Tuesday, July 14, 2009


terribilitá - an untranslatable word meaning something like "awesome mightiness"

This was a favorite part of my weekly readings for my classes. Awesome mightiness. I wish we had a word for that. Art critics called Michelangelo's Sculptures terribilitá, as he matured into the sculptor who freed his pieces from their dungeons of Carrara marble. I supposed if he lived today, his art would be described by words like "bomb", or "cool", or "groovy", or perhaps, yes, even "awesomely mighty". But in seriousness, I cannot think of any word or groups of words that could describe such works so well:
I do, most certainly, take such works of art for granted. He must have really cared about this piece to sculpt it so meticulously and careful. It suppose it goes back to the discussion of looking at a chair and not simply seeing a chair, but seeing form and color, and components. When he looked at stone or marble, I assume he rarely saw mere marble. He saw whatever raptured him. He saw what COULD be. In a slab of marble, he saw Mary gently steadying the crucified LORD on her lap, in a moment of despair. He captures a moment of history in his imagination, and puts it into the imaginations of all who witness it.

It really reminds me of a scene in Saturday's Warrior. (How about this for an allusion). Remember when the young sketch artist, the one who sings "Circle of Love" with that girl in the Pre-Earth life, meets Jimmy in the park and sketches him from afar? He tells him that he doesn't draw people the way they ARE, but rather, the way they could BE. He then jumps into 5 minutes of "Where's my cause that I would Die for?" and later begins taking the discussions, ultimately leading to his once again singing "Circle of Love" with that one girl (what is her name?). That is the artist's insanity; to never be limited to reality, but to always be trapped in imagination. 

On to a quote in the reading that angered me, somewhat. American Painter, Ben Shahn, said: 
"I have always believed that the character of a society is largely shaped and unified by its great creative works, that a society is molded upon its epics, and that it imagines in terms of its created things - its cathedrals, its works of art, its musical treasures, its literary and philosophical works." 

I love Henry David Thoreau, who once said something to this effect, "Every inspiration need not be scratched into existence through a poem for it to be worthwhile, but the impression it leaves upon my mind will linger forever in my soul."

For those of us who cannot and will not contribute to the greater part of american/world society because we will never create a great creative work, I choose not to believe that my society's (personal) character is shaped by what kind of building I study in, what kind of church I worship in, and what kind of paintings litter the covers of my text books. It rests in the individual. Art isn't an expression of society anymore, but it represent the thoughts and feelings of single individuals. We contribute daily with our lives. 

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