I don’t remember the first time I saw the painting in my teenage years, but I do remember how I felt…. disturbed. I also questioned the artist Edvard Munch’s mental state at the time he painted it. There were heavy brush strokes like Vincent Van Gough’s paintings, and I had already learned that Van Gough cut off his ear, then, painted a self portrait with a bandaged head… not exactly the epitome of mental stability. I haven’t spent time studying images of The Scream for years, but it disturbs me as an adult in a way that it didn’t as a teenager, because I often feel like the androgynous, bald figure screaming in the foreground of that painting. There are anxious lines of worry, distress, and probable lack of sleep, rimming the eyes. The person appears isolated though there are 2 figures in the background. It makes me wonder…
Why paint a scream if no one can hear it?
More importantly, Why am I screaming?
I’ve spent a lot of time revisiting the second question the past 3 years. I want to be heard, but the ironic thing is that screaming isn’t usually the best way to go about it. People who scream too often, are the boy who cried wolf, or chicken little with a falling sky. They are over-exaggerating political commentators. Screamers are usually ignored… regardless of what they are screaming about. With all of the noise in our world today, it can be the whisper that is more readily heard than the scream.
It can be the whispered confidence to a spouse or friend. It can be the whispered prayers for strength to endure a trial. It can be the whispering of your soul to make a life change. It may be the whispering of the wind around you as you search for peace in nature. When I am screaming to voice my frustrations about the path I am on in life, or how it isn’t what I planned or envisioned for myself, I miss the whispers.
Maybe, he’s not really screaming on the outside, but on the inside, waiting for someone to listen, and help. Our minds are so important to us, and we use them to judge danger in a situation. We analyze the world around us, and our place in it. What happens when your brain lies to you though? What happens when you are the dehumanized figure in the painting, screaming for help, but no one around you is alarmed?
Is your brain lying to you, like the master magicians of optical illusions M.C. Escher, or is there a problem you don’t know how to articulate any other way, except through a scream?
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