booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
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Short review: This is a companion book to an art exhibit by Peter Greenaway, which was held at the Louvre in 1992. It's fitting for a book on an art exhibit that the writing is lovely, thoughtful and philosophical. Your opinion of the art will very depending on your taste of course, but, the comments on it truly spark some really fascinating thoughts for anyone winged. Much of the pictures don't seem like they really have anything to do with the subject, but, Greenaway is creative and the ideas he draws out of the paintings definitely make you think twice. Absolutely must have in any winged person's collection... if you can afford it.

Writing: The writing is wonderful, asking many interesting philosophical questions, while following a journey through art from the ground, to the sky, and then falling to the ground again. The writer treats the book as catalogue of philosophical flying instructions, containing secrets how we might fly, and presents this in a very serious way. There's also a lot of beautiful art to enjoy obviously.

From a winged person's perspective...: Of course, this book is all about the winged. The writer understands the longing for flying, how no machine will do, our offspring will not do... we must fly. He understands that false flying portrayals make us feel let down. Really, the book is all about that longing for flight, treated as a very serious thing. The "story" of the book, as much as it has a story, has a negative message about flight in the end, but it's such a beautiful journey and the negative message seems to be more about showing all the possibilities and angles that artists have treated flight, not making a judgment.

Trigger warnings: Graphic description of dead bird. Detached wings in a picture. Association of flight with negative pride, detailed descriptions of failing of flight.


More thoughts...: I saved this book for a long time (and, run up some bad library fines because of it ^^;), because I knew on an instinct that this would be a rich book... a book that I wanted to sit down with and really soak in. My instinct was right... unfortunately, those fines got really bad, so I didn't have time to do the relaxing read I wanted to. I read it all very quickly in one night. I would love to spend more time with this book, because it really is a treasure book, perfect for sitting out by the lake, or in a treehouse, or on a cliff, or wherever else you like to feel "shifty" or "birdy", and just letting it soak into you.

There's so much in this book for fliers to like. Many interesting questions are asked, such as: are we really human shaped, or angel shaped? God made us in his image. So, we're god shaped... but then, if we're shaped after the angels, where are our wings? Was losing our wings a punishment for sin? Of course, if you don't believe in Christianity, it's all a theory. And, the book is not focused on a Christian way of looking. It's just one example out of many. The book is also a rich exploring of mythology as well as art, and, mythology through art, whether it's Christian mythology or ancient Greek.

What is so interesting about this book, is clearly the author feels the need for flight. With quotes like "as if to emphasise that flying is one and the same thing as a blessing, which perhaps it is.", and a constant focus on how we might unlock the metaphors in these pieces of art to learn to fly... even if you don't believe it is possible in this world, it stirs up the imagination for sure, and in a magic believer, it may stir up something more. Perhaps these pictures really are the keys to flight. The author never gives a strong reason to believe they might not be. Maybe some spiritual study using this book might not be a bad thing.

Definitely five out of five, just because it is so rich and understanding in showing the longing for flight. And, it's so rare to have an art exhibit captured forever on paper like this. This is a very precious book!
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