Friday, December 18, 2009

Episode 452: The Necessity Of Beauty

I frittered away the day playing Granado Espada. I did, however, manage to finish reading Baricco's An Iliad, which I read because I'm a wimp and dare not read the original, even in translation. So yeah, I read an English translation of Baricco's reworking of an Italian translation of the Greek verse original. Come to think of it, that's actually along the lines of what we're studying in EN273. Baricco freely admits that he has had to condense the original, since his text was originally created to be read aloud. This is where it gets even more interesting. He's also added material, which is italicised to differentiate it from the Homeric elements, but which he views as being implicit in Homer's work. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the characters in The Iliad, which has the effect (for me at least) of personalising the Trojan War. Baricco also talks about how The Iliad celebrates the beauty of war, while preserving within itself an alternative voice that looks to a society in which humanity has weaned itself off war, and by extension, its beauty. Baricco believes that the human race at this point in time has never been in a better position to have the beauty of art supplant that of war. I am not sure that I agree with him, although I agree with the basic idea that the beauty of war lies in its intensity, and it is this intensity of experience that we crave as human beings. Unfortunately, I would suggest that on the whole, a divide has been steadily opening between two camps of people, i.e. those who would claim and spread the beauty of art, and those who would cling to the terrible, terrifying beauty of war, and at this point in our collective history, the gap is wider than ever before.

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