Today’s conversation about Baelyn Neff has reminded me of a lesson I once learned from my favorite short story: Charming, by Hans Christian Andersen. (It’s not a fairy tale - he wrote regular stories too.) It’s about a sculptor who falls in love with a very beautiful girl named Kala, but after they’re married he realizes she doesn’t have a whole lot going on upstairs. A friend of hers named Sophie comes to visit, who isn’t very attractive at all, but is very bright and witty. Kala eventually dies, and the sculptor ends up marrying Sophie. One day he says to her (I’m paraphrasing), "I can’t believe I wasted all that time with Kala, who was very beautiful, but had no substance. I’m so much happier now with you." To which Sophie replies (I’m paraphrasing again), "You shouldn’t say that about Kala because she’s in heaven now…" - (let me just say that I don’t believe in heaven, but you don’t have to in order to appreciate this story) - "She’s in heaven now, and heaven is the place where your soul unfolds and becomes all it was meant to be, and now that she’s freed from the encumbrances of earthly existence, it’s quite possible she’s one of the most spectacular people up there."
There are a couple of different reasons why I like this story so much. Here’s one of them. I was raised by very nice people who taught me not to judge others on the basis of their looks. I thought I was pretty enlightened on that score, but this story took it one step further and taught me that you should never judge anyone at all. Even the people you know very well (or think you do) can surprise you sometimes. So if my posts about Baelyn or anyone else ever get too snobby or critical, you’re invited to get right up in my ask and chew me out about it. Deal?
A quick word now about the illustration. I’ve always been a fan of this artist, Harry Clarke, and of art nouveau in general. Clarke did a lot of illustrations for Andersen’s stories, although this picture, I think, is an illustration from Faust. Clarke’s work is often compared to that of Aubrey Beardsley, of whom Brandon Boyd is a hard-core devotee (so much so that he’s got the guy tattooed on his wrist). Just goes to show that even right-brainers (like Brandon), and left-brainers (like me), can think alike. Another lesson learned.