Thursday, September 27, 2007

For What It's Worth.

"Because the world is so corrupted, misspoken, unstable, exaggerated and unfair, one should trust only what one can experience with one's own senses, and this makes the senses stronger in Italy than anywhere in Europe. This is why, Barzini says, Italians will tolerate hideously incompetent generals, presidents, tyrants, professors, bureaucrats, journalists and captains of industry, but will never tolerate incompetent opera singers, conductors, ballerinas, courtesans, actors, film directors, cooks, tailors...In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted."
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

So I'm reading the book, and these few sentences give me pause. Perhaps it's the "trust" word.

From my earliest memory, there was chaos and suspicion in my life. One day, someone could be stalwart, benevolent, and solid as a rock. The next, that same person might violate me unspeakably. A tender, loving presence might burst into hysteria and anger.

And also, from my earliest memories, I was hungry for beauty...for an image, for a story, for a particular intensity in feeling that lifts me from myself, makes me someone else, somewhere else.

Gilbert's ruminations on Italian sensuality, though, had nothing to do with me took some reflecting to figure out why I had to read it, and read it again, and read it even more. It's that idea, I guess, of how beauty and art can become so very important when everything else is so shaky...and also how we might come to accept the unacceptable when it's all we've known...and not only accept it, but expect it.

Because he's beautiful to me and because he shares my passion for art and creativity and beauty--because his aesthetics and mine line up so well--I tolerate lying, stealing, manipulation, and insecurity from my husband. Because the world is insecure, unstable, shifting and disconcerting, I look to beauty as the only thing that's true, as the most important thing. And because so many people have proven to be unreliable and unstable, I accept that kind of behavior from anyone.

So what does that mean, though? Is this an insight into something I need to fix? Is this an insight into something that's true, and it just is true, and that's enough? I keep having all these little epiphanies, but I'm never sure of what I'm supposed to do with them.


Wayward Son said...

Does this explain the Italy's susceptibility to facisim? It matters not. I think that where one finds beauty is where one finds truth. For some it may be the arts and for others it may be politics. For some it may be writing and others it may be teaching. And I am not sure what to look for first, beauty or truth. But I believe that wherever we find one we'll fine the other—at least our own personal truth and our own personal understanding beauty.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I have heard so much about this book, most of it positive. Clearly, I have to read it.

BTW, this page has lots of weird ads preying on codie women: How to Make Men Love You! I had to go check that out, and it was crazy ass stuff.

Mantramine said...

Wow, wayward. and JW.

You have both befuddled me now. I must go and think about this... said...

My brother just moved to Milan two days ago.... I hope to visit soon.

woman.anonymous7 said...

I'm learning a lot about boundaries right now, and that's what came up for me when I read this post. Boundaries give you choice, because when someone crosses a boundary the red flag goes up and you can choose whether or not to continue to allow the boundary to be crossed. No boundary, no flag. No flag, no moment of choice. And I think boundaries ground you, so that when you're lacking clarity in the moment, you have them to refer to. I think good boundaries are about preserving happiness, and if you are happy your boundaries are likely appropriate. But if you're not happy with something and wondering what to do, re-evaluating your boundaries (or the tolerated crossings) may provide an opening for getting un-stuck. (But please, no fixing! Ha!)

Namenlosen Trinker said...

"I keep having all these little epiphanies, but I'm never sure of what I'm supposed to do with them."

Why do you have to do anything with them? Just let them be.