A thing of Beauty

I attended an MFA creative writing program salon last night with my husband featuring author Manuel Muñoz and poet Richard Siken as discussion panelists. The topic was “The Beauty of the Sentence,” however there were many digressions outside of this, as one would expect with a loaded word like “beauty.”  It was fascinating (seems to be my word of the moment) to hear what one’s first thinks of as a visually-oriented concept being discussed by writers, coming from a completely different angle than the way I’m accustomed to discussing or touching upon such subjects with artist friends.

– There is no measurement or finite definition of “beauty.” There’s beautiful, ugly-beautiful, beautiful-ugly. Yet it’s more than just a matter of taste. The commonality between these two so-called extremes are something that excites and engages the mind and the heart.

– Presentation is the vehicle of beauty. How effectively it is transmitted from the mind/heart of the person making the work to depends on presentation. Presentation requires the creator to place themselves on the receiving end to determine how best to transmit the concept. There are some things you have to experience first hand to be felt as beautiful, other things you can be as, or even more gratifying as second hand experiences in writing, in photographic/video reproduction, etc.

– Responsiblity for beauty (inadvertently?) creates power structures: the beautiful thought itself as seen in the mind/heart of the creator, wanting to transmit that beauty to others in a representational manner. The receiver of that thought and their empathy with the creator, as well as their own interpretation of the representation. Being a presenter of beauty, such as a publisher, gallery, venue, production company, even a book reviewer, requires a higher level of responsibility. This, in turn, requires the presenter to hold the artist accountable for their work, the reasoning behind it, and in the presentation of it.

– What part of your body does your voice come from?

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