Monday, June 2, 2008

The Mystery of Beauty

You attend a concert and the music moves you so deeply that it literally makes the hair on your neck stand on end. You round the bend on a rugged mountain trail and stop dead in your tracks in awe of the glorious snow-capped peak gleaming in the sun. You gaze in rapt fascination as an Olympic skater glides, leaps, and spins with uncanny grace and balance. On some enchanted evening, across a crowded room you see a face that captivates you completely.

In each of these settings you are experiencing the mystery of beauty—immersing yourself in the deep, inner pleasure we receive in response to certain combinations of forms, colors, textures, sounds, or movements. For the purposes of our discussion, beauty includes all objects, sights, sounds, or experiences that stir us to awe, elation, inspiration, enchantment, delight, or ecstasy. Beauty is what lifts life above the mundane and prosaic and gives it joy.

We are hard-pressed to explain why encounters with beauty affect us so profoundly. What is it about a song, a snow-capped mountain, or a certain face that so grips our hearts and thrills our souls? Despite the high place we give beauty in our lives, our attempts to define it fall short.


Barb Hartsook said...

Good question... I think all great art -- including God's art that we call nature -- conveys a truth of sorts. Truth bigger than the artist (musician, writer, painter, dancer, athlete, etc.)is capable of telling without his medium of creative expression. And then it's told in metaphor.

I have a friend who sings with a chapter of The Sweet Adelines, an international women's choral society who perform competitively. She asked me to listen carefully to a final note held for several beats on one of the songs. All the women were spot-on-key, and I remarked I didn't think the human voice could go that high. They weren't singing that high, she told me. It was one high note that, sung in its perfection, sounded several octaves up. There's a word for that (I don't remember the word), and it's almost too beautiful to hear. Talk about mystery. It's breath-catching.

You can watch two gymnasts performing the same routine, both perfect in their technique. Yet one gets a 9.9 score and the other gets a full 10. What makes the difference? Spirit, I think. Virtuosity, the gymnasts call it. When spirit, or virtuosity, enters, the beauty of the performance fills the observer nearly to bursting.

It's the same with a really good story well-told. Pieces of truth, virtue, goodness -- all expressed through the metaphor of art.

I paint, and this is a favorite topic of mine... Every Painting Tell a Story:

I'm glad you asked the question. :)


Spears Art Studio, Inc. said...

I believe that inspiration - meaning "God-breathed" - something from a source higher than ourselves is at least one of the ingredients in beauty. An artist responds to beauty by not only appreciating it, but by being INSPIRED to represent or interpret it in painting, poetry, song, etc. Beauty in creation is that invisible but undeniable communication to us from God that HE IS. (Romans 1:20).