Monday, July 15, 2019
In a recent post called "Fireworks" I mentioned my wife and I watching a movie for the tenth time in our apartment aerie over the city as fireworks burst behind the screen. This could have been taken by a reader as a disparagement of watching the same movie over and over. This would not be the fault of the reader. Sometimes I leave the meaning of these things I write very... open. The downside of that is a lot of things can walk in through such a flung wide door. And sometimes they can fit, even if, as in this case, I don't want them to.
So I would like to take this opportunity to throw out this disparagement of repeated viewings. It is unwelcome. I believe art is at its most enjoyable and powerful when we are already acquainted with it. It is only by repeated exposure to myths and stories that their deeper meanings are revealed and can inform one's life. Also I find the tension of the evaluation and coming to terms with (slightly) new ideas, stories, images, and events to have a desultory effect on engagement.
I love engagement. I believe the real power of art, and even of entertainment, lies in its depths, in our deeper relationship to it, and even in its familiarity. On a simple level I can say things like Caravaggio's The Calling of St. Matthew, or The Godfather, or Moonstruck, or Ocean's Twelve, or Hat Full of Sky, or Blue are favorite works of art of mine. But each time I interact with any of them is different, and on another level it would be far more accurate to say the third time I read Hat Full of Sky is one of my favorite books ever, or the eleventh time I watched French Kiss is one of my favorite movies. The fifth time I walked into that Church of the French in Rome and saw The Calling of Saint Matthew hanging in the gloom is the moment where it was the greatest painting I ever saw.
There is very little that I have seen or read or heard just once that has full power in my soul.
All good things have depths.
We learn and grow by doing the same things over, being changed by them and changing them a little on our own.
Like with blog posts.
Though you might need to read this six or seven more times for it all to come sufficiently clear to you.