a thing of beauty?

Today I had the fortune of having a meal with a new friend. What a remarkable thing that is; to be 48 and making wonderful new friends. One of the subjects we discussed was the power of art. When something bad happens in the world, she said, artists need to get out there and make and sing and do, to bring beauty back, a tidal wave of beauty to wash over the sadness and negativity. I couldn’t agree more.

When I was painting, my soul aim for my work was to bring a bit of joy into a room. I love the Impressionists; Matisse and Monet especially. I love their colour and light.

But I also love darkness. From Durer, to Hopper, and back to Freidrich.

I love Sibelius’ The Swan and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata but I also like listening to old Hole albums and Amanda Palmer. I love The Sound of Music and Get Out!

Writing fiction is a strange past-time. I sit here for hours everyday (note to self, get a better chair) making up stories. I like writing romance and sweet stories about Paris, but I also want to finish the story about the ex-child star who murders her husband in cold blood and gets away with it in a dystopian future where fame and money are all that matters. Can I justify bringing that kind of negativity into a world that’s already bubbling away on a rolling simmer? If art truly has power, is that the right thing to do? And if not, why do I so desperately want to finish that story?

“I don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil.” 
― Jordan B. Peterson


  1. Gershon Ben-Avraham

    Christine, apropos the questions at the end of your piece, are these words from Wilde’s preface to The Picture of Doran Gray: “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” Of course, not everyone agrees with Wilde. He wound up in prison, after all.

    1. Christine Betts

      I love your comments; they are always well written! Poor old Oscar. It makes me so sad to imagine how many great minds were lost to persecution. I suppose if I am asking if it is right to bring negativity in the form of artwork into a world that is already suffering then I am answering my own question. But then I’ve been thinking about your comment all day. The story I am writing was inspired by Fahrenheit 451 and the Great Gatsby, two books that had a huge impact on me as a teenager and made me the culture-loving socialist I am today. So perhaps my story, about a future where wealth and privilege reign supreme, might make someone sit up and say ‘hey this isn’t okay…’ We can live in hope that our work will inspire others somewhere down the line.

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