a principle of learning

March 24, 2010

Looking for beauty in a reading, rather than a beautiful read, helps us come to terms with why we sought out a particular book. Here’s a passage from the Complaint of Peace by Erasmus:

“Thus far we have spoken of creatures that lack intelligence but are nevertheless equipped with sense perception. Yet even members of the vegetable world, trees and herbs, show an attraction toward others of the same species. Vines embrace elms, peaches welcome the encirclement of vines […] Lifeless stones have a sense of peace and concord, as for example the magnet attracts and holds metal”

The guy is a religious humanist, or whatever you want to call him, and I can’t say I know enough to say anything at all about any of it, but he is certainly not known for his insights on nature.

Though if beauty can be found in anything, then why chose one book over the other, sometimes through immense effort and hardship? Perhaps we don’t really want to seek beauty, but instead strive to have it find us. A beauty that would want to find us, something we haven’t made but is. So we make ourselves as conspicuous as possible, unrelenting and predictable. Adamant and open to bewilderment at the risk of disdain.

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