Beauty can induce feelings of awe and helplessness, an intimation that you are tremendously small and insignificant in the face of such aesthetic truth. Maybe it is the small flame of madness at the heart of all creativity – individuals driven to their art for the sake of sanity. Because if you don’t try to process and assimilate it, beauty will burn you up.
In an English fairy tale the girl Janet falls in love with a young man called Tamlane (or Tam Lin) who is under a spell from the Queen of Fairies. In order to break the spell, she has to grab hold of him as he rides past with the fairies. He warns her that he will be turned into all kinds of horrors but she is not to let go, as she will not come to any harm. Tamlane is transformed into a snake, a swan with beating wings, a lion and eventually into a burning coal. Janet throws the coal into the water, upon which her lover resumes his human form.
If the artist, having found her aesthetic passion, is brave enough to hold onto it, to grab it by the tail feathers, the slithery scales, the burning flames, she might be able to expose its true form. Out of the flames some realisation may come, some love.
Beauty makes me crazy. A butterfly, a bloom, an elephant, a flute sonata, a symphony, a warbling bird, a sea, a cloud, a painting. I go weak. Weak in the presence of beauty.