Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Saturday, September 04, 2004  


The story of my life:

This fellow in England reveals the truth and philistinism (without shame) of the majority of humans alive, dead, and yet to be.

When I finally saw the Mona Lisa, after my 50 years on this Earth, I found it a terrible disappointment. I don't know quite what I was expecting. I suppose that I was hoping at least for some glimmer of understanding of why this was the most talked-about painting in the world - at best, for a rush of joy at the sheer beauty of this, the real thing.

These philistine thoughts have been prompted by my first ever visit to the Louvre, where I went with my family last week. Like so many other visitors, we made a bee-line for the Mona Lisa, because everyone knows that this is the painting that you just have to see when you are in Paris.

But, if I am right, most of us don't get a great deal of pleasure from paintings - and we wouldn't appreciate them very much no matter how long we stood gazing at them.

. . . I dare say that millions will go on paying their entrance fees to stare at paintings that they don't really appreciate - half pretending, half longing to enjoy them. I shall certainly be among them.

Sad to say, but I understand that it takes one to know one, and it more often takes one artist to recognize the beauty and talent in another. It is more than he says here:

A mere difference of attribution can make a hundredfold difference in the amount that people are prepared to pay for a painting. "After" Vermeer? Let's call that £140,000. "By" Vermeer? Stick a couple of noughts on the end. Never mind that the picture is exactly the same - no more or less beautiful - whether it was painted by Vermeer or the girl next door.

No matter how much it seems like Vermeer, it isn't. Lots of people can imitate Bach and compose a fugue, but it isn't close to what makes Bach the highest achievement in music. Although, I will grant you that most people aren't impressed by Bach or Leonardo or Vermeer. Their loss, but I also think that the further you are from intimacy with God, the more you miss or don't get the truly beautiful things of man and life.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 6:35 PM |