Early spring is always nonsensical. How can something completely dead suddenly spring to life? The idea seems so irrational. And yet with predictable regularity it happens, and when it does it never ceases to bedazzle my senses. Just the brief encounter I had with the great outdoors this morning allowed me to see the earth coming back to life in new ways where she had been dead.
What wonderful art I find, however, has survived the tragic occurrences of our evolving civilization. Literature, music, philosophy, painting–all these efforts to describe and aspire toward a transcendent reality. I find it interesting that people in this day and age can appreciate the same beauty as those of a couple of thousand years ago. But I do wonder if much of the beauty of our modern times might be severely misunderstood or go unappreciated if ancient people were exposed to it. The art that has survived and is still relevant is that way because it puts out a message that rings true to others. Something inside of us allows that message to pierce through our daily activities, our usual business, and say something about who or what we are as a people.
Much of the art I see nowadays is more about making detours from traditional art just for the sake of the detour, and in the process of doing so, simply loses its message for me. Why is it that I can understand the writings of Cicero, for example, better than I can understand the lyrics of most modern music, which is blared over air and wire for all to hear? I always have this impulse to look backward in our culture, and learn from the voices of long ago. The voices of artists from the past that still live in our collective consciousness no longer have an interest in being popular or making money or persuading us to change our values or our thinking to merge with some new force within society. The distance time creates allows us a longer and more tested perspective on what is true.