Beauty in Brevity

Recently I’ve been musing on the power of art to communicate to us at deep levels with brevity.

It occurred to me that writing can also do the same.

Around art, I recently had the great pleasure of being invited to accompany someone to an exhibit at Tate Britain.

Numerous paintings there spoke to me, including “Dog” by Francis Bacon and a self-portrait by Lucien Freud. Hmm, I just said “spoke to me”, and that suddenly occurs to me to be a wondrously brief and powerful phrase to describe the impact of a piece of art on the viewer!

Now to writing, Thoreau said:

“You must work very long to write short sentences.” 

Or, as the French mathematician Pascal said on receiving compliment on a letter they wrote:

“Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.”

Which roughly translates to:

“I did this longer because I did not have the time to make it shorter.”

Clearly brevity is not always a personal strength for me, so I admire those who show mastery in this. Mastery in leadership lessons is also to be admired, including from my late guide, Ed Percival, who distilled over fifty years work in inspiring others to be their best selves into three words: #BeMoreYou

My mind turned to this topic when I received a note from someone who had completed a critical analysis of the work of three disparate authors and captured this of them :

“..their sensory and meticulous detail to moments in life

– the presence and the freedom that it gives.”

I was so struck by the impact of the majestic brevity of that.

On the same day I saw this excerpt from an upcoming book (to be released this week on Jul 5, 2018), “Notes on a Nervous Planet” from an author I love, Matt Haig.

I leave you with the beauty of this brief prose. Exquisite.

A note on wanting Matt Haig

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