Friday, 28 March 2008

Oh you pretty atheists

You may enjoy listening to this while reading;

Vivaldi's Concerto Grosso in G Minor is one of my favourite pieces of Baroque music. I find it harmonically beautiful and structurally perfect. As with most music from this period, I'm satisfied when the music repeatedly resolves to its root key. It just feels 'right' to me. Safe, even.


Just like the film where the boy gets the girl, good triumphs over evil and the mystery is solved - its all tied off nice and safe. It meets that very human need we have for meaning, structure and resolution. We are after all, just pattern recognition machines.

Classical music may not be up your street and to be fair, I'm hardly the buff myself (I'm an indy boy at heart), but the beauty of this piece is undeniable. It's as if it has an inherent, tangible beauty - something you might grasp in the palm of your hand.

Kittens are nice too. You can hold them in the palm of your hand if you want. Sunsets, grand vistas and stars are equally beautiful, if rather difficult to get a grip of. Yet still they feel 'right' somehow.

Love and morality have aesthetic similarities too I think, as it's tempting to see them as tangible entities - things that exist in and of themselves and outwith our own bodies.

I've had many a conversation with the faithful about this very phenomenon. They go something like this;

"Just look around you - look at how beautiful the world is. How could something so perfect be random?"

"Erm, we've evolved to see beauty in this 'apparent' order perhaps?"

"Yes, but it would have to be beautiful in the first place, surely?"


"What is love?"

"Fucked if I know mate, but it feels nice..."

and so on...

I find that on these points of aesthetics, I have some commonality with believers. I've never struggled with the notion of gods per-se, but the nature of beauty, love and morality have had me tied up in knots for years. Like the Christian, who believes that God is the absolute root of beauty, I've struggled to get to grips with them as human, relativist constructions.

Until I decided to stop trying to get to the bottom of it and just get on with appreciating them for what they are.

John Cage, the avant-garde composer (and polar opposite to Vivaldi) once said;

"If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience."

Well said, I say.

1 comment:

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