Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I couldn’t think of an example during class, but I’ve remembered an instance when I made one of the errors that Scarry discusses—the recognition that something which deserved to be called beautiful had been previously withheld that attribution. I had always hated Louise Bourgeois’ sculpture “Maman,” which I had only ever seen in pictures, mostly because I abhor bugs and couldn’t find anything interesting or acceptable about a giant spider. It wasn’t until I actually saw one of the sculptures in Ottawa that I found them to be beautiful. It’s just one of those situations where you have to experience it in person. I found it somewhat humorous when, in a press release by the Tate, Bourgeois says that spiders are “helpful and protective” as they “eat mosquitoes.” I didn’t come to see the sculpture as beautiful as a result of background info I learned about the artist’s wish to make allusions to a mother’s protectiveness. This was all very poignant and, of course, central to the meaning behind the sculpture. What was more profound for me was the moment when being in the presence of this art work changed my impression of something I had always thought of as ugly.

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