Chiselling Your Statue

z portrait of me

Leaning Forward to a New Year

And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet,

act as the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful:

he cuts away here, he smooths there,

he makes his line lighter, the other purer,

until a lovely face has grown upon his work.

So do you also:

cut away all that is excessive,

straighten all that is crooked,

bring light to all that is overcast,

labor to make all one glow of beauty

and never cease chiselling your statue,

until there shall shine out on you from it

the godlike splendor of virtue,

until you shall see the perfect goodness

surely established in the stainless shrine.

Plotinus, Ennead I

The New Year is about fourteen hours away as I sit and think over what I want to send out to my readers. The Christmas holiday was just as warm as the unseasonable St. Louis temperatures as I enjoyed the annual gathering of our family members from far and wide. Now I find myself planted in temperate Texas, leaning toward 2020 with its inviting possibilities.

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Two fresh starts of steam locomotive watercolors

I open the New Year, not only with new beginnings of paintings, but fresh reading and musings over the subject of beauty. Not having majored in philosophy, I always sensed my eyes glazing over when philosophy majors discussed theories of aesthetics. I suppose I am still the late bloomer. I loved making art since childhood, and in graduate years loved the study of ideas, but never really pondered theories of beauty while studying and teaching art history. Only recently have I ventured into this area of thinking.

Over Christmas break, I opened a Greek text on Plotinus I ordered recently and began translating some of the key ideas he recorded about beauty. I posted the one above, because I love how the writer challenges the artist to refine his/her own character as a prerequisite to understanding beauty in art. And as I lean into the New Year, and write resolutions, I now focus on cleaning, refining, editing, polishing and improving features in my art as well as my life.

A trip to the local public library placed in my hands Kant’s The Critique of Judgement. I never opened this volume before, and never had any inclination to do so until the day after Christmas when I picked up from a used bookstore a copy of Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man In A Series of Letters. Opening this volume in the store, I was immediately grasped by the passion of this young man’s writing (he was thirty-three when he began the letters), and as I looked into his ten-year correspondence with Goethe on this subject, I knew I was hooked. For nearly a week now, I have been immersed in this collection of twenty-seven letters written to a young prince. Kant’s book had just been published three years before these letters, and Kant’s aesthetics poured the foundation for Schiller’s own theory on beauty. So I am now juggling my time between both these books while still translating from Plotinus. I see now why it is a good thing that I don’t have a teaching contract for the spring semester; I won’t be interrupted by school tasks as I sort out these fresh ideas.

Among my many resolutions, I plan to pour more energy into my new website (www.davidtrippart.com), and be more faithful to this blog.

Thanks for reading, Happy New Year, and don’t cease chiselling your statue.

Shultz reducedI make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

z portrait of me

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One Response to “Chiselling Your Statue”

  1. Dian Darr Says:

    Wonderful! Glad you had a warm, loving Christmas. Looking forward to sharing 2020 with you and Sandi. Let’s create more incredible adventures! Love to both of you!

    Like

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