Readers, allow me to speak to the Catholics reading this blog, for I do not plan upon justifying my claims. Catholics, allow me to establish two principles which — if you’re a regular reader of my blog — you already know I hold.
1. The world sucks.
2. The way to end said suckage and thereby save the world (and for those who doubt it needs saving, I offer you the popularity of Nicki Minaj) is the way of Beauty.
There used to exist three roads the ornery man could walk to conclude what Mumford and Sons concluded, that we were made to meet our Maker. Three philosophical violences that tear at the human heart and wrestle the human brain into direct contact with the infinite: Recognition of (and devotion to) Goodness, Truth and Beauty.
Now Goodness is out the window — we can hardly comprehend a moral claim, for the Orgasm has been elevated over both Nature and philosophy, to the point that Goodness herself has been made subject to the tyranny of a pleasure unexamined. (We should never murder, unless the object of our violence is the result of an orgasm. We should live according to our Nature, unless our method of orgasming demands otherwise. We may make moral claims on people’s private dietary habits, but the orgasm shall ever float beyond good and evil.) The result has been the western hamstringing of “Goodness” as a finite experience incapable of awakening in the human heart the idea that we are naturally oriented towards superhuman perfection.
Truth is making a comeback, as Leah Libresco so triumphantly proved, but I fear that the power of Truth has been drastically ignored by the modern world. When my Truth is not your Truth and that’s the Truth, a fog descends over the mind that makes recognizing Truth for who she is — a supernatural authority — difficult at best.
So we are left with Beauty.
I’ll certainly be the first to admit that Beauty is under attack, for such is the nature of the Transcendental roads — one is the other is the other. But Beauty is not a thing easily rejected by the human person. It invades him. No matter what the elite might say, there exist very few proclaiming the ultimate subjectivity of the sunset, and for those that do — in that semi-conscious reflex of “each to his own” — their proclamations are negated by their experience. No one experiences Beauty as finite. No one experiences Beauty as relative. Everyone — having made it to the top of the mountain, having woken up after their wedding night to gaze on their spouse, having heard Mozart’s Requiem — would be offended by the comment, “it’s not actually beautiful, you just think it is.”The dominant philosophies that makes it so very difficult for modern man to know and love God, and thus experience the satisfaction of his yearning heart — I speak of relativism and materialism — fade. The human person experiences Beauty as infinite and a universal, independent of the opinions of a particular man. It awakes within him a desire for the infinite and an agreement with C.S. Lewis, that “we do not want merely to see beauty… we want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses, and nymphs and elves.” It leads man to wonder — which is only ever to worship — to lift up his hands, cry, laugh, sing, and moan.
As Catholics then, we have a duty to be well versed in Beauty. We have a duty to experience Beauty, to be formed in it. We have a duty to know, love and serve Beauty, to recognize it when we see it, to call out its impostors, to lead others to communion with this glorious Transcendental — who is only ever The Holy Trinity making Himself known to His children.
I somewhat recently became an assistant editor of the art and literature quarterly, Dappled Things. This publication serves as one of the greatest outlets of Beauty — true Beauty mind you, which is ever distinct from prettiness — that I’ve ever known. Each issue contains a royal flush in the Catholic gamble with the modern world, in its poetry, short stories, essays, criticism, and artwork. Each issue awakens the soul to meet its Maker. Each issue — for me personally — is a welcome respite from the eternal snark of the Internet.
I’ve been speaking to those in charge, and we’ve come up with a deal specifically for BadCatholic readers: Check it out. Two years of Dappled Things for 20 bucks. To this I’ll add my own offer: If you cannot afford a subscription, email me and I’ll pay for up to ten of you. I do this not because I’m rich, but because we desperately need to be in contact with Beauty, and I want everyone to understand that I am in earnest.
At the very, very least, like Dappled Things on Facebook, so your social life can be invaded. I’ll end with this, because I’m not a salesman: Dostoevsky was right, “Beauty will save the world,” and it’s high time Catholics lead the rescue mission.