Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Water, Clouds And The Alchemy Of People

Woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
— Ophelia

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go. — Claudius

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

In Monet’s seascapes we often find waves
crashing against rocks. Crashing against rocks.

Pissarro’s landscapes often feature clouds
floating above fields. Floating above fields.

Cézanne seldom paints water as changing.
Cézanne seldom paints clouds as unchanging.

And Cézanne paints people, too, the same way
he doesn’t paint water, doesn’t paint clouds.

Cézanne looks through the so-called impression.
Cézanne looks past transitory effects.
Cézanne looks beyond the fleeting moment.

Cézanne looks for more. Structure that persists.
Something that earlier generations
may have spoken of saying eternal.

It’s tempting to think such things don’t exist.
It’s tempting to think of such thoughts only
as the romantic day-dreams of lost times.

We see photographs of waves. They do break.
We see clouds moving slowly. They are forms.

But then we see a Cézanne painting and
we understand that behind the changing
is something more. Structure that does persist.
In the landscapes around us. And in us.

It’s there even if we pretend it’s not.

It’s tempting to think. It’s good to think more.

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