Posts Tagged ‘Aesthetics’

Only God …

2008 is officially the Wergeland-year in Norway. 200 years ago the Norwegian author and poet Henrik Wergeland was born, in Kristiansand. Wergeland, the son of a minister in the Church of Norway (one of the founding fathers of Norway), was a remarkable person. He is know for many things, for his unrelenting work to end the discrimination of Jews in Norway and his efforts to establish a National Day celebration on the 17 May. Some would say that he is the greatest Norwegian lyricist and you can even check if your writing style is similar to his through a computer program that is developed.

Recently he has also featured in the media because someone claimed that he converted to Islam, but this is now refuted (although he expressed preference for Islam over Christianity).

One of my favourite hymns in the Norwegian Hymnal Book is a poem written by Wergeland, The pretty-vested butterfly (1840):

The pretty-vested butterfly Den prektig kledde sommerfugl
The pretty-vested Butterfly
From God’s own hand did fly.
He gave it purple ribbons,
And golden wings to try.
Den prektig kledde sommerfugl
er fløyet fra Guds hånd.
Han gav den gyldne ringer
og røde purpurbånd.
He trained it to soar higher than
Myself, and I need room!
It has the starlings instincts,
But lacks its feathered plume.
Han lærte den å flyve høyt,
høyere enn jeg er.
Den har nok fuglens lyster,
men ei dens dun og fjær.
All folks that on the Earth do live,
and royal heralds too,
Can never make a Butterfly,
That only God can do.
Og alle verdens mennesker
og alle kongebud
ei gjøre kan en sommerfugl.
Det kan alene Gud.

(tr. Geir Uthaug)

Creation is an artwork and the butterfly (No lit. summerbird). Although philosophy has closed the road that infers from that which is created to the creator, there is this immediate experience that suggests this conclusion. Perhaps we can conclude with Plato (in the words of Socrates) in his Symposium that beauty reorients our view of the world so that we look for more. Life is about something more, there is something greater than in our lives waiting to be discovered. It makes us question those things we take for granted. There is more to what we see than just the appearance and is therefore a realm of opportunity.

The beautiful little “summerbird” inspire wonder – and beauty show us that we should recover our enjoyment of the world.

“Meaning is not an ‘association’ or a train of images: it resides in the painting, and can be understood only through experience of it. All aesthetic meaning is like that.” (Scruton 1994, p. 446)


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