Gossip, daydreaming, preoccupation with one’s own moods and feelings–fatal, all of them, to the spiritual life. But among other things even the best play or narrative is merely glorified gossip and artistically disciplined daydreaming. […]

Which is why some God-centred saints have condemned art, root and branch. And not only art–science, scholarship, speculation. Or remember Aquinas: the consummate philosophical virtuoso–but after achieving the unitive knowledge of that Primordial Fact, about which he had so long been spinning theories, he refused to write another word of theology. […]

For the artist or intellectual, who happens to be interested in reality and desirous of liberation, the way out would seem to lie, as usual, along a knife-edge.

He has to remember, first, that what he does as an artist or intellectual, won’t bring him to knowledge of the divine Ground, even though his work may be directly cornered with this knowledge. On the contrary, in itself the work is a distraction. Second, that talents are analogous to the gifts of healing or miracle-working. But “one ounce of sanctifying grace is worth a hundredweight of those graces which theologians call ‘gratuitous,’ among which is the gift of miracles. It is possible to receive such gifts and be in a st7ate of mortal sin; nor are they necessary to salvation. As a rule, gratuitous graces are given to men less for their own benefit than for the edification of their neighbors.” But Francois de Sales m9ight have added that miracles don’t necessarily edify. Nor does even the best art. In both cases, edification is merely a possibility.

The third thing that has to be remembered is that beauty is intrinsically edifying; gossip, daydreaming and mere self-expression, intrinsically unedifying. […] It is possible to write about God and, in the effort to write well, close one’s mind completely to God’s presence. There is only one antidote to such forgetting–constant recollection.

– Aldous Huxley, Time Must Have a Stop

Advertisements