Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Final Solution: Self-Portrait

 Rembrandt Self-Portrait (1660), The Met
Everyone naturally wishes the current worldwide pandemic would be over with. You can probably imagine the daydreaming that must be going on about some future time of egress. When will you be able to see Rembrandt’s The Night Watch  at The Rijksmuseum, Velasquez’s Portrait of Innocent X at the Palazzo Doria Pamphili or Las Meninas at the Prado? The Louvre recently opened, but not to Americans who have been barred from entering the EU. One way to deal with the cataclysmic changes that have affected and will continue to affect humanity is to treat them like the grieving over a dead or lost lover who's not coming back. Some never get over such loses and go into a state of protracted mourning in which they simply refuse to live. Others have hope beyond hope and exist for a future which actually may never be. There's something almost enviable in seeing the lucky or unlucky few (depending on your view of delusion) who're constantly buoyed by their messianic views. Then there is the esthetic approach in which you undertake to look at life as material for a work of art that’s in the process of being created (remember Kierkegaard talked about the esthetic, moral and religious stages). Everything is grist for the mill, including suffering by virtue of sickness, isolation and death. It’s all a story and without the bump in the road, the tale would be less compelling. The satisfaction comes from getting it all down on canvas or paper, though the price to be paid is the one degree of separation that occurs both in good and bad times.

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