Jan Davidszoon de Heem, Still Life with Fruit and Ham, 1648-49
Our capacity for generosity rests on inspiration, and beauty is among the things that inspire us most of all.
As life in our increasingly corporate world begins to resemble the bleak cityscapes of our worst science fiction fantasies, the search for meaning becomes our abiding preoccupation. The joining of art and life is one way to restore that meaning, and art and life come together rather nicely in the culture of the table.
In the not too distant past, Friday was the end of the work week, 5:00 was the end of the work day, loyalty mattered and bosses cared. Some things were just too valuable to trade off for greater efficiency. Today we work 24/7 just to stay ahead of the robots that don’t complain about being used as efficient producers of profit . The intrinsic value of things has fallen by the wayside.
A life devoted to beauty is one way of recapturing that sense of intrinsic value.
But that beauty cannot be limited to the gallery or the stage. If meaning and value are to be recaptured in our lives it must penetrate everyday life. And perhaps nothing is more ubiquitous in everyday life than food and drink.
The means of transcendence are as close as the cupboard or the refrigerator.
This is absolutely beautiful and powerful.
I’ve often wondered why I so enjoy preparing a good meal with fresh, local produce and fish or meat, served with good wine and enjoyed with good companions — you’ve expressed the reason very eloquently.
I’ve noticed that so many of the people I know who cook at home (as opposed to professionally) are also artists, poets/writers, musicians and art-lovers. This explains it.