On the Nature of Beauty and Life

As an avid reader, I am often inspired to emulate – to the best of my meager ability – the entrancing literature I encounter. I feel that this is a natural inclination: how often have you seen a phenomenally talented athlete performing at the highest level and said, “I wish I could do that”? There is an important difference between athletes and writers though: an athlete is the product of innate talent and hard work, capable of feats of physicality of which we mortals can only dream; a writer is the product of inspiration and hard work. It can be said that a writer can compensate a lack of the former with an abundance of the latter (or vice versa). Thus the Horatio Alger myth persists when it comes to writing, that is, if I (the writer) work hard enough, I can someday achieve the art of Keats, Wordsworth, or Coleridge. But this is a false hope. The greatest of writers write with both inspiration and hard work. Thus, I am disheartened when I, eager to achieve, look to the real world for inspiration. It seems that the world I live in is irreconcilable with the one presented in literature:

There are no St. Georges defending ladies in distress.

There are no Ophelias taking her life into her own hands.

There are no Antigones who die righteously.

There are no Humbert Humberts who expose us to such depravity so artfully.

To put it bluntly: the entire breadth of the human experience appears to be nothing more than a watered-down version of what is seen in literature. The people I encounter on a quotidian basis lead base and petty lives; only concerned with the banal mechanics of existence. It saddens me that my only encounters with the boundless possibilities of human existence are limited to books. This incongruence of beauty, from literature to real life, is made even more startling when I see the lives of those around me.

“But if the world is so muted, why don’t you try to improve it?”

A valid question but one that ultimately misunderstands my position. I am not a “mover” or a “shaker”. I am an observer by nature. My greatest asset is my ability to see the world around me and accurately assess it. I am a ceaseless critic, and I hope to never stop.


~ by Verse on November 9, 2009.

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