Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Archaic Smile

Back when I was trying to figure out my tastes, I would compare pictures of men.

OK, which one do you find more attractive?

Then the harder question.

Why?

One of the things that I learned about myself is that I really like guys that smile.

One of the things that I learned about Americans while traveling abroad was that Americans smile a lot. As a people, that says something about us.

I smile a lot myself. Hey, I've waited tables; my waiter's smile has had miles of practice. When you read to others as different—and when you look at me, you tend to think “gay” right away—a smile is a useful tool.

Call me a Philistine if you like (see if I care), but when it comes to ancient Greek art, I've always prefered Archaic to Classical. Classical art I admire; Archaic art I love.

Some of it is a matter of relationality, to be sure. Perfection is cold. But stylization, the schematic, simultaneously creates a distance and bridges that distance. Beholding it—by which I mean participatory seeing—you sense essence.

And then, of course, there's that mysterious smile—it's even known as the Archaic Smile—that plays about the lips of Archaic figures like a flickering flame. What are they smiling about? you want to ask. What do they know that I don't?

But, of course, sometimes you do know what they're smiling about. It's that sense of rightness, of well-being, of deep, deep inner joy: the bliss of being who you are, of being where you belong.

In some, such a smile creates suspicion. What have you got to smile about? they ask.

To such a question as this, an enigmatic archaic smile is the only possible response.

O happy people, children of happy gods.

 

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Tagged in: aesthetics Pagan art
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

Comments

  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski Monday, 28 August 2017

    :)

  • Jamie
    Jamie Tuesday, 29 August 2017

    Mr. Posch,

    "O happy people, children of happy gods."

    And that made me smile. :)

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