Monday, 27 December 2010

EYES, OLD AND NEW

It is a fine thing to view the world with the fresh eyes of a child.


Frankenthaler

The colors are brighter and motives are purer.


Olitski

No wonder Goethe's Faust was ready to trade his soul to recover his lost innocence:
Give me back youth's golden prime
When my own spirit too was growing
When from my heart unbidden rhymes
Gushed forth, a fount forever flowing;
The world was shrouded in a haze
The bud still promised wondrous powers
And I would cull a thousand flowers
With which all valleys were ablaze
Nothing I had, and yet profusion
The lust for truth, the pleasure in illusion.
Give back the passions unabated,
That deepest joy, alive with pain,
Love's power and the strength of hatred,
Give back my youth to me again.
But it is also a fine thing to view the world through the eyes of experience.


Raphael, the School of Athens

Experience enables us to get past the inanities of youth and start addressing the complexities of life. The world often loses charm in the process, but as James Gould Cozzens warned, it is foolish to try to hide in childish delusions too long:
Refusal to face the verities, though not without immediate satisfactions, carries penalties. There's a fool killer personifying the ancient principle, "Whom the gods would destroy..." in this world, and he has a list. And that's a good way to put yourself on it. Then the question is just one of time, of how soon he'll get around to you.
In the coming year we will receive many invitations to put aside wisdom so we can experience art through innocent eyes. This will always be a risky proposition as long as the fool killer walks, but sometimes surrendering our defenses is the only way to open ourselves to potentially worthwhile experiences.

Looking with new eyes as we travel familiar paths, we sometimes discover exits that our good taste previously prevented us from noticing. These exits may lead directly to the fool killer's prize flower garden, but they may also lead to discoveries of real value. Our challenge for 2011 will be to see with eyes both old and new.