Simon Schama’s Power of Art

I recommend this series for its depth of knowledge, insightful commentary and excellent editing.   I recently saw the Bernini episode, where in a discussion of Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa (of Avila) Schama says:

What Bernini’s managed to make tangible is something that we all, if we’re honest, know we hunger for, but before which we’re properly tongue-tied. Something that has produced more bad writing, more excruciating moments of bad cinema, more appalling poems than anything else. No wonder when art historians look at this sculpture they tie themselves in knots to avoid saying the obvious, that is, that we’re looking at the most intense convulsive drama of the body that any of us experience.”

-Simon Schama

Is it her that I want?  To make her convulse?  I don’t know if I’m that honest.  Do I want to convulse, and transcend?  Is Bernini satirizing and celebrating it at the same time?

But wouldn’t I just repress my own reason until that familiar religious impulse begins, getting me no closer to the truth?

How many out there want to feel that impulse, to be purified? through yoga, exercise, fasting, prayer, ritual, rosary beads, shaking with God…?

A lot, I’d say.  It seems to be a pretty racy interpretation.
 

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