Point of View: Truth/Beauty

We were watching the red carpet effusions preceding the Oscars when “Roma,” which we liked very much, came up, Susan wondering what the fuss was about inasmuch as she had found the movie to be “boring.”

A lifetime lover of “boring” movies, I took issue. I’ve always been enthralled by quiet-spoken, reflective films concerning the sadness and joys we all have in common.

Action movies with fiery explosions, over-the-top comedies straining for laughs, maudlin love stories, movies with frills, in other words, don’t move me. Give me understatement and the sense of time passing every time. Give me truth, or, even better, truth and beauty, which the Urn in Keats’s ode equated. 

“Roma” was true and beautifully done, luminous in black and white. “Green Book” was enlightening and rang true. “If Beale Street Could Talk” was beautiful, and, shameful to say, even at this late date, true, and “BlackKkKlansman” was true and in its skewering of evil beautiful.

So, with this in mind, I went to BookHampton and asked Jesse to order a copy of Keats’s letters, which, in truth, he did. Beautiful. 

I guess Keats’s idea in his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” was to be all-inclusive, to look equably upon sorrow and ecstasy. Though while truth and beauty may have been conflated in the Urn’s eyes, that being all we needed to know, it’s pretty clear that all things which are true, such as war, pestilence, anguish, death — I probably could think of quite a few others — are not beautiful.

Still, what’s to keep us from plumping for beauty and righteousness, for inclusion rather than exclusion, such as the Oscars this year began to do, every step of the way. 

To our nephew, who was bemoaning polarization the other day, Mary said she’d combated it in the past election by knocking on doors, in our neighborhood and in others, even unto Montauk no less, to find, through simply listening, how much we share. She was brave, he said. I agreed. She is brave. I wasn’t a coward, I told him, until faced with danger. (Got that from Molière.)

While truth may not always be beauty, if we’re true to ourselves, to our better selves, we can, I think, make America beautiful, genuinely beautiful.

And that is all ye need to know.