“Now the drawings you make from us, they look exactly like us,” she remindedThe Real Thing by Henry James
me, smiling in triumph; and I recognised that this was indeed just their defect. When I drew the Monarchs I couldn’t, somehow, get away from them—get into the character I wanted to represent; and I had not the least desire my model should be discoverable in my picture. Miss Churm never was, and Mrs. Monarch thought I hid her, very properly, because she was vulgar; whereas if she was lost it was only as the dead who go to heaven are lost—in the gain of an angel the more.
They had accepted their failure, but they couldn’t accept their fate. They had bowed their heads in bewilderment to the perverse and cruel law in virtue of which the real thing could be so much less precious than the unreal …The Real Thing by Henry James
There’s a lot of things going on in The Real Thing. One conclusion I draw is that the artist is concerned not with depicting reality, but subverting reality. In other words, art is the bending of reality in some imaginative form envisioned by the artist. Art is the crossroads of imagination and reality. Or, perhaps better, reality is the clay from which the artist molds his or her imaginative vision. Can we really imagine anything that is not rooted in reality? Reality and imagination are forever engaged in a dialectic dance within the artist’s mind.
What struck us down?
The blunted knives of miserable fortune?
Wounds unhealed freshly cut open?
Scabs savagely turned out by the blade?
But not love—
Certainly not love.
Away I turn to the holy, the unspeakable, the secretive Night. Down over there, far, lies the world—sunken in a deep vault—its place wasted and lonely. In the heart’s strings, deep sadness blows. In dewdrops I’ll sink and mix with the ashes.Hymns to the Night, Novalis
Word of the Week
Afflatus: (n.) : a divine imparting of knowledge or power : supernatural or overmastering impulse : INSPIRATION
I read the word afflatus in the The Real Thing by Henry James. It was in the last paragraph:
When all this hung before me the afflatus vanished—my pencil dropped from my hand. My sitting was spoiled and I got rid of my sitters, who were also evidently rather mystified and awestruck.