art ‘striving for liberation’: quote from W. Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence (novel loosely based on the life of Paul Gauguin)

“when I imagined that on seeing his pictures I should get a clue to the understanding of his strange character I was mistaken. They merely increased the astonishment with which he filled me. I was more at sea than ever. The only thing that seemed clear to me – and perhaps even this was fanciful – was that he was passionately striving for liberation from some power that held him. But what the power was and what line the liberation would take remained obscure. Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown to them. We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener’s aunt is in the house”

W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

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Patrick Suskind – The smell of pure beauty

“He backed up against the wall, closed his eyes and flared his nostrils… he had the prescience of something extraordinary – this scent was the key for ordering all odours, one could understand nothing about odours if one did not understand this one scent, and his whole life would be bungled if he, Grenouille, did not succeed in possessing it… the source was a girl… For a moment he was so confused that he actually thought he had never in all his life seen anything so beautiful as this girl… Her sweat smelled as fresh as the sea breeze, the tallow of her hair as sweet as nut oil, her genitals were as fragrant as the bouquet of water lilies, her skin as apricot blossoms… and the harmony of all these components yielded a perfume so rich, so balanced, so magical, that every perfume that Grenouille had smelled until now, every edifice of odours that he had so playfully created within himself, seemed at once to be utterly meaningless. A hundred thousand odours seemed worthless in the presence of this scent. This scent was the higher principle, the pattern by which the others must be ordered. It was pure beauty.”

– Patrick Suskind, Perfume