Happy Birthday, Vasily Stasov

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Stasov, Vasily - Moscow Triumphal Gate.jpg

August 4, 1769 in Moscow, Russia.

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The World as Seen by the Greeks

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The Aegean Sea. <em></dt><dd class=

A fascinating article which, more than just an exploration of contrasting color theory between the ancients and the moderns, further confirms the analogical nature of the classical imagination:

https://aeon.co/amp/essays/can-we-hope-to-understand-how-the-greeks-saw-their-world

“So Goethe was right. In trying to see the world through Greek eyes, the Newtonian view is only somewhat useful. We need to supplement it with the Greeks’ own colour theories, and to examine the way in which they actually tried to describe their world. Without this, the crucial role of light and brightness in their chromatic vision would be lost, as would any chance to make sense of the mobility and fluidity of their chromatic vocabulary. If we rely only on the mathematical abstractions of Newton’s optics, it will be impossible to imagine what the Greeks saw when they stood on their shores, gazing out upon the porphureos sea stretching into the distant horizon.”

From What is Left Over

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The following article from Remi Brague appeared in the recent August issue of First Things, and it bears reading for Christians reflecting on the state of secular culture and their own place in that culture, particularly given the penchant for ascribing to any of the various counter-cultural “Options” presented to us for our choosing.

https://www.firstthings.com/article/2017/08/from-what-is-left-over

“If we are not building a “Christian culture,” why are we, as people of faith, writing, painting, composing, and otherwise occupying ourselves with cultural matters? Let us go back to the monks. They never imagined their task to be “cultural.” Pope Benedict reminds us of what is well known, but not always understood in its depth: Monks worked and prayed. Their work was grounded in a positive view of labor. This stemmed from a vision of the world as created by a good God, hence as basically good and a fitting arena for human endeavor. 

What we imagine to be a post-Christian culture in the West carries this forward, after a fashion, so let me turn to the other monastic task, which is prayer. This concerns more than making petitions. Prayer is praise, especially in the Psalms, and praise stems from joy. To quote C. S. Lewis again: “Fully to enjoy is to glorify.” Here again we find an overflowing, which is very much in keeping with the overflowing—the superfluousness—of human creative action.”

Reflections on Beauty, from an unlikely source

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These are words you rarely hear, let alone to ever hear coming from a transport authority.  But John Hayes is not your typical transport authority.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/transport-minister-speaks-at-the-backing-beauty-reception

The Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP discusses good design in transport at an event hosted by ResPublica, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust.

Tonight (17 July 2017) I am going to speak of the future.

Truth is an absolute. And beauty the means by which it is revealed to us in its most comprehensible form. In John Keats’ words:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Through our connection with beauty, we enjoy a taste of the sublime and both an escape from and a compensation for the inevitable pains and trials of daily life.

Through beauty the common good is nurtured, for humans are spiritual creatures who need much more than their daily bread.

Our sense of place is inseparable from our sense of worth and so the places in which we live and the environment around us feeds our individual and communal well-being.

To believe that a government minister shouldn’t dare to speak of beauty is to assume that beauty is beyond politics or perhaps that politics is beneath aesthetics.

It is a misconception I want to confront this evening.

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Dario Fernández-Morera’s Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Spain

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In The Twilight of the Idols (1888), Friedrich Nietzsche expressed his wish to philosophize with a hammer, that is, to make smithereens of the false images that leeringly prevent a candid vision of life, the world, and history.  Nietzsche wrote that “there are more idols than realities in the world.”  He wished, with his instrument, preliminarily, to “test” the idols – expecting to detect “as a reply that famous hollow sound which speaks of bloated entrails.”  If that were the sign, the hammer might come fully into play.  Like the supreme iconoclast of the German language, Dario Fernández-Morera, a Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Literature at Northwestern University, has decided to test a certain gallery of idols, the much-revered ones connected with a persistent, but, in light of accessible knowledge, dubious legend.  The old legend of Islamic Spain (for that is the story in question), of its tolerance and enlightenment, and of its convivencia of all peoples, has gained new currency with the rise of the anti-Western, anti-Christian ideology known as multiculturalism.  The university departments of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, having transformed themselves into publicity businesses for the new militant phase of Islam, their acolytes, politically correct to the core, have propagandized the utopian narrative of the Umayyads, Almoravids, and Almohads in Spain.  Those same acolytes have either ignored the achievements of Visigothic Spain and its successor polities in the northern part of Hispania or have denigrated them by invidious, non-factual comparisons.  Honoring the facts, which he has patiently gleaned in a decade of impressively disciplined study, Fernández-Morera has written The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise (ISI, 2016), which, with its handsome dust jacket, is nevertheless a warrior’s cudgel.  The myth of that supposed paradise will not withstand its prodigious action…

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Dario Fernández-Morera’s Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Spain