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November 29, 2007

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The Aesthetic Elevator

He-hey! You got your own blog! Someone clicked through The Aesthetic Elevator or I wouldn't have known.

I haven't had much profound to say lately; part of that has to do with a crazy schedule as much as anything. There's a great show at the JBU gallery right now — a collection of prints including a Rembrandt and a Picasso. I need to get back over there before they take it down . . .

Tim J.

Good to see - er - read you, TAE!

I have dropped by your place a bit lately, but haven't had much time to comment since I got a (gulp) day job.

I will definitely try to catch this JBU show.

J.R. Stoodley

I've definitely seen that red/green color before, again in changing leaves.

I love the changing of seasons so much. I am coming to realize more and more that I can never live outside the Northeastern US. The taxes and politics are horrible, but the plants, landscapes, seasons, etc. are a part of me.

Right now we are in perhaps the least appreciated season: late fall.

Most of the trees are naked, or if it's an oak or beech is clinging to dead brown leaves. The asters and goldenrods and most other forbs are all brown, but the lawns are still green. Here and there is a bush or European tree clinging to a final few leaves, bright red or dark purple or green and wrinkled from being frozen too soon.

The birds are silent, except for the crows who have congregated huge flocks and think they own the city. Once in a while snow coats everything in pure white, but it only lasts for a few hours or a day.

People get depressed and say the world is dead, but there is a kind of stark, almost Medieval beauty to it all. I don't know if I'm just wierd or if God had given me the grace to see the beauty in something most people are blind to.

Randolph Carter

"I don't know any other way to describe it except to say that it was both fully red and fully green at the same time."

I think they call that "yellow". Either that, or red-green colour blindness ;)

In all seriousness though, I think I understand what you are getting at. There is often a deep and poignantly moving beauty to be found in nature, one that the human eye can perceive, but that the hand can seldom replicate. Many an artist must have met with despair when he realised that the work he was attempting to create was infinitely inferior to the object which said work was intended to represent (I know this has been the case with me).

I have seen many scenes in nature that would be nearly impossible to replicate in any tangible form. A sunny autumn day, where the streets are lined with trees that shake their branches in the wind, sending a rain of orange leaves tumbling down to the wet pavement below; or an eventide forest sunken to the bottom of sea of shadows and silver moonlight, where the eyes of wild beasts flashed at me from out the darkness; or a churchyard buried beneath a desolation of winter ice, where the middle of the night shown as bright as day, as the pallid clouds above and the sparkling snow below tossed the radiance of the nearby city back and forth between them, making the air run gold with light. No. I don't even think those short phrases can begin to describe the sights I've witnessed, or the particular emotions that accompanied my witnessing them, nor am I confident that, given a million years of practice in every discipline under the sun, I could ever adequately recreate those scenes to my satisfaction, not in paint, or ink, or verse, or prose.

It is truly a difficult thing, I think, to capture the beauty of the world material. More difficult, still, I think, it is to capture the beauty of things immaterial. It is hard enough for the painter to accurately represent the beauty of a twilit sky, of the heavens alight with kaleidoscopic fire, the terror and majesty of the world visible. How greater a task is it then, to depict the more sublime yet infinitely greater beauty of the world invisible? Can one depict Love with paint? What of Joy? Hope? Sorrow? Anger? Despair? Triumph? Humour? Sometimes I think I have seen works of art that are capable of drawing forth the reality of a particular emotion, but other times I have to wonder: even if I derive some emotion from a painting of a particular scene, from a photograph or a poem of a work of prose or film, how much greater would my emotion be were I to actually experience the reality that said work of art is meant to represent. How much more powerful would it be to see the sunset depicted in the painting, to see the emerald mountains pictured in the photograph, to gaze upon the torn and tortured field of battle described in the poem, to see not the reality through the darkened lens of the work, but to see the reality itself?

I must often think that the work of the artist is futile, and that all attempts to recapture the beauty of the natural world must ultimately be in vain. Still, so long as we men are capable of conceiving of beauty in their minds, I think that we will try and recreate that beauty by the work of our hands, even if we must inevitably fail (for if inevitability of failure was capable of deterring men from their pursuits, then men would have given up the struggle to survive long ago).

At the very least, I am glad, Mr. Jones, to find that there are still other people who see beauty in nature. Generally, as a rule, I often suppose that it was only in the writings of those dead and forgotten men that one could find an appreciation for the beauty of reality. How joyous it is to see such a sentiment expressed by one still living! It is a refreshing contrast to the attitude of the general culture, which only seems interested in finding and magnifying the ugliness in the world (see also: Modern Art).

Randolph Carter

And also:

GReat p0st Jimmy!!!!111!!!11!!!!111!!!!!11!!!!1!!!

(Yes, Mr. Jones, the curse will haunt you unto the ends of the Earth!)

The Aesthetic Elevator

Day job, that doesn't sound like much fun :p My wife and I were actually planning to move to Nebraska this fall per our own financial situation, but we're not sure that's going to happen now. Point is I've spent all my free time the last two months fixing the house up for selling. Just in the last two weeks did I get my garage into an acceptable state again allowing me to continue working on my clay stuff.

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