Getting into a Pickle over Cucumber
Note: this was written in response to an angry trashing of Russel T Davies' Cucumber in certain gay (ever decreasing) circles
John Hegley, the comedian, poet and brilliant man, once confessed to me that he didn't 'get' Rothko
It's always stuck with me as perhaps the wisest piece of art criticism I've ever heard.
He said it with some sadness and certainly no bitterness or attempts to malign the painter. He said he spent many hours in galleries, staring at Rothko's canvasses; that he'd watch others come and go and see them finding a joy and beauty that, try as he may, he just couldn't get.
And he knew that it was his loss.
In an art world full of Emperor's Clothes criticism and flash and splash pretension, I'd never heard anything more honest, more humble, more beautiful, more true.
I'm feeling that a bit about Cucumber. Only in reverse. You see, I do 'get' it. It talks to me, moves me. It makes me laugh, it makes me think, it gives me catharsis.
I'm sorry to all those people who don't get it. Certainly you shouldn't feel embarrassed or angry about it. Hegley is a brilliant man and yet he didn't get Rothko.
There are loads of things I don't get. But this one I do. That doesn't make me any smarter or any dumber than anyone else, it's just the way the creative cookie crumbles.
And I'm not alone. Millions of people's lives have been enriched by Cucumber.
But what I don't understand is why anyone who doesn't get it needs to say anything more than "it doesn't work for me"? Why all the aggressive ranting? The desperate attempts to be King Troll of Backlash Mountain? What are you trying to stamp out or ridicule in your charmless negativity? Are you trying to persuade me to not like it? Or is it just a lonely urge to seek out and join a gang of fellow haters? It just seems rather bullying.
And to those of us who do get it, it seems rather sad and silly.
I guess it's like my old mother never used to say: "If you don't have anything nice to say...sign up to Facebook"
Meantime I'm signing off to go stare at a Rothko. Who I don't fully get. Probably never will. But every time I stare, I get a little bit more. And getting is so much better than not.