I’m having a jolly football weekend with old friends. But I’m still haunted by Andrew Graham-Dixon’s excellent and dark ‘Art of Germany‘ which I watched in the week. The image of the two bleak works of Caspar David Friedrich he presented stick with me. They sit side by side in Berlin: ‘The abbey in the oak forest’ and ‘The monk by the sea’.
Friedrich was seeking a more ‘primal’ and ‘elemental’ God than the one the church then offered. These two pictures suggest he found that search lonely and difficult.
His skies and landscapes are sometimes more hopeful, but these two suggest the crushing difficulty of finding God, on your own, at the turn of the 19th century in Northern Europe. Kierkegaard was on the same intellectual quest at around the same time.
It seems to me you’ll drive yourself mad if you go down this route. Humans ‘huddle’ and if you look for meaning all on your own, you’re lost. People, ‘relevant complexity’ and the here-and-now are what it’s about.
Football and a few beers with friends are a good investment in staying well away from ‘The abbey in the oak forest’.