Monday, January 5, 2009

Lessons from Things

"In every period, every century, there is one art form or another that is able to combine simple affirmation of physical pleasure with a quality of plaintive longing, and this becomes the international art form of the time. Living abroad convinces you that just as French painting was the event of the nineteenth century and Italian painting of the fifteenth--the one universal language--American popular music is the cultural event of our time. It is the one common language, the source of the deepest emotions and the most ordinary ones too. The taxi driver hums the riff from 'Hotel California,' and the singer Johnny Hallyday, simply by impersonating Elvis, in some decent sense inhabits Elvis. Every epoch has an art form into which all the energies and faiths and beliefs and creative unselfconsciousness flows. What makes them matter is their ability not to be big but to be small meaningfully, to be little largely, to be grandly, or intensely, diminutive."

-- Adam Gopnik, "Lessons from Things" in Paris to the Moon

1 comment:

elisabeth workman said...

"intensely diminutive"

this is resonating for me right now in the way that couplets can be intensely diminutive.