimism while the individual on the right represents despair, the “two sides” referenced in the dirt below them. This bubble sets up the motif for the rest of the picture: each image has an opposite somewhere else in the drawing. However, the center circle with the tree is the only image without a corresponding image elsewhere.
I made this drawing made with a Cross, medium ball point pen on printer paper (all I have right now). I drew the bubbles first in pencil first using a compass and then inked over them with the ball point pen. The rest of the drawing was done free hand in pen. I did not start off with the picture fully planned, instead drawing whatever associations came to mind throughout the process.
Push and Pull
At first glace, these two bubbles in the drawing do not seem to depict opposites. It is not until you consider the forces that each figure is exerting that you can see how they are opposite of each other. The person in the bubble on right is pushing outwards, trying to break free of the cage that confines him. The person on the left is also trying to escape their confines, but by pulling down the wall around them. One pushes and other other pulls; opposing forces in physics. I included this bubble pair to demonstrate different approaches to tacking the same issue. Both subjects are confined and constrained by the dark worlds around them. Both are seeking liberation. But each goes about it in a radically different way. This is meant to represent the phenomenon of two people seeking the same goals through drastically different means.
Birth and Death
These two bubbles come from opposite sides of the drawing, symbolizing that between birth and death comes life. The life bubble (on the left) depicts the moment of conception when a sperm first fertilizes an egg. (This is not pro-life commentary either, so don’t even go down that road.) If you look carefully, the tails of the sperm spell a wiggly “Happy life.” The death bubble (on the right) it deceits a coffin underground and if you look in the surrounding dirt, you can see the words “happy death.” Unfortunately, I did not have enough room to write “death” all together, so it was broken into “dea” on top of the “th.” While this was not intentional, this could be interpreted as the way that death is not a finite event, but rather a broken up process that progresses in stages. First, you think about death, then your body dies, and eventually you fade from memory.
The reason for writing “happy life” and “happy death” is that both events are intrinsically linked to one another. We tend to associate only birth with happiness. However, in my world view, death is what gives life purpose. Without it, our time would be worthless. If we were given life without death, how we spent our time on this planet would not matter because we would always have more. Births are happy because we humans intrinsically recognize this fact. However, death is not as celebrated.
For this last bubble couplet, I explore two ways that words can make us feel. The left bubble shows a letter in motion with the caption “No dread is greater than a letter unknown.” This vaguely worded message is meant to convey the emotion that you get when a letter arrives in your mailbox and you don’t know why its there. This could be a unexpected bill, a letter from the government, or, worst of all, a letter from someone you rarely speak with anymore. In each scenario, there can be a fleeting moment of intense dread. The fact that it is coming unexpectedly only heightens the emotion.
The second bubble is more cryptic than its pair (I rotated the bubble so it is easier to see). Inside this one there are only letters and numbers. The numbers are placed at random but the letters are arranged in a manner that spells out, “a love of letters.” I have included an image below that makes this more clear (also, squinting a little seems to help). This message is buried and hard to decipher, much in the same manner that truly great literature is not obvious. The subtly of a good book, often requires the reader to read between the lines. This is reflected here in that the message is between the numbers and one must work a bit to see it. For me, this process of guessing at the author’s intention has been what I have enjoyed most about reading good books.
In total there are 14 bubble pairs (including the three I went through above). Some of them are a bit obvious, others are rather obscure. See if you can spot them all or if you can interpret this picture in different ways. I am interested to know your thoughts, so feel free to comment. I hope you enjoyed looking at my drawing!