aesthetics


#1

i have and have had from my childhood, a high awareness of aesthetics ie beauty. and i’m wondering how that can be squared with catholicism. ive had many, many problems with this. because i have so many concepts of beauty, and they don’t all come into agreement with catholicism. it has been a really, really hard thing with me. i don’t know how to deal with it and im wondering if anyone has any advice about it or anything. im also wondering what the apologetics line is? and if it is toll free?


#2

this is a pretty immediate question, as in i need an answer pretty quickly, and also if people need examples or explanation of what i mean i can do that. thanks.


#3

First, there is a book by Jacques Maritain called “Art and Scholasticism”. Google it and you can see it’s online. Second, there’s always Hans urs von Balthasar’s “Glory of the Lord.”

Basically, Jesus is the form of God and therefore Beauty itself. Anything beautiful reflects Him. If you have any specific questions, please ask. But your question is very general.

“Every experience of beauty points to infinity.”— Hans urs von Balthasar


#4

Actually, I get your question. I take beauty to be objective. Now, the reason that some people take one thing to be beautiful and others do not is that some are simply blind. God is good. God is love. He is all-good and all-love. When He created the world, He created it good. His love can also be seen in the world. See how he made it in such a way that human beings can live? Everything is in order. How beautiful! Ever see how He made the sun revolve around the earth and yet, from man’s point of view, he can see a sunset and a sunrise? How beautiful! Finally, there is always the beauty of the human person. The human person is the most beautiful being in the world. We see things in the world that are beautiful to the point of looking at it. But in the human person, there is a certain kind of beauty. We are attracted by it to the extent that we will sacrifice ourselves for him. The human person is so beautiful that even God sent His only Son just so that He can save us! God became man and died for us not because it is worth it, but because I am worth it. Because you are worth it. Your value, your beauty transcends the world. And if your beauty transcends the world, how much more beautiful God can be! In fact, I will say this. We are not beauty, but beautiful. Only God is beauty.


#5

yeah it is very general. the thing is, i grew up loving things which i thought was beautiful but may not able to be in agreement with catholicism. like i grew up reading anne rice and all these other books and other movies. i just can’t see how something that is beautiful cannot be catholic. i dunno if i am helping people out trying to answer the question or not…it is a very personal question.


#6

yes ap, i understand your response. the thing is, there are things which are sin which i think are beautiful. i don’t really want to get into detail, but i guess if anyone ever read anne rice they’d get what i mean. its just really complex. like when i converted to catholicism, i was on this forum, and they asked, whos your fave catholic writer, and i said Anne Rice, because she is Catholic and a writer, but most of the people replied and said, no she’s not catholic because she condones all this stuff etc. the thing is, she is a big part of why i became catholic, because i grew up reading her and she writes a lot about catholicism. i just don’t know how that can be true and yet once i become catholic i have to reject her because of soem of the stuff she writes about?


#7

Oren,

I would respond by saying that some are more beautiful than others. Hitler, because he was a human person, is also beautiful. Of course, because of his hatred, this lessened his beauty. We are all sinners and a lot of us make mistakes. But we are all beautiful in some way. The more we are closer to Christ, the more beautiful we become. Now, there may be writers that you really like but are not Catholic. That’s fine. Just know that you are not to glorify the human person, but God. Take what is good in each person and glorify God with it. I, for one, love Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings. I don’t agree with some of the things he says, but that does not mean God cannot use him in some way. We just have to pray for each other and know that authors, theologians, philosophers, etc are not the end, but the means. God is the end. God is your goal. God is the beauty you desire. If a certain author reflects Him, you don’t have to reject him completely just because they made some errors. You can still embrace them just as Jesus embraced sinners, imperfect persons. At the same time, stick with truth. It is through truth that you will see beauty, and it is also through beauty you will see truth. But in the end, it’s all the same. It’s Jesus Christ.


#8

Oren,

You don’t have to reject her completely. Just some stuff she advocates that are contrary to the Church’s teachings. One of the conditions of being a disciple is to sacrifice your wants and follow Him. I know obedience may be a hard thing, but so was the Cross. And Jesus did not come down from the Cross. It may be hard for you to reject some of Rice’s writings because it is contrary to the Church’s teachings. But it is by obedience we grow in wisdom. It is by obedience to Christ and His Church that will make us the person we try to become. It may be hard. But again, so was the Cross. I suggest praying to God about it? Ask Him to help you with this. Just remember that Jesus loves you and that He is with you in your struggles. We all have a cross to carry. Let’s pray we all meet at the same place, Calvary.


#9

yes i know what you’re saying. but ive been having a hard time. and beauty just seems more real to me than Jesus, since i can’t physically know Him. i don’t know, i guess i feel really alientated. because so many people really get everything and i’ve never been able to. i don’t know who i’m supposed to talk to since no one gets it. its not that i think im better than anyone…its just that we’re all individuals…and i just don’t know how i can reconcile that with catholcism which is general.


#10

Oren,

The reason why you are down, the reason why you seem depressed or having a hard time because as you said, you feel alienated. That’s because you are not meant to be in solitude. You are not just to experience beauty. You are made to love. You are made to love God. You were made for God. You may not feel it, but the fact that you’re down because you feel you are in solitude is because you are not made to be in solitude. You are made in the image and likeness of God, who is a Communion of Persons. You are made to be in a relationship with your Creator who loves you so much that He is willing to lay down His life for you. For me, that’s the most beautiful thing one can do. There is nothing more beautiful than Someone sacrificing Himself for you. As my friend Patty Bonds said, God loves us so much that He would rather die than live without us. I think that’s beauty. Now, again, there may be difficulties along the way, but remember that the more you suffer, the more Christ is closer to you because Christ was the most human when He experienced what man could experience, something no one can “solve”: suffering. He suffered for you and united Himself with you. Please take this and pray about it. Please do. And just love God and your neighbor.


#11

Thanks be to God that you’ve converted, under the influence of Anne Rice or anyone else. I’m sorry that I just ran into this now, instead of early this morning (when presumably you needed it), but I’m glad that I came across it at all. It is terribly important not to confuse aesthetics with beauty. Aesthetics is, as the other poster noted, the objective study of beauty. Beauty is classically defined as, “That which pleases upon the apprehension.” The Christian take on that has always been that what is beautiful is beautiful because in some way it reflects Jesus Christ, who is the One, the True, and the Beautiful. The Maritain book is great, along with Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, also by Maritain. There’s also a book by Umberto Eco (a la The Name of the Rose) which might be more to your taste (owing to your penchant for our dear Miss Rice). Also, why don’t you check out the following link:www.praiseofglory.com/lovesaints.htm. It’s by Fr. Gerald Vann (a famous English Dominican and aesthete in his own right). If you have any Dominicans in your area, this is something which they sort of specialize in.

Remember, remember, remember, that you don’t have to give up Rice wholesale. She’s dark, very dark, but there are just as clear glimmers of light. Remember that what struck you as beautiful has partly to do with her form (which is quite lovely), but also with corruptions of the good. The sins which pleased upon your apprehension did not strike you as good because they are good, but rather because they reflect a true good, but poorly. Don’t be afraid to wrestle around and grapple with these issues, and don’t be afraid to be wrong, so long as you take correction with a smile and a great big “Thank you,” to the author of all art.


#12

[quote=Oren]yeah it is very general. the thing is, i grew up loving things which i thought was beautiful but may not able to be in agreement with catholicism. like i grew up reading anne rice and all these other books and other movies. i just can’t see how something that is beautiful cannot be catholic. i dunno if i am helping people out trying to answer the question or not…it is a very personal question.
[/quote]

How can something be beautiful and not be catholic?

I remember reading a book by C.S. Lewis when I was in a lot of trouble. Actually I read a whole slew of Lewis when I was in university. I believe the name of the book was A Hideous Strength, but can’t be sure. This book literally saved my life and my soul because of this part in it:

The protagonist is in a horrible place. He sees a picture on the wall which is twisted and wrenchingly unsettling. Suddenly, he realizes that even its disturbing darkness could not exist in the world if it were not resting on or referring to something transcendently beautiful.

I am distressed by the urgency of your request. Surely this situation you find yourself in cannot be of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, in my experience, is patient and does not rush.

I will try to find you some links to some Christian Art (some may be Orthodox) or even some aesthetics sites which might strengthen you with insight or even just peace and joy. God bless you.


#13

Hi. I’m back. Here are some links to reading material which will give you a start. I wish I could be of more specific help with a specific text, say, on Gothic litcrit but Gothic was never emphasized in my degree.

Catholic paintings

[/font]http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/x-Select/10select.html

[/font]http://www.christusrex.org/www2/art/gallery.htm

[/font]http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/gallerys.htm

Orthodox paintings

[/font]http://www.culture.gr/2/21/215/21505/215051/2150513/e21505119h.html

[/font]http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/icons/icons.html

[/font]http://home.eg-gym.dk/fagene/religion/Ortodokse%20kirke/dox.html

[/font]http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/icons/misc_in.html

General images and art criticism

[/font]http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?aid=85097&item=323757

[/font]http://www.artcyclopedia.com/history/

Literary Criticism

[/font]http://www.usd.edu/~tgannon/crit.html

[/font]http://www.literatureclassics.com/ancientpaths/litcrit.html

[/font]http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/hopkins_guide_to_literary_theory/

[/font]http://www.sla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/


#14

Here is a page of links to Gothic Literary Criticism. I don’t know how good it is, but it is worth a try:

members.aol.com/iamudolpho/gothic.html


#15

This looks promising:

members.aol.com/FranzPoet/gothcrit.html

Here is an excerpt:

In his famous compilation of Gothic novels, The Gothic Quest, Montague Summers examined the Gothic novel within its historical background. He argued that both the Gothic and Romantic literary modes “suggest an aspiration for something beyond the deadening familiarity of this world, a longing for the past”

Beginning to strike a note with me. So it is a variation on the pastoral myth.

To escape…from mundane reality is a primitive desire, and, in itself, it is excellent and good. The world, if we had not our dreams, would, God knows, be a very dull place.

OK, the recreational angle: Club Dread.

Of course, as precisians will never fail to tell you, there is a danger in dreams.

What did I tell ya? The House of Horrors on the fairground.

But, if we had not dreams, life, I take it, would be far more dangerous; in fact, it would not be worth living at all.

Oh, now that got my attention.

This, then, is exactly the reason why I think the Gothic novelists, …have… proved themselves true friends to those of us who care to withdraw… from the relentless oppression and carding cares of a bitter actuality"(Summers 198).

Whew.

Ok, fine, so this literature arose in an age of rebellion. Rebellion has its merits. And its dangers. Depends on what you are rebelling against I guess. The literature is also a poultice to soothe the ennui of living in huge cities far removed from dark woods, country moors, bogs and marshes. And as a poultice it also has dangers. Part of the escape, one must keep in mind, is not only from one’s culture and from one’s environment, but from oneself.


#16

The universe of art has collapsed back into it’s one center and source; Jesus Christ has come alive again in this world in a moving painting; the worlds first living image has been born; the curtain has been pulled back on God’s mirth; the Eucharist has become a movie: Mulholland Drive .

It is through asymetry, rather than symetry, that we should expect to see the furthest into the Beatific Vision.


#17

[quote=Oren]i have and have had from my childhood, a high awareness of aesthetics ie beauty. and i’m wondering how that can be squared with catholicism. ive had many, many problems with this. because i have so many concepts of beauty, and they don’t all come into agreement with catholicism. it has been a really, really hard thing with me. i don’t know how to deal with it and im wondering if anyone has any advice about it or anything. im also wondering what the apologetics line is? and if it is toll free?
[/quote]

The Vatican contains many pieces of pricesless art, and spends a significant amount of money to maintain them. Beauty is something created by God for our enjoyment, as long as its done while glorifying God. If you enjoy beauty for its own sake, then you are not attributing credit to it the source of it, which is an offense against its maker.


#18

I found some Gothic paintings and will post some examples then a link where you can read up on them. Here’s the first one:

**Master of the Franciscan Crucifixes
**The Mourning Madonna, c. 1272
Samuel H. Kress Collection


#19

**Master of the Franciscan Crucifixes
**Saint John the Evangelist, c. 1272
Samuel H. Kress Collection


#20

[left]http://www.wga.hu/art/m/master/san_fran/crucifix.jpg
[/left]
[left]**Crucifix with scenes from Calvary
**mid-13th century
Panel, 247 x 200 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
MASTER of San Francesco Bardi
Italian painter, Florentine school (active 1240-1270)
[/left]


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