Every several years or so, perhaps every decade or so, a work of art captures my emotions and imagination, and sticks in my memory, even though it may be several years between viewings – assuming I ever see the original of the work at all. One such is Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party; another is Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox; another, Picasso’s Guernica; still another, Edouard Manet’s The Old Musician. I have never seen the originals of the Rembrandt and the Picasso. I know them only from reproductions. But they haunt me. I recently discovered another such image while visiting the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC: Patricia Cronin’s Memorial to a Marriage (hereafter Memorial ).
Memorial is a bronze sculpture, cast from a marble original, depicting two women lovers,
What follows is strictly and exclusively based on my experience and should in no way or to any extent whatsoever be interpreted as normative for others. I am speaking of and for myself here, no one else. Nor should anything I say be interpreted as a critique of Christianity, the tradition I was raised in and that I followed for about 55 of my 70 years. Whatever critique I have of Christianity is strictly and exclusively a critique of Christianity in relation to my thought, life, and experience, no one else’s. That said …
I am pretty sure I am in the process – it is a process – of becoming a practicing Buddhist. I have been flirting around the edges of Buddhism for some time, studying Buddhist texts, reading books by, e.g., Alan Watts, D. T. Suzuki, Thich Nhat Hanh, et al. And all t
Would someone please answer the following question for me: Why do Americans – actually, I think Westerners generally, but I will stick with Americans – believe art is something that must be approached so … well … seriously? With most art, most Americans seem to believe that, when looking at a painting or a piece of sculpture or seeing a play or listening to a piece of music, they are obligated, on pain of being branded as culture-phobic philistines, to wear a facial expression that announces to the world Pity me! I am dying of terminal hemorrhoids!
Well, before anyone makes any cracks about that remark, I will back up a step or two and say that, yes, to be sure, some works of art are explicitly intended to evoke play, laughter, and light-hearted dalliance. A good example is