Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guest Post - A Little Bit of Beauty by Vik Rubenfeld

First, I'd like to thank Nadine for the chance to appear on her site and speak to you all.

On my author blog (http://vikrubenfeld.com) I like to look at samples of really famous works of art and talk about what's so cool about them. It's like a little bit of beauty for you each day.

Here's one. This one is super-famous.

That is pretty easy to get with. Feel every word of that with your whole heart. Does it fill you with emotion and meaning? That meaning is the meaning of Shakespeare’s emotion.

It's fun to try to restate it in information-only terms, like you would see in a journalistic report, or an academic paper. Let's try: Shakespeare is saying that in some way it’s as though she radiates light, turns night into day, etc. Yadda yadda yadda - it’s just not very meaningful when you restate it like that. The beauty of Shakespeare's words is a beauty of emotion, and can't be restated in information-only, intellectual terms.

Here's another one. It's from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Huck Finn is escaping from his father, who has held him prisoner for several months. (Link)

Do you feel that? The stillness, the mystery that Huck is experiencing as he makes his escape? If you feel it, then you are witnessing emotional insight. That’s what a work of art provides.
You yourself may very possibly have felt something before, like what Huck is feeling in this passage.

Here's one last one for now. This is fun. It's one of the most famous paintings in the world. You’ve probably seen reproductions of it many times. But there’s something you may never have noticed about it before.

Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”  

No two people are looking directly at each other. Check it out. Renoir even put in a little joke about it. The only two looking right at each other are that chick and her dog.

If you wanted to just pull out the intellectual content by itself, you'd probably get something like, "Sometimes in groups people don’t look at each other but they feel very close." Very true, no doubt, but kind of boring.

Yet looking at the painting, you feel how tight they all are, how close they are to one another emotionally. You even feel something about how they make a group that’s alive and bigger than any individual there. If it fills you with a sense of the beauty of all this, you are feeling the beauty of Renoir's painting.

I hope you enjoyed these!

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