What is art?
But here's what I think:
It's what is beautiful and meaningful and universal and yet also very specific.
So when I went to St Peters Basilica I felt very awed and perhaps overawed by the whole thing. The columns are so huge. SO HUGE. And everything was made out of brass. And I am not Catholic, am nothing close to Catholic, am somewhat of an existentialist in fact,
but the thing that I wanted to look at the most was the face of Mary in Michelango's Pieta. And I still remember it many years later.
Because it looks like a FACE. A face that could have belonged to a real mother - a real woman - a real human being with a soul.
When you look at that face, carved by a human being 500 years ago, depicting a human being living 1500 years before that, it's impossible not to remember that we have been around for SO unimaginably long and always with faces and with souls.
You can call me sacrilegious because I am about to transition from talking about the Virgin Mary to talking about a song by the musical artist and legend Cher. But when you don't believe in God, as I don't, you still should believe in something. And for me that belief lies in people, in their complexity and capacity, and in the knowledge that EVERYTHING that has EVER been done, good and bad, has been done by human beings.
Isn't that incredible?
If I had to sum up my religious views in one word it would be contact.
Because a) that book and its movie adaptation are the bomb, seriously
b) they were meant to remind us to approach each other and the universe with open, questioning minds
c) the complexity and capacity of humans is such that we will never ever fully understand each other but we might as well reach out and touch anyway, because what else is there?
Reach out and touch. It is very simple and yet very hard.
I admire Cher for putting it on the surface, for doing what she can as a musical artist and legend: "This is a song for the lonely."
It's a pure message of love from singer to listener. And it's universal! Because who among us has not been lonely? But it's also specific (or so it seems -- Cher's voice has the power to make one believe she's Lived Through It All).
And after seeing Cher perform this on Cher: The Farewell Tour (available, thank goodness, on Netflix Instant) and seeing thousands of people -- people of, seriously, ALL SORTS -- scream and smile and cry and sing along
The song: Cher, "Song For The Lonely"; 2002
I can hardly think of anything more beautiful or meaningful than the line "I'm right beside you".