GALEN GARWOOD and PETER WELTNER have made a Valentine to Beauty and Arousal with photographs and poetry that are beautiful and aroused. Words italicized by arousal. Nakedness articulated by folds of cloth, a dialogue of flesh and flow that signals classical antiquity, but also the mystical inwardness of Mary s mantel. If the body is a language, here it speaks, in itself, of happiness, fulfillment, lush utopia. Arousal is the wing that carries it upward. Not wisdom through suffering but awe. But desire ignited by beauty, desire that submits to beauty that s another story, a story that may involve destruction, obsession and loss. And memory: our culture s visual memory, like the pictorialist photographs of Imogen Cunningham or the ethnographic studies of young natives by Baron von Gloeden, who also carried his camera to Sicily, and personal memory, like the Ronnie s and Bob s of Weltner s past. John Keats called beauty truth. Is it? Weltner and Garwood are not suspicious of beauty, belittled by it, made ironic by it. What do we do with beauty? submit to it, aspire to it, be ennobled by it, be destroyed by it? All of these. —Robert Glück


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