Desert as Metaphor, pt. 2


(image via Wikipedia commons)

Speaking of ways to look at the desert: In this New Yorker profile, Joshua Rothman visits the Frick Museum in New York with writer Alain de Botton to talk about “art as therapy.” One passage gets at some of the things I was trying to say in my post from last week

It can be therapeutic to acknowledge “the ugly, the complicated,” or to be reminded of one’s neglected, inner possibilities. Contemplating Bellini’s “St. Francis in the Desert,” what struck de Botton wasn’t Francis’s story, per se, but Bellini’s attention to detail—a dirty hare amongst the rocks, a perfect little town in the distance, the Saint’s toes. “This picture can make us feel guilty, and a bit sad, about how we’ve neglected close observation,” he said. “We rush through experience. We’re on our phones. But that’s also why it’s moving. My theory is that many of the things that move us are things we long for but find hard to do.” (In a video from 2010, the Frick’s former curator, Colin Bailey, offered an alternate, but still de Bottonian, reaction: “The picture gives us comfort because it seems so restful, so joyous, so joyful.”)

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