A Bit Of Wilde – 2

Oscar Wilde held firmly to the “Artist’s View” of life. Just a word about this view. You don’t have to be an artist to follow it. It’s simply a way of perceiving and seeing the world around you. It doesn’t deal in condemnations and exclusions. It’s far more reasonable, more universal and finely perceptive. It perceives the world to be charged with beauty even in the most ugly of places and will always pursue and create beauty in whatever form that may be.

Wilde made an interesting comment. He said that the recognition of beauty came before ethics and that a person who really perceived beauty would automatically be an ethical person. In other words you can’t experience beauty without it invoking goodness within – food for thought if you feel like going there a bit.

Some things he said:

Beauty has many meanings as man has moods.

Devotion to beauty and to the creation of beautiful things is the test of all great civilized nations.

Philosophies fall away like sand, and creeds follow one another like the withered leaves of Autumn; but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons and a possession for all eternity.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in A Bit of Wilde, Art, Beauty, inspiration, Life, wisdom and insight and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to A Bit Of Wilde – 2

  1. Thankyou Don, wonderful quotes of truth into Oscar’s understanding of how our perception of life can change when we see the world through different eyes. Beauty, once felt and appreciated, can be seen in every situation. Love his way of thinking.
    Karen

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  2. Darrel H says:

    I wonder the ethics of people who so freely or easily litter. That grates me so much!!

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    • Don says:

      That’s a relevant point Darrel. When people don’t think aesthetically it does have a profound effect on their care for their surroundings. But here we also come up against Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, especially in our experience here in Africa. Thanks again Darrel

      Liked by 1 person

  3. megdekorne says:

    Thankyou again Don …your writing is always beautiful ( my favorite word ) … Xx

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  4. I think when we see the beauty in even the darkest moments, we are truly artists in our lives and the world around us. And the world needs more artists!

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  5. Love this Don and I do look for beauty and goodness in everything. I may not draw or paint, but maybe I have the soul of an artist!
    Diana xo

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    • Don says:

      That’s precisely it Diana. You’ve hit the nail right on the head and I certainly experience you as someone with the soul of an artist. It’s in your writing and the things you express. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. davecenker says:

    So glad you are back online and providing these thought-provoking revelations to your readers Don 😉 I really like the first quote – beauty has many meanings as man has moods. This quote in itself is beautiful and therefore, has man meanings depending upon when you read it and what type of mood you are in. Thanks for sharing and best wishes for an inspired day!

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  7. nrhatch says:

    This post on Oscar Wilde might interest you. The first paragraph:

    Oscar Wilde prefaces his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, with a reflection on art, the artist, and the utility of both. After careful scrutiny, he concludes: “All art is quite useless” (Wilde 4). In this one sentence, Wilde encapsulates the complete principles of the Aesthetic Movement popular in Victorian England. That is to say, real art takes no part in molding the social or moral identities of society, nor should it. Art should be beautiful and pleasure its observer, but to imply further-reaching influence would be a mistake.

    http://www.bu.edu/writingprogram/journal/past-issues/issue-1/duggan/

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    • Don says:

      I find those words absolutely fascinating Nancy. What is even more fascinating is how the painting in the novel has this profound effect on Dorian Gray. He becomes obsessed with it and locks it away and yet it maintains its hold over him. He alone has the key to it. The change in the portrait also invokes the change in his behaviour ending up, as you know, in a terrible tragedy. So the whole novel seems to go contrary to the words in the prefaces. He was a paradoxical kind of person and would also simply disagree with things he said in order to invoke conversation. This is why I find him to be such an enigma. I don’t think he really believed that art could be so impartial. Thanks for the link Nancy and your marvellous comment. 🙂

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    • Don says:

      Hi Nancy. Just another example of his paradoxical stance.

      “Art is not something which you can take or leave. It is a necessity of human life.” Then elsewhere: “All art is quite useless.”

      One has to be constantly aware of the contexts of his little epigrams to kind of make sense of them. They can be so opposing at times. I always get the feeling with Oscar Wilde that people must have said to him on numerous occasions, “But a little while ago you said… now you’re saying…which is it?” And I think he would just look at them and smile. 🙂

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      • nrhatch says:

        Perhaps he believed, as I do, that consistency is consistently over-rated. 😛

        Consistency makes us predictable. That can be a great help to others in anticipating our acts and reactions. Consistency may give us a sense of control because we know that we didn’t care for green eggs and ham yesterday and probably won’t like them any better today.

        Also consistency makes us feel “right.” As if we’ve figured out the answers and need not ponder the questions any longer.

        So when someone accuses me of being inconsistent, I give them my best Mona Lisa S~M~I~L~E.

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      • Don says:

        I go with that Nancy. Such a good take and different perspective on consistency. As you say, to be called inconsistent can be a real compliment. 🙂

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  8. Susan Feniak says:

    Wonderful words, and food for thought, Don. Thank you for sharing. I am appreciating the words and wisdom of Oscar Wilde more and more with each of your posts.

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  9. Hariod Brawn says:

    I am unsure of Wilde’s reasoning as regards the connection between beauty and ethics Don. Perhaps it stands up on a momentary basis; that is to say, when one perceives beauty then at this time the mind is suffused with a tone that precludes unethical action. Looked at over a broader timescale though, we might consider, say, the allegedly anti-Semitic German composers of the past, such as Wagner, Strauss (who wrote a modernist opera based on Wilde’s play Salomé by the way) and Bruckner. And yet as the wonderful Leonard Bernstein had to admit: “I hate Wagner, but I hate him on my knees.”

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    • Don says:

      Thank you for that Hariod. I agree with you. There are real difficulties in the relationship between Beauty and Ethics and the influence Beauty has over Ethics.. The example you give of the allegedly anti-Semitic German composers is such a good one, by the way, just love those words of Leonard Bernstein. I haven’t heard them before. What is interesting is that Wilde’s passion for beauty had absolutely no effect on his rugged individualism. The collective for him was seen to be an obstacle to what he called his life’s purpose, “The dramatization of Oscar Wilde.” He had very little feeling for the poor and displayed a selfishness which at times was quite immoral, although he would hate me using that word. The common weal was certainly not his forte. So the influence of Beauty on ethics, certainly in Wilde’s life tended to be problematic. Thanks again for a great comment, Hariod.

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  10. Val Boyko says:

    I love how you and Oscar open up thinking and look at different perspectives. There are many interpretations of what beauty is as well as civilization…. We all have our judgments and beliefs that guide our thinking about the world and how we relate to it.
    Maybe its the feeling that is evoked within Oscar when he sees aesthetic beauty that is what matters. A lightness of being or appreciation for life within the darkness. The words are only guide posts to what the feeling is that lies beyond them.
    Val x

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    • Don says:

      I agree with you Val. Our experiences of beauty are coloured by our own experiences and perceptions, and words certainly struggle to capture what we actually see and feel when it comes to beauty.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. ptero9 says:

    In a world where ugliness is everywhere to be seen, the presence of beauty is a healing gift.

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  12. Thank you Don! Oscar Wilde got me through some crazzzzzyy teenage days. I was obsessed with Picture of Dorian Gray and read it over and over.

    “You can’t experience beauty without it invoking goodness within,”

    I think you could also slightly alter this quote to say “You can’t experience beauty without it invoking the Goddess within.”

    It is in touching beauty, whether in lightness or heartbreak that I always feel the deep feminine energy of the Goddess working through this world, especially in Nature.

    It also reminds me of James Hillman’s idea that we as humans feed on beauty and need it to survive. I suppose this ties into Wilde’s comment about ethics. If we are nourished by beauty, perhaps the Soul is not so hungry for destruction in place of it.

    Thanks for the food for thought,
    Amanda

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    • Don says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment Amanda. I warm to that phrase in your comment, “…we as humans feed on beauty and need it to survive.” I find it interesting that beauty is feminine for you. Do you ever see it as being masculine? The reason I ask is because there are times when I experience certain landscapes as feminine, while others have a masculine expression for me. However in both I experience beauty. Would be interested to know how you feel about this. Thank you for sharing Amanda.

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      • I totally agree some landscapes are masculine. I remember when I lived in Kenya, I thought my first steps onto the land were entirely feminine, a real connection to the womb of the earth, but upon traversing the Maasai Mara, I felt a strong connection to the masculine physicality of the land. This image I photographed feels particularly masculine to me, perhaps because I often address Mother Earth and Father Sky in my outdoor prayers….

        Masculine: http://dreamrly.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/screen-shot-2014-07-17-at-10-33-41-pm.png?w=610&h=400

        When I was on assignment in Alaska, I felt the land there was often hyper-sexual and sensual in my perception of it, particularly the elements of water. I included a link to an image below I took that feels particularly feminine. Perhaps it is my tendency to assign gender to the elements? Who knows. I would love to hear your perspective on this as well…. Thanks so much for the stimulating conversation!

        Feminine: http://cache.krop.com/wilder-5150e6ca135428a.jpg

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      • Don says:

        Thanks Amanda. Yes, I always find myself assigning gender to landscape as well. It’s not the only way in which I experience landscape but it forms an essential part of my experience. Whenever I travel up to Johannesburg I go through an area which for me is profoundly feminine and nurturing, but also very erotic in places. Perceptions are striking. I say this because in looking at your two wonderful images I experience them in the exact opposite way. What you see as masculine I see as feminine and the other way around. Interesting hey?

        Great chatting Amanda. Thank you.

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  13. ladyfi says:

    You can’t see beauty without ethics – that is certainly an interesting comment.

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  14. Don, of course Oscar Wilde is one of my favorites, and I know that if he could see what beauty you give us, he would believe in your creative spirit as much as I do.
    I am thankful for you on this Thanksgiving morning at Casa de Canterbury.
    Sheila

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  15. Beautiful, profound post, Don.
    One of my college art professors kept the big art room walls covered with two things: examples of students’ art projects, and framed calligraphy of Wilde’s quotes. It was a wonderful art room to work in.

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    • Don says:

      Sounds like quite a place Marylin. I often wonder how little places like these in our personal stories have unconsciously shaped us. I think we would be surprised if we could actually see the influence they had over us.:-)

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  16. Robert says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with you view Don and that the perception of beauty is subjective. Thank you for this post it helped me to release some of the tension I’m experiencing at the moment.

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