Is amazement now boring? This was a thought I had the other evening as I was looking at a series of paintings by a Los Angeles artist at a site called Art-Walk. Her work, and the paintings of several others, had a quality that was mind-blowing as we used to say. The pieces revealed talent and that felicitous ethereal quality of “how did she do that.”
As one surf's the web one soon discovers that there is not just one or two amazing things going on, but with little effort you can become impaled by so many varieties of astonishing wonder that one's mind is benumbed by it all. What's going on here?
I am reminded of the special effects in the film King Kong which were truly spectacular. The brontosaurus run down the path and later the fight between Kong and the tyrannosauruses... they were wow-level sequences, but my emotions became disengaged and these particular scenes as they went on and on and on became tiresome. "Just get on with the story," I wanted to say.
And maybe that's the issue with all this spectacle which we see in every direction. It makes for fascinating distractions but, sooner or later, to become meaningful it has to intersect with the story of our lives somehow.
Some people who enjoy and collect art do so not simply because they like a piece but because they like the artist whom they have gotten to know a little but through his or her work. The artist is a person and through his work connects to persons. The artist has a story, and his pictures have stories behind them as well. The why, the how, and even they when and where are all part of it.
One thing about art, as well as the natural beauty of the galaxies and the creation -- whether Bryce Canyon or a California coastline -- is that it invites engagement. And maybe it is in this engagement, of slowing down and opening up to it, that we appreciate its deeper beauty, and the greater depths of the artist as well.
In short, when amazing becomes a yawn, it may say more about us than about the amazing. Slow down, let go, and dare to be amazed.