Quotes from the summer reading list

"Why is Form beautiful? Because, I think, it helps us meet our worst fear, the suspicion that life may be chaos and that therefore our suffering is without meaning..."
"William Carlos Williams said that poets write for a single reason - to give witness to splendor (a word also used by Thomas Aquinas in defining the beautiful). It is a useful word, especially for a photographer, because it implies light - light of overwhelming intensity. The Form toward which art points is of an incontrovertible brilliance, but it is also far too intense to examine directly. We are compelled to understand Form by its fragmentary reflection in the daily objects around us; art will never fully define light."
(bold emphasis mine.)
Beauty in Photography

"Forget writing, it's a trivial matter. But day in day out, when the inarticulate patient struggles to lay himself bare for you, or with nothing more than a boil on his back is so caught off balance that he reveals some secret twist of a whole community's pathetic way of thought, a man is suddenly seized again with a desire to speak of the underground stream which for a moment has come up just under the surface."
The Doctor Stories by William Carlos Williams

"As they continue to follow the path deeper into the woods, the mother keeps an eye on her daughter, but Josip is staring simultaneously inward and upward, and also connecting to the colors blazing all around him. 'We are so blind, so blind!' he groans, flailing his arms for emphasis, his face flushing, his voice intense with the excitement of this new discovery. 'It's as if heaven is raining miracles upon us, but we cannot see because we do not look. It's as if fabulous birds fall unceasingly from the skies!'

'Peacocks and ostriches?' she laughs.

'No, no, I mean fabulous because they exist - fabulous birds are ---'

At the very moment when he flings out his right arm and says fabulous birds, a flash of blue catches his eye at the end of his hand. Halting abruptly, he gazes along his arm, off the springboard of his hand, and sees the stroke of blue lying in a pile of red leaves. He drops his arms and goes to it, kneeling down to find out what it is. It's a bird. A very little bird that is unfamiliar to him. Miriam kneels beside him as he picks it up in his hand and lets it rest there, as if it were sleeping. It is warm, it has died only a moment before.

'An Indigo Bunting', whispers Miriam. 'I've never seen one before, never this close, I mean.'

...The bird's apparently insignificant form is so elegant, so perfectly shaped for the wind, its form and function so integrated, that the genius of whoever sculpted it is beyond question. Moreover, its feathers are a rare kind of iridescent blue, falling from the turquoise of the head to the dark indigo tail in a perfect gradation through that part of the spectrum, without any discernible transition zones of shade or tone.

'Who designed this little masterpiece?' says Miriam shaking her head in wonder.

Josep lays its body on the ground and covers it with leaves.

'And so death entered the world', Miriam whispers. They walk on, and for a while can say nothing.

Island of the World by Michael O'Brien


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