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Spring is here. At least it was here briefly - just long enough for new leaves to bud and for flowers to bloom. And now, it's cold again. Yesterday, I took a walk with snow flurries falling around me. I've already forgotten the enchantment of spring, even as the flowers are still on the trees. At least I took some time to run around with a camera. Otherwise, I may forget altogether.

By forget, I mean to live as it is practically of no consequence. In my mind, I may use reason to know a thing, but practically, I don't live by it. Sometimes, during the middle of winter, it's hard for me to believe that the trees ever had leaves. My mind has a hard time pulling itself away from my current situation. The world seems like it has always been bare branches. Sounds goofy, doesn't it? But maybe you can relate.

The past few days, I've been pondering the notion of re-enchantment. That is, rediscovering or revealing the enchantment that is inherent in a subject. Websters defines enchant as:
That which captivates the heart and senses; an influence or power which fascinates or highly delights.

Re-enchantment supposes that there is a wonder in the world around us, a wonder that has been neglected or obscured. Something like stopping and smelling the roses, but stronger. More than stopping to enjoy the rose and then moving on. Something that grabs hold and breaks through what we've taken as cliche. To discover something enchanting is to take in, in a way that changes the very representation of the thing.

Interestingly, most modern breeds of roses aren't even fragrant: "because of our quest for longer blooming cycles, brilliancy in colouring, diversity of habit, and perfect form for exhibitors, fragrance is now secondary." We are so much in the habit of dis-enchantment, that we can't even smell the proverbial rose, even if we tried. Something that was once a wonder is now a marketing and distribution plan.

Art is this strange way of using what is unreal, an image on paper, to point us back to reality. What is art? I'm not sure, but what if rather than ask what art is, we ask why we create? This is perhaps, where art can be of use: to re-enchant us.

What have you forgotten lately? Let me know what you think.

Reader Comments (3)

Hi Andy,
sounds good to me.
i'd just throw in that art (as i understand it) doesn't merely represent, reproduce, or use what we see; it makes us see. it bear witness. it shows...testifies...renders. and the value, beauty, chant, magic, dignity is there whether we see it there or not. to redeem (revalue) is to look again. to value again. better this time. revaluing what was devalued. and art (as you put it) points back. summoning us to pay better attention. again and again. always as if for the first time. always (we might say) like children who've never seen this day before. we haven't.
SO like the photography.

April 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Dark

David, thanks for the response. I heard David speak this past weekend, and several of his thoughts influenced this post.

April 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

[...] At Andy Chen’s What Andy Saw, browsing back through time landed me on a wonderful post on ‘re-enchantment’. Posted in interesting blogs | [...]

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