Saturday, March 6, 2010

Beauty Stay

My wife Endi, who is remarkably beautiful, asked me what is the most beautiful place I have seen. I answered that I see beautiful places and things every day. Pressed for details, I mentioned a brick wall I had seen, or recollected.

That answer though was incomplete. The complete and honest answer is that I am impressed by everything I see with a strength of impression that equals that of beauty. The last thing I can remember that struck me as extraordinarily beautiful - in an artistic way - was one or another scene from a ballet we saw here, in Portland. But then, I can't be interested in being impressed by ballet. That is simply ballet doing its job and me agreeing with it.

On the other hand, I am very often bored by efforts at beauty, or truth, or interest. Is this because the blank wall in front of me just now, spotted with a few abrasions, hung with a picture, showing its age - is it because this wall impresses me with a force equal to that of beauty, that a poem or painting seems superfluous? Am I sated?

Yes - I am sated. I do not worry or yearn for truth or beauty. I know that countless individuals and collectives are striving to make their point, and from out of their efforts will emerge notable works, etc., etc. I know there are victories and tragedies - over-reachings and fallings-short; moments in the sun. All of this plays out in my mind as a kind of background music, as if living near a playground, the window open. I do not choose - I have no power to choose - between the weight or worth of this wall and a poem as representative of work or play, truth or beauty.

It seems to me that some art aims at this kind of understanding without actually achieving it, of course - without reserving for itself pride of place in having made a "discovery." I can't help but be skeptical - don't you see? - of the products of an effort made redundant by blank walls, walnut trees, empty bottles, spinning tires, even a bit of blue sky. I stop and look and am frozen by possibilities. Perhaps this is too much to say at once. I mean no disrespect.

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