Monday, May 24, 2004

People watching
Years ago, I spent a week in the company of a spanish film-maker in an office at the University of Bergen, the media department. We had a few interesting experiences; one night we let ourselves be hijacked for a cosmetic demonstration party in a suite at one of the best hotels in Bergen, an other night we skipped dinner and went on a cake-tasting spree in every cafe in Bergen. But the night we spent people watching at a bar was the most fun.

She played this little game everywhere. She made up stories about the people she saw. Fantastic stories about lost love, dark family secrets, fortunes won and lost... When a nice gay male couple joined us the game changed, simplified, into guessing peoples' occupation. This too was fun, although different.

A couple of years later, travelling with a colleague, two teachers and 30 students. We visited Brussels and Amsterdam, a frozen winter week of walking through two large, lovely cities. This colleague also makes films, and when I told him of the people game, he caught on immediately. We spent the student-free evenings creating long, involved narratives, weaving tales across borders.

Since these two experiences, I have been an avid watcher of people. And with Desmond Morris' book, now I am looking for details:

4. The Intention Power-grip. The speaker who is seeking control and is striving in his speech to master the situation, but has not yet done so, performs his batons with his hand held in the frozen intention of the power-grip. This is the Air Grasp posture, with the digits stiffly spread and slightly bent. The hand grabs at the air but does not follow through.

I can hardly wait to find a busy cafe, settle with my book and a cup of coffee, and just look!

No comments: