Some call it an “art attack.” The official name is Stendhal syndrome. It is said to develop as a result of encountering something overwhelmingly beautiful — so beautiful that it increases your heart rate, and may even cause you to pass out. Stopping time.
I have often been moved to tears in museums, but to date, I have remained on my feet. One of the first places we visited together in France was the studio of Paul Cezanne. We tiptoed in reverence. It is one thing to regard his finished artwork — gorgeous — but to see where it began, to see the traces of work splattered on the floor, the tools used… tools still warmed by creation… I can feel my heart racing as I type. No pictures are allowed inside. Dominique thought himself more clever than the guard sitting in the corner. Just out of pocket, he pointed what he thought to be his silent phone at Cezanne’s workbench. The din of the simulated shutter click bounced off the hallowed walls. We froze. It was no “art attack,” but it was close.
The guard nodded her head. It wasn’t the first time. I suppose we all want to capture the beauty. Somehow. Some way. To stop the time. To keep the beauty from passing. It’s why I paint. Why I write. To keep my grandfather forever reaching for the pipe in his overalls. To keep my aproned grandma in the scent of family dinner. To keep my mother beside me, everywhere. Willing to break the rules of grammar and being. Willing to get paint splattered and covered in creation’s mess. Willing to risk being caught again and again in love’s overwhelming beauty…