Thursday, January 11, 2018

Beauty in desolation

Far worse, though, was a low, powerful moaning at dusk. The wind off the sea and the odd interior stillness dulled our ability to gauge direction, so that the sound seemed to infiltrate the black water that soaked the cypress trees. This water was so dark we could see our faces in it, and it never stirred, set like glass, reflecting the beards of gray moss that smothered the cypress trees. If you looked out through these areas, toward the ocean, all you saw was the black water, the gray of the cypress trunks, and the constant, motionless rain of moss flowing down. All you heard was the low moaning. The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.
— from Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer.

This passage should give you an idea of why it's being called eco-horror. Annihilation is creepy, but also surprisingly beautiful.

This reminded me of a conversation in Ali Smith's Winter (the books are talking to each other again!), though it stands in stark contrast to it:
Beauty is the true way to change things for the better. To make things better. There should be a lot more beauty in all our live. Beauty is truth, truth beauty. There no such ting as fake beauty. Which is why beauty is so powerful. Beauty assuages.
...for which comments Sophia is roundly ridiculed, but she suggests they tell each other the most beautiful thing they've ever seen.

This got me to thinking. I see beautiful things often enough. But the most beautiful? Today I'm thinking it's the parking lot forest of dead Christmas trees. An act of art. Beauty in desolation.

What's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? (Was it in desolation?)

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