“The artist is the creator of beautiful things.” — from the Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)
Like many Wildean bon mots, this means less than it says. Or rather it says less than it means, raising, as it does, more questions than it answers. To begin with, what is beauty? Well, in life as in drama it’s often more effective to show than tell and, apart from, like, nature and shit, one can do worse than point to Stevie Wonder’s 16th solo album (his third or fourth “grown up” Lp, if you prefer) for an example of thoroughly satisfying beauty. A musically progressive and melodically bold five-star album, Innervisions stands head and shoulders above all other Wonder records for me, unburdened by the occasional oversentimentalism and unctuous filler of previous and subsequent ones. Anyone who professes to like pop music should have this in their collection.
“Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated,” Wilde further pronounced. “For these there is hope.” If so, I live under rainbows of hope, being compelled to buy Innervisions on vinyl and bask in its beauty despite having a CD copy for 20 years or so.