01 February 2010

Daily Quotation

What Appreciative pleasure foreshadows is not so quickly described.

First of all, it is the starting point for our whole experience of beauty.  It is impossible to draw a line below which such pleasures are 'sensual' and above which they are 'aesthetic.'  The experiences of the expert in claret already contain elements of concentration, judgement, and disciplined perceptiveness, which are not sensual; those of the musician still contain elements which are.  There is no frontier--there is seamless continuity--between the sensuous pleasure of garden smells and an enjoyment of the countryside (or 'beauty') as a whole, or even our enjoyment of the painters and poets who treat it.

And, as we have seen, there is in these pleasures from the very beginning a shadow or a dawn of, or an invitation to, disinterestedness.  Of course in one way we can be disinterested or unselfish, and far more heroically so, about the Need-pleasures:  it is a cup of water that the wounded Sidney sacrifices to the dying soldier.  But that is not the sort of disinterestedness I now mean.  Sidney loves his neighbour.  But in Appreciative pleasures, even at their lowest, and more and more as they grow up into the appreciation of all beauty, we get something that we can hardly help calling love and hardly help calling disinterested, towards the object itself.  It is the feeling which would make a man unwilling to deface a great picture even if he were the last man left alive and himself about to die; which makes us glad of unspoiled forests that we shall never see; which makes us anxious that the garden or bean-field should continue to exist.  We do not merely like the things; we pronounce them, in a momentarily God-like sense, 'very good.'

And now our principle of starting at the lowest--without which 'the highest does not stand'--begins to pay a dividend.  It has revealed to me a deficiency in our previous classification of the loves into those of Need and those of Gift.  There is a third element in love, no less important than these, which is foreshadowed by our Appreciative pleasures.  This judgement that the object is very good, this attention (almost homage) offered to it as a kind of debt, this wish that it should be and should continue what it is even if we were never to enjoy it, can go out not only to things but to persons.  When it is offered to a woman we call it admiration; when to a man, hero-worship; when to God, worship simply.

Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative love says:  'We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.'  Need-love says of a woman 'I cannot live without her'; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection--if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.
~ C. S. Lewis - The Four Loves ~

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