Wednesday, May 15, 2013

If you like, art

It is always easy to be a Cassandra, often too easy: all ages have been cruel and crude, and this one (in these parts) is much less cruel and crude than most. I have lived much of my life in art, through art, have heard the rough tongued bell, from a distance, true, but very clearly even so. Not much has ever stopped me from that apart from the usual things (myself, first of all, to paraphrase Robertson Davies). It has been an era for peaceful living (in these parts), for living that is. It should be a dangerous enough business for all us, it is dangerous.

There are many dispiriting things and trends, too much totally displaced anger in the West with the sun perhaps slowly setting on our enlightenment and humanist-Christian values which are increasingly less supported by conviction and more by vague convention. But there have been much darker times which have been survived, and there are now also many encouraging things and trends, unimaginable in those darker times that we have survived: places for emancipation and progress and hope. And, moreover, art, always art.

I was reading Larkin yesterday, those few supreme poems among his sparse production and was elated, elevated: such beauty and seriousness - can we even have seriousness without beauty, morality, philosophy, without beauty?

I think it is a permanent aspect in us, this serious aesthetic dimension, this very long view, this open, limitless landscape.

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