The wind had offered such a display of gracious brutality a couple of days ago. And we all wondered before it, and rightfully so. It reminded us of Nature and her unmediated might. Made us feel mostly elated but a little scared at the same time. Kept us up at night and gave us a reason to exit our shelters to go and see.
In Kant’s words, it was sublime. A vision that cannot be grasped by our senses, that transcends them and leaves us in awe.
I went back to the beach yesterday, and it was the most depressing walk ever. There were a few more people strolling and jogging, and the seagulls were looking at us in an unmistakably spiteful way. As I got closer to the shore, I understood why. The shore was a vast landfill of small trash, coughed up by the wind and stormy sea, so that they can breathe a little before they take them back in.
Countless plastic straws, and masks (because the pandemic is sure as hell teaching us to take better care of the Planet), and bottle caps, and plastic wrappings, and very specific items such as the plastic frames used at the dry cleaner to reinforce buttons.
My heart was pining. I was raised Catholic and I felt guilty. To quote the Brothers Karamazov, I felt guilty of everything before everyone. Guilty of our duplicity, our chameleonic ability to turn an admiring eye on the beauty and a blind one on the unnecessary desecration we daily perform. We are the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.
I have little hope that art can change the word by depicting the brutality it means to decry. I also think, though, that art can change the world and it can do so by becoming poetic, by abstracting and idealizing, by honing its expressions until razor sharp to cut through our indifference. I gave it a chance.