Saturday, April 10, 2010

All poetry is about nostalgia for a never-to-return Golden Age
Bruce Herman suggests that the prevailing Western notion of beauty since 1750 has been an emblem of the Romantic longing for the lost Golden Age. “Beauty,” he writes, “is everywhere colonized by the Romantic longing for perpetual youth.” Herman posits:
the possibility of a clear-eyed adult aesthetic that bears the marks of Christ’s resurrected body — marks that memorialize suffering but move beyond it to redemption, healing, and eternity. The ascended Christ still bears earthly wounds, and his new body can be treated as a starting point for a new aesthetic — a broken beauty if you will — and a means of working through and beyond pain to a perfection that need not participate in [Romantic] idealization.
Herman suggests that Romantic yearning is not only untenable, but unsavory, even antithetical to the Christian longing for heaven. Indeed, the thread of complete personal annihilation, certainly antagonistic to the Christian ethos, hangs heavily over the Romantic quest for a lost Golden Age. We should, Herman exhorts, long for the future in heaven, not for the past.
Interesting timing: the West is in mourning after the ‘Enlightenment’. I don’t think Herman’s solution rules out traditional people’s living (as Hilary White says) with (not in) the past.

From Pentimento.

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