To immerse oneself in the splendor of a work of art is to give oneself over entirely to a vision of life that is thoroughly enriched with meaning. It is to transfigure the soul with beauty, with a kind of beauty that transcends space and time.
Within the world of a work of art, we experience the extraordinary pleasure of a transcendent experience, one that reveals the true kaleidoscopic nature of life and the tapestry of meaning beyond our comprehension.
Yet after the illumination has passed, after the frisson of aesthetic pleasure fades, how can we discern meaning from our ordinary existences? How does the revelatory compare to the quotidian? In the labyrinthine search for meaning that composes our existence, how do these transform us, awaken us unto ourselves, unfurl the vibrancy and dynamism of living?
These questions constantly comprise the tide of my consciousness. I am perpetually intrigued and enraptured by art; the love and creation of art is absolutely the cynosure of my being.
Art is especially rhapsodic for me because of how I perceive sound and color. For me, I experience them simultaneously. For someone with the type of synesthesia I have, when I hear music, I instantly perceive color. So when I hear an exquisite piece of music, like Mozart’s resplendent duettino, the “Canzonetta Sull’aria” from the opera Le Nozze di Figaro, I instantly perceive cerulean and gold. The prologue from Sleeping Beauty has a soft blush color. My favorite folk singer, Bedouine, has a voice that is wheat-brown, tawny and auburn. The theme of Swan Lake, which I saw with my girlfriend on Sunday, is melancholy, glimmering dark blue and teal.
Having sound and color inextricably intertwined makes experiencing them all the more astonishing. For me, experiencing works of art does not solely occupy a single moment in time; ordinary existence becomes suffused with the aesthetic. The lens through which I see the world is one marked by a sensitivity to art, as every moment may become enriched with aesthetic meaning. I cannot help but revere works of art as I do, because my perception leads me to beauty and my soul drinks from art’s wellspring of meaning.
What comes, then, from the experience of beautiful works of art is the condensation of meaning that the ordinary hues of living do not have. Works of art give dimension to life; they offer lenses unto reality that were previously inaccessible, like memories captured in shadow until a lilting breeze shifts the suspension of sunlight. They are the strains of music that suddenly recapture a long-forgotten moment of being.
We are given the treasure of living; we are not given the fulfillment of being nor the fullest expressions of meaning. We must discern from our lives the significances that entrance us. It is only in art and philosophy that we can possibly arrive at the revelations of being we find most crucial. Our most important task is transposing those glimpses given by art into our own fleeting lives, so that we may find meaning and not ennui.
When we truly experience a work of art, we find ourselves sublimely mortal. Nothing on earth can remind us that we are striving beings, starved for meaning, better than the infinitely beautiful work of art that soothes the soul’s parched lips. We may find meaning in the imperceptible recurrences of ordinary existence and consciousness because we look to works of art to articulate the silences that elapse between them that we cannot articulate ourselves.
In extraordinary works of art, we unfurl glimpses of meaning that give purpose to our ordinary existences; it is in art that we find the essence of humanity, in a language of resplendence.