That Unreachable Thing Called Beauty

“I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.” (The Book Thief by Markus Zusak)

There must be a reason why this sentence etched itself so deeply into my memory. It doesn’t happen often, so when it does, there simply must be a good reason for it to do so. I keep finding myself returning to this sentence, each time inserting different adjectives – opposites, contradictions – that shouldn’t work together. Words such as distant and close; rich and poor; wretched and peaceful; silent and loud; real and abstract; man and God…you get the picture. In all cases, the sentence holds true.

It seems to me now, that this single sentence is somewhat of a paradigm of the entire human experience. We simply cannot understand the value of one thing without that value which tends to stand on the most distant, opposite end. Can we start to understand the truth, without identifying the non-truths; or true friendship without having suffered betrayal? Can we read a complete sentence, without knowing the value of a single letter? Can we fully appreciate the splendour of a mosaic, without considering the thousands of little glass pieces (tesserae) used to create it? I am convinced the answer is no. So how can we expect to recognise Beauty (yes, with a capital B); or Truth, or Love (all with capitals), or Oneness without first seeing (but it is an ever so small and limited a glimpse) what they are not, through the multiplicity of means and scenarios which we are offered throughout our life, daily?

I am here concerned with Beauty, but since all are connected, one will naturally and inevitably relate to the other in a practically inseparable way. Much has been written about Beauty already, and whatever has been written here has certainly been written elsewhere before. “Art,” claims Pope Francis, “is not only a witness of the beauty of Creation, but it is also an instrument of evangelisation” (‘My idea of art,’ 2015). In other words, art is both passive and active – it is one and the other, and both at the same time. Indeed, the sentence still holds true.

Art is a tool, an instrument, and for a long time in the history of art (and man), Beauty was the insufferable cause and desire of several artists and patrons. All longed for Beauty, many attempted to reach it, and all, of course, failed. Because Beauty, in this sense, is not only unreachable but also unrecognisable. Yet, and here comes the paradox, it is forever approachable. We yearn what we cannot fully have. Still we try to reach it in one way other, and often we do not realise that we are.

What we will possibly find within art is not Beauty itself, but an expression of it, a taste to wet our appetite for the actual thing. And so we ask for more, to see more and know more. But the actual thing we are then looking for, is something art cannot provide us with. It is only an instrument, not the actual music, and it is the music that we desire most to hear.

Giulia Privitelli – Pietre Vive

Throughout the summer period, Pietre Vive is offering numerous formation camps in Spain (Santiago de Compostela and Puente de la Reina), in France (on Gothic art and architecture) and Greece (on early Christian communities, between paganism and jews). Contact segreteriapietrevive@gmail.com for more information or pietrevive.malta@gmail.com to get in touch with the local community.


(0) comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instagram
"Biex tgħix il-fidi hija diffiċli, irridu ngħidu liż-żgħażagħ li hija diffiċli, imma se nimxu magħhom...

Jekk qed nippruvaw insibu metodu faċli ta' kif iġġib il-bidla, insiha! Oqgħod ara #Netflix, dokumentarji fuq nies li tkissru biex ġabu l-bidliet."

Dan u iktar dwar l-attiviżmu fuq @103btw, @103maltasheart 👉 https://fb.watch/inlmV6zf84/
"Biex tgħix il-fidi hija diffiċli, irridu ngħidu liż-żgħażagħ li hija diffiċli, imma se nimxu magħhom... Jekk qed nippruvaw insibu metodu faċli ta' kif iġġib il-bidla, insiha! Oqgħod ara #Netflix, dokumentarji fuq nies li tkissru biex ġabu l-bidliet." Dan u iktar dwar l-attiviżmu fuq @103btw, @103maltasheart 👉 https://fb.watch/inlmV6zf84/
1 day ago
View on Instagram |
1/9
💥 January Highlights | Catholic Saints Edition 💥

Swipe to reveal three saints we think are worth mentioning this month! Share your favourite saint in the comments below 👇🏻

Look out for a different edition of Christian highlights each month.... what aspects of the faith do you think we should feature next? 👀🤔⛪🙏🏻
💥 January Highlights | Catholic Saints Edition 💥

Swipe to reveal three saints we think are worth mentioning this month! Share your favourite saint in the comments below 👇🏻

Look out for a different edition of Christian highlights each month.... what aspects of the faith do you think we should feature next? 👀🤔⛪🙏🏻
💥 January Highlights | Catholic Saints Edition 💥

Swipe to reveal three saints we think are worth mentioning this month! Share your favourite saint in the comments below 👇🏻

Look out for a different edition of Christian highlights each month.... what aspects of the faith do you think we should feature next? 👀🤔⛪🙏🏻
💥 January Highlights | Catholic Saints Edition 💥

Swipe to reveal three saints we think are worth mentioning this month! Share your favourite saint in the comments below 👇🏻

Look out for a different edition of Christian highlights each month.... what aspects of the faith do you think we should feature next? 👀🤔⛪🙏🏻
💥 January Highlights | Catholic Saints Edition 💥 Swipe to reveal three saints we think are worth mentioning this month! Share your favourite saint in the comments below 👇🏻 Look out for a different edition of Christian highlights each month.... what aspects of the faith do you think we should feature next? 👀🤔⛪🙏🏻
1 week ago
View on Instagram |
2/9
Dan u iktar bis-sehem ta' @youths.marsaskala fuq @103btw @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq id-diversità hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/i0MPzqMufO/
Dan u iktar bis-sehem ta' @youths.marsaskala fuq @103btw @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq id-diversità hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/i0MPzqMufO/
Dan u iktar bis-sehem ta' @youths.marsaskala fuq @103btw @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq id-diversità hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/i0MPzqMufO/
3 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
3/9
Dan u iktar minn @umchaplaincy fuq @103btw fuq @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq il-ħajja komunitarja hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/h-O5BE_qdx/
Dan u iktar minn @umchaplaincy fuq @103btw fuq @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq il-ħajja komunitarja hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/h-O5BE_qdx/
Dan u iktar minn @umchaplaincy fuq @103btw fuq @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq il-ħajja komunitarja hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/h-O5BE_qdx/
Dan u iktar minn @umchaplaincy fuq @103btw fuq @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq il-ħajja komunitarja hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/h-O5BE_qdx/
3 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
4/9
🇲🇹 Dan kien il-bidu tal-vjaġġ lejn 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝘁𝗵 𝗗𝗮𝘆 '𝟮𝟯, nhar is-Sibt 19 ta' Novembru '22 🙌 Inkomplu din l-avventura tagħna għada għall-bidu tas-serje 𝐑𝐈𝐒𝐄 fis-7:30pm l-Oratorju tal-Qalb ta' Ġesù, l-Mosta. Niltaqgħu 😁
.
.
🇬🇧 Saturday the 19th of November '22 marked the #official #opening towards #𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱𝗬𝗼𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗗𝗮𝘆 #2023 🙌 We will #continue #embarking on this #journey #tomorrow for the #first #session of #𝐑𝐈𝐒𝐄 at Oratorju Qalb ta' Ġesù, #Mosta, at 7:30pm. #Seeyou there 😁
🇲🇹 Dan kien il-bidu tal-vjaġġ lejn 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝘁𝗵 𝗗𝗮𝘆 '𝟮𝟯, nhar is-Sibt 19 ta' Novembru '22 🙌 Inkomplu din l-avventura tagħna għada għall-bidu tas-serje 𝐑𝐈𝐒𝐄 fis-7:30pm l-Oratorju tal-Qalb ta' Ġesù, l-Mosta. Niltaqgħu 😁 . . 🇬🇧 Saturday the 19th of November '22 marked the #official #opening towards #𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱𝗬𝗼𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗗𝗮𝘆 #2023 🙌 We will #continue #embarking on this #journey #tomorrow for the #first #session of #𝐑𝐈𝐒𝐄 at Oratorju Qalb ta' Ġesù, #Mosta, at 7:30pm. #Seeyou there 😁
3 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
5/9
Dan u iktar fuq @103btw @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm.

Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq #socialmedia hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/hTC_DrurAu/
Dan u iktar fuq @103btw @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq #socialmedia hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/hTC_DrurAu/
4 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
6/9
Dan u iktar fuq @103btw @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm.

Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq is-solitudni hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/hSwOCDZSyd/
Dan u iktar fuq @103btw @103maltasheart b' kollaborazzjoni ma' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ kull nhar t' Erbgħa fis-6pm. Segwi t-taħdita kollha fuq is-solitudni hawn 👉 https://fb.watch/hSwOCDZSyd/
4 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
7/9
We thank you for the wonderful journey 2022 has been 😊🙏 and we wish you all a Happy New Year filled with the Lord's presence 🙌🎉🤗
We thank you for the wonderful journey 2022 has been 😊🙏 and we wish you all a Happy New Year filled with the Lord's presence 🙌🎉🤗
1 month ago
View on Instagram |
8/9
Nawgurawlkom Milied Hieni 🐑👼🌟
Wishing You All A Peaceful Christmas 👶🐄🐴
Nawgurawlkom Milied Hieni 🐑👼🌟 Wishing You All A Peaceful Christmas 👶🐄🐴
1 month ago
View on Instagram |
9/9