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realisation of beauty

things in which we do not take joy are either a burden upon our minds to be got rid of at any cost; or they are useful, and therefore in temporary and partial relation to us, becoming burdensome when their utility is lost; or they are like wandering vagabonds, loitering for a moment on the outskirts of our recognition, and then passing on. a thing is only completely our own when it is a thing of joy to us.

the greater part of this world is to us as if it were nothing. but we cannot allow it to remain so, for thus it belittles our own self. the entire world is given to us, and all our powers have their final meaning in the faith that by their help we are to take possession of our patrimony.

but what is the function of our sense of beauty in this process of the extension of our consciousness? is it there to separate truth into strong lights and shadows, and bring it before us in its uncompromising distinction of beauty and ugliness? if that were so, then we would have had to admit that this sense of beauty creates a dissension in our universe and sets up a wall of hindrance across the highway of communication that leads from everything to all things.

but that cannot be true. as long as our realisation is incomplete a division necessarily remains between things known and unknown, pleasant and unpleasant. but in spite of the dictum of some philosophers man does not accept any arbitrary and absolute limit to his knowable world. every day his science is penetrating into the region formerly marked in his map as unexplored or inexplorable. our sense of beauty is similarly engaged in ever pushing on its conquests. truth is everywhere, therefore everything is the object of our knowledge. beauty is omnipresent, therefore everything is capable of giving us joy.

in the early days of his history man took everything as a phenomenon of life. his science of life began by creating a sharp distinction between life and non-life. but as it is proceeding farther and farther the line of demarcation between the animate and inanimate is growing more and more dim. in the beginning of our apprehension these sharp lines of contrast are helpful to us, but as our comprehension becomes clearer they gradually fade away.

the upanishads have said that all things are created and sustained by an infinite joy. to realise this principle of creation we have to start with a division--the division into the beautiful and the non-beautiful. then the apprehension of beauty has to come to us with a vigorous blow to awaken our consciousness from its primitive lethargy, and it attains its object by the urgency of the contrast. therefore our first acquaintance with beauty is in her dress of motley colours, that affects us with its stripes and feathers, nay, with its disfigurements. but as our acquaintance ripens, the apparent discords are resolved into modulations of rhythm. at first we detach beauty from its surroundings, we hold it apart from the rest, but at the end we realise its harmony with all. then the music of beauty has no more need of exciting us with loud noise; it renounces violence, and appeals to our heart with the truth that it is meekness inherits the earth.

in some stage of our growth, in some period of our history, we try to set up a special cult of beauty, and pare it down to a narrow circuit, so as to make it a matter of pride for a chosen few. then it breeds in its votaries affections and exaggerations, as it did with the brahmins in the time of the decadence of indian civilisation, when the perception of the higher truth fell away and superstitions grew up unchecked.

in the history of aesthetics there also comes an age of emancipation when the recognition of beauty in things great and small become easy, and when we see it more in the unassuming harmony of common objects than in things startling in their singularity. so much so, that we have to go through the stages of reaction when in the representation of beauty we try to avoid everything that is obviously pleasing and that has been crowned by the sanction of convention. we are then tempted in defiance to exaggerate the commonness of commonplace things, thereby making them aggressively uncommon. to restore harmony we create the discords which are a feature of all reactions. we already see in the present age the sign of this aesthetic reaction, which proves that man has at last come to know that it is only the narrowness of perception which sharply divides the field of his aesthetic consciousness into ugliness and beauty. when he has the power to see things detached from self-interest and from the insistent claims of the lust of the senses, then alone can he have the true vision of the beauty that is everywhere. then only can he see that what is unpleasant to us is not necessarily unbeautiful, but has its beauty in truth.

本文标题:英汉英语美文:美的感悟---泰戈尔 - 英语短文_英语美文_英文美文


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