What was done to him was like what happens on the train, when you think you are moving forward, but are moving backward, and suddenly find out the real direction.
"Yes, it was all not right," he said to himself, "but never mind. I can, I can do 'right.' But what is 'right'?" he asked himself and suddenly grew still.
--from The Death of Ivan Ilyich
music, art. etc.
Sometimes I don’t know what to do with art and music. With music especially, I can feel very overwhelmed. Finding unity in the linearity is what troubles me, I think. It just goes too fast, each note gone right after the other, immediately. No time to reflect upon–and even if there was, well, that’s missing the point. The form is essential to the music’s content. I know other people don’t experience this sort of negativity. This makes me think that I lack some sort of tool by which I can feel as if I am grasping a piece of music or work of art. “Tool by which I can feel” sounds strange but it describes what I mean. I don’t lack the tool to grasp music, I think, but I lack the tool by which i can actually feel that I am. Not all the time, however. There are times I can have that oh so fleeting aesthetic experience and feel as if it were exactly what it was supposed to be. But most often, my desire to understand (in a logico-cognitive sort of way) makes me feel dissatisfied. Even raped. Or more mildly, like someone is trying to put one over me: like all art is a giant hoax that we pretend we have satisfying access to, but if we really get past how we think we are supposed to react to the art, we find ourselves flailing helplessly into an abyss.
I know this sounds pessimistic and probably incomprehensible. I don’t really know exactly what I mean, which is obvious. And this is coming after a very enjoyable weekend full of much art and much music!
I think I at least have an image that represents externally this feeling to me. Sitting in my apartment, in the early afternoon, I watch the shadows of leaves move across the colorful pictures on my walls. And I watch, but I don’t think. I just let myself perceive, but I don’t know what I’m doing when I do that, or what it does it me. It’s all beautiful, but I don’t know what to do with it.
Maybe that is the problem. Yes! I love ending on the nutshell:
What are we supposed to do with beauty?
(And don’t tell me “look at it,” “appreciate it,” because that’s obvious–the question is deeper. It’s more, “what are we appreciating (and why)?” and “how are we appreciating it?”)