Why does no one enjoy the arts?

I am watching The Red Shoes. I am quite drunk, because today I got my bonus numbers, my sister is starting a new job on Monday, and Tesco’s was selling Lanson Rose at half price. Originally I was planning to open the second bottle in about half an hour, but then my sister went off to her boyfriend’s, and so now I am a bit drunk, can’t drink on my own and have eaten all the sausages.

Until twenty minutes ago I was discussing with her how much art matters to us, and how mystifying it is to us that not everyone thinks it matters. Olga said that she had some

Rupert Pennefather and Alina Cojocaru in the D...
Image via Wikipedia

theory about what everyone wants from life. They want love, money, youth and time, but most of those are mutually exclusive. Right now, the only thing I arguably have is money, and even then I actually only have debt. I don’t feel particularly deprived of anything though, since I have at some point in my life had and enjoyed those things very much.

I live for those moments of beauty in art, most of which I associate with music, but I suppose ballet is something that quantifies unattainable perfection for me. The extension of their limbs, the flexibility, the absolutely indescribable difference between one dancer and another that I have far too little knowledge to qualify. All I ever know is that sometimes I am transported to somewhere that doesn’t involve thinking about anything at all, and sometimes I am a little bored.  When I am watching the ones that are so very good, watching Alina Cojocaru in La Sylphide, or the ugly red-headed guy (who I think might be called Rupert Pennefeather) doing interesting things with his torso, I’m so touched, so emotionally absorbed in a physical story I will never be part of.  The Rubies part of Jewels is another brilliant moment, although rather the opposite of those ephemeral romantic characters. Chroma was too visceral to be aesthetically pleasing. One of the best I have seen was Macmillan’s Requiem, which they hardly ever seem to perform. It’s not always the big names that are the most interesting, either – a few years ago there was a girl called Yuhui Choe, who only ever seemed to be one of the fairy quartet in the Sleeping Beauty, but she was always more eye catching than most of the principals on stage. I don’t know what happened to her, she never seeemed to progress.

I find it mystifying, that people don’t view art as valuable, or even in fact view it as worth knowing. I could talk at length about what music makes me feel, how much St Matthew’s Passion recalls for me some moments of family harmony that I can never retrieve any other way. Or walking through the Prado in Madrid, and seeing the El Grecos, and being once again awestruck at the colours and the brushstrokes and the  life within the figures of Christ. I sat in front of them and was once again taken away, thinking about nothing at all, happy to be alive to absorb such beauty. The friend I was with wandered in and found me, and tactfully asked how much longer I thought I might be, since everyone was waiting outside and wanted to go shopping. They went to the Prado for 10 minutes before they got “bored”, and I can’t understand that. It is packed with every kind of artist that anyone could possibly like – Hieronymus Bosch, Bruegel, Duerer, Kandinsky, all the Goyas of course, Titian, Tiepolo. From each of them,it’s not some obscure piece that looks as if it was painted after a bit too much opium of a Saturday evening, but the really famous, impressive masterpieces – all the self portraits, still lifes, religious subjects, big narrative panels (they probably have a more specific name), triptychs and nudes you could ever want to see.

All my life I have seen these things, or been taken as a child to absorb these things of beauty, and I suppose part of me always believed that one day I would create something lasting like that, that I would become a musician, or a dancer, artist, singer or writer; instead I sit in Canary Wharf, admittedly writing all day long, but I am mostly writing commercial proposals, or functional diagrams, or some sort of tedious specification of stock exchange trading instructions. But it is objectively a good job, and I have no real alternative to earning the money I have got so lazily accustomed to. So I never will write that seminal novel that is the answer to everything, and I never will captivate anyone with Paganini’s scherzos, and I may well never even have children, which seems to be most people’s fallback option to the horrible fear of their life being meaningless. Children provide a  reason to strive in these dull jobs for.

I just work because I hate having nothing to do. All very Schopenhauer.

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