Saturday, January 23, 2010
"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches on the soul."
It's a pity, it is, that my blogging seems to have come to mere mentions of products or services I find online. The internet is not a little like having the world at one's fingertips, the universe at one's beck and call. I rather expect I should be able to find anything if I look long enough. An hour should be plenty. And then sometimes I just go window-shopping, for nothing in particular. And that is when I chance upon such delights as the lovely lady on the card above. The words are Emily Dickinson's and the artwork by Yardia, a seller on Etsy.
I've wondered before why hope is so often compared with birds. Have you noticed the recurring metaphor? I'd like to keep a catalogue of the allusions. Both Emilys, Bronte and Dickinson, use this metaphor. I like it. I think there must be something fragile in them both, a tenuousness the virtue and the creature share.
Perhaps I shouldn't say it, but my own hope is rather tenuous at the moment, as if the little bird had been fed on too few crumbs lately. I feed instead its seeming nemesis, despair, with writers such as Anton Chekhov. He writes about people who lead unhappy, unfulfilled lives. Something in these stories appeal to me. Perhaps the cynic in me distrusts happiness as anything more than mere illusion. Perhaps I take comfort in reading of others who have more reason than I do to be unhappy. No, my troubles are but small in comparison. And happiness, like hope, however tenuous, is real. Some readers would find the stories, particularly their oblique endings, vastly unfulfilling and even depressing. I find them beautiful, but the beauty hurts.
I remember one of my professors lecturing on the aesthetics of art and literature. The perfect aesthetic is found in the tension just short of attainment. Recall Michaelangelo's painting of God and Adam on the Sistine chapel ceiling. God is reaching down and Adam is reaching up, but their fingers do not meet. True art is just that tenuous. And so is life. The little bird tells us to hope in the face of unhappiness, hope when despair would come more naturally. Hope. And then she flits away.