Barzun, Books & Art

Jacques Barzun passed away over the weekend. He was 104 years old! He must have been doing something right. He most certainly did with his opus book, Dawn to Decadence. It breaks 500 years of the history of  Western Civilization into four periods from 1500 to the present age, which is coming to an end (just around the timing of his death, coincidentally). Will the younger generation ever read or understand the importance of his work? He was considered the most scholarly historian and intellectual of our era. Although The Washington Post did a commendable write up, here’s his official obituary, an excerpt is below:

“From Dawn to Decadence,” summing up a lifetime of thinking, offered a rounded, leisurely and conservative tour of Western civilization, with numerous digressions printed in the margins. Barzun guided readers from the religious debates of the Reformation to the contemporary debates on beliefs of any kind.

“Distrust (was) attached to anything that retained a shadow of authoritativeness – old people, old ideas, old conceptions of what a leader or a teacher might do,” he wrote of the late 20th century.

Barzun told the AP in 2003 that he remembered coming to the United States after World War I and finding a country that lived up to its own happy, informal reputation. “It was openhearted, amiable and courteous in manner, ready to try anything new,” he said. “But many of those things have gone to pieces, for understandable reasons.”

With recognition to him and his appreciation of culture and the arts, here’s a lovely piece of book art, from my archives of posts that never got written. This piece was in the Counterbalance exhibition @ March, 2010 at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, which details the creative/ healing process of the patient/ client guided by the combined efforts of clinical experience with the studio art training of their psychologist/ therapist.

Counterbalance-image via SVU, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Like Barzun’s words, art and literature can be combined for a powerful therapeutic experience, similar to “when you experience something that’s beyond words, and you can deal with it through art, there’s something cathartic about that,” stated by Deborah Farber, the Chair of the Art Therapy Department. Knowledge and creativity can work in tandem to bring understanding and healing to individuals and this often crazy world in which we live….Speaking of a kind of crazy tradition, it’s Halloween, now go dress up and scare someone and hopefully you’ll be rewarded with treats not tricks.

Happy Halloween!