Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for June 23rd, 2013

“Look up!”

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The Delphic Sibyl by Michelangelo

You can go into the Sistine Chapel, and believer or nonbeliever, you get the picture. Michelangelo sees to that. And at some point, the place at which we all believe is illuminated and opened, in a genuinely breathtaking way.

Start with the fact that Michelangelo is very insistent that there’s only one direction you can look, which is up. You’ve spent your whole life looking at your feet, and now, guess what? Look up. That’s very beautiful. That sense of lifting people out of their usual sense of their own cosmos, into a higher vision of what’s going on up there, is an artist’s strategy.

You feel it physically, in the back of your neck, as you stand in the Sistine Chapel. It’s exhausting. You can’t look that way for a long period of time, and suddenly you realize how out of practice you are, in terms of living in that stratum of experience. It’s a strain…

As soon as you acknowledge that you may not be here five minutes from now, or five days from now, you ask yourself, “What is important to do?” Death is the best guarantee against wasting time.

Peter Sellars

Written by nevalalee

June 23, 2013 at 9:50 am

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