This clip from the film American Beauty touches on some fundamental ideas about beauty.
One, we can find it, if we are open, in the most unexpected places.
Two, we need to be open, simple and vulnerable to see it. Beauty is a communion.
Three, the experience of beauty can connect us to the deepest aspects of being, of the divine. That connection is like a memory of something dear but lost in the hurly burly of life.
Four, contained in that experience is also the mystical perception that everything is just as it should be.
Five, the vulnerability is attractive. I don’t mean in a romantic sense but in the sense of community.
This little three-minute clip contains a lot. It takes the first thirty seconds to set the stage. Then tell me if you too don’t see a moment of real magic as a plastic bag floats and dances in the breeze.
6 thoughts on “The Most Beautiful Thing”
Ian: When I saw American Beauty years ago, this scene clearly did not make a lasting impression on me. Today … I simply sat here, when it was concluded, and starred at the frozen screen for ten minutes. Stunned. Yes, the bag seemed like a small child saying come dance with me. Or like an aged ballerina, after a lifetime of performance, embodies grace and beauty of expression as she gentlely floas and spins before us. ‘That was the day that I realized there was this entire life behind things … ”
Thank you for posting this. Jamie
Ian: Further to the above …. I’m just in from a few days canoe-tripping in Algonquin. Heading “north” there was this very strong feeling of transitioning to a very different place and time. The place was the wilderness and the time was a month ago. Toronto is now budding bright green. But there are still patches of snow in the Algonquin bush and ice on north faces of rocks. Only 250 km seperate the two, but they are a month apart. And the feeling out on the water, glideing along the shoreline or walking in the open bush was one of “returning”… and sensing that “while you were away” all this was here, silent and cycling and enduring. The wind in the tops of the white pines ran though a full octive from low murmurs to higher whooshes. When the wind finished and moved on it was still and silent deep in the woods — a quiet that was like a good friend who was happy to simply sit with you for a while.
And all of this has got me thinking. Perhaps we need to relocate, to move to a different place, a “different reality”, where we will be more open or vulnerable or perceptive to glimpsing or hearing that “entire life behind things”. It could be Algonquin. It could be Mozart. It could be Morandi.
Thanks again. Jamie
I was drawn to check out your website today, Ian, and lo and behold I see you are now a happily married man. At last complete fulfillment is yours with your lovely, talented lady love by your side. As in the story of the dancing cellophane bag all came in its own time; your day did indeed arrive, my friend……….it is clearly evident from your soulful writings.
And a bonus surprise to read Jamie’s twin narrative on his spiritual union with nature’s bounty. You two men are truly exceptional in the very best of ways.
I am doing well, still painting and bit by bit improving. I am going to Montorno, Italy for a few weeks for another painting workshop, this time with some artists from the Torpedo Factory in Old Town, Alexandria.
I subscribe to Francis’s newsletter and am kept up to date on all her shows. Have not heard from anyone else in our group to date, except for Parvaneh, Ginnie and Sally who live here in Virginia.
Your art and profound perceptions are always such an inspiration!
Great to hear from you Chris. I leave for Provence Tuesday, Jamie comes over a week later and the first group a couple of days after that. I am so looking forward to being back there. Anne comes over for a week between the workshops.
Enjoy Italy. Very best wishes, Ian
I stumbled onto your blog because on an art message board that I am a member of, someone asked for recommendations for books about composition. I recommended yours, then went to Google around to see if it was still available, and thus got to your website and from there to this blog. The web is a thing of beauty in itself, it seems.
Anyway, this scene from “American Beauty” is one of my all-time favourite film scenes, and absolutely mesmerizing. Thanks for reminding me. 🙂
thanks Brian. Best wishes, Ian.