[FOUNTAIN]Looking at things inside out

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[FOUNTAIN]Looking at things inside out

Mark Twain, a famous American writer, once visited his friend, James McNeil Whistler, a painter. While looking at the paintings, Mr. Twain reached out to touch one which was still wet. Mr. Whistler stopped him in shock. "Oh, don't worry. I have my gloves on," Mr. Twain said as if nothing were wrong.

Mr. Twain opened Mr. Whistler's eyes. Despite the painter's concern about ruining a wet painting, some people worry more about getting paint on their fingers. Later, Mr. Whistler showed such a sense of humor to the public through his paintings. In 1872, he completed his "Portrait of the Painter's Mother" but gave the painting another title, "Arrangement in Gray and Black No.1." Instead of perceiving the work as a simple portrait of his mother, he suggested tongue-in-cheek that the public see the painting as an abstract piece of gray and black colors inside a rectangular form.

Pablo Picasso said that when everything in the world seems unfamiliar, an artist can finally complete a free-form work. He emphasized the importance of an artist's own perspectives and the free play of concepts. Unless he rejected the ordinary eyes belonging to 99 percent of the world's people and persisted in using his own perception, like the remaining 1 percent who have artistic talent, he would have not been remembered as one of the greatest figures in 20th century art.

Inverse conception, surprising the public, may not only belong to the great artists. "In order to stop thieves who open chests and rummage inside pouches, locks should be placed and strings should be tightened. That is called wisdom in our world," Chuang-tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, said 2,500 years ago. "Yet, a great thief runs away with the chest and the pouch on his shoulder, worrying that the lock and the string may come loose while he is escaping."

A few days ago, a safe in which bills worth tens of millions of won were stored was stolen in its entirety from a financial institution near Seoul. Police assumed that the thief had cracked the security system, broken into the vault and run away with the safe in a leisurely manner. The thief seemed to take advantage of the absolute trust in security systems and locks.

It is ordinary wisdom to use locks and install security alarms in order to avoid theft. But there may be great thieves who look down on people with a sneer. They may come near to us with smiling faces, slowly and softly, and steal our property without our knowing.

The writer is the international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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