Makoto Fujimura: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Raphael and a Yellow Polar Bear

"The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way."

- C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism, pp. 18, 19 (Cambridge University Press)

How often we speak of the arts - whether paintings, sculptures or movies - based on hearsay, rather than actual personal experience.  In the ideological age we live in, we often project what we think we are seeing (the polar bear is white), rather than the reality of experiencing.  We do not take seriously Lewis' commendation to "Look, Listen, Receive."  We are not, as a culture, ready to step outside of our "comfort zones" to experience what others are sensing-to "step into someone else's shoes."  So our cultural foundation is built more on projected ideological assumptions than on actual experiences.  As my friend Bruce Herman tells me, using these principles of Lewis', "if you want to understand something, you need to be willing to 'stand under' it."


Michael WeiComment