IL POSTINO (THE POSTMAN): A lesson about life, art and aesthetic experiences


Don’t ask me why I like something. Most of the time, I don’t have a reason or any word to describe why something attracts me. Although, I believe we like something when we see ourselves in it, whether they are our feelings, thoughts and beliefs, our personality or even our fears and obsessions. What we see becomes a mirror, showing us our own reflection. We see what we are. And because we see, we can live aesthetic experiences.

In the movie Il Postino (The Postman) which is a story about the journey of self-discovery and the romance of Mario, a shy and humble simple fisherman’s son, who suddenly finds a job as a postman delivering the mail of the exiled “poet of love” Pablo Neruda, we can see an example of aesthetic experience.

While watching the movie you may notice the same as me. I saw my humanity represented in the character of Mario.

To me, he is any one of us confronting Art; in this case in the form of a poetic creation. Pablo Neruda reveals to Mario that Poetry is full of ordinary things, those daily things that Mario never paid attention to, like the sea, the sky, the fishing nets, the fishermen, the villagers, the woman he hasn’t met yet and the tradition of literature which he didn’t know very well.

The poet shows him how the words of our language can be art when an unbearable, inspirational force is born from the bottom of our soul and how feelings are very difficult to describe without any image or metaphors. For me, this movie is so beautiful because it explains these things in the most simple and natural way possible. We don’t have to make a big effort to understand that beauty in Art and Life is hidden in the small things and that Art can be a way to express our feelings.

The following video shows Mario’s own aesthetic experience and inspiration.

After reading a poem, one of its verses touched Mario because it “happened” to him too, but he “never knew how to say it”. He simply liked it because the poem expressed how he had felt sometimes in his life; he saw himself in it. But at the same time, he wonders about the meaning of the whole poem. While finding an explanation, he discovers that what mostly counts in Art are the emotions felt by the soul, and that the more you try to “explain” (instead of “feel”) an artistic object or a creative impulse, Art loses its meaning and ends up being “banal”.  So this is why sometimes I can’t tell why I like something… I can  even find something beautiful in misery or sadness.

I believe, then, that a real aesthetic experience happens when we don’t see the Art theory or explanation behind the object in front of us, but when we see an expression of Life, which talks to us through our feelings, during the contemplation of our own human soul inside the artistic object.

Is there any difference between Art and Life? I’ve always wondered if we can see life aesthetically, because, sometimes, I do.

 “I start a picture and I finish it. I don’t think about art while I work. I try to think about life”. – Jean Michel Basquiat.



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