instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

A beautiful post

Barbara Nicolosi's notes on a talk she gave about art to people who work with seminarians has so many good points, I can almost forgive her for using "artisthood" as a word.

She suggests:
Beauty makes us homesick for heaven. It is a "holy sadness."
What's odd about this is that, though the claim is true, the actual words used mean the exact opposite. Beauty is pleasure, not sadness; it puts us in contact with heaven (at least analogically), it doesn't distance us from it. What makes us sad is that, having experienced beauty, we can recognize where it ought to be and isn't. It's the lack of beauty that makes us homesick. We can only sorrow at evil, and beauty is necessarily good.

Conversations on beauty often wander in entertaining directions about personal taste, but for starters I think a conscious desire for beauty -- as beauty, as something to rest and delight in, not as a utilitarian means to some further end -- puts a person ahead of large numbers of his fellow citizens today.