WHAT ART OFFERS

“What art offers is space—a certain breathing room for the spirit.”—John Updike

the birthdayMarc Chagall

A very smart friend holds a little salon every morning via a mass email featuring a thoughtful quote.  This salon reaches around the planet and includes many brilliant people working in contrasting disciplines  (the Aussies are the smartest and talk the most).

The above Updike quote was today’s message and today is the first time I have taken part in the conversation.  Today only was the ball in my court.

Lobbing back,  I added “a place without conflict where one can compare the relationship they are seeing to all one has known in the past”.  Whether reading, or looking at a visual composition, the knowledge is in the space between what you see and what you know.  The more surprising or innovative the “observed” composition is against the “experienced” composition, the better and more challenging the work of art becomes.

It seems we all carry an inventory of versions of the same thing we have seen in the past.  When viewing something new, we compare the new thing to our inventory.  How far the new observation moves from our library of that thing, the more innovative or interesting we see the new thing.  Maybe.  If we travel far and wide, and our inventory is full of unique experience, we accept more readily.  We can begin to judge in terms of style.  We can categorize.

If we never see any version of that thing which varies from the normal, we may not accept or even recognize the unusual version.  Experience leads to education, which leads to acceptance of a thing which moves away from the normal.  What to do?  Get away from your point of origin and look for the different versions.

Another situation could occur:  if the innovative version of the thing moves too far away for one to recognize its category, it may be an unsuccessful work of art;  unfinished, or unrefined.

As a person who at this point can remember almost NOTHING, some gems from my experience blaze out like neon signs.  Must have been in my twenties when the first female president of the University of Chicago, Hanna Gray,  said something like:  knowledge is heretofore unknown connections between things.  Have remembered this all my life.

There you go.  This is the whole ball of wax.

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