Art and Aesthetics in Action
Written by: Professor Severyn T. Bruyn


On the Road

The events of September 11, 2001 signal a time for reflection, a time to think together as a nation -- about world leadership. What is happening to our nation in this fast changing world scene?

The great Mexican poet Octavio Paz spoke about his own nation like it was a person. Each person in every age faces a challenge. For Paz and his nation, it was a time of solitude and a time for self-discovery.

All of us, at some moment, have had a vision of our existence as something unique, untransferable and very precious. This revelation almost always takes place during adolescence. Self-discovery is above all the realization that we are alone: it is the opening of an impalpable, transparent wall – that of our consciousness – between the world and ourselves. It is true that we sense our aloneness almost as soon as we are born, but children and adults can transcend their solitude and forget themselves in games or work. The adolescent, however, vacillates between infancy and youth, halting for a moment before the infinite richness of the world. He is astonished at the fact of his being, and this astonishment leads to reflection: as he leans over the river of his consciousness, he asks himself if the face that appears there, disfigured by the water, is his own. The singularity of his being, which is pure sensation in children, becomes a problem and a question.

Much the same thing happens to nations and peoples at a certain critical moment in their development. They ask themselves: What are we, and how can we fulfill our obligations to ourselves as we are? The answers we give to these questions are often belied by history, perhaps because what is called the “genius of a people” is only a set of reactions to a given stimulus. The answers differ in different situations, and the national character, which was thought to be immutable, changes with them. Despite the often illusory nature of essays on the psychology of a nation, it seems to me there is something revealing in the insistence with which a people will question itself during periods of its growth. To become aware of our history is to become aware of our singularity. It is a moment of reflective repose before we devote ourselves to action again…

Who are we? Where are we going?
What should we do?

On the Road
On the Road

Each person walks a lonely road at some point. A nation, like a person, must walk alone, as it were. In any time of solitude, people may – or may not -- see a purpose unfold for them. They may – or may not – see the biggest challenge ever, like never before in history. They may – or may not -- see the colors of life pulsing around.

The colors hide behind this lonely figure, not seen by him.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

On the Road

Vincent (After himself)

A Peasant (After Vincent)

A Sea of Fire

Flying Colors

A Close Up

The Descent

A Quaker Arbor

The Horse on a Hill

Amaryllis Alone

Roses Rapping

Frames of Arborvitae

Good Morning

Lovers on the Farm

Bass Rocks at Gloucester

Satyagraha: A Meditation