Thursday, July 09, 2009

I was reading this essay on art, beauty and desecration, and came upon an interesting passage:
We are needy creatures, and our greatest need is for home—the place where we are, where we find protection and love. We achieve this home through representations of our own belonging, not alone but in conjunction with others. All our attempts to make our surroundings look right—through decorating, arranging, creating—are attempts to extend a welcome to ourselves and to those whom we love.
This second example suggests that our human need for beauty is not simply a redundant addition to the list of human appetites. It is not something that we could lack and still be fulfilled as people. It is a need arising from our metaphysical condition as free individuals, seeking our place in an objective world. We can wander through this world, alienated, resentful, full of suspicion and distrust. Or we can find our home here, coming to rest in harmony with others and with ourselves. The experience of beauty guides us along this second path: it tells us that we are at home in the world, that the world is already ordered in our perceptions as a place fit for the lives of beings like us.
It occurred to me that this is part of the struggle of the widowed; our home, meaning our place of peace, comfort, and beauty, was suddenly torn from us. And there is a period, as the author describes, of alienation, resent, suspicion, and distrust, not only with other people but with the world. Part of the grieving process, then, must be the struggle to rediscover or remake a home in the world. To again experience beauty and be reassured that, however temporary it may be, we are at home.


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