Monday, August 3, 2015

Beauty Looks after Herself

Beauty Looks after Herself by Eric Gill, 253 pages

Art is craft, and craft is work done well.  That is the message of Eric Gill in this series of essays.  He contends that industrialism has aggravated the idea of the artist as a member of an elite far removed from common laborers, thus impoverishing both art and work.  On the one hand, nothing is expected of common workers except obedience, resulting in shoddy products and an intellectually and morally debased working class.  On the other, artists are regarded as hothouse flowers, unworldly geniuses whose art is mere self-expression and therefore necessarily unserious.

In the crowning essay in the series, which gives its title to the collection, Gill defines the goal of all human life and effort as the Real, which is expressed as Goodness, Truth, and Beauty, which bring Happiness and Joy.  He sees the world as being divided between those who claim that the spiritual is an illusion afflicting matter and those who assert that the material is an illusion oppressing spirit, but places himself among those who value both matter and spirit as equally real and vital.

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