Poetry Month Challenges Day 20: Quirk and Quality

Quirk in Quality by Maria L. Berg 2023

I’m really glad I read the A to Z Challenge post about Querying first thing this morning, because for some reason I had skipped over Q in my mind and was planning to write my R post today.

Quirk & Quality

A quirk is a peculiarity of action, behavior, or personality; mannerism. Peculiarity is a trait, manner, characteristic, or habit that is odd or unusual; eccentricity; a distinguishing quality or characteristic. If a quirk is a distinguishing quality, how can it also be quality’s contradiction? Quality is not only: an essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute. It has another meaning: high grade; superiority; excellence; good or high social position; the superiority or distinction associated with high social position. These understandings of quality come from expectations, judgements, and norms and thus contradict peculiarity.

Searching through my books, I didn’t find any uses of the word “quirk” (which bummed me out because I love that word), so I looked for “peculiarity.” I found this interesting passage in Art as Experience by John Dewey:

WHY IS the attempt to connect the higher and ideal things of experience with basic vital roots so often regarded as betrayal of their nature and denial of their value? Why is there repulsion when the high achievements of fine art are brought into connection with common life, the life that we share with all living creatures? Why is life thought of as an affair of low appetite, or at its best a thing of gross sensation, and ready to sink from its best to the level of lust and harsh cruelty? . . . Life is compartmentalized and the institutionalized compartments are classified as high and as low; their values as profane and spiritual, as material and ideal. Interests are related to one another externally and mechanically, through a system of checks and balances. Since religion, morals, politics, business has each its own compartment, within which it is fitting each should remain, art, too, must have its peculiar and private realm. Compartmentalization of occupations and interests brings about separation of that mode of activity commonly called “practice.”

John Dewey

This made me think that understanding expected qualities that define quality, is the only way to appreciate quirks. Peculiarities wouldn’t exist without norms. In Dewey’s examples, the definition of art are the specific peculiarities that separate it from other studies and activities like business and politics.

In Art and Visual Perception by Rudolf Arnheim, peculiarity may be an aspect of weight that influence perception of balance:

Weight depends also on size. Other factors being equal, the larger object will be the heavier. As to color, red is heavier than blue, and bright colors are heavier than dark ones. The patch of a bright red bedcover in Van Gogh’s painting of his bedroom creates a strong off-center weight. A black area must be larger than a white one to counterbalance it; this is due in part to irradiation, which makes a bright surface look relatively larger. Puffer has also found that compositional weight is affected by intrinsic interest. An area of a painting may hold the observer’s attention either because of the subject matter-for example, the spot around the Christ child in an Adoration-or because of its formal complexity, intricacy, or other peculiarity. (Note in this connection the multicolored bouquet of flowers in Manet’s Olympia.) The very tininess of an object may exert a fascination that compensates the slight weight it would otherwise have. Recent experiments have suggested that perception may also be influenced by the observer’s wishes and fears. One could try to ascertain whether pictorial balance is changed by the introduction of a highly desirable object or a frightening one.

Rudolf Arnheim

Today’s Images

What normative quality of expectation can I create to then twist and show a quirk? What is a quirk that I appreciate as having quality? For today’s images I created a normative quality by only using white lights, then for my quirk I used transparency filters which are printable clear plastic printed with my photographs then cut out and used as filters. I placed the transparencies of my brush stroke and paint splatter filters.

Quality in Quirk by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to explore a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write an animal poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

At dVerse it’s Open Link Night, so though I missed the live reading, I’ll link this poem to the list.

The Poem

A Quirky Quality of Life

After the earthquake
after clearing the rubble
and destruction, one
devastating landslide
left a new cliff-face
revealed a new history
in its layers , mysterious
objects jumbled and protruding
in the rock and sediment
hidden for hundreds of years.

We’ve only begun the excavation
but a picture of a quality of life
quite different from our own
emerges from the clustering
of preserved objects and bones.
We believe they were symbiotic
fused with miniature animals
with similarities to our predators
One fused a tiny saber tooth
to her chest and arm
Another was attached at the
calf to a mini dire wolf.

These fusions must have
been their only form of relation
for we’ve found no evidence
of any ability of communication
Not a single implant, or manipulation
not a symbol, sign, or extension
of extra-sensory perception.

We can only hope to discover
their machine, or whatever magic
there must have been to turn
our giant predators into beloved
friends, but we also need to find
what horror made it all end.

2 thoughts on “Poetry Month Challenges Day 20: Quirk and Quality

  1. “These fusions must have
    been their only form of relation
    for we’ve found no evidence
    of any ability of communication,”…

    Such a powerful and thought-provoking write!!

    Liked by 1 person

Thank you for being here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s