Last week was the anniversary of Picasso, whose work is for me glorious, mysterious, wild, disturbing, perplexing, consoling, awakening, upsetting, - these and much more. Some of Picasso's work is beyond me, which mostly says more about my incapacity and knowledge limitation than it does about works that puzzle me. I have a framed print of Picasso's Dove of Peace, which remains an eloquent comment on human capacity for peace destruction, whether in Afghanistan or Syria, Iran or North Korea.
The novel Guernica, by Dave Boling is romance and historical novel, based around the destruction of Guernica by the Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso features in the novel, along with his massive raginbg response to the brutality of the attack on a civilian population. Near the end of the novel a high ranking German SS Officer who admired the painting met Picasso in the cafe and asked, "That painting. Did you do that?"
Picasso's answer was as blistering as the painting - "No. You did that."
Amongst Picasso's paintings Child Holding a Dove is one of my favourites. Is the child protecting the dove or holding it captive? Is the dove of peace safe in the hands of children? Is she holding it close, or in the act of lifting it to the freedom of flight? Is it a toy, like the ball in the foreground, or a precious creature whose gentleness is to be cherished and whose life is to be valued? All or none of these, it doesn't matter. The painting is a lovely image of much that makes human life itself the value that underlies our longings for peace, and the ambiguity and precariousness of our grasp of peace, and the risk that lies in our human choices, to posses it for ourselves, or leave it to fly freely amongst us all.
Child holding an Ipad doesn't have the same aesthetic appeal. But maybe, just maybe, children whose imaginations and awareness are expanded by the best of our technology, will grow into mature people who resist the temptations of the worst of our technology. Let the dove fly.