“What is beauty?”
Ask Van Gogh and he’d cut off his other ear.
Picasso would glue the ear to his mistress’ forehead.
Dali would twirl his moustache and scream obscenities.
Jackson Pollock would vomit.
Everything we have ever seen exists
On wavelengths of light,
Measured from 390 to 700 nanometers
Apart at their apexes:
The visible spectrum.
This range contains every mural,
Every dye and ink and pigment;
Every aesthetic wonder ever glimpsed by the eyes of man.
“What is music?”
Ask Handel and he’d pray for an answer.
Mozart would put his ear to the floor and wait for his own.
Coltrane would chase the dragon and wonder why you’re asking him.
Bob Dylan would shrug.
Everything we have ever heard exists,
On a separate measure of wavelengths,
Apart from light.
Measurements of vibrations in the air,
From 20 to 20,000 hertz:
The audible spectrum.
This range contains every opera,
Every chorus and melody and rhythm;
Every sonic opus written by one for the joys of another.
“What is literature?”
Ask Chaucer and he’d point to the people.
Shakespeare would laugh and point back to Chaucer.
Hemingway would get drunk, tell a war story, and shoot himself.
Neil Gaiman would doodle.
Everything we have ever read exists,
Within a spectrum all its own;
Not subject to empirical measurements,
Apart from word count.
The English language contains roughly
1,000,000 words and rising:
The literal spectrum.
This range contains every novel,
Every line and syllable and letter;
Every literary masterpiece that shaped a young boy’s imagination.
“What is art?”
Mantis shrimp can see into the ultraviolet,
Helping them find their mates.
Pit vipers can detect heat in the infrared,
Helping them find their prey.
Greater wax moths hear sonic frequencies up to 300,000 hertz,
Allowing them to evade predators.
Asian elephants produce seismic frequencies as low as 14 hertz,
Allowing them to locate friends.
Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya,
Everything that slithers, crawls, walks, swims, runs, jumps, and flies
Upon the face of this blue-green Earth
Communicates through electromagnetic and biochemical impulses.
Art is beauty.
Art is music.
Art is literature.
Art is life.