In nature, art and writing, I become almost breathless. I want to keep looking at the scene or art that evokes that response. I need to re-read the phrase, the line, the stanza that elicits it. It’s a physical and an emotional reaction, not a thought-out rational response. How is it created? I have no idea.
Beauty is an art of finding comfort unexpectedly. It’s like the feeling of blowing warm air into cupped hands while being outside on a cold, fall evening. Less something defined than experienced, beauty provides that ease of absolute knowing.
I believe everything in this world is potentially luminous, and I want to study it. These poems began as lovely images: pansies, blue eyes, a wedding under a tree covered with snow, and two crosses rising in the evening sky.
I remember standing on the driveway when I was eight years old, looking up at the Pleiades stars and discovering the uncanny fact that if you look directly at them, they blur into a hazy clump of light, whereas if you look away and keep them in your periphery, they crystalize into vibrant individual gems. Beauty has a similar beguiling quality.
Beauty is in hesitation, in search. It’s in camouflaging truths to map circuits of comfort, if fortunate to realize its meaninglessness. In a temporal edifice beauty is an extension of oneself: some find it on the outside, some within.
Our need to encounter aesthetically-pleasing experiences is perhaps critical to our survival. We love vast green and colorful spaces because they represent the potential for nourishment. We are attracted to water, whether to deep blue lakes in the natural world or to indoor waterfalls in architectural design, because water is crucial to our existence.
The full moon rises behind the western span, dressed in the amazing Bay Lights. The bay itself is suddenly silver, painted by the Goddess Herself and the breath is sucked out of us. Beauty should be divine.
Beauty begins with the natural world. Whether it’s the fiords of Norway or the thick jungles in the far north of my country of birth, Australia, the heart is engaged before the head has had time to define what exactly it’s looking at – the dredging and earth moving of the last Ice Age or what happens when heavy rains and intense heat get together.
Sometime, sooner or later you’ll have to make this journey. You might think that you have no clue where to begin, but you do know, you’ve always known the place. You might have read about it in Pausanias, who traversed the whole of Greece, mountains, plains, and seas to find it—what he called the Oracle of Trophonius.