Let me begin by complementing the entire staff on another wonderful program.
I have attached a photo of myself in front of a Pierre Bonnard painting at the Pompidou Museum in Paris. My wife had sent me there to meet up with my two sons(25 & 30) as a sixtieth birthday present. It was like being back in college. We stayed in a relative cheap hotel and I followed them around Paris for a week. One major stop on their itinerary was the Pompidou. Modern art was much more their thing than their father's. Upon entering the museum, we each headed off in a separate direction and I found myself before this, in my opinion, not-modern painting. And it is in this unlikely setting and posture that I experienced what Einstein referred to as an experience of the universe as a single significant whole. Such an experience that when I returned to Texas, I wrote a poem describing that moment so that I might revisit it in the future. And, as you will see, I am not a poet!
Below is a note I wrote to myself:
At the Musee Pompidou, a museum attended more for the boys than myself, I was drawn to a painting,more impressionistic than modern, that animated an idea in which I held great interest. It was a self portrait byPierre Bonnard; a second rendering of a scene painted earlier in his life. The scene was of the artist, late inlife, seated at a table in his bathroom. The earlier painting was of a young man, handsome, strong of body,and surrounded by expensive accoutrement and furnishings. Fine bottles of oils and perfumes covered thetable and a plethora of colorful fabrics and drapes in the background. The later painting was portrayed asmuch more austere. The table with a few simple containers and the colorful fabrics replaced with a ratherplain and non-imposing wood panel. The artist himself now older, somewhat fragile, yet with a contentedposture. This later painting carried a harmonious air not present in the earlier work. The symbolism in thesetwo paintings is revealing and refreshing. The bright colors, the bravado, the omniscience of the earlierpainting portrays the neurosis of man. The psychic struggles that all humankind create and inherit throughliving. The second painting is stripped of these colorful appendages and ascetic. A reduction of the ego andthe neuroses it has created. The revelation is that this “gift of life” is part of the natural cycle of life. Its arrivalmay be accelerated or retarded by the manner in which one chooses to live but the gift is there for everyone.It doesn’t have to be earned, it is there. The Buddhist monk might find that peace long before the Americancorporate mogul but both will find it! One may enjoy it for years while the other perhaps only moments. Weleave this world as we enter it, in peace, free of baggage. Pierre Bonnard's piece acted as a portal throughwhich this revelation was revealed. And that is the magic of art, all art.
I have had more than my fair share of those moments in my life but I have never been able to pursue them. They come to me as a gift from life. And if that is what Einstein, Democritus, the post-modern theologians, Jesus, Buddha, Meister Eckhart, the Sufi, the Kabbalist, and others have spoken of, then I am in agreement...it is the hub.
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