“Have you ever read a great novel, or listened to a great symphony, or stood in front of a great work of art, and felt–absolutely nothing? You try to open yourself to the text, the music, the painting, but you have no power to respond. Nothing moves you. You are turned to stone. You feel guilty. You blame yourself, but you also wonder if maybe there’s nothing there, and that people only pretend to enjoy…because they get good marks in Culture 101 for doing so.” —Robert Hellenga, The Sixteen Pleasures
Personally I had this experience a few years back in NY in a nice gallery in Soho. My friends were raving over these ridiculous sculptures that were so ugly I felt like vomiting. I was thinking: What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I see the beauty here? Am I the stupid one…or are they? I politely excused myself, caught a nice looking cup of coffee and met up with them later. They were still chatting about the artwork, and I came to realize: They were faking it! When I found this piece in the book The Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga (which should be on my favorite book list) I jotted it down, because it said exactly what I felt that day.
(By the way, this was not the gallery we were in: those two drab whores are not my friends, and I’m not the pudgy queen-want-a-be in the blue dress. Or am I?– Love those shoes!)