Optimism. Noun. 1. Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. 2. Philosophy: the doctrine, especially as set forth by Leibniz, that this world is the best of all possible worlds.
A mid 18th-century word from the French optimisme, from the Latin optimum meaning ‘best thing.’
But for this post, and this Small Oddities series as a whole, I’m looking at art, and specifically with the theme of optimism. What are the artistic representations of optimism that caught my eye? And is there any cynicism or irony to be found? Interestingly, I have broken this post into four genuinely optimistic pieces, and four that have at least a hint (more, much more than a hint) of cynicism.
Starting off with the poem description that yayogaak included with this photography titled “optimism.”
Don’t you be a mourner
Brighten up that corner
And smile, smile, smile.
Alright, there is a nice simplicity to this photo and the poem that accompanies it, but just a piece, not even half of the mouth and it is enough to carry across the notion to the viewer that this person is happy, and while happiness and optimism aren’t one and the same, they do go hand in hand. Plus, the “wild” hair in the photo makes this appear more optimistic at all costs. It doesn’t matter that my hair is not where it should be, things will work out no matter what… Well, that’s optimism for you.
Another common theme among my optimism search was nature scenes, mostly like this one by PrimalDarkness, which were of lush greens. Now this piece also has an accompanying description stating “No matter how dark the area, or how cold the water, there is light and beauty down the trail.”
I didn’t check the descriptions on all of the other results my search pulled up, but not all of them focused on something as small as this small stream going through the Dark Heart of the Wood, but it does all work, and surprisingly, I picked this without having seen the description, so it still feels like an optimistic picture either way.
This next piece from mahmoudmohamed009 is an example of the optimism that can be inspired by the endless sky, seemingly full of possibilities, and also combines with it the visual of emerging from the darkness, leaving through the gate, and the freedom that floating on the wind represents with the hot air balloons.
All of it is representative of “Optimism” the theme for this post and the theme for this particular piece. I will also note that while air travel by balloon is not new, it has always been fascinating to us, and air travel even still is a bit of a “groaner” as far as examples for “the skies the limit” or then again, maybe it isn’t. Either way, this piece is wonderful.
Not every fortune in a fortune cookie is one of happiness, but at least here in the western world, we put so much emphasis that there must be a self-fulfilling prophecy of juju or mojo that we get from a positive fortune cookie fortune.
Yet, here this picture, from HelloSamurai, is full of fortunes we would all really like to genuinely receive, even if we aren’t playing the “in bed” game. An example from one of the fortunes that I occasionally add to this blog is “You are interested in higher education, whether material or spiritual.” It is factual to me, but I wouldn’t call it optimistic. That said, when we receive a good one, we tend to hold on to it, at least until we forget which pocket it is in and wash it in our pants…
When this piece by JakeSpain appeared in the search results for “optimism” I had to look carefully to make sure it was real. It is. But let’s look at this… The real place called World’s End has a “Please drive carefully” sign, and then the icing on this piece is that JakeSpain added in the description “I’m a pessimist……” But let’s be honest, at the end of the world, no one is driving carefully, and everyone is probably also drinking and smoking, and well… JakeSpain has the title of this piece right with “Now there’s optimism…..” I enjoy everything about this.
This next photograph is a great example of when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, because obviously when an optimism mug full of words like hopeful and upbeat and positive and encouraging falls and breaks into pieces, but not into a million pieces, you can just take a photo and post it to all of the places, and I am sure it got more love on platforms like Instagram or Twitter than it did on DeviantArt for eyerait (a great username by the way).
Still, anyone who takes the time to take this picture, no matter how staged it may or may not be (I don’t know), is a positive person. Or at least a make lemonade person… (This is being written by a person drinking coffee out of a “Damn I’m Good” mug, so whatever floats your boat, if you read into people’s mug selections.
This next photo from scorcher002 I selected because it is a smiley face sticker in the rain and I thought that was optimistic, but the description “My roommate’s car was broken into. But it’s still smiling.” That’s even more on point.
Talk about optimism, I guess at this point we can say that smiling through the pain, or any negative situation or interaction isn’t optimism, but it can be construed that way. Sometimes it’s just a mask for pessimism, so don’t forget that it’s not all about what we see, although given that this is just a picture and a description, those are the two things we have to go on right now.
Lastly, and perhaps my favorite is this illustration from DenisM66, also titled “Optimism” but living in an area where there exist four seasons (and perhaps you live in a similar area), Fall, Winter, Spring, and Construction, the optimism displayed by painting flames on a steamroller is laughable.
But here, I get the irony, because no matter what you paint on the outside, in order to do the job it was designed to do, it must go a certain speed. All of that said, it looks like the two guys on the side are just waiting for their turn, while the driver of the steamroller seems to be enjoying himself…
The moral of the story… Be an optimist, or at least try to be a more positive person… And definitely paint flames on your steamroller.
This has been your semi-regular edition of Small Oddities. Transmission Over.