P is for Park

| February 9, 2014
1. Georges Seurat’s painting Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte) features figures in a park. All have been rendered still by the accumulation of dots that create the painting. The possibility of play upon the bank of the river has been stifled. Curiously, a woman has a monkey on a leash. This means something, but I can’t put my finger on it.
2. Park also can be a verb. To park is to stop movement.
3. The first park I remember: the wooded space next to the playground of my elementary school. We were separated from it by a fence, meant to stay inside the regulated area of metal swings and jungle gyms.
4. The park (as a noun: open green space meant for play) contrasts the action of parking (as a verb: to come to a halt). A park is a space that is meant to be experienced, a space meant for bodies to move around and through. The field of education, along with aesthetics, deals with the tension between something’s purpose and its actual use. Sitting in a classroom, we talk about and around ideas and experiences without engaging in the actual experiences. The stifling stillness of many classrooms creates an environment that tries to drain all bodily experience from education, as if there are 30 bodiless minds in the chairs, ready to absorb information.