Standing in awe . . .

Imagine reading a splendid poem – using the adjective with all its richness – and being “struck” by its loveliness. It arrests the reader. It takes him to a new place, as we say. It enchants him. Or say one stands before a work of art that inexplicably arrests the viewer in ways for which he would be at a loss to explain.

Now imagine that the person so struck by the beauty of a poem or work of art entertaining thoughts about how it might be altered or improved. The dawning of such a thought would be the end of the enchantment of beauty. Beauty would have fallen into the realm of the practical, the alterable, the mundane. It would have lost its revelatory invitation. It would no longer be a summons.

I suspect that it is this itch to tinker on the part of those of us who lack either the talent or the inspiration to fashion genuine works of art may have been what Heidegger and others found so troubling about a technical civilization – a contradiction in terms.

Or imagine the desire to obtain the beautiful creation, to own it. Understandable though it might be, such a thought would mar the beautiful with the fingerprints of those who snatch at it as a commodity.

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