I couldn't agree more with the Pulitzer Prizes awarded this week to the Globe for hard-news reporting, for its Marathon bombing coverage, and to Donna Tartt for literature, for her novel "The Goldfinch." Timing gave the recognitions an odd resonance: Tartt's book is set in motion by a vividly described yet fictional terrorist bombing at a crowded New York City museum, and the awards were announced this week as Boston and the Globe marked the anniversary of the Marathon attack. Ed Siegel has posted an interesting look at the connections - between the bombing and the book, and how art affects us - on WBUR's the Artery. It's worth reading, especially for the many of you who were interested in my earlier post on "The Goldfinch." Currents of sadness and redemption ran through both this week's ceremonies and the book.
And that picture up above? Last week I visited on one of the last days of the Peabody Essex Museum's now-closed from here to ear exhibit by artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot. In the installation, a flock of zebra finches shared a gallery with more than a dozen Gibson Les Paul guitars and Thunderbird bass guitars set on stands and turned pretty much all the way up. As the birds landed, hopped around on and took off from the guitars, they created a strange ambient soundscape, like something by Brian Eno. It was one of those concepts that some will love and others will mock. I was one of a couple of visitors who drew the finches' interest in our shoes, perhaps as potential nesting material. My Merrells fascinated them to the point that I found myself standing calmly with a male-and-female pair on my left shoe, a matching pair on my right, and three or four others clustered around, gently pecking at me. It had to be finches, right? I thought immediately of Tartt's book, and her take on the unpredictable consolations offered by art. I stood there for three or four or five minutes, other visitors pointing and whispering, until our time in the gallery was up. I moved, and the birds flew off. It was just a funny little zen break in the middle of what was otherwise an ordinary, busy, mildly pressurized day, but it stayed with me. You never know the ways in which beauty will affect you.
Photo courtesy Peabody Essex Museum