Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

There's a quick profile of the Spanish actor Javier Bardem in the recent NYT Magazine.  It's worth a few minutes for the photos alone (ahem), but the short interview holds its own allure, as well.

I like Bardem; I always have.  He's got a certain gravity that many other actors of his age are lacking.  He strikes me as thoughtful.  I like his choices in material. He has a great accent.

And then there's that scruff.

Bardem makes an off-the-cuff remark about Al Pacino here; something about a man "who is so true, so interesting and I understand more about the world from his performance. And you go, 'C’mon, it’s only acting.' Well, wouldn’t you say that a good book or a good painting allows you to see the world in a different way? When I see a great performance, I feel more alive."

Isn't that a useful barometer for the arts in general?  Something, be it a novel or an opera or an outdoor folk concert in the park, that makes you "understand more about the world," that makes you "feel more alive?"  When I go to the MoMA, I may not walk out better able to split atoms or file a legal brief or unplug a clogged sink, but I inevitably feel like I understand more about the world.  

And sometimes, I think we need to remember: that's enough.


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