botticelli

Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now

First a note about the painting, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, that serves here as a symbol for Joni Mitchell’s song. Both speak of life, love and beauty.

For Plato – and so for the members of the Florentine Platonic Academy – Venus had two aspects: she was an earthly goddess who aroused humans to physical love, or she was a heavenly goddess who inspired intellectual love in them.

Plato further argued that contemplation of physical beauty allowed the mind to better understand spiritual beauty. So, those looking at Venus, the most beautiful of goddesses, might at first note a physical response, followed by a lifting of their minds towards the godly.

A Neoplatonic reading of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus suggests that 15th-century viewers would have looked at the painting and felt their minds lifted to the realm of divine love.” (Wikipedia)

Mitchell’s song reveals a more modern approach and understanding of reality. In Both Sides Now, she questions whether her experiences of love and life have been the real thing, or as illusionary as clouds floating in the sky.  Could this be another way of exploring, from a different angle, the same questions that Plato referred to in his philosophical writings? That is, how poetic words and songs may hint at and reflect the ‘beauty’ of truths, often concealed beneath the surface of things.


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One response to “Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now”

  1. […] sing, at first tentatively, and then more confidently. I have been even singing in tune, especially Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. The words and tune from this song have been singing to me day and night for weeks on […]

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