Strange Beauty…

Francis Bacon had my full attention this week. While researching ‘strange beauty’ the results included Damien Hirst, the other Francis Bacon, and a new textbook on ‘ecocritical approaches to early medieval landscape’ by Alfred K. Siewers. That is impressive; like Shakespeare, Bacon has a pervasive place in our vocabulary.  Although ‘strange beauty’ is not exactly what Bacon said, it may very well be what he meant. The turn of a phrase is a powerful thing; Bacon inspired me to evaluate how I am approaching my study goals associated with creative writing skills.

Does anyone enjoy creative writing besides me? I like to write prose but prefer to read poetry. Poetry is appealing to me because of the strangeness Bacon found in excellent beauty; but authors like Austen, Fielding, Woolf, Joyce and Lessing are no less figurative than Chaucer, Yeats or Cummings or Pound. This is quite an insight. It is prompting me to think about how I approach creative projects, read and study.

Reading, studying and writing – that is how my day is shaped professionally, academically and personally.  Creative goals can be elusive because of time and the difficulty of turning an impression into a tangible thing. Visual art is easier for me but breaching the separation from representational to conceptual is always a challenge. It is a pleasant challenge but a challenge none the less.

What makes this so challenging is very interesting. Lady Antonia Frasier once said any name in the telephone directory would produce a fascinating biography, but she could not get an advance for writing it. I know many people with absolutely riveting lives whose stories I would like to tell. The chronology of their experiences is not what is interesting; reporting a timeline does not do any justice to the emotional, physical and social dynamics of their remarkable human experiences.

Considering human experience and the stories told about it is quite an education and maturing process. In ‘Tuesday Women’ Rushdie packs several worlds into 6 pages. The point of the story has nothing to do with the events chronicled on the pages; it tells a marvelous, unforgettable story with absolutely no concern for chronology of events and linear time. Storytelling is a form of rhetoric; it is a kind of persuasion and as such requires intelligence, effort and respect for its effect. One of the things I most enjoy about great writing is how an author like Rushdie coaxes me along then hands me my head along with the point at the end of the story. It is a really brilliant thing to do; I started to consider why storytelling is so powerful and effecting.  While reading it is quite fun to spot the devices making this kind of experience possible.

According to Anna Calvi raw emotion makes this possible, from the artist’s point of view at least. She wants her voice to have the same frightening emotion and strange beauty as Maria Callas. Pursuing those emotional peaks can take you to some very creative places. While thinking about my creative projects this week I realized how incredibly emotional texts can be; and how my new reading skills are really the skills needed for writing and creative expression. ‘Knowledge is power’, Francis Bacon.

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