Beauty

“Beauty is the word that shall be our first. Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendor around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another. Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. No longer loved or fostered by religion, beauty is lifted from its face as a mask, and its absence exposes features on that face which threaten to become incomprehensible to man. We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past — whether he admits it or not — can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.”

-Hans Urs von Balthasar, THE GLORY OF THE LORD: A THEOLOGICAL AESTHETICS, VOL. 1 -SEEING THE FORM

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Beauty

  1. Neat quote. I think that the separation of beauty from truth and goodness is much the same as confusing beauty for goodness or truth. E.g.: that which is beautiful is trustworthy hiding deception behind the veil of a blurred distinction.

    1. Right, Balthasar later in the chapter writes about how “beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and descision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance.”

      It is a mysterious union between the three and ultimately I believe abstracting one from the others is suicide.

      1. The general Protestant distrust of beauty seems to stem from an unacknowledged splitting apart of beauty from goodness and truth. Misunderstood, it’s easy to privilege the last two when it seems like the first is only ornamental (at best) or deceitful (at worst). But an unprincipled spurning of Beauty is just as disastrous a move as an unprincipled enshrining of “beauty” falsely so-called when it is merely a bourgeois fetish.

Leave a Reply

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s