Saturday, November 29, 2008

Delighting in Beauty

When trying to make sense of the soul-less lives I see around me, I realized how few people take delight in beauty.

I think - I could be wrong about this - that the reason is that most people are atheists and egotists. Not in the sense that they would philosophically deny the existence of God or that they are haughty and pompous. But in their world there is no God and even the people around them are fairly uninteresting, unengaging. The cosmos is, for them, dead. If there is to be anything interesting in their lives, they have to generate it. (I am reminded, in stark contrast, of the scene near the end of That Hideous Strength where the pantheon of gods appears. The vibrancy of life they share with our human characters is just stunning.) For such atheists and egotists, it is hard to notice the beauty of a sunset, and even harder to see it as a love letter from a pursuing God. The very act of taking delight in something is to admit that we are not alone, that a world exists beyond ourselves.

For some of us, that is a great pleasure. But for many, that is hard to fathom. So my new goal is to share with others my delight in the world that is not me.

PS One of my favorite columnists, Susie Boyt, recently mentioned a collection of essays about the poetry of Keats, titled The Power of Delight, by John Bayley. Perhaps I shall pick it up some day.
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