Friday, August 24, 2007

beauty or something like it

I'm listening/watching Leonard Bernstein deliver a lecture about "The Poetry of the Earth" in 1992. I picked it up at the library (VHS tape!) to learn something about poetry. And I have. I've also learned something about music and trends across artistic endeavors.

Bernstein breaks down and analyzes the combinations of phrases that make up a composition. Finally, after about 45 minutes, he talked about poetry in relation to music which actually was quite enlightening but also raised my hackles against formula. By breaking down how music and poetry are put together, he constructs a formula for what is appealing or beautiful.

It's okay that formulas are found and used. It's not okay when the formulas become standards—when only creative works that fit the formula are right, okay, acceptable or beautiful. It's interesting to discover how my experience of beauty breaks down and knowing that might even help me find other beautiful things to enjoy. That knowledge also tends to make a box that I then, somehow, feel compelled to live in.

I now recognize that sometimes I search for understanding so that I can have a short cut to creativity. I take the short cut at the risk of losing my own sense of beauty and limiting my creative flow. There is no easy way to manifest art. There's no one right way. Creating is an experience. Experiencing beauty is a subjective act—not something someone can tell you how to do. Nor can someone else tell you what is beautiful.

Beauty, like Truth, may not exist or, if it does, has a purpose that has nothing to do with yardsticks.

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