• Encounters with Beauty

    Posted by gmadmin   |   March 4, 2012

    Just spent the day soaking in the Senora desert at the Saguaro National Park and Tucson Desert Museum. Reading the plaques and learning about the desert flora and fauna, I started thinking about how we handle encounters with beauty. Works of art, nature, people, history, politics, math – no matter what it is, I always approach it the same way.

    When something stirs my emotion or catches my interest, the first thing I do is just observe it. I give it my full attention. Gradually the observation becomes active and the imagination is engaged. I want to be able to see and feel and hear and maybe even smell and taste the thing even in my mind’s eye. The process is meditative. It’s what you do when you stop, look, and listen.

    Next there is learning. I delve into the history, the complexity, the details of the thing. The more I learn, the richer it becomes. Already the distinction between subject and object is dissolving. I find myself melding with the thing, losing myself in the object of my attention. Almost everything is intrinsically interesting. Like looking at a Magic Eye picture, when you engage the complexity of a thing the chaos gradually takes form.

    Then I want to share it. Talk about it, show it to others, spread the experience. “Hey, read this.” “Come look at this.” “I want to show you something.”

    Finally I have to create. Take the object of beauty and transform it into something new. If it’s a fact from history, I want to transform it into a story or a portrait. If it’s a beautiful plant or animal, I want to transmute it into a work of art. For me, that’s where musicals come from.

    This last part is so important. It’s why I create. If people are going through life without creating anything, I honestly don’t know how they manage. I create because there is so much beauty in the world to encounter, and I don’t know any other way to let it pass through me. The input has to become output or else the whole works will break down.

    People need to be producers of art at least as much as they need to be consumers of art. It’s how we handle our encounters with beauty.

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