One is reminded in this connection of a story concerning Kobori-Enshiu. Enshiu was complimented by his disciples on the admirable taste he had displayed in the choice of his [art] collection. Said they, Each piece is such that no one could help admiring. It shows that you had better taste than had Rikiu, for his collection could only be appreciated by one beholder in a thousand. Sorrowfully Enshiu replied: This only proves how commonplace I am. The great Rikiu dared to love only those objects which personally appealed to him, whereas I unconsciously cater to the taste of the majority. Verily, Rikiu was one in a thousand among tea-masters.
In my own opinion, the average American's cultural shortcomings can be likened to those of the educated barbarians of ancient Rome. These were barbarians who learned to speak--and often to read and write--Latin. They acquired Roman habits of dress and deportment. Many of them handily mastered Roman commercial, engineering and military techniques--but they remained barbarians nonetheless. They failed to develop any understanding, appreciation or love for the art and culture of the great civilization around them.
For most people, art is only valuable if other people say it is; and artists are only worthwhile if they are either rich and famous, or dead.
I quite lost myself, gazing at this work of art. . . It thrilled me, that sculpture. For one thing, it reminded me that in my new life, I may have other such experiences. I needn't always be an ignorant girl. The world will offer itself to me like a chalice brimming with immortal wine, and I will quaff from it.