Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On Art

This morning I had the experience of hearing music the way I could hear it when I was young.  This was because it came directly to my ears via earphones, not coarsely filtered by tiny "hearing aid"radios, or fuzzy and indistinct as my unaided hearing is.  And the above is a really clean recording, unlike so much that's on YouTube.

And Alberta Hunter was a genuine singer.  She means the song.  As her patter shows, the song comes from her experience.  The song goes from her to the listener.

I recently discovered a book like this song, The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier - I've mentioned it before.  It is art, or Art, if you like.  The writer has shaped his vision and experience carefully, as if to present it to you as a gift.  I can't read this book slowly enough - there is such wealth in every paragraph.  I keep coming to sentences I want to hold out and share with someone.  Appreciating literature is really what I was trained to do as an English major.  Taking it, respecting it, going in to be with it.

From me to you - that is the essence of Art.  It ignores the outside roar of the crowd.  Shuts it out.  It does not try to win accolades, or promote itself.  It is not a commodity, not a toy or entertainment or a way of making money, but an authentic experience.  It is created with fidelity to the work itself.  It comes from the writer's private world, and is an opening into that world.  And because it is really human and intimate, and shaped with love, it is sacred, and can give our difficult lives green pastures in which we can rest for a while. 

(Van Gogh said he created The Starry Night out of "a terrible need for religion.")


  1. I'm reading The Illumination right now, too. Moved. I think I can see pain now.

  2. Dear Jeanne,

    I think you might find this worth a visit....