“Beauty dies: that is the source
Louis Glück, “Hyacinth”
I find transience an important notion in beauty. I also am puzzled sometimes by others who emphasize the idea of worrying about what one leaves when one dies, one’s legacy as it were.
The idea that beauty is not eternal but is enhanced by its limited duration, its beginning and end, applies in two ways. First there is the sweetness of the moment that passes, the clarity of being alive in the moment and the wonder of it. Then there there is the idea that all things made will eventually perish and actually be forgotten. This second idea is a bit harder to swallow, but I figure it’s probably true.
Humans have walked the earth for a long time. They have lived, loved and made wonderful things. Their lives and their deeds and creations are now completely forgotten.
Our memories keep some things alive. I think of our memories of those who have died but also great art. But there may come a time when Bach is forgotten, when Shakespeare and the language he made his enchanting creations in will be no longer remembered. This is harder for me to accept than whether my own existence will have an effect after my death (beyond the memory of my loved ones).
Happy thoughts for a Friday morning, eh?
Here’s another passing thought.
Someone put up a comment online telling me that I am blessed.
This is very true. My life continues to be a good one. I have my work and I have my loved ones. My daily life is one in which I experience the love of my wife and the beauty of music. Beyond that I am well fed, have a place to sleep, books to read. It’s amazing really.
I was reading in Musicking by Christopher Small yesterday. I am in the section he calls “Interlude 2: The Mother of All the Arts.” It’s about ritual. He says there is no such things as meaningless ritual despite the popular notion that uses the term to denote empty gestures.
So much language I hear is hollowed out of meaning. I recently heard a very religious person denigrate the notion of ritual in a passing comment. It helped me understand the way he sees the world. A very different way than I do.He has whittled his words down (as many religious people are wont to do) to very specific notions. This apparently excludes understand the importance of ritual in the context of myth, a context of related concepts that Small points out: “ritual, myth, metaphor, art—and emotion.”
I mentioned last night at dinner to Eileen that I had read about ritual and that our weekly date night was one of those important rituals in my life.
I was thinking of this quote from Small.
“Coronations, Olympic games, the Roman Catholic mass, symphony concerts, executive lunches, elections, funerals, having oneself tattooed, grand banquets family dinners and intimate meals à deux, prostrating towards Mecca, the “hazing” and bullying of recruits in elite armed corps and exclusive schools, and thousands of other rituals large and small are patterns of gesture by means of which people articulate their concepts of how the relationship of their world are structured, and thus of how humans ought to relate to one another.” Christopher Small, Musicking, location 2112 of 5394
I know this idea of ritual has informed the way I understand both my daily life and work.
It was the ” intimate meals à deux” I had in mind as I looked across the table last night in the restaurant with Eileen. I am indeed blessed.