Sunday, April 27, 2008

Things That Changed Aaron's Life

One of the housemates sometimes likes to ask if something someone is praising changed their life. It's a bit of an overblown phrase - "changed your life" - but there's something to it. Last night I was thinking about this notion in regards to art. We often like talk about the power of art to transform people (cf. Das Leben der Andere), but with regards to particular pieces, more often we speak in terms of objective value or historical significance, rather than personal subjective importance.

So I got to thinking: What works of art have changed my life? Since that can be a rather intangible criteria, I came up with two more specific questions: What works of art have caused me to really sit up and take notice? Or what works do I find myself looking back to and referencing time and again?

Really, I think these are two sides of the same coin; both questions identify works that reveal something heretofore unknown in my experience. These are works that transcend their medium or genre: not, "This is a great painting," but "This is great."

So here are some preliminary lists. I may modify or explicate them in subsequent posts - they are, after all, highly provisional tabulations - but for now, simply laying them down is labor enough.

Things That Changed Aaron's Life

Visual Art:
Bernini, Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius
--, Apollo and Daphne
--, David
--, The Rape of Proserpina
Abbott Handerson Thayer, A Virgin

Books:
Homer, The Iliad
uncertain, Song of Songs
Plato, Republic
Shakespeare, Macbeth
Milton, Paradise Lost
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life
T. S. Eliot, The Four Quartets
C. S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost
--, Mere Christianity
--, The Chronicles of Narnia
--, The Four Loves
--, A Grief Observed
Martin Heidegger, Building Dwelling Thinking
Josef Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture
--, The Four Cardinal Virtues
J. R. R. Tolkien, Leaf by Niggle
Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz
Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels
Lloyd Alexander, The Prydain Chronicles
George Weigel, Witness to Hope
Stephen Pressfield, Gates of Fire
John Eldredge, Wild at Heart

Music:
Palestrina, various
de Victoria, various
Fauré, Requiem
Rich Mullins, Songs
--, A Liturgy, A Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band
--, Never Picture Perfect
Anonymous 4, An English Ladymass
--, 1000: A Mass for the End of Time
Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans
Rosie Thomas, These Friends of Mine

Films:
Chariots of Fire
The Mission
Shadowlands
La Vita è bella
Amelie
In America

Opera:
Giacomo Pucini, Gianni Schicchi

Beverages:
Earl Grey tea
Strongbow cider
Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale


PS You might notice that there are far more books than paintings, for example. I guess it's a pretty basic proof that I've spent more time in libraries than in art galleries.

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