VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Submitting to the Body and Transfiguration

We talked, briefly and obliquely, a few classes back about how often in a piece's material specificity are hints of the sublime, sometimes full flowering into an experience that resist verbal or written formulation. The last seventeen or so lines of Elizabeth Bishop's poem "At the Fishhouses" is like this for me, as is Rebekah Del Rio singing "Llorando" in Mulholland Drive.

Anyway, what came to my mind this morning was the Transfiguration. We read in Matthew 17 that Jesus took John, Peter, and James to a "high mountain," and "There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light." How could this happen if not for the submission of an infinite idea into a finite frame--i.e. God into a human body. Such faithfulness to form--and to forms, whom he came to serve--and the rules governing those forms breaks out (inevitably?) beyond the frame into something unrepresentable. Note the minimalism of the description: "His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light"--economy of words the best tack for writers depicting what's unsayable. So, too, the artist of the above image, who had his own limitations of body and materials to contend with. In its washed-out composition, it is (admirably) more suggestive than direct.

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