Monet is Money

Sunday, March 7, 2010 | 3 Comment(s)

The more I live (and i've been living at a pretty constant clip now for some time), the more I think that perhaps Monet really had a grasp of not only the art world, but the psychology of the world.  Let's start with the basics: Claude Monet is a famous (deceased) artist who is considered the father of French impressionism.  An example of his work:
I find his painting brilliant in general--which is no deep thought as this is one of the most world-renowned painters of all time.  His paintings, and many Impressionists' paintings, are identified by the pointillist-like brush strokes which, up close, seem sloppy and disconnected, but when viewed from a distance, come together to form a coherent, often ephemeral image.  More recently, Monet's genius has been boiled down to its essence in the form a of modern slang term denoting a sexual interest (usually women), who looks beautiful from a distance, but is a mess when viewed up close.  I didn't invent the lingo--but there it is.

So I'm getting to my larger point.  In the same ilk as the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" (mom and dad--Postal Service is a band), Monet realized that we have two distinct impressions (pun!) of our world.  What we know well, and what we perceive of our surroundings.  And there is, almost constantly, an allure of this periphery, with its promise of beautiful others, money, success, etc.

This periphery makes you believe that the gorgeous woman you see in the coffee shop might be perfect for you.  It makes you believe that you could also win 10K at the casino just like the guy at that blackjack table.  The periphery is life without any of the relevant details like: a person's personality, issues, hardships, how much money that guy with 10K started with, etc.  The very fact that we know strikingly little about there outside temptations allows us to distill out the potential (and inevitable) bads, and concentrate on the potential (and often imaginary) goods.  Everyone's got problems, even that hot girl at the bar (ESPECIALLY that hot girl at the bar), but since those problems are still neatly contained in one's 'not-my-problem' folder, you are free to lazily sit back and wonder if this woman is better for you than the person you're with (i'm using this imaginary woman just as an example of course).  From a distance, everything can be perfect.  We can make it perfect since, lacking actual knowledge about it, we create this potential "perfect" reality that we can then compare against our own actual happiness, in order to make us doubt ourselves and feel worse about what we have.

This is a fool's game.  But it is incredibly hard in our culture not to play.  I think Monet understood this (or since i lack actual knowledge on the subject about Monet's personality, I choose to believe he understood this--see!).  At a distance, all of Monet's work is beautiful and simultaneously surreal.  As we move closer to the painting (which I do after having backed away) the colors separate once again giving us a realistic look at the underlying beauty.  Now, finding the beauty in that muddled cacophony of paints and brush strokes, that is the trick.  Seeing what a less knowledgeable person would characterize as a mess, and realizing the brilliance of the big picture, that is love--that is the essence of happiness (yes, we're back in metaphor-ville).  It is not loving a person for their imperfections as well as their strengths, but rather seeing how those apparent imperfections are actually essential pieces to the masterwork of the whole.  


  1. this is all so true- especially the part about periphery. great post!!

  2. Thanks. Every now and again the humor lifts and depth descends. It's nice to have a blog that allows me to express both.

  3. I love posts that make so much sense in so few words. Yes.