The Dutch have a long tradition of painting and drawing normal, everyday scenes. In this, Menno is fully Dutch. However, his paintings also give us the time to contemplate that which we normally don’t notice. People out in the world, but totally lost in their thoughts without being aware of the world around them.
Neurologists call this “the default state of mind”. That’s when we appear to be present, but we’re not. We’re not even somewhere else. Our posture, gestures, and facial expressions testify to this. Our eyes are open. We hear and we see. But we are really not there.
It may seem surprising, but we spend about 47% of our time in this state of being. So it’s only normal that we see this in people on the street. Without noticing. Because we are also in that default state, and not actively observing.
So looking at Menno’s people on the streets is a great opportunity to reflect on our own state of mind. Without judgement. Because we have all been there, in that gaga-land of thoughtlessness. We all know these moments of being present without being present. And luckily, this is what being human is all about.
Menno also wrote and illustrated the book, Groot Contortionistisch Handboek, by N.I.D.de Corbeau – a satire for fitness freaks – available online from quality book sellers.