Every Star in the Sky

A blogalectic with Masha and Mr. Pond.

In last week's conversation about our impressions of Art, Masha spoke of different images—the intellectual artist with the props of a student, and the art of living well, the "rich art that comes from the happy soul."

Mr. Pond took a different tack, reminding us by his example that at the word Art, most of us think first of visual art. He described a day in the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square, in which his experiences sound not entirely unlike my experience of St. Peter's. Then he, like Masha, contrasts different images—"Where Van Gogh had invited his viewers to laughter and delight, to friendship and the noisy business of life, Leonardo drew his viewers into the secret place of wonder, 'where all that is not music is silence.'"

Week three's Impression word: talent.

* * *

Since we've mentioned Little Women, here's the quote that came immediately to my mind at the word talent. Laurie is questioning Amy:

"When do you begin your great work of art, Raphaella?" he asked. changing the subject abruptly after another pause, in which he had been wondering if Amy knew his secret and wanted to talk about it. 

"Never," she answered, with a despondent but decided air. "Rome took all the vanity out of me, for after seeing the wonders there, I felt too insignificant to live and gave up all my foolish hopes in despair."

"Why should you, with so much energy and talent?"

"That's just why, because talent isn't genius, and no amount of energy can make it so. I want to be great, or nothing. I won't be a common-place dauber, so I don't intend to try any more."

"And what are you going to do with yourself now, if I may ask?"

"Polish up my other talents, and be an ornament to society, if I get the chance."
I won't deny it: I've had much the same thought myself. The trouble is that I can't imagine giving up writing, so my only option is to shoot as near genius as I can reach. Especially since being an ornament to society is not one of my talents. :)

Talent isn't genius—in some cases, it's a far cry from it. But regardless of my own go-big-or-go-home ideals, which I dream of but don't always practice, I hold a special respect for the responsible use of a perfectly good talent. Because after all, the world would be a poorer place if the only stars in the night sky were the brightest.

Right now I love to go stand outside and admire Vega, Deneb and Altair in their great triangle overhead. But the fun of stargazing is not just in the individual object, but in the patterns—the constellations; Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, and others, all made up of stars of varying strengths. And there's joy even in the thick cluster spread across the sky. The faint and distant star is part of the glory, too.


  1. The world needs talent as well as genius, and I don't consider it a lesser thing. All of it works together to make our lives and world wonderful and varied!


  2. Thanks, Arabella! Well said. I knew you'd sympathize. :)

  3. Well, here's an example. We need visionary geniuses like Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. And we also need the talented people who make their visions a reality.


  4. And while genius lows our minds, talent is easier to live with. ;-)


  5. Agh, that was supposed to be "blows."


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