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 • Beauty  • Phyllis Hsu “The Moon and sixpence”

Phyllis Hsu “The Moon and sixpence”

Strickland, a broker on the British stock exchange, had a stable career and status, and a happy family. However, he was obsessed with painting, like being “possessed by the devil,” and suddenly abandoned his home and went to Paris To pursue the idea of painting. No one can understand his behavior. He was not only physical suffering from poverty and hunger in a foreign country, but also suffering mentally in order to find ways of expression. After some strange stories, the protagonist finally left the civilized world and fled to the remote island of Tahiti. He finally found the tranquility of his soul and the atmosphere suitable for his artistic temperament. He cohabited with an indigenous woman and created masterpieces that shocked future generations. Before he contracted leprosy and became blind, he painted a great work representing the Garden of Eden on the walls of his house. However, he ordered the indigenous women to burn the painting after his death. Through such a geek who single-mindedly pursues art and is incomprehensible with humanity, Maugham explores the production and essence of art, the relationship between personality and genius, the contradiction between artists and society, and so on. At the same time, this book also aroused people’s thinking on the topic of getting rid of the shackles of the secular world and finding their spiritual home.

There must be one of your friends like this: having a nine-to-five job, having a wife and a child. His salary is diligent to support the family. He is taciturn, but if he speaks, most of the content is boring and tasteless. On any social occasion, he is a small person in the corner. In fact, you may have more than one such friend, in fact, you may be such a person yourself.

Can you imagine this friend suddenly ran away from home one day? Then when you hear from him again, it is said that he has arrived in Paris and is learning to paint to become a painter.
It is difficult for you to imagine, and neither can I.

However, Maugham wrote about such a person. His name is Strickland. After leaving a note saying “dinner is ready”, he left his 17-year-old wife and two children to Paris. He was 40 years old that year, lived in the most dilapidated hotel in Paris, and had only 100 yuan on him.
 But, this is not an inspirational story of how to dream chasers achieve brilliance through hardships. If it is such a story, the actor should be in his early 20s, handsome and handsome, and he will meet a rich man’s beautiful daughter in the book. Of course, he will also encounter a villain who is jealous of his talent, and the villain must follow him. Fight for the young lady, but justice will surely defeat evil, the hero will become a tycoon, and lovers will eventually become family members.
 “The Moon and Sixpence” is not such a story.

What kind of story is it?
The whole world is chasing dreams, but Strickland is chasing his bad luck. The two things are actually not that different. People who are captured by dreams are chasing their own bad luck. Of course, the dreams mentioned here are real dreams. They are not the blueprints mentioned in “Mum and Dad”, “Teacher said”, “TV newspaper said”. Strickland swiftly walked fast, catching up with his bad luck as he wished. Five years later, he was poor and sick in Paris, lying in a small attic and dying. if not for the help of a friend, he would almost die. Later, he fell to the streets and became a dock worker. A few years later, he was self-exiled to a small island in the Pacific, suffering from leprosy, and blind in both eyes. Before he died, he asked people to burn his pinnacle work. Within 15 years, the stock trader in London was racing violently, crossing the city, crossing civilization, crossing the middle class, crossing the Pacific Ocean, crossing human nature, and finally caught up with the horse of fate.
 What most people become is not who they want to be, but who they have to become. “Responsibility” is the greatest civilization and the greatest hypocrisy. Every human identity is a self-abduction, and only loss is the way to freedom. Therefore, Strickland refused to be a “husband”, “daddy”, “friend”, “colleague”, “British” anymore. He lost his identity one by one, like taking off a layer of clothes, and the last one Lifting up his feet, stepped naked into the ice hole that his heart called.
The “I” in the novel asked him: “Don’t you love your children”?
He said: “I have no special feelings for them”
“I,” asked him again: “Don’t you even need love?”
He said: “Love will only interfere with my painting.”
Others might sympathize with his poverty and despair, but when he picked up the paintbrush, he felt that he was a king.
 Such people are certainly hateful. He only sees himself, no others, selfishness, no sense of responsibility, and disdain to have any relationship with “society”. But he is very innocent because he has no other people, not even himself. He did not choose his dream but was hit by the dream. In his own words, “I must paint, just like a drowning person must struggle.” If he is different from others, it is that he is more obedient to fate than others. Dreams are so coquettish and sharp. People are fleeing in panic, fleeing to fame, or profit, or resentment for fame and fortune. But Strickland refused to be the “men” in “people”.
There was sixpence all over the floor, but he looked up and saw the moon.
After reading this book, I was frozen for a moment at the ending of the story. Perhaps, only the primitiveness that has faded away can we reach the spiritual utopia. Similarly, we who are eagerly chasing “sixpence” should also think about our “moon”?