Life Follows Art

That,” said Chudu the Goat’s Son, with a look of disgust, “is not how things happen!”

“Never mind,” said the babe with a wink, “life follows art.”

“Imitate anything long enough — gaze at anything long enough with a careful eye — and you have a tendency to become it, or at very least a tendency to respect it. I might take the case of painting. There was a time, you’ll remember, when people hated Nature. When they found Nature unavoidable, in a particular painting, they transmuted all that garish green to brown. Forced to live in the country, they transformed lawless Nature into formal gardens. Then an outlaw generation of young painters came along and painted mountains ‘as they are’; and a gasping generation of young poets came along and wrote sweet love-songs to Mont Blanc. Rich merchants with big houses in the centers of their villages learned the subtle art of turning half an acre to a forest — ‘natural’ pools, concrete reindeer. What had happened? Exactly! Painters had begun imitating the world as they saw it, a world of — incredible! — fat ladies with their clothes off, green mountains, majestic bears — and the world began to imitate the paintings. Make no mistake, make no mistake! The mimic is doomed to become what he mimics, or doomed unless a miracle of good fortune intervenes. It’s like the story of the miser.”

“Miser?” said the prince.

Armida sighed.

— John Gardner, In the Suicide Mountains


He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.

— George Orwell, “Shooting an Elephant”

One thought on “Life Follows Art

  1. This is my first time we visit here. I discovered so many entretaining things in your blog, particularly its dialogue. From the tons of remarks on your articles, I suppose I am not the only one getting all of the leisure here! Keep up the great work.

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