Beauty is the Mystery of Life
I woke up the other day suddenly understanding something Agnes Martin once wrote; “Beauty is the Mystery of Life”. When I say I understood it, I mean that I suddenly felt that it was true; beauty is the mystery of life.
Why is there beauty?
Beauty is an excess, neither practical nor entirely logical. It is something that is outside of us but is recognized within. Recognition of beauty is a state of Joy.
“Joy is the intellect’s apprehension of God”, says Spinoza.
Beauty is evidence of a divine presence in the material world; grand & mysterious. Our recognition of beauty is our training in divine union; something that is outside of us that must be recognized within. “Beauty is in the mind”, Agnes Martin would say. Which is to say that it is not in the eye, and it is not in the object beheld. The truth seems to be that it is in the mind that is within as well as the mind that is without. Beauty is a redoubling of presence within presence. The mind is transformed in it’s acceptance of the mystery the way a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. Belief in the truth of beauty is Joy.
In recognition of beauty one is connected to the source. And yet it remains a mystery, it can’t quite be understood, or brought into relation with Knowledge, it can be felt in it’s existence as something true in the soul.
Recognition of beauty has to move past recognition of the beautiful body, or the beautiful object and move toward the beauty of souls, to the beauty of forms, the forms-of-life, and from the beauty of forms one can move toward the beauty of worlds, from the beauty of worlds to the foaming sea of beauty; an infinite sea of light, the source of all beauty. One can be aware of this perfection in their mind and never see it with their eye. We have to climb the ladder into silence and become blind. From the beautiful objects and bodies to beautiful souls to the beautiful forms to the beautiful worlds to the sea of beauty to the infinite ocean of light, the source of all beauty.
It is beyond and also always there, always here, in the mind; see the light shapes moving through the trees, see the windowlight, the slant of light, see the darkness and the cold white fires of stars.
I revisited Agnes Martin’s text after I woke up feeling the truth of the mystery of beauty. She writes,
“When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection.
We respond to beauty with emotion. Beauty speaks a message to us. We are confused about this message because of distractions. Sometimes we even think that it is in the mail. The message is about different kinds of happiness and joy. Joy is most successfully represented in Beethoven’s ninth Symphony and by the Parthenon.
All art work is about beauty; all positive work represents it and celebrates it. All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our lives.”
Agnes writes on for another few pages or so, anyone can go and keep reading her thoughts here: Beauty is the mystery of life.
Recognition of beauty can’t quite be taught, it is not intellectual at all, one just has to feel it, and know that it is true.