Thursday, October 01, 2009

Wildely Artistic

I need a break from politics.

Today’s big story is that one side of Washington believes that they are the only ones who should be allowed to claim the other side wants people to die as part of their health care system and liken it to Nazi Germany.

Meanwhile the other side is all hot and bothered because they claim they called dibs on those tactics, and are threatening to sue for copyright infringement unless they get an apology.

So I leave them behind, and think instead on Wilde.

This month is October, which means Halloween, which means book club is reading something creepy.

In this case, Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.

A man trades his soul for youth – a nice companion to prior years DOCTOR FAUSTUS (soul for knowledge) and DRACULA (soul for eternal life).

I’m just getting into the book, but wanted to share a bit of Oscar’s preface (written as a target to critics who might over think his message).

The preface is a series of short statements about art. Here are just a few that caught my attention:

“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.”

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.”

“No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.”

“All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.”

“It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”

So – if anyone wants to clue me in to what he means by “Even things that are true can be proved” I would appreciate it. I have my own theories, but will bow to wiser minds.

I’ll be stealing the “To reveal art…” line in my teaching. I’ve always been a big believer that the best story telling is when the writer gets out of the way.

I also admire Wilde’s wit (who doesn’t, really?) – with the notion that the real sin isn’t corruption, but being corrupt without even bothering to be charming. Hee hee hee…

Just my thoughts,

Sean

2 comments:

David Goulet said...

“Even things that are true can be proved”?

Has to be a typo. Either it's "“Even things that AREN'T true can be proved”

or “Even things that are true CAN'T be proved”.

Or it's deliberately vague to mess with our heads. Wilde would enjoy that.

What's your theory?

Mark said...

Perhaps Wilde's point is that we usually spend our time proving that which is not true?