THE WORLD OF BEAUTY
“Every angel is terrible.”
Rilke, Duino Elegyies, 1
ART plays a vital role in protecting people against their existential fears and anxieties. It surrounds them with its symbolic structures and creates for them a world of beauty and harmony (without concealing the terror underlying beauty and harmony, as Rilke reminds us). These structures mesh with other symbolic structures constituting civilization.
We surround ourselves not only with myths and religions, values and beliefs, ideas and visions, but also with the sounds and rhythms, melodies and harmonies of music. It fills the void around us; the void of silence; the void of nonbeing. When it stops, silence and nothingness resume their empire around us. We whistle at night in a dark forest in order to feel ourselves less alone and less unprotected in the jungle of darkness. African tribes fill the void around themselves with the rhythmic beating of drums. When we sing, the sound waves fill the space around us. With a Walkman on our belt and earphones on our head we may be walking along one of the most hectic streets of a Bladerunner’s megalopolis and still feel ourselves at the center of a universe of harmony.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Fears and Symbols: An Introduction to the Study of Western Civilization. Contributors: Elemér Hankiss - Author. Publisher: Central European University Press. Place of publication: Budapest. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 205.
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